Refined by Fire, Filled with New Wine

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This week we are going to consider the final two metaphors the Bible gives to help us understand the Holy Spirit, wine and fire. Both of these images are pictured on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was initially poured out on believers in Acts 2.  Tongues of fire rested on each believer when they were filled with the Spirit.  As they boldly spoke in other tongues of the mighty deeds of God, some thought they were drunk, full of sweet wine. So fire and wine were both pictured in the pouring out of the Spirit.


Let’s think about fire as a description for the Holy Spirit. God first introduced Himself to Moses at the burning bush, the bush that kept burning and wasn’t consumed, a fire that did not die. This fire was so unique that Moses turned aside to see it. When God led the Israelites' in the wilderness, He did so as the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The fire brought them light and warmth and protection. This fire literally separated the Israelites from the Egyptians.

Elijah was taken up to heaven in a fiery chariot. In Ezekiel and Revelation we get glimpses into the throne room of God. In Ezekiel 1 His throne is described this way, "And I looked, and behold, a storm wind was coming from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually and a bright light around it. In the midst, something like glowing metal in the midst of the fire." Verse 13: "In the midst of the living beings, there was something that looked like burning coals of fire, like torches darting back and forth among the living beings. The fire was bright, and lightning was flashing from the fire." Verse 27: "Then I noticed from the appearance of His loins and upwards something like glowing metal that looked like fire all around within, and from the appearance of His loins and downward, I saw something like fire, and there was a radiance around Him.”

Hebrews 12 tells us our God is a consuming fire. John the Baptist prophesied that Jesus would baptize with fire. At Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came into that upper room and those tongues of fire settled on the disciples heads, every person there who was steeped in the Old Testament and knew all the images of fire knew that God had just walked into the room when they saw those tongues of fire. Fire is associated with the presence of God.

Fire can be dangerous; we all know not to play with fire. In the same way we must  not to play around with the Holy Spirit. We must approach Him with reverence and respect. The Holy Spirit like fire may bring warmth and energy, but He is powerful, even dangerous. Think of wildfires that cannot be controlled.  They can jump over roads and even over rivers. They can be unpredictable .

You may remember a long time ago when there was a massive wildfire in Yellowstone Park.  The horiculturalists worried we may have lost different varieties of plants. But the next year they were amazed because the intense heat germinated seeds that had been dormant for over 100 years producing amazing diversity of life. Fire can bring forth life; it refines and purifies.


Wine is also associated with the Holy Spirit in the Bible. Ephesians 5:18 says, "Do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit." …filled with wine, filled with the Spirit. There is something comparable between wine and the Spirit. I think wine represents joy and pleasure. Wine—not a lot of wine, because a lot of wine won't do this—but a little wine can bring a sense of well-being, and it also brings a loss of inhibition and boldness.  Paul wants us to be filled with the Spirit so that we have a holy loss of inhibition and a holy boldness. When we become consumed by the Spirit our attitude toward life changes.

Matthew 9 and Mark 2 have two similar passages where Jesus teaches we don’t put new wine into old garments because the old garments will be stretched and unable to contain the new wine. Jesus is calling for a paradigm shift. The old garments may be a description of the pharisaical way of thinking that was prevalent in the day of Jesus.  It was a rigid and inflexible adherence to the law of God.  The Pharisees called for obedience above even what the law required. Their obedience was empowered by their self-righteousness.  The filling of the new wine, the Holy Spirit, will bring radical obedience to the Word of God, but it isn’t based on human strength and self-righteousness. It is based on God’s empowerment and His righteousness. It brings joy.

Psalm 16 tells us something that I think is startling about the Lord.  If this wasn’t in the Scriptures, I don't think we would believe it. Psalm 16:11 says, "Thou will make known to me the path of life; in Thy presence is fullness of joy; at Thy right hand are pleasures forevermore." In His presence is fullness of joy. God is not a killjoy; He doesn't want everybody walking around completely serious all the time. He wants us to have His joy. He wants us to experience His pleasure. This is His will for you and me. No wonder one of the symbols for the Holy Spirit is wine.

Series Summary

We're just on the outer, outer edge of our understanding of the Holy Spirit through the metaphors the Bible gives to explain His characteristics.  The wind is refreshing, unpredictable and powerful. The dove is undistracted, devoted and sensitive. The water is cleansing, life-giving and deeply satisfying. The oil is penetrating, powerful, enabling and healing. The lamp is illuminating. Wine is joyful and transformative. Fire is powerful, life-giving, refining and contagious.

Understanding these attributes begs a question, do you want more of the Spirit? Do you want to go deeper with Him? Do you want to not just know about Him but to know Him? This is my prayer for all of us, that we will experience more of the Spirit of God.  Jesus said, ”Ask and seek and knock, and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.  If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? Luke 11:9-10,13


Listen or read the Daily Practice and Lectio Divina using the resources below to enrich your spiritual journey.
Daily Practice

Each day this week, speak directly to your spirit using the words from Ephesians 5:14:

"Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

If you find it challenging to speak to your own spirit, ask a family member or trusted friend to assist you in getting started. Let these declarations become a part of your daily routine, inviting Christ's light to shine in every part of your life.

Lection Divina for Psalm 119:50

"This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me."

Find a quiet place where you can be still and uninterrupted. Take a few deep breaths to center yourself. Invite the Holy Spirit to guide your time of reflection.

1. Reading (Lectio):
Read the scripture passage slowly and attentively, allowing the words to sink into your heart and mind.

"This is my comfort in my affliction, That Your word has revived me.”

Notice any words or phrases that stand out to you. What catches your attention? Read the passage again, letting the words wash over you.

2. Meditation (Meditatio):
Reflect on the passage and consider its meaning for your life. Ask yourself:
How does God's word bring comfort to me in times of affliction?
When have I experienced revival through the scriptures?
What areas of my life feel worn out and in need of reviving?
Spend a few moments in silence, allowing God to speak to you through this verse.

3. Prayer (Oratio):
Respond to God's word with a heartfelt prayer. You might pray something like this:

"Lord, thank You for the comfort Your word brings in times of affliction. I acknowledge that my spirit sometimes feels worn out and in need of revival. Help me to turn to Your word for renewal and strength. As I meditate on Your promises, let them revive my soul and awaken me to Your presence. In Jesus' name, Amen.”

4. Contemplation (Contemplatio):
Rest in God's presence and let His word dwell richly within you. Allow the truth of the scripture to permeate your being. Imagine God's word as a soothing balm to your spirit, bringing healing and restoration.