The Passion Principle

I am watching the passion that some believers have for a current “truckers demonstration” heading across Canada to the nation’s capital and picking up support and more trucks as they go. Currently they have raised millions to help support and encourage those driving the big rigs from all corners of the nation. Their demonstration is in regard to wanting the government to not mandate that all truckers get double vaccinated for Covid. They believe that it infringes on their personal rights.

I must admit that I am amazed at the passion and the momentum that is behind this current public demonstration of some people’s desire to not be told what they must do. As I have watched and listened, read and studied this current national movement I have to admit that it has been a long time since I have witnessed such passion about anything in the public sphere. 

I am reminded of a verse in Scripture which I want to share…

Romans 12:11 NET “Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord.”

Other versions render it slightly different…

MSG. “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.”

TPT “Be enthusiastic to serve the Lord, keeping your passion toward him boiling hot! Radiate with the glow of the Holy Spirit and let him fill you with excitement as you serve him.”

NIV “Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.”

It strikes me that some believers are more passionate about this “truckers convoy” than they are about the things of the Lord. I am seeing, hearing, and sensing more excitement, enthusiasm, and passion regarding this convey than I have seen for Jesus in a long time. It saddens my heart. My spirit weeps for the Church where we seldom witness the kind of passion being expressed for this national demonstration.

As I study the Scriptures I see The Passion Principle in a number of places and in a variety of forms. Let me briefly share my insights…

    • PASSION PURSUES. Passion is David loving God with fixed intensity as he vows to seek and pursue Him with his whole heart, obey the Word with his whole heart, and pray with his whole heart.
    • PASSION PLEDGES. Passion is David praising God with his whole heart before all other gods pledging His loyalty to God and God only (Psalm 138:1).
    • PASSION CONFRONTS. Passion is Elijah standing up to the prophets of Baal and calling down the fire of God.
    • PASSION PRODUCES. Passion is Nehemiah completing the wall of Jerusalem in a record 52 days in the face of opposition.
    • PASSION PERSISTS. Passion is Jeremiah refusing to retire from ministry, in spite of discouragement, because the fire in his bones would not let him quit.
    • PASSION PRAYS. Passion is Daniel praying, in spite of threats against his life, because prayer was the heartbeat of his life.
    • PASSION MOVES. Passion is Peter jumping out of the boat to walk to Jesus on the water, in spite of the “impossibility” of it.
    • PASSION MOTIVATES. Passion is Paul turning the zeal of his past into a fire for the cause of Christ.

I am hoping and praying that believers will, once again, become passionate about the things of the Lord and His Word, the Bible. Not just exhibiting passion for the current bandwagon and demonstration against something. Not jumping on the hottest and newest trend among believers on the internet. Or getting excited and passionate about a prophetic word that has not been tested or properly judged according to God’s standard – the Bible. Or the most current musical trend or worship team gaining everyone’s attention. For true believers “passion” should be reserved for the Lord and the Kingdom that He established that is currently continuing to expand and touch places that are in spiritual darkness and bondage.

I long for the day when the Church — Christians — will be known for what we are for and not just what we are against. When people will see our true passion for the Lord and the things of the Lord. 

Let’s Not Complicate Things

I think that we often over complicate the Christian faith. I believe in solid Bible scholarship. I believe that preaching should be biblical, theologically correct, practical and rooted in the reality that we face today. I believe that the Christian faith is challenging and profound in its own way. I believe that any teaching of the Bible should have depth and not just be one’s opinion with a verse or two to “proof text” the opinion of the speaker or writer. But I believe we have seriously over complicated the basics of the faith.

The Christian faith is about love. God’s love for us. God’s love in us. God’s love through us to others. It is not about human love often seen as kindness, generosity, and gentleness. It is not a ‘feeling’ love. We often mix up God’s love with a feeling we have when we say we love sailing or love hockey or ice cream. Love is a decision. God decided that He would love us regardless. God decided that when we come to know Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour that He would pour His love into us (Romans 5:5). And, after He has done this then we can truly love Him with a God-love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). And because His love lives within us we can love others as He would and does.  Loving our fellow Christians, loving those who don’t yet know Him. And, hold on to your hat, loving even our enemies. 

Jesus said, “By this will all people know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). All people – fellow believers, unbelievers, and those that hate and persecute us. This is loving others with the God kind of love known in the Greek language as Agapé.

And based in this love we can then accept other people just as Jesus accepted us. His acceptance of us was based in His love for us and not in something we did or didn’t do. Our performance. He simply accepted us as we were – yet knowing what we had done as well as who we could become and what we could do in His Kingdom. His is an unconditional love. Love without conditions. No-strings-attached love. And we are to then, from His love residing in us, accept others unconditionally. Regardless of their status in society, their education, their wealth or lack thereof. We accept them regardless of their history, their cultural and social background, or what they have done – the sin in their lives. Jesus came to love the sinner and so must we.

As we accept others they will come to experience the love of God through us. As they see that love and experience the acceptance they will, with the help of the Holy Spirit, draw closer to the Saviour and begin to experience His acceptance and love. This will open their hearts to the conviction of the Holy Spirit which will, in time, result in godly sorrow and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-10) which will lead them to salvation.

The third element in the basics of the simple but profound Christian faith is total forgiveness. When a person encounters forgiveness in their relationships with believers they will begin to experience, in a small yet significant way, the total and absolute forgiveness that can only be found in knowing Jesus. As they encounter forgiveness in their relationships with Christians they will come to understand that forgiveness is not only possible but available. In the world they did find forgiveness. Revenge, yes! Rejection, yes! Judgment, yes! Offences, yes! Hatred, yes! Only in relationship with believers will they taste the total and absolute forgiveness that they seek and need in life. Because we, as disciples, have experienced total forgiveness we can offer our forgiveness to others when they speak or act against us, hurt us, or reject us. A small taste of the forgiveness they will receive when they come to know Jesus personally.

This is the Christian faith – Jesus loves us unconditionally, accepts us just as we are, and forgives us totally – past, present, and future. We are called to be like Jesus and do the same in our relationships with both believers and non-believers. Love, accept, and forgive. Let’s not complicate it. The Christian faith is profound and deep but it is also simple and practical.

The LAF Principle – Love, Accept, and Forgive. 

The Pattern

In my study of the Book of Acts (of the Holy Spirit) I was struck by a specific verse the other day. Acts 7:44 states, “Our fathers had the tent of witness (tabernacle) in the wilderness, just as he who spoke to Moses directed him to make it, according to the pattern that he had seen.” There is a pattern to the birthing (planting) and building the Church that we would do well to understand and follow.
Starry night skies boast of a divine order in the universe. Planets crisscross the heavens in charted paths. They move precisely and predictably. Astronomers know exactly where was one will travel. Men can set their watches by the movement. Every visible star obeys the order God built into His creation.
God is not the author of confusion and disorder but of peace and wholeness.

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An Apostolic Fellowship

With zeal 3,000 new believers turned towards their new opportunity to live out their faith. The first Christians hungered for the apostles’ teaching, prayed with tenacity, and worshipped wholeheartedly. They were not passive or neutral about it. They “continued steadfastly” in their commitment to God and to the apostolic fellowship. They had a passionate commitment.

Luke describes the believers’ zeal with a Greek word that is fairly rare in the New Testament. The word communicates an intense, consistent dedication. It means to persist in adhering to something, to be intently engaged, or to attend constantly. A verb in the imperfect tense, it signifies continuous action: ‘They kept on continuing steadfastly” in day-to-day commitment. These believers possessed wholehearted devotion.

Luke used this powerful word several other times. The 120 disciples who gathered in the upper room “continued with one accord in prayer and supplication” (Acts 1:14). The first church members were “continuing daily with one accord in the temple” (Acts 2:46). After the congregation grew into a so-called ‘megachurch,’ the apostles declared their intention to “give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4)

As a result of Peter’s preaching, many present on the Day of Pentecost declared themselves to a whole new way of life. The Amplified Bible translates verse 42 as: “And they steadfastly persevered, devotion themselves constantly to the instruction and fellowship of the apostles.”

Believers’ lives were marked by:

      • The apostles’ doctrine
      • Fellowship
      • The breaking of bread
      • Prayers

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NOMINAL OR PHENOMENAL 

Click Here to Hear the Teaching

LOOKING AT BELIEVERS … (Their life – not their ministry) 

As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ

As a disciple of Jesus

As someone who is following the way of the Lord

You can choose to be nominal and thus insignificant in impact and a Christian “in name only”

Or – You can choose to be phenomenal – extraordinary, exceptional, unusual and out of the ordinary – having a major impact for the King and Kingdom on those around you

You choose …

The box that you have created for yourself to live in with self-imposed limitations and boundaries

OR

The adventure that God calls you to live which is without limitations because all things are possible with God (Luke 1:37)

Your choice – Nominal or Phenomenal

Here is what I know for certain:

God wants us to be phenomenal and not nominal

God desires His people to be supernatural and not to just walk in the natural

God wants believers to be extraordinary and not simply ordinary Read more

Knowing the Bible Stories

A New England teacher quizzed a group of collage-bound high school juniors and seniors on the Bible The quiz preceded a Bible as Literature class he planned to teach at what was generally considered one of the better public schools in the nation. Among the more unusual answers from these students were, “Sodom and Gomorrah were lovers,” and “Jezebel was Ahab’s donkey.”

Other students thought that the four horsemen appeared on the Acropolis; that the New Testament Gospels were written by Matthew, Mark, Luther, and John; that Eve was created from an apple; and that Jesus was baptized by Moses.

The answer that took the misinformation prize was given by a fellow who was academically in the top 5 percent of his class. The question, “What was Golgotha?” The answer, “Golgotha was the name of the giant who slew the apostle David.”

In case you think this is an isolated instance of biblical illiteracy, let me quote the finding of a recent Gallup poll:

    • 82% of the people surveyed believe that the Bible is either the literal or “inspired” Word of God.
    • More than half who responded to the survey said they read the Bible at least monthly — Yet half couldn’t name even one of the four Gospels.
    • Fewer than half knew who delivered the Sermon on the Mount.

USA Today reported a poll showing that only 11 percent of Americans read the Bible every day. More than half read it less than once a month or not at all.

The Barna Research Group conducted a survey that focused only on “born again” Christians and came up with the following statistics:

    • Only 18 percent — less than two in every ten — read the Bible every day
    • Worse of all, 23 percent — almost one in four professing Christians — say they never read the Word of God.

The Bible is available in more than 1,800 languages, and yet someone has observed that the worst dust storm in history would happen if all church members who were neglecting their Bibles dusted them off simultaneously. 

Sometimes I Don’t Enjoy Praying

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-dont-enjoy-praying/

Before I was born again prayer was non-existent in my life

Oh, I prayed the prayers along with everyone else from the book of prayers during the Sunday morning service

Prayers that 50+ years later I can still repeat by memory (head) – but not from my heart

Then I met Jesus and prayer took on whole new dynamic (November 9th, 1976)

It was a very personal and private conversation between Jesus and me 

A time for solitude and stillness when I reconnected with my own heart and the heart of the Father who loves me unconditionally

A very special – and sometimes quiet – time when I experienced God’s peace and His presence that was different than what I experienced during any other time  Read more

Feeling Confident In Life – Part Four

We have seen that to feel confident and appear confident in relationships and in life in general we need to:

1> Establish your worth according to God’s value system.

2> Focus on God and not on our situation

A> Confidence is not the result of an absence of problems.

B> Confidence is a result of trusting God in our problems.

C> Victories yesterday give more confidence for today.

3> Develop friendships with confident people

4> Put a few wins under your belt

Another way to develop confidence is to put a few wins under your belt. Start with building on small successes and little by little you will tackle bigger and bigger challenges. 

A few successful victories under your belt gives you the impetus to keep starching your abilities. If you keep winning, you may see yourself as a no-limits person. Repeated failures produce the opposite effect. You begin to see yourself as a hopeless loser. The best way to develop rational, well-balanced confidence is to go after a few victories immediately following a failure. Don’t allow yourself the luxury of wallowing in self-pity.

A great confidence booster is a personal victory list of past successes and achievements. This is a biblical concept. There are two Bible characters who practiced this: Samson, who became a total failure, and David, who became a great success.

In Judges 16:20 we see Samson’s victory list:  “And she [Delilah] said, ‘The Philistines are upon you, Samson!’ And he awoke from his sleep and said, ‘I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the LORD had left him.”

Now let’s read David’s victory list in 1 Samuel 17:37: “And David said, ‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.’ And Saul said to David, ‘Go, and the LORD be with you!’”

There are two strong similarities between these two men. They were both chosen, ordained, and anointed by God, and they were both leaders of Israel at a time when Israel was battling agains the Philistines. But this is where it stops; Samson and David also had three distinct differences. These differences made one a winner (and confident) and the other a loser.

The first thing we notice about Samson is that he wanted to please himself. He lived life in the flesh, depending on his own strength and felt no need to rely on God, even when going into battle. He chose the road that always leads to ultimate defeat. Unlike Samson, David desired to please God. He knew that, left to his own resources, he was already defeated. So he called upon the Lord and went to battle with divine help. His weakness became God’s strength and he was assured victory.

Samson’s alienation from God not only led to his defeat, it ended his leadership. For David, however, this episode with Goliath was the beginning of his leadership. It was the incident that brought him into a position where God could greatly use him. Victory lists should give us confidence, not cockiness.

5> Quit comparing yourself with others

Another way to increase your confidence is to quit comparing yourself with others. Comparisons always leaves you found wanting. If you are better than the person you are comparing yourself to, this makes you proud — not more confident. If you are not as good as the person you are comparing yourself to then you become depressed and, again, not more confident. 

The following little story illustrates the point. A milk truck passes two cows grazing in a pasture. On the side of the truck are the words, “Pasteurized, homogenized, standardized, Vitamin A added.” Noticing this, one cow says to the other, “Makes you kind of feel inadequate, doesn’t it?” I think we have all known that feeling of inadequacy when we compare what we can offer with what someone else offers.

The Keys To Personal Growth 

I am a reader. I always have been and hopefully always will be. In a good week I digest and absorb several books that help me to grow personally as well as in my chosen profession as a preacher and teacher of God’s Word. In a tough week when things don’t go as planned I manage to read, work through, and apply the truths I discover from one book. Setting aside regular reading time has been a habit of mine since I was in high school. There is very little that can derail that decision made many decades ago. Reading is, for me, one of the keys to personal growth. I read to grow and not to entertain myself. 

I remember a quote I wrote down from James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh which said: “People are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.” 

If you focus on goals, you may hit the goals — but that does not guarantee personal growth. If you focus on growth – growing as a person in all aspects of life — you will grow and then always hit your goals. Most people can see the gap between where they are and where they want to be – who they need to be. The distance between here and there is a growth gap. And we all need to work through how we are going to bridge that gap. 

Here is the one thing that is certain: To bridge that gap, to grow personally you have to be intentional. Personal growth, development, and maturity do not happen by accident. 

In my research over the years I have discovered a number of misconceptions about personal growth and development that often hold people back from being as intentional as they need to be.  Read more

Because God Loves Us

The Bible states: “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins … We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:10, 19).

We didn’t love God, but He loved us. We didn’t deserve this gift of love. In fact, we proved by our actions to be God’s enemies. Every gift, every blessing He offered, we threw back in His face. He offered affection; we countered with rebellion. Yet He proved the greatness of His love by continuing to lavish it on us in spite of our rebellion, even sending His Son to take the punishment for our sins.

Just as the sun is our only source of daylight, God is our only course of love. Sun rays reflect from all objects they strike, permeating the air with light and making it possible for us to see. In a similar way, God’s love enters the world and reflects off our hearts, making it possible for us to love Him and others. We have no inborn, innate capacity, no self-originating store of love to give. We can give only what we receive from Him.

When we receive God’s love, it does not merely lie inert on our hearts as a warm, fuzzy feeling. That same Son who gave His life for us also shows us a new way to live. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, He lives within us and makes it possible for us to return love to Him as He originally created us to do. Because He first loved us, we are enabled and empowered to love Him in return.  Read more