MOMENTS OF TRUTH
“21 Qualities for Christians in the Bible”
#12 - Passion
12 July 2020
This is our eleventh lesson in our new series entitled “21 Qualities for Christians in the Bible.” We must remember our goal is to aid in our growth as Christians and help to develop servant leadership traits inspired by men and women of Scripture. The apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:18, “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Peter also tells us to “add” to our faith in 2 Peter 1:5-11, “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things.” These are just a few of the Scriptures that teach Christians to grow and mature as Children of God. These things aren’t done to make the Christian better “than” those around them but better “for” those around them. As Christians are to be as Jesus says in Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. 14 "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 "Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
You see, the Bible is not only the greatest book every written, it is the greatest leadership book ever written. Everything we could ever want to learn about leadership – vision, purpose, thinking strategy, communication, attitude, encouragement, mentoring, follow-through – it’s all there. We must be open to what God wants to teach us. We learn from the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 55:11 concerning God, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” Three things we must recognize in this text, (1) God’s Word always fulfills His purpose. (2) His Word does not return to Him void; (3) It accomplishes what He pleases and prospers in what He sent it for.
So, for Our lesson today we examine: Passion: Internal Combustion Creates Power and Motion.
What one thing do a star baseball player, a successful entrepreneur, and a prolific artist all have in common? It’s not the talent they possess; the talents necessary to succeed in each field are very different from each other. It’s not opportunity; they certainly took various paths to get where they are. So, what is the one trait that each of them must have to excel as much as they do in their respective field? Passion.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I don’t know if that’s always true. Even the most heart-stirring career has elements of boredom or drudgery. But a passion for your work does give you something significant: the ability to achieve many more results, at a much higher level, than you would be able to do without it. Talent is not enough; passion is a difference maker. Passion gives you the ability to achieve many more results at a much higher level than you would be be able to do without it!
For Christians, passion is even more valuable because it’s contagious. A Christian who shows passion pass it on to others. Passionate Christians also tend to attract other Christians who already share their passion. And so, passion builds, until the team is eagerly pursuing their dream together.
As a Christian, the first question you must ask yourself is, “Do I have passion for my life as a Christian? Am I like the apostle Paul who said in Philippians 3:8 “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” If not, then it might be time to reassess your current role and duties. Or maybe find a way to relight or stoke the fire within by spending time with people of passion. In Jeremiah 20:9 we read, ““Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name." But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.”
PASSION Changes You! With passion you can’t help becoming a more dedicated, productive person. Your passion will have more influence than your personality!
PASSION Makes the Impossible Possible! We are so made that whenever anything fires the soul, impossibilities vanish. A fire in the heart lifts everything in your life!
Sociologist Tony Campolo once said, “We are caught up at a particular stage in our national ethos in which we’re not only materialistic but worse than that; we’re becoming emotionally dead as people. We don’t sing, we don’t dance, we don’t even commit sin with much enthusiasm.” There is no substitute for passion. It is a spark to light a fire within. It’s fuel for the will, keeping people going even when they’re tired and tempted to quit. It is more powerful than circumstances, plowing through seeming impossibilities. If passion is not a quality in your life, you’re in trouble as a Christian. The truth is that you can never effectively lead something you don’t care passionately about. You can’t start or sustain a fire with others unless one is first burning within you!
Today we are going to learn Passion from John the Baptist, The Apostle Paul, and The Cloud of Witnesses in the Book of Hebrews Great Faith Hall of Fame, chapter 11.
In the book of Luke 3:1-18 we get to learn lessons in passion from John the Baptist, “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; 6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'" 7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 9 "And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." 10 So the people asked him, saying, "What shall we do then?" 11 He answered and said to them, "He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise." 12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, "Teacher, what shall we do?" 13 And he said to them, "Collect no more than what is appointed for you." 14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, "And what shall we do?" So he said to them, "Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages." 15 Now as the people were in expectation, and all reasoned in their hearts about John, whether he was the Christ or not, 16 John answered, saying to all, "I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 "His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather the wheat into His barn; but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire." 18 And with many other exhortations he preached to the people.”
When the Word of God came to John he went EVERYWHERE Preaching! He didn’t hold back! How do you think he said “Brood of Vipers”? With a timid voice? He was one “crying” in the wilderness! This crying is not as a child cries when they get hurt. But one who is making a proclamation! “Brood of Vipers!” He told them what they NEEDED to HEAR not what they wanted! Because of John’s passion for serving God, preparing the way for Jesus, and his love for others he ended up in prison for preaching against Herod and Herodias. Ultimately John was put to death for his preaching!
If we will allow ourselves to become passionate about our service to God, we too can become like John the Baptist. Teaching what NEEDS to be Taught! Not tickling the ears as Paul warns Timothy would happen in 2 Timothy 4:3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;” Paul also warned in 2 Timothy 4:4, “And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Let us have the necessary passion to preach as John the Baptist did!
Now let’s turn over to Colossians 3:1-17, 23 and 24. Here is where the Apostle Paul teaches the idea, “Whatever You do…, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. 5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, 7 in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. 8 But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. 12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him….23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”
Paul’s teaching reveals his passion for Christ and his desire that all Christians become passionate for the cause of Christ beginning with the heart! The New International Version of the Bible puts Colossians 3:1 this way, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” As we have seen in several of our examples during this series, we always find some who do not follow God “wholeheartedly” such as King Amaziah in last weeks lesson. If we don’t “set our hearts on things above” we won’t develop the passion necessary to be successful in our endeavor to serve God and our fellow man! Paul pleads and reminds us to be a forgiving people as the Lord has forgiven us! Remember Pauls’ words in Colossians 3:13, “bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.”
Paul explains that in everything we do we are to do it with great passion knowing that we are serving the Lord Christ and not man!
From John the Baptist to the Apostle Paul, now we turn to Hebrews 11:4-12 and 22-34 and learn passion from “The Cloud of Witnesses in that Great Hall of Faith. “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. 7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; 10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born as many as the stars of the sky in multitude--innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore…22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. 23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command. 24 By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 25 choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. 27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. 29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. 30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. 31 By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. 32 And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.”
Able, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sara, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, & the prophets, all their stories reveal their passion for the Lord! A Tremendous “Cloud of Witnesses” concerning Faith in God! We are so blessed, God preserved all their stories for us to be passionately influenced and continue to serve God as they did! And so we MUST follow the instructions in Hebrews 12:1-2, “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.”
As we near the end of our lesson let’s recognize that once John received the Word of God he risked his life to preach to the people repentance and everything they needed to hear in preparation for the kingdom of heaven! Paul’s instructions are aimed at the heart where our passion for Christ MUST be found and expressed. And the passion of all of those in the Hall of faith should be contagious! They should inspire us to continue to serve our God whole heartedly as they did!
So, with these examples of Passion and so many others, let us examine our hearts and see if we “measure up” to the level of Passion truly desired in us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! The level of Passion He Himself had when He was willing to go to the cross on our behalf. His Passion aided Him in going through all that He did on our behalf. All Christians need to be a Passionate People! Our world around us struggles so, because too many true Christians are without Passion! Let us be passionate in serving our fellow man and bringing glory to our God!
So, for this series of lessons we have studied: Character, Charisma, Commitment, Communication, Competence, Courage, Discernment, Focus, Generosity, Initiative, Listening and now Passion. The Lord has provided for us time and time again these qualities modeled in the Bible for our growth for His Will to be done!