Our focus verse is 2 Timothy 1:6 “…fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you…”
Here’s a little history of when Paul wrote this book:
2 Timothy was the last book Paul wrote and he wrote it about 2 months before he was beheaded. Paul was in prison twice. The first time happened at the end of Acts where he was under house arrest. He was chained to a guard at all times but he could see people as they would come and go. But this time, he was in a prison in Rome — in a dark, damp cold dungeon. In fact, the last chapter of this book, Paul asks Timothy to bring him his coat. So that is what was going on with Paul.
Crazy things were going on in Rome. On July 19, 64AD Caesar Nero was beginning some bizarre behavior. History tells us he was sitting on his roof fiddling while the city of Rome was burning. Why was he doing this? Most historians believe Nero himself set the city on fire. Most believe he was the arson that started the fire that burned much of the city.
Christian persecution isn’t a new thing, and didn’t start with the ISIS we know today. Nero was a megalomaniac (a psychopath who fantasizes over power with a deflated self-image) who wanted the glory for rebuilding the city of Rome. He has to blame someone for the fire. Nero spread rumors, “These Christians are always talking about being the light and being “on fire” for Jesus. They are nothing but a bunch of arsons — and cannibals. They set fires and talk about eating bodies and drinking blood.”
Eventually, Nero completely loses his sanity and goes riding through his palace gardens naked in his chariot, screeching and cursing as Christians by the 100s (1000s) were being ignited — made into human torches being dipped into wax and then set on fire. All this after Nero had a discussion with a man he blamed for his problems. The man was the Apostle Paul. Nero obviously rejected the Gospel and it was then that he went crazy. He heard the Gospel, rejected it, then went insane— he ordered Paul’s execution. Paul was beheaded on the Appian Way outside of Rome where so many beheadings and crucifixtions and human torture took place.
So Paul is in his prison cell awaiting his trial before Caesar Nero when he writes this letter to his so in the faith, Timothy. Even when his death is imminent, Paul doesn’t write from a state of depression, he sees the bigger picture and he talks about life — eternal life. And then continues with words of encouragement to Timothy. Who are we raising up? Paul used the prison, the dungeon of doom, as a temple of prayer and to voice encouragement.
Fan the flames of the spiritual gifts God gives us. That phrase, fan it into full flame, mean stir us the fire. There may be live coals in your life, but you have allowed the fire to go down. You haven’t been using the gifts that God has given you, the talents He has given you. It’s time to fan them into full flame again. It’s time to be reignited. It’s time to say, “Lord, how can I use what You have given me for Your glory until You return?”
Well how can we fan the flames of our gifts when we don’t even know what they are? We have made that so easy… it is all laid out in Basecamp 3. But finding out what your gift you have is not enough. We have to put it in practice — we have to use it. And we have to encourage and bring others along. And even then, its easy to get in a rut. Timothy was full of faith and a hard worker, but though he was busy and even because he was busy, he was in danger of settling in a rut. Paul encouraged Timothy to fan the flames.
The American pastor, AW Tozer said:
In Scripture God never uses superfluous words. He never says to a person who is wide awake, “Wake up!” He never says to a person who is lying down, “Lie down!” He never says to someone standing, “Get up!” And He never says to a person who is already stirred up, “Stir up!” Or fan the Flames. God never wastes His words!
And all this from Paul, who is about to be beheaded. But he knew Timothy needed to hear this.
The Bible tells us that Timothy was a timid, sickly man. Not the robust man we think of when we hear of Bible heroes. But Paul saw to it to RAISE up Timothy with encouragement and telling him to “fan the flames.” Don’t be ashamed of the gospel.
My Granddaddy had the best fires in his fireplace. Seriously, no one could keep a fire roaring like my Granddaddy. His secret? He tended it. He used the poker to stir up the coals. He used the bellows to fan the flame when the fire needed a boost of oxygen. He put the kindling on and kept the logs coming when the fire needed more fuel. But he did one more thing. He passed this on to my dad who passed it on to me and my brother… and now we can all build a really good fire.
Smokey the Bear gives us the Fire triangle — 3 components needed to start a fire:
- Heat, that initial spark, that prompting of the Holy Spirit
- Fuel, the kindling and eventually the logs that burn. This is discovering and using your spiritual gifts and raising others up
- Oxygen, air is 21% oxygen. Fires require 16% oxygen to burn. This is where we must fan the flame… avoid the rut or the fear of failure or just allowing the spiritual gifts to go dormant.
A fireman friend of ours told us that an unchecked fire doubles every minute. Imagine as we set that spark in motion keeping our spiritual gifts on fire and raising up others, Summit Church will have an unstoppable inferno for Jesus! We will be a light so bright and so warmed by God’s love that Denver will become a city on a hill, a light that points to Jesus for the world to see.
Father, show me how to fan into flame that gift You have given me that by its use You may be glorified. Help me to raise up my immediate family and my spiritual family to stir up their spiritual gifts as well.