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Stir up: Thoughts on fanning the flame

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2 Timothy 1:  Stir Up – Thoughts on Fanning the Flame

ME:

Reality TV shows: Several on same theme (Apprentice, Apprent:M Stewart & Hells Kitchen) – one of the best prizes is when you get one on one training from the person you are emulating.  Got me thinking… 

ILLUS:  Favorite Teacher – Fishing, Orion, BI (into Word: into you?), Impact

  • Caring for him with pneumonia, broken shoulder, broken hip
  • Elijah/Elisha – passing the mantle
  • Timothy is a church planter that Paul is passing the mantle to – but ready to quit

Stats from Barna & Focus on the Family:

  • 1500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches
  • 50% of pastors marriages will end in divorce
  • 80% of pastors & 84% of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in ministry
  • 50% of pastors feel so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could but have no other way of making a living
  • 80% of seminary & Bible school grads leave the ministry within the first 5 years of their ministry
  • 70% of pastors constantly fight depression
  • 40% of pastors polled said that they have had an extra-marital affair since entering ministry
  • 70% of pastors said that the only time they read their Bible was when preparing for sermons
  • 80% of pastors’ spouses feel their spouse is over worked
  • 80% of pastors’ spouses wish their spouse would choose another profession
  • The majority of pastor’s wives surveyed, said that the most destructive even that has occurred in their marriage and family was the day they entered into ministry

Ministry will kill you.  It killed Paul.  It killed Peter.  It killed Jesus.  And it will kill you – and some of you are feeling that very deeply right now. 

YOU: 

·         Have you ever felt just burnt out in following Jesus?

·         Have you ever felt like you are all alone in our city? 

·         Have you ever felt timid or ashamed of your faith? 

·         Have you ever wondered if the Christian life is worth it? 

·         Have you felt like your hope has been robbed by people or circumstances & the tiny spark of your faith is going to be snuffed out?

GOD:

If you can identify, then God’s words through Paul are for you, because you are in the same situation as Timothy. 

- In 1Timothy Paul tells the reasons he left Timothy in Ephesus (2-3 years before):

·         Refute false teachers, Lead the growing church plant, Appoint qualified leaders (elders)

- In 2 Timothy, Paul is about to die (within 1 year of beheading) & leaving his dying words

·         Anyone’s “deathbed” words have significance not attached to other remarks

·         Note of sadness, mixed with triumph (fought the good fight, finished my course)

·         Like Peter in 2 Peter, his “swan song” emphasized Word of God – truth & certainty become supremely important at death’s door

·         Strong warning against apostasy (not ignorance, but deliberate error) (Ex of Bart Ehrman debating the resurrection with William Lane Craig, March of 2006)

- In 2 Timothy, Timothy is about to give up – not just ministry – but pitch his faith.

·         Outline of Book:  Stir Up, Step Up, Stay Up, Speak Up

·         Key Verse 1:8 - Don’t be ashamed of the Lord or me. Join in suffering for Gospel

Intro:  Authority, Appreciation, Affection & Affirmation v 1-5

1.        Renew Your Gift:  Fan the Flame (v6)

a.        Laying on of hands: three possible scenarios

·         Paul was present at Tim’s conversion (like my parents)

·         Paul used in supernatural way at some point after Tim’s conversion (to give an additional gift – pastor + evangelist?)

·         Paul laid hands on to affirm the gifts present in Tim’s life (ordination)

b.       Word Picture of fanning the flame – reasons flame dim

·         No fuel – in the Christian life, we find energy in God’s presence & in his Word.  If your flame is dim, this is the first area I would recommend you examine.  (Illus: when Tonya & were in separate cities during our 9 mo engagement.)

·         Suffocation – stuff of life crowds our flame until is almost extinguished (4:10 Demas, because he loved this world & all it’s stuff, has deserted me and gone back to Thess.)  If your flame is dim, you may be looking for fulfillment in the wrong places

·         Spread thin – Coals burn brighter the closer they are to each other – they magnify each other’s heat.  Perhaps if you feel like your flame is dim, it is because you are disconnected

c.        If you are ready to give up, fanning the flame of your gift is part of the solution – it is part of how your faith will be encouraged and strengthened because your gift is a spiritual & supernatural thing that God has placed in you to strengthen every believer (including You!)

·         Boxer Rebellion (1899) –extreme Chinese nationalist surrounded a mission – trample on cross or die.  7 students did, then 1 girl did not.  92 others followed her to her death

2.        Remember Your Resources:  These are things God has give you & are at your disposal (v7)

a.        If timidity is not from God, then who is it from?  This does not belong in your arsenal

b.       NO FUEL:  Spirit of Power – Romans study – we have access to the same power that raised Jesus.  So why do we feel so powerless?  Luke 4:

·         Jesus was filled by the Spirit

·         Jesus was led by the Spirit

·         Jesus fought temptation through the Spirit’s instruction (the Word)

·         Jesus returned in the Power of the Spirit. 

·         Perhaps, if you do not feel like you have the power of the Spirit, it is because you have not done the preliminary things of being filled, led & instructed

c.        SUFFOCATION:  Love:  1 John 3:16-19  This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence

d.       SPREAD THIN:  Self discipline: rightly prioritized mind.  A divinely ordered life, in which godly wisdom is applied to every situation – in part because you find wisdom in a multitude of counsel.  If you are living in isolation, or in over-extension, then you are not living a disciplined, orderly life.  You must leave MARGIN. 

·         Community is a discipline:  Gal 6:2  Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

·         Margin is a discipline:  “When we push our bodies, schedules, minds & budgets to the point where there is no margin, all it takes to destroy us is one unforeseen expense, one small emergency, or one small cold.  Therefore, leaving margin is the key to not being crushed when life does not go according to plan.  It means leaving extra money in the bank, leaving extra time between appointments, arriving early, taking time off, and saying no to good things that can crowd your life to the breaking point.”  -Mark Driscoll

3.        Recommit to your Savior: (8-10)

a.        Don’t be ashamed of the Gospel or its messenger(s):  (the heart of Paul’s entire letter)

·         Identify with Jesus & His message

·         Do the work that I have been doing to show you identify with Jesus

·         Don’t listen to false teachers

·         I want to see you – bring my cloak (symbol of authority) to show you are united with me

·         Prepare to suffer:  “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (3:12)

b.       Don’t be ashamed of Jesus:  Jesus is the ONLY solution to your burnout & discouragement

·         He saved us – not because of anything we did but for his own purpose

·         He called us to a holy life – true life worth living

·         He has extended grace to us for abundant life on earth

·         He has destroyed death and offered us everlasting life in heaven

YOU:  Are you ready to pitch it all? 

  • Use Your Gift – you will be encouraged while encouraging others
  • Utilize Your Resources – You will feel the Spirit’s presence & work in your life
  • Keep Your eyes on Jesus and commit to living the life of the Gospel

WE:   How can we embody this together?

  • Communion – identify with Jesus & remember his broken body & shed blood that gave us freedom from the penalty of sin, and that give us freedom from the power of sin.  Jesus said he came to give us abundant life – when we take communion, we are saying that we identify with him and we are living the abundant life that he offers.
  • Turn to the person on either side of you & ask them how you can pray for their encouragement.  Before you take communion, take time to pray for that person & then commit to pray for them this week.
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