Pearls of Great Value

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls... - Matthew 13:45

A simple blog. For those in love with Jesus.

Pearls Blog

Pearls Blog

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, 46 who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. - Mat 13:45-46
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  • Mar3Fri

    Build the fire!

    Fan the flame March 3, 2023
    Filed Under:
    Pearls Blog

    When they had escaped, they learned that the island was called Malta. The natives showed extraordinary kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because of the rain and the cold. When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper driven out by the heat fastened on his hand. When the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “Surely this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, justice does not allow him to live.” But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They expected him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But while they waited and saw no harm befall him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

    In that area was an estate of the chief man of the island, named Publius, who had welcomed us and courteously housed us for three days. It happened that the father of Publius lay sick with a fever and dysentery. Paul visited him and, placing his hands on him, prayed and healed him. When this happened, the rest on the island who had diseases also came and were healed. They honored us in many ways. And when we sailed, they provided us with necessary supplies.” Acts‬ ‭28:1-10‬ ‭MEV‬‬

    This story! Where shall I start? It has layers upon layers. I love when I read a story for the 50th time and something new is enlightened to my heart. For instance, the word "Malta.” Malta in Hebrew defines as honey or a place of honey. Once Paul and those aboard the ship had escaped the storm they discovered the island that they’d come upon was called, a place of honey, or Malta. This must have been a great relief and joy, for instead of facing animosity they were met with friendliness. In our own lives how often have we discovered that as we come out of a storm we find ourselves in a sweet place?  A place of extraordinary kindness (as the author of Acts puts it.) God in His mercy and grace brings us out of the storm and into place of refuge. Safety!

    The tendency to lean back and relax is great in this place of honey. Once we are out of the storm, out of fighting and struggling mode, and we have gained victory, the temptation is to let down our guard. And often we do. We revel in the victory of yesterday and forget about the fight in today. Yes, it’s important to remember and celebrate the goodness of the Lord. It’s wise to give thanks to the Lord and forget not all His gifts to us. Can we do both? Carry thankfulness and awareness at the same time? Let us be ever alert in prayer and in thanksgiving!

    Let’s look at what Paul did after arriving at Malta. He didn’t rest after he came to this place of honey. The Bible says that he went and gathered a bundle of sticks for the fire. Interestingly, the word bundle in Hebrew defines as multitude or a great number. He didn’t stop at a few. It caught my eye that although the people on the island had started the fire, Paul was the one who went and gathered more kindling to keep the fire burning. So it is with us. The fire in us might have been started by others. Maybe through a conference or in a worship service, maybe through a man of God speaking truth to your heart. Maybe the fire was kindled by the kindness shown to you, maybe by even a crisis. Regardless of who starts the fire, it is up to us to bring more logs and keep the fire burning. It is our responsibility to gather the firewood: read the word, fellowship, have communion, be devoted to prayer! All of these kindle the fire within. Not only kindle, but they are like gasoline upon the fire.

    This initial encounter we have with God is from God. It’s a free gift given to us. He’s the one who gets the fire burning. Philippians 2: 13: “[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.” Praise God, He not only starts the fire but also provides ample kindling for us, we just have to go and gather it. It’s available for anyone, anywhere, and at anytime.

    King Saul in the Old Testament had an encounter with God where he was filled with the Spirit and prophesied, yet his story didn’t end well. When we first meet Saul, he is a good man out searching for his fathers donkeys. He is a man of integrity, the Bible in 1 Samuel 9 tells us there was no one among the Israelites more impressive than he. God had a plan and a purpose for Saul, but it was up to Saul to stay in the Lords presence and keep the fire burning. How did Sauls story end? He ended up dying in rebellion against God. The Bible has a story of another Saul. Saul of Tarsus. When we first meet him, our stomach turns and we immediately dislike the guy. He’s full of himself, completely self-righteous, and actively pursuing and killing believers of Jesus Christ. Yet, God also has a plan and purpose for his life and one day Saul of Tarsus encounters the living God while traveling on a road, on another mission trip to persecute believers. God confronts him and blinds his eyes. Days later, his blinded eyes are opened, scales fall from his eyes and Saul filled with the Holy Spirit becomes Paul the apostle. From rebellion to intimate relationship, his story ends with this triumphant proclamation: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, and I have kept the faith. From now on a crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy‬ ‭4:7-8‬.) What is the difference between these two men? Both had encounters with God, but one kept his fire burning and one did not.

    Oh! Another thing about fire. Did you notice that as Paul was putting his kindling on the fire and the fire grew, it was the heat of this fire that drew out the viper? Fire is hot. When we throw wood upon the fire, it turns up the heat. What do you get when you turn up the heat in an oven? Acceleration. What do you get when you turn up the heat on the stove? Your water starts to boil and soon boils over. There’s something intense about fire. So intense that it causes the enemy to come out of hiding and often like this viper it lashes out. The fire doesn’t bring the snakes, it exposes the snakes in your life. This means problems, addictions, strongholds, pride, etc, are being exposed. But they are not being exposed to kill us, but for us to deal with. If the fire exposed it, that fire is also able to "shake it off” and kill it.

    The secret lies in devotion and cultivating a passionate relationship with Christ. A devoted life to God builds us in faith, plus it proves to us our dominance over the darkness and the enemy. We need the fire of God in our lives! Remember, it is hard, if not impossible to fight the devil if you don’t have a fire within you. What if Paul hadn’t been able to shake off the snake and throw it back into the fire? For me, shake off in this case means Paul was able to cast off not only the snake but every single thing that was of the snake, ie, the poison, as well. What if he wasn’t able to? You see, God intended to use Paul on that island. By Paul’s hand, God healed everyone on that island who was diseased. Satan knows that you are capable of much when you’re on fire for God and so he’ll try to take you out of the game by any means necessary. So, build a fire and keep the flames burning hotter. Build a fire and keep the flames burning hotter! He who is alive within you is greater than he who is in the world.(1 John 4:4) The same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is living in you. (Rom 8:11) Now that is amazing.

    Father, thank you for the fire that you have started in my heart!  I do not want this flame within me to burn out so I pray that you would swell within me the desire to constantly put another log on the fire. May my love and fire burn for you hotter! Help me by your Spirit to perpetually seek your face and teach me to live a life of prayer and devotion, to mediate upon your precepts day and night. Thank you for pouring unending ceaseless grace upon my life. I love you Lord, help me to love you but more! In Jesus name, Amen

    Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews‬ ‭13:20-21‬ ‭

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