A PASSION FOR GOD

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TEXT: Romans 12:11

INTRODUCTION:

  • The creative force behind all great art, all great drama, all great music, all great architecture, all great writing is passion.
  • Nothing great is ever accomplished in life without passion.
  • Nothing great is ever sustained in life without passion.

Passion is what energizes life. Passion makes the impossible possible. Passion gives you a reason to get up in the morning and go, “I’m going to do something with my life today.” Without passion life becomes boring. It becomes monotonous. It becomes routine. It becomes dull. God created you with the emotions to have passion in your life and He wants you to live a passionate life. Passion is what mobilizes armies into action. Passion is what causes explorers to boldly go where no man’s gone before. Passion is what causes scientists to spend late night hours trying to find the cure to a dreaded disease. Passion is what takes a good athlete and turns him or her into a great athlete where they’re breaking records. You’ve got to have passion in your life.

One day a man walks up to Jesus and he says, “Lord, what’s the most important thing in the Bible?” And you know what the Great Commandment is. We’ve talked about it many times. Jesus said, “I want you to love God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. Nothing matters more than that. That’s the number one thing in life. I want you to love Me passionately.” Nothing else matters in life if you don’t love God passionately. God doesn’t want you to love Him half-heartedly. He wants you to love Him with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength.

I love the paraphrase of that verse, Mark 11:30, from The Message “Jesus said, ’Love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.” Circle the word “passion”. That word, in Greek, is the word “heart.” God is saying I want you to put some muscle into it, put some energy, put some emotion into your relationship with Me. Don’t be a wimp about your relationship with Me. Don’t be namby-pamby. Don’t be half-hearted. Give it all you’ve got. Jesus is saying, “If you’re going to follow Me, you’ve got to go it with passion. You’ve got to give it some oomph, some spark, some zip, some enthusiasm, some zest. I want you to live passionately.”

In fact, this truth is all through the Bible. The Bible tells us that we’re to seek God passionately. We’re to love God passionately. The Bible says that we’re to serve and obey God passionately. We’re to trust God passionately. Then as if you didn’t get the message, in Colossians 3:23 He says “Whatever you do, do it with all of your heart as unto the Lord and not unto men.” He says I want you to do everything passionately when it comes to loving Me, serving Me, living for Me.

Here’s the amazing thing. In world view, it’s ok to be passionate about anything except God. That is not politically correct — to be passionate about God. I can be passionate about movies. I can be passionate about sports. I can be passionate about politics. I can be passionate about fashions and clothes. I can be passionate about restaurants (and some of us really are). But I cannot be passionate about God. That’s a no-no.

Pastor Rick Warren typed in the phrase “a passion for…” into Amazon.com and found a couple hundred books with that title. There’s a book call A Passion for Birds, A Passion for Books, A Passion for Cactus, A Passion for Chocolate (that’s understandable), A Passion for Fashion, … for Fishing… for Flying, … for Gardening, … Golf, Hunting. There’s even a book called A Passion For Mushrooms (somebody’s smoking them probably is what he’s doing. He’s not eating them — putting them in a salad. He’s smoking those things.) A Passion for Needlepoint, Pasta, Ponies. There’s a book called, A Passion for Potatoes, for Roses, for Shoes. There’s even a book called A Passion for Steam. I can’t figure out what that one’s all about! I don’t know why you’d get passionate about steam.

But in our culture it’s ok to be passionate about anything except your religion, except your faith, except your relationship with God. I can go to a rock concert, or a political rally or a baseball game and I can shout my head off. I can get excited. I can get hoarse from yelling so loud. When my team loses I could cry. Nobody thinks that’s a big deal. When my team wins I can jump up and dance around and wave my hands in the air. If I do that at a game people go, “He’s a real fan!” If I do that in church people say, “He’s a fanatic! He’s a nut case.” You don’t want to get too emotional about your faith. Its ok about anything else but not that.

Romans 12:1 “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor.” Keep the fires going in your life. Circle the word “keep.” Notice, it’s not automatic. It’s a choice. It’s a discipline. It’s something you must maintain. You are not by nature passionate about God. It’s something that you must choose to do. You get distracted and everything in life conspires to keep you from being passionate about God. So He says keep your passion going. Keep the fires going. It’s a discipline. It’s not just automatic.

This kind of thing — being passionate about God has nothing to do with either your personality or your age. Our church is filled with hundreds if not thousands of senior believers who have walked with God a long, long time and are still passionate. I could give you hundreds of names of people in our church who have lived passionately for God for years and years and years.

Everything in life conspires to keep you from being passionate. And it dissipates your energy…When you first become a believer and you really understand what a good deal you’ve got you get excited about it, “This is quite a deal! All my sins are forgiven. I now have a purpose for living, and I now have a future home in heaven. What a deal! And you get excited about that when you give your life to Christ and you’re pretty passionate. But as time goes by you begin to lose your steam. You begin to lose your zip, your zest, your enthusiasm. What happens? Why does that happen?

That’s what we’re going to look at tonight. As we go through God’s word we’re going to look at seven passion killers, things that rob the joy out of your life. I thought this would be a very appropriate message, right in the days of summer, when nobody feels very passionate about much of anything. You want to chill back, lay back a little bit, to take a break and go swimming…So we’re going to look at these passion killers. I want you to use it as a checklist. Because God says, I want you to love Me with all of your heart.

Seven passion killers and what keeps you from having that constant passion for the Lord.

  1. 1. AN UNBALANCED SCHEDULE.

That means either if you’re overworked or you are under worked you’re going to lose your passion for life and lose your passion for God. Life is a series of seasons, the Bible says. There’s a season for everything. And there’s a rhythm to life. You need both in your life — both input and output. You need both rest and work. And too much of either will cause you to lose your passion. Too much work will cause you to lose your passion. Too much nothing — boredom — will cause you to lose your passion too, if you’re not working enough.

My guess is, in a crowd this size, half of you need to work less and half of you probably need to work more. We’re all different in our personalities. And you can go to either extreme. Psalm 127 “It’s senseless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, fearing that you’re going to starve to deat;, for God wants His loved ones to get their proper rest.” That’s a good verse for your refrigerator door. God wants you to get your proper rest.

Some of you the problem is you’re always giving out. You’re always helping, you’re always sharing, you’re always serving, you’re always working, you’re always being generous. And you never take time to recharge. If you never take time to recharge you’ve got unbalanced on the ministry side, on the work side, you’re going to eventually get compassion fatigue.

What is compassion fatigue? You just stop caring. You don’t care about God any more, you don’t care about other people any more, you don’t care about anything anymore. Why? Because you’re burning out from too much work, from too much service. When you care and care and care, eventually you get this compassion fatigue.

Others of you here, you’re the exact opposite. You’re always taking in but never giving out. You go to Bible studies, you listen to teachers on the radio, you listen to tapes, you go to seminars, you go to Christian concerts, you go to workshops, you come to church all the time. You’re always learning, always taking in, always growing in the input. BUT YOU’RE NOT GIVING OUT ANY. You don’t have any ministry, you don’t have any mission. You’re not really helping anybody. You’re just taking all this food in getting fatter and fatter and fatter till pretty soon we’re going to have to roll you down the aisle. And that’s where we get the term holy rollers. Some of you are holy rollers. You’re taking in all the time and you’re never giving out.

I don’t know which one is your problem but my guess is one of them is. You either have too much output and not enough input. Or you’ve got too much input and not enough output. You’ve got to decide that. I’m sure God can help you out.

Let me give you a little shock though. Bible study without ministry is extremely dangerous. Because the Bible says in James 2:17 “To him who knoweth to do good and doeth it not it is sin.” Do you realize that the more you know about God’s plan for your life the more responsible you are to God for that knowledge. And the more you know, if you don’t do anything about it, you are simply increasing your judgment. You’re increasing your responsibility. Because God holds you accountable for what you know. So the Bible tells that you need both in your lifeinput and output. You need work and you need rest. You need balance in your schedule.

What’s the antidote for that? 1 Timothy 4:7 “Take the time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.”

How do you do that? One word. Balance. We all know to be physically fit you have to have a balanced diet. And to be spiritually fit you have to have a balance of God’s five purposes for your life in your life.

  • You need to have time to worship with God private and corporate.
  • You need to have times when you’re fellowshipping with other believers.
  • You need to have times when you’re reading God’s word and growing as a Christian.
  • You need to have times of ministry — service — where you’re giving out and using your abilities.
  • And you need times of mission where you’re sharing your faith with others.

If you tend to go to seed on one of those purposes — you have a lot of fellowship but nothing else. Or a lot of Bible study and nothing else. You’re going to get imbalanced. And you will inevitably lose your passion. You’re going to go, “How come I don’t feel as close to God as I used to be?” Because you’re out of balance. That’s the number one reason.

  1. 2. AN UNUSED GIFT/TALENT

An unused talent will cause you to lose your passion for life and your passion for God. 1 Peter 4:10 says “Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gifts well.” Notice God gives you certain talents, abilities, personality, gifts — the shape that He’s given you — and those gifts, those talents that you’ve been given are not for your benefit. They’re for the benefit of other people. My gifts are for your benefit. Your gifts are for my benefit. You are to use those gifts in the service of other people. God has given you a special role in this world. He wants you to make a contribution with your life. God says, “I have given you these gifts and talents.”

If you don’t use your talents you’re going to lose your passion. God did not give you special abilities just to sit on them and do nothing about it. God says I want you to use it or you’re going to lose it.

Let me get real specific. If you are stuck in a job that does not use your talents to any degree you are inevitably going to lose your zeal and zest and passion in life. It’s going to burn you out. Studies have shown that 60-70% of Filipinos are in a job that does not use their talents. That’s tragic. That makes God sad. Because God did not give you talents and then say, “Don’t use them. Just go make some money.” There’s something more important than money. That is using what God gave you. He’s going to ask us maybe, “What do you think I gave you your talents for? Just to sit on them?” No. If you do that you’re going to lose your passion.

1 Corinthians 7 “Each one should live his life with the gifts that the Lord has given him.” God gave you gifts and abilities and talents to use.

The reality is you’re never going to find a job that uses 100% of your talent. You’re never going to find a job that is 100% fulfilling. Why? Because God never meant for you to find 100% fulfillment through your job. Your life is more than your job. He wants you to have a ministry. That’s why you need a ministry in your church to use the talents you’re not using in your job. Because no job could possibly use all the talents God has given you. So you need a job but you also need a ministry that expresses what you’re good at. That’s why we here at Word of Hope encourage everybody to find a ministry.

  1. 3. AN UNCONFESSED SIN.

This is a big one. Few things rob us of joy, rob your confidence, rob your passion, more quickly than guilt. Here’s how it works with us with guilt, the sin in our lives. We don’t walk around thinking, “I have a sin in my life. I am a guilty person.” No, we rationalize it consciously. Consciously we think, “It’s ok. Everybody’s doing it. It’s no big deal.” But subconsciously it gnaws at us. Subconsciously whenever it gets quiet that guilt pops into your mind. Subconsciously right now as I’m talking about it, it begins to pop into your mind.

Here’s the truth about us as human beings. We cannot feel enthusiasm and guilt at the same time. You can’t feel guilt and passion at the same time because guilt by its very definition robs you of passion. Psalm 38:4&6 “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear… I am bowed down and I am brought low.”

A lot of you work on computers. Anybody ever had your computer crash? Sometimes they crash. They stop working. Some program tries to write the wrong thing to the wrong place and it’s gone! Guilt does that to us as human beings. We’re not made to live with guilt. God did not make you to carry guilt around in your life. He made us to deal with it immediately. He sent Jesus to this earth to die on a cross to say, I want to offer you a gift — freedom from guilt. That is God’s gift.

But some of you right now, you’re in the midst of a personal system crash. Truth of the matter is the joy in your life has crashed and you’re trying to keep the enthusiasm up, you’re trying to keep the passion alive. But the guilt keeps crashing your system. So what do you do?

Fortunately this is a problem that can be remedied quickly. You can do something about it right now. Because Jesus has already done all that’s needed to be done to deal with our guilt. That’s why He came to this earth.

1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins He [God] can be trusted to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That’s His promise. To confess just means you agree with God. You just say, “God, I agree with You. It’s a sin. What I did was wrong. I agree with You. And I want to begin to live the kind of way You want me to live. Would You free me from this guilt?”

I would encourage you — do it now! Don’t wait. Sometimes we carry guilt around for weeks, months, days. You shouldn’t carry guilt around even an hour. The minute that you realize that the red warning light that’s flashing saying Do something about it. Not carry it. So right now in your mind, in your heart, take it to God and say, “I confess it. God, would You relieve me of this guilt? Thank You for forgiving me. Would You restore my passion?”

There’s a fourth cause for a loss of passion in our lives.

  1. 4. AN UNRESOLVED CONFLICT.

Conflict just drains the passion right out of you. Do you ever start a day and it’s going to be a great day — you know it. You just fly out of bed. You’re awake from the moment you get up. You’re ready for the day — shower, breakfast — you’re ready. You’re on the way out the door and you have a fight with your husband or your wife. All the zip goes out of your doo-dah. It’s like the air going out of a tire when the conflict comes. That’s what conflict does to us. It takes all the passion out of our lives. Your attitude all of a sudden just goes flat.

Let’s be honest about this. Some of you, you’re in situations at home or at work where the conflict is constant. Maybe you’re even doing all that you can to minimize the conflict. But it’s coming from the other person. How do you keep your passion in a situation like that?

You decide to protect yourself from the three passion killing emotions that can come into our lives in conflict. You cannot control the other person always. But you can control the kind of emotions you have in the midst of the conflict. The three emotions that kill our passion in the midst of conflict are

  • resentment,
  • jealously and
  • prolonged anger.

These next verses talk about them. Job 5:2 Resentment destroys the fool and jealousy kills the simple.” Circle “resentment” and circle “jealousy.” Passion killing emotions.

Job 18:4 “You are only hurting yourself with your anger.” Circle “anger.” It only hurts you.

You make the decision when it comes to resentment and jealousy and prolonged anger to let it go. This is why forgiveness is so important. God who knows us, who made us, who created us knows that we can’t carry resentment. So He says here’s a way to let it go. Even logically we know that the resentment that we have in our lives it’s not hurting the person we’re resentful against. They don’t even know you’re resentful. It’s hurting us. The anger is hurting us.

If you want the passion to be restored in your heart, in your life, you have to forgive. You have to let it go.

I know what some of you are thinking. “Let them off the hook? How can I do that?” I’m not telling you to let them off the hook. I’m telling you to put them on God’s hook. Let them off your hook. Just put them in God’s hands. Just say, “God, I can’t handle this. You can. I forgive them and I leave it to You.” If you don’t then that unforgiveness is going to kill the passion in your life the rest of your life. If you do not then the resentment that you have for that person that resentment is controlling your passion and by that it’s controlling your life. And you do not want them to control your life. So you forgive and you let it go. That’s how you resolve the conflict in your heart.

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