We live in the Colorado mountains at 8000 feet. One winter we had electric heat and a wood burning stove. Since the electricity costs money, we attempted to use the wood stove as much as possible to heat the house. I’d spend time each day lighting the fire in the stove and each time I would think about the statement from Paul in 2 Timothy 1:6 “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you”.
In order for the fire to be beneficial in the early stages, we need flames. It is the flames that ignite the wood that produces the heat which is what we need. Often there are embers that glow which later in the fire stage do produce good heat, but early on are not sufficient. If I walk away with just a few embers glowing it won’t be long before there is no fire at all. That can make for a cold night.
To fan the embers into flame takes a few things. We need a flame source, such as a lighter. Then we need a starter material that will burn easily, such as paper, which will then get the larger pieces of wood burning. We also need an air source and adequate space for the flame because if we stack the paper and wood too tightly it won’t burn. Put all this together and we can have a fire that burns and produces the needed heat.
Our life is to be a burning fire for the world
In our life we need to follow Paul’s instruction to fan into flame the gifts that God has placed in our life. We need to be a light and heat source to the dark, cold world around us.
What gifts do you have that the world needs? Are you good at caring for people? Do you have an ability to encourage? Maybe you have a passion to serve others.
You may be an incredible business person who can make lots of money for the Kingdom of God. There is a need for individuals to financially support those who are called to go.
Whatever your gifts and passions, use them to minister to others. The world needs God’s love to be displayed in a wide array of manners.
What do we need to burn?
As with a physical fire, we need a few things in our life to be set ablaze for God’s Kingdom. We need the Word of God (the Bible), the Holy Spirit, and enough space in our life to burn.
Our starter material is the Word of God
Read the Bible. Make time to read it every day. Read all of scripture, not just the easy stories. Study the Word with purpose and understanding. It is not enough to just touch the surface or read a little here and there. We need to dig deep into the Word. We need enough of scripture each day to ignite our life so that we will burn with heat to benefit the world around us.
A friend recently completed reading the entire Bible in a year for the first time in his life. He was so excited about the connections that he was seeing between the different books of the Bible. As he began to read through a second time, he said that it was so much more meaningful because of the understanding that he had gained from those passages that he hadn’t read before.
I like to read different translations of the Bible. It gets me thinking differently than how I’ve always seen or heard the passages. Having a slightly different wording or a significantly different twist via a paraphrase can cause me to think about the passage deeper.
The Bible is God’s Word. It is not just a book of stories. It is alive and has real meaning for our lives. No matter how many times I read through all of it, there is so much more that I discover each time.
Our ignition source is the Holy Spirit
What is going to ignite the flame in us? We need the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see and ears to hear as we read Scripture. It is through the Holy Spirit that we are able to have understanding and to apply the Word to us and to others.
In Acts 2, God describes the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire that came to rest upon the disciples. Jesus promised to send a counselor, one who guides and teaches (John 16:7). And He did send the Holy Spirit.
We need to be willing to listen to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. In our daily lives we need to hear those prompts to help others. It may be something seemingly insignificant to us, but to the other person it may be just what they needed to handle their situation. So much of what we do can have an impact far greater than we’ll ever know when we are obedient to the Holy Spirit.
We need space in our life
Finally we need to have the space around us to allow the fire to burn. We need to reduce our schedules. Slow down and have time with the Father in worship. Have time to meditate on scripture. Take time to have conversations with God – prayer is not just us talking, it is also us listening.
I’m one who has a strong tendency to overcommit and to remain very busy, all the time, continually, without stopping. The Lord has been working very hard on me the past couple years to learn how to slow down and make the space needed in my life. There have been days that I’ve felt like I’ve been pulled from the game and put on the bench. This has been necessary for me to learn to make the space needed for the Lord to burn in me.
I’ve had to learn about and apply the Sabbath to my life. It’s not just one of the Ten Commandments. It is a vital practice for our physical and spiritual health. Jesus said “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). We need the Sabbath.
In addition to practicing a Sabbath rest, we need to open up the rest of our week for the Lord to have space to work through us. If we are running late all the time, when do we have the ability to pause and help someone on the way? When our schedule is too full, how can we meet with another for encouragement? If we don’t have time to breathe, how can we “be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10)?
Fan your life into flames
How about you? Are you burning with the gift of God which is in you?
We need to get into the Word of God with the Holy Spirit so that God’s gift inside of us will burn with flames to benefit the world around us. We need to make the space needed in our lives for the Holy Spirit to work through us. Gather the needed materials, do the prep work, and be the light and heat that is needed in the world around you.
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