“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you.”
2 Timothy 1:6
What are you to do when it seems nothing is going right? When there is no light at the end of the tunnel? When it appears that your hopes and dreams are never going to be realized?
You are to do as Timothy was instructed to do: Stir yourself up!
What does it mean to stir oneself up? In the above scripture, the word “stir” in the Greek means: to kindle, to inflame one’s zeal, mind and strength. God puts all we need into us, but He does not do it for us – He tells US to stir ourselves up!
The word is also used in the Old Testament (2 Samuel 5:24). The Lord told David to stir himself up and go out and slay the Philistines, and that God would go before him. In this case, the Hebrew word for “stir” means: to be decisive. In other words, “make a choice”. David could have chosen to stay behind, but instead He stirred himself up and charged forward – trusting in the Lord. It is important to note that David did have a choice. So do you, so do I.
So, what does it look like? When you don’t want to get up, you get up and get going anyway. When you are afraid to do the things you need to do, you do them afraid. When you are sad, you praise God anyway. When you are tempted to give up, you go to the Word and fill yourself up with hope.
Keep your eyes on the prize – He is faithful!
Keep the faith!
“Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment.” Mark 5:25-27
A reason we don’t see answers to prayer is because we give up too soon. I think of the word “tenacity”. It means to stick with it, no matter what. You’ve heard the phrase, “bulldog tenacity”? It describes how a bulldog will grab onto something and not let go until he has been satisfied.
The woman with the issue of blood had this kind of persistence. She had been to doctor after doctor for years; she spent all of her money in search for her answer. She didn’t have any natural hope left – man had failed her. Everything in the natural realm told her it was no use and that she should just give up.
But, she tried one more time when she saw Jesus come to town. She reached out, touched Him and was healed! What if she had given up? How sad that would have been.
Be like the bulldog! Hold on tight until you are satisfied!
Keep the faith!
When my kids were little, invariably most every night one of them spilled their glass of milk or juice. Who cleaned it up? Mom, of course. When they got older and made a mess, who cleaned it up? They did, maybe with some help from Mom. Now that they are grown, they usually have to clean up all by themselves.
What about YOUR messes? Who cleans them up?
There are three kinds of messes in our lives.
- Messes we make all by ourselves.
- Messes someone else makes and we are in the middle of it.
- Messes the devil makes for us.
Messes we’ve caused by ourselves are probably the simplest to clean up (simple, but not always easy!) Some of the messes we create: financial trouble by making poor money decisions, not saving, borrowing too much, living beyond our means; poor health due to abusing food and drink and/or not exercising, ignorance regarding our own bodies; career troubles due to procrastinating, not paying enough attention to the important things, bad habits and addictions, and more – the list goes on.
We fix those messes by repenting for them, turning back to God and asking Him to divinely help us clean up the “spilt milk”. It takes a quality decision to change our ways.
You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes. Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!” Haggai 1:6-7
Messes caused by others are not so simple to fix because another’s soul (mind, will & emotions) is involved, not just ours. A cheating spouse; a thieving employee or partner; an auto accident; a crime committed against you; etc.
Just because the mess is caused by someone else does not mean we are helpless in the situation. God also gave us free will and the power of choice. We can choose to extricate ourselves from the situation by leaving the abusive relationship. We can fire the dishonest employee and be more careful with the next hire. We can hold people accountable for the harm they have done, either through the legal system or the church’s biblical process.
Justice is a joy to the godly, but it terrifies evildoers. Proverb 21:15 NLT
Messes caused by satan are those that are made to disrupt your life. They seemingly come out of nowhere and are meant to sideline you through discouragement, despair and hopelessness.
The word is crystal clear on how we are to handle demonic attacks. We are to submit to God, resist the devil and he must flee. (James 4:7) Jesus gave us power and authority over the enemy. So often we cave in when the devil attacks. We slip into victim-mode, and while that is understandable, it is not acceptable for kids of the King to roll over. When Jesus was attacked by the devil, He used the Word of God against him. We can, too!
Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Luke 10:19
No matter which of the three messes you find yourself in, cry out to God saying, “Help clean up this mess, Lord!” If you sincerely want out of your mess, He sincerely will help you.
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Keep the faith!
I don’t know about you, but when I was a little girl the thought of disappointing my dad was unbearable. My father is a disciplined man of strict German descent who values excellence in performance. While it is always good to strive for excellence, how many know that little girls and little boys are going to fall short now and then?
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. – Romans 3:23 NKJV
Whenever I would disappoint my dad I was devastated and felt ashamed. As I grew older and there were times when I purposefully went against his will (who, me?!), it would be hard to look him in the eye. How do you look directly into the eyes of your father and admit what you did wrong – or worse, lie about what you did? If you have any conscience, you can’t! Just like Adam and Eve in the garden after they sinned, human nature is to cover up and hide when we’ve done wrong. The last thing we humans want to do is to run toward the person we’ve disappointed. We fear punishment, distance, shame and more, so we tend to run away instead, even though we know they love us (like my dad does me). Once we do finally admit our failing, we usually feel better even if there is some punishment attached.
Fortunately, with our Heavenly Father we don’t have to hang our heads in shame at all. When we blow it we can boldly approach Him and ask for His mercy and grace.
Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. – Hebrews 4:16 AMP
He knows we are frail humans, earthly vessels. He knows that even if our hearts are right we will still stumble at times. But, believe me when I tell you, God is pleased with you! Jesus paid the price, once and for all, for all of our sins – past, present and future. When we approach the Lord after we’ve done something wrong, He is standing there with open arms and we can look Him straight in His glorious eyes! We are, after all, the apples of His eye and He is not condemning us!
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. – Romans 8:1 NLT
I will end this post with the hope-filled words from a minister I greatly admire, Jerry Savelle: You’re not alone. No matter what the devil may tell you, you are not alone. God intends to set you free – spirit, soul and body. So, wipe your tears, pull your shoulders back, hold your head up and let’s get on the road to your recovery.
Keep the faith!
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.” Mark 11:22
As mature Christians we are told we aren’t to rely on feelings to know God is with us. If that is the case, I must not always be a very mature Christian because I sure do like the feel of God!
When surrounded by a world struggling in turmoil, sin and despair, it is sometimes not surprising when doubts start to sprout up. When He seems far removed and the walk seems so lonely, I find the doubting “why” questions sneaking into my brain. In times like these, I remember days of feeling His presence all the time, and I cry out, “Where are You, Lord?”
One glance up into the clear blue sky, or a stop at the beach to take in the crashing waves of the majestic Pacific, or one look into the faces of my kids erases all doubts that there is a God and He is with me! The sight of my two precious and comical little dachshunds not only tells me there is a God, but that He has a sense of humor, too!
What do we do in the times of drought of good feelings? The older I get the more I realize we do the same thing we do with just about everything in life: We choose to step out in faith, in spite of how we feel, knowing – in time – the feelings will come.
Most of us don’t relish getting out of bed when the alarm goes off. Yet, we force ourselves to in spite of our feelings. In a few minutes, we begin to feel differently; we are fully awake and ready to face the day ahead.
We don’t feel like putting on the tennies and going for a walk. But, in spite of how we feel, we do it anyway. Ten minutes into it, we start to feel better. When we are done, we are glad we did it.
You may not feel like going to the business function with your spouse. You override your feelings and choose to go anyway. Once you are there, you find you are actually enjoying the event.
Feelings are fickle! Feelings are subject to change – we often have to prod them along to change! It is in the doing that the feelings follow.
Choose to live in faith, believing and knowing He is with you today. It will change the way you feel!
Keep the faith!
A very important aspect to growth and change in life is the pursuit of self-improvement. To be successful in life – business dealings, relationships, spiritual matters and more – we must be determined to better ourselves, on purpose.
My husband and I first got involved in purposeful personal development many years ago when a mentor introduced us to a wonderful vision and goal setting program and the concept of dream boards. It was truly life changing and we have been made stronger, wiser and more confident as we’ve continued our walk of continual growth and improvement.
Plans go wrong for lack of advice; many advisers bring success.
Proverb 15:22 (NLT)
We really took the experts seriously when they recommended becoming determined enough to invest in ourselves – with time and money. Over the years we have attended multitudes of workshops, seminars, conference calls and webinars. We’ve listened to the CDs and watched umpteen DVDs of the pros. We’ve participated in several mastermind groups – virtual and in person. We’ve bought and read so many spiritual and secular self-improvement books we seriously could open our own bookstore or lending library! All of this came at a price – literally thousands of dollars and mega-hours of time and a lot of travel.
While all of this is terrific and I wouldn’t change a thing, I have to warn you that you can reach a point of saturation – a state of “analysis paralysis”. It’s one thing to learn, explore and absorb all the “experts” ideas, plans, inspiration and motivation. It’s another thing to make your own plan and finally take action. It’s not enough to just hear it; you have to at some point do it.
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. James 1:22 (NLT)
There comes a time when any more thinking and analyzing becomes counter-productive and you must just start to move forward. You can analyze so much that no decision is made.
A good friend of mine, also named Tina, and I have walked this self-improvement walk together. We actually met in a virtual mastermind group and became fast friends. She and I had an aha-moment of our own a few years ago. We hesitantly and self-consciously laughed when we came to the realization that we had to stop – stop buying the books, stop paying for the programs, stop purchasing the latest “how-to” manual. We had reached a point of information overload and it was time to stop learning, stop taking in more information. It was time to start acting – truly taking action – on the stuff we had already learned, gleaned and amassed. We literally challenged each other not to buy one more book or program!
If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.
Bruce Lee (1930-1973) Chinese American martial artist, actor, philosopher
If you are a seasoned Christian, you already know the basics. It’s time to take action! As I said, it is good to seek godly counsel, but the Holy Spirit is your best friend, your guide and your ultimate counselor.
But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true – it is not a lie.
1 John 2:27 (NLT)
Take time to review all you already know and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the next action step you need to take – now!
Keep the faith!
During church service last night, the presence of God was sweet. He gave me a word for His people, a word of encouragement. I didn’t get to speak it out last night, but I believe this word is for more in the body of Christ than only those in my church.
The Lord said, “Many of you are afraid to look Me in the eye. You have the same feelings of shame and guilt that you had as a child when you did something wrong. It was hard to look your parents in the eye, in fact, you wanted to hide. You are afraid to look Me in the eye. I am calling you to run to Me, not away from Me! I know what you’ve done. I also know that you are sorry and that you desire not do it anymore. You must realize that I am indeed faithful and just to forgive you and that I love you very much. Run to Me today! Crawl up onto My lap and let Me take away the shame and guilt.”
I remembered what His word says in Hebrews 4:16:
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
I like how The Message translation says it:
So let’s walk right up to Him and get what He is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
God’s love is so simple. We complicate it, don’t we? We hide from Him instead of running to Him. It’s so silly because when we go to Him all the crud is washed away and it is replaced with joyous feelings of righteousness and peace!
Keep the faith!
A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45
The New Living Translation says: “Whatever is in your heart determines what you say.”
It is a curious thing how someone can learn something, live it and then fall away from it. I have been recently reminded by the Lord of a basic spiritual law that I once knew well, lived it and even taught it, but had somehow mostly fallen away from it. Our words have power; what we say is extremely important. What comes out of our mouths is an indicator of what is in our hearts.
Matthew 12:37 says, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” How many of us are, knowingly or unknowingly, condemning ourselves by our words?
My faith took a nosedive after a traumatic experience that happened several years ago. It has been a long time in the reconstruction of my faith, with many times along the way bemoaning ever getting back to the place of strong faith in which I once resided. During this rebuilding, things that were absolutes and ‘givens’ were doubted and questioned, and sometimes abandoned. The importance of keeping a watch over my words was one of those things that went by the wayside. A fatalistic attitude of que sera sera, whatever happens happens, took over in my heart, even though I knew better. Yet, whenever I would hear a sermon about the importance of choosing life or the magnitude of our words, my spirit would leap. Hearing truth does that to your spirit!
Recently, God has been showing me – again – the basics of speaking His will, His desire and His words. I am not speaking about the new-age law of attraction or the secular power of positive thinking; I am speaking about the Word of God and how we are to choose the thoughts we are to entertain and the words that flow from our hearts and out our mouths. A few examples:
I am so tired lately. Instead say, “My youth is renewed like the eagles!” (Psalm 103:5)
My back is killing me. Instead say, “I am so glad God strengthens me!” (Psalm 89:21)
We can’t afford it. Instead say, “God is our provider and He meets all our needs!” (Philippians 4:19)
Nothing good ever happens to me. Say instead, “It may look bad, but my future is bright!” (Jeremiah 29:11)
Every time I try to do it I screw it up. Instead say, “I may have failed before but I can do all things through Christ.” (Proverbs 24:16 and Philippians 4:13)
I can’t remember a thing. Say instead, “My mind is sharp and clear because I have the mind of Christ!” (1 Corinthians 2:16)
It just about scared me to death. Instead say, “I was scared.” No need to add anything to it to get your point across! (Matthew 5:37)
Since what comes out of our hearts is what is stored in there, it is crucial that we fill our hearts with what He has to say, which comes by spending time with Him and His word. He tells us clearly:
Let not mercy and truth forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart, and so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man.
I am grateful that the Spirit of the Lord quickens to us the word and reminds us of what is needed for life! (John 6:63) Thank You, Lord!
Keep the faith!
There is a popular saying in the world of business coaching that says, “Major on your strengths, minor on your weaknesses.” The theory behind it is to encourage a person to do what they do best and staff out or delegate the rest.
In a way, it has a spiritual foundation. God gives us all gifts and talents that are unique to us, and He desires that we “major” on those gifts and not squander them. We squander them when spend time trying to do things we aren’t good at instead of doing those we are gifted to do.
For example, in the natural I am really strong in leading others, accounting and writing, but I am very weak in mechanics, technical equipment stuff and programming. It would be a waste of my time – and an exercise in total frustration – to spend my time trying to be mechanical or technical; it would be far better for me to delegate out those types of things.
When my car breaks down I don’t try to fix it myself…same with a plumbing issue – I call a plumber! The car mechanic and the plumber are experts at what they do. It would be futile for me to even attempt what they do.
In other words, do what you do best and let others do what they do best!
Spiritually, one may be very gifted in teaching and speaking nuggets of truth into people’s lives but they can’t carry a tune and really get freaked out being around kids. That person would be better off to concentrate on the gifts of teaching and discernment the Lord has bestowed upon them, and leave the music and children’s ministries to those who have those gifts – amen.
Mind you, I am not saying that we never get out of our comfort zone and pitch in where needed. But, you get my point: if we spend all our time doing things that go against the gifts we’ve been given, it takes away from the purpose God put us here to carry out.
I encourage you to spend some time with God to find out where your spiritual gifts lie, and then walk in them!
Keep the faith!
The Hebrew meaning of the word “redeem” as used in this verse is ga’al and it means:
- to act as a kinsman or redeemer
- to redeem (by payment)
- God redeeming from death, from bondage, from exile
- to exact vengeance
Isn’t it great news that when we return to Him in repentance, God not only sweeps away our sins but He redeems us as well! He sets us free! Jesus paid the price for us – He is our kinsman-redeemer!
Often, instead of rejoicing over our redemption we hold onto our sins and live under guilt and condemnation. God has swept away our sins, why don’t we? Perhaps there is an old religious remnant in our thinking that says we must “do penance” and, by telling ourselves how unworthy we are and beating ourselves up, it fulfills that need for self-atonement. How long do we hold onto it – one day, three days, a week, a month, years? When will we feel absolved?
We are absolved the moment we said we were sorry and the Lord redeemed us! We don’t have to do penance. We do not have to hold onto the guilt any longer. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus….” Romans 8:1(a)
There is, however, a caveat: Once we have been redeemed we must walk in it. Jesus said to the man He had healed, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worst thing come upon you.” John 5:14; and, to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” John 8:11
But, even if we blow it again (and again) which we are sometimes prone to do, we do know that He is the God of second, third, fourth and fifty-fourth chances. He doesn’t leave us hanging. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
So I encourage you today to thank the Lord for His redemption, walk with your head held high as a child of the King, and be bold in the power of His salvation!
Keep the faith!