Does Your Faith Need Stirring? 9/6/98

II Timothy 1: 6, 7
Page 1736 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ complimented His followers of every era by describing us as “salt” and “light.”

For many life has grown tasteless. For many life is being lived in spiritual darkness.

This has been described as the era of the “Age of the Sellout” in which everything is for sale. Honesty and integrity are traded off like chattel for money and power.

Whether it is the “Age of the Sellout,” or the “Age of the Fallout,” or the “Age of the Blowout” it is our age and a grand time to be salt and light.

Whatever it is it is a grand time to be what the world needs: spiritual salt and light. I pray for persons who are members of this church knowing your task to be to saturate, penetrate, and infiltrate society with the tasty additive of spiritual salt and illumine a spiritually dark society with the light of the gospel. If you are a member my prayers follow you every day as an encouragement to be all God has designed you to be.

Ours is a spiritually challenging society. However in a day even more difficult Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote a young minister named Timothy words relevant to us:

“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1:6, 7).

Pitch your mental tent over that text and camp out under it for life.

At the time of this writing Paul was in a Roman prison awaiting decapitation. The mad emperor Nero had set fire to a large section of Rome and blamed the Christians for it. Believers were being rounded up and executed. Word spread throughout the Roman Empire as to what was happening in Rome. The word reached Troaz where awaited the young apprentice minister Timothy. A shiver must have gone through him when he heard of what awaited his mentor, Paul, and other believers.

He needed the encouragement contained in our text. Today I need it. Self-confession would prompt each of us to acknowledge our need for the wonderful gifts listed. First a —-

I. CHARGE “Stir up the gifts…” (Vs. 6)
We don’t know what gifts Timothy had but we do well to consider the “gifts,” that is the ability our Lord has given us. Every believer has spiritual gifts.

Most of us have memories of a fire on the hearth in our home or of sitting around a campfire.

Nights around a fire are a storehouse of memories. Are you one of those who can’t resist poking a fire. At a campfire are you one of those who inevitably ends up with a stick in your hand poking the fire. Are you an artist with a poker with the ability to create various patters as the dancing patterns of the flames and embers vary.

The expression “stir up the gifts” translates the Greek word ANAZOPUREO. ZOPUREO refers to embers in which the fire has abated. The prefix ANA means “to kindle again the flames of the fire.”

There is a modern English translation of beauty: “Shake the ashes off the God-given fire that’s in you.”

There is fire in embers. Often they need stirring in order for the flame to blaze. Fires feed on oxygen. By stirring them we give them additional fuel and they flame up. Don’t be surprised or discouraged if the spiritual flame in your life has died down. Neither be content or complacent – stir up your gifts.

Has your fervor been chilled and your zeal chilled. Are you spiritually in the game or on the sidelines. Do you have gifts and abilities not being used for the glory of the Lord. Every criticism that can be levied against the church in America is attributed to Christians not using their gifts. Shake off the ashes. Rekindle the flame of faithfulness. Let the Lord use you.

Paul and Timothy were willing to be used even at the risk of life. Respond to the charge – STIR UP THE GIFT OF GOD WHICH IS IN YOU.

Jesus wants to be your Master. Life without a spiritual master is like an orchestra without a conductor, a team without a coach, an army without a general. Now noted are four gifts.

II. COURAGE “Not of fear,” that is of, “cowardliness or timidity”
It is not craven fear but courage that comes from continual consciousness of the abiding presence of Jesus Christ.

Courage is the result when fear meets faith.

The word translated “fear” refers to cowardliness or timidity. A careful reading of I Timothy reveals some of his basic character traits. He was young and inexperienced, he was sickly, and of a shy temperament. This is not the profile of a great leader. Yet, Timothy became a great leader. Natural limitation had superimposed on them supernatural capacity. Natural liabilities are overcome by spiritual gifts being used fully.

Abraham Lincoln lived during a trying and turbulent time in our nation’s history. On the table beside his death bed was his well worn Bible. The gilded edge was well worn from use. Indentions at one point marked what was a passage to which he often referred. It is good for us also: “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4).

Are you fearful of international terrorism. Of a spiraling unstable stock market, of the moral malaise in America, or a plethora of personal problems. Those fears didn’t come from the Lord. In light of that can you figure out their source.

When Anglo-Saxon cave dwellers communicated with stick figure drawings on cave walls the depiction noting fear was of a wolf with a strangle hold on the throat of a sheep. Inordinate fear exerts a choking influence on life.

Consider the spirit of those who might well have been dispirited as described in the Phillips Translation of II Corinthians 6: 10 & 4: 8,9: “We are penniless, and yet in reality we have everything worth having … We are handicapped on all sides but never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but we never have to stand alone; we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out!” WOW, what determination! What confidence! What courage! What determination!

There is a little sign you might consider making a homemade version of: D.I.M.T.T.

That stands for “Determination Is More Important Than Talent.
God did not give them a spirit of fear. Neither has He given you one. He’s given —-

III. CHARACTER “Power” or “A spirit to inspire strength”
Drawing from American history we conceive of George Washington as a man with a spirit to inspire strength. The reason he had it was it was a gift given him by God. That strength of character inspired a nation. The legend of the chopping down of the cherry tree lives. What if when asked if he had chopped down the cherry tree young George had responded:
“No, Dad.”

“Son, I think you are lying.”

“No, no, no, I assure I did NOT chop down the cherry tree.”

“Son, I saw you out there with the axe. Your punishment will be much worse if you lie to me. Now tell me the truth.”

“Dad, I answered your question truthfully. Still, I must take complete responsibility for all my actions. While my answer was legally accurate, I did not volunteer information. Indeed, Dad, I did cause the cherry tree to be lying on the ground. To do this was wrong. It constituted a critical lapse in judgement and a personal failure on my part for which I am solely and completely responsible. I know my answer to you gave a false impression. I misled you, my own father. I deeply regret that. I can only tell you I was motivated by many factors.

First, by my desire to protect myself from the embarrassment of my own conduct. I was very concerned about protecting Mom from this shock. What I did, Dad, was use a saw to cause the cherry tree to fall. Only after the tree was already down did I go get the axe to chop off individual branches. So, I chopped off the branches, but sawed down the tree. Therefore, legally I told the truth.

I ask you to turn away from the spectacle of this fallen tree and to return our attention to a solid family relationship.”

That kind of character does not result from the gift of “power” to develop character.

In the mid 1930s the word character began to be devalued and personality emerged. Character traits, such as, courage, honesty, and loyalty were replaced by personality traits such as assertiveness, self- confidence, and introspectiveness.

Today sophisticated thinkers tell us good and evil are not actually categories but subjective and transient points of view that vary from person to person. Arm your mind by reading the right works. Youth, if given a choice of a book on which to write a report choose books like “Lord of the Rings.” It will help empower your mind.

This power is here depicted as power to —–
A. Be Saved (Vs. 9) “who has saved us.”

B. To Suffer (Vs. 8) “share with me in the suffering.”

“…if we suffer with Him we will also reign with Him” (II Timothy 2: 12).

Everyone, that is, everyone suffers. You may have been laboring under the misconception that you are the only one who suffers. If you have been thinking this is your distinction among humanity it isn’t. Believers and non-believers alike suffer. Being a Christian means you have the capacity to go beyond the breaking point and not break. This is inherent in the power given you by your Savior. With Him suffering takes on purpose. Use your pain for your gain.

If you know someone whose faith you admire you know someone who has suffered.

C. To Be Sanctified (Set aside for His use) (Vs. 9) “called us with a holy calling”

IV. COMPASSION “Love” (Vs. 7)
A. For His Word

B. For His Will

As a college student I memorized this verse by Henry van Dyke:
With eager heart and will of fire
I sought to win my great desire.
‘Peace shall be mine,’ I said, but life
Grew bitter in the endless strife.

My soul was weary, and my pride
Was wounded deep, To heaven I cried,
‘God give me peace, or I must die.’
The dumb stars glittered no reply.

Broken at last I bowed my head
Forgetting all myself I said:
‘What ever comes, Thy will be done.’
And in that moment peace was won.

Any experience that brings us to that sublime experience is worth the price of admission. At the moment of trust endurance that last is given.

C. For His Work

V. CONTROL “A Sound Mind” or “Self- discipline”
When Christ is in control we are under control.

He gives us the capacity of controlling ourselves in the face of PANIC or PASSION.

In matters of PANIC He can keep us from running away.

In matters of PASSION He can keep us from being swept away.

We must treat ourselves as a force needing controlling —-
-A collection of energy needing direction.
-A composite of emotions that must be managed.
-A combination of appetites that have to be curbed.

There is nothing wrong in our society or in the lives of individual citizens that can’t be corrected if Christians stir up these gifts within each of us.

Approaching is a time of decision. Will you in the moment of decision determine to stir up the gifts of love, power, and a sound mind?

On my birthday I was given an Iron Man watch. There is a setting on it “CHRONOS.” It is a Greek word for running time. It is used for clocking the length of time required for something.

There is another Greek word for time, KAIROS. It refers to a decisive time, a moment that requires an important decision. Outside the stadium at Olympia was a statue to the god KAIROS. It stressed that the athletes had to seize the moment, to act decisively before the moment of opportunity passed. KAIROS is linked with the idea of responsibility.

KARIOS, time, has come. Seize the moment, take advantage of this opportunity to act responsibly. Here and now determine to “Shake the ashes off the God-give fire that’s in you.”