Monday, June 18, 2012

Fire! Fire!

             This morning I found myself reading in 2 Timothy. The Lord has been calling out to me the past few days to read 2 Timothy, but I will be honest, I haven’t felt much like reading lately. I have been tired and worn out because of all the “to do’s” that have had to be done. But last night, the draw was so strong I couldn’t resist it. I read and I had a few things stick out at me, but I went to bed and filed those words away. This morning, I woke to these same words being repeated over and over in my mind.  
                Paul starts out by telling Timothy that he is an apostle because God has willed it. Paul was speaking in confident boldness to Timothy, encouraging Timothy through his words. I struggle with confidence. I wonder if what I am doing is the right thing, and sometimes I get down on myself when I think I have stepped into a wrong path. But the Lord God, who is faithful to remind us of His sovereign grace, tells us today that we are where we are at in life and in ministry because He has willed it. Paul starts his letter by saying that he is, “an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God,” not because Paul asked to be an apostle, but because God desired it. When God wishes something to happen in your life, it is going to happen, and He will align your heart with His will.
                I did not want to go into Children’s Ministry. In fact, I resisted the tugs and the pulls for months. Every time I tried to serve in another ministry, I either would not get called back or something would stop me from being able to serve. No matter how hard I tried, the pull and the tug would not go away. Eventually I gave into the calling the Lord God had put on my life, and decided to stop fighting against it. We do that more often than not, you know. We know the Lord is calling us to do something or He is asking us to take a step of faith and serve in an area of ministry that we do not always want to. But He knows what He is doing. He is sovereign, when He wills it, it will happen. I fought hard against the ministry because of who I thought I was. But the Lord God knows who He desires you to be, He does not call the equipped, but He equips the called. I was called; therefore, the equipping I needed came from Him.
                Paul goes on to tell Timothy how proud he is of him, how thankful he is for Timothy. We all have those people in our lives that we are so thankful for, and we thank God for putting them into our lives. Paul was saying the same thing to Timothy and Paul loved Timothy like his own son. Paul and Timothy had a very special bond and relationship; they were pals, buddies, and brothers in the Lord Jesus Christ. It was because of the upbringing that Timothy had through his mom and grandmother that Timothy found the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. The impact we have on the lives of others is beyond our comprehension. Timothy probably didn’t think much of the impact his mom was having on his life until he gave his heart to Jesus. The same goes with us. We all have people that watch us that learn from us that look to us- what kind of impact are we making on their lives?
                I digress, for this is not where the Lord God had me camp out today. Instead, He took me to the words “stir up”. Paul tells Timothy to, “stir up the gift of God which is in you,” (2 Timothy 1:6) What Paul was telling Timothy was to rekindle that flame, that passion that he once had. The gifts that God gives us are to be used, and if we fail to use them they can die out, like a fire that burns and burns but never gets stirred up, the embers just die away. We have all been given gifts from God, gifts that He has desired for us to have. These gifts are given so that we can serve Him and encourage our brothers and sisters through them.
                But, it is easy to neglect that gift that is in us and get caught up in other things. But today, the Lord showed me how to stir up the gifts that He has given me. He showed me that we have to use them. Just as a fire needs tending and building, so does our gifts. God does not give us gifts to just let them sit on our shelves and gather dust. He gives them to us for His desired use.
                We used to go camping all the time when I was kid, and keeping the fire going was something my mom was very adamant about doing. Her and my dad would constantly be working that fire, adding more wood to keep it burning, and before we all turned in for the evening, my dad would make sure that it had enough heat to restart in the morning. The gifts that we have been given are no different. We have to keep working them. If we don’t we will eventually let the embers die out and have to start all over again.
                So how do we keep the “fire” in our gifts? We use them. We keep working them, growing them and allowing God to do what He desires to do through them. One commentary I read said that we “must affirm and activate the Spirit’s resources to be God’s workers.” We can’t do it on our own. The gifts that we have been given are from God and He wants us to allow Him the use of them, He has designed the gift that you have especially for you. No one else can use that gift the way that you can. Do not give up working it, sometimes you have to keep working a fire to get it to a full blaze. The Lord God wants us to take the gifts that He has given us and use them all the time, every moment of every day. We must desire to fan the flame that is in us. When we do so, we will no longer walk in fear but in the power of the Holy Spirit.
                Paul tells Timothy that the one thing that stops us from using the gifts that the Lord God has given us is fear. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7) Fear is the fire extinguisher of our gifts. When we step out in faith and use the gifts God has given us, fear is there, ready to pull the trigger and extinguish the flame of our faith. The more we use the gifts the Lord has given us, the hotter our fire will grow. Imagine the impact we can have on the world around us if we did not let fear extinguish our flames?  I have allowed fear to extinguish my gift too many times. I have let the fear of what others might think; the fear of doubt and the fear of fear itself stop me from utilizing the gifts that God has freely given me.
                The Lord God is encouraging us today to be confident in the gifts that He has given us, to fan the flame of passion that is in us and not to let fear stop us anymore. If He has given you a gift, then use it. He has called you, He has chosen you, He has you right where you are for a purpose and a reason- and that is to take the gifts that you have been given and impact the world that you live in. Don’t give up- put another log on your fire and watch the Lord use that fire for His glory. Amen and Amen.