Our small school didn’t have a football team. But, we did have an awesome basketball team. We were ranked #1 in the state for many years. I believe that was, in part, due to the fact that we didn’t have football. If we were going to be recognized athletically in anything, it was going to have to be basketball.
There was a concentrated effort on being the best in basketball and winning the state tournament. I could tell you all about how basketball is played even though I never played in school. But I attended the games in support of my school mates, and I learned all the rules.
There was no football team to distract us from basketball, and I believe that is one of the reasons we excelled. The deficit of having a football team, contributed to a heightened focus on basketball. That has always been my opinion anyway.
I have also considered the lives of people who are blind or have another kind of disability. Those who are blind seem to have heightened senses in other areas. If a person is blind they hear things more clearly. They focus more attention to what they hear because they can’t see what is happening around them, so they listen to hear what is happening.
They are more sensitive to touch. The only way they can know the shape of an object is by feeling it with their hands. Think about reading braille for a minute. I don’t think I could read braille by feeling it or seeing it. It just looks like a bunch of dots. But because that is all a blind people person has known, they have focused all their attention to reading that way. A deficit in the area of sight, has caused more focused attention in other areas.
As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of how similar that is to our relationship with the Holy Spirit. Many of us want to have Spiritual gifts, but do we realize the importance of neglecting other things in our lives, and focusing on our relationship with the Holy Spirit?
I believe that when we create a deficit by sacrificing other things that take up our time, and spend that time praying in the Holy Spirit our Spiritual senses are heightened, and our Spiritual gifts are revealed. This is what I believe Paul was referring to when he encouraged Timothy with these words.
Timothy1:6-7 (NLT) This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
Notice he first tells Timothy to fan into flame the spiritual gift God gave him. But he also reminds Timothy that he has been given power, love, and self-discipline.
When we apply self-discipline in our own lives, and focus on fanning into flames the gifts God has given us, we can do what God has called us to do more effectively.
This is one example of how I’ve seen God do this in my own life. Last week before I went into the jail I found myself spending more time in God’s presence. I spent more time praying in tongues, and listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit. I turned off my radio in my car, and just talked with God. Sometimes I prayed in english, and at other times I was led to pray in tongues.
Before I went into the jail on Friday morning, I prayed in tongues all the way to the jail. When I went into the jail service, I felt a heaviness in the room. It was like I had a heightened sensitivity to what was going on in the lives of some of the ladies. We sang a few worship songs, and before we took our seats, the Holy Spirit began to lead me to address a few things.
I started by telling them that I knew there were struggles going on in many of their lives, and that the enemy had been attacking their minds this week. As the Holy Spirit led me, I turned to one lady in particular and the Holy Spirit revealed some very specific things that had happened in her life that week.
I said to her, “God is showing me that someone contacted you this week. They are a very bad influence on you, and the enemy is using them to distract you from what God has for you.” Tears began to roll down her cheeks as I continued, “I don’t know who it was, or what they said but you have been thinking about your past and the sinful lifestyle you were in before. You have been looking back at that lifestyle and longing for it again. The enemy is clever. He knows how to reach you even in this jail, and he is determined to steal, kill and destroy you, if you lose sight of what God has for you.”
She was crying very hard by this point. She told me that she knew God was speaking to her because there was no way I could have known that. She began to tell me who had contacted her, and how it had changed her thoughts during the week, and how she had been longing for her past lifestyle. She cried uncontrollably and promised me that she would never talk to that person again, and that she would never go back to her old sinful life.
Immediately I turned to another lady in the room, and God began to reveal to me her situation in full detail. As I spoke it to her, she began to weep uncontrollably as well. God did a major work in the lives of the ladies during that service. He showed them that He was real, and that He knew the details of their lives and their most private thoughts.
As, I reflected on the service I was reminded of the time and distractions I sacrificed during the week, and how I spent more time with the Holy Spirit, and praying in tongues. Just a few extra hours in His presence seemed to heighten my sensitivity to the Holy Spirit in that service. He revealed specific details to me that I could not have known otherwise.
This is only one example. I could share hundreds more about how He has done this over the years. What are we willing to sacrifice to fan into flames the gifts God has given us? When we deny ourselves and sacrifice things that distract us from spending time with Him, we do ourselves a great disservice. He longs to use us in amazing ways. Will you create a deficit in your free time, to allow the Holy Spirit to fan into flame the gifts within you?