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Friday, March 11, 2022

Leaf blower on fire
Using my leaf blower to fan a back yard fire into flame.

"Fanning Into Flame The Gift Of God"

Message summary: We want to serve the Lord with renewed zeal and keep the fire burning within our hearts so that we are continually on fire for Christ. We are fully aware of how the fire can wane so we ask God's help that we would "never be lacking in zeal, keeping our spiritual fervor, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11). We urge each reader to do the same!

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"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline" (2 Timothy 1:6-7). "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11).

Yesterday afternoon Ester helped me clean up leaves around our lawn and pick up the many branches and sticks that had fallen from our trees. That gave me a reason for a chore that is one of my favorites, starting a fire to burn them. I also had several pieces of cardboard that needed disposed of.

The leaves were a bit wet so keeping the fire going was a challenge. That's when I brought out the big guns, my 40 volt battery powered leaf blower! Standing near the fire the infusion of oxygen really got the fire going, kind of like a mini blast furnace.

As I held the leaf blower and watched with satisfaction the blazing fire
a Scripture verse came to mind that I committed to memory early in my Christian walk: "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God". In fact one of the very first sermons I ever preached was based on this passage, I suppose in part due to the phrase, "fan into flame". Being a boy scout I had fanned many fires into flame!

Anyone who has prepared a campfire for warming or cooking is fully aware that the fire needs to be stirred up occasionally. As long as the coals are glowing, they can be stirred up into a full blaze. In fanning the flame, it increases the oxygen and feeds the embers which then turns into a blazing fire. When Brooksyne and I camped in our early years of marriage this was one of my first responsibilities each morning since she seemed to always be chilly on an early morning, even when we camped in the summer.

The key Greek word which is translated "fan into flame" is "anazopuro", which is in the present active indicating a continuing action. The sense is to stir up smoldering embers into a living flame. Other Bible versions vary slightly in the way they translate this word. The NASV states, "kindle afresh". The Amplified uses the phrase, "stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of,)" while the KJV merely states "stir up", like when I take a long stick and stir up the smoldered fire early the next morning! Clarence Jordon translates this verse, "I’m reminding you to shake the ashes off the God-given fire that’s in you."

John Wesley says this verb is "Literally, blowing up the coals into a flame".

General Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, wrote, "The tendency of fire is to go out; watch the fire on the altar of your heart."

Warren Wiersbe, now with the Lord, writes that, "Timothy did not need any new spiritual ingredients in his life; all he had to do was "stir up" what he already had. Paul had written in his first letter, “Neglect not the gift that is in thee” (1 Timothy 4:14). Now he added, "Stir up—stir into flame—the gift of God".

Paul is urging Timothy to practice a necessary spiritual discipline vitally needed for all who follow Christ. In the course of life the fire can burn down a bit or at times a lot. We need to continually be mindful of this and keep fanning into flame and stirring up the gift of God.

Keith Green makes this petition in his song, "Oh Lord, You're Beautiful":

Oh Lord please light the fire,
that once burned bright and clear.
Replace the lamp of my first love,
that burned with holy fear.

Brooksyne and I want to serve the Lord with renewed zeal and keep the fire burning within our hearts so that we are continually on fire for Christ. We are fully aware of how the fire can wane so we ask God's help that we would "never be lacking in zeal, keeping our spiritual fervor, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11). We urge each reader to do the same!

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, I consider the depth of one's faith and how far-reaching it is when fleshed out in one's life. Timothy's sincere faith was due in great part to the influence of a godly grandmother and equally devoted mother. As we stay in communion with You through prayer and obedience to Your Holy Word we ask You to keep the flame of spiritual fire burning within our hearts. It is not just compliance to Your Word, but also fervency in our spirit that will convince others of their need to walk in Your ways. May we never be lacking in zeal but keeping our spiritual fervor as we serve You all our days. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Additional study notes on the topic of fanning into flame:

The Precept Austin Online commentary states, "Christians in America live in discouraging times when many in the so-called "church" have chosen to compromise truth for the sake of "unity", watering down the message of the Cross so as to make it less offensive and more seeker friendly. And although we are not (yet) being physically persecuted for our faith in America, we do see Biblical Christianity being attacked on virtually every front."

The challenge for all is to keep the embers of our heart stoked to full blaze, so that we might be ready and able to resist the pressure to compromise truth and ready and willing to persevere to the end enduring hardship for the sake of the gospel, lest future generations be denied vital sound doctrine found only in the "Word of Truth". Every saint's prayer should be "Lord, find us faithful."

The Holy Spirit uses the Word of God to build the fire of faith in our hearts. On the day Jesus rose from the dead He walked on the road to Emmaus with two disciples. After their eyes were "opened" they recognized who Jesus was and then He disappeared. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). A roaring fire emblazoned their hearts when they understood what Jesus taught them in the Scriptures.

Yesterday I spoke to Mark Pulliam, a chaplain friend of mine. He told me he had heard Vance Havner, a very colorful southern preacher, speak when he was young.

Vance Havner notes four things that can smother the fire:

1. Willful sin will do it. Our Lord told us that the candle of testimony may be smothered by the bushel or the bed. The bushel stands for money making, the cares of business, the temporal concerns of this fife. The bed stands for luxury, ease, worldly pleasure, the sloth that so enervates the soul.

2. Neglect will smother the fire.  Leave the fire alone and it will burn low and the ashes will gather. If we neglect the means of grace, prayer, the Word, and holy exercise, we shall soon need a stirring.

3. Then, too, others can quench the Spirit and smother our fire. If [the Christian] allows it, men will tone him down, steal the joy of his salvation, and reduce him to the dreary level of the general average. If the devil cannot keep us from being saved, he next endeavors to make average Christians of us, and in this he usually succeeds… The devil does not mind our joining church if we behave like most of those who are already inside. But when a real, wide awake Christian breezes along, taking the Gospel seriously, the devil grows alarmed and begins plotting his downfall.

4. Certainly, fear can choke the fire. Paul says to Timothy in the very word next to the passage we are considering, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind." The man who hid his talent said, "I was afraid." The fires that fear has smothered: fear of the past or present or future, fear of others, of failure, of sickness, of death! Whatever fear you may have, it is not of God, for He hath not given us such a spirit.

Let us remember that stirring up the gift of God is our business. God will not do it for us. We must rouse ourselves from our lethargy and get down to business in prayer and feeding upon the Word and holy exercise.

It is related that in Scotland years ago, before the day of matches, the fires had gone out throughout a community. The people set out looking for someone who had a fire. At last, far up on a hillside, they found a humble home where the hearthstone glowed with cheery flame. Soon they were carrying coals here and there to replenish their own blackened fireplaces. Today there are weary hearts, discouraged souls, needy churches looking for a soul with a fire, someone who has kept aglow in spite of the world, the flesh and the devil.

Finally today:

Do you remember wondering as a child why blowing on a candle puts the fire out but blowing on a campfire made the fire blaze?

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Oh Lord, You're Beautiful"  Video  Jesus Culture

Sight and Sound Theater here in Lancaster is beginning a new show this weekend, "David". See here.

Ed and Gladys Berkey, 70th anniversary
We received news that our friend and former District Superintendent's wife, Gladys Berkey,  passed away yesterday. This September would have been the 75th wedding anniversary for her and Ed. He made the announcement with a note of victory: "Dear Family and Friends, At 12:03 pm today, angels escorted one of heaven's special princesses into the King's court. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at this time. Because He Lives, Pastor Berkey"

Just after leaving our house early this morning we were nearly blinded by this beautiful sunrise as "His Mercy Is More" was playing on the radio. Video  In our peaceful part of the world we remember people living in very hard, very unpeaceful conditions, most notably in Ukraine, and pray they will experience His Mercy Is More.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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