Thursday, September 26, 2013

What’s Stifling You? by Martin Wiles

She tended to run on about unimportant things, and when she did his favorite expression was, “Stifle yourself.”

All in the Family was a 1970’s American sitcom featuring Archie and Edith Bunker, their daughter Gloria, and son-in-law Mike. Archie was a typical male chauvinist, white supremist, patriotic citizen, and support-your-government-no-matter-what advocate. Edith was open to new ideas and was the traditional stay-at-home wife and mother. But when she let her tongue outpace her brain, Archie uttered his famous quote. Stifle meant shut-up.

Jesus told a story about a farmer who scattered seed, some of which fell on thorn-infested soil. The resulting plants were soon stifled by the thorns. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants (Matthew 13:7 NLT). Jesus later explained that the thorns represented someone with misplaced priorities whose focus was on the cares of this life and also accumulating wealth.

Fear will stifle me in God’s service. Perhaps he wants me to walk into deeper waters than I’m comfortable with, and, like Peter, I begin to sink when I look at the washing of the waves around my ankles.

Dwelling on my past can also stifle me. I have one, you have one. All God’s children have one. I can’t change it, but neither do I have to relive it. I can learn from it and let God use it in ministry for him.

Sin in the present will stifle me and prevent God from using me. Confessed sin is forgiven, and I can move forward. Unconfessed sin propels me backwards.

Additionally, misplaced priorities will stifle my use to God. When my focus is anywhere except where he wants it, I’ll miss his plan as well as multiple opportunities.

What is stifling you from being all God wants you to be?

Prayer: Give us courage, Lord Jesus, to move beyond what stifles our use in Your Kingdom.

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