3-2-1-Ignition—2 Timothy 1:1-14—Dr. Denny—DBC—October 6, 2019
Introduction: On the morning of May 5, 1961, a Mercury-Redstone rocket, 82 feet tall rose from the launch pad at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Sitting inside the cramped Mercury capsule was astronaut Alan Shepard who was about to kick start America’s future as a spacefaring nation.
It was a critical time in our country because just two weeks before this date the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first human in space orbiting the Earth for 108 minutes. The American spirit for space travel had been faltering up to this point. Bu Alan Shepard changed the equation to one of confidence and victory.
The launch happened at 9:34 am EST. The Chief Test Conductor Bob Moser said this about this launch: “It was an intense countdown. Everybody had their job. There was no joking around. But we enjoyed it, and it worked….” And then the countdown concluded with “3-2-1-Ignition.”
Background: Now let’s slip back into our text in 2 Timothy where Paul uses a NASA rocket term ἀναζωπυρεῖν (1 time only) that means to ignite. It’s an explosive word, literally, and it’s directed first at Timothy and ultimately at us who sit here in the DBC pews. If I could paraphrase the Greek it would: “3-2-1-Ignition.” But before we see just what that means to us, Paul wants Timothy to remember something.
- Something to Remember: (2 Tim. 1:6). There was a unique event that happened in timothy’s life that Paul could not forget. Whenever he replayed this moment in his mind, he always saw the tears; not his tears, but Timothy’s. And it was critical from Paul’s perspective that Timothy remember this event always.
Memory plays an important part in our lives and without it, we lose our identity and begin to drift away like a fall leaf on a swift-moving creek.
*I went for an annual Wellness checkup Friday at the Rural Health. The lady took me back into a cramped room with filing cabinets and a small desk shoved against the wall. I sat down, our knees almost touching and she began her interrogation keeping accurate notes of everything I said. “The government wants you to stay healthy so they won’t have to spend any money on you,” she said with a little smirk. Then after a flurry of questions, she said, “Now it’s time for your memory test.” I shuddered at this statement and my blood pressure shot up. “I’m going to give you three words to remember and then a little later I will ask you for those three words. Okay?” I was going to bolt for the door right then but I figured the government wouldn’t like it so I stayed put and said, “Okay.” She smiled like she had me cornered and then continued: “Your three words are RIVER—FINGER—NATION. Got it?” “I think so,” I said. Then she began a campaign of misdirection. “Now draw me a clock with the numbers on it.” I did that. “Okay now put the clock fingers at 10 after 11.” I did that.
Then with her eyes narrowing a bit she looked at me said, “What are the three words.” (ASK AUDIENCE FOR THE WORDS).
Paul said to Timothy there is something I want you always to remember. It was just a few years back when I was here with you that I summoned the church together. We gathered around you. Your grandmother Lois was there and your mother Eunice who taught your spiritual ABCs from your earliest days. And now we see that same faith growing within you. And it was then that I laid my hands upon you and launched your public ministry. Do you remember that Timothy? Do you remember how brightly the flame of faith burned within your heart? Do you remember how you began preaching in the church with zeal and enthusiasm?
And this is the question Paul sets before each of us here this morning. I want you to remember something, he tells us. Go back to that time when your faith was new and the call of Christ was ringing in y our ears. Go back to that time when you trusted Christ and remember how it was. It’s a memory you must never forget.
- Something to Re-Ignite (2 Tim. 1:6)—And now we come back to the Mercury capsule quivering on the launchpad at Cape Canaveral. Those huge engines had been test-started many times but now as they lay silent and cold it was time to re-ignite them. And this is what Paul says to timothy. It’s time for you to re-ignite that first event when I laid my hands upon you. It’s time to stir up the embers and get the fire going again. (READ v6. KINDLE AFRESH the gift of God which is in you…”.
*There’s a little wood frog that illustrates Paul’s principle of ignition of our faith. This wood frog lives in the arctic circle in Alaska. As the winter slowly descends upon the tundra, this little frog settles down in the water and freezes solid with the water around him. Slowly he stops breathing and his heart stops beating. If effect, he is dead. But when the spring thaw settles in again he slowly comes back to life, re-igniting his body temperature.
*It’s so provocative to hear Paul use this “ignition” word considering where he is. Many think 2 Timothy is his last letter. He is in custody at Rome’s worst prison—The Mamertine Prison which had two levels, the lowest level a small confined space in utter darkness. He senses that his life is nearly over. He writes in chapter 4:6 “the time of my departure has come.” There is no tomorrow for the aging apostle. And yet, in his last days, he remembers the thrill of laying his hands on the young Timothy and lighting a fire that still needs to be ignited every so often.
How many times had Alan Shepard sat in the tiny space capsule and touched the controls before this launch date? How many times had he imagined the power of the explosive ignition beneath him as the rocket prepared to burst into the heavens? And then when the day actually came and clicked his seat belt on for the final time, once again he reignited his imagination and waited for the countdown: 3-2-1-Ignition.
Paul wants us to count down every so often and relive our first days of faith and launch off into new adventures as saints on another grand mission.