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 America 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.
I type 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. It's 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.
Last night, Bill Bright died -- the founder of Campus Crusade. We lost a giant in the land last night. Yet I was always amazed by Bill Bright. I knew him quite well. In his eighties he was just as passionate as he was many, many years ago. He never let up. It has nothing to do with your age. It has nothing to do with your personality. My wife Kay by nature is quite an introvert. Yet I don't know anybody more passionate about God than my wife.
Everything in life conspires to keep you from being passionate. And it dissipates your energy. On Friday we had a birthday party for Matthew, one of my boys, who turned eighteen. We had some helium balloons and they got loose and they went up on our high ceiling and we were wondering how to get them down. Tom said, don't worry about it. They'll be down by morning. And the truth is, it wasn't even that long. In just a few hours they began to dissipate, lose their steam and come back down.
A lot of times we're like that. 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 today. 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 middle of the dog days of summer, when nobody feels very passionate about much of anything. You want to chill back, lay back a little bit. 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.
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