I consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to building campfires. I spent years in a scouting program, and I know to build a fire it requires three things: oxygen, fuel and heat. One of my favorite things to do on a camp out is to restart the fire in the morning from the embers. I move back all the ashes, find a small ember, add some kindling and blow on it. It doesn’t take long before I get a roaring fire and can start cooking breakfast. To me, there’s just something cool about starting that fire from the embers. It reminds me that it doesn’t take much to get a fire going.
When I read 2 Timothy 1:6, I think of starting that fire in the mornings. It says, “That is why I remind you to fan into flame the gracious gift of God, [that inner fire–the special endowment]” (AMP). Paul was reminding Timothy, and us, that each of us have God-given gifts inside of us that we have to keep going. They may be embers right now, but they can be fanned into a great flame. Just like a campfire, they need oxygen, fuel and heat in order to keep growing and to stay ablaze.
The heat comes from God. He’s the one who put the gifts in you. It’s up to you to add the fuel. The kindling required to ignite it is spending time in prayer and reading God’s Word. The oxygen needed to keep it going is putting your gifts into practice. When we neglect the gifts in us, we choke out the flame by cutting off its oxygen. God has created you for a purpose and has given you the tools you need to accomplish that which He created you for. It’s up to you to breathe new life into them and fan into flame those gifts.
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I’m often guilty of wishing I had someone else’s giftings. Have you ever felt that way? I can hear someone preach, and wish I could explain things the way they do. I’ve read other authors and thought, “If only I could write that well.” I’ve heard people give some wise advice and wondered why I can’t think of things like that. It’s a dangerous trap to fall into because I’m failing to be appreciative of the gifts God has given me. In those moments, I discount the very things God wants me to use for His glory.
If you look back across the years of your life, you will see a lot of ups and downs, mountains and valleys. In the low moments, God is smoothing off your rough edges and is sharpening the gifts He placed in you. It hurts to go through those times, but it’s in those valleys that God prepares you for your calling and destiny. Coming out of the valley, it’s natural to think you have nothing left, but even the little you have, used for God will be enough to fulfill your purpose.
2 Corinthians 8:12 says, “If you are eager to give, God will accept your gift on the basis of what you have to give, not on what you don’t have” (GNT). In other words, God isn’t expecting you to give Him someone else’s gifts. He’s expecting you to give Him what you have matter how small you think it might be. It’s time we quit comparing ourselves to each other when it comes to gifts. God didn’t give you their gifts because He didn’t call you to reach the same people they are called to reach. Give what you have and God will use it in ways you can’t imagine.
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Inadequate. That’s how I felt going on my first survival camp out. I was allowed to bring anything I could fit into a small bandaid box to survive with over a weekend. I didn’t know where I was going or what I would have access to. But once I arrived, I scouted a pond and was able to use fishing wire and a hook I had packed to catch fish. The knife inside helped me to clean it. The foil square I put in there made a great skillet to cook the fish with. It turns out that everything I needed to survive was already with me.
Inadequate. That’s how so many of us feel when it comes to being a “good” Christian. We don’t know where we are going or what we’ll have access to in the future. We often feel unqualified and unequipped to do what we feel God has called us to. We question whether we have what it takes to live out our faith. Our feelings of inadequacy hold us back in our faith, our calling, and our life. The truth is that God has given each of us all we need in order to do exceedingly above and beyond what we think.
I Corinthians 1:7 says, “Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ” (NLT). You and I have been given EVERY spiritual gift we need. God knows what plans He has for you and has already given you those gifts. It’s up to us to unpack them from our bandaid box, develop them, and use them the way they were intended. As you become more mature in your faith, your ability to effectively use the gifts God has given you will increase.
You may not see your giftings right now, but they’re there. If you’ve never taken a spiritual gifts test, I encourage you to look one up online or ask your pastor about one they trust. I Corinthians 12:7 says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” That means that you are gifted and God wants to use those gifts to help someone else in their faith. The word “inadequate” doesn’t fit any of us so quit believing it and applying it to your life. “Equipped” is a better word for who you are.
As you know, David was told by God that he could not build the temple. God had told him that his son Solomon would build it. In II Chronicles 22:5, David recognized that his son Solomon was young and inexperienced. He then decided to make preparations for building the temple. He ordered everything that Solomon would need in order to build the temple. Even though Solomon had everything he needed to be successful, it was up to him to do something with all the material if he was going to build successfully.
Success doesn’t lie in having the things God gives us, it lies in doing something with them. In Matthew 25:14-30, we read the Parable of Talents. Jesus told the story of three men who had been given bags of silver from their master according to their abilities. Two of the servants took that material and invested it while one hid it. When the master returned, it was the ones who did something with the material who were considered successful, not the one who let it sit.
I Corinthians 12:7 says, “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other” (NLT). God has given each of us the materials to be successful just like David did for Solomon and the master did for his servants. The question is, are you going to let the materials sit there or are you going to do something with them? You can’t let the fear of being unsuccessful to prevent you from doing anything. If you do nothing with what God has given you, you’re no better than the man ho buried his bag of silver.
If God has given you a dream, quit often it’s as big as the task given to Solomon to build the temple. You may look at yourself and think you’re too inexperienced to do what God called you to. If you read the Bible, the greatest heroes of faith were the ones who didn’t let their inexperience keep them from their calling. They trusted God to do His part, so they did theirs. It’s up to each of us to take the gifts God has given us and put them to use. The greatest successes in life start with the smallest of steps. What can you do today to get started on your journey of success?
There used to be a group of friends in my town who had trucks with the inscription, “Never satisfied” written on their back windshield. Their trucks were tricked out and had about every accessory known to man on them. Those trucks had the anthem of so many of us on them. Never satisfied. We are taught that hunger is a good thing. We learn in business that the day you’re satisfied is the day you quit making money. We are told to stay hungry. Keep pushing ahead. Do better than your best. Have a relentless pursuit of constantly getting more.
I think those are drives that God put in us, but they are often channeled in the wrong direction. God has given us the desire for more, but it’s never about the physical, temporary things. For the temporary things, Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned how to be content with what I have.” When it comes to possessions, God wants us to be content. Hebrews 13:5 reiterates, “Be satisfied with your present circumstances and with what you have (AMP).” The desire to want more that was placed in us was not for physical things, but for spiritual things.
I Corinthians 12:31 says, “Earnestly desire and zealously cultivate the greatest and best gifts and graces (the higher gifts and choicest graces)(AMP).” Paul had just written about the spiritual gifts available to believers and wanted us to go after them. The adverbs earnestly and zealously tell us how hard we are to go after the things that matter. We are to spend our energies of never being satisfied on the spiritual gifts that God gives. We are to spend more time thinking about how do we get better gifts than we are on how to make more money. We are to exert ourselves in God’s Word and prayer more than developing physical skills for a temporary pay out.
I’m not saying that desiring a better life or getting a better job is wrong. The question is how much of your mind is occupied with never being satisfied with things that you can’t take to Heaven? I Corinthians 3:13 and 15 tells us that on judgement day, each of us will present to God what we worked hard for in life. It says, “On judgement day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value… But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.”
What you pursue on this earth will be offered to God once you get to Heaven. The question to ask is, “Will the things I’m not satisfied with here be burned up in that fire or will they be purified like gold?” If your lack of satisfaction is on things that don’t matter for eternity, there’s still time to channel your energy on the things that matter. It’s ok to be satisfied with what you have here, but it’s not ok to be satisfied with where you are spiritually and what you’re doing for God’s kingdom. We should never be satisfied with that.