Spirit of burning

Now it happened while Zacharias was serving as priest before God in the appointed order of his priestly division,  as was the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter [the sanctuary of] the temple of the Lord and [d]burn incense [on the altar of incense].  And all the congregation was praying outside [in the court of the temple] at the hour of the incense offering.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense.  When Zacharias saw the angel, he was troubled and overcome with fear. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, because your petition [in prayer] was heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him [e]John.  You will have great joy and delight, and many will rejoice over his birth,  for he will be great and distinguished in the sight of the Lord; and will never drink wine or liquor, and he will be filled with and empowered to act by the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb.  He will turn many of the sons of Israel back [from sin] to [love and serve] the Lord their God.  It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous [which is to seek and submit to the will of God]—in order to make ready a people [perfectly] prepared [spiritually and morally] for the Lord.” – Luke 1:8-17

You may think that that has little to do with greatness. I believe it has everything to do with it, and that the difference between men is very largely to be found here, whether they flame up into the white heat of enthusiasm for the things that are right, or whether the only things that can kindle them into anything like earnestness and emotion are the poor, shabby things of personal advantage. I need not remind you how, all through John’s career, there burned, unflickering and undying, that steadfast light; how he brought to the service of the plainest teaching of morality a fervour of passion and of zeal almost unexampled and magnificent. I need not remind you how Jesus Christ Himself laid His hand upon this characteristic, when He said of him that ‘he was a light kindled and shining.’ But I would lay upon all our hearts the plain, practical lesson that, if we keep in that tepid region of lukewarmness which is the utmost approach to tropical heat that moral and religious questions are capable of raising in many of us, good-bye to all chance of being ‘great in the sight of the Lord.’ We hear a great deal about the ‘blessings of moderation,’ the ‘dangers of fanaticism,’ and the like. I venture to think that the last thing which the moral consciousness of England wants today is a refrigerator, and that what it needs a great deal more than that is, that all Christian people should be brought face to face with this plain truth-that their religion has, as an indispensable part of it, ‘a Spirit of burning,’ and that if they have not been baptized in fire, there is little reason to believe that they have been baptized with the Holy Ghost. – MacLaren


The Burning Heart

How To Keep The Fire Burning



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