“Fan Into Flame”

February 3, 2017

Faithe and Brooksyne at coal stove 2/2/17Yesterday afternoon our pastor’s wife, Faithe, stopped by with some flowers from our Sunday School class and encouragement for Brooksyne as she recovers from her hand surgery. Our coal stove is in the background.

“Fan Into Flame”

Personal note: Brooksyne’s hand surgery to relieve her Carpal Tunnel went well yesterday and she is home recovering. She had both hands done at the same time and it took about fifteen minutes per hand. She had a local anesthetic and was awake and talked to the surgeon during the surgery! I brought her home about 1/2 hour after the operation was over. She can use her hands but not lift or stress them. The surgeon felt she should see great relief. She is now to keep them lifted above her heart which can in itself be wearying. But she has received inspiration from Psalm 63:4. She is allowed to use her fingers for limited necessary functions. However typing will be off limits for awhile so she may read these but possibly expect a few more mistakes!

We want to thank everyone who lifted her up in prayer and for the many notes we received.

Message summary: In the course of life the spiritual fire in our life can burn down a bit or at times a lot. We need to continually be mindful of this and keep fanning into flame the gift of God.

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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. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God” (2 Timothy 1:6-8). “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).

Coal bin 2/2/17Yesterday we had a delivery of 4 tons of black diamonds! Well, actually it was anthracite coal, which we use to primarily heat our home. Due to its purity and high carbon content anthracite coal is known as black diamonds. Perhaps I should start a new fashion trend and market these diamonds as jewelry! The coal is loaded and stored into a large bin at the side of our barn and should last through next winter.

Coal stove interior

The stove is in our family room where it’s warm and toasty. The photo above shows the heart of our system, the inside of a genuine Alaska coal stove! Alaska is the name of the company that built the stove, which is made right here in Pennsylvania!

Throughout the heating season I carry the coal into our house with drywall compound buckets and load it into a large hopper in the back of the stove which holds a couple of days supply. It is slowly fed into the stove where it ignites on the burn plate (glowing portion in above photo) before the ashes drop into the pan. A key component to the system are the tiny holes in the burn plate where a fan forces air onto the coal. Anthracite coal is very hard to start but once I start the stove in the fall it will burn all winter as long as I keep the hopper filled and provided that we don’t lose electricity necessary for the feeder mechanism and the tiny fan that forces the air on the coal. If that air stops blowing the fire will die out.

We all enjoy the fire, especially on a cold winter evening although we must keep the stove door closed and merely feel the heat and see the glow through the glass.

I committed the daily Bible verse 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.”

Most of you who have ever been camping know about this. When getting a fire going you blow on it to get a fire going, especially to restart the smoldering embers of wood from the previous night’s fire when you get up in the morning. Then you may fan the flame, increasing the oxygen to feed the fire turning it into a blazing fire.

Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe 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.” The Holy Spirit does not leave us when we fail (Johann 14:16); but He cannot fill us, empower us, and use us if we neglect our spiritual lives.” It is possible to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by Whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30) and to “quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19).

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”, which reminds me of when I would take a long stick and stir up the fire early in the morning! Clarence Jordon translates this verse, “I’m reminding you to shake the ashes off the God-given fire that’s in you.”

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 “Timothys” and “Timotheas” 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.

Paul is urging Timothy to a necessary spiritual discipline. 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 the gift of God. Elsewhere Paul writes in Holy Scripture, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11). The phrase “spiritual fervor” literally means “in spirit burning.”

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.

Today 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 want to be “never lacking in zeal, keeping our spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (adapted from Romans 12:11). We urge each reader to do the same!

Be encouraged today,

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. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.


Today’s Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
“Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful”   Video   Keith Green

Anthracite coal

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.  Let the fire alone and it will bum 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.

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