I shouldn't be afraid of good things.
But sometimes I am.
I knew I was supposed to lead women's ministry at our church and I tried every single way to talk God out of His idea. I get ticked over that scripture where God says, "Come let us reason together." My reply is always the same. "I'll come but we both know I’m going to lose." To this day, God has yet to call me a loser, even though I never win in the "reasoning" department.
So shaking in my boots, or flip flops--I can't remember what I wore--I set off to our pastor's office to break the news. That's how I felt about it at the time. Ready to vomit. Unequipped. Void of any great ideas.
Ter-ri-fied. I sat across from him. I told him what I felt God has nudged me in my spirit to do, and then I broke down and sobbed.
I'll never forget his words. With a smile on his face (and he had back pain that day) he said, "Well, don't cry about it." And I laughed…and cried. And cracked a terrible joke.
In that moment of obedience, the nerves calmed. And ideas started flittering through my mind. And something happened. I got excited. And scared. Then excited. God began equipping me with people--out of the woodwork!
Things clicked in place. For three years, I led women's ministry.
But God led me.
One of the greatest verses in the Bible is found in 2 Timothy 1:7. You may know it by heart. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind." NKJV
We use it all the time, don't we? For any fear or confusion. Some versions say self-control in place of sound mind.
But we can't skip the teeny tiny linking word in this verse. Those little words are important because it gives us context. And context is vital! Even in the Bible.
So what verses are linked to 1:7?
Let's look at verse 6 in the NKJV. "Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God
Paul is talking to Timothy about the gift God gave him. But we have one of those important words: therefore. What's it there for? So we have to link up again.
Verses 3-5: "I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy, when I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also." NKJV
Paul recognizes Timothy has genuine faith. He's not riding Mom and Grandma's coat tails--because that's impossible. And with genuine faith comes something wonderful.
Given by the Holy Spirit. For us. To equip.
"There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:" 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 NKJV
You have a gift given by God. And it's to be used to profit all in the church.
Listen to the way the Message translation reads Ephesians 4:11-13:
"But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is,
He climbed the high mountain,
He captured the enemy and seized the booty,
He handed it all out in gifts to the people.
Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ."
My beloved has gone to his garden, To the beds of spices,
To feed his flock in the gardens,
And to gather lilies. Song of Solomon 6:2
NKJV says, "to equip the saints…"
Timothy had a gift. So do you. So do I.
The #1 things holding us back is fear. Our fears may stem from many different things. Pick one:
My past reads like a crime novel. I don't deserve to serve.
No way can I do something like this. I'm a nobody.
I'm a hypocrite. Half the time I don't have it all together. And until I do, I can't serve.
What if I fail? I failed so many people, broke so many promises, what if I fail God and He's been good to me so far.
I have too much going on to get involved in church…i.e. I’m lazy. I’m scared. I'm insecure. I'm justifying being vulnerable.
I've been hurt by the body of Christ (the church people) and I don't want to go back there. *Note* People are imperfect. They hurt us. But God never does.
Insert your fear here.
If you belong to Jesus and if you are in a church, you have a responsibility to be doing something there. How do I know this? 1Corinthians 12:12-31.
And now I'm going to show you the context this famous verse was written in. This is the answer to all your fears and misgivings about using your gifts in the body of Christ.
"For God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7.
Timothy was a worrier. Probably about a lot of things. But certainly about using the gift/gifts God gave him for the church.
Paul told Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23) "Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine
Did you know that drinking some (not lush amounts) of red wine can control bacteria, heal ulcers and even prevent them. Here is just one link that shares this information. *This is not my personal invitation for you to go out and slosh down wine or beer. It's a point I'm making about Timothy.
He worried himself sick. Literally. Fear jacked up his stomach.
My point is: God didn't give you spiritual gifts to keep under a flame, hidden in the ashes for whatever excuse you can come up with not to use them.
The NIV translations says, "..fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you…"
Fan the flame. Stir it up.
Time rekindle it. That word, stir up in the Greek is anazōpyreō and it means to kindle up, inflame one's mind, strength, zeal
According to Dictionary.com, inflame means: to become hot with passion; to set or be set on fire
But how do we do this?
*Cue Alicia Keys, That Girl is On Fire or simply turn to the book of Revelation*
Revelation 1:14 is talking about Jesus Christ: "His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire…"
What are His eyes like?
A flame of fire.
You want to excited about the gifts God has placed in you? You want to overcome the fear and shyness that holds you back? You need to stir up some passion and fire? You need your fire fanned?
Look into the eyes of fire. Let Him stoke the embers to a blazing inferno. The Lord guides you with His eye. Full of passion. Fire. Ready to consume your fear. Your timidity. And to kindle/rekindle the zeal you've been lacking.
*For more on looking into His eyes read this POST! I wrote on focusing on His eyes while we dance to complicated moves.
Don't you be afraid! Now get out there and profit the church in a way only you can!
If you are serving in your church, what do you do? I'd love to hear!