This week our messages are prompted by a medley of Andraé Crouch songs we heard this last Sunday at the Shadow Mountain Community Church near San Diego. We both enjoyed his music when we were young Christians and still benefit from the thoughtful lyrics that are just as relevant today. Today we will consider a song titled “Take Me Back”
“I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 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 God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:5-7).
Last night we sat out by a patio fireplace as we looked out at the ocean and listened to the loud splash of the rolling tides. It was a first time life experience to sit by a fire and watch the ocean. The fire wasn’t needed for warmth though, merely ambience.
But when we return home we expect we will need to fire up our coal stove which will run through mid April. Coal provides lots of heat and requires little maintenance but we do miss the crackle, appearance and aroma of a wood burning fire. However we discovered a candle that has a wood burning scent and burn that from time to time!
A campfire or fireplace fire brings to mind a verse 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.”
I recall my years as a boy scout and our many camping trips. We were taught to blow on the embers to get a fire going, especially to restart the smoldering embers of wood when we’d get up in the morning. Then we would gently fan the flame, increasing the oxygen that fed the fire turning it into a blazing fire.
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 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.”
Many years ago Keith Green, another very memorable Christian musician, whose music has blessed and challenged us, wrote a song with this theme in mind:
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 appreciate the sentiment in Andraé Crouch’s song that states, “Renew my faith, restore my joy”. We urge each reader to make that same appeal!
Where I first believed.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber