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    Fan the Flame


    In 2 Timothy, Paul told Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God” he had received. Apparently, Timothy was a bit timid with his gift. If Pastor Timothy needed that reminder, we do too! It’s easy to get confused about gifts though, because typically, when you receive a gift, it’s only for you. Spiritual gifts work differently though – they are for you for the benefit of others.

    Here are a couple things to keep in mind when it comes to your gift and its usage in the body of Christ…

    Honor the Giver by using the gift.

    In 1 Peter 4, as Peter writes on the topic of spiritual gifts, he assumes people will use their gifts. An unused gift dishonors the one who gave the gift. 1 Peter 1:6 mentions people being grieved by various trials, but then he mentions that we are stewards of God’s varied grace. When you pair your gift with someone else’s grief, you get a glimpse of the purpose of your gift!

    God gives the gift as well as the power to use the gift.

    1 Peter 4:11 groups all spiritual gifts into just two categories: speaking and serving. He says, “whoever speaks, as one who speaks the oracles of God, whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies.” By God’s grace, He didn’t not just give the gift, but also the power we need to use the gifts! When we serve in our own strength, we limit our reach and longevity, but by allowing God’s power to work through us, we reach further and last longer!

    The goal of our gifts is the glory of God.

    In 1 Peter 4, when he calls us “stewards,” he is likening each Christian to a household manager who has no wealth of their own, but has been entrusted with oversight and distribution of the owner’s wealth. That is our job description with the gifts we’ve been given. And since “gift” and “grace” come from the same root word, it should remind us that our gifts we unearned and unmerited. We are not the stars or the heroes, we are the servants and the helpers. It’s God’s story, and by His grace, we get to play a small part, “in order that in everything God may be glorified.”

    We were all born with natural talents and abilities, but if you know Jesus, you were born again with a spiritual gift. Don’t let it die out. Fan the flame.

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


    There’s more where that came from! Click below to watch the entire message called “Fan the Flame” from our series, Catch Fire.

    Make sure forward this to a friend who could use some encouragement!

    Access the whole series as well as hundreds of other messages from Awaken Church at awaken.church/teachings.

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    Stop, Drop, and Roll


     

    Growing up, I remember being told that if my clothes ever caught on fire, I should stop, drop, and roll. Thankfully I never had to practice that advice, but I’ve found it to be helpful wisdom for my daily relationship with God. Let me explain…

    STOP what you’re doing and listen.

    We get addicted to busyness and often begin to believe the lie that busyness is equal to holiness. On the contrary, although busyness isn’t innately bad, if we allow it, our busyness can easily distract us from our pursuit of holiness. We need to regularly (daily) make space and time to STOP and listen to the Holy Spirit as we pray and read God’s Word.

    DROP what you’re trying to control.

    Remote controls, cruise control, birth control… We are control freaks. We want Google Maps to give us turn-by-turn directions as well as our ETA so we know precisely when to leave Point A to get to Point B. God doesn’t work that way. We walk by faith, not by sight. Plan ahead, but DROP the controls and let God direct your steps.

    ROLL wherever the Spirit leads.

    I promise that as you STOP to listen and DROP what you’re trying to control, the Spirit will lead. Wherever He says to go is exactly where you’ll want to go. If it seems risky, outlandish, or outright dangerous (for instance, stepping out of a boat onto the Sea of Galilee in the middle of a storm or giving that much money or praying with that stranger), if God is calling, ROLL out!

     

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Don’t Get Ahead of the Leader


    Galatians 5:25 says to “keep in step with the Spirit.” Paul is saying to follow the Leader. It may seem self-explanatory, but following involves staying behind. Our problem is that we easily get ahead of God. We don’t get ahead of Him because we’ve out-dreamed Him. That’s impossible (see Ephesians 3:20). We get ahead of Him when we push our timeline instead of following His.

    If you want to know how fulfilling God’s promises in your own timing works, read the stories of Abraham and Sarah or Rebekah and Jacob. Spoiler alert: it never turns out well!

    So, when His timing seems slow, here are a couple things to rest in…

    Romans 8 reminds us that God has already given us His most valuable, costly asset: His Son. Paul adds that if God was willing to send His Son, what resource wouldn’t He be willing to provide for us?

    Jesus reminds us that the Father knows what we need before we pray for it! Yeah, our Father knows us that well! Inside and out.

    Paul said in Galatians 4:4 that Jesus was born “in the fullness of time.” In other words, at exactly the right time in human history for His birth to be as impactful and far-reaching as possible. Not too early, not a minute late.

    So when God seems slow, remember: He is not stingy; He is strategic. He’s waiting for the perfect timing and knows exactly what you need.

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Burn Indicators


    Smoke, heat, charring, embarrassing sunburns… They’re all indicators of a burn. When something catches fire, there will be proof. It’s the same with us spiritually. When our lives are submitted to the Holy Spirit, they will catch fire and there will be burn indicators…

    A new way of MOVING.

    Galatians 5 talks about walking by the Spirit, being led by the Spirit, and keeping in step with the Spirit. They all describe, with increasing intensity, what it looks like to follow the lead and influence of the Holy Spirit. Don’t rush God’s timing. Trust that His plan and provision are perfect in their time.

    A new way of GROWING.

    Before God works through you, He has work to do in you. Galatians 5:19-21 describe the works of the flesh – the dangerous, destructive default settings of our hearts. Those works are contrasted by the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 – the things the Holy Spirit will naturally produce in our lives as we surrender more and more to Him.

    A new way of LIVING.

    Your lifestyle doesn’t earn God’s presence, it proves it. We don’t give, love, care, and persevere in order to earn God’s presence, but instead because God is present. If I fell into a bonfire, I would be forever changed…to say the least! Similarly, if our lives catch fire, we will never be the same!

    If God is present on the inside, it will be evident on the outside.

    If it’s not evident now, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are not things you will be able to produce on your own. Surrender is needed. Invite the Holy Spirit to take over every area of your life and watch your life catch fire!

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


    There’s more where that came from! Click below to watch the entire message called “Burn Indicators” from our series, Catch Fire.

    Make sure forward this to a friend who could use some encouragement!

    Access the whole series as well as hundreds of other messages from Awaken Church at awaken.church/teachings.

     

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    God’s Got You


     

    the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials

    2 Peter 2:9

    This would be an encouraging verse all by itself, but it means even more when you know the context…

    Peter has just been describing how God rescued Noah from the flood and Lot from the fire of Sodom. If God could instruct the building of a floating petting zoo to keep a dozen people and hundreds of animals from drowning in a worldwide flood, and He could send in angels to a city right before He burned it to the ground, I’m pretty sure He can rescue you too!

    Whatever you’re drowning in, God can rescue you. It’s what He does. He sent His only Son to earth to rescue undeserving sinners in the midst of our sin.

    If God hasn’t taken you out of your trial, it’s because He wants us to get something out of it. There’s a reason for it. He is perfectly able to pull you out of the pain, but until He does, He wants to speak to you through the pain.

    The next time you find yourself in a trial, instead of asking God to get you out of it, ask Him (and keep asking) what He wants you to get out of it.

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Put in The Work


    Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord…

    Hosea 6:3 ESV

    The world is on an endless quest for knowledge. Everywhere you turn you can read books, take courses, enroll in classes, and attend demonstrations, all with the purpose of helping you know more. Knowledge is good, but it’s limited. Book knowledge fills your head with facts whereas knowledge of the Lord fills your heart with faith.

    Hosea 6:3 is a great reminder of the effort and work it takes to pursue knowing the Lord more. It won’t just happen with time. Being close with God is not an accident or coincidence. It’s work. The best kind of work and striving.

    In John 16, as Jesus told the disciples about His departure and the coming of the Holy Spirit, He reminded them of one of the Spirit’s most important roles: pointing us back to Jesus.

    Since that is such a high priority for God that He came to be with us and in us, pointing us back to Jesus, it should be a high priority to us as well.

    So are you putting some work in to get to know Him? Are you “pressing on” to know Him more? Are you making daily sacrifices with your habits, schedule, and relationships, to build on the most important relationship? You will never regret the sacrifices you make that help you grow closer to God.

    Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord…

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Controlled Burn


    Jesus promised that when the Holy Spirit came, He would empower us to do greater works than the disciples had seen Jesus do. That is quite the promise! The problem is, although Jesus said His absence was to our benefit due to the coming of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit often is an untapped resource in our lives. We should rejoice in God’s presence in us, but let’s also ask for His power to be at work through us!

    Periodically, fire authorities will set a controlled burn for a few specific reasons. The idea of a “controlled burn” has some important spiritual principles for us to learn from…

    Fire fact: a controlled burn prevents more serious, hotter fires.

    Spiritual lesson: The Spirit’s conviction can save you from condemnation.

    According to Jesus in John 16:8, the Holy Spirit came to convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment. We all need to be convinced of our sin, God’s righteousness, and His power and authority to judge. The Spirit’s conviction can save us from condemnation only if it produces action in our lives. Feeling bad isn’t enough. Repentance is required.

    Fire fact: a controlled burn destroys harmful fuels and reveals minerals.

    Spiritual lesson: The Spirit reveals truth by removing lies.

    As “the Spirit of truth,” the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth. We only need a guide when we are prone to wander or don’t know our way around. This is true spiritually because we don’t naturally seek the truth. Thankfully, if we will follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit, He will guide us away from deceit and to the truth!

    Fire fact: a controlled burn stimulates renewal and growth.

    Spiritual lesson: The Spirit stimulates growth by spotlight the Savior.

    Since Jesus is gone and the Holy Spirit is here, why focus so much on Jesus now? Interestingly, one of the Holy Spirit’s main roles is to point us back to Jesus Whose work is about resurrection and renewal. Since the Holy Spirit came to keep our hearts aligned with Jesus, how are we doing getting acquainted with Jesus? It should be a high priority for us!

    Everyone experiences the fire of the Holy Spirit, either internally or from a distance. The key is our response to it. It’s not enough to be near the Holy Spirit – He wants to be in us!

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


    There’s more where that came from! Click below to watch the entire message called “Controlled Burn” from our series, Catch Fire.

    Make sure forward this to a friend who could use some encouragement!

    Access the whole series as well as hundreds of other messages from Awaken Church at awaken.church/teachings.

     

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    Breathe Deeply


    You’ve probably heard someone say, “the handwriting was on the wall.” The phrase means that the evidence is clear that the end is near. It’s a common phrase that stems from an interesting story in the Bible. In Daniel 5, as King Belshazzar throws a huge, drunken party, a hand appears on the wall and writes a message about the end of his kingdom. Daniel is called in to interpret the writing, and in the middle of his rebuke to the king, says an amazing phrase we can’t look past.

    Daniel calls God “the God in whose hand is your breath.

    What a clear reminder of the brevity of our lives! In Psalm 3, David writes, “I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.

    Take a pause from reading this real quickly and thank God that He put breath in your lungs for at least one more day. You woke up this morning because the Lord sustained you. He is the God in whose hand is your breath.

    Belshazzar’s kingdom was stripped from him because of his sin. One day our lives will be stripped from us as well – it’s just the result of living in a sinful, broken world. Belshazzar wasn’t ready, but we can be!

    Breathe in deeply today and thank God for the breath in your lungs and the purpose He has for your life.

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Turn Around and Pray


    Your chiropractor will tell you that posture matters. As a 6’5” guy, I know that firsthand. It’s easy to slouch. I’ve found that posture can influence your spinal health as well as your spiritual health.

    There are lots of prayer postures mentioned in the Bible…

    Standing (Genesis 24:12-14)

    Lifting the hands (1 Timothy 2:8)

    Sitting (Judges 20:26)

    Looking upward (John 17:1)

    Bowing down (Exodus 34:8)

    Placing the head between the knees (1 Kings 18:42)

    Pounding on the chest (Luke 18:13)

    Facing the temple (Daniel 6:10)

    Kneeling (Mark 1:40)

    If we are going to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), keeping a running dialog with God throughout the day, it will require a lot of different postures for prayer. You obviously can’t stay in the same position all day.

    Although you can (and should) pray to God wherever you are and however you are, I want to focus in on that last one I listed – kneeling. In Mark 1:40, a man with leprosy approaches Jesus, begging for healing while on his knees.

    I typically sit in one of a few places every morning to spend some time in prayer. I often sit upright, cup of coffee in hand. But I also try to regularly turn around and kneel to pray. I find that something happens to my heart when my knees are on the ground. Not only does kneeling keep my mind more focused, but it’s also a very practical way to keep my heart humble. Kneeling is a physical reminder of my dependence on and need for God.

    Ultimately, posture isn’t the main thing – prayer is. However and whenever you pray, do it in a way that keeps your mind focused and your heart humble.

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


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    Pilot Light


    We launched a new series last Sunday at Awaken Church, called Catch Fire. Catch Fire is a description of what God can do with a life surrendered to Him as well as invitation to experience Him in a greater way. The Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives is like the pilot light in your stove: He is actively and permanently present in our lives, igniting and empowering us for something even greater!

    Here are a couple thoughts about the power and presence of the Spirit in our lives…

    Focus on His presence before you focus on His power.

    It’s easy to obsess over what God can do for you instead of just being thankful that He’s in you. Don’t fall for that trap. According to Ephesians 1, the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your life at the moment of salvation. He’s not a mystical, impersonal force – He is God in us! One of God’s greatest presents to us is God’s presence in us.

    God wants to work through you, not despite you.

    God could do His work much better without us, but He still desires to partner with us! He is WITH us prior to salvation, convicting us of sin (John 14:16), IN us at the moment of salvation, guaranteeing our inheritance (John 14:16, Eph 1:14), and comes UPON us when we ask, empowering us for greater ministry (Acts 1:8). Remember, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “Helper,” not the “Doer.”

    Faith enables the power and presence of the Spirit.

    You can’t see the wind, but you can see the effects of the wind, similar to the Holy Spirit. He’s all around us, but 1 Corinthians 2:14 reminds us that without faith, we are unable to understand the things of God. Faith in God enables us to recognize and experience the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

    Here’s the most important thing to understand: until we submit our lives to the Holy Spirit and allow our lives to Catch Fire, we can never live the lives we are called to live. The presence and power of the Holy Spirit is the prerequisite to a life of purpose.

    K E V I N • M I L L E R


    There’s more where that came from! Click below to watch the entire message called “Pilot Light” from our series, Catch Fire.

    Make sure forward this to a friend who could use some encouragement!

    Access the whole series as well as hundreds of other messages from Awaken Church at awaken.church/teachings.

     

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