A church on fire (I’m looking for)

pictures added 10-3-13 142
Rev. Dr. Stanley Smith
June 21, 2014

A church on fire (I’m looking for)

Leviticus 6:13

The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.

Acts 2:46-47

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Church on Fire

In the disco era of the 70’s and 80’s (to our young people that might sound like antediluvian times – a time before the floods of Noah……

…an R&B group called the Tramps had a song out “Disco Inferno” –

And some of yawl who are around my ventage and age – who’ll admit there was a time before you got saved, sanctified or a time before you really got serious about your salvation…

You danced and partied to the words ‘burn baby burn, burn the mamma down.’

Now we understand that was not a literal rendering of what your intentions were but a metaphor for the level of partying you were going to do up in there.

And theres a correlation, as it relates to the church, Chas. Wesley founder of Methodism said, “Catch on fire with enthusiasm, and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”

And since you are the church, a church on fire happens when its congregants, are engaged and on fire for the Lord.

You’re so stoked you couldn’t wait to say I was glad when they said let us go into the house of the Lord…

So stoked that the doxology set you a blaze…

And IDC how big or how small your church is, because I’ve seen some little store front churches on fire …

And I’ve found out that in the final analysis it’s not how big the physical church is but how big the church is in you! …

How big the worship you offer.

How big the praise you bring.

How big the shout you make.


In this text this morning,  v42 says, they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine/teaching

You want a church on fire, the first element is sound doctrine…

And it’s incumbent on the pastor to make sure Sound preaching is going out… preaching that seeks to align itself with scripture and not just the preacher’s opinions!

One of the criticisms of many TV Preachers is that they twist the scripture to support their own opinions and agendas – you have a lot of preachers preaching on prosperity as a hook to gain members…

… and I believe God wants us to be prosperous – but what we need to understand is that prosperity comes in various forms.

It ain’t all about the ‘Benjamins’.

In the OT prosperity meant to succeed or to be victorious – in the NT  it usually meant physical and spiritual health …so again, it ain’t all about the money.

And so we who have been charged with preaching the gospel ought to preach the whole gospel …

That not only says I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly but also in this life you will have tribulations…

…That I’m going to be sometimes up and sometimes down and sometimes almost level to the ground..

So folk won’t have a distorted view of God… thinking that if I come to church God will handle my 99 problems but if He only handles 98, then I’m mad at God, the church and anything to do with religion…

You’ve got to preach the whole gospel

The bible says they continued in their fellowship – they continued coming out to church – and even when you don’t feel like it, when you’re on fire for the Lord, you’ll come out anyhow  –

Anybody know what I’m talking about – been beat up all week – but you come out anyhow, sick in body – everything going wrong – angry with your fellow church member -– but you come out to church house anyhow.

Because you see, when drama hits your doorstep that’s not the time to flee from God – that’s the time to draw near…somebody missed that…

Let me back this thing up and shake it fast and show you what I’m working with.

When trouble becomes your reality – that’s not the time to sit alone at home and have a pity party – that’s a time to come into His presence ….

I’ll be honest some Sundays I don’t feel like preaching … when the meetings pile up and the various affairs and outings pile up – when folk been blowing up my phone all week with problem after problem — I sometimes just want to rest …

But Paul said ‘woe unto me if I preach not the gospel.’ IOW’s, I’ve got to preach in season and out of season …

And I might have made up in my mind that I was only going to preach 10 minutes and sit down – that I wasn’t going to jump up and get my shout on …

Ah but something in a song gets a hold of me – something in a dance – something in the recitation of the scripture – something in a prayer/testimony gets a hold of me and I just can’t  contain myself …

My feet started tapping and my hands started clapping … felt a little prayer wheel turning …knew a little fire was burning … and just like Jeremiah said: “it’s like fire shut up in my bones …”

I’m talking about a church on fire.

The bible goes on to say fear came upon every soul …that word fear comes from the Greek word phobos (phobia) = a state of being afraid … and in this context, it also has to do with a reverential fear/awe – that’s giving God His props – because of who He is – Jehovah God, high and lifted up!

And because I revere Him the text says the Apostles were able to do many signs and wonders …

And the bible goes on to say that all believed and that word belief comes from the Greek word ‘pisteuo’… meaning faith they all joined in faith.

… and let me say parenthetically, I’m not pontificating up here about all the Greek words I know to show you how much i know – but I share them with you in order to bring about a clearer meaning of the text…

Because firstly we understand that before there was a KJV – there was a Greek manuscript called the Septuagint.

And secondly, as a preacher there ought to be some learning with the burning and some burning with the learning … too many preachers …

Remember we charged to preach sound doctrine.

Anyway, v45 tells us that they sold their possessions and goods, and gave to anyone that had a need…

And they continued this daily with everyone on one accord in the temple and with singleness of heart…

When we start fanning the fire with sound doctrine, with regular attendance with a reverential fear and belief… we will be well on our way to a church on fire…

But I would not have you ignorant my brothers and sisters, the gates of hell are trying to come against the church and the devil wants to put the fire out.

And if he can’t stop sound doctrine going forth, if he can’t stop regular attendance going forth and if he can’t mess with your reverential fear –if he can’t start something in the choir, if can’t start something in the dance ministry – he’ll do what he can to stop new members from coming in.

A story is told about a man who visited eighteen different churches on successive Sundays. 

He was trying to find out what the churches were really like. He said, “I sat near the front. After the service, I walked slowly to the rear, then returned to the front and went back to the foyer using another aisle. 

I smiled and was neatly dressed. I asked one person to direct me to a specific place: a fellowship hall, pastor’s study, etc. I remained for coffee if served. 

I used a scale to rate the reception I received. I awarded points on the following basis:

10 for a smile from a worshiper 

10 for a greeting from someone sitting nearby
100 for an exchange of names
200 for an invitation to have coffee
200 for an invitation to return
1000 for an introduction to another worshiper
2000 for an invitation to meet the pastor

And discovered, eleven of the eighteen churches earned fewer than 100 points. Five actually received less than 20. 

The conclusion is this: The doctrine may be biblical, the singing may be off the hook, the sermon uplifting – 

But when a visitor finds nobody who cares whether he’s here, he’s not likely to come back.”

And IJSBTAS, what’s your attitude going to be when folk start coming up in here…how you going to greet them – how you going to treat them.

Because it’s you’re welcoming and burning enthusiasm that will catch hold of them and have them wanting to comeback for more.

How many know where there’s smoke – fire is usually not far behind.

And i’m trying to start a fire up in here

So with that said, church I give myself permission to smoke behind this sacred desk – Rev you have permission to smoke in this pulpit – choirs you have permission to smoke up in the choir loft – church you have permission to smoke in the sanctuary…

Because where there’s smoke there’s fire – Holy Ghost fire…

And i’m looking for a church on fire …

Is there anybody fired up for the Lord/Jesus …

Say yeah!

Keep the fire burning…

Remember a church on fire starts with you!


One thought on “A church on fire (I’m looking for)

  • Rev. Cheryl Thomas

    Rev. Dr. Stanley Jordan Smith’s message was truly a blessing.
    My very first sermon I preached was about fire
    . ” Just like fire shut up in my bones”
    Jeremiah 20:9
    The Holy Ghost fire was shut up all in my bones
    I have to let the world know that, Jesus is our Lord and
    Thank you for the powerful, spirit filled word of God.

    God bless you
    Rev. Cheryl Thomas

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