Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. — 2 Timothy 1:6-7
The charred wood that remained in the woodstove looked completely black when I opened the door to add some more fuel. I always hope for a few live coals to start the new wood burning. Our home has an oil furnace, but by using our woodstove we can make a tank of oil stretch for a few extra months. After building several dozen fires through the winter, I have learned a few tricks in accomplishing that task!
I halfheartedly poked at the blackened lumps in the woodstove, and my stirring finally unearthed a slight radiance deep down in the pile. Wonderful! After carefully arranging the large pieces of wood around the dim glow, leaving a little room for air, I added a few pieces of dry kindling. Soon the kindling began to burn, and before long a nice blaze was warming the room. Hallelujah! I hadn’t been too late.
In today’s focus verse, Paul instructed Timothy, who was facing opposition and ridicule, to “stir up” the gift of God that he had received. Paul was exhorting him to exercise the faith that had been given to him, and also to remember the faith of his mother and grandmother before him.
If life challenges have pressed in and smothered our zeal so that our faith feels more like charred remains than a flaming fire, we can change matters by stirring up what we have been given. How is this possible? Recognizing our lack of fervor is the first step. Once we admit that we are not as zealous as we could be, we need to allow more time for God. Time should be scheduled to read the Bible, meditate on God’s Word, and pray.
In addition, we can exercise the faith we have, even though it seems small. We can remind ourselves of how God has blessed us and helped in the past. Then, as we trust the Lord to help in each small circumstance we encounter, He delights in showing Himself strong on our behalf. One little answer to prayer, joined to another answer to prayer, placed upon a “faith shelf” in our hearts, soon yields a stronger faith. Each successive answer from God will further encourage faith. We will realize that we can trust God for whatever we face in the future, and a flame will be rekindled that will spread warmth to others!
The Book of 2 Timothy is probably the last recorded words of the Apostle Paul. After a couple years of freedom following his first house arrest in Rome, Paul had been imprisoned again, but this time under much more stringent terms. In this setting, an intimate admonition was written by a veteran minister nearing the end of his life’s assignment, to his “son in the faith.”
It is possible that Timothy’s family (his mother, Eunice, and grandmother, Lois) was converted on Paul’s first missionary journey through Lystra and Derbe. Paul warmly spoke of the “unfeigned faith” which seemed to belong to all three generations. Later, Timothy joined Paul and Silas as they traveled through Lystra and Derbe during Paul’s second missionary journey (Acts 16:1). He accompanied Paul to many locations, including Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Berea, and possibly even Rome. Apparently, he later became Paul’s emissary to the church in Ephesus, where he would receive the letter we know as 2 Timothy. Tradition suggests Timothy was the first bishop, or pastor, of the Ephesian church.
Scholars generally date the composition of this letter as approximately A.D. 67. This was just prior to the martyrdom of Paul, during a time of increased persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Nero, who committed suicide in A.D. 68.
Paul’s final instructions included personal encouragement to Timothy to stand as a strong witness in the face of opposition and persecution. He warned of false teachers and instructed Timothy in how to counter them and their teachings. His advice was sprinkled with gems of wisdom acquired during his years of ministry, which he passed on to Timothy and others who would later read this letter.
Paul concluded with his “last words,” charging Timothy to remain faithful in his ministry, and indicated that his own ministry was coming to an end. Following this charge, the Apostle mentioned his rejection by many, and acknowledged his pain and loneliness. Apparently it was this loneliness which prompted Paul’s sincere desire to see Timothy one final time.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. Introduction (1:1-2)
A. The author (1:1)
B. The recipient and blessing (1:2)
II. Exhortation to faithfulness in service
A. Exhortation to loyalty (1:3-18)
1. The basis (1:3-5)
2. The manifestation (1:6-14)
a. Zeal (1:6-7)
b. Courage (1:8-12)
c. Steadfastness (1:13-14)
3. The examples (1:15-18)
a. Phygellus and Hermogenes (1:15)
b. Onesiphorus (1:16-18)
If we find our spiritual “flame” to be low, we can stir up the remaining embers and get the fire burning brightly again. God is gracious and will help us — He is interested in our spiritual success.