Keeping the Fire Burning

I conducted the chapel service at Mackenzie Place Retirement Center today. This is a sharp group. I am amazed at people like the 94-year old who talks about research on the internet and the man who still follows the news in the Wall Street Journal. This afternoon we attended a memorial reception for Bob Hannawalt, a family friend from Fort Collins. It was good to reconnect with friends from the last 40 years or more.

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 2 Timothy 1:6,7 HCSB

The Christian life and ministry can be hard, it can be challenging, it can be discouraging. Paul is one who was acquainted with the hardships of ministry. He endured physical abuse and persecution, threats, imprisonment and even tells Timothy, “All those in Asia have turned away from me…” (2 Timothy 1:15 HCSB) So, if you have faced rejection and betrayal in ministry, you are in good company, it happens to the best of them.

As Paul writes to Timothy from prison, I am sure he wants to see Timothy remain faithful in the challenges that will confront him in the years to come. So, he calls him to “keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you…”

In doing so, Paul reminds  Timothy of his own prayer for him, Paul’s spiritual concern and investment in his life. He was “ordained” into ministry through the “laying on of hands” by the apostle.

Timothy is also reminded of his heritage of faith. “…recalling your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois, then in your mother Eunice…” (2 Timothy 1:5 HCSB) Even though his father was a Greek and presumably not a Christ-follower, Timothy still represented three generations of his family that had embraced faith in Christ. He had a heritage to follow and embrace.

Paul knew Timothy would face opposition and and those who would ridicule him for his faith and his proclamation of the gospel. Timothy was to be bold, not giving into fear, but operating through the Holy Spirit’s power, in love and with sound judgment. Paul called Timothy to, “…share in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God.” (2 Timothy 1:8 HCSB)

Paul wanted Timothy to know that those who are called to declare the gospel are part of the working out of God’s eternal plan. The calling and gifts don’t come by merit or human decision, He has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” (2 Timothy 1:9 HCSB)

Paul wanted Timothy to know that faithful ministry to Christ is “worth it” and that in the end it is Christ who will have the final say; not our own opinion or the judgment of others. But I am not ashamed, because I know the One I have believed in and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12 HCSB)

The “fire” of devotion can be doused with the wet blanket of persecution, hardship, attacks and betrayal. But as  Timothy remembered his past and those who invested in his life and the resources available through the Holy Spirit and the reward that awaits those who are faithful; the “gift of God” could remain ablaze.

Prayer for Today… “Lord, thank You that You provide all the I need to remain faithful and to keep my eyes on You and not on all that could bring discouragement. I choose to live with fearless resolve to You and Your work. I choose to operate in the power You provide and to do so in love and with sound judgment that comes from the Holy Spirit.”