Stir up the Gift of God

Mike Ratliff at Possessing the Treasure does some very good work. Here’s some I found last night – 🙂 Be Blessed!

Stir Up the Gift of God

April 12, 2010 — Mike Ratliff

by Mike Ratliff

13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:13-16 ESV)

The way the gospel is presented in our time is backward. It is focused incorrectly. Instead of focusing on what God has done for us who have nothing in and of ourselves to warrant it; the way the gospel is given ever since I can remember is to attempt to make it appealing as if people should decide to try Jesus for 30 or 60 days to see if He makes a difference. What a joke! What blasphemy! To be honest, the closer I get to the front lines in serving my Lord, the more our enemy attacks me. The more I suffer. The more problems I have. However, I do not serve my Lord to get away from that stuff. I serve Him for His glory and my Lord went to the Cross for me so how can I seek the easy way out here and now?

If a person wants Jesus for personal gain then they are seeking another Jesus, not the one I know. The one I know has given me something far more valuable than anything this world has to offer. I have eternal life in Him and no matter how bad the circumstances or attacks from our enemy or medical conditions I must bear in this life, I know that my part until it is over is to stir up the gift of God given to me by Him in order for me to serve Him to edify the Body of Christ and bring Him glory. Therefore, I open the Word of God and teach as He directs.

3 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. 4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 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. 6 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, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:3-7 ESV)

3 Χάριν ἔχω τῷ Θεῷ, ᾧ λατρεύω ἀπὸ προγόνων ἐν καθαρᾷ συνειδήσει, ὡς ἀδιάλειπτον ἔχω τὴν περὶ σοῦ μνείαν ἐν ταῖς δεήσεσί μου νυκτὸς καὶ ἡμέρας, 4 ἐπιποθῶν σε ἰδεῖν, μεμνημένος σου τῶν δακρύων, ἵνα χαρᾶς πληρωθῶ, 5 ὑπόμνησιν λαμβάνων τῆς ἐν σοὶ ἀνυποκρίτου πίστεως, ἥτις ἐνῴκησε πρῶτον ἐν τῇ μάμμῃ σου Λωΐδι καὶ τῇ μητρί σου Εὐνίκῃ, πέπεισμαι δὲ ὅτι καὶ ἐν σοί. 6 δι᾿ ἣν αἰτίαν ἀναμιμνῄσκω σε ἀναζωπυρεῖν τὸ χάρισμα τοῦ Θεοῦ, ὅ ἐστιν ἐν σοὶ διὰ τῆς ἐπιθέσεως τῶν χειρῶν μου· 7 οὐ γὰρ ἔδωκεν ἡμῖν ὁ Θεὸς πνεῦμα δειλίας, ἀλλὰ δυνάμεως καὶ ἀγάπης καὶ σωφρονισμοῦ.  (2 Timothy 1:3-7 GNT)

Paul tells Timothy that he thanks God for him and his sincere faith, which was also evident in his grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice. Because Paul was confident in the sincerity of Timothy’s faith, in v6, he reminds him ἀναζωπυρεῖν  “to fire again to life” τὸ χάρισμα τοῦ Θεου “the gift of the God” ὅ ἐστιν ἐν σοὶ διὰ τῆς ἐπιθέσεως τῶν χειρῶν μου· “which is in you through the setting on of the hands of me.” For a summary of this event read 1 Timothy 4:13-16, which I placed at the top of this post.  Paul is urging Timothy to do what? The word ἀναζωπυρεῖν refers “to keeping the fires alive.” Timothy had received spiritual gifts to serve the Body of Christ. Paul is concerned here with Timothy’s gifts of preaching, teaching, and evangelizing. All believers are stewards of the God-given gifts given to them. It is sinful to let them fall into disuse.

In v7 Paul gives us a hint of why Timothy may have been not using his gifts as he should have been. The word Paul used here that is translated as “fear,” δειλίας, can also be translated “timidity” or “cowardice.” It denotes a cowardly, shameful fear caused by a weak, selfish character. Timothy could have become more timid as the threat of Roman persecution escalated. Also, the Ephesian church resented Timothy’s leadership. This coupled with the many attacks from false teachers could have overwhelmed him. Paul is telling Timothy here that if he is withdrawing in fear then this “Spirit of δειλίας” is not from God. Instead, God has given us the πνεῦμα δυνάμεως καὶ ἀγάπης καὶ σωφρονισμου, the spirit of power and of love and of sober mind (self-control).

Instead of being fearful, we have all the spiritual resources we need for every trial and threat. This does not mean we will not have problems, attacks, or threats, but that we will have the right resources from Him to meet them. The Love here, ἀγάπης, centers on pleasing God and seeking what is best for others before one’s self. The mind-set σωφρονισμου is actually the opposite of fear and cowardice. The spirit of fear causes disorder and confusion. This spirit does the opposite. Why? It focuses on the sovereign nature and perfect purposes of our eternal God. Why is this important? When we more fully understand the sovereignty of God and surrender to it in more and more of our lives, the more godly wisdom and confidence in every situation we will have because we will be fully in line with Him and His will instead of being tossed in every direction by our circumstances.

How do we fan into flames the gift given to us by God that He gave us to enable us to serve the Body of Christ and bring Him glory? We must reject the πνεῦμα δειλίας, the spirit of fear, while embracing the πνεῦμα δυνάμεως καὶ ἀγάπης καὶ σωφρονισμου, the spirit of power and of love and of sober mind. We reject what is not from God and embrace that that we know is from God. This is huge. I suffer from a seizure disorder. Its worsening has coincided almost exactly with God’s elevation of this ministry. I have had several seizures since this condition returned in September last year. In fact, I had one just a week ago. I became spiritually fearful. I was bold when I wrote and taught, but the rest of the time I was not doing so well. I saw a picture of myself holding my grandson last week. It was about three days after the seizure. I looked haunted or worried. What has changed? I had a long talk with my brother about spiritual things. We talked about the spirit of fear and what this does to the boldness of those in ministry. I discovered that my physical symptoms had actually gotten worse. I felt awful. I felt all bound up. He, my wife, my daughter, my son-in-law, and my mother all laid hands on me last week and prayed for the spirit of fear to be gone. My brother did pray for my healing, that I would have no more seizures. That would be awesome, but I am celebrating the fact that the joy of Lord is most certainly back. I am no longer all bound up. The spirit of fear is gone. The boldness I have now is now also accompanied by a joy that is profound. The gift given to me by God has been fanned into flames!

8 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, 9 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, 10 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, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 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. (2 Timothy 1:8-12 ESV)

The more God uses us in the Kingdom, the more we will be partakers in the suffering for the gospel by the power of God. This is just the way it is. Notice that our salvation and our calling are for God’s purposes not ours nor are they according to our works. When we have this mindset, we can endure anything.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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8 thoughts on “Stir up the Gift of God

  1. I’m very glad this brother/sister was delivered from a spirit of fear. It gives me hope that the same God that did that for him/her is able to deliver from a spirit of anger. Repentence has to come in on both issues at some point. That is just my opinion. I have found it impossible to make myself feel a certain way. Even when my soul cries out, “Lord help me be willing!” I don’t know how we can stir up anything when we feel extreme emotions. I’m sure I’m the only one who ever experienced that.

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    • You mean you’re NOT the only one…I think you left out that word there.

      On the other end of this, I will pray for you still.

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  2. No, I meant it the way I said it. I never hear too many Christians EVER admitting their weaknesses, sins or faults. Sometimes it seems as if everyone around me “has arrived” but me. Thanks for praying for me. I love you!

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      • By the way, none of us have “arrived”, and I can prove it. There’s so much false stuff tossed around into Christianity we no longer know what it is or what we are supposed to do. There is much confusion and I for one am tired of bashing my head into the wall with these false teachers and those who endorse and defend them. How many more stories do we need to hear of false teachers and worship leaders exposed. Why do we continue to think we need them? (I’m talking about the ones outside our personal churches, not so much within them.)

        I’ve been fleeced and am just growing my wool back. I see a new fleecing line forming and I will not stand in it. Okay, end of rant and I’m off topic.

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  3. Re: “The way the gospel is presented in our time is backward.” This statement really hit home with me as I recalled one of the last services I attended last June in the charismatic church. The altar call given was somewhat along the lines of “If you have needs, come to the front and ask Jesus into your life and believe that He can meet those needs.” No inclusion of accountability of personal sin in our lives, or needing God’s forgiveness for the way we have lived our lives apart from Him-certainly no need for a Savior that offered His life up upon a cross so that the way might be opened for us to come to God and have a personal relationship with the Father. What an affront to God and how much a cheapening of the grace and mercy He longs to freely give BECAUSE OF THE CROSS! I don’t often give my testimony of my being “born again” (how often do we here those terms used in the modern church of today) at the age of 20 because I guess it is not as earth-shattering as some. But God brought me to remembrance how it all happened so long ago. I had reached a point of utter despair and desperation in my life because of drug and alcohol abuse and addiction from the age of 14. I cried out to God not really even knowing what it was all about. I was then drawn to the Bible, and even though I couldn’t understand most of what I was reading, it just seemed like the right thing to do and brought a sense of peace. The Holy Spirit was drawing me, and one night it all made sense. I saw myself for what I was-a sinner-and also saw my desperate need for God’s forgiveness and a Savior. No more excusing my sin for the pain that others had caused me (I was raised with an abusive, alcoholic father and a distant mother). And I also knew that I had to grant forgiveness to those that had harmed me. I found the grace and mercy of God at the foot of the cross! I knew beyond any doubt that I had been born again! I also was released from the pain that I had known up until that point in my life-no need for countless hours going back over the events of my life to get “inner healing”. I would like to add, I had no one in my life giving me testimony to who God was and I wasn’t attending church. It was God’s Word alone that led me to salvation through Jesus Christ. I now wonder how I could have gone so far astray these past 20 years or so, but I am also amazed at God’s great love for me to bring me back and set me right with Him once again. Oh, how could I ever be so foolish to ignore the truth of His Word. And I do so much appreciate the time you spend, Mkayla, putting together your blog, and the many others of you who do the same and remain faithful to God’s Word. Bless you all! Know that your work is much appreciated.

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    • Hi Deb.

      What a story and testiment to the power and presence of the Lord. It was encouraging to read – and I did several times. Not “earth-shattering”? It is certainly power of satan shattering! 🙂 I love hearing the way He draws others to Him even when there is no “intercessor” because Jesus is in that position! And where we can learn much from others there are times in our lives when it is only one on one, the person and God, just like here – you and Him.

      Thank you for your encouragement in sharing your life, and for encouraging me with your words on a personal level. I would think given your experience you have much to offer others in the way of restoration. So please, for the sake of our Lord and the gospel, keep speaking truth. So many need it these days. Be encouraged in doing His work as He calls you to it.

      Blessings to you my sister!

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  4. Deb – What a wonderful testimony. I agree with Mykayla – “Not earth-shattering”?, hmmmm….. but earth shattering if you know what I mean. I thank you too that you chose to share it. And I too would encourage you to keep speaking truth. That is one of the best weapons of all.

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