RECLAIMING YOUR SPIRITUAL PASSION††
One the devils greatest devices is to tempt Christians to loose their passion for serving God. The devil will try to deceive you, deaden you or devour you and if none of these work he will settle for discouraging you. That why its very important that follow the advice that Paul wrote to the Ephesians.
Ephesians 6:10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.† 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
When we put on the whole armor of God the devil has no power over us because we have studied our enemy and we know what kind of devices he uses and possessing that knowledge gives us the upper hand.
2 Corinthians lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.
However, sometimes people
and entire congregations lose their spiritual passion. The church at
Revelation 2:1 "To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ' These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:† 2 "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;† 3 "and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and have not become weary.† 4 "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.† 5 "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place -- unless you repent.
First of all you will notice that the church did have some good qualities but they were starting to go down hill and Jesus basically says that they had left their first love. They had reached the point to where they were just going through the motions. As a result of this Jesus tells them that he will remove their lamp stand. You see there is no reason for a church to have a lamp stand if there is no fire there for it. Jesus basically tells them they must repent or pay the consequence. While it is sad to people and entire congregations loose their spiritual passion we must realize that it can happen to us. That is why it is very important that we test ourselves to see if we have lost our spiritual passion. Paul tells us to do this very thing in
2 Corinthians 13:5 ††Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- unless indeed you are disqualified.
One the most important things that we should posses as Christians is love.
1 Corinthians 13:1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.† 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.† 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Without love you can never have passion that God wants you to have. A person can do all kinds of wonderful things but if they do not do it with love it profits them nothing. Let me ask you a question. Are you on fire for the Lord or are hiding you light under a basket? If we do not have a zest for serving Christ then he may remove our lamp stand as well.
How many people do we know that used to have a fire for the Lord but then it quickly faded away. It is so sad when allow ourselves to be lukewarm in our Christianity. God never intended for his children to be mediocre. So what I would like to do this morning is examine several principles that will help us to relight our spiritual passion.
All of these principles† will come from the Words that Paul wrote to the Philippians.
Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.† 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,† 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.† 15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.† 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
Our first point comes from verse 12 in that we need to have the attitude that the apostle did. Notice the verse again,
12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.†
Paul is one of the hardest working men that you read about in the NT. He even makes this claim himself in
1 Corinthians 15: 9
For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle,
because I persecuted the
But you see it didnít matter how hard he labored he had the attitude that he had not been perfected or that he had attained his goal is being a servant to God. From this we can learn that we must never get to the point where we think we have done enough for the Lord and that we can retire for our Christianity because as soon as we start thinking like that we will loose our spiritual passion. Jesus tells us that,
Luke 9:23† "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. †
Jesus makes it easy for us to understand that serving God is a daily event. I never will forget the story that my father-in-law told me about one of his Bible instructors at Freed Hardeman. Everyday when the class would let out he would always tell his students to stay green. My father-in-law didnít understand what he meant by this so finally his curiosity got the best of him and he asked him what he meant by that phrase stay green. So the teacher explained to him that as long as they remained green this meant that they were continuing to grow and if they stopped growing then they would end up like a dead plant that turns brown and dies. That is exactly the attitude that we must have as Christians if we want to keep our spiritual passion alive. Lets look at several things that people like to say that indicates that their spiritual passion has faded away.
1. I have studied the Bible for years so I donít really need study that much any more.
2 Timothy Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
Proverbs 15:28 The heart of the righteous studies how to answer, But the mouth of the wicked pours forth evil.
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
These 3 verses teach us plainly that we should never reach the point where we think we have studied the Bible enough. It doesnít matter how many hours a day you study the word of God will consistently learn new things that you did find the other times you studied. It also important to study it to keep it fresh on your mind so that you will know how find things better when you have the opportunity to share Gods Word with someone else.
2. Some might Oh Iíve prayed enough for a lifetime.
1Thessalonians 5:17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Luke 18:1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,
Do we get any indication from these verses that we can get to the point were have prayed to much. Of course not. If we get to the point where we lose our desire to pray to God then we have defiantly lost our spiritual passion.
3. I have done enough work in the church its time to let someone else to take over.
1 Corinthians 15:58 †Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Revelation 14:13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write: 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' " "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them."
When you look at these 2 verses is should be clear to us that our work does not come to an end until we are not capable or we die. Notice Paul says that a Christian is to always about in the work of the lord and John continues that thought by saying that after a Christian dies then they get to rest from their labors. It really concerns me when Christians get to the point where they say that someone else can do the work because I have already done that work for many years. We need to be very careful when we start thinking this way because we are setting ourselves up to be idle and when you become idle when you could be busy for the Lord you will lose your spiritual passion. If you are already in this condition then the way you relight your spiritual passion is by rolling up your sleeves and getting busy for the lord.
Our next point comes from verse 13
Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
Again, we see Paul making it clear that he doesnít consider himself to have reached his goal as of yet. But notice there is thing that he does and that is keeping heaven as his and allowing the things of the past to drag him down. Just think about everything Paul did before he became a Christian how he persecuted them and hunted them down even into foreign cities. How watched with great joy as Stephen was stoned to death. If Paul allowed himself to dwell on all the bad things he did in the past it would be hard for him to think about going forward. But, Paul understood that once he became a Christian that not only was his †past sin forgiven they were forgotten. God has the ability to forget those things in our past. But sometimes we find it very difficult to forget what we have done and if we dwell on it all the time it will hinder us and keep us from reaching our goal.
Hebrews 12:1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,† 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Notice the writer tells us to lay aside every weight. This would include our past. If want to be effective for God and to have our passion burning hot for him then we must learn to forget those things of our past and keep our sites on Jesus and the hope of heaven.
Our next point comes from verse 14
Philippians I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
The word press in the Greek means to strive intensely. The Greeks used it to describe a hunter eagerly waiting and pursuing his† prey. In a race it described a person who zealously strove for the prize. This tells us that Paul was striving with ever muscle and ever fiber of his being to reach his goal of heaven. This shows the passion he had to serve God until his death. This is the same attitude that every Christian should have when it comes† to serving God and seeking the goal of heaven.
In Mat 10 Jesus was sending his disciples out on a small mission and he gave them a warning about what would happen to them but notice what he tells them in verse
Matthew †"And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
This is what it all about. As Christians† we must endure all the hardships and all the temptation of this life by keeping our sight on Jesus and remaining faithful to him. Jesus states those who endure to the end will be saved and they will receive the crown of righteousness Rev. 2:10. In order for us to remain faithful and not lose our spiritual passion it takes an inward determination. If you do not convince yourself of how important it is to love God with all of your heart, mind and soul how are you ever going to be able to press forward? If we donít have a passion for Christ then how is anyone going to be able to see Christ in us?
Philippians 3:15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.† 16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.† 17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
Paul is teaching us that we should have the same mind as he did. That is not thinking that we have already obtained our goal but that we should continue to grow and do many things for the lord as we are able. Notice we are to walk by the same rule and those rules come from the word of God.
If anyone should have been discouraged to the point that they lost their† spiritual passion it should have been Paul. I want us to look at the summary of what Paul went through in his walk of faith.
2 Corinthians 11: 23 Are they ministers of Christ? -- I speak as a fool -- I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often.† 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.† 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;† 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;† 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness --† 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
If Paul could keep his spiritual passion through all of this it should inspire us to keep our spiritual passion and even if you have allowed the flame to go out in your life you can relight your spiritual passion by rededicating you life to Christ again. If we can follow Paul example we will be able to say what he said at the end of his life.
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.† 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.† 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Notice he described is walk of faith as fight because that is exactly what it is. Day in and day out we must fight to remain faithful to lord and when we do we can know that their will be a crown of righteousness laid for us as well.
I hope this lesson has encouraged you in some way to examine your life and to determine just how great your spiritual passion is or is not. As long as your living its not to late to rededicate yourself to God and get your flame burning hot for the lord.