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Pathways to Intimacy with God - How to Rekindle Your Spiritual Passion, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
August 15, 2023 6:00 am

Pathways to Intimacy with God - How to Rekindle Your Spiritual Passion, Part 1

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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August 15, 2023 6:00 am

No matter how spiritually mature you are, there are times when we all need to refocus and rekindle our spiritual passion. If you’re a little dry, if your prayer life is a little flat, join Chip as he explores how you can rekindle your spiritual passion.

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If your prayers feel flat, if your motivation is low, and if you feel spiritually dry, you're in good company.

We all experience those things from time to time, but no matter how mature you are, here's what you gotta know. Sometimes we need to rekindle the spiritual passion in our heart. We all need that from time to time, and today we're going to show you how. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. And today we're continuing our series Pathways to Intimacy with God. Now in this program, Chip begins unpacking some practical ways to reconnect with God, especially when we feel our spiritual flame is burnt out. And be sure to keep listening after this message as Chip elaborates on the principles he's going to talk about today.

If you have a Bible, go now to 1 Corinthians chapter 11 for Chip's talk, How Do We Kindle Your Spiritual Passion? Lean back, if you will, and just try and imagine. It's late, and you're fighting hard. It's a long trip, and you've been in the car six or seven hours, and you've got to get there, and you've already had the coffee or the coke to keep you awake. You've rolled down the windows and you just can't keep awake, and so you start punching the buttons on the radio, and you want to find anything.

You don't care what it is, but you want to find something that will get your interest and keep you, and we've all been there. And you punch a button here, and that's no good, and you punch a button here, and then someone's talking to you, and then you punch a button and a song comes on, and it's an oldie for you. For some that means it's 20 years old, and for others it was three years ago, but it's an oldie. And when you hear that song, something happens. You kind of stop, and you lean back in the seat and take a deep breath, and you're awake because the song doesn't just remind you of words or melody, but all of a sudden, like a video recorder going off in your mind, pictures and faces and people and events of a number of years ago begin to play out. And as you see them, you're going down memory lane, and it's not just that you remember them, but you actually can see yourself in places and talking to people, and it's literally like reliving them.

That old song, something happened. It was like somehow it hit a nerve and a neuron hit your brain, and a recorder went on, and it wasn't just that you see it, but it was almost like you were there. And all the emotions and all the feelings and what it was really like when you were there in that situation begin to flood back to you.

And we've all had this experience. For some it's a song that you remember when you were just a kid, and it brings back memories of what it was like where you grew up and brothers and sisters and family. And for others it's a song that reminds you of special, special moments of first looks, first dates, first love.

And you remember where exactly you were and what she had on or what he had on, and your mind begins to spin down another world. For others it reminds you of a day when you walked down an aisle and that song that you all played and what it meant and all the nerves and all the doubts and then you look at all the things that have occurred. And for others I've had this one where you hear a song and that song causes you to go back and relive some very painful moments of lost love and unreconciled relationships. And even at times a song that was popular at a window of time in your life when you weren't living in a way that you knew honored God or did anything but hurt yourself and other people. And it's dark as night and you're traveling on the back roads and no one's around and that song starts you on a journey and you think about people that you haven't thought for some of you for a decade or two. And it's not just a matter of hearing the song. You actually are back there reliving the moment.

Sometimes you laugh out loud as you hear those songs late at night and sometimes you start to cry or feel remorse. And for reasons that we're going to explore a little bit later God has made our minds with the ability to bring back not merely the recollection of events but God has made your mind and my mind with the ability to play full motion pictures with all the emotions, with all the feelings, with all the struggles, with the you are there right now. And sometimes it happens with a song. About ten days ago I was walking by my wife has a picture album near where you come in the door and I don't know why it's been there. And sometimes it's a song but I remember stopping and I just started looking through a picture album. Had wedding pictures of our kids where we were a summer ago, two summers ago and it got back to about three years ago and I'm sitting there in the middle of my house with no one around and I can feel the tears starting to well up because I wasn't looking at pictures.

I was starting to relive the actual places and moments. And I have a theory. I've got a theory that God has intentionally made your mind and my mind with this ability not just to remember but to actually relive with all the thought process and emotions that go with it. And my theory is that God has made our lives like that because we have a very destructive habit of the human kind. And the destructive habit is the problem of a wandering heart. Left to myself my heart wanders from friends. Left to myself my heart wanders from my mate. Left to myself my heart wanders from God.

And God has made our minds and our memories so that certain things at certain times can spark us in such a way that it can bring us all the way back to where we were 5 or 10 or 15 or even 25 years before and you just don't remember it. You actually relive it with the full sense of the emotions and the struggles and the sorrow and the pain and sometimes the joy and the excitement because it is a struggle to sustain the intensity and the intimacy required for relationships to grow. I mean what it really takes for friendships to grow, for marriages to grow, to stay in touch with your kids for some of us as they move around the country. It takes a lot of energy and here's the deal, left to ourselves relationships drift apart.

Left to ourselves marriages friendships drift apart. Now think of this, if it's that easy to drift apart from people that you can see and you can touch and you can put your cell phone on an automatic number and get them anytime you want them, do you see how easy it is for you and how easy it is for me to drift away from a God who loves us but we can't see him. You'll notice on the top of your teaching handout is Revelation 2, 4. It says, yet I hold this against you, you have forsaken or forgotten your first love. And if you wonder who the author of that is, it's Jesus. And Jesus writes to the messenger in Ephesus in Revelation 2 and he says these are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven lampstands. Listen how positive his recommendation is of this group of believers. I know your deeds, your hard work, your perseverance, that you can't tolerate wicked men, that you've tested those who claim to be apostles that are not and you found them false, you've persevered, you've endured hardships by my name and you've not grown weary.

That sounds like a pretty good report for a Christian, doesn't it? You're getting up, you're reading the Bible, you give the first portion of your time, you give the first portion of your money, you love God, you share your faith, you're involved in ministry, you help out with kids, you are a person who's working hard, you persevere and you're sick and tired of the evil that you see in the world and you are busting it and trying to be the man or the woman or the student that God wants you to be. And from all outward signs all the rest of us want to be like you. But Jesus knocks and he says I have this one thing against you. You've forsaken your first love. What about me from the heart?

What about us? Just like a muscle that isn't used begins to get small and weak, God says in all of our lives our heart can grow cold and so God has a plan. He has a solution for wandering hearts and God's solution is what's called focused remembrance.

This series is about ancient paths, things have been done for hundreds and hundreds of years, this one for over 2,000 years. He took something that was historic about what God did for his people and he turned that into what we now call the Lord's Supper where he brought his disciples around him and he would remind them that as you meet, as you come together, this is my body given for you, this is my blood shed for you because this is what he knew. For their life and for mine and for yours, it is very easy to lose your first love. You can be religious, you can be moral, you can work hard, you can persevere, you can be involved in church ministry but you can let your heart drift away from God. The path of breaking bread together restores our spiritual passion by forcing us to do certain things. In fact this is so historic Acts 2 42 says, and they, speaking of the early church, were continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship and notice to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 gives the fullest and clearest explanation of what God wants us to remember. First of all, we're to remember who Jesus is and what he's done for us. When you hold a piece of this bread and this cup in your hands, the first thing God wants you to do is stop. And just like hearing an oldie song that comes on the radio or a flash that comes to your mind as you're eating at a familiar restaurant, he wants you to hold this piece of bread and he wants you to remember who he really is and he wants you to hold this cup and he wants you to remember or bring into vivid recollection what he's actually done for you and what he's done for me. Notice what he says here in 1 Corinthians 11 beginning of verse 23. For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread.

And when he'd given thanks, he broke it and he said, this is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. If you have a pen, will you circle the word remembrance?

It's very important. In the same way, he took the cup after supper saying, this cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this as often as you drink it in remembrance of me.

What word are you going to circle again? Remembrance. Verse 26, for as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Put a box around the word proclaim. Two controlling concerns are associated with the Lord's supper according to the Apostle Paul here. The first one is the idea of remembrance or memorial. The word literally means to bring to mind, to come into agreement with what God has done. This same word is translated into Greek but when this word is used in the Old Testament in Numbers 23, it's used of them coming and blowing trumpets and they would blow trumpets before a sacrifice to remind God that this offering is coming to you, that you deserve it and we honor you. It's the sacrifice that we bring to you. This word memorial also has the idea bringing into vivid recollection or consciousness. This is not about holding a piece of bread and having a cup and saying, oh yeah, Jesus died for me, he was there somewhere, sometime somehow, goody goody, thank you Lord, eat, drink, I'm done.

That's called partaking in an unworthy manner. This word for remember means to bring to vivid recollection, to come and renew your first love. It has the idea of you going back in your mind and saying, where was I sitting when I heard the Gospel? What has happened in my life since my sins have been forgiven when I trusted Christ as my Savior? Who is this Jesus?

He's fully man, fully God. It's contemplating as the ancients did on his work on the cross. It's imagining in your mind, maybe even without the help of a famous movie of the Passion and beginning to grasp at the emotive level and bringing into vivid recollection that if I was the only person on the face of the earth, he would have gone down that trail and he would have been beaten and he would have carried the cross and his hands would be pierced with nails and then he would lift it up and they would lock it in and he would hang on a cross between heaven and earth and God Almighty, because he was holy, would turn his back for this one brief moment on the sun because he would become the sin bearer, the sin offering and all your sin and all my sin and the sins of all people would be poured on him and the wrath of God and his death would cover your sin so that you would be forgiven and free. See it's holding that bread, his body broken.

That's the price tag. It's vividly recollecting in your mind what it would have been like for his blood to be spilled and then bringing that into your own experience and beginning to sit quietly and ponder and meditate in thanksgiving and say this is what it was like in my case before 1972 and this is what it's been like after 1972. This is where I was before I heard the gospel. I remember sitting in seats like this and a man sharing the gospel and coming to that moment of truth and realizing I desperately needed a savior, that I was a phony, that I treated all kind of people in ways that were not only unhealthy and sinful but I didn't like me.

I wanted to be accepted and forgiven and I needed God. Memorial. When we take the Lord's Supper, it's not a little something we tack on to the service.

The first concept is one of memorial. It's the idea that he is our sin offering, that he's sinless, that he paid the price, that he suffered for you and here's the core reason why. Because he loves you. You know the number one area that we don't believe in the Christian life? Down deep we do not believe God loves us. That's why we keep trying to earn his favor.

That's why we keep playing all these games. More than anything else, God wants you to grasp and understand totally apart from your works, totally unconditional. He loves you. Not because there's something good in you but because there's something good in him.

He has chosen you to be the object of his affection because beyond what any of us know, his love is infinite and he cares about you and he wants a relationship with you. But because he is holy and we are sinful, the only means of relationship with a holy God was Christ the fully man, fully God stretching out his arms and dying in your place and in my place. And when we do that, not only do we bring it to remembrance but look at the last line. It says and we proclaim his death.

The word proclaim there is used elsewhere in the New Testament for literally preaching the gospel. It means telling the rest of the world I have been forgiven. Jesus is my savior.

I have a new life. There is a difference and when we come together, it's not just to remember but as we do it, we testify to the living fact that there is good news. We proclaim there is life. There is forgiveness for everyone whosoever would come. And so by way of summary in this first section, the path of breaking bread together restores our spiritual passion.

How does your passion get restored? By remembering who Jesus is, your savior, God, your sin substitute and remembering what he's done. He has died upon the cross for you. The Apostle Paul makes it clear that it's not only enough to remember who Jesus is and what he did but we need to remember who we are and our present need of repentance. The Lord's Supper is a time to look upward and outward and with praise and adoration but it's also a time to look inward, to take a spiritual x-ray, to take a spiritual MRI, to let the Spirit of God open his eyes into your heart, into your life, into your motives and mind and say, Lord, if there's anything that's not right.

You see, the reason we drift is what? It's a little subtle sin today, a little subtle sin tomorrow, a little attitude tomorrow, another little motive next week and little by little by little we don't understand then we've drifted. And what the Lord's Supper is to recalibrate your soul. And the way you recalibrate your soul is you get first clear on who he is and what he's done.

And then you take that and look in the mirror and you say, Lord, where am I really from your perspective? Notice the Apostle Paul's teaching picking up in verse 27. He says, therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, circle that phrase, will be guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of our Lord. A man ought to examine himself, circle that phrase, before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. And listen to this very often strange but powerful passage. Verse 30, that is why many among you are weak and sick and a number of you have fallen asleep.

That's a technical term used every time in the New Testament for when a believer in Jesus Christ dies and goes to heaven. But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we're being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

Notice there is a warning, there's instruction, there's a reason, and then there's a response. The warning is don't eat or don't come to the Lord's table in an unworthy manner. This passage has been much debated. You can go to commentaries and find a zillion different explanations of what an unworthy manner is. Option number one for many, it's an unbeliever taking the Lord's Supper.

It's obviously not, you know, one of the things you need to do. I don't know where you're at or where you're coming from. I didn't grow up as a believer. But this is a holy moment. It's a holy moment for God's family. If you're not a believer in Jesus Christ, you're instructed to watch and observe. Just see what happens. Don't go.

Don't take it. And try and say, what are these people doing and what does this really mean? Another explanation has been that there's some unconfessed sin in a person's life. It's an unworthy where there's unconfessed sin and you take it in this way. And of course we're instructed to make sure that there's no sin, to literally say, God, is there anything between us?

I'm going to sit quietly. No music, no strumming guitars, dead, cold silence where you can say, Lord, if there's anything between you and me and you're a believer, the Holy Spirit lives in you, will you show me, will you just show me right now? And I know your heart is never to condemn and you're never vague.

Will you show me if there's anything in my life that I need to tell you and come to agreement with you and ask you to forgive me and claim your promise that if I confess my sin, you're faithful and just to forgive me of my sin and cleanse me of all unrighteousness? That's certainly a part of the Lord's Supper. But the actual phrase, an unworthy manner, is not so much pointed toward unbelievers and it's not so much about unconfessed sin.

That's something that believers would understand they were to do. To partake in an unworthy manner, the meaning of this word has to do with meaning taking it carelessly, thoughtlessly, routinely, going through the motions. It would be having the memorial without the meaning. No appreciation for who Jesus really is.

No recollection back to what he's really done for you. No quiet extended time to evaluate where are you really at in your heart, in your life, to recalibrate your soul. It's just going through the motions.

It's just doing what you've always done. It's coming to church and going through the spiritual motions of taking the Lord's Supper. That's what it means to take it in an unworthy manner. And what it does, it diminishes his work on the cross. What it does, it diminishes his blood that shed for you. What it does, it diminishes the fact that you've been sealed with the Spirit and that you're a child of God and you don't take time to let the Spirit of God love you and care for you. And God plan always and every time in convicting is never to be down on us. It's to point something out like a surgeon sees a piece of cancer and cuts very carefully so that no arteries or anything would be hurt and gets just the thing that needs to be and lifts it out and is it painful?

Yes, and removes it so you can be whole and to be healed. That's God's heart and when you take the Lord's Supper, it always brings you to a time where you come back to first things, back to your first love, back to the relationship. This is Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram and you've been listening to part one of Chip's message How to Rekindle Your Spiritual Passion from our series Pathways to Intimacy with God.

Chip will be back shortly to share some helpful application for us to think about. Have you ever met a Christian who seems to have a special connection to God and it's not built on fake super spiritualism but a genuine closeness? Do you desire that familiarity? In this series, Chip reveals that God longs to have that level of intimacy with all believers, not just a select few. Learn how to experience a deeper relationship with the Heavenly Father who loves you. For more info about pathways to intimacy with God, visit livingontheedge.org or the Chip Ingram app. I'm joined in studio now by Chip and Chip, you ended the first half of your message today by talking about how communion can bring us back into a relationship with God.

Because really that's our daily struggle, right? Being a constant faithful follower of Christ. So take a few minutes if you would and highlight some small group studies we've created that can deepen our connection to God.

Well Dave, we all have special times in our life where there's either crisis or we know we need to improve our parenting or marriage or there's some emotional issues and as people go through, there's plenty of small group resources like that. But what I think is missing is what historically has been called a catechism. A catechism is a well ordered process of truth by which you go through it systematically and intentionally in order to become more and more like Jesus and to fulfill more and more what Jesus has called us to do. And so if you follow Jesus' life, his actual chronological life, the first thing is he defined what a disciple is. And so the very first study I encourage people to do is true spirituality, becoming a Romans 12 Christian.

It'll let them know this is what it means to be a follower of Jesus. The second thing Jesus did is he took them through various experiences to reveal who God was like. What is God really like? And so our second study, it's called The Real God. And in that, we studied the attributes of God and how to get them from your head into your heart. The third thing that Jesus did is he helped them understand how does life change really occur?

How do you put it into practice? We have a study from Ephesians chapter 4 called Transformed, The Miracle of Life Change. And then the fourth one I'll give you because I don't want to lay it all out is that when you take these kind of steps, all hell breaks loose.

I don't mean that as a cuss word. What I mean is it's challenging, it's difficult, there's spiritual warfare. And that's our study from Ephesians chapter 6.

It's called The Invisible War, what every believer needs to know about Satan, demons, and spiritual warfare. So let me encourage you, unless there's a critical need, a high felt need, consider studying in order the catechism the way Jesus taught his disciples. Thanks, Chip. To learn more about the specific studies Chip laid out or any of our other small groups, visit livingontheedge.org or call us at 888-333-6003. We want to help you better know God in the context of authentic community. And for a limited time, all our small group resources are discounted, so check them out today. Again, visit livingontheedge.org or call 888-333-6003.

App listeners, tap special offers. Well, here again is Chip to pass along a few final thoughts for us to think about. As we close today's program and we think about the larger issue of rekindling your spiritual passion, it is obvious there's very clear teaching from the Lord Jesus to remember to keep the main thing the main thing. God's unconditional love, that's the vertical, and that horizontal relationship so that we are holding the bread and the cup, recognizing the body of Christ as well as what he's done for us. But the principle is focused remembrance. And let me give you three or four things to help you rekindle your spiritual passion. The Lord's Supper is absolutely God's commanded way that we do that corporately.

But let me give you maybe three or four ways that might help you personally. Number one, I keep a journal, and I write down things of what God's doing. I write some prayers down. I often, when I need rekindled, I'll go back and read a day or two or a week, or if I'm really discouraged, a month or two. And in reading past answer to prayers, it reminds me God was faithful.

I remember how bummed out I was or how I was struggling, and then I look at that answer. And that's a powerful way. Second is sometimes there's a song, like I have a couple people that lead worship that really sensitize my heart to God. And so I'll need that intimacy with God, and I'll kind of let the room get a little bit dark, and I shut my eyes, and I sit on the floor, and I just sing along quietly with that. And it's amazing how that truth goes from my head into my heart. A third way that's been helpful is to literally get out a photo album or get it on your mobile device and look at some of those pictures and look into the eyes of if you're married, your wife, your kids, or close friends, or people from a Bible study.

And just remember there are people who really do care about you and love you, and you love them, and life matters. It changes your perspective. And then another way is that I've memorized a number of verses in the past, but sometimes when I need rekindled, I'll just review some verses that have meant a lot. You know, say them over in my mind, and then I find myself kind of praying them back to God. And these are things that bring about a focused remembrance that bring the grace of God and the reality of His presence and His power in the past into the present. And when that happens, the Spirit of God will take the reality of who He is and begin to apply it in your current circumstances, and you'll realize the God who loves you, who's slow to anger, who's abundant loving kindness is available, who's here, who's now, and will meet you right where you're at regardless of how you feel.

Great word, Chip. Well, before we go, we want to help you tune out the noise of this chaotic world and better connect with God. So let me encourage you to check out the Chip Ingram app and get plugged in with our helpful resources. Now, you can listen to our most recent series, sign up for daily discipleship, and more. We want you to grow in your walk with Jesus, and the Chip Ingram app is a great way to immerse yourself in biblical content. Well, join us next time as Chip continues our series, Pathways to Intimacy with God. Until then, I'm Dave Drouy, thanking you for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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