13 Jan Luann Prater – Frostbite, When Your Faith Gets Cold
2 Timothy 1:6-7 (NIV)
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.
I couldn’t feel them. Clearly they were there, but the bitter cold withdrew sensation in my toes and fingers. Five hours earlier I jumped at the chance to accompany my brother to return his girlfriend to college. It never occurred to my seven year old brain to change out of my church clothes and grab a coat. When the car broke down on the way home, my brother tucked me inside his jacket like a football and ran. My little feet and hands dangled, exposed to the winter Chicago weather.
My faith often feels like my toes that night, numb. It’s easy to fly high in the emotional ride of a great Bible study, for awhile, but eventually the excitement wains and I’m left with the mundane duties of life.
When Paul wrote these words to his friend, persecution of the church was at its height under the Emperor Nero. Try to imagine Paul’s feelings of loneliness and isolation as he awaits death in his cold prison cell. This is basically his last will and testament.
Timothy’s gift was ministry and it rose out of his faith. So when Paul urges him to ‘fan into flame the gift of God’, he is really saying: ‘Keep your faith and ministry alive, Timothy; do not let the demands of ministry and the responsibility of preaching the gospel in a pagan society get you down. Remember you are God’s man, and the Spirit God has given you is not a Spirit of timidity, but ‘of power, of love and of self-discipline’.’
Timothy needed this encouragement because of his fearful and sensitive temperament. He was not a born leader, and he had a tendency to shrink from the demands of ministry. His passion was birthed while serving with Paul, who seemed afraid of nothing. Without that inspiration there was danger of developing spiritual frostbite.
The truth is that many of us need a bit of prodding from time to time to fan the flame of faith which can so easily lose its glow and vitality.
Comfort zones are cozy. What does yours look like? Mine is our ridiculously plump sofa that swallows me when the world wears me out. I’m tempted to sink down and stay, but God has other plans.
He says to my heart, “I know you’re weary, but remember how your mom treated the frostbite?” She paid extreme attention to warming my body.
God offers 3 fire-starters to rekindle our flame:
1. Give more attention to prayer & fasting. Purposely give up something and spend deliberate time talking to God.
2. Give more attention to reading God’s Word. This is His time to talk. Listen intently.
3. Give more attention to worship with God’s people. He calls us His body because we belong together. Don’t isolate, communicate. Praise Him.
All 3 require the Spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. In other words, when the chill of everyday life nips at our passion, give more to Christ. His promise is true, when we draw near to Him He will draw near to us. The warmth of His Spirit reignites the weakest faith.
Turn your ZAPPED into ZEAL and become like the guys in Acts 17:6: “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…”
Those who move the world with the passion of God’s love, do not let the world move them.