Ignite: The Need & Purpose

“Ignite” has been selected as the theme for this year. To ignite means to arouse to action. As this relates to humans, it is the spirit within us that is stirred up. We then act or carry out our will. Words are the spark that ignite us. Whose words ignite us? Is it God’s or Satan’s?

We find from Romans 6.16 this truth: “Know ye not, that to whom ye present yourselves as servants unto obedience, his servants ye are whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” When we hear God’s words, it stirs our will. If our own will is to obey God’s will, it will be known in our decision. If not, we will declare that our heart’s desire is to serve Satan.

We find these two reactions exemplified in scripture. In Acts 13.50, we read, “The Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas.” Here the will of the Jews was to reject the preaching of Paul and Barnabas, and the Jews spoke words to sir the people to also reject the preaching.

Yet in Exodus 35.21, we read, “And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing…brought the Lord’s offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.” Here, the will of the people was stirred by the commands of God as spoken by Moses. What made or caused them to have a willing spirit? These were the ones who had survived the punishment of death for worshipping the golden calf. Moses had returned from another 40 days upon the mount with the same words from God as before. God would keep steadfast love with all who feared him and obeyed, while punishing the guilty (Exodus 34.7). Those were the covenant terms. These words stirred their hearts. What was their will now? Their decision declared the goodness and honesty in their hearts. They acted as Paul stated in Romans 6.16.

We see this again in 2 Chronicles 36.22-23 and 1 Kings 11.14. The nature of the heart was declared by the decisions that were made and carried out. God stirred up the hearts of two wicked kings. Notice that the need and pups for God using these two evil monarchs was vastly different.

With Hadad, we find that Solomon had committed sin in going after other gods. As a result, God stirred up Hadad as an adversary against Solomon as punishment for his sins. God used Cyrus for the purpose of showing mercy and favor to his own people. Cyrus enabled all of God’s people in captivity to return to Jerusalem, which resulted in the temple being rebuilt, thereby fulfilling his promise to save an elect or remnant, through which Jesus would come, establishing his church.

This is the purpose of God’s words. They bring out the good or evil that resides in our hearts. God’s words provide the needed spark that will arouse our spirits within us to act on our desires. In so doing, we will reveal what is needed to be known about ourselves. We need to know the truth about ourselves now, while we have the time and opportunity to serve God. Are we truly serving God, or just giving him lip-service? If we really have a desire to serve, we will do as the Israelites did in Exodus 35.21.

We find from Deuteronomy 6.5 the attitude we are to have toward God’s word that will ensure a blessing from God. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” The context in which these words are found clearly declare that loving God is done through obedience. “Now this is the commandment — the statutes and the rules — that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them…that you may fear the Lord your God…by keeping all his status and his commandments, which I command you” (Deuteronomy 6.1-2).

As we consider the matter of igniting one another, remember that our stirring up of each other is to be ongoing and that our efforts must be directed toward the conversion of the heart. The Hebrew writer put it this way: “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10.24-25). Let us not be as Israel in Malachi’s day and view our service to God as “wearisome” (Malachi 1.13). Rather let us have the attitude of David: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord” (Psalm 122.1).