Fan into Flame the Gift

Fan into Flame the Gift

Posted by Signal Mountain Church of Christ on Monday, March 11, 2019
2 Timothy 1:1-14

What are you ashamed of?  What do you shy away from as uncomfortable and undesirable?

On the other hand, what energizes you with motivation?  What makes you feel empowered, secure and strong?

Timothy was like a son to the apostle Paul.  They had been on many adventures together, mission trips, and wildly dangerous encounters with zealous Jewish leaders who wanted to kill them.  While spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ across the Roman empire, they had experienced both amazing success in planting churches and making disciples, but also, they were constantly persecuted and hated, particularly by the Jewish communities who rejected Jesus as their Messiah and who considered the church as a blasphemous threat. By the time of this letter, Timothy is serving as evangelist in the church of Ephesus.  It’s been several years since Paul and Timothy first met and Timothy here seems settled down into a more comfortable working position within a Metro church setting.  We don’t know for sure, but it appears by Paul’s words here that Timothy’s zeal for the front lines may have cooled off a bit. Otherwise why would Paul feel it necessary to tell him to fan into flames the gift of God which, he wrote, “is in you through the laying on of my hands.”  Then Paul reminds Timothy that God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and self-discipline or soundness of mind.  What’s going on here?  Why is Paul writing like this to Timothy? 

Timothy needed a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit.  Paul even tells him, don’t be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.  Why did Paul have to say that?  Didn’t Timothy have the indwelling Holy Spirit?  Absolutely!  Look at verse 14.  Then why does Paul have to remind him to fan into flame the gift of God?  Why exhort Timothy not to be ashamed to testify about our Lord or ashamed of Paul who is at this time, in prison?  Do Holy Spirit indwelled people not have a constant glow in the dark presence about them that never diminishes?  We have a lot to learn about this.  Just because you’ve been saved by the grace of God in Christ Jesus does not mean that you won’t face dry times and be tempted to take off the armor of God and get some “Me” time. 

Like in a marriage, the most intimate of human relationships, there are times when things can get stale.  The Holy Spirit’s relationship with us is even more intimate than marriage. There’s never a time or place when He is not in you, with you, fully involved in all you say and do… even in what you think.  David shows us this in Psalm 139:7-12.  But, remember what David did with Bathsheba.  Was the Spirit away somewhere when that occurred?  No.  David just cooled off.  Could this possibly happen with Timothy?  With you?  With me? 

2 Timothy 1:3-14 is golden guidance for what to do when the dry times come.  We all need people in our lives who remind us of our faith.  We need people who, because they know God and love us, will tell us what we need to hear.  Timothy had Paul.  David had Nathan.  Who do you have?

When many people think of the Holy Spirit, they imagine miracles, signs and wonders.  And the Bible shows us that the power of the Holy Spirit has manifested itself in mighty works and wonders. But that’s not the main manifestation of the Holy Spirit, and for most of God’s people the spiritual gifts of miracles, signs and wonders is not present.  The Bible shows us all through its pages that God’s Holy Spirit is working to bless and guide God’s family, sanctify them, guard them and ultimately bring them home to God’s eternal presence. Those enamored by signs and wonders must be careful. Miracles can both reveal God’s will but they can also deceive.  Jesus told us in Matt. 7, not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord!” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in your name and in your name drive out demons, and in your name do many mighty works?”  Then Jesus said, “I will say to them plainly, ‘I never knew you!  Depart from me you who work lawlessness!’” 

Look at 2 Thess. 2:9-17.

The point is, miracles certainly get attention, but they don’t always lead people to God.  Not everyone who does a miracle is in good standing with Jesus.  Whenever the Bible speaks of testing the spirits, it doesn’t point to the power of the miracle, but whether or not it speaks the truth of God’s word and confesses the lordship of Jesus Christ.

Next week, Lord willing, I hope to look with you at the gifts of the Spirit and what the Bible teaches us about these.

But let me close with this admonition from 2 Timothy.  God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline, or sound judgment.  Let’s look at what happened in Acts 4:8-12, 18-20, 23-31.  Look again at what Paul says to Timothy in 2 Tim. 1:6-8.  What’s Paul telling Timothy to do?

How does this apply to us today?  Fan into flame the gift of God within you.  Don’t be ashamed to the gospel or to tell others about Christ. Join in the suffering for the gospel, as Jesus suffered for you.

3-7  Did Timothy have the Holy Spirit?  Just look at what the text says here.  Paul loves Timothy as a dear son. In fact, this is perhaps the most personal letter of Paul that we have in scripture.  It’s also the last one he wrote that we have recorded for us.  His first focus is on Jesus Christ and God the Father as he writes these words to Timothy. Then he unveils this beautiful spiritual relationship with Timothy.  I thank God whom I serve… as I constantly remember you in my prayers day and night.  What a prayer warrior!  How much did prayer figure into Paul’s life?  Day and night.  As we saw last week the last mention of the Spirit in Ephesians, God admonishes us in 6:18-20 With all prayer and petition, praying at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, praying on my behalf that words be given to me as I open my mouth to make known with boldness, the mystery of the gospel… pray that I may proclaim it boldly as I should! 

Praying always in the Spirit.  Paul says, I long to see you, even as I recall your tears, so that I may be filled with joy. Now Paul speaks of Timothy’s mother and grandmother and the faith within them, and within Timothy.  Now comes the point of application that this has been leading up to: look at verse 6.

I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands.

What’s Paul trying to say here?  Did Timothy have the Holy Spirit?  O, yes!  Look ahead to verse 14.

What’s happening to Timothy that he needs a reminder?  What did he need to be reminded of and what did he need to do?