II Timothy 1:5-14 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
Since I preached on overcoming by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony the first Sunday in August, I have come to believe that I ticked Satan off. There have been some unusual happenings and obstacles thrown up in my face along with some whispers from the enemy as he has tried to undermine my authority, shake my confidence, and get me focused on anything but the mission God has called me to. In sharing with a close friend this week about some of those things, her response to me was, “I’m glad you have a sound mind.” After dwelling on her words, God led me to this passage of Scripture that we’ll explore this morning. By the way, she was right. I am testifying to having a sound mind this morning. I am walking in confidence and victory and Satan has been defeated in his efforts to lay a spirit of fear on me.
I want to point out that the spirit of fear which Satan tries to use to come against us is no match for the tri-fold spirit which God has given us. It’s a three to one match in our favor. We have a spirit of power, a spirit of love, and a spirit of a sound mind.
Spirit of Power
Give me a P! O! W! E! R! (I know you’re thinking, “Pastor, seriously?!) Christians, we have a spirit of power. We have been empowered to serve God. Look at verse 6. Paul told Timothy that he possessed a gift of God. Each one of us is naturally gifted, naturally empowered for a purpose. Verse nine says this tri-fold spirit has been given to us because God has a purpose for us.
We have a responsibility, however to acknowledge this power. Have you ever received a gift and forgotten about it? Maybe you got a notice that a package was waiting for you at the post office and it contained a gift that you could use, even something that would make your daily life easier. But you forgot to go pick it up. Maybe it was something you put away because you weren’t going to need it for a while. But when you did need it, it was buried in a closet and forgotten.
Paul told Timothy he needed to “fan into flame” the gift of God that was in him. If you’re going to fan something into flame, you’re going to have to be focused on it. You’re going to have to acknowledge it. You’ll have to recognize it is there. It might be a natural gift or talent like sports or music that you are born with. In order to develop that talent, you will have to acknowledge it and apply some effort to fan it into flame. It might be a gift of teaching, or encouraging, or hospitality. Using it is the best way to see it increase.
Recently I talked with someone who told me they knew God had called and gifted them to teach His Word. There was a firm conviction about the statement. There was an offering of the gift to be used. There was passion in his voice. And there is fruit to prove his statement true as people who have sat under his teaching have been encouraged and inspired. I believe because he is faithful to fan into flame his gift of teaching, he is walking in greater power than he would be if he resisted using his God-given gifts. You see, as we do what we are gifted to do, we grow in God’s power!
How is a natural or spiritual gift from God like power? Listen, when you are living in your purpose, the purpose God has for you, and when you are exercising your gifts, you are naturally going to trample on Satan’s efforts to sway you. Your steps will be too deliberate. You’ll be living in effectiveness and bearing fruit. By daily living in your purpose according to your gifts, by daily using this power, you will reinforce that you belong to God, the Giver of your gifts and the Designer of your purpose. I’d like to say that someone in that situation is walking on a Pathway of Power.
I believe gifts and talents are just like physical muscles. “Use it or lose it” can certainly apply. Use your gifts and grow in the power of the Spirit. Shelve your gifts and diminish in the power of the Spirit. You can be a Christian for years and years and years but not have gained spiritual power. It’s not length of time which will increase God’s power in your life, but it’s active service, active faith, active use of your gifts.
We have been empowered not only with certain gifts, but we have also been empowered to witness. Verse 8 “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner.” Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses.”
Everywhere you go you have an opportunity to be God’s witness. Everywhere. You can witness in line at the grocery. You can witness sitting in the softball stands. You can witness on the football field, at the gas station, or at work. Standing up for truth, dealing honestly with people, refusing to participate in gossip, giving people the benefit of the doubt, being generous in traffic when someone needs to merge, looking in on someone who is alone or who is sick, reaching out to people in need, getting involved with people whose lives are tangled up-these are the kinds of things we do as God’s witnesses. However it’s not just about getting involved, but it’s about doing what we do with God’s power and authority!
There are reasons God sets up Divine appointments with us and other people during the course of our day. It is so that a demonstration of God’s power can flow through us. Don’t be ashamed to share Jesus with people. When you do, God’s power will be unleashed. Paul said, 16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. (Romans 1:16). So get your car detailed, but as you do, share Jesus with someone. Go to the library to borrow a book, but when you do, share Jesus with someone. Go to the park to exercise, but on your way, share Jesus with someone!
Ask God for His power to be His witness. Ask Him for power to overcome timidity or awkwardness about talking to people about what He has done for you. Ask God to empower you to overcome fear to minister in His name or to do whatever He is asking of you. Ask Him for power to help you overcome any tendency to shrink back and hide your Christianity. And when you step out in faith to operate in God’s power, the Devil can’t make you afraid. He can’t put a spirit of fear on you. Oh, he’ll whisper, “You aren’t qualified to serve in that way,” or “You’ll mess this up if you try to witness. Let someone else who knows more about the Bible be the one,” but you’ll be able to overcome him because of the power that lies in you.
Spirit of Love
I John 4:7 talks about the foundation for love. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” If love comes from God, what does that make love? It makes it supernatural. It makes it other worldly. It makes it different from mere human expression. In other words, only those who have been born of God and know God can truly love because in the strictest sense, love comes only from God and through God. So just an aside to those of you who aren’t married but would like to be, if the person you are drawn to isn’t drawn to God first in a love relationship with God, they will never be able to supernaturally love you the way God intends for you to be loved. Think about that very carefully when you decide who to get into a relationship with someone.
And this love that we possess and need to possess in increasing measure isn’t just a fondness for one another. It’s not merely an admiration of someone because we have things in common or we enjoy someone’s personality, but it is a knitting together of our hearts and minds for a godly purpose. Paul said in Philippians 2:1 “1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.”
As I studied for the message this week, it became clear to me that true love fosters a oneness in spirit and in purpose. It’s not just that I respect you or let you be you and you let me be me, but it means that we strive together as the Body of Christ and we strive together in our homes to be in one accord with the purpose of glorifying God. And listen, I know many of you beyond “a simply handshake and good morning” and many of you know me well enough to testify that this kind of unity will take a spirit of love! It takes a supernatural gift of God for us to want to continue to hang out together Sunday after Sunday and week after week and genuinely love one another.
Through the gift of the spirit of love, God will enable you to love people in a way you wouldn’t naturally choose if you will fan into flame the spirit of love He offers you.
I Corinthians 13 tells us, “Love is patient.” It doesn’t have an “I’m done with you,” mentality. It doesn’t have a “Three strikes and you’re out” rule. It doesn’t have the attitude that “People will never change.” When we fan it into flame the spirit of love, it gives us the ability to stick with people through hard times, even when they are whiny or seem to get stuck in a dark or difficult place.
Patience (makrothymia) in the original language is the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate. The Corinthian church had many members who had been wronged (e.g., in lawsuits [1 Cor. 6:8] and the poor at communal meals [11:21-22]). Paul was saying the response of love to these wrongs would be a display of kindness and goodness. (Bible Knowledge Commentary)
I Corinthians goes on to say, “Love is kind.” People with a spirit of love look for ways to show concern for people, to encourage people, to nurture people, and to make people feel better about their circumstances. In one of his news reports, Paul Harvey told about a man named Carl Coleman who was driving to work when a woman motorist, passing too close, snagged his fender with hers. Both cars stopped. The young woman surveying the damage was in tears. It was her fault, she admitted. But it was a new car-less than two days from the showroom. How was she ever going to face her husband? Mr. Coleman was sympathetic but explained they must note each other’s license number and automobile registration. The woman reached into the glove compartment of her car to retrieve the documents in an envelope. And on the first paper to tumble out, in a heavy masculine scrawl, were these words: “In case of accident, remember, Honey, it’s you I love, not the car.” (http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/2000-12-03-Why-Love-Has-a-Bad-Memory/) The woman’s husband recognized things can and will happen from time to time. Rather than be upset by them, he chose kindness in order to show that his love for his wife far exceeded his love for a material possession.
“Love does not envy.” People who possess a spirit of love are happy for someone to make the team, happy for someone to get the promotion, happy for someone to get a good deal or to be able to take a vacation.
“Love does not boast.” Love doesn’t have a “Look at me” attitude, but a “Look at Jesus” attitude. Love doesn’t seek the spotlight. People with a spirit of love aren’t trying to one up anyone. They don’t try to make other people feel small by lifting themselves up. People who have a spirit of love aren’t smug.
“Love is not proud.” Serving isn’t beneath those who love with a spirit of love. No one is beneath a person who has a spirit of love.
“Love is not rude.” Rudeness is when we say or do something without thinking of another person’s feelings. There is no compassion in rudeness. The server that may just be bringing what someone else cooked or who has more tables at one time than they are supposed to because someone didn’t show up, doesn’t need sarcastic, caustic, or angry comments. You can always treat someone with dignity and respect, no matter how they have dropped the ball or how incompetent you think they are. You never know what kind of burden, sorrow or pain that person encountered the morning before you encountered them. The spirit of love will enable you to be polite at all times.
“Love is not self-seeking.” People with a spirit of love don’t’ use other people. They aren’t friends with someone because of what they can get from that person. God didn’t send Jesus to get something from us, but to give something us. God’s love is others-focused. Our love can be others focused.
“Love isn’t easily angered.” Do you know how often in one given day you could be mad if you chose to be? People can be annoying. They can be difficult. They can be moody and whiny. They can forget the appointment they made with you. They can misplace your number and not call you back. They can be in a hurry and not speak to you because they didn’t see you. They can say something funny that winds up not being funny to you. They can have tunnel vision and not notice that you may need encouragement. They may not come around like they used to, causing you to feel dropped or neglected. They may not recognize you at Wal-mart even though they go to church with you every Sunday. They may not think your schoolwork is as brilliant as you do. They may beat you in a match or game. They may forget to return something they borrowed. They may talk instead of listen when you share a problem. They may not notice the extra hours you put in or the hard work you do. They may forget to say “thank you.” They may cut your hair shorter than you requested. They may be constantly late to your family gathering.
There are a host of reasons you could be mad. In fact, you could just stay mad. There are enough opportunities for you to be that way. However, people who live with a spirit of love make a choice not to be offended. Listen, God can enable you to let some things, a lot of things, perhaps most things, roll off of you. God can help you overlook many things as you recognize they are just part of the human, fallen part of our world. God can enable you to give people the benefit of the doubt and to learn to be flexible and even laugh about some things. God can help you quit reading into things and reading in between the lines so that you quit twisting people’s statements and stop getting hurt by stuff people didn’t even mean. (And all the husbands said, “Amen.” )
I know some people who say it’s just their personality to flare up and lash out, and that once they do, once they yell and scream and rant and rave and get it all out of their system they are fine. They may be fine, but the explosion of their temper is like a nuclear bomb. It can do a great deal of damage to the people around them in just a short amount of time. Pray for a spirit of love.
“Love keeps no record of wrongs.” People who live with a spirit of love don’t carry grudges. They forgive those who hurt and offend them. Why? Because love withholds nothing good from people. Forgiveness is good. Love meets people’s deepest needs. We all need forgiveness. Love looks for ways to cover people and to free them. Unforgiveness keeps people in bondage, including yourself.
“Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.”
Those are some amazing qualities. Love is awesome! The best part is that it never fails!!! Satan can’t win in your life if you will exercise a spirit of love. Satan can’t put a spirit of fear on those who are possessed by a spirit of love. I John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. Perfect love drives out fear.” Fan into flame the spirit of love the Holy Spirit desires to give you.
A Spirit of a Sound Mind
Many people today are dealing with anxious thoughts, confusion, and chaos in their minds. It’s easy to be overwhelmed and just shut down. It’s easy to be defeated before you start. In moments of stress many people find it easy to panic rather than remain calm. It can be tempting to accept the spirit of fear that Satan wants to place on us.
It’s unnecessary because God can give you a spirit of a sound mind. He can give you peace and contentment. John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Did you see the first two words of that last sentence? “Let not.” You have a lot of say when it comes to allowing worry and anxiety to overtake you. I’m not saying there aren’t moments when worry and anxiety are the natural response to the events in our lives, but what I am saying is that God is offering you a supernatural response when those events happen and you can choose God’s response which is peace, faith, and trust.
I Cor. 2:16 says we can have the mind of Christ. Jesus wasn’t worried and upset. Oh, there were times when he was frustrated or annoyed because people weren’t listening or obeying or because people were trying to trap Him and kill Him, but He was never worried. He never thought for one minute that the Father couldn’t pull something off or that God’s plan wasn’t the right thing for Him to embrace. He didn’t worry about what He would eat or drink or where He would sleep. He lived with total confidence that His Father would provide for Him. Jesus lived with a sound mind, and in one of His last statements, He, Jesus, being of sound mind and body said, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” He was offering us the same sound mind He had lived with.
People of sound mind make good decisions. They make godly decisions. People of sound mind are whole in their thought process. They are focused in their minds on God and dedicated in their minds to serve Him. Listen to me, everything that is happening to you in your life whether it is good or bad is leaving an impression on your inner being. A lot of what comes to us through our upbringing, the socialization process that takes place as we go to school and work, the health situations we encounter, the negative messages society sends us about our physical appearance or lack of success—a lot of that takes a very negative toll on us. We ought not think that we can simply combat all of that negative garbage with the power of positive thinking.
We have to combat every negative encounter with multiple godly, truthful ones if we are going to possess and maintain a sound mind. “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.” (Isaiah 26:3). Sunday morning isn’t enough to provide your mind with the staying power it needs to stay fixed on God and His truth. People who maintain a sound mind are people who are going after God daily. Satan’s going after us daily. We had better be going after God daily if we plan to stay three steps ahead of the devil.
The Bible tells us: “Be renewed in the spirit of your mind” (Ephesians 4:23). God wants you to have a sound mind. The carnal mind, the mind we are born with, is not in tune with the things of God. In fact, it is wired to go in the opposite direction because of sin, but God is saying you can have a reworked mind, a renewed mind that will cause you to be sound in your mind just like Jesus was.
Your mind is the place where the devil tries the hardest to get to you. He is always attacking your mind. He wants to plant thoughts in your head to get you discouraged and defeated. He wants to sabotage the thoughts you have that are for God’s will in your life. He wants to attack your imagination and get you to think things about people and your circumstances that make you stressed and cause you to panic.
II Corinthians 10:4-5 says, “On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
God has given you a sound mind, but if you are going to maintain it, you are going to have to exercise the spirit of power God has given you to maintain your sound mind.
In order to remain in sound mind, you need to have a spiritual mind. You need to be focused on the things of God. You not only need to have a spiritual mind, but you need to have a single mind. Knowing the Word of God and claiming the promises inside of it needs to be your life’s pursuit.
Learn to pray the Word of God in order to protect your sound mind. For example,
Father, I stand in Your presence, thanking You for sound mind. For You have not given me a spirit of fear but one of power, and love, and of a sound mind. (II Timothy 1:7)
I praise You Father, for Your desire for me is that I may prosper and be in health (III John 1:2).
(I Cor. 2:16) even as my soul (mind) prospers. Since I have received Jesus, I now have the mind of Christ and. I choose to let the mind of Christ be in me now. I train my mind according to Your Word, Father and it is being washed and sanctified, for Your use, by Your Word.
I won’t let myself be worried and anxious about anything. (Phil 4:6-8) But in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, I will tell you what I need. And when I do, I will accept Your peace which passes all understanding and it will keep my mind sound and my heart free from worry.
I realize Father, in order to have a healthy mind, I must continually WILL to think on whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are just, whatever things are of a good report!
I acknowledge the gift of a sound mind which you have given me and I plead the blood of Jesus over my thoughts and inner spirit.
Are you living with a spirit of power? If not, you can pray for that gift to be fanned into flame today. Are you living with a spirit of love? It not, you can pray for that gift to be fanned into flame today. Are you living with a spirit of a sound mind? If not, you can pray for that gift to be fanned into flame today.
If you are living with a spirit of fear, it’s not from God. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear. It’s time to cast out fear. It’s time to walk in power, love, and a sound mind. It’s time to possess a victory mindset and walk in authority. It’s time to send Satan packing. Acknowledge what God has given to you and evict the spirit of fear from your life today!