Years ago God gave me this illustration of the Christian Life using the principals of a 4 stroke engine it has since been my most read article and as I continue to consider this it continues to teach me something to this day.
The four stroke engine revolutionized transportation with those four strokes being: The intake stroke, the compression stroke, the power stroke, and the exhaust stroke,
The piston moves down in the cylinder creating a vacuum
which draws both the oxygen and the fuel into the cylinder.
See the picture in your mind almost like a syringe sucks
up the fluid for a shot in your arm as the nurse pulls back
on the plunger. The piston pulls fuel and air into the cylinder
as it travels down.
Compression stoke: The piston Travels up in the cylinder
compressing the air and fuel creating both heat and pressure. This also allows the oxygen molecules to surround the fuel molecules for a more complete burn.
Power Stroke: The fuel ignites causing and immediate
expansion of gases and pushes the piston down
forcefully turning the crankshaft
Exhaust Stroke: The piston Moves up again pushing the burnt fuel and exhaust out of the cylinder to clean up for the next intake stroke.
For all this to work efficiently the engine has to be engineered properly, and the fuel has to be right for that engine so that it doesn’t ignite to quickly or not at all. That’s where octane comes in. Low octane means low flash point, or the lower the octane number the lower the temperature required to ignite the fuel. So going back to the compression stroke, if the piston is on it’s way up and starts to create heat and pressure too much for the octane of the fuel, BANG the fuel ignites before the piston gets to the top of the stroke and slams down on the crankshaft. You hear a ping, but you just lost the power of that stroke of the piston.
This condition is called pre-ignition and with today’s technology your engine detects this condition with sensors and will retard the spark plugs firing so that the cylinder will cool and not harm the engine. The bad news is that this adjustment robs you of fuel economy and you may not even know it’s going on. In the old days we heard the ping and knew we needed more octane in our fuel perhaps a mid-grade or premium. Today the best way to determine it is by trying higher octane, (Mid-grade or premium) and seeing if it offsets the price by an added mile per gallon number savings. The older you car gets and the more mileage the more likely it will need a higher octane as the cylinders wear and carbon builds so will the heat that causes pre-ignition increase. Because of this it’s a good idea as you car ages to try a mid-grade or premium fuel to see if it will save you money.
A diesel has so much compression that it doesn’t even need a spark plug to ignite the fuel. The fuel itself is so high octane these engines run on more than twice the compression and that is why diesels are more efficient.
Now let’s compare The Christian Life:
The Intake Stroke: What kind of fuel are you taking in?
Like the pig in Leviticus 11: you may have the cleft hoof and be separate from the world but since you don’t chew the cud of God’s word regularly you are unclean and the fuel you are taking in is low octane destined to ignite prematurely. Not if you chew the cud of God’s word.
Psalm 1 BLESSED [is] the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.
Will what you take in for the nourishment of you soul prepare you for the up coming compression and heat?
The Compression Stroke: Are You Prepared For the Pressures of Life?
Will you consider it ‘pure joy’ when you face various trials James 1:2?
Proverbs 17:3 The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, But the LORD tests the hearts.
It’s gonna get hot and when it does will you explode prematurely?
The Power Stroke: Will God’s Power be able to flow through you?
Often others see how a Christian deals with trial and tribulations, health concerns or even death, then amazed at God power in the Christian they hunger and thirst to get to know Jesus.
Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me* in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Think of Peter as an example; originally a pre-igniter, but ended up a diesel light of the world for Christ!
Exhaust Stroke: When exhausted the enemy often attacks.
Just like Elijah after he defeated the prophets of Baal in 1Kings 18 once spent the enemy came after him hard and fast. This is the time when we need to clean up our act.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
You have to get rid of that sin if you are going to be ready for the next intake stroke. Your guilt can weigh you down, like carbon deposits and cause pre-ignition?
You are engineered perfectly by God; your intake can be the highest octane ever, the ‘Very Word of God’. Anticipate your compression the heat and pressure with ‘pure joy. Then go light your world with the Power of the Spirit as God’s power flows through you. Don’t forget to confess on that exhaust stroke, and get ready to refuel. Remember the higher the octane perhaps even diesel, we, like The Apostle Paul can withstand so much heat and pressure the resulting power will advance the Kingdom that much further.
Matthew11:12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and men of violence take it by force.