Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sermon - 2 Timothy 1:6 - God's Fire - Lighter Fluid or Fire Extinguisher

Now that summer is winding down—a debate rages every weekend—

“To Grill or Not to Grill? That is the question.”

And within that debate rages another one—Propane or Charcoal?

How many Propane advocates do we have? Charcoal?

Those of you who love Charcoal should listen carefully—because today, we’re talking about a fire.

In order to offer up sacrifices and fellowship offerings to God, the Israelites were commanded to set up a big fire. When God’s presence came down on the Tent of Meeting, He was the one who started the fire (Lev. 9:24). Later, in 2 Chronicles 7 when Solomon was dedicating the temple and the altar, again it was God who started the fire that consumed the first sacrifice.

They had some instructions to go along with this fire—they were supposed to maintain it and not let it go out.

Leviticus 6:12-13--12 The fire on the altar must be kept burning; it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the burnt offering on the fire and burn the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. 13 The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out.

Even things like the lamps had to be maintained and kept burning.

Lev. 24:1-4--The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning continually. 3 Outside the curtain of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the LORD from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 4 The lamps on the pure gold lampstand before the LORD must be tended continually.

How do you think they would respond if someone came running up to the fire with a large bucket of water to put it out? That person would be stopped at all costs. It would be an act of blasphemy—and spiritual terrorism.

This was not an obligation that they took lightly? I would hate to be that guy who didn’t take it seriously.

Picture it like someone leading a tour group through the temple grounds and they introduce everyone to an important person—“And next I’d like to introduce you to Jason—his job is to make sure that the fire of the altar remains burning at all times. That’s because this fire which has been burning continuously for the last 50 years after originally being started by God Himself. “

A small kid tugs on their parent’s sleeve and says, “I don’t see any fire”

Southwest Airlines has an ad campaign that expresses this moment: “Wanna get away?”

I would not want to be that guy who let the fire go out. Would you?

And yet you and I are capable of it—not just passively letting it go out, but actively putting out the Fire of God in your life, in the life of those around you, and even your church.

In 2 Timothy, Paul gives a great encouragement to his son in the faith. “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. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

Keep this gift ablaze in your life—keep the fires burning, keep the altar burning in your heart, in your life that God started because you are charged with keeping it lit.

How else are you to offer yourself as a Living Sacrifice as Romans 12 calls us to do?

If you neglect, ignore, stop using your gift—if you ignore, don’t listen to, put off the prompting and leading of the Holy Spirit, then that fire which was started in you will die down, the light and heat that it gives off will diminish and weaken and eventually your passion and your effectiveness as a believer in Jesus Christ will wane.

Paul says that you cannot let that happen. Instead you must deliberately and attentively keep that fire alive—more than that—you must “fan” that fire into flame.

Have you seen anyone do that? Get a roaring fire going from a few smoldering embers? You stir up the coals a bit, add a little more fuel and start to blow.

Maybe you even have one of those fancy Fireplace Bellows that give a great directed air to get a fire going again.

Or maybe for those die hard grillers, you just pull out the Lighter Fluid and spray it on to get the biggest flame possible.

Who here has done that in the last month? Sprayed lighter fluid directly on a fire? The last week? Yesterday?

God started a fire in you when you believed—the gift of the Holy Spirit is described as coming down on the early church in Acts 2 as a fire—filling the people of God—filling those who are His Temple. He is taking up residence, not in a building—but this time a people.

God does not want your gift that He has given you to use… He does not want the fire the Spirit inside you to be a mere flicker—a smoldering pile of ash that does nothing but give evidence that something once was happening here.

But Paul feels the need to say that you must, MUST, MUST keep this fire ablaze—your very life depends on it

When we talk about grilling on the weekend—it’s optional—our life is not on the line—our next meal may come from it—but fire wasn’t so easy to come by and start like it is today.

you must fan it into flame again because I’m sure that he had seen many people’s fire for life, for ministry, for serving, for worship, for praying fizzle out.

As tragic as it is to let the fire go out, you’ve got to realize that it more tragic to sabotage and to deliberately put the fire out.

Instead of grabbing the lighter fluid—you pull out the FIRE EXTINGUISHER.

Do you think you would be capable of taking a Fire Extinguisher to the Temple and putting out the fire of the Altar?

Then why would you be willing to do that in Your Life? In Someone else’s Life? In the life of your church?

When the Spirit of God moves in your heart? How do you respond?

When an opportunity arises to use your gift? Do you follow through? Talk yourself out of it?

There are 2 ways you can respond to the leading of the Spirit—Lighter Fluid or Fire Extinguisher

You Can be an Extinguisher in Your Own Life

When you refuse to use your gift and it is neglected—it loses its power and effectiveness. You lose your light and heat and your power. You’re an extinguisher.

When you Ignore or Put Off or Explain away the leading of God—your fire dies down-- love for Him goes cold, your responsiveness to Him is lessened and your usefulness Him. You’re an extinguisher to your own altar

There are so many more I could think of here—I’m sure you can think of a few that you’ve used—a few fires that you’ve put out.

You Can be an Extinguisher in the Lives of Others

When someone comes to you seeking answers and you set up an appointment with someone else so because you’re uncomfortable—that’s an extinguisher.

When someone with a rough past has given their life to Jesus and in their enthusiasm they want to serve and you tell them—“I don’t think we have anything right now.”—that’s an extinguisher

When someone thinks they might be called into the ministry and you tell them that’s a bad career move b/c they’ll never make any money—that’s an extinguisher.

You Can Be An Extinguisher In Your Church

We can have Extinguishers In the church

When you Oppose Everything

When You Gossip or Complain

Hold on to Bitterness

When you are not Welcoming to new or different people

When you are not Praying

A church that has no vision—vision for the lost, for the Mission and Kingdom of God—that’s an extinguisher

A church that is more concerned about what people are wearing or how they look is an extinguisher

A church that refuses to grow, refuses to adapt, refuses to reach out is an extinguisher—rightly standing on the unchanging message but inflexible with methods

Such a church is in danger of what happened to the church in Ephesus—losing your first love—your fire going out and your lampstand removed.

Most churches safety reasons have lots of fire extinguishers at strategically placed locations in order to put out any fires that may pop up—and rightly so.

But what we also need is lighter fluid in strategic places where we can make the movements of God even bigger.

As great as it is to have Firefighters like Justin in our church—who’s job it is to put out fires—we need more men and women willing to start spiritual fires and fan them in to a great flame.

The People Extinguished -- The Church Extinguished

The People on Fire -- The Church On Fire

The church needs people who are not carrying around fire extinguishers but lighter fluid

We need more Power Plants not more Surge Protectors

What purpose for the gift?

No fear—boldness

Power in witness

Love and compassion for the lost

Self- Control

Sound judgment—discernment—opportunity of how and when

How do you Fan into Flame or Keep Ablaze this gift?

• Fuel

o Word of God—this is your spiritual food—if you’re going out to eat after church today—how crazy would it be to have all this food placed before you, but never eat it—

o Worship—praise God in your life—not just on Sundays or when someone else is leading you

o Fellowship with other Believers—we strengthen each other

o Serve—you build muscles by working them—you add fuel to your fire in serving the church

o Don’t get burned out

• Wind or Breath

o God breathed onto the dust He had formed and the man became a living being. Jesus breathed on His disciples and said, “receive the Holy Spirit”

o Jesus said, “the wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear it’s sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” – John 3:8

o When the Spirit moves—you must hear Him, Recognize Him and Respond to Him in faith and obedience

o Learn His Voice, Recognize His Leading

Opportunity to respond—how is the fire of your altar? Are you an extinguisher in your own life? Can you offer yourself as a living sacrifice with the fire and passion in your heart?

Maybe you need God to start your fire today.

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