Usually when I think of something being all stirred up it tends to have a negative connotation or consequence such as…
- My husband being stung by wasps as he unknowingly stirred up their nest
- My kitty knocking over a small table and its contents in our gazebo as he was stirred up by an illusive flitting moth
- A one-kilometre stretch of New Brunswick beach littered with a tangled mess of seaweed and garbage which had been stirred up by tides and high winds
- Death and destruction once again resulting from the stranglehold of stirred up tension between Israelis and Palestinians
During the past few weeks for me, however, the phrase “stirred up” has kept reappearing. Although there are numerous instances in the Bible when people stirred things up with wrong motives and to incite trouble, there are many others that have a positive outcome.
The apostle Peter said, “I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder,”[i] as he wrote to the believers about qualities they should seek to pursue. He goes on to say, “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind…that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.”[ii]
Timothy wrote, “Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.”[iii]
But as I have been working my way through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, another aspect of being stirred up intrigued me. Not a particularly new thought, but it stirred my mind.
In Ezra 1:1 I read, “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he sent a proclamation through all his kingdom, and also put it in writing,”
The once magnificent city of Jerusalem had laid in ruins for seventy years after the Babylonian conquest and now God stirred the heart of a king who didn’t even believe in Him to send the Jewish exiles back. Not only did he let them go, but he did so with the instructions to rebuild the temple of the Lord of Heaven!
Verse five reveals that “the heads of fathers’ households of Judah and Benjamin and the priests and the Levites arose, even everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem.”
A few years later another unbelieving king of Persia, Artaxerxes, was used of God to prepare the way for Nehemiah to lead another group of Jewish exiles to return and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
I wonder if either of these powerful kings had any notion that his heart was “like channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever He wishes.” With all the political and ethnic turmoil that shakes our world today, I wonder how God is channeling the minds, power, and influence of leaders who do not acknowledge that the God of the Bible is the only one true God?
I have also been personally challenged to consider how willing I am for God to stir my spirit to accomplish His will.
In our church service this morning, our pastor encouraged us to remember that when we believe in Christ as Saviour, His Holy Spirit comes to live within our heart. As Romans 8:9 says, “You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives within you.” How freeing is that to know that when I live in obedience to the Spirit He will lead me to live the kind of life that God desires? Instead of living under a cloud of thinking my sinful nature is in control and I somehow have no power over it, I can rest assured that God’s Spirit is in control helping me to have mastery over sin!
God continues to stir me up to pursue a new venture in my life. I’m very excited about it and I’m so glad I have listened to His promptings. I look forward to seeing what He does next!
Until next time,