Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fan the Flame

"For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:6-7

Paul is found encouraging Timothy in this passage. Guaging by his words, it appears that Timothy was likely a warm and loving man, but may have had a timid or fearful streak in his personality and needed to be built up. Paul encouraged him to use the spiritual gifts God had imparted to him and often spoke to him about being strong and bold in that.

Timothy, timid in nature, needed to hear Paul's urging to "fan into flame the gift of God" so as to not let the fire burn out or grow dim. Passivity will not produce productivity for the kindgdom, regardless of one's gifts. The bearer of the spiritual gift must cooperate by will to fulfill the purpose of his God-given gifts. They must be stirred up, used often and kept fresh and in full flame to be effective.

When walking in the Spirit and doing kingdom work, God's Word says that fear is not from God. Verse 7 says I have not been given a spirit of timidity. I have been given power, love and a sound mind. Humanly speaking, we all deal with fear in one thing or another, but nonetheless I should press on and do what I have been called by God to do, even in fear. I can use the fear as a reminder to take my thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ and believe the fear is not from God. I can choose instead to take God at His Word and believe I have been given power, love and a sound mind, and walk in that.

The power Christ has given me is not for the purpose of controlling others, but to do His work, proclaim His Word and represent His kingdom well. God has my back and I am safe in His hands, doing whatever He calls me to do. He has also given me a spirit of love that I may serve others well. And I have been given a sound mind that in Christ, can remain calm and self-controlled even in crisis or confusion. It is my job to receive and walk in all that He has given me.

Fear and timidity will try to keep me from using my God-given giftedness to touch His people in a needy world. David Guzik puts it this way: "God wants [me] to take His power, His love, and His calm thinking and overcome fear to be used of Him with all the gifts He has given [me]."

Father God, I agree that I too tend to have a streak of timidity in me, but I also believe You are teaching me to have a voice. In this passage I am reminded that ministry doesn't necessarily fall into one's lap. I must do my part, walk in Your will and be disciplined in spending tme with You in order to keep fanning the flame. Set my heart ablaze for You, I pray. Help me to walk in the Spirit with strength and boldness, power, love and calm thinking so that I can serve You well. Use me Lord to touch this hurting and needy world. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Training Ground

"...train yourselves to be godly."  1 Timothy 4:7

Godliness is not innate. It's not something I was born with. Not something I know how to do naturally. Romans 5:8 says, "...while we were still stinners, Christ died for us." I was born a sinner. To be godly is something God's Word says I must train myself to do. It is a matter of getting my priorities straight as a believer.

Verse 8 in this passage goes on to say, "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." Ancient Greek and Roman cultures put great emphasis on physical exercise. But here, Paul is telling Timothy that believers should put that same emphasis, that same effort, into the pursuit of godliness and the Christian life.

The word "godliness" is said to have come from the old English word "Godlikeness". It means to have the attitude and character of God. David Guzik's commentary says, "This was a worthy goal, much more worthy than the potential attainments of physical exercise. Bodily exercise profits a little in that it has some value, while exercising unto godliness is good for all eternity." To grow both physically or spiritually require two things: exertion and proper feeding.

The difference is that godliness is profitable for the here and now, and forever. Godliness makes this earthly life better, and I "should not hesitate to believe it or to tell people this." (Guzik) It may not make life cushy or comfortable, but it will be the best Christ has to offer me, and the most fulfilling because it is His will for me.

Charles Spurgeon once said, "I assure you, and there are thousands of my bretheren who can affirm the same, that after having tried the ways of sin, we infinitely prefer the ways of righteousness for their own pleasure's sake even here, and we would not change with ungodly men even if we had to die like dogs. With all the sorrow and care which Christian life is supposed to bring, we would prefer it to any other form of life beneath the stars."

God's Word says that only godliness - not sin or sucess, fame or beauty, wealth or achievements - leads to eternal life and happiness. Happiness that comes from the peace and joy that the pursuit of godliness brings.

Father God, as I spend time at Your feet, in Your Word, meditating on Your Truths and applying them to my life, may it be a training ground for godliness. I want my life to be a reflection of You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

My Sustaining Power

"...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." Philippians 4:11b

Paul, writing from prison, is telling the Philippians in his letter that he knows "what it is to be in need" and "what it is to have plenty" (v.12). Out of his experience he states that he has "learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." Through his trials he came to the conclusion that he could do everything - endure through times of want and plenty - through Christ who strengthened him.

To be content means to require nothing from the outside; to have everything I need in Jesus because He alone satisfies in every situation.

Lord Jesus, You have been my Need-Meeter in difficult times; times of want. And You have been all I needed in times of need. You alone are my sustaining power. Thank You Jesus! In Your name I pray, amen.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Glance vs. Gaze

I have been pondering this thought taken from Hebrews 12 spoken by our middle school pastor. He was giving a word of advice to the students before leaving to take a position at a new church.

He said, "glance at people, but fix your gaze on Jesus". It reminded me to take notice of the people in my life, but stare long and hard at Jesus. Know Him. Know His heart. He's the only One that will not let me down.

Think about it!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Love Incorruptible

"Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus with love incorruptible." Ephesians 6:24 (ESV)

I was reading from Ephesians 6 this morning - the familiar passage about spiritual warfare and the importance of daily putting on the full armor of God. As I read from the ESV version I noticed that Paul ended his letter to Ephesus with the words in the verse above. The phrase "love incorruptible" caught my attention. I wanted to know more about this love we should have for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Incorruptible with reference to love in this phrase would be a love that cannot be perverted, dissolved or disintegrated in any way. It is a love that is honest, honorable, indestructible, loyal, pure, persistent and trustworthy. How does my love for the Lord compare?

Father God, I pray for the grace and strength to love You with a love incorruptible all the days of my life. In Jesus' name, amen.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Poignant Moment

I wanted to journal about a moment that seemed to stand still last night. A moment that was so touching between Mandisa and our Bell Shoals Girlfriends.

We took a road trip - 210 women, to be exact - to Lakeland for "Girls Night Out". A concert event with Anita Renfroe and Mandisa. Our team had scoped out the best place to sit 200+ women together and chose the overhanging balcony. Well into the evening, after Anita Renfroe had made mention of her personal connection to our former music pastor as sort of an "insiders" comment, Mandisa began to share. In preparing to sing her incredible song called Broken Halleluah, she took time to recount the first time she ever sang that song in concert...

Mandisa had been scheduled to be the first "event" in our new worship center at Bell Shoals Baptist Church. Our worship pastor at that time, Simeon Nix had booked her. She went on to explain that just days before she was to perform, she got word from our church that our Senior Pastor, Forrest Pollock, and his 13 year old son had been tragically killed in a plane accident. But Simeon told her the church still wanted her to come.

Mandisa shared that she and her band took time to fast for three days to seek the Lord's direction in this most delicate situation. This would not be an ordinary concert. Having been at that concert personally, it was clear that Mandisa had not only been called to our church to perform a concert. She had been called by God to come and minister to a deeply hurting body of believers.

She went on to share the shock of receiving another call from our church less than three months later that Simeon Nix had too passed away. Just as we had, she asked God what He was doing. It was so hard to understand. And in times like that, our praise is often little more than a broken halleluah.

As she brought that beautiful song to a close, there were few dry eyes among those in our group. She transitioned into Blessed Be The Name. At that moment, it seemed clear to me why the balcony had been the place divinely chosen for us to sit. The people on the ground floor continued to sit through the song having no idea what a special moment God was orchestrating above them. Just seconds into that song our Bell Shoals ladies began rising to their feet, lifting hands to praise the Lord for His faithfulness to us. Tears flowing, time seemed to stand still for a moment as I took in the scene. Even the people to the right and to the left of our group in the balcony remained seated. For the most part, we were the only ones standing, our hearts connected with Mandisa, her band, and the Lord. The word that kept coming to mind was "poignant". As the song ended, we took our seats, and the ladies on the ground floor were none the wiser. The moment had almost been private in a sanctuary full of people. The moment was touching and I want to long remember.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Anger and Love

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." Ephesians 4:30

After reading the wisdom of Charles Spurgeon on the matter of this verse, I took note that the verse does not say, "Do not make angry the Holy Spirit."  For many people, their hearts are just hard enough that the anger of someone towards them would not cause much pain. But for one to know their actions grieved another could move even the hardest of hearts. Spurgeon says, "...grief is a sweet combination of anger and love. It is anger, but all the gall is taken from it. Love sweetens the anger, and turns the edge of it, not against the person, but against the offense."

An offense commited against a friend of little patience may cause them to snap and be angry with me. But the same offense observed by a loving father would cause him grief. Spurgeon explains it this way: "...there is anger in his bosom, but he is angry and sins not; and yet there is love to neutralize and modify the anger towards me. Instead of wishing me ill as the punishment of my sin, he looks upon my sin itself as being the ill. He grieves to think that I am already injured, from the fact that I have sinned."

It seems the more you love someone, the more likely their offenses will cause you grief vs. anger. As a parent, I can attest. When my children sin my heart is much more grieved than angered. In the case of this verse, God's Word says that my sin would cause the Holy Spirit within me, who loves me beyond measure, to be grieved instead of angry. I too should be grieved - my heart distressed - if I thought I had hurt another, especially the Holy Spirit. All the more reason to guard my attitude, my heart, my thoughts, my mind; to guard what my eyes and ears take in, and what comes out of my mouth. The Holy Spirit is exposed to everything I take in or take part in. As Paul was writing the book of Ephesians the Spirit directed him to give warning not to grieve the Holy Spirit with whom I, as a believer in Christ, am sealed with for redemption day. A warning I strive to heed.

Lord Jesus, I ask You to strengthen me and guard my steps as I seek to protect myself from things that would grieve the Spirit in me. Help me to live each day for Your glory and to love others well. In Jesus' name, amen.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Beautiful Intercession

Do you ever have one of those days when you can't clear your head long enough to put your thoughts together in prayer? This morning was one of those days for me. After struggling for some time I told the Lord I wanted to read His Word for a while, and then pray after - hoping it would help to put my thoughts in order. As I did, I read a passage that made for beautiful intercession. It reminded me that praying God's Word back to Him - believing His promises about whatever is on my heart, and incorporating the two - is one of the most effective ways to pray...

Father God,

I wait in hope for You as I pray for __________________________________; You are my help and my shield. In You my heart rejoices, for I trust in Your holy name. May Your unfailing love rest upon me, O LORD, even as I put my hope in You.

In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

(Adapted from Psalm 33:20-22)


Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Remnant

"But for those who fear You, You have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow." Psalm 60:4

Among the Israelites there was a remnant of people who feared God. They had a reverential trust, high regard, worshipful attitude and obedient heart toward the One whom they knew would keep His promises to them. Though they had been experiencing desprate times that made them stagger (v.3), they knew that the Lord would unite them ("raise a banner") against the enemy. With God they would gain the victory and He would trample down their enemies (v.12).

Lord Jesus, make me a remnant of the people of my day for You. One who trusts You without question in the big things, and especially in the small things, because sometimes they seem harder for me to leave in Your hands. Unite me with likeminded believers and fortify us so that we may stand strong against the enemy. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Friday, June 3, 2011

God of Patience

Today I am sharing some commentary notes by David Guzik that encouraged me as I was reading about Romans 15:5-6 which says,

"May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."

"Our God is a God of patience. We are often in so much of a hurry, and God often seems too slow for us. Often the purposes of God seem to be delayed but they are always fulfilled. God's delays are not His denials, and He has a loving purpose in every delay.

We love God's patience with His people - we need Him to be patient with us! Yet we often resent God's patience with His plan - we think He should hurry up. Nevertheless, God is patient both with His people and in His plan."

Thank You Lord for being patient with me. Forgive for my lack of patience with You when I can't see Your hand or Your plan as clearly as I would like to. I know that Your timing is perfect and You are faithful and trustworthy. Help me to rest in You. In Jesus' name, amen.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Focusing on worship today. Be blessed by "Amazed" from Kutless' new worship album.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Don't Miss the Mark

"It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way." Proverbs 19:2

God has planted hopes, desires and dreams in my heart - things to be passionate about. But I must be careful not to get carried away in passion and zeal and put the cart before the horse. Lack of knowledge is ignorance. Unless I collect knowledge, wisdom and Godly advice through prayer, God's Word and wise counsel, I may miss the mark. I don't want to take false steps. I want to keep my feet firmly planted on the way God has mapped out for me.

Lord Jesus, as I explore and pursue things You have spoken into my heart, I ask You to order my steps that I may walk with You - not ahead, nor behind, nor off the beaten path doing my own thing. I want to walk with You, with knowledge, so that You can show me Your way. In Jesus' name, amen.