Friday, May 30, 2008

Faith … take action … never shrink back

As I was continuing my read through Hebrews I was intrigued by the following:

In verse 36 of the tenth chapter we find a correlation between doing the will of God and perseverance. In fact, this verse is essentially defining perseverance as continuing to do the will of God. Then in verse 38 we see that a righteous person is defined as one who lives by faith and doesn’t shrink back (perseveres). And in verse 39 we see that the destination of those who do shrink back is destruction. In other words, those who do not persevere by doing the will of God and living a righteous life by a sincere faith will be lost and destroyed.

Then comes chapter 11 where the writer of Hebrews gives us a clearer picture of sincere faith by describing the faith demonstrated by our forefathers who put their faith into action and did not shrink back by lacking obedience, but instead took action and did the will of God instead of their own will. Faith involves action. Faith isn’t simply thinking about the will of God, but it is DOING the will of God.

Let’s be men and women of sincere faith who take action and never shrink back. We must remember that faith isn’t a state of mind, but rather obedience to the will of God.
36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." 39But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. – Hebrews 10:36-39

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Don't just call yourself one

While reading the Apostle Peter's second letter, we are hit with the reality that people who call themselves Christian, but don’t live like it, actually do more harm than they do good; they “bring the way of truth into disrepute” (2 Peter 2:2). For instance, non-Christians are often heard saying, "Why should I believe in Christ? What about all those Christians who live a sinful lifestyle? They are really no different than anyone else." Christians who continue in a lifestyle of sin give Christianity a very bad name. According to John, these so called Christians are not truly born of God and their actions expose that fact:

No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. - 1 John 3:9-10
This is heavy stuff. We probably all know someone who falls into this category - someone who makes Christianity look bad. Lord, may this never be us. Holy Spirit, guide and direct us so that we may never bring the way of truth into disrepute. May we be those who cooperate with your grace, put our faith into action, and thus experience daily transformation. May we truly be set apart as salt and light in this world of darkness.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Show others more love

This morning I was talking with God as I was taking my short morning run. I found myself asking Him to show me how I can love Him more. I asked Him with all sincerity, “How can I show you more love.” He quickly replied, “Show others more love.” Wow, I was thinking that He might reveal another ugly sin that was in my blind spot which needed to be dealt with (there are those things and He will reveal them to me in His timing). However, on this day He directed my focus to the truth that loving others is, in fact, loving Him. Thank you Lord for reminding me of this essential truth. May I put it into action this day and may my love for others abound more and more.
34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' 37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' 40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' – Matthew 25:34-40

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Philippians chapter 4 (Audio Teaching)

Here is the audio of the final class from my 7-week series covering Paul's letter to the Philippians. This teaching was recorded on March 2, 2008 and covers chapter 4. Some of the topics covered in this teaching include; putting our faith into action, understanding contentment, what Paul really means by “doing all things through Christ”, and what “needs” God will truly meet.

Listen Here

Philippians 3:12-21 (Audio Teaching)

Here is the 6th class from my 7-week series covering Paul's letter to the Philippians. This teaching was recorded on February 24, 2008 and covers chapter 3, verses 12 through 21. The primary theme of these passages is pressing on toward the goal.

Listen Here

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Not a turn you want to make

The passages in Hebrews 6 (see below) are considered by many to be “tough”. This is because it clearly warns professing Christians of the possibility and results of turning away from God. This flies in the face of the “once saved – always saved” teaching. Whether your theology has you interpreting these passages to mean that (1) this proves one’s faith was never genuine or (2) that it demonstrates that someone once saved can lose their salvation, the bottom line is that turning from God in word or deed is disastrous and not an indication of one who will spend eternity with Christ.

Some people argue that our actions don’t matter in relation to our salvation. They say that we can’t do anything to lose our salvation. This passage is one of the many scriptures that debunk that line of thinking. Take another look at verse 8. Our actions matter. How we live matters. Our fruit matters.

Is your life producing fruit that “accompanies salvation” or is it producing “thorns and thistles?” Don’t be fooled, our actions really matter greatly. Therefore, be diligent, do not be lazy, make your hope sure, and imitate those pillars of the faith who have inherited the promise.
4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. 9Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. 10God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. - Hebrews 6:4-12

Friday, May 23, 2008

OPPOSITE WORLD: living as citizens of heaven

Here is my small group curriculum for this week.

Big Idea:
As Christians, we still live in the world, but we are not supposed to live like the world. We are called to be set apart and live in a place called “opposite world”.

If you are in Christ, you are a new creation, and your life is forever different because your purpose for living has completely changed. With your new identity also comes a new allegiance and a new citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, which we’ll call opposite world. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between this world and opposite world. The kingdom of this world lifts up the popular, beautiful, bold, proud, rich, wealthy, wild, dangerous, fun-loving, and exciting. Jesus describes the citizens of His kingdom as humble, meek, thirsty for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted. Here’s the bottom line: a citizen of God’s kingdom will put the needs of others before themselves and will find their blessings in serving the desires of the King rather than their own.

Repentance, the act of changing our thinking and our purpose for living, is essential as we make the move to opposite world and a life lived for Christ. In fact, we can’t follow Christ without repentance. We can’t turn to Him without turning from our old ways of thinking and living. This is because we can’t serve two masters. We can’t truly hold onto Christ without letting go of the world. We come to a fork in the road of life. We can’t go both directions - thus, the need for repentance. Which path will we choose: this world or opposite world? Will we continue living for ourselves or live solely for Christ?

With that said, we have to remember that we are not called to totally abandon this world, but instead we are called to be salt and light in this world. This means that we must engage this world by sharing the love of Christ and the truth of the gospel with others. We must live like Christ, treat others like Christ would treat them, and tell others about Him. Therefore, let’s live the rest of our lives as citizens of opposite world, while putting the kingdom of God into practice in this world.

Discussion Questions: (read the Scripture & discuss)

Matthew 5:1-12
How does Jesus describe a citizen of opposite world? Discuss how these character qualities should be demonstrated in our lives. How does this differ from the qualities promoted by this world?

Matthew 6:19-24
Why should we invest in God’s kingdom instead of this world? Because our allegiance can’t be divided, how do we serve God instead of this world? What are some things that we must lay down?

Matthew 5:13-16
What happens if we don’t embrace the ways of opposite world, but instead revert back to the ways of this world? Discuss real ways that we can be salt and light in today’s culture.

Taking Action: Examine your life and determine if you have a divided allegiance. Repent by correcting your thinking and submitting all areas of your life to God.

Ministry Time

Click here for PRINTER-FRIENDLY copy of the curriculum

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Embrace the gift

18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they
shall be like wool.
19 If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; 20 but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken. – Isaiah 1:18-20
Christ has provided the most incredible gift; He offers the complete forgiveness of our sins. He provides a way for us to be completely clean again - hallelujah. The 18th verse of Isaiah 1 is a beautiful description of this truth. However, continuing our reading into verses 19 and 20, we are reminded of the fact that we must accept this gift. We must cooperate with this act of Christ and not resist it in word or in deed. Willing obedience is a characteristic of one who sincerely appreciates this gift and has truly accepted it. Let’s never take for granted what Christ so freely has done for us. Let’s embrace it with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength. Let’s live as those who have been washed clean; who are white as the snow; who are like pure wool.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

All we need in Him

In Peter’s second letter he clearly states that as Christians, we have all we need in Christ to reach spiritual maturity. Because spiritual maturity begins with Christ, and is based on His powerful grace, we have no excuse for not growing in our faith. God’s provision of power and truth is available to all of us. The fault rests solely on us if we do not appropriate it.
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. – 2 Peter 1:3-4
Paul tells us in his letter to Titus that; “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” – Titus 2:11-12

God has given us all we need to say “no” to the world and to say “yes” to Him. We are without excuse. I consider this to be great news. Pour your grace out on me Lord. I want to love you more.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Disobedience = Unbelief

And who was it who rebelled against God, even though they heard his voice? Wasn’t it the people Moses led out of Egypt? And who made God angry for forty years? Wasn’t it the people who sinned, whose corpses lay in the wilderness? And to whom was God speaking when he took an oath that they would never enter his rest? Wasn’t it the people who disobeyed him? So we see that because of their unbelief they were not able to enter his rest. - Hebrews 3:16-19
These passages provide yet another clear correlation between disobedience and unbelief. In fact, unbelief is depicted as disobedience and sin. Belief and unbelief is not determined simply by our thoughts, but more clearly by our actions – how we live.

Ongoing sin and disobedience reveals a hardened heart that is turned from God. As much as someone wants to think they love God, if they are living a life characterized by disobedience and littered with sin, then they are fooling themselves.

The result of living a life of unbelief has huge eternal consequences. If we want to "enter His rest," then we had better not turn away from the living God in either thought or in deed. May we “not be found to have fallen short of it.”

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Jones Band Leads Worship

Yes we did. The Jones Band led worship again for the City of Grace Church Children's ministry (The Studio) this weekend. Here are a couple videos. We had a blast. What an incredible blessing for our whole family.

One Way & Let the Praises Ring

Friday, May 16, 2008

Singling it out

My small group curriculum for this week continues to correlate to the Extreme Home Makeover series and is geared toward the single crowd. However, it has application for everyone - single or married. Check it out.

Big Idea:
The church tends to fall into a “one size fits all” mentality and marriage is often promoted as an essential and favored experience for Christians. However, God does not call us all to marriage, but He does call us all to an undivided devotion to Him.

God has a specific purpose and plan for each of our lives and we are all expected to cooperate with Him. We are called to serve God, and our life decisions must all be based on His will. This is especially true when it comes to our marital status. For many, God’s perfect plan involves marriage and the raising of children. However, for others God’s perfect plan is best accomplished through a life of singleness. While marriage is a God-ordained institution, the Bible never insists that everyone be married. In fact, being single can actually provide increased access and ability to serve the purposes of God and His Kingdom. The Apostle Paul, for example, did not have to worry about the extra concerns that come with marriage and family. In fact, he admits that he would not have been such a useful messenger to all of us if he had been married.

Staying single so that you can serve the kingdom of God is a very noble motive. However, staying single for selfish reasons is almost always a twisted motive, because as Christians we are not called to live for ourselves, but for Christ. Our desires must be His desires. We must put aside all selfishness and vain conceit and align our lives with His will.

Remember, everyone’s priority must be to God, whether single or married. Being single gives us more time and energy to be devoted to the work of God. But, being married doesn’t give us an excuse to not be fully devoted to Him. If you are single, embrace your singleness as a gift and a unique opportunity to glorify God. Pour your life into your first-love: Jesus Christ. Stop asking, “Why am I alone”, and start asking, “God, why am I here?” God will show you and He will do things in you and through you beyond what you could ever imagine or hope for.

Discussion Questions: (read the Scripture & discuss)

Matthew 19:12
Does Jesus say that marriage is for everyone? What are some reasons people stay single?

1 Corinthians 7:7-9
How did Paul view his singleness? What is a clear indication that you should not stay single, but instead marry? Why is it better to marry in this case? How can we apply this truth of not placing ourselves in the middle of unnecessary temptation to other areas of our life?

1 Corinthians 7:32-35
Every one of us must be fully devoted to the Lord. Why might this be easier for a single person? If you are married, how can you make sure your undivided devotion is to the Lord?

Taking Action: Single or married, examine your life and see if it is fully devoted to God and His purposes. God must be #1. So, are there things in your life that need to be removed or demoted? Make a list and begin the renovation for the glory of God.

Ministry Time

Click here for PRINTER-FRIENDLY copy of the curriculum

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Get active

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. - Philemon 6
I love this correlation between actively sharing our faith and our understanding of who we are in Christ being increased. You know the old saying, "Practice makes perfect." Isn't it interested that even professionals, people at the top of their game, still practice. Why? Because, being active in what we do makes us better and allows us, even the seasoned pro, to discover new truths and techniques.

Additionally, we must then use and share with others what we have. What if Michael Jordan never actively used his gift for basketball? He would never have experienced being 5-time NBA MVP and a 6-time NBA champion. Likewise, if we do not actively share our faith, we will not experience the incredible harvest and transformation that this brings to others and to us. Let's not sell ourselves short. Let's be active in sharing our faith so that we might have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Super-sizing your desires

Delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. – Psalm 37:4
Is this passage telling us that we will get everything we always wanted when we follow God? Yes, if what we always wanted is what God wants. However, the answer is no if our desires are not His desires. You see, when we give ourselves to God and find all of our purpose and identity in Him, He will give us new desires. He will replace our selfish and misguided desires with His desires.

Everything gets renovated when we make Christ the Lord of our lives – especially the desires of our heart. So, freely surrender your own desires for God’s desires. When you do, you will realize that your desires have just been super-sized. God’s ways are not our ways. However, when we delight in Him and surrender to His will, our ways change and become His ways. Our desires become His desires. This is pretty cool stuff.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Peter debunks easy-believism

I am convinced that Peter thoroughly debunks easy-believism and slam dunk salvation in both of his letters. Take a look at these statements:

And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" – 1 Peter 4:18

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. – 2 Peter 1:10-11

If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. – 2 Peter 2:20-21

Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. - 2 Peter 3:17
These passages indicate that we must persevere; we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling; we must finish the race; we must daily die to self and live for God. Why, because Peter makes it very clear that we can fall from our salvation. We can walk away by word or by deed.

Does this mean that we need to doubt our salvation? No, but we must not take it for granted and we must daily live in a place of repentance so that we are continuing to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. We must seriously pursue God everyday so that the world will have no appeal to us.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Stop making it so difficult

Why do we make the gospel so difficult? Why are there hundreds of thousands of books designed to help us live the Christian life? Jesus made the gospel quite simple – repent for the kingdom of God is near, die to self, live for God, love the Lord God with all your heart mind soul and strength, forsake all others for Him, make disciples, and obey His commands.

Fall in love with God and only live for Him. Don’t try to fit Him into your life. Rather, completely surrender your life. The gospel seems complicated because we try to make the gospel work in our lives while still living for the cares of this world.

I heard an advertisement on the radio yesterday that featured a woman wanting help. She was searching for someone to help her get her young child to church every week because she felt it was important. She wanted someone to tell her how to make this happen. The solution given to her was to read this new Christian book that will give her the answers. I found myself shaking my head and speaking loudly at the radio, “just get in your car every week with your child and go – it’s that easy – no need to buy the book.”

Living the Christian life is not supposed to be that difficult. And it isn’t when we truly die to self, live for God, and don’t try to make His ways and will coexist with our ways and will. I understand that some believe that dying to self is hard. It was for the rich young ruler and it was for me until I was captivated by His love and stood weeping in awe of His majesty. At that point, it became a no-brainer.

Friday, May 09, 2008

You can’t hide

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:13
Do we live life as though this is true? God sees it all and we will give an account for it all. We are truly an open book before our God and King.

We can hide our sin from each other. In fact, many of us are quite good at hiding sin. I personally had a “secret” sin for almost 2 decades. I hid it from all others, except God. Several years ago, I woke up to the fact that I wasn’t pulling anything over on God and that this sin was hurting His heart and separating me from Him - I broke. I surrendered it and His grace was enough to forgive me and to give me victory. This sin was gone in two weeks and my relationship with God soared to new heights. Praise God!

We can’t fool ourselves and think that we have any secrets. There are no secret sins. God knows all, it will all be revealed, and we will give account for it all. The fact that our sin hurts the heart of God and that He sees all of our sin should drive us to true repentance. It should cause us to take up heavy arms against all sin and kill it.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Relationships take work

We are heading into a series about relationships called "Extreme Home Makeover". Here is my small group curriculum for the first part of this series.

Big Idea:
Like a house, relationships, especially the marriage relationship, must be built on a solid foundation if they are expected to stand the test of time and last. Also, like a house, relationships need maintenance, care, and at times an extreme makeover.

How do you begin to makeover a relationship? Every Christian relationship, especially Christian marriage, must be built on the solid foundation of Christ. Both people must be in love with Christ, filled with His Spirit, and submitted to His will over their own. Without this foundation, any renovation done to the relationship will eventually fail. Selfishness is a key indicator that you may be standing on a man-made foundation instead of the foundation of Christ. Where do you go after the foundation is solid? Too many people say, “I’m not the one who needs changing; let’s change you.” This is a recipe for more failure. Jesus makes it clear that the renovation project must start with ourselves when He tells us to get rid of the plank from our own eye before helping remove the speck from the other person’s eye. Are you single? This also applies to you because you must undergo your own renovation before you ever considering beginning a new relationship and taking on someone else’s baggage.

One of the best places to start your extreme home makeover is with forgiveness. In fact, without this component, the project will fail. Nothing can destroy a marriage relationship faster than unforgiveness, and unforgiveness has huge consequences both in this present life and for the life to come. We have been forgiven much and therefore we must forgive others.

Wanting something to change isn’t enough. A house doesn’t get built by itself and a relationship doesn’t just fix itself; all the planning and hoping in the world won’t do a thing unless you take action. So, roll up your sleeves and have at it. It is also recommended to check with the blueprints (the Bible) and with the foreman (the Holy Spirit) frequently as you tackle your extreme home makeover.

Discussion Questions: (read the Scripture & discuss)

Matthew 7:24-27
What does Jesus say is the foundation? What is the result of building a relationship on anything except this foundation? How does this passage demonstrate the importance of “putting it into practice”? What does it look like to build our relationships this way?

Luke 6:41-42
Where does Jesus say the renovation project must start? Why? What can we then do after we remove the plank from our own eye? Give examples of planks and specks.

Matthew 18:21-35
Why is forgiveness so important? What happens if we don’t forgive others? Share personal stories of forgiveness with the group.

Taking Action: God’s grace gives us what we need to successfully complete the makeover. But, we must take action. If you are married, discuss with your spouse these critical components of your relationship and support each other as you each submit to God, deal with your own sins, and forgive each other. Don’t wait another day to take action.

Ministry Time

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Are you a Rudolf the Red-Nosed Christian?

If, after becoming a Christian, nothing changes - then you may have a problem. If you still fit-in with the old crowd - then you may have a problem. If you are still motivated by the same desires - then you may have a problem. If sin doesn’t start disappearing from your life - then you may have a problem.

This is one of the points Peter is making at the beginning of chapter 4 in his first letter. You see, when we come to Christ in repentance, everything changes. In fact, so much change occurs that people who knew us before Christ think we have gone nuts and have become freaks. They start to laugh and call us names because we won’t join in on their reindeer (worldly) games. Christians should understand what Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer went through.

But it’s all good because Christ told us that the world hated Him and they will also hate us. We become strangers in this world when we move our citizenship to the kingdom of heaven. And like Rudolf, we have the responsibility and privilege to shine the light and lead the rest.
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you. – 1 Peter 4:4

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Ignore sin or confront it?

Don’t confront anyone about their sin. Be tolerant. Live and let live. Otherwise, you are a judgmental hypocrite. Right?
"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. – Luke 6:41-42
While we aren’t called to do “drive-bys” and simply point out others faults, we are called to help others have victory over their faults. This passage in Luke chapter 6 isn’t telling us to ignore the sins of others. Jesus is not promoting tolerance. Rather, He is instructing us to deal with our own sin so God can then effectively use us to help others be freed from their sin. Jesus is calling us to be disciples so that we can then effectively and lovingly disciple others.

James also reminds us that it is important to make others aware of their sinful ways and then to help them overcome through Jesus Christ, “remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

Let’s never tolerate sin. At the same time, let’s heed the words of Jesus and be very careful how we help others remove their specks of sin. Jesus says to start with yourself so that He can prepare, perfect, and position you to help others.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Philippians 3:1-11 (Audio Teaching)

I have been late getting my Bible teaching online. Here is the 5th class from my 7-week series covering Paul's letter to the Philippians. This teaching was recorded on February 17, 2008 and covers chapter 3, verses 1 through 11.

Listen Here

Thursday, May 01, 2008

A passion "to die for"

Here is my 6th and final small group study from the series "Go Big or Go Home", which dove into the importance of living a passionate life for God.

Big Idea:
Do you have a passion worth dying for? As Christians our passion for Christ should have already resulted in our death. That’s right; we are called to passionately die to self everyday and thus, to live for God.

Jesus had a passion to do the will of His Father. He only did what the Father sent Him to do. In His willingness to fulfill His destiny as the Savior of the world through the pain of the cross, He demonstrated that His passion wasn’t superficial, but was actually a “passion to die for”. Jesus went all the way with His passion, and we too must follow His example.

Is your passion big enough to die for? Is your passion for Christ so big that you are willing to die for Him? Have you forsaken all others including your own wants, desires, comforts, and even dreams for the sake of God’s calling, His mission, His will, and His gospel? Actually, we must have a passion to die for otherwise we cannot call ourselves followers of Christ. God gives us a choice; have a passion for “self” or have a passion to die for. If we choose "self" then we are not worthy to follow after Jesus. In fact, “Only when you have laid everything on the altar, only when the sacrifice is complete, will the Holy Spirit witness with your spirit that you have reached the ground of your heart-that you are at last utterly honest with God.”

People are choosing to die for their passion, Jesus Christ, everyday. For some it is actually physical death and martyrdom. However, for others it is putting to death pride, selfishness, and sin. Remember, we are called to a life of passion for God and we must die for our passion.

Discussion Questions: (read the scripture & discuss)

Luke 22:41-44
What was Jesus’ ultimate passion? How far did he go with it and what was the result of Jesus living out His passion? Is His passion your passion? Discuss…

Matthew 10:38-39 & Matthew 16:24-25
Taking up our cross means we must die to ourselves. What does this look like in our lives? What do these passages indicate are the results of not having a passion “to die for”?

Daniel 3:1-30
Discuss the passion of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. What are some modern equivalents? What was the result of their passion? Our passion for God matters. Discuss what you are doing to develop and keep an intense passion for God “to die for”.

Taking Action: Go big this week. Be honest with yourself and write down what you are passionate for. Now, are you willing to die for these things? If your passion is not God and if it’s not worth dying for, then cry out to God with everything in you, “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.” But, be ready because He will do it.

Ministry Time

Click here for PRINTER-FRIENDLY copy of the curriculum