Fan into Flame the Gift of God – 2 Timothy 1:6b

I was fascinated with the words “Fan / Kindle into Fame the Gift of God” II Timothy 1. 6 when I was preparing a sermon on it. Paul wrote this letter to his “Dearly Beloved Son Timothy” – When we write a letter to our son, we sit in a comfortable place and dream about the place where our son is and write in comfort – But where was Paul? He was in prison, feet in chains and some times one hand tied to that of a soldier, in a dark and stinking prison – Have you seen a prison from the inside?-– By God’s Grace, we work in prisons since the last 22 years at Malkangiri, Odisha, and now in prisons of three other districts Jeypore, Koraput and Kotpad too. Here, prisoners are not chained but the prison is very crowded and has an open toilet (there is no door so as to prevent prisoners from committing suicide) and it stinks! Do you know anyone who has been in prison? I want to share with you about Prince Daniel, a young man of 38 years, who had the call of God. He came from Tamil Nadu and started a hostel for the children in Koraput area, is now in prison since about 3 months. Why? He was running a private hostel at Koraput with 45 boys aged 5-18 years, the anti-Christian people in that area arrested him under false accusations of beating the boys in the hostel, and making them work in the field. Prince now has to sleep in a small room of over 30 prisoners. How is he doing? When I visited him, I was amazed to see a bright smile on his face and Prince said, “When I was outside all these 9 years, I could not meet and share the gospel with the Tribal people – but now they are in my room. They watched me a couple of days reading the Bible all the time singing and praying and crying. Slowly one by one they approached me and so now I have shared the Gospel to most of them – and some of them have already accepted Jesus as their Personal Savior. Prince said: “I am so happy!” Wow!! Will we be like Prince, come what may, and gladly share the Gospel to all whom we meet?

It was in AD 66 that Paul wrote this letter to Timohty, just a year before he was martyred by Emperor Nero. Paul starts off by saying that he is an ‘Apostle’- Who is an Apostle? – One who believes and proclaims Jesus as Saviour. In the opening greetings itself, Paul mentions grace, mercy and peace the 3 important characters of a Christian.

Grace is God’s kindness to those who do not deserve it – it is easy to be kind to those who are kind and good to us. But are we kind to those who criticize us? Even within families many of us have mother-in-law vs. daughter-in-law problems. It is tragic to see sometimes even sons and daughters cutting themselves off from their parents. The Bible says; ‘Honor your parents’ irrespective of how they are. It does not say, ‘Honor your good parents’. Honouring parents is one of the 10 commandments given by God stated in Exodus 20: 1-21 and Deuteronomy 5: 1-23.

Mercy is the character of God who helps those who are helpless. Can we pray and get this character – Many Churches have beggars sitting at the doorsteps. When we see them we just throw a coin or a few rupees – How many of us have talked to any of them? Every human being is a creation of God. There are 31 verses in the Bible about God creating man / humankind – Genesis 1: 27. Psalm 139: 13 states we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Ephesians 2:10 says we are God’s handiwork. James 1: 18 states that we are His first fruits – in which case we need to bring fruits for him. What can we do for the beggars who sit at the Church doorsteps?? I am sure we can find out their name, where they live and tell them to come inside the Church. If they don’t know the language of that church service, we must guide them to another church where they can understand the language, or even take them there ourselves before we come to our own Church. How many of us will tolerate if a stinking beggar comes inside the church and sits next to us? Let us take time today to think and make our lives a fire to shine for Jesus. A fire that kindles others and in the process gets burnt out.

Finally Peace – Peace is the reconciliation that we have with God – I am sure God is talking to us today in a very personal way, let us recommit our Life to God and have in our life, Grace, Mercy and Peace.

Verse 4 states that Paul prays for Timothy, Day and night. It is such a Blessing to have some one to pray for you both morning and night. God has given me 3 friends who pray for me both morning and evening and sometimes more than 3 times. There are many more I don’t know about, who pray for me, as I am alive now even after 11 cardiac attacks. Amazing, isn’t it? I love life and I praise God for keeping me alive. As soon as I get up every morning, I say: ‘Thank you Father, Thank You Jesus, Thank you Holy Spirit for keeping me alive – Please help me to tell about Jesus to all who come across my path’.

Do I pray for my family and few of my close Friends on a daily basis? – Yes I do – I also pray as I wash dishes and clothes, and as I clean the house. Ask Jesus and He will tell you when all you can divert your thoughts and prayers to Him for yourself and for others.

I love Verse 5 in II Timothy 1. Here Paul mentions Timothy’s Mother Eunice and Grandmother Lois. They were committed to Jesus and taught Timothy about Jesus. Sadly, none of my parents or grandparents are alive today. My Father J D Walter was very strict, every Sunday we could never miss Church Worship. It was compulsory for us to sit in the front row and look at the pastor ONLY.– My Mother Ida Walter, would be seen kneeling and praying even at 2 or 3 in the morning – She always cooked delicious food to feed all of us and then we used to have a time of sharing of the happenings of that day. She prayed for all of us to study well. No TV, No Radio and No Mobile –we were required to rank first in the class. They also taught us to dress neatly and look good.

Paul gives a call to Timothy for commitment and goes on to say that he must not have fear or be ashamed as he is in the prison – How many us will go and sit beside a Prisoner, listen to their story and tell them of Jesus’ love? It was not easy for me when in 1986, soon after my beloved husband went to be with Jesus, I started to work for God. I would visit villagers, helping people in all ways possible—In one village a man named Bema walked up to me and said, ‘Angya, will you go to the Malkangiri Jail and tell Deva that his wife and children are being taken care of by his brother and he need not worry about them?’ I asked him what did Deva do to go to the jail? Bema said, there was a village fight last week and he killed a villager—Mmm – I said OK to Bema, treated a couple of people, many of them had to be investigated for Tuberculosis and I left. That night I thought to myself , and told Jesus, ‘Lord I have too much to do every day going from village to village treating patients from morning till night –Moreover Lord I am very scared to go to jail—I have never visited a jail before Lord..’ I had a restless sleep that night. A week passed and another and I had to go to Bema’s village again– I said to God, ‘if Bema is in the village and asked me whether I have met Deva what can I tell him?’ At that time I was training 2 ladies Jyothi and Shanti in the work. So the next morning during the Prayer Time – I told them that we will not go to any village but to the Malkangiri Jail, and I wanted them to come with me. Naturally both Jyothi and Shanti were frightened too – But Jesus gave the three of us the courage to go to the Jail. – The superintendent was happy when I said I am a doctor and he took me to see Bema –. The whole place was dirty and stinking and had no garden. I offered to white wash the rooms, plant a garden with fruit trees –Jesus gave me the strength to implement this. Each of you must pray and find out all that Jesus wants you to do and be Blessed – Yes we need to let Jesus stir / kindle the fire that is in us and set this to a flame to shine for him.

Verse 7 relates the instruction Paul gives to Timothy.
‘Not to fear, have power, love and to be of sound mind –Fear is a factor that is in all of us, especially if Jesus wants us to do something which we have never done before – Prayer is the only solution. I have experienced that if something dangerous happens when we are alone, then Jesus gives us a courage that is beyond understanding. Jesus gives us the power to do what He asks us to do. The love to love those who harm us, comes from the Holy Spirit, so we need to pray on a daily basis for the filling of the Holy Spirit for that day and so also to have a sound mind.

Verse 8 says- ‘Not to be Ashamed’ – This is also a character that Jesus gives us – I know many who do not want to relate with their relatives if they did any illegal or shameful activity. Nor do they want to visit them in prison. Timothy was not ashamed as Paul’s friends were – But Paul did not push them out – we have no right to cut off any one – Why? Because we are a chosen generation, a holy nation, a peculiar people who should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness to his marvelous light. 1 Peter: 2-9. What an awesome privilege that we are chosen by Jesus when there are millions around us who do not know Him as their savior.

The Maxwell Leadership Bible states that a Leader should be Generous, Disciplined, Patient, Rugged, Tenacious, Pure, Hardworking and Sacrificial. Paul had all these qualities – Do we? We need to pray and wait on the Lord and achieve these qualities to be a powerful witness for Jesus and set the fire that Jesus has given us to a Big Flame –

My Prayer to God is – few as we are, Jesus can set each one of us to became a flame for Him and win our neighborhood first, then the surrounding area / places and finally go into wherever Jesus tells us, to be a shining light for Him. Jesus needs only one person to bring transformation and win others for Him. Can we now step out in faith for Him and be a fire and let Jesus kindle the flame and be a gift of God for others? Can we all whole-heartedly say: – “Amen”? Amen.

Dr Iris and Dr R A C PAUL -1972 responding to God’s Call in Malkangiri – till date.—

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