Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20, ‘Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.’
Observations: In the Greek these verses are incredibly blunt, ‘the Spirit not quench, prophecies not despise.’ Firstly, Paul commands us not to quench the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? It’s not unusual to describe the Spirit as fire, after all the sign of his coming at Pentecost was tongues of fire (Act 2:3 cf. Ex 3:2; 13:21). Fire is often described in terms of its power i.e. a consuming fire (Ex 24:17). According to the Bible the Spirit convicts us and enables, or empowers us. He gives us gifts and produces fruit in our lives. In a sense our ability to ‘shine’ is the work of the Spirit. But we need to cooperate, or keep in step with the Spirit (Gal 5:25). We need to open ourselves up to his leading. To not do so, is to quench the Spirit. Stephen accuses the Jewish leads of resisting the Spirit (Act 7:51). Secondly, Paul commands us not to despise prophecies. It would seem unlikely that he is referring to Old Testament prophecies here, which Paul regarded as Scripture. So he must mean prophecies that were given in the early church by people who had the gift of prophecy (1 Cor 12:10; 14:1). If God speaks into our lives through someone else, we should not despise, or ignore it. God not only speaks through His word, but also through His people. Such words are always interpreted in light of Scripture, and we need to be discerning to make sure they are from God.
Application: How open are you to the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? Would you describe him as a fire that shines through you? When the Spirit prompts you to do something do you resist him? Do you prefer to play it safe rather than step out in faith? And if someone speaks God’s word into your life how do you react? Do you get defensive, or make excuses, or change the topic, or do you repent? We believe in a God who intervenes in his world, and particularly in the lives of his children, and yet we are all too often unresponsive to his activity in our lives.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I ask you to forgive me for the so many times when I don’t even hear Your voice, let alone obey it. Lord, help me to be attentive to Your voice and the leading of Your Spirit. Lord, guide me and lead me, May I not quench Your Spirit, may I not treat Your word, spoken by Your people, with contempt, but with reverence and obedience. Lord, speak to me, and use me to build Your kingdom and bring glory and honour to Your name. In the name of Jesus Your Son I pray. Amen.