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.
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by George C. Clark
“For which reason 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 cowardly spirit, but the spirit of power and love and a sound mind. Do not be ashamed of the witness of our Master, nor of me, his prisoner. On the contrary, join me in suffering for the gospel which is 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 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 Spirit 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, 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 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!
If you are anxious to “stir up” the gift which is in you, and to recover your lost fellowship with God, read this: “Remember, therefore, from where you have fallen, and repent, and do your first works” (Rev. 2:5). And this, “He who overcomes will be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life” (Rev. 3:5).
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, and the day is at hand; therefore, let us lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk decently, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, nor in promiscuity and sensuality, nor in strife and envy. Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not make provision for the flesh, to gratify its lusts.” And, “Let us who are of the day be sober, putting on a breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation through 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.” “No foul speech is to come out of your mouth,” Paul warns us in Ephesians 4:29–32, “but only what is useful for edification, as the need may be, that it might minister grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, by which you were sealed until 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 to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another as God also forgave us, in Christ.”
“Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord,” Paul further exhorts, “and in the might of his strength. Put on the whole armor of God so that you will be able to stand against the machinations of the Accuser. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities, powers, and dark world-rulers of this age, against evil spirits among heavenly beings” (Eph. 6:10–12).
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 responsibilities to God, and man. After telling Timothy to “stir up the gift of God,” Paul exhorted him to “endure hardship 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 Spirit)? 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 this very moment if you will only stir, or rekindle, the 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 I am 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 purging 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 not to “quench the Spirit” and not to “neglect 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 “test the spirits” now abroad in the earth lest we be “led astray by the deceit of the lawless”, 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 one mislead 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 longer.” 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 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 – indeed eager – 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 who answers by fire.” Oh, brethren, “Wasn’t our heart burning within us while he talked with us on the road, as he was explaining the scriptures to us?” (Lk. 24:32). Yes, indeed it did, and it will start burning again when we
Stir Up! Stir Up! Stir Up!
The Gift of God!