Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a tract to read:
by George C. Clark
“Wherefore I put you in remembrance that you
stir up the gift of God, which is in you by the
laying on of my hands. For God has not given
us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love,
and of a sound mind. Be not therefore ashamed
of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his
prisoner; but be a partaker of the afflictions of
the gospel according to the power of God.”
Embodied in the words of our text is a charge which I hope will arrest the attention of every reader whose fire has burned low, and whose gift needs stirring. Paul’s intriguing and challenging command to “stir up the gift of God” was part of a letter he wrote to the young minister, Timothy. What a drastic change that would take place today if this command was obeyed by every Spirit-filled believer!
Paul was an example of his teaching, continually stirring up the gift of the holy ghost, which he had received on Straight Street in Damascus when Ananias laid hands on him (Acts 9:11-17). Stirring up this gift of God provides the believer with power to overcome all evil. By fanning the gift of God into a blaze, we gain strength sufficient to overcome the world.
From Paul’s words to Timothy, one would suppose that the young evangelist had grown weak in faith, and had become hesitant in the service of God. The chilling spirits of fear and shame, mentioned by Paul, are easily felt when the fire of God burns low on our heart’s altar.
Many once-happy saints, neglecting the fire and power of God, have grown cold in spirit. Child of God, does your fire need stirring? Are you as happy as you once were? If not, then your fire needs to be stirred. Do you know how to “stir up” this gift of God (the holy ghost and fire) that is in you? How to let the power of God be manifested through you? How to regain that kind and friendly disposition that you once possessed? How to feel the love of God flowing through your being once again? What would you give to feel now as you did when God filled you with the blessed holy ghost and fire? Do you remember how you felt toward everybody? Oh, the joy that you expressed as the Spirit spoke through you and demonstrated the power of God on your body! Now, if you are anxious to “stir up” the gift which is in you, and to recover your lost fellowship with God, read this: “Remember from whence you art fallen, and repent, and do the first works.” And this, “He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life.”
My brother, do you want your name to remain in the Book of Life? If so, then you had better “stir up” the fire which is in you and let it burn the dross out of your life. Our first step in regaining the fire of the Spirit is to pray until we attain to a willing mind. Beloved, if you have lost the spirit of prayer, go down upon your knees and “pray without ceasing” until it is restored. Living in the spirit of prayer is the only way to serve God. Prayer is the paddle we use to “stir up” God’s “unspeakable gift”.
I remember that on one occasion, soon after I was converted, I lost the spirit of prayer, and it seemed as if I just could not pray. Of course, I could say prayers, as thousands are doing daily; but I wanted to pray and feel the effects of it. So, I went into the woods and fell upon my knees and began telling God that I could not pray. I repeated these words over and over: “Lord, I can’t pray.” Soon, I felt tears streaming down my cheeks; then the “little foxes” and “no-harms” began rolling up in front of me. At last, I saw my trouble and began confessing to God, with a promise to watch and pray and to be more careful in the future. When I finished making this promise, I had not only prayed but I had also repented. Repented of what? Repented of my inactiveness toward God and His kingdom; repented of not keeping in the spirit of prayer; repented of foolish talking and jesting, and of speaking words about saints and sinners in their absence that I would not speak in their presence; repented of grumbling and finding fault with others.
Now, dear reader, are you free of these things? If not, just repent and pray through, and let us get in a condition to serve God and gain eternal life. If you are not living according to this standard, you are not meeting the requirements to enter the new, heavenly Jerusalem.
Brother, sister, what will it profit you to gain the whole world but lose your soul? Remember Paul’s exhortation: “The night is far spent; the day is at hand. Let us therefore put on the armor of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” And, “Let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:12-14; 1Thess. 5:8-9).
Now, dear children of God, let us press on and “redeem the time” because “the days are evil”, and many are turning back to “the elements of this world”. Let us not be among those who “draw back” but of those who press on “to the saving of the soul”. “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,” Paul warns us in Ephesians 4:29-32, “but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it might minister grace to the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord,” Paul further exhorts, “and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
If we are to wrestle successfully against such powers of Satan, we must have the Spirit of God stirred and His fire blazing in our soul. One cannot hope to grow strong in faith without regularly setting in motion this free gift from above. Doing so intensifies our thoughts and feelings concerning our responsibility to God. After telling Timothy to “stir up the gift of God”, Paul exhorted him to “endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2Tim. 2:3). Paul knew that the strength to endure hard trials comes only through the Spirit. We are strengthened when we learn to stir up this holy fire within us, for its warmth keeps us spiritually in motion, active and moving for God, letting us know that He still abides.
Failing to arouse this bestowed gift is the chief cause of spiritual leanness among believers. To neglect the stirring of this heavenly gift is to starve the soul. Sadly, many children of God are physically and spiritually weak and afflicted because of a failure to keep the gift of God stirred and burning within the soul. As followers of Christ, we have the privilege of stirring God’s gift until it burns out of our lives even the most perplexing problems and weaknesses, making us firebrands for God.
Reader, do you know that joy makes us strong, and that this joy comes only to those who have the gift of God (the holy ghost)? To retain this joy, your gift must be kept continually in motion. To see this, look back to the time when God’s Spirit came into your life, the hour you were baptized with the holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues. You remember that great joy which flooded your soul, don’t you? Can you not recall the strength that this joy gave you? Of course you can. Now, listen, that same joy can come streaming back into your weak, frail body this very moment, if you will only stir, or rekindle, this precious gift of God which is still in you, but which for some time has been neglected. Oh, to learn the precious lesson of renewing our strength by stirring God’s gift! But as we look to God for strength through the rekindling of His gift to us, let us remember that it is His strength we receive. We are “without strength”; yet, His strength is made perfect in our weakness as we learn to rely upon Him. Thus could Paul say, “For when I am weak, then am I strong.”
As we see the multiplied thousands today whose fire has burned low and whose gift lies hidden in the smoldering ashes of sin and rebellion, we are reminded of Israel, who believed God’s word and sang His praises, but “forgot His works and waited not for His counsel.” We are told that God “gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls” (Ps. 106:13,15). What a picture of many today! “We want” or “we are going to”, and God is left out—unless He desires to do His will in their way. As a result, many who could stir their gift and be used by God develop lean and self-willed souls. They are blind to their leanness and satisfied with their accomplishments, believing that they are living in the realm of God’s best. How they must grieve their Father!
Now is the time to stir God’s gift in us. Mighty things are being wrought by a few who have already stirred their gift for this end-time revival. By their ministry, thousands are being healed and being filled with the Spirit of God. Indeed, there is a cleaning of God’s house being made, and nothing can prepare one for it but a stirring of the gift of God. The wrath and delusive power of Satan are greatly stirred because of the work which God is now doing, and we can only save ourselves by an early stirring of the unconquerable holy Spirit which God has given us. Oh, how we need to stir this gift, which is our only hope, both as individuals and as the body of Christ!
The secret of the power of God lies in this gift, which dwells in the hearts of believers, warning them to “quench not the Spirit” and “neglect not the gift that is in you” (1Thess. 5:19; 1Tim. 4:14). Stirring the gift of God is an act of faith from which we richly profit. Oh, to learn the lesson of renewing our strength by stirring this gift!
Dear soul, are you now ready to start stirring? Are you ready to begin praying for spiritual strength? We feel the need to do so when we understand that many of the saints of God have been deceived by the merchants of Spiritless religion. The alluring ways of vain religion have led many to “forsake the right way”. Yes, children of God, these are “perilous times”, and we should be diligent to “try the spirits” now abroad in the earth lest we be “led away with the error of the wicked”, and thus “fall from your own steadfastness.”
May God put it upon you to “stir up” the fire on your altar, that you may possess your soul, for there shall come “a falling away” before the coming of our Lord. Listen to the counsel of the Lord: “Let no man deceive you by any means.” How can you avoid being deceived? By keeping the gift of God stirred in you. No one whose gift is greatly stirred can believe a lie; darkness finds no place in a pure heart. We may “rejoice evermore”, even in view of the widespread disregard for godly living, if our fire is stirred. Many ministers, through covetousness and “with feigned words”, are “making merchandise” of those who are failing to keep the spirit of prayer stirred in them; but, the day is evidently not far distant when “no man buys their merchandise any more.” Come on, friends of God, hasten that day!
No combination of evils can defeat those who keep God’s “unspeakable gift” stirred and burning. It is our privilege and duty to stand against the sweeping tides of evil. We know we have found a peace of which this world is greatly in need, so why not abandon the dead forms of Christianity and stir up this good and perfect gift which God has sent us? Do you fear being put out of your sect? If you do, stir up the gift, and you will lose that fear. When this gift is thoroughly stirred in our hearts, pride and selfish desires must go, leaving in their place a humility which makes us willing to do God’s will.
Having grown tired of being mocked and criticized for his prophecies, Jeremiah once declared, “I will not make mention of Him nor speak any more in His name.” Was Jeremiah able to do this? No, thank God! The gift of God was soon stirred within him and he cried, “His word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I could not stay.” Thank God for everyone who, like Jeremiah, cannot stay satisfied unless the gift of God is burning in his soul and his heart is stirred to a surging passion to make known the gospel of Christ.
Satan is seeking to rob us of our desire to “stir up” the gift of God. But when we become so desperately in earnest about stirring this gift that we are willing to “go the second mile” for the good of others, and that we are willing to bear any burden or make any sacrifice, our joy and peace will be restored by “the God that answers by fire.” Oh, brethren, “Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” Yes, indeed they did, and they will start burning again when we
Stir Up! Stir Up! Stir Up!
The Gift of God!
Oh, Lord, put a spirit of zeal into everyone who hears this message, until the fire is kindled and the gift of God is STIRRED, STIRRED, STIRRED, and he becomes a “burning bush” for God! When one becomes a “burning bush”, many will turn aside to see a great sight—a bush burning and yet not consumed! Amen.