This morning I walked the streets of the Roman Forum outside the Coliseum in Rome. I saw magnificent structures built before the birth of Jesus. But, my favorite was a church. Not the biggest church, not the oldest church, and not the most beautiful church, but a church built on top of an old prison.
A prison where Paul, the Apostle of Jesus, was held captive. A prison where several books of the New Testament were written. Here, in this prison where I stood today, I witnessed the location of God’s power unleashed in Paul to remind us of the power we too have been given.
In this Roman prison, Paul wrote one of his final letters which is now a book in our bible called 2 Timothy. Paul knew his time was short, and the words he wrote would outlive him. What did he most want to say in his final season of life, imprisoned for his faith in Jesus?
He wanted us to become aware of what’s really inside of us, and not let it settle!
Paul says in 2 Timothy 1: 6 & 7: “Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you … For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-discipline.”
God, stir us up!!!!!
We have been given the gift of power and love and self-discipline by God. It’s within us.
The power to change anything you wish to change about your life is within you.
The love to conquer any obstacle is within you.
The self-discipline to follow through and do what you know you need to do is within you.
Perhaps it has just settled. Your fears have floated to the top creating a solid layer of why you can’t and how you won’t.
So the question is, is this how you want to live your life? Letting your gifts go unused? Power untapped? Love untouched? Self-discipline under utilized? Will you allow the fears which are naturally part of life to control your life and steal your God given potential from you?
Here’s the problem, we’ve been fed a lie by the enemy that one day when we’re no longer afraid, things will change for us. He’s a peddler of delayed hope. And we buy this delayed hope and we waste precious days of this one life we have been given, waiting to wake up one day and no longer feel fear. We believe when we wake up without fear and a clear path to follow in front of us, we’re really going to do something great. When we’re no longer too afraid to try, it’s finally going to happen for us.
But let’s do a quick fear check … fear, are you still here? Yip, there it is … at the top. I’m still afraid of failure and judgment and criticism and the myriad of things that could go horribly wrong, so today isn’t the day for me to take the next step.
But maybe next month I’ll get started. Or next year.
We’re all waiting for something to change, and when it does we believe we will be ready. I will be more confident and determined. I’ll know exactly what to do. I’ll have more supporters and understanding. That’s when it will happen.
That all sounds nice and pretty, but that’s a pile of crap in a pie plate … that’s delayed hope peddled by your enemy. His purpose is to delay you from yours. His power is found in robbing you of yours. You see, he has nothing he doesn’t take from you. You’ve been giving him his purpose and his power in your delays and excuses. Your fear has been feeding him.
The potential of failure, the piles of excuses, and the temptation of the easy way out, will not just magically go away come next month or next year.
So, what needs to happen here?
As Paul writes from his final prison, we need to be stirred up. We’ve been sitting idle for too long and we’ve settled. That which God has gifted us with has settled to the bottom and been covered with a thick layer of fear and excuses. STIR US UP GOD!
There’s power in you. You are not helpless or hopeless. You have the power of the creator of the universe within you. The one who spoke all of existence into form – the one who imagined you then formed you with his thoughts – the one who holds the entire world in the palm of his hands – this is the power within you.
Stir that into your fear. Let your fear of failure come face to face with the power God has given you.
You have weaknesses. Introduce your weakness to the sheer strength God has placed within you.
Paul knew this power of God, because remember, this isn’t his first time in prison. In Acts we read about Paul being in prison with Silas, and as they were signing and praising God, an earthquake came and swung the doors off their hinges, setting them free.
Paul knew God was bigger than any problem he was facing. He knew if God’s plan was for him to be freed of this prison too, he would be freed. Fear had no hold on him, and therefore all God had placed within him was at the very top.
When you’re stirred up by God, not only do you stop settling in life, but suddenly everything you do flows from the power and love and self-discipline God has placed within you!
We spend so much time telling God about our mountain, how about instead we begin telling our mountain about our God.
Fears and obstacles will always be in our way, that’s life. We can stop waiting until the path is clear and the way is easy … that’s not happening.
You’ll wait your entire life to have enough money to get started.
You’ll be an old woman and still not be sure you can do it, stick with it, and follow through.
You imagine a life without the mountain one day – without the fears and obstacles, but what you’re imagining is heaven. You’re here on Earth to live, so darn it LIVE!
Stare down your mountain and tell it about your God.
Tell your problems about the power and the love and the self-discipline your God has given you.
Tell your mountain you’re climbing up and you’re not backing down.
GO AFRAID. Go shaking. Go unsure. No more settling.
If we only understood what is below that layer of fear. If we only knew the power we truly hold. God didn’t create you to be consumed by your weaknesses. He created you to overcome them and be better because of it.
He created you to be a modern day Paul who lives in power, regardless of the circumstances.
A settled life is unfulfilling, unsatisfying and unlived. A stirred up life is exciting, adventurous, and totally available to you! God has placed within you the potential to be undeniably strong, but first you must be stirred up.
Your fear must meet your power.
Your anxiety must meet your love.
Your excuses must meet your self-discipline.
Your mountain must know about your God.
And today is that day! It happens here.
“Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you … For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and self-discipline.”