The Lone Ember
By Pastor J.D. Link
Hebrews 10:25 says, “Not forsaking (abandoning or deserting) the assembling of ourselves together (the gathering in one place), as the manner (custom or habit) of some is; but exhorting (calling near, encouraging, instructing, admonishing) one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Coming together as Christians and fellowshipping on a regular basis is not only wise and necessary in our Christian walk, but it is also commanded. “Do not forsake assembling together” isn’t presented as a suggestion.
Matt. 18:19-20 tells us that when we are gathered together as Believers, Jesus is in our midst in a special way that He is not present when we are alone. True, God dwells in us. True, it is good to be alone sometimes to pray, fast, meditate, Bible read, take a sabbatical, etc. But it is not good to be alone for too long. You need to be regularly in Church and Bible study. There is where you find Jesus’ presence in a special way. Solitude in the Christian life does not mean isolation.
1Co 5:4 – “…when ye are gathered together… in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Act 20:7- “… when the disciples came together to break bread…” “When you come together” (1Cor 11:18, 20, 33; 14:23). Notice, “when” the disciples are gathered together, not “if”. It is a given. It is Christianity 101. Also, according Jude (17-19), a person who claims to be a Christian is in really bad company if he doesn’t fellowship with the Believers. It is very important to be plugged into a Church.
The Lord spoke to me one morning during our men’s retreat a few years ago through watching the campfire. A good bed of coals had been made through a whole night of wood burning. The coals glowed red hot when together, and the wind blowing across them would make them glow brighter, and even set them on fire again. I took the shovel, and got a coal out and set it on a rock. Nothing happened immediately, but it slowly started dying and turning black. It started losing its glow and heat. The blowing wind would try to get it glowing again, but it wouldn’t last, because it was separated from the group of coals. Within 5 minutes, it was black and cold to the touch. I could then hold it and write on the rocks in black. A bigger, or more “mature” ember would take longer to go out, but it did as well.
Here is the parable’s meaning. That bed of coals represents Spirit filled Believers – red hot and on fire for Jesus. Feeding one another with God’s heat and passion. Sharpening the countenance of our friends (Prv 27:17). Being blown into by the sweet wind of the Holy Spirit. The lone ember is the Christian that separates themselves. They stop fellowshipping with Believers. They stop going to church; Bible study; prayer groups; etc. It’s every few days, then weeks, then months, then gone. The wind of the Holy Spirit tries to blow life back into them, but it isn’t sustained, because they are separated.
They then grow cold. They become cynical; sarcastic; depressed. The get sloppy; make excuses; fall back into sin. Forsake their Christian friends; become critical of Christians; and even mock true Christians who are on fire for Jesus. Because their soul has become black, it now marks up the people they come into contact with. Instead of igniting a fire in someone, they feel further away from Jesus after being around you then closer to Him. The weak Christian may be affected quicker through forsaking assembly, but the older Christian will eventually be affected, too. You can’t go on very long out of fellowship. This is why solitary confinement has been used as torture for many centuries. It just isn’t good to be separated for very long.
Here is some good news, and the end of the parable: after the ember had become cold and black, I tossed it back into the bed of embers. Within seconds, the heat and fire from the bed of embers, mixed with the wind blowing across it, caused it to light up immediately. You could not even tell it had ever been separated. This is what the prodigal will find. When we repent and get back into fellowship, our fire can be lit again very quickly. You do not have to wait years to get “re-fired”. It may take years to build trust again, or walk in power, or something else – but it only takes moments to be lit up again by the Holy Spirit.
It says about Jesus: “A bruised reed He will not break, and a smoking flax He will not quench. This simply means He will not utterly destroy those who are broken or have no trace of holy fire in them. If we repent, He will bind up our wounds. He will mend us. He will relight the fire. Go invite those lone embers back into the bed of coals. You cannot force them – nor should you. But you can spread a table. You can persuade them to get back into assembly.
Heb 10:24 “And let us consider (fully observe & fix our mind & eyes upon) one another to provoke (incite – stir up, stimulate, excite) unto love and to good works. This is our responsibility to each other. Why? Because the end is near, and it is high time we awake out of sleep (Rom 13:11-13, Philp. 4:5, Jam 5:8, 1Cor 7:29, 1Jn 2:18, 1Pt 4:7-8, Heb 3:12-15). Stay plugged in to a spirit filled group of Believers. Get you fire lit once again in Jesus Name.