Acts 2:3-4 “And divided tongues of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.’
Remember the day we almost set the church on fire?
It was Christmas Eve and our family was asked to light the candles in the front of the sanctuary. There were at least 25-30 of them all neatly arranged on tiers covered with festive fabric. The moment came and John-Keith and Emily were the chosen ones. They took the old-fashioned lighters – the fancy kind with the wick that comes out of the end – and set about their task.
As the rest of us watched, I noticed that a piece of one lighter’s wick fell into one of the glass-contained candles. It concerned me, but there really wasn’t anything we could do in the middle of the special service. It didn’t look too dangerous, so after we were finished we sat down in the second row to enjoy the rest of the evening.
As I sang the familiar Christmas carols, my eyes kept darting to the candle in question. I heard murmurs behind and around me as the flame jumped higher and higher. It was evident that no one was listening to the order of the service as many in the service stared with varying levels of concern at the blaze that was steadily growing in strength and threatening to lick the cloth-covered table. Yet no one moved. It was like we were all in a trance.
Finally, Dad jumped up in front of the several hundred in attendance and started blowing and waving at the flames until they subsided. What a show, but the whole church gave out a sigh of relief. Later there were quite a few who thanked Dad for averting a huge disaster.
This now-funny memory came to my mind the other day as I was reading Acts 2. This chapter tells of another time that the church was really set on fire. Jesus had gone back to heaven after His resurrection. Many of His disciples were all sitting together in one place when all of a sudden there came a sound from heaven like a mighty rushing wind. From out of nowhere tongues of fire appeared and rested on each of those who were in attendance. They were each filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them power.
During this time there were many devout Jews from every nation dwelling in Jerusalem. They heard the sound of the mighty wind and came to see what was going on. As the multitude gathered, the people heard the disciples speaking about the mighty works of God in their own native languages. They were amazed and astonished.
Peter stood up and addressed them. He gave testimony to the Lord Jesus Christ and how He, the Son of God and the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures, had come to earth to provide a way for man to have a restored relationship with God. He did this through His death and resurrection.
Three thousand people were cut to the heart that day and received as truth the Word of God that was spoken. They returned to their homes filled with the peace that God’s salvation brings and the flame of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. They also began to tell the story and the fire of the message began to spread throughout the world. That was the start of something big!
As I think back to our experience all those years ago I am really glad our family wasn’t responsible for burning the church building down. But what if each believer in Christ responded as the disciples did to the Holy Spirit’s power today? What if we all shared the salvation message boldly with our friends and neighbors? That could be the start of something really big! The flame would grow stronger and stronger and maybe, just maybe, the world would catch on fire!