I think this a fitting subject for the 400th edition.
KEY SCRIPTURE 1 Timothy 4:14 & 2 Timothy 1:6
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
You pull into the drive-through and order your coffee. "Flat white with one sugar, please."
The coffee comes, and you place it in the holder, then pull onto the road and drive away. Your senses are awaiting that first taste. The expectation of enjoying your morning brew and that 'alive' feeling it brings is building up in your subconscious. "Ahh, this is the life, sipping and driving." With your thumb and forefinger, you test the heat of the takeaway cup so as not to burn your mouth. Perfect! Grabbing the cup as you drive, you put the slit to your lips while keeping your eye on the traffic over the top of the plastic lid. The first mouthful pours in. It hits your taste buds, those gatekeepers of flavour. But instead of euphoria, you gag! All the build-up and expectation instantly dies. "Grrr! They haven't stirred the sugar!!!"
Expectation is powerful, and so is the stirring up. They go hand in hand even when it comes to God.cThe apostle Paul wrote twice to Timothy, his son in the faith, about ensuring he stirred up his gift. This was a basic requirement, Timothy's reasonable service. (Romans 12:1). Timothy was a living sacrifice of the new era, not a dead sacrificial animal. Paul knew by experience the importance of spiritual agitation. He would not have gotten his work done without it. Not stirring up is like being given a gift we fail to unwrap.
But what gift? We read this passage thinking, "What gift do I have?"
There are specific gifts given by the Lord for our ministries and/or work, but there are also the general broader gifts for those who come to Christ, and we must stir them all.
The gift of eternal life? Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
The gift of grace. Ephesians 2:8, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:"
The gift of Christ's righteousness. Romans 5:17, "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)."
Stirring up the gifts of eternal life and grace ensures we remain humble as we grow, reminding us that we are nothing without Christ. Stirring up the gift of Christ's righteousness helps understand the bounds of grace and remain within them.
Without agitating the Holy Spirit, what made Timothy any different from a sectarian priest? Not much. He would have been just another dry non-functional religious stick. Like Aaron's rod that budded, blossomed and brought forth fruit when all the other rods didn't, believers are the only ones alive by the power of the living God. (Numbers 17:8). In the case of Aaron's rod, we see what stages can flourish when the Spirit is active within.
Christians are to operate alive in the Spirit. Peter calls us lively stones (1 Peter 2:5). Otherwise, we're like the lukewarm Laodiceans. (Revelation 3:14-22). They sat on the fence. Christ rebuked them because they didn't stir up the Spirit within. They were neither hot nor cold. Hot referring to the zeal, the stirring up.
Stirring up the Holy Spirit also stimulates the fruit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance or self-control. We get them working at capacity—at their fulness for our stage of maturity.
We wonder why we don't operate at peak spirituality, until we realise we're not doing the basics. God wants genuine hallelujahs, praises and thanksgiving pouring from our lips. He desires our senses to experience the fulness of that spiritual awakening we cannot get anywhere else.
When encouraging Timothy, Paul would have used the examples of the deacons, Stephen and Philip, both full of the Holy Spirit, wholly stirred for the Lord. To show the degree to which we stir the Spirit, Ephesians 5:18 says, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." As with getting drunk by continuous drinking, the Lord wants us to continually partake from His fountain of life.
Sometimes we walk around as if the Holy Spirit is in our carry bag and not in our hearts creating joy, peace and exaltation. We wait until Church day to celebrate and sing the songs, yet the activator of those songs is the Holy Spirit. This means Church is within our hearts daily, and we can sing and rejoice, keeping the gift stirred.
We can sing praises in our hearts daily for the life-saving gifts of eternal life and grace. We can cry tears of joy for the gift of our new family in Christ and a Father so pure and transparent He emits no shadows. Where everything spoken is accurate and guaranteed.
When we stir up the Holy Spirit by speaking to ourselves in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19), the nine gifts of the Spirit—the sugar—are also stirred. Every one of them makes us sweet and enjoyable to others, including God. Also mixed in will be any specific gifts of calling we might have.
Why do we need to stir up our gifts?
Everything in our bodies requires activating. When we use our eyes, all is normal until something different appears. Then we focus more keenly with greater interest. That's why we 'rubberneck' when we see an accident on the road. Hearing is likewise. At night, all is normal until we hear a thump that shouldn't be there. Then we automatically become more alert. We experience sadness when something devastating happens. But occasional events take us a step further to crying. Even our smiles get broader when we see something positive, or burst into laughter upon reading a funnier than usual joke. Our taste buds need salivating; our heart rate often needs to race. They all need excitation, the application of energy to raise them above the norm.
Everything needs stirring. As with turning on an engine, the Holy Spirit works when activated. We don't need to wait for special times. We can agitate the Spirit within, bringing our promised joy, peace, love and empathy to life. This way, we are at one with the Spirit, and He is working in His fullness.
Our spiritual lives won't come to fruition waiting for Church day. Like Timothy, our gifts need stirring now. For now is when they are needed.
Dear Lord, thank you for the gifts you so graciously have given, along with the ability to stir them up, to agitate and get me moving at best performance in sync with Your Holy Spirit. Please help me keep your precious gifts in the forefront of my mind, never taking them for granted.
Photo by Ryan Porter