There is a high value placed on the dying words of a person. If you have been with a loved one as they were ready to pass from this world to the next, you probably remember the last thing they said to you. The value of someone’s dying words is even legally valuable. We have the Apostle Paul’s last words in 2 Timothy. This book is known as the last writings of Paul. It is a pastoral book written to his spiritual son, Timothy. It was written during the time of Nero who was violently against Christians, blaming and killing them for things he did. Paul had been released from prison but was in prison again for preaching and teaching the Christian faith. In filth, in a cistern, his thought was to write a letter to Timothy to challenge and encourage him. Paul knew his next step was his end, his death. It’s important for us to hear the passion and urgency Paul wants to press into Timothy.
In this time of Nero, Timothy is experiencing cultural pressure and push back. He has shrunk back and become timid. But Paul had clarity. He writes in 2 Timothy 1:3-7 for Timothy to stir up the gift, like a fire. A flame will die into smoke and embers. To stir it up you have to feed it fuel and stir up the embers, moving them around to oxygenate and rekindle. This is a call to rekindle the flame and passion. Stir it up.
First, to stir up your calling and gift, you have to recognize that it is already in you. For Timothy, it was partially due to his spiritual legacy from his grandmother and mother. Like Timothy, you may want your circumstances to change, but everything you are called to do is already in you. Your calling and giftings are deposited in you by God. We each have been given a measure of faith. God’s intent and purpose and calling is in you. Circumstances around you may not fit your standards or expectations, but your calling does not rely on anything except what’s in you.
“Failure has slain its thousands. Distraction it’s tens of thousands.” Distraction is a favorite tool of the enemy. When the pressure comes in, we get spiritual amnesia! But we have everything we need.
It’s called a calling because it's in you and when people get around you, they call out for it. The need calls out for what’s inside of you. Regardless of your circumstances, what is needed is in you. Maybe you have wisdom to share or a passion to meet a physical need. What is it you cry out to God for? Is it cultural morality? If it bothers you and keeps you up at night, this may be the calling you need to stir up, the thing you are called to. What’s in you that drives you and you can’t even help it?
It’s not about what you don’t have. It's about what is in you; to deal with the need that’s calling out for you.
And, it is given by God. You may have to develop and awaken, educate yourself and find mentorship for it. But God has placed something significant in you. No matter your age or generation, if you’re breathing, it’s time to do something. Recognize God has placed it in you.
Then, remember and remind yourself. Visualize and remember. Memory is powerful. It is tied to smells, tastes, emotions, music and more. Use memory to stir up this gift in you. The way you remember is the way you live out your future, successful or unsuccessful, fearful or faithful. Remember what God has done to you and in you. We all have a story. We have made mistakes and things have been done to us. But some keep remembering their past like it’s their present and expecting it like it’s their future. Remember your purpose not your past pain. Remember when God saved you. Remember the first time God used you and the first time you raised your hands in worship. Remember. When we remember what God has done, we will be invited to believe what God will do. Stop reminding yourself of the pain in the past. Remind yourself of what God says about you and your moments with Him. When was the last time God spoke to you and you believed He was telling you the truth? Invite yourself to believe God again. Stir it up.
Recognize. Remember. Respond. God has his responsibility. He has given you gifts and a calling and He is faithfully keeping you, sending people to you, providing opportunities for you. But you have a responsibility. Your responsibility is to take action. When the choir and preacher have gone home, can you praise God in the midst of your situation? Can you encourage yourself in the Lord? The way to stir yourself up is to recognize your Source. It’s all about the God who is our source. We simply need to respond to His ability - response ability. Do something. It is not enough just to show up. Stir it up. Do something with your gift. Where can you serve? What can you sow? What needs can you meet? What can you start? Is there somewhere you can join? Find your purpose. Drive into that purpose. What are you doing with the gift God gave you? What are you preaching - to yourself and to others? You are responsible for it. Revival like we have just seen at colleges and universities around the nation is appetite. Be hungry and desperate for what is calling out to you. Stop waiting for circumstances to line up. Paul could have written about his own misery in that prison of death, but he chose to use his last words to call out the gifts in Timothy. He used that opportunity for hope and faith and love, not only for Timothy but for those of us who have received his words since then.
It’s time to stir up your gift. Culture is not working for us. We have to love them to win them but love is an action. Recognize. Remember. Respond. Sometimes responding is pressing into praise and worship and praying and sharing and believing and giving and searching and forgiving because you know God will show you the next step if you keep doing what you know is right to do. When the spirit saturates the gift in you is when change will occur. Stir it up.