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November 8, 2017, 8:22 AM

Fan the Flame

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“… fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6).

The apostle Paul was in a Roman prison when he wrote his second letter to Timothy. While awaiting execution, Paul had on his mind the future of the church. He particularly was concerned about Timothy, his son in the faith and the leader he had left in charge of the church in Ephesus. Timothy had been converted to Christ on Paul’s first missionary journey. It was on his second missionary journey that Paul enlisted Timothy to be a part of his missionary posse as he moved around Galatia, Macedonia, Greece, and Asia Minor. Eventually Timothy was left in charge of the church at Ephesus.

Ephesus was an important city and it was dominated by pagan worship in the Temple of Diana. It was not an easy place to be a Christian or a leader of the church. Timothy experienced this first hand. This reality wore heavily upon him as the days passed. In time, Paul discerned the diminished fires of passion in him. “Therefore, I remind you,” Paul wrote Timothy, “to stir up the gift of God which is in you.” In his admonition Paul used a double-compound Greek word, anazopurein. This Greek word means “to billow into flame,” “to rekindle.” The gift (charisma) of God that Timothy was to stir up to flames again was the Holy Spirit. When Paul initially laid hands on Timothy and prayed for him, the young leader was set aflame with passion for Christ, love for people, and courage for leadership. Fellowship with Paul, Silas, and Luke kept the flames ablaze as they traveled together.

A few years later Timothy was a lonely leader in Ephesus and he needed a rekindling of the red ember within him. We are given a hint of the cause of the dampening of the flame in his heart by what Paul went on to write to him: “God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Tim. 1:7). The Greek word for fear here is deilias, meaning “caution,” “reserve,” “timidity,” or “cowardice.” A spirit of delias limits what we are willing to attempt to only those things we are sure we can pull off on our own strength, rather than by the Holy Spirit’s power. The fires within our souls get smothered by negative thinking and quenched by feelings of inadequacy. The fires burn down because of life’s demands.

Life has a way of dampening the fires of excitement and enthusiasm. We burn down as our energies are sapped, our reserves are depleted, and our hopes smolder. People pressures get us down; problems pile up; worries and anxiety pour cold water on the previously blazing coals. “Stir up the fires!” Paul urges. “God has not given us a spirit of fear.” Our spirits were created to be filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, not a spirit of delias. The Spirit of God gives us the power to do what Christ calls us to do: to love, forgive, share our faith, endure the pressures of daily life, and battle for justice in every realm of life. So, what fills your heart today? A spirit of fear? Or the fire of the Holy Spirit?

Let us join in prayer: Lord, quench all fear in me and set my heart ablaze for You and Your kingdom!

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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