THE HEART OF CHRISTMAS: HAVING A PASSIONATE HEART
What are you the most passionate about? It’s been said, “Passion is one step short of crazy!” What would your friends say you are passionate about? When people scroll your Facebook or Instagram feed, what do they find that you are the most passionate about? What does Netflix say about your passions? Everyone is passionate about something.
Think about The Grinch. He was a pretty passionate guy. He was passionate about destroying Christmas for all the Whos in Whoville. His passion was misdirected.
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23
It is a top priority to guard your heart. The condition of your heart is so important to every other part of your life.
Passion is a pure heart in motion.
Nothing great has ever been accomplished without passion. In the Gospels, Jesus gave us the priorities for our passions.
We need a Passion for God’s Presence.
You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence. Acts 2:28
In the Old Testament, the High Priest was the only person who was allowed to enter into God’s presence in a room in the temple called the Holy of Holies. This only happened once a year. It wasn’t possible for normal people to experience the presence of God. Then, Jesus made a way in a manger so that normal people like you and me could live in the presence of God!
“Because of Christ and our faith in Him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.” Ephesians 3:12
We can now come into God’s presence “BECAUSE OF CHRIST.” Now we can know God personally like He knows us. When you say, “yes,” to Jesus and place your faith in Him, then you can come fearlessly into God’s presence knowing that your past is forgiven, your present is purposeful, and your future is certain.
At first, when we realize that we have access to God, that’s pretty mind-blowing! But the danger is that after a while, we start to take God’s presence for granted in our life, and we lose that wonder. God becomes so familiar to us that He is not as important as He used to be.
Sometimes, we think, “I can be in the presence of God, and read His word to us, the Bible, anytime I want, or talk with Him anytime. And if I want to, I will.” But what happens is, God becomes no big deal to us. There’s almost too much familiarity, and we take Him for granted. It’s a big deal to live without God’s presence because our souls start to shrink.
In Luke 24, right after Jesus had risen from the dead, two followers of Jesus, one named Cleopas, were walking to the village called Emmaus, and they were missing being in Jesus’ presence, when all of the sudden, Jesus showed up to them, sort of on the down low, he didn’t let them know it was him, and as they were walking, He started explaining the Bible to them and how all of the Old Testament is actually the story of Jesus. Then when they finally realize who it is, Jesus disappears.
They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as He talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32
Their hearts were burning when they were in the presence of Jesus. You know you are in the presence of God when there is passion! Never forget that Jesus is on the road with you, walking beside you every day.
When your time in God’s presence goes up, your stress level goes down.
When God is present, you don’t have to worry about your past or your future.
We need a Passion for God’s People.
“The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Mark 12:32
God is easy to love, but people can be very hard to love. When someone hurts you, especially when they do it intentionally, it’s because they are carrying an unresolved hurt.
Pastors say, “Ministry would be great if it weren’t for all the people.” But people are what we’re all about. Have you ever said that? Life would be great if it weren’t for all the other people. My work would be great if it weren’t for those people. Say to God, “Help me be passionate about what you are passionate about.” God loves people, so we should love people too! Just like the first church was passionate about people.
“And all the believers met togetherin one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. Acts2:44-45
Their passion led them to compassion. That’s what family does for each other. And the church is a family.
And now this word to all of you: You should be like one big happy family, full of sympathy toward each other, loving one another with tender hearts and humble minds. 1 Peter 3:8 (TLB)
We need a Passion for God’s Purpose.
God made you for His purpose. The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why. There are three areas that are a part of your purpose that you can be passionate about.
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
Your life looks different than other people so they become curious and ask, “What’s different about you?” And you say, ‘Jesus.” And you can invite them to church with you. God wants everyone to be a part of His forever family.
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation. 1 Peter 2:2 (NIV)
One of God’s purposes for us is that we grow and mature. Jesus talked about the Bible, God’s Word,
There’s incredible power in a simple smile!!!
So warmly welcome each other into the church, just as Christ has warmly welcomed you; then God will be glorified. Romans 15:7 (TLB)
You bring glory to God when you welcome people into the church, just like you were welcomed in. The effectiveness of a church doesn’t have anything to do with how big we are but how much we love each other.
Ask God to search your heart and help you prioritize your passions
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. Psalm 139:23-24
Line up your passions with the heart of God, with a passion for Him, for God’s people, and people who need to know Jesus!