New Beginning Christian Fellowship – March 22, 2020

 

The Birth of Passion

“Fan to flame the gift of God…”  (2 Timothy 1:6)

God can use this trying time we are going through to fan His passion within our souls

Trials can be very painful. They press us beyond our strength and understanding, and force us to seek solutions outside the box of our limited perception and experience. Once we have faced off with the trials before us, we can run to God’s Word and find answers. Our country is facing a pandemic like none of us have ever experienced. And yet, it is during times like these that God offers to us renewed passion in our spiritual life.

Many of my fellow pastors and I have been saying for years, “Church is not about a building or an hour on Sunday Mornings. The Church is the people of Christ doing the work of Christ throughout the week.”

Look at what we face now. Without ‘losing’ our facilities, we are separated from them because of the need for social distancing to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. However, WE HAVE NOT CEASED BEING THE CHURCH!

Let me say that again. WE HAVE NOT CEASED BEING THE CHURCH!

Our mission remains the same. And perhaps, like never before in our lifetime, we get a chance to practice our faith before a watching world. The Lord is giving us the opportunity to go out into our community and shine the light of the Gospel. Like a mother bird kicking its young out of a nest, we are forced to live out our faith. It appears that for the unforeseeable future, we will no longer be able to hide behind church attendance as a cheap substitute for genuine faith. In His sovereignty, the Lord has allowed this pandemic to kick us out of our comfort zones… out of our ‘nest.’ Oh, but this can be exciting!

Trials can ignite a passion for God in our soul when we run to Him. This passion can catapult us into new dimensions of faith and a purpose-filled walk. Genuine Christian faith is filled with passion. It only becomes passionless when we fail to cultivate intimacy with our risen Lord. For believers, there are several areas our passion should become alive. Each one of them is born out of some type of conflict or trial. Here are five types of passion the Lord can ignite in us during these trying times:

1. Passion for the Cross – The pain we feel from being separated from our community of faith can create a burning passion for the power of the Cross. The beauty of the Cross will take on a renewed meaning as we consider that nothing is as important and sharing the gospel so others can have eternal life! We do not know how many people will perish from this virus in our communities or nation. But when we realize that many men and women we know could be facing a lost eternity, our hearts ache for a chance to share the gospel with them. Possessions, businesses, bank accounts, cars, houses, clothes, land, and everything else is useless if people do not know Christ.

Believers are delivered from the fear and panic we see permeating today’s world. We are free from the terror because we belong to Christ. Our souls are safe in the arms of the Lord, and death has been defeated for us. (Read 1 Corinthians 15:54-56) As the old hymn says, “I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown.” Times like these sharpen our focus upon the beauty and calling of the Cross. We recapture the passion for its truths. (Read Galatians 6:14) Jesus’ death is our victory over death. Fear has lost its place in our life.

2. Passion for loving others – Our passion for God’s love toward us compels us to love others. Paul said that Jesus loved us, “While we were still in our sin.” (Read Romans. 5:10) We miss gathering with our fellow believers, singing songs of faith, enjoying fellowship, and hearing the teaching of Scriptures. Perhaps when this is over, we will never take for granted ‘going to church’ again. Church should never be something we do when we have nothing else to do—it should be the priority for our families. Sooner or later, everyone will need someone else. This separation makes our hearts long to hug and greet our fellow believers again.

But this distancing can do more. We can step out and have a passion for the care of our neighbors, and become living testimonies of God’s care for their souls. Check on them and offer to help them during this time. Take them food, pick up their meds from the local pharmacy, pray with those afraid, and be a friend—like Jesus. This pandemic gives us a time to shine in the midst of darkness.

3. Passion for teaching – The Prophet Hosea said, “people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Read Hosea 4:6) This season of separation can renew our passion for understanding the truths of God’s Word. In deep trials, people seek answers, and perhaps if we had been more committed to faithfully attend and sit under the care and ministry of the teaching of Scriptures, we would know some of the answers our hearts are seeking through this painful time.

There are two types of ignorance among believers. First, there is ‘ignorance by birth.’ Young believers have not had time to learn the deeper things about God. This is understandable, and there is no shame in it. The second type of ignorance is tragic. It is ‘ignorance by choice.’ It is prevalent in the modern church. Without shame, men and women choose all types of activities to place before faithful attendance. They have ‘chosen ignorance’ by neglecting godly priorities.

Trials make us aware of how much we have neglected and taken for granted. If we respond correctly, a new passion for the teaching of God’s Word will be birthed in us. There will be more tragedies in our lives–that is the way it is. However, if we grab God’s Word with a renewed passion, and get our priorities in order, the next time trials challenge us, our mind and our heart will be better prepared.

4. Passion for worship – This morning, we miss hearing our praise team as they lead us into the presence of God with singing and worship. However, deep worship is born from the conflict of realizing that my greatest point of integration is a constant communion with Christ through the Holy Spirit. Worship is simply saying “Amen” to what God says about Himself and about us, and then adoring Him with our whole being in praise and worship. And because prayer is an element of worship, passionate worship leads to passionate prayer. The longings of our heart for God’s intimate care compels us into passionate worship. King David said we should enter the Lord’s presence “with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.” (Read Psalm 100:4)

Oh, how we miss the sound of lifting our voices together in worship. Next time, we will not take it for granted.

5. Passion for service – Because of this pandemic, we are limited in our activities. Perhaps some of us are thinking of all the things we regret not taking the time to do for the elderly and shut-ins, the lonely or the hurting. We missed opportunities of ministry because we were too busy focusing on ourselves. Passion for service is born out of the conflict of wanting to be more like Jesus. Even our Lord came to earth not to be served but to serve others. (Read Mark 10:45) The conflict arising from evaluating our failure to emulate Jesus’ example compels us to see that an ego-driven goal is a path to death and meaninglessness, and this makes us passionate about serving others.

What is the source of godly passion? I believe that throughout the Scriptures, we find that all godly passion is born out of some type of conflict or trial. Let us take the spiritual conflicts we feel during these trying times, search out the teachings of the Bible, get wise counsel from a passionate believer or leader, and lay before the Lord in prayer. He will hear us and pour out a renewed passion in our life. Like the live coal from the altar when Isaiah prayed, a passion from heaven will fall upon our soul and turn our lives around.

If you are struggling with a lack of passion, don’t run from the conflict you feel from this time of separation and panic in society. Get with the Lord in prayer and meet your concerns head-on!!

In this time of uncertainty. In this time of separation, the Lord is wanting to ignite a passion within our souls.

A Passion for the Cross…
A Passion for loving others…
A Passion for teaching…
A Passion for worship…
A Passion for service…

He is birthing it out of our pain of separation.

And the world is waiting for and in need of passionate examples of the gospel.

Let’s pray for one another. Let’s check on one another. Call others in the body and encourage them–especially the elderly and those with children. Let’s check on our neighbors. Let’s ask the Lord to birth a fresh passion in our hearts!

In the Crucified yet Risen Lamb,
Terry