By Francis Frangipane

Jesus’ walk was neither painless nor effortless, and yours will not be either. Perhaps our minds cannot envision the Son of God facing any “real problems,” such as we face. We know He calmed the sea, but we are also told He “…learned obedience through the things which He suffered” (Hebrews 5:8).

Yes, power surged from Him causing those who came to arrest Him to fall back (John 18:6), but He also had times He was wearied (John 4:6). He indeed promised us peace, but He, too, had times when He was distressed (Luke 12:49-50), angered (Mark 3:5), and troubled (John 12:27). The same beautiful feet that proclaimed the glad tidings, that walked on water, walked the “Via Dolorosa”–the way of suffering.

When we consider the Son of God, we should not isolate Him from the extreme spiritual warfare He faced on many occasions, even to the point of sweating blood. We are assured that Christ never failed, but neither was He aloof from temptations. Rather, the Bible tells us that Jesus was “…tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Remember also, Jesus faced and conquered His battles as a man; He had to pray for strength, and trust His Father for justice on the cross, even when He felt forsaken by all.

I am utterly positive, the highest percentage of Jesus’ life was filled with joy and peace; why else would multitudes be drawn to Him? But it is interesting that some of these very people, when questioned, thought He might be a return of “Elijah or Jeremiah,” both of whom were more known as intensely passionate than compassionate (Matthew 16:13-14). And don’t forget, the same hands that touched and healed the untouchables, twice fashioned a scourge, and drove money changers out of the temple.

I am trying to balance our image of Christ. For if we imagine that Jesus was without temptation, or that He never had inner conflicts, such thinking blinds us from seeing the reality of what we all must go through at times. We think God is failing us when, in fact, He is actually conforming us to the real Jesus. Yes, in the crucible of conflict, Jesus chose to do God’s will. “…deeply grieved, to the point of death…” (Matthew 26:38), He prayed the prayer of surrender, “…not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).

There will be times when, to obey God’s will, we must fight our very instincts for survival. Plan on it. There will be seasons when you will hurt terribly or be deeply troubled inside. Perhaps even facing severe depression, yet to fulfil God’s will, you cannot excuse yourself because of heart sickness. In utter defiance of your own feelings, you will have to say, “Yes” to God. It is at this juncture, beloved, that true spiritual progress is being made.

“But now, thus says the LORD, your Creator, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel, do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, not will the flame burn you” (Isaiah 43:1-2).

Fire? Rivers? What about Heaven? Yes, you are going to Heaven. In fact, if you are a true Christian, you are in Heaven right now, only you don’t know it. But, there are times when life, like a river, is over your head, and you feel like you are drowning. Yet, the water from these very rivers wash away your filth. What the water does not remove, the fire purifies.

It is one thing to repent of sin; another, to be placed in life’s furnace and be forced beyond yourself to trust God. In the first case, God works through our willingness to engage and submit; He deals with what we have done. In the second situation, He goes much deeper and deals with what we actually are. When He deals only with our sin, He requires we humble ourselves; when we are in the fire, He kills what we were, and then humbles our enemies.

Yes, you will pass through rivers, but the Lord promises that the waters will not overflow us! He leads us into fire, but then appears in the blaze with us, as He did with the three Hebrews (Daniel 3). When our ordeal is over, only the bonds that once enslaved us are consumed; we are unscathed. As Christians, we are fascinated by the Holy Spirit. He teaches, guides, gives gifts, brings forth fruit, and comforts us on our journey. However, one aspect that is rarely discussed is the baptism of fire. John said that Christ would “baptize…with the Holy Spirit and fire,” (Matthew 3:11).

Peter tells us we should not be “…surprised at the fiery ordeal…which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12). Jesus said, “Everyone will be salted with fire” (Mark 9:49).

The church in America, for too long, has followed Casper the friendly ghost, instead of seeking the fire of the Holy Ghost. We have turned limp at the thought of our own cross; we faint when we think of suffering or sacrifice. Beloved, it is time to embrace the fire of God’s presence. It is the fire that purifies our sacrifice.

Ahead of us are days both great and terrible. Understandably, many Christians are looking to the rapture of the church. Yet, to escape God’s judgment is not to escape His fire. Consider Paul who wrote that the “day” of the Lord “is to be revealed with fire.” He said that “…the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work” (1 Corinthians 3:13).

Yet, let us stay encouraged, for our God is a consuming fire. He is coming to baptize His church again in fire, but in the fire is the place of intimacy, of power, and of deliverance. Even as the prophet Isaiah wrote, “When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. And there will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain” (Isaiah 4:4-6).

Yes, our God is a consuming fire and our walk with Him is a Fire walk.  Lord, I repent for wanting Your blessings without desiring Your fire. I ask for the fire that purifies, that burns away my old nature. I ask You to fill me with the fire of Your holiness. Make me one with You in the fire of Your passions. Amen.

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