Craig Groeschel - Get Your Passion Back
Well, I wanna talk today, to those of you, who might have lost a little bit of your spiritual passion. In fact, I'm guessing with the complications of this COVID season, there may be some of you that in one point in your life, you found yourself really, really close to God. You could sense His voice leading you. You could feel His presence with you. When you would read His Word, it was like God was speaking directly to you, but somewhere, somehow, along the way, you feel like you lost some of your spiritual passion. You lost some enthusiasm. Maybe you lost a little bit of spiritual intimacy somewhere along the way.
If you find yourself a little bit less enthusiastic about the things of God today, than you once were, this is a message for you. And I wanna tell you, I also understand that struggle. I'll give you a little piece of my story. Like some of you, I was pretty wild in college. Did any of you have a wild streak somewhere. Yeah, I see there're hands. You could say, I was building my testimony. That's kinda what I was doing. And along the way, my sin caught up with me, and I started searching, and seeking, and through a little Bible study, my life was radically, and indescribably transformed by the grace of Jesus. I went from wild, party guy, to bold evangelistic Jesus guy, overnight. Completely changed.
I wanted everybody to know, and so, high on spiritual enthusiasm, but low on wisdom, I just put Jesus all over, anywhere I could. I wore Jesus hats, I had cheesy Jesus, Christian t-shirts. I was a college tennis player, and so I painted a cross on the strings of my racket. So you could see my faith. I even had, believe it or not, I had a Jesus watch. Yes, some of you didn't know that a Jesus watch actually existed. I couldn't find the exact one online, but I found one that's pretty close to it. This is the Jesus watch. Not exactly, but it's pretty close.
Now I know some of you, you're confused right now, you don't know whether you should clap, whether you should laugh, whether you should be excited, or whether you should be concerned about me, and I understand, I'm not quite sure either. But I just wanted everybody to know about the One, who changed my life.
I was a business major, when I came to faith in Christ, but then I just immediately felt called to be a pastor. I never thought to change my major. So I graduated with a business degree, and I wanted to be a pastor, and nobody was hiring business majors. So I just got plugged in my church. Served anywhere, and everywhere. Any time something was available to do, I would do it. My pastor heard about me, and invited me to do the most amazing, most special thing you could ever imagine. You see, on Sunday mornings at First United Methodist Church, Downtown Oklahoma City, there were three distinct slots that the pastors on the platform would do. One, was to recite and lead the church in the Apostle's Creed. A slight step up from that, was calling for the offering. And the grand master of them all was, the Pastoral Prayer.
My pastor invited me, not to do the top two tiers, but sure enough to play in the major leagues. To help lead the church in the Apostle's Creed. My dreams had come true. I could do something pastoral. My parents drove two hours to come and to watch. I was engaged to Amy, her parents came. My fraternity brothers came, my teammates came. I was doing something pastoral, the Apostle's Creed. I believe in God the Father, the Lord Almighty, creator of, and I did it with passion and with style. My pastor ended up inviting me to be a pastor.
Three years later, somehow, the enthusiasm, and passion for my God, had waned. I was married to Amy, and we were heading to church, and she said, "What are you doing today"? And I said, "Ahhh, all I'm doing is the Apostle's Creed". And she laughed, and she said, "Do you realize, that you're complaining about the very same thing that you prayed for"? And I don't know how it happened, but somewhere along the way, I lost some spiritual enthusiasm. If you've lost some of your passion for the One who saved you, this message is for you. I call it, "Get Your Passion Back", and I'd love to pray today.
Father we ask, that for people all over the world, on YouTube, Church Online, even listening to a message post date. And God, for everyone gathered today at a physical location, we ask that your word, by the power of your spirit, would help us get our passion back. For the One who gave it all for us. We pray this in Jesus name. And everybody said... Amen, and amen.
Go ahead and type that in the chat if you want to, if you're with us today, just type in, amen. We're in a message series called, "Stay Positive". It's a great time to stay positive, isn't it? When there's so much negativity, so much bad news, as followers of Christ, we're full of faith. Today I wanna talk to you about the quality, enthusiasm. Have you noticed that there are two different types of people in the world. Two different types. The first, there are those, who let circumstances influence their enthusiasm. And the second, there are those, who use their enthusiasm to influence their circumstances. There's two types of people in the world today. Those who let what's going on around them determine their mood, their posture, their perspective. Or those who let what's going on inside of them, influence the climate around them.
The theme enthusiasm is one of my favorite positive themes. I wanna talk to you about it today. It comes from two words. Enthusiasm comes from en theos. En means in, if you've ever heard of theology, theos means God. The word enthusiasm, it literally means in God, or it means to be filled with God. True spiritual enthusiasm, isn't something you work up, it's not a product of your environment, it's a posture of your heart, and your time with God. It's born in the presence of God, by the power of God. In fact, I love what the Apostle Paul said, in 1 Corinthians 15:57 and 58, he said this, Paul said, "But thank God"! Somebody say thank God. Type it in the chat, he said, "But thank God that He gives us victory over sin and death".
I'm gonna say that again, because I kinda feel there're some people, a little more enthusiastic, that haven't yet expressed their enthusiasm. He said, "But thank God, He gives us victory over sin and death, through our Lord Jesus Christ". Because of what our God has given us he said, "My dear brother's and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work", and I love this, he said, whatever you do, "always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless". Work enthusiastically for the Lord, and whatever you do, is never ever done in vain.
Here's what I love about this thought. It's not what you do that makes it meaningful, it's who you do it for. It's not the thing that makes the action meaningful, but it's the intent of the heart of who you're serving. It's not what you do that makes it meaningful, but it's who you do it for.
For example, many of you probably turn the lights off around your house, before you go to bed. If you don't do that, helpful little tip, you can save money by turning your lights off around your house before you go to the bed. I never really liked doing that, until Amy said, she loves when I do it. So when I turn the lights off around the house, I do it with enthusiasm, and style, and flair. Flip, switch, slide, I go all over the house, and it's not what I'm doing that's meaningful, but who I'm doing it for. And when I walk back into the room, I say to Amy, "Guess what your husband has been out doing? I've bravely been attacking the elements, and turning off the lights, and I did it just for you. The lights are out".
Do you feel the enthusiasm in the room? It's not what you do, but it's who you do it for. When you're doing whatever you do, and you're doing it for the Lord, it can transform something mundane into something meaningful. The best example of this, and I would give anything if I could show you a clip of this lady. But I saw the most amazing passionate, enthusiastic woman, that perhaps I've seen in my life, working at a kiosk in an airport.
Now, on the top of my list of exciting jobs, you would not find working at a kiosk in an airport. She's selling cigarettes, and you know, pops, drinks, and gum and such. This lady, when people would walk by, she was singing, and not just singing, but angelic singing, like an angel took over her body, and she was singing at people walking by. And there was a buzz, and people were kinda, they weren't even laughing, they were like, enjoying it. And I walked by and she sang at me. And I can't sing like her, and dare not even try, but she sang something like, "Hey young man there in the black shirt", and in a very appropriate way she told me, "You looking good today". And I like, black shirt, she's talking to me. And everybody walked by, say "Have a wonderful day". She was just amazing.
And so, I just stood there and I watched it, I thought, "Can I hire her, can I interview her"? And the place was electrically charged with just this, she didn't let the boring environment in the airport, dictate her mood, but she let what was in her dictate the environment around her. And so, I just had to ask her, I said:
- Can I ask you a question?
- Ask me anything.
- No, no, no, just, can you not sing, can you just talk?
- I'm not sure.
- Tell me why you're doing this.
- Oh, people are so bored, and their traveling so hard, I wanna bring joy into their lives.
- No, no, no, I know that's kinda why, but give me the deeper why.
- You wanna know why?
- I wanna know why.
- You wanna know why?
- Tell me why!
- I think you know why.
- I think I know why too, but I wanna hear you say it, why?
- Well, He has a name".
And together we just sang it, "His name is Jesus". And then we hugged right there in the airport, total strangers. Who does that? Someone who's been transformed, who's been changed. The thanks be to God, who delivers us from sin and death. Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, for the Lord. And whatever you do will not be done in vain. En theos. In God. You can have spiritual enthusiasm. And you can loose it.
I wanna show you a person from the Old Testament. If you've been around the church, you would know David. David was a shepherd boy who became a king, he was a kid who became a king. As a king, he was filled with en theos. As a king, somewhere along the way, he lost it. If you know the story about David and Goliath. The Philistine army was at war with the Israelite army, and they would often pick a representative warrior to do battle, and declare the winner based on those two.
And the Philistines had this massive giant named Goliath. Israelites had nobody, that would stand up to this giant. And this little kid, little shepherd boy, who was bringing snacks to his brother, looked on with enthusiasm. And I want you to watch his spiritual enthusiasm and confidence in God, when he said, Scripture says, to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defiled. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I will strike down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know, there is a God in Israel".
En theos. This is not, there's no human confidence in this, this is raw, unparalleled spiritual enthusiasm born out of time with God. The question is, where did he get that? Where did his spiritual enthusiasm come from, when there was a whole army of other warriors, who didn't have what he had. Where did he get that, ongoing, inner dwelling, spiritual enthusiasm? Where do you get it if you're a lady singing at a kiosk, or a kid walking into the battle of your life?
Three thoughts about where David's enthusiasm came from. First of all, he trusted God, daily. He walked with God, daily. And he worshiped God, daily. And the key word is... Daily. He trusted God, daily. He walked with God, daily. He worshiped God, daily. He trusted Him. How could he fight a giant? Because in previous days, he trusted God when he was taking care of the sheep, and a bear would attack. And God gave him the strength to defeat the bear. And since he trusted God the day before for that battle, he could trust God in this day, for the battle ahead. He trusted Him daily. He enjoyed His presence, he walked with God daily.
He was the one who said this, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want". I lack nothing at all. "He makes me lie down in green pastures. He restores my soul. He leads me, He guides me, He comforts me, He's always with me. He guides me along the right path, even for His namesake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, because you are with me. Your rod, and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me. In the presence of my enemies, surely goodness and mercy, will follow me, all the days of my life". He trusted God daily, he walked with God daily, he worshiped God daily.
When the Ark of the Covenant came into his home town, where the presence of God dwelled, he went out, not fully, completely dressed. And went into a massive worship party, so much so that his wife was embarrassed and made fun of him. But he just couldn't contain himself. It wasn't a click on a computer screen, once a week to watch a sermon. It wasn't even a drive across town to sit in a church service, and sing some songs, and listen once a week. It was a daily, abiding, in the presence of God, that gave him this enthusiasm. He was in God.
There're two seasons in his life. One, he had it, and when he lost it. If you fast forward to a time when he was a king, there was another famous story, and the text starts off, it says, "In a time when kings go off to war". In springtime when he should have been at battle, David actually stayed at home. And when he wasn't where he was supposed to be, he climbed up onto a roof, and he saw something he wasn't supposed to see, a woman taking a shower. And when he wasn't where he was supposed to be, wasn't doing what he was supposed to do, he saw something he wasn't supposed to see, he did something he should have never done, and it cost a lot of people something they should have never, ever lost. And it all started when he stopped spending time with God daily.
I wanna show you the contrast, and I've put into bullet points just so you can see it. I wanna show you the difference. As a kid, with enthusiasm, David ran into the battle to serve his God. The later as a king, with apathy, David walked on the roof to serve his comfort. How did a man, who had so much spiritual enthusiasm, as a kid, lose it as a king? The answer is, he took his eyes off his calling, and he put it on his comfort. My question to you today is this, which one best represents you? Which one best represents you? Are you full of en theos?
Enthusiasm, for the things of God, whatever you do, it's not meaningless, because it's not about the what, it's all about the who. Or do you find yourself more spiritually comfortable? More complacent. Which one best represents you? Are you charging into spiritual battle? Knowing that the Lord your God is with you? He'll never leave you, He'll never forsake you, you've got a divine calling today, today, today, daily, every day. Or have you drifted into more spiritual complacency?
My observation, pastorally, my observation, is that most people in my opinion, have likely fallen into one of two extremes, during the Covid season. There's one very positive extreme of those who are continuing to walk with God daily, and trust God daily, and depend on His presence daily, and feed on His Word daily. And they're growing in intimacy, and they sense His calling, and they're directed by His presence, and there is a very real, very powerful, very present en theos. The enthusiasm of the Lord, and I see that in some people.
Tragically though, there is another extreme. And just based on human nature, what I know about people, is we don't drift toward discipline, we don't drift toward health, we don't drift toward good decisions, we drift toward complacency, we drift toward apathy, we drift toward self-centered attitudes. And unfortunately when people are now, sometimes disengaged from the physical presence of worship in the corporate view of the church. They may start out at Church Online for a little while, but then wane and the weather gets nicer, and people start going outside, and they start drifting, and suddenly bad habits set in, and the good disciplines go away, and rather than being filled with the presence of God, they're filled with fear, and doubt, and a loss of joy, and where'd my purpose go? And what am I supposed to do? And what once was a vibrant passionate calling from God, has been replaced by comfort. Which best represents you?
En theos, calling, purpose, passion, spiritual enthusiasm, or comfort and complacency? David had it, and then he lost it. Nathan the prophet, confronted him on his sinfulness, and after the confrontation, David realized, how he had fallen away. He cried out to God in the very powerful Psalm 51, and he said, God, "Create in me a pure heart oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me". God, "Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me". Restore to me, what do you do when you lose what you had? You refill, you rejoice, you renew, you restore, you go back to doing what you did before.
Just like Jesus told the believers in emphasis, in Revelation, 2:4 and 5, He said, here's your problem essentially this is what I hold against you, He said, "You are forsaken the love you had a first". You've walked away, you've let it go, you surrendered it. "You have forsaken the love you had at first". in other words, you didn't lose it, you left it. "You've forsaken the love you had at first". And then Jesus said, "Consider how far you've fallen".
For just a moment, you might do that. Consider how you've drifted, consider the intimacy you once had. That you walked away from. Consider the power of God that was with you, His presence that never left you. Consider how far you've fallen. And then Jesus said, very simply, just repent, change directions, change the way you think, and do the things you did at first. Do them again. What do you do? You walk with His presence, daily. You trust His goodness daily. You worship Him, daily. Not out of duty, but out of delight. The thanks be to God, who delivered me from sin, and death. Restore to me the joy of my salvation.
There are two types of people. There are those who let their circumstances, COVID-19, fear, panic, anxiety, influence their posture, their heart, their own spiritual temperature. And there are those that let their enthusiasm, born out of the very real presence of God, influence their environment, dictate the mood of those around them, build the faith of those that they're with. There's two types of people, there are those that walk with God, and grow with God, and trust God. And He empowers them with spiritual enthusiasm. And there are those, who don't just lose it, but they leave it. Which type are you? If you feel like, you've lost it. I understand.
Sometimes people ask me, "How do you keep your passion all the time"? And my answer is, "I don't". Like it's not like natural, like hey you're a pastor, ahh, and you never have a bad day, no, it's the opposite. I feel like I'm under attack even more. My faith gets under attack. My mindset gets under attack. I mean, even my mood gets under attack, and Amy said, "Amen". In a very feminine voice. So what do I do? I go back to that moment in college, and I think about where I was, and I think about who He is, and I think about what He did. But thanks be to God, who delivered me from sin and death, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
And then, I just go back and do what I did at first. I spend time with Him. I let His Word strengthen my soul. Correct my sin, and encourage me out of discouragement, and build my faith, when all I see, is fear. And I worship Him. Not for just what I see, but for who He is. And then whatever I do, even if I don't feel like it, I try to work at it enthusiastically, with all my heart. Not doing it for just some person, but doing it for my God. And that transforms something mundane, into something meaningful.
So whether you're doing the Apostle's Creed, or the pastoral prayer. Whether you're serving, and no one sees it, or worshiping and everybody knows it. Do it for God, but more importantly, do it from God. Because there's two types of people in the world. Those who let all the stuff on the outside, determine what happens on their insides. Or those who let the work of Jesus in their hearts, impact the world around them. I don't know about you, but the light that's in me, is so bright there's no darkness that can put it out. I hope that we have a church full of people, ready to let the presence of God penetrate a dark world.
So Father, today I thank you for every person who is able to gather in a physical building. That the joy of the Lord would be our strength. And God, for every person around the world, at Church Online, YouTube, wherever they gather God, may you infuse their home with your presence today, to build their faith.
As you're praying, wherever you are around the world, those who say, yeah, maybe I've lost a little bit of the enthusiasm, I've lost maybe a little bit of my passion and my faith, and I wanna get it back. If that's you today, wherever you are, will you just lift up your hand, and say yes. You can type it in the chit-chat, I want my passion back, I want my passion back, I want my passion back.
And God, I ask right now, that because you're with us, in living rooms, and kitchens, and church buildings, all over the world. That your presence would stir in us, God. Help us to do what we did at first. Not out of duty God, but out of the light. Thank you God, for setting us free from sin and death. Because of who you are God, and what you've done. May we work enthusiastically to serve you, in all that we do.
As you keep praying today, and there may be those of you that you recognize, you know, wow, I kinda wish I had spiritual passion or enthusiasm, and maybe I've like tried a little bit before. I tried to get excited about God, or maybe you don't even believe in God, but there something drawing you right now, and no matter where you are, if you say, I don't have that, but I want it. Where does it come from? Let me tell you where it doesn't come from. It does not come from you, you're ability to create it, make it, earn it. It comes from the grace of God. When you recognize and understand.
Do you ever have that feeling, that guilty feeling, like you've done something wrong, you know why you have that? Because you've done something wrong, so have I. Scripture calls it sin, and the Bible is unbelievably clear that we've all sinned, against a Holy God. That's why you feel that remorse, that guilt. That's not an accident, it's because we've fallen short of God's standard. And this is what's amazing news. You can never get back to His right standing on your own, it's impossible, you can never be Holy enough, good enough, or perfect enough. And this is why the Gospel means good news.
Our God loves you so much, that He became like you in the person of His son Jesus. Jesus the son of God, who never sinned. Died on a cross in our place to forgive our sins. God raised Him from the dead, so that anyone, and this includes you, it doesn't matter what part of the world you're in. It doesn't matter what you did last night, doesn't matter what you're doing right now at this moment, doesn't matter how guilty you feel, doesn't matter how far from God you feel, or how far away God seems. Anyone who calls on the name that is above every name, that name of Jesus, Jesus, the risen son of God, when you call on Him, God hears your prayers, and forgives your sins, and He makes you brand new.
On the other side of phones, and TVs, and computer screens, or in a physical building, those you say, "I want that, I want His forgiveness, I want His grace". He will infuse you with His love, His power, His presence, completely forgiven, as if you'd never sinned. You're not a better version of you, you're new. The old is gone, the new is common.
All of our churches, those who say yes, Jesus, I want you. On the other side of screens, Jesus I need you, today I give you my life, if that's your prayer. Lift your hands high, now, those of you online just chat, I'm giving my life to Jesus, just type it in the chat. As we have hands going up all over the place. Could we have somebody here give a little thanks to God for people saying, "Yes, Jesus, I need you, I need you, I need you". Wherever you are, at home, maybe even watching now from work, or in a church building, would you just pray this with those around you, pray.
Heavenly Father, forgive me, for all of my sins. Jesus save me. Change me, and make me new. Fill me with your spirit, so I can walk with you, and trust you, and worship you daily. My life is not my own. I give it all to you. Help me God, to do whatever I do, enthusiastically for you, because you saved me, and my life belongs to you. In Jesus name I pray.