Last night Di and I enjoyed dancing at a social evening organised by the dance school we attend. Don’t worry – we were not breaking COVID-19 lockdown rules. It was all online and we were dancing alone together in our front room with our packing boxes pushed to the edges. At one point in the evening our hosts announced the next dance would be a Jive. It is a quick Latin dance and is always fun when it’s danced well. It took me three attempts and help from Di to remember the steps. I had forgotten how to Jive. Eventually I got the hang of it again and put the steps together. I probably have not danced a Jive for six months because of the lockdown, so it is no wonder it took me so long to pick it up again.
The Old Testament verse we are looking at this morning talks about how the fire at the altar needs to be constantly kept alight. This enabled people to make their sin offerings and fellowship offerings, as well as their wave offerings at the tabernacle, or later on at the temple. We no longer need to go through an elaborate system to make our offerings to God. Jesus made an offering once and for all through his death on a cross and he has now become our offering. However, the Old Testament picture of offerings being constantly made at the altar help us as believers now. We need to keep our devotion to Jesus alive and burning for our relationship with him to be real and effective.
It is easy when disappointments, setbacks or just plain busyness take over, to let our devotion to Jesus slip. We stop praying or stop reading the scriptures or miss out on fellowship and worship with others. We simply get out of the habit and then forget how to do it (as I did with the dancing) and lose the ability to make it a regular part of our lives. We are packing up our house in readiness to move to Swindon and it can be so all consuming that those precious times with God are lost. We feel there is just so much to do in such a short time that those spiritual disciplines don’t seem to matter quite as much. But they do.
Today, as I read my bible passages, prayed with Di and then set out on my 2 km walk for the day, I felt refreshed and renewed and ready for the week. The fire inside me has been fanned into flame. That is the way I want to continue to live.
Can I encourage you this week, and at the start of a new month, to keep the fire on your spiritual altar burning, and if for some reason you have forgotten or let things slip, to light it again. Keeping those fires burning is the key to a productive and effective Christian life.