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KEEP FANNING THE FLAME

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Do you remember the song we use to sing when we were kids? This Little Light of Mine.
This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
Let it shine let it shine let it shine.
Won’t let Satan blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine.
Gonna let it shine till Jesus comes, I’m gonna let it sine.
Let it shine let it shine let it shine.
What is it about light? We like the light. It allows us to see. It allows us to cancel darkness.
The first time we hear about light is in Genesis chapter 1.
Genesis 1:3–4 NIV
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
God tells us that light is good.
John describes Jesus as the light.
John 1:1–5 NIV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:9 NIV
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
It is light that gives us hope. Have you ever traveled down a road. Especially overnight trips. You are traveling east and as you approach early morning you begin to see the sun coming over the horizon. We get excited for that light because it is a dawn of a new day.
Today is January 1st. When the light came up this morning, no matter what 2022 brought you, there is hope today because today starts a new year. We can begin again and there is hope that a new year will bring something new and exciting. Light gives us hope.
Today, I want to read my text you that is found in the book of 1 Samuel. We will read from chapter 3. First Samuel is towards the beginning of the new testament. I want to read to you the beginning of Samuel’s life and ministry but before I do, let me introduce you to Samuel’s mother.
Samuel’s mother’s name is Hannah. She is very significant in Samuel’s lift because she prayed earnestly for this child.
1 Samuel 1:10 NIV
10 In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.
She was unable to have children and she wanted children so much that she would go to the temple to pray and Eli the priest would see her praying and he thought she was drunk. So he confronted her and realized that she was overwhelmed with this burden that she had been praying for, so Eli encouraged her and Hannah’s appearance changed.
1 Samuel 1:18 NIV
18 She said, “May your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast.
Hannah wanted a child so bad that one time when she was praying she made a promise with God. If you will give me a son then I will give him back to you for your service. So, God answered Hannah’s prayer and gave her a son that she named Samuel, which means “name of God”.
So, after Samuel was old enough Hannah kept her promise and brought him to Eli the priest and Samuel would become a the last judge of Israel and the first prophet. But I want to look at an early time in Samuel’s life found in chapter 3 of 1 Samuel, beginning at verse 1.
1 Samuel 3:1–11 NIV
1 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.
The ark of God was kept in the most holy place, the innermost room of the tabernacle where only the high priest could enter once a year. In front of the most holy place, a small room where the other sacred furniture of the tabernacle was kept such as: the altar of incense, the bread of presence, and the lamp stand. Just outside the holy place was a court with small rooms where the priests were to stay. Samuel probably slept here with the other priests, only a few yards away from the ark.
1 Samuel 3:3 NIV
3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was.
Meaning Samuel probably slept close to the light. Some commentaries say that Samuel’s job was to keep the place tidy. The lamp of God was to burn all throughout the night. It might have even been Samuel’s job to make sure the light never went out all night. But I also believe that this may be a reference to Samuel as well.
There was a great darkness that characterized Shiloh at that time. I believe that God had found a glimmer of hope in Samuel. I believe that this light represents the hope that Samuel would begin a ministry that would light the path for generations to come.
God would speak to Samuel than night and it was the beginning of a ministry that would change Israel’s history.
As I told you before Samuel was the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. He also would anoint Saul and David as king. Through the ministry of Samuel the spiritual life of the Israelites improved. In inaugurating the monarchy, he led the people from tribal disunity to national solidarity. He appointed gatekeepers to the tent of meeting, organized observance of the Passover so memorably that it was still spoken about in Josiah’s day. Samuel was also a great man of prayer.
Psalm 99:6 NIV
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel was among those who called on his name; they called on the Lord and he answered them.
So, that night when God spoke to Samuel, I believe that this flame here is mentioned in scripture for us to fully understand that God saw hope in the new priest that was being raised up and that night God called Samuel to something greater.
So, what does light mean to you? Does it allow you to see in the darkness? Does it give you hope that there is something greater ahead? Does it open your world up to new possibilities? It did for Israel that night. God saw hope in Samuel. God in essence was telling Samuel to keep the flame burning. Don’t let the flame go out. Where there is light there is hope.
You can keep the flame burning as well. In essence, a new year is a time to start all over. We get to begin again. Anything that has happened in the past is in the past. Today is a new day a new year and a new beginning.
If you have let the flame extinguish in the past. Begin today and let it shine brighter than before. Don’t let the flame go out.
So, how do we keep the fire from going out? Anyone will tell you that there are three things a fire needs to keep burning.

1. Heat

A fire can’t start or spread unless there is a significant amount of heat involved. That is why firefighters begin by putting water on a fire and why most fire extinguishers are filled with a cooling agent. Also, firefighters turn off the power to a building that is on fire to take away the heat source.

2. Fuel

A fire needs a fuel source. That fuel source could be anything flammable like paper, wood, fabric, chemicals and so on. If you remove the fuel from the fire then it will go out.

3. Oxygen

This is one of the most important factors because oxygen is everywhere. A fire needs oxygen in order to ignite and continue to burn. You take away the oxygen and you take away the fire.
Just like a fire needs these elements to continue to burn we need those things in our spiritual life so that the flame is not extinguished. But they look a little different.

1. Holy Spirit

The first thing or better stated person we need as a part of our life here on this earth to keep the flame burning in us is the Holy Spirit. We need a relationship with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus told us that it is better if He goes away. Why is that? Because He was sending us someone better. Jesus was in human form. That means that even though He was God He was still human and could only be in one place at a time, but when He sent the Holy Spirit to be with us after He ascended into Heaven. The Holy Spirit is with us everywhere. You and I need to develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit. We need to learn to know the Holy Spirit intimately. We need that relationship to flourish so that we can do things greater than what Jesus did. Jesus tells us that we will do greater things.
John 14:12 NIV
12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
The Holy Spirit also give us a power that helps us to keep going.
Acts 1:8 NIV
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
So, we need our relationship with the Holy Spirit to grow. We need more of Him in our life.

2. Consistent Prayer Life

A consistent prayer life is the fuel that keeps us going. Just as fuel keeps the fire going, a consistent prayer life keeps us going. If I stopped talking to my wife what would happen to our relationship. It would fade. So, if happens with her, then what do you think will happen if I stop talking to God. The flame will go out and my relationship with God will fade. You can’t make it in this life without talking to God.
James 5:16 NIV
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
Prayer changes things. And don’t just pray when you need something. Keep a consistent prayer life with God. Keep an open line of communication with the Father.

3. Word of God

Just like the fire needs oxygen you need the breath of God working in your life. The breath of God is the word of God.
2 Timothy 3:16 NIV
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
Paul is telling us here that all scriptures were inspired by God. The words of the Bible came from God and were written by men. Peter affirms this in 2 Peter 1:21
2 Peter 1:21 NIV
21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Listen to me. This word is important for you to read and understand. It is not just a collection of stories, fables, myths, or merely human ideas about God. It is not a human book. Through the Holy Spirit, God revealed his person and plan to certain believers, who wrote down His message for His people. This process is known as “inspiration.” Although the writers used their own minds, talents, language, and style, they wrote what God wanted the to write. Scripture was completely trustworthy because God was in control of its writing.
You need the word of God in your life. Hebrews tells us how power the word of God is.
Hebrews 4:12
12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Let me say it again. You need God’s Word in your life.
So, here is what I want us to do today. Each of you were given a candle when you came it. If you don’t have one please raise your hand and an usher will bring you one.
I want us to come to the front and form a line across the altar area. Please make room. I also believe that there is coming a day when we won’t have enough room to fit around the altar area. I want a couple of you to get a flame and then pass your flame amongst each other until all the candles are lit. You may come and do this at this time.
{After Candles are Lit.}
Here is my charge to you.
This flame represents your Christian walk. There will be temptations, there will be falsehoods, there will be doubts, and fears and all kinds of things that will try to put out your flame. But I say to you, develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit in 2023. Have a consistent prayer life in 2023. And make sure that you get in God’s Word. Make scripture a part of your life in 2023.
Can we sing together, This Little Light of Mine.
{Sing “This Little Light of Mine”}
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