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Committing to Growth - Part 1

Turning Point / David Jeremiah
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January 20, 2021 12:24 pm

Committing to Growth - Part 1

Turning Point / David Jeremiah

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January 20, 2021 12:24 pm

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Please make your donation today at Passion burns strong in the early days of a relationship but can easily fizzle as life goes on. Has that happened with your passion for God? Today on Turning Point, Dr. David Jeremiah has just the message to rekindle that passion and ignite a desire to grow stronger in your faith through the highs and lows of life. From the life God blesses, here's David to introduce today's message, Committing to Growth. Well, thank you for joining us. We are studying the life God blesses, and today we're going to talk about a passage of Scripture that is literally my life verse. My life verse is Colossians 3, 23, and 24. In this lesson, we're going to talk about what it means to live your life with passion.

We live in a politically correct culture, but sometimes in that culture, it seems like it's inappropriate to be passionate about your faith. Sports? Yeah. Faith?

No. So, Christians live their lives on the defensive, and sometimes even passively. But God is not passive, and He does not want us to be. We're to live our lives with everything we have, let nothing behind that we wish we had done. So, today we're going to talk about that, and I can't tell you how excited I am to teach this passage. I try to do it at least once a year, both to remind myself and my listeners of how important it is that whatsoever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord.

Well, let's get to our study for today, Committing to Growth, Colossians 3, 23, and 24. I'm sure all of you have seen this accessories stores that have cropped up in recent years in all of the shopping centers of our country. In case you haven't, these stores feature beautiful prints and books and greeting cards and plaques that all have motivational sayings on them.

And I love going in these stores because they're so filled with motivation and encouragement and hope. For instance, their motto in all that they do is, our goal is simple, to help you reach yours. That's their motto. An example of their presentation is this one on excellence. It says, excellence always endures, it remains long after cost is forgotten. Over the years, the successory stores have produced thousands of these motivational products and they're on little sticky notes and cards and you'll see them everywhere.

I've actually seen them in studies and offices and hallways all over the United States. Well, not to be outdone, and as an attempt to capture the spirit of apathy in much of today's workplace, another organization has emerged kind of as a mirror of successories. And this organization is called Despair Incorporated. On their website, they promote their mottos and plaques to underscore their values.

From over 50 creations of Despair Incorporated, here are some of my favorites. Mediocracy, takes a lot less time and most people won't notice the difference until it's too late. Mistakes, it could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others. Apathy, if we don't take care of the customer, maybe they'll stop bugging us. Procrastination, hard work pays off after time, but laziness pays off now.

Dysfunction, the only consistent feature of all of your dissatisfying relationships is you. Ignorance, it's amazing how much easier it is for a team to work together when no one has any idea where they're going. And cluelessness, there are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots. Well, with tongue in cheek, these people have grabbed hold of something that I'm afraid really isn't as funny as we make it out to be. And that is a spirit of indifference and apathy that seems to run throughout our culture.

And if you listen to the sociologists and the experts, it apparently is getting worse and not better. Unfortunately, as you all know, whatever happens in the world, if we are not careful, begins to spill over into the church. And so the whole issue of commitment and passion for ministry is something that needs to be revisited often if we're going to stay on track. I was asked to review a book by Erwin Raphael McManus. Erwin McManus is the lead pastor of Mosaic, a uniquely innovative international congregation of believers in Los Angeles, California. Erwin's book is entitled Seizing Your Divine Moment, and it is one of the most motivating books I have read in a long time. About halfway through the book, there's a section that I believe adequately describes one of the major problems we're facing as Christians today. Let me quote from Seizing Your Divine Moment.

In 1887, Elisha A. Hoffman wrote a song that has become part of classic American church life. The song's name is Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and the chorus goes like this, leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms. Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms. Erwin McManus says, while I am certain that these words have brought comfort to countless millions over the years, it is at the same time an example of the direction we've been leaning for too long. The imagery that this great hymn gives us is one of leaning backward. It tells us if we lean on the everlasting arms of God, we will be safe and secure from all alarms.

The implications are obvious. If you lean back into God's protective arms, he will not let anything hurt you. I absolutely want to affirm, says McManus, that we should lean on the arms of God, yet I want to both challenge the direction of that leaning and its outcome.

When you lean on the arms of God, you may find yourself in the most alarming situations, not safe from alarm. And even more important, when you begin leaning on God, you begin leaning forward rather than backward. McManus goes on to describe a sociological study which describes how people lean. The bell-shaped graph basically tells us that 50% of the population leans forward and 50% of the population leans backward. In its more specific breakdown, it tells us that about 2% are called innovators, 13% are early adopters, 34% are described as early majority, 34% as late majority, 13% as late adopters, and 2% are described as laggards. In other words, listen carefully, about 15% of us are on the balls of our feet, ready to move forward, and 15% of us are on the backs of our heels, digging them in, not wanting to go anywhere. McManus concludes the little section in his book by saying, In my years as both a student and a professor, I have been struck by how much of our hymnology and theology has been informed by the back end of this continuum. In other words, we cater to those who have their heels dug in.

We talk about refuges and rocks and strongholds and caves and places where you can hide out so you don't have to move forward. When I started serving God, I won't tell you how many years ago, but a lot of years ago, as a young student, everybody had a life verse. I remember people standing up, and I used to think this was quite humorous. They would stand up and say, my life verse for this year is... Well, I decided I wanted to get a life verse that was for more than this year.

I wanted to get one for my life. And I remember one day as I was reading through the book of Colossians, I came across these words, and they struck me as being what my heart was saying to me, what I really wanted my life to be about. And even though these words were written about the relationship of a slave to his master, I realized that as a member of God's family, I am the slave of Jesus Christ.

And these words speak about my heart's cry. The words are Colossians chapter 3, verses 23 and 24. And I'd like for you to read them out loud with me, if you would, please.

Let's read them out loud together with authority. And whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance, for you serve the Lord Christ. I claim these verses as my very own. And I ask God to help me live like that in my life, and I surely know I haven't lived like that throughout all of these years. But they have been my goal and my standard, that whatever I do, I would do it heartily as unto the Lord.

Nothing held back, nothing left for later. Live it out a hundred percent with all of you God, and never look back with regrets. These words describe a passionate living.

They challenge us to move past our indifference and apathy, and to lay hold of an energy that is fueled by our love for God and our desire to please Him. Now this lifestyle has taken a hit in recent years. As men and women of God had settled into a more comfortable zone, I don't know if you've noticed it, we began to worry about burnout. And in the process, many of us have copped out, or perhaps even rusted out.

But we aren't living out. When was the last time you saw somebody who was really on fire for God? On fire with vision and passion and excitement for the Lord.

Perhaps in our brief time together, I can throw a few logs on the flickering embers of your life, and get it flaming up into passion again for God. Passion is Moses killing the Egyptian who was beating his fellow Hebrew, and striking the rock twice when God told him to speak to it. And it's Moses later on, caring so much for his people, that he asked to have his own name blotted out of God's book, if God will not forgive the Israelites. Passion is David killing the lion and the bear with his own hands, and the giant Goliath with a slingshot. And it's David loving God with that same intensity, and writing about it in the Psalms, as he vows to seek God with his whole heart, and to obey the word with his whole heart, and to pray with his whole heart.

And in Psalm 138 verse 1, he actually makes this pledge, I will praise you with my whole heart, before the gods I will sing praises to you. Passion is King Hezekiah of the Old Testament, about whom the scripture says in 2 Chronicles 31, 21, and in every work that he began in the service of the house of God, he did it with all of his heart, and he prospered. He did it with all of his heart. Passion is Elijah boldly confronting the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, and calling down the fire of God upon his sacrifice. Passion is Nehemiah completing the wall project in a record 52 days, even though there was opposition being pointed at him from all sides of the project. Passion is the prophet Jeremiah, trying to retire from the ministry, because nobody was listening to him preach. And he was discouraged and wanted to give up, but in his own words, it says in Jeremiah 20 verse 9, his word was in my heart like a burning fire, shut up in my bones, and I was weary of holding back, and I could not do it.

He couldn't quit. Passion is Daniel continuing to pray when the decree has been given, forbidding prayer, and it's already been signed, and Daniel is now praying, and later on it's Daniel boldly proclaiming to King Belshazzar that his kingdom is finished. Passion is Jonah going to Nineveh to conduct the greatest revival that's ever been recorded in history, after he had spent the same passion running away from God as fast as he could. Passion is James and John being so intense that Jesus called them the sons of thunder. Passion is Peter jumping out of the boat to go to Jesus on the water, and later jumping into the water to swim to Jesus on the shore. It's Peter chopping off Malchus' ear when he comes to arrest Jesus in the garden, and it's Peter opening his big mouth and suggesting that three tabernacles be built on the Mount of Transfiguration. It's Peter promising Jesus to follow him, even to his death, and later denying him three times. Whatever you want to say about Peter, he never did anything indifferently.

Even his mistakes were passionate. Passion is the apostle Paul before he met the Lord on the Damascus road. If you ever read through the book of Acts looking for it, you will see all of Paul's descriptions of the way he persecuted the church. I was reading in Acts that he created havoc among the church. Paul was a zealous persecutor of the church, but when God got a hold of his heart, that same zeal and that same passion was directed toward reaching the world, and he became the world's greatest missionary. And he also was the one who was so passionate about his love for his people that he said on one occasion, I wish that I myself could be a curse from Christ for my brethren so that they might be saved. When we talk about passion, we're talking not about a brand of perfume.

We're not talking about the steamy nature of an explicit television show or a novel. We're talking about the burning drive that God puts within our hearts to change the world. We're talking about the motivation that we feel to go about the work of God.

The world understands this in their own inadequate way. If you look around in the business world in the world of sports, you will find passion on display in almost every venue. Jack Welch, whom some of you guys in the business world know, built the GE Corporation into one of the largest and best run companies in the world in a book called Simply Jack, writes these words about passion. He says, for me, intensity covers a lot of sins. If there's one characteristic all winners share, it's that they care more than anyone else.

No detail is too small to sweat or too large to dream. Over the years, I've always looked for this characteristic in the leaders we selected. Doesn't mean loud or flamboyant. It's something that comes from deep inside. Great organizations can ignite passion. In another business book called Lessons from the Top, there is this statement, no trait is more noticeable in the leaders on our list than the passion they share for the people and their companies.

Quite simply, they love what they do. I believe real passion comes from God. I know that he hates apathy and indifference.

Did you know that? In the seven letters that were written to the Church of Revelation, the last letter, according to many, represents the church that's going to be on the earth when Jesus returns. This letter is written to a church called the Church of Laodicea. And in that letter, the Lord addresses that church in these scathing terms. Listen carefully.

Revelation 3, 15, and 16. I know your works that you are neither cold or hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm and neither cold or hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.

Whoa. Lukewarm attitudes make God sick. God says, I'd rather you be cold or hot, but don't be lukewarm. There are only three temperatures that are mentioned in the Bible for the heart.

In Luke chapter 24, you remember when the disciples were walking on the road to Emmaus and they began to understand what was going on with Jesus. They said, did not our hearts burn within us when he walked with us on the way? So there's the burning heart, that's the hot heart. And Jesus tells us in Matthew chapter 24 that in the last days, men's hearts are gonna wax cold. There's the burning heart and the cold heart. And then there's this heart Jesus talks about in Revelation, the lukewarm heart. You see, we have come to be so politically correct in what we do and so careful that we don't step over the line, that we have become in many ways like the lukewarm heart of the Laodicean church. We are so afraid of being on fire for Christ.

We do not want to be labeled as emotionless or extremists. Yet in every other area of life, we are wholehearted in what we do. We are enthusiastic about entertainment. We're enthusiastic about sports.

And we're enthusiastic about life. But much of our Christian experience is dead and cold without any zeal and without any enthusiasm. So let's get back to our verses again in Colossians and listen to what they say. And whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord and not unto men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance for you serve the Lord Christ. And then let me add this Old Testament counterpart, which is kind of like the Colossians 3 of the Old Testament found in Ecclesiastes 9, 10.

Listen to this. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you're going. So if you're gonna live life, live it with everything you have because when you die, you don't get to live in the grave. Your soul and spirit lives, but your work for God is done. As you go back through this verse, let me just remind you of what it says. Notice first of all, this verse is about passion and it begins by teaching us something about the scope of our passion. It says, whatever you do, do it heartily and whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.

That means that nothing is outside of the boundary of this particular attitude, that God has called us as his people to do everything that we do with all of our heart, everything. You say, well, I teach school. By the grace of God, do it with all your heart. Well, I work in a factory. Do it with all of your heart.

I'm a business person in a business that I don't like. Do the best you can, but do it with all your heart. There's nothing outside of the scope of this.

Whatever you do covers a vast territory of activity. It means that nothing falls outside of this instruction to the believer. God expects and intends for us to live passionately, not passively. In fact, have you ever noticed that God incorporated this magnificent truth into what Jesus said was the greatest command that had ever been given? On one occasion, some people came to Jesus and they said, teacher, what is the great command?

And in Matthew chapter 22 and verse 37, Jesus answered. He said, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Did you ever think about the fact that your relationship with God falls under the category of passion? That you should be passionately in love with God, that you should love him with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind? And so many of us, we just slip into church on Sunday, conveniently pay our little dues and go back out into the world as if God were dead.

While we claim to be Christians, we are practical atheists because we live as if God were not a part of our lives. When the great command God has given to us is this, love him with all your heart and soul and mind. Love him passionately. Every part of who we are should be touched by that.

Well, none of us ever live up to that standard perfectly, but that should be our goal. And once in a while, you discover that you have lived a day like that or a couple of hours like that, and you realize the euphoria that comes into your heart when you know what it's like to put everything you have on the table, don't have anything left that you were going to give to this thing and just do it with all your heart. And we'll see you right here tomorrow. Thank you for joining us today. I'm David Jeremiah. . For more information on Dr. Jeremiah's current series, The Life God Blesses, please visit our website, where you'll also find two free ways to help you stay connected. Our monthly magazine Turning Points and our daily email devotional. Sign up today at forward slash radio.

That's forward slash radio. And when you do, please ask for your copy of Jack Countryman's new book, God's Blessings Just for You. It features 100 inspirational readings and reflections and it's yours for a gift of any amount. And if you still haven't requested David's new daily devotional for 2021 called Strength for Today, there are still copies available. It's a great way to get a dose of biblical truth every day. Ask for your copy when you visit us at forward slash radio. I'm Gary Hoogfleet. Join us tomorrow as we continue the series, The Life God Blesses. That's here on Turning Point with Dr. David Jeremiah. . Thanks for taking time to listen to this audio on demand from Vision Christian Media. To find out more about us, go to
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-01 20:43:49 / 2024-01-01 20:53:02 / 9

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