"Fan Into Flame"
About 18-1/2 years ago I preached a “try-out” sermon from this passage. This passage calls upon us to “remember” the faith of family as a tool to fan into flame our own faith. It’s time for young people to step up and become what their godly parents taught them to be.
Fan Into Flame
(2 Tim. 1:3-7)
A. I want every child here today to know this fact. We want you to succeed. This church desires for you to become the person God desires; to be used by God for his glory and to walk in his ways. That defines success. It doesn’t make a difference if you are 6 or 16, we want you to succeed and want to provide for you every opportunity for you to walk in the light of God.
B. I want you young people to know how blessed you are. Many of you are here because your parents are here. Your mom and dad, your grandma and grandpa, your aunt or uncle desire for you to grow up knowing Jesus as Lord and the Bible as God’s word.
C. 3 John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than to know my children are walking in the truth.” When John wrote that, he was not talking about his physical children, but his children in the faith. People who had come to a saving knowledge of Jesus and were living out that faith fully.
D. Paul is much the same way with Timothy. Most people believe that 2 Timothy was written by Paul when in was in Rome that last time waiting trail and that he would soon die a martyrs death. Paul appears to think that also. But if all that is true, then this letter we start today is the last record from Paul and it is written to his “beloved child.” It is Paul’s way to encourage this young man to become all that he could be. So I want to address the kids and young adults of this congregation and ask you to walk with me through this letter as though it was written to you, to guide and encourage your walk with the Lord. As parents or grandparents, we too will gain a great amount from this letter as to how we should live and what we should teach.
E. So where does Paul begin. In what is a very personal and heartfelt letter, he begins by reminding Timothy of his spiritual upbringing and challenging him to live that life that has been seen in his mom and grandma.
I. A Family of Faith
A. I have been blessed by God to have been raised in a Christian home. My great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, siblings, wife and children are all Christians. Most all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins are also Christians. It is a heritage of faith. You might think that would make life much easier for me to be a Christian, and in many ways it does. But it also can make Christianity simply a family religion, not a personal faith. It can be something I do because everyone in my family does it, not because I am devoted to God. Sometimes I need a little push to open my heart and mind.
B. Paul tells Timothy that he was raised with a great faith, but that faith is the whole history of the Jewish people. The ancestors that Paul talks about probably refer to people like Abraham, Moses, and Elijah. Paul grew up with the stories of great men and women of scripture and was challenge to live that devoted of a life and he did. Along that journey, Paul’s life became intertwined with Timothy’s. It was an unusual relationship, but one that had developed into one that was similar to Elijah and Elisha. But Paul knew that his time for teaching Timothy was coming to an end. So he looks back and remembers with tears their last good-bye.
C. But he doesn’t stay long on that sad note, instead, he moves from his spiritual past to Timothy’s spiritual past. He reminds Timothy of the sincere faith of his grandmother and mother; two women, who loved Timothy greatly and wanted to see this young man become the disciple of Jesus that would change the world, much like his mentor Paul.
D. Young people, I don’t ask you to have a faith because your mom, dad, or grandparents did. I ask you to see the faith of those people and decided if that is the faith you want to have. One that will take you through good times and bad; one that will lift you up when are down; and one that will give you strength when you are weak. Do YOU want such a faith? If so, Paul wants to tell you what you need to fan into flame in order to live the greatest life this earth offers.
II. Fan Into Flame
A. Reread verse 6-7. These verses should be memorized by every person in this room. They are great words to keep in front of you. Write them on the doorframe of your heart, wear them on the spiritual clothes you dress in every day. These words can keep you going when you want to quit. Live them to their fullest.
B. You want to know what will keep you from a life of faith? FEAR! We’ve all been there. Your heart begins to beat rapidly. There’s shortness of breath. You have difficulty swallowing. Your knees are weak. Your hands are cold, and you’ve never been so hot in your life. What I’ve just described are some of the physiological reactions that some people have when getting ready to give that first public speech. One of the greatest hazards to faith is fear. When fear immobilizes us and keeps us from doing that to which we have been called, we are dominated by a “spirit of fear.” God has not given us a spirit of fear, instead, God has given us 3 things:
(1) Spirit of Power. I love this word “power.” From the Greek we think about the English word “dynamite.” But I really believe Paul is speaking about “ability.” Paul says that God has enabled every one of us, given each of us the power to do and live His will. You don’t have to fear failure, powerlessness, or the darkness of evil. The reason is that you have the power to rise above it all and live on Holy Ground. Listen to Ps. 66:10-12. Even with all that God allows to happen in your life, and I am not saying life has not problems, what I want you to hear is that God has brought you to “a place of abundance.” If you want to live in power, let me give you one piece of advice: meditate on God’s Word.
(2) Spirit of Love. God has given us a spirit of power, and of LOVE. Listen to 1 John 4:16-18. Remember, we don’t have a spirit of fear, and there is “no fear in love.” So when Paul tells Timothy we have a spirit of love, the love we have is from the Father, who is full of grace and truth. That love then is given to us and then seen in us as we share God’s love with others. Take hold of that love and let the power of God be at work destroying the fear of failures.
(3) Spirit of Self-Discipline. As Paul starts to move this subject forward he closes this sentence to Timothy by reminding him that God, who has not given us a spirit of fear, but of Power, Love and thirdly, Self-Discipline. This last word really has to do with the way you think and how that affects the way you live. The idea is found in Rom. 8:15. This self-discipline is connected to the living as children of God. This whole section in Rom. 8, helps us to see that because of who we are, we live differently than rest of the world. We don’t simply live according to the flesh. Even when we feel week, we cry out to God our Father for strength. That is living a self-controlled, self-discipline, spirit-filled mindset.
A. I lift up every young person and young adult who is with us today. I ask you to remember the faith of those who helped you see Jesus as your Savior. I call upon you to rise up and become what your godly mentors saw in you, but more importantly, what God enabled you to become.
B. Don’t live in fear. Don’t live beneath your potential. Take hold of the spirit of power, love and self-discipline and walk in greatness. If we can help you in that Christian walk, then come and let us pray over you as we stand and sing.