Fan The Flame
Key Text :2 Timothy 1:3-11
Paul constantly prayed for Timothy his friend, his fellow traveller, his son in the faith and a strong leader in the Christian church. This passage impresses upon us those who lived and served Christ faithfully until their dying day.
Paul says in 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame (revitalise/stoke) the gift of God.
v.4 We don’t know when Paul and Timothy last parted but it was probably when Paul was arrested and taken to Rome for his second imprisonment. The tears they shared a parting revealed the depth of their relationship. Although the two men were separated from each other, their prayers provided a source of mutual encouragement. We too should pray consistently for others especially for those who do God’s work
Timothy’s mother and grandmother Eunice and Lois were early Christian converts, possibly through Paul’s ministry in their home city of Lystra. Acts 16:1 They had communicated their strong Christian faith to Timothy, even though his father was probably not a believer.
Some of us are here today, not because we loved church when we first started going but because our mother, father, grandparents made ys go to church. We sat through the long boring sermons, listening to a message we could not relate to and said to yourself ‘When I’m old enough to make my own decision, I’m outta here, I’m not going back to church, I’ll leave this religious stuff behind me.’
But here we are at someone else’s church. – No one forced us to come, intimidated us to tune in, didn’t put a gun to our head. No one called us and made us get dressed. We are at church not because we had to come to church but because we can come to church.
And in time we came to discover that what our mother, father, grandparents taught us is actually real and that Jesus can totally transform and renew our life because God responds, God hears the faintest cry and steps into our circumstances. And it may be that some of those people are long gone but we can thank God every time we remember them because they gave us a foundation upon which to stand.
For others it may not be our story, our parents were so heathen, anti-Christ that it’s a wonder we made it out of that house with any version of sanity. And we shock ourselves when we think how did my life take these twists and turns and how is it that I came to know Jesus?
We may not have a family heritage in the faith but you have a Christian heritage in the faith. The people who came well before and laid a foundation those who Sacrificed, laboured, served, gave, prayed and now join us in a succession, a continuum, an army of believers where our life has meaning and purpose as we build upon what they have done. Because none of us came to faith on our own. None of us starts faith and none of us ends faith. Jesus said ‘I am the alpha and the Omega the first and the last the beginning and the end ’ Revelation 22:13 and weI are the continuum in between.
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy he writes on technical issues of leading a church and Christian doctrine. This Paul’s second letter to Timothy is much more personal. When you love someone you want to leave a legacy with them. And so in this second letter we see some of Paul leaking through the ink of the pen v.3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.
He knows that Timothy is going to outlive him, he knows that Timothy is going to become the faithful pastor and so now as Paul awaits execution he remembers Timothy with thankfulness. Even in this situation Paul teaches us about discipleship. He teaches us that it is more personal than it is pragmatic (logical/reasoned) More relational than strategic or tactical. More intimate than it is instructive. Discipleship is one of those things caught more than it is taught fromThere is some teaching involved but we catch it by the people we hang out with, the people you do life with.
We learn how to pray not by reading a book but by hanging out with someone who knows how to pray.
Some people have become impersonal with the faith. We come and go, we know one another and for some of us best relationships are outside the church. Maybe our best friend they know we go to church but that’s all they know.
Let us seek to be a N.T. church where we remember one another in our prayers so that we may be filled with joy and hope for the future. Where the older saints can look to the younger with a sense of confidence for the future and the younger can look to the older with an expectancy of something bigger than owning a house, greater than just advancing your career, more costly than a car a life drenched in grace.
That’s the motivation and emphasis of Paul’s letter to the young Timothy.
Church don’t hide our light in the workplace, at home, our friends and families are fertile fields for planting seeds of the Good News Let our parents, children, spouse, brothers and sisters know of your faith in Jesus and be sure they see the love of Jesus, helpfulness and joy in you.
At his time of ordination Timothy had received special gifts of the Holy Spirit to enable him to serve the church 1 Timothy 4:14so He wasn’t lacking, he didn’t need gifts because he already had them.
v.6 Paul tells exhorts Timothy to ‘… fan into flame the gift of God’ Paul was encouraging him to persevere, to keep going, to not give up. If Timothy would step out boldly in faith and proclaim the good news once again, the Holy Spirit would go with him and give him power.
When we use the gifts God has given us, we will find that God will give us the power we need.
Timothy’s spiritual gift had been given to him when Paul and the elders had laid their hands on him and set him apart for ministry. 1 Timothy 4:14
God gives all Christians gifts to use to build up the body of Christ 1 Corinthians 12:4-31 and He gives special gifts to some through church leaders who serve as God’s instruments.
Timothy was experiencing great opposition to his message and to himself as a leader. His youth, his association with Paul and his leadership had all come under fire from believers and non-believers alike. Paul urged him to be bold.
When we allow people to intimidate us, we neutralise our effectiveness for God. The power of the Holy Spirit can help us overcome a fear of what some might say or do to us, so that we can continue to do God’s work.
Paul goes on to mention three characteristics of the effective Christian leader power, love and self discipline. These are available to everyone because the Holy Spirit lives in us.
When we follow His lead each day, our life will more fully exhibit these characteristic traits.
The world talks about friends with benefits in a crude context but the Holy Spirit is the true friend with benefits because when He comes to live in us He doesn’t come alone but brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23
Paul says against these things there is no law.
The fruit of the spirit of the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us. The Spirit produces these character traits that are found in the nature of Christ. They are the by-product of Christ’s control, we can’t obtain them by trying to get them without His help.
If we want the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us, we must join our life to Christ’s. We must know Him, love Him, remember Him and imitate Him. As a result we will fulfil the intended purpose of the law to love God and our neighbours.
Question: Which of these qualities do you want the Spirit to produce in you.
In this time of mounting persecution, Timothy may have been afraid to continue preaching the good news. His fears were based on fact because believers were being arrested and executed.
Paul told Timothy to expect suffering Timothy like Paul would be jailed for preaching the good news. But Paul promised Timothy that God would give him the strength and that he would be ready when it was his turn to suffer.
Even when there is no persecution it can be difficult to share our faith in Christ. Fortunately we like Paul and Timothy can call on the Holy Spirit to give us courage. Don’t be afraid to testify.
v.9-10 And what is our testimony? The Good News that God loves us, chose us and sent Christ to die for us so that we can be forgiven of sin past, present and future.v.
We can have eternal life through repentance in faith in Him because He broke the power of death with His life, death and ultimately His resurrection.
We don’t deserve to be saved but God offers a salvation anyway. All we have to do is believe in His son and accept His free offer of life through relationship with Jesus.