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What Are You Passionate About?
River Road Baptist Church
January 28, 2007
What Are You Passionate About?
That’s the question we’re going to try and answer this evening.
I don’t care who you are or how smart you are,
Whether you’re young or old,
Whether you’re tall or short.
There is something within you,
Something you really care about,
A place that makes your eyes light up,
Something that gets you excited,
Something that brings a sense of fulfillment.
While I was working on this sermon, I went to the Internet to see what books were available on the topic of passion.
That brought back over 1,000,000 hits some of which you don’t want to know about.
So I tried typing “A Passion For…” and that still brought back over 22,000 hits.
Some of the titles included:
A Passion for Horses
A Passion for Parties
A Passion for Books
A Passion for Gardening
A Passion for Hunting
A Passion for Patchwork
A Passion for Coffee
A Passion for Ice Cream
A Passion for Chocolate
As I scanned the titles, I began to feel a little sad.
Even though there might have been some interesting passions scattered among them.
All of them were about temporary things.
Things people use to try and fill the boredom in their lives.
Sometimes we do that in the church.
We try and fill our calendars with activities, or we get involved in doing something more out of guilt than giftedness, and we sit and listen but don’t act.
And then I thought about something I read from a famous Baptist evangelist.
He said,
“Everywhere there is apathy.
Nobody cares whether that which is preached is true or false.
A sermon is a sermon whatever the subject; only, the shorter the better.”
Those words were written more than a hundred years ago by a man who had a great passion for serving the Lord, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
In reading that comment, he might as well have been describing the state of most evangelical churches today.
Instead of great passion there seems to be great indifference or a lack of interest and concern.
People just want to be entertained.
I’ve been reading about Spurgeon and the problems he faced.
As I was looking at various pictures, one in particular caught my interest.
It was the picture of his tomb.
It’s a simple stone vault, blended into the cemetery between a road and a large building.
Spurgeon’s and his wife’s names are engraved in stone, but there is no information on the tomb itself about who he was.
The average sightseer might miss the stone vault (there are larger, and more impressive ones all around it), or on seeing it, not realize that it is the burial place of a man who in his time was more well known and more influential than England’s Prime Minister.
He once preached to more than 23,000 people in an age before sound systems.
He began at a declining church of less than 200.
Once they outgrew their building he would preach in music halls with crowds of more than 10,000.
When they completed their new church, it held 6,000 (that included the 500 standing room only spots).
During his pastorate, he baptized 14,692, many of whom also went on to become great leaders in the Baptist faith.
As I looked at that picture of Spurgeon’s grave, I couldn’t help thinking how much the church needs men like him today.
Even in his death he didn’t want to draw attention to himself, but always he drew attention to Jesus.
Spurgeon was not afraid to stand boldly for the truth, even when it meant he stood alone.
Preaching the Word of God was his sole passion.
He believed the church’s tolerance of preaching was beginning to decline, while some ministers were experimenting with alternative approaches and abbreviated messages.
He saw in that a great danger, and his concern thrust him into a battle that ultimately led to his death.
In contrast to Spurgeon’s comment about preaching, you have the article that I read doing research a few years ago in a popular preaching magazine entitled “Wasted Time.”
A well-known preacher was venting his own loathing for long sermons.
Since January 1 was coming, he resolved to do better in the coming year.
“That means wasting less time listening to long sermons and spending more time preparing short ones.”
He wrote, “People, I’ve discovered, will forgive even bad theology as long as they get out before noon.”
– Jaime Buckingham “Wasted Time,” Charisma, December 1988.
Unfortunately, that perfectly sums up the predominant attitude behind much of modern ministry, a place where passion for the truth has ended.
Bad doctrine is tolerable; a long sermon certainly is not.
Long-windedness has become a greater sin than heresy.
Now, I don’t want to alarm you.
The reason I’m bringing this all up is not to support longer sermons, but to *discuss passion for Jesus.*
If we as a church are to continue to survive, it’s going to take people with a passion for following Jesus.
It’s going to take people with a passion for speaking His truth, and it’s going to take a people with a passion for His service.
This evening I want to take a look at a person who displays the kind of passion I’m talking about with every part of his being.
In *Philippians 1,* we see a glimpse into the passion that the Apostle Paul learned to live each and everyday with.
Now I’m not talking about passion you try to escape life with but passion that can change lives.
With that said, I think there are some things we need to discuss about passion.
** Real Passion Comes From God.
Philippians 1:3-5*
* *
            *3     I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, *
*          4     always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, *
*5            **in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until*
It doesn’t take much reading of Paul’s letters to recognize that the gospel is the singular passion of his life.
Right from the start in his prayers for the Philippian church he gives thanks with “JOY” for their fellowship in the gospel.
That passion for the gospel comes directly from God.
Its part of the goal that Jesus “laid hold” of Paul in the first place.
*“Passion”* is the God-given desire that compels you to make a difference.
*Galatians 1:12,16*     12For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but /I received it /through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
16to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles
God took the way that Paul was bent and revealed the truth to him on the Damascus road and it forever changed him into a servant with a passion for that truth.
While the gospel is the same, the way in which the message comes out in our lives is going to be unique.
For James Dobson its – what?  [Family]
For Billy Graham its – what?  [Evangelism]
For Mother Teresa it was – what?
[The Needy]
Everyone of us has a different bent that God longs to use to spread His Gospel.
Parents, I want you to listen to this verse very carefully.
*Proverbs 22:6** says, “**Train up a child in the way he should go, Even*
*when he is old he will not depart from it.*
* *
I think this is one of the overly misused verses in scripture.
The words that are translated there “the way that he should go” are translated in other places to mean the way that something is naturally bent.
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