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Fan into Flame God's Gift of Faith by Following His Pattern of Love

2 Timothy 1:6-7,13-14 (3-14)

Rev. Thomas Handrick, Sr.

LWML Sunday
Immanuel Lutheran Church & School  
Perryville, MO

View Associated File

Sun, Oct 7, 2007
Nineteenth S a Pentecost

Standard LSB C Readings:
First: Hab 1:1-4,2:1-4
Epistle: 2 Tim 1:1-14
Gospel: Luke 17:1-10
Psalm: Ps 62 (1)

 

In the name of the Triune God—Father,  Son, and Holy Spirit.  [Amen.]

(2 Tim 1:6-7, 13-14) "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 gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you."

INTRODUCTION: Dear Fellow Flaming-Faith Followers of God's Pattern of Love.

The Lutheran Women's Missionary League is the official women's auxiliary organization of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.  Its membership numbers over 250,000 among whom our local LWML ladies [who are seated in the center section for this worship service] are counted.

The LWML strives to affirm women in their relationship with Christ to enable them to serve the people of the world.  For over 60 years the organization has encouraged and equipped LCMS ladies to live out their Christian lives in active mission service and to financially support global missions.  The LWML organization emphasizes

• Richer Spiritual Living,

• Global Awareness for Ministry, and

• Avenues for God-blessed Service.

LWML ladies graciously give generously from their hearts for mission endeavors.  That is shown by their 18 mission grants for the 2007-2009 biennium that total $1.7Million, an increase of $75,000 over their 2005-2007 mission goal and the largest in their 65-year history for which they give all thanks and praise to God!  The top five recipients of their mission grants are

• $50,000 to train deaf ministry leaders;

• $70,000 to provide portable medical units in Sudan, West Africa;

• $100,000 to build ten Lutheran churches in India;

• $100,000 to support a female missionary to Muslim people in Guinea, Africa; and

• $60,000 to help Lutheran Bible Translators of Aurora, IL provide transportation for missionaries.

In summary, LWML ladies are Lutheran Women in Mission—faithful members of LCMS congregations who, along with men, youth, and children of those congregations, …

Transition: FAN INTO FLAME GOD'S GIFT OF FAITH BY FOLLOWING HIS PATTERN OF LOVE because of which we Serve One Another with Prayer and as a result of which we Unashamedly Share in Christ's Suffering.

I. SERVE ONE ANOTHER WITH PRAYER. [3-5: "I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.  As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.  I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well."] Christian spirituality and life are all about serving others as Christ Himself taught and did.  Have you ever thought about prayer as a way of doing just that?  The old Synodical Catechism that many of us used for our confirmation studies defined prayer as

(LUTHER'S SMALL CATECHISM WITH EXPLANATION. CPH, 1943. Page 146) "… an act of worship wherein we bring our petitions before God with our hearts and lips and offer up praise and thanksgiving to Him."

Our newest Synodical Catechism explains prayer more simply as

(LUTHER'S SMALL CATECHISM WITH EXPLANATION. CPH, 1991. Page 169) "… speaking to God in words and thoughts."

In addition, it tells us that

(Ibid. Page 172) "We should pray for ourselves and for all other people, even for our enemies, but not for the souls of the dead."

Of perhaps much greater importance, however, is that God Himself instituted and encouraged prayer either directly or through His servants as we read in the following Scripture passages:

(Ps 50:15 ESV) "… call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me."

(Matt 7:7 ESV) "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."

(1 Tim 2:8 ESV) "I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling … ." 

In so doing, it is very important that we …

A. Thankfully Remember Each Other.  Gratitude is a significant and, sadly, at the same time neglected aspect of prayer.  St. Paul emphasized the significance of thanksgiving when he wrote,

(Phil 4:6 ESV) "… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

(1 Thess 5:16-18 ESV) "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

(1 Tim 2:1 ESV) "First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people … ."

He gave an example of prayerful thanksgiving in our text for today as he informed Timothy that he thanked God for him in his personal prayers.  Let us likewise thank God for each other and thereby serve and encourage one another.  In addition, St. Paul reminds us to …

B. Fervently Desire to Be Together.  Hopefully, we all realize the beneficial importance of togetherness.  Whether it be relatives at a family gathering, friends at a high school homecoming, or fellow Christians at a weekly worship service, reuniting with others is a healthy thing.  Paul emphasized that when he wrote to the Ephesian Christians,

(Eph 4:1-3 ESV) "I … urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." 

At another time he wrote to the Believers in Rome,

(Rom 1:11-12 ESV) "For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you—that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine."

When he was probably nearing the end of his earthly life he wrote to his spiritual son, Timothy,

(2 Tim 4:9-11 ESV) "Do your best to come to me soon.  For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica.  Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.  Luke alone is with me.  Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry." 

Jesus Himself invited togetherness of the best kind when He said,

(Matt 11:28 ESV) "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

By the power of the Holy Spirit we come to Jesus Christ when we hear or read God's Holy Word and properly partake of Christ's Holy Supper.  When we do so, we …

Transition: FAN INTO FLAME GOD'S GIFT OF FAITH BY FOLLOWING HIS PATTERN OF LOVE because of which we Serve One Another with Prayer and as a result of which we Unashamedly Share in Christ's Suffering.

II. UNASHAMEDLY SHARE IN CHRIST'S SUFFERING. [8-12: "Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do.  But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me."] Do you remember the three musketeers?  If so, you probably remember that their motto was "One for all and all for one!" They lived and practiced a unity in which they shared everything good and bad, easy and difficult, positive and negative.  St. Paul calls us to do the same with Jesus, about which He reminded His audience then and us today,

(Luke 9:23 ESV) "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

In other words, willingly endure the difficulties of this present life that result from thinking, saying, and doing thoughts, words, and actions that tell the world around us that …

A. He Called Us to a Holy Calling.  That holy calling is nothing more than humbly obeying God's holy will.  It's reflecting God's love for us and expressing our love for God by loving one another.  It's simply following what Jesus instructed Philip,

(John 14:15 ESV) "If you love me, you will keep my commandments."

The sad and disastrous reality is that we can not and do not keep His commandments.  Therefore, we deserve God's harshest punishment here and now and hereafter in eternity.  But the very Christ, who called us to love Him loved us with an all-consuming love that drove Him to bear our disobedience and suffer our punishment.  Because of that,

(Isa 53:5 ESV) "… he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed."

Having gained forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life for us, He also assures us that …

B. He Will Guard Us until the Last Day.  Safety, security, and protection, are necessities of life that allow us to live at least somewhat productively.  Without safety, security, and protection we would spend our time and energy constantly worrying about what might happen and not accomplish much, if anything, good.

The apostle Peter described us as people

(1 Peter 1:5 ESV) "… who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time."

The apostle Jude wrote that Immanuel

(Jude 24 ESV) "… is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy …"

God Himself guards and protects us as He guides and directs us to …

Transition: FAN INTO FLAME GOD'S GIFT OF FAITH BY FOLLOWING HIS PATTERN OF LOVE because of which we Serve One Another with Prayer and as a result of which we Unashamedly Share in Christ's Suffering.

CONCLUSION: The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk agonizingly asked and sadly lamented,

(Hab 1:2-3 ESV) "O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?  Or cry to you 'Violence!' and you will not save?  Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?  Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise."

I suspect that all of us experience the frustration and anxiety of life's trials, tribulations, heartaches, and despairs.  It sometimes seems that God doesn't hear our prayers or He chooses to ignore them.  The reality, however, is that He does hear and answer them … in His own time and way.  His seemingly deaf ear or delayed answer is His carefully-calculated opportunity for us to Fan into Flame God's Gift of Faith by Following His Pattern of Love by persistently serving one another with prayer and unashamedly sharing in Christ's suffering.

Jesus told His disciples and us in today's Gospel Reading,

(Luke 17:10 ESV) "… when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'"

The ladies of the Lutheran Women's Missionary League give an excellent example of obeying that instruction of our Savior.  Those LWML Lutheran Women in Mission do much for the worldwide kingdom of God by the power and direction of the Holy Spirit.  In the end, however, they give us an even more wonderful example of Christ-ordained humility by admitting that they are unworthy servants who have only done what was their duty.  Let us faithfully follow their example of such by humbly and obediently Fan[ning] into Flame God's Gift of Faith by Following His Pattern of Love.  Let us do so by serving one another with prayer and unashamedly sharing in Christ's suffering.

God grant it all for the sake of Jesus Christ, His humble Son, our holy Savior.  Amen.

In the name of the Triune God—Father,  Son, and Holy Spirit.  [Amen.]



This sermon is not copyrighted. It is God's gift to His Church for free and unrestricted use through me who am one of His many faithful servants. Please exercise the common courtesy of properly acknowledging its source should you use part or all of it for any purposes.



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