Summary: God wants us to love Him passionately. Watch your passion killers - cluttered lifestyle and unconfessed sin. Get fire lighters - prayer, get close to people of passion, and use your God-given gifts.

I want to talk about PASSION today - our passion for the Lord.

FM93.8 has a segment called “Passion People”, where they interview people who are successful in their own field – like art, writing, dance, business or sport.

• Passion is actually the deciding difference between successful and unsuccessful people in every field of work. The fire on the inside affects everything on the outside.

• William Ward says: “Enthusiasm and persistence can make an average person superior; indifference and lethargy can make a superior person average.”

Successful people are passionate people. They have a passion for what they do.

• Of course, success does not depend on passion alone. You can be passionately doing the wrong things. But without passion, you can hardly succeed.

• A complacent team don’t win matches. It’s a question of desire. In yesterday’s TODAY papers, the captain of Chelsea John Terry says the team lacks the hunger to succeed. They are guilty of “not wanting it as much” as their opponents.

• It is not a lack of talents or skills, or a lack of training. They lack the fire, the obsession or thirst for winning.

When Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, failed in his 5000th attempt, his response was: “I am not a failure. Rather I have successfully identified and eliminated 5000 ways that do not work, which brings me 5000 steps closer to discovering the one way that will work.” That’s passion.

Nothing great is ever accomplished without passion.

• Passion gives you a reason to get up in the morning and say, “I’m going to do something with my life today.”

• Passion is what makes a mediocre jogger into a champion runner.

Rom 12:11 “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord.”

• Serving is not enough; we need to be zealous and fervent in serving Him.

• We need to fan our passion for the Lord. We need to fan one another’s passion for the Lord. It is more than just a question of talent or skill, but desire.

• Passion has to do with our heart – the fire that burns within us and energises us to do God's will. Without this, ministry is boring, monotonous and routine. Life becomes dull.

A teacher of the Law once asked Jesus what is the most important commandment for life.

[Let’s read the passage for this morning - Mark 12:28-31]

• Jesus’ answer is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

• He said there is no commandment greater than this.

Take a closer look at this classic line. It is about PASSION for God.

• It is more than just love; it is HOW you love Him. It is not just ‘loving God’, but the passion behind your loving God.

• You can feel it in this command. It is not just “loving with your HEART”, which is what we understand - we see pictures of the heart everywhere, that’s what love is.

• But the commandment adds, with your SOUL, and your MIND and your STRENGTH. It is not OR but AND. All of them together.

And to love is not enough, you need to love with ALL of your heart, ALL of your soul, ALL of your mind, AND (not or) ALL your strength.

• As if some of us can love Him with a portion of our heart, half of our soul, a part of our mind or with partial strength.

• I think you get His point. We must love God with all of our being, without reservation.

• He is not talking about love per se but the quality of our love. It must be a passionate love, not a halfhearted one, not one that pays lip service to loving God.

In order words, God does not want you to just love Him; He wants us to love Him passionately.

• We are to be passionate about God and all that He is concerned about.

• And there is nothing more important than that. It is the most important thing in life, Jesus says.

Today we see people passionate about sport, music, fashion, chocolate, food and almost any other things.

• People who are passionate about a soccer game will shout their heads off when their team scores and cry like babies when they lose. No one thinks it’s odd.

• When we see a big man cries we kind of expected that. We understand. He is a die-hard fan. That’s call passion.

The opposite of passion is apathy or indifference. Or “lukewarm”, as the angel describes it in Revelation, to the church in Laodicea.

• It is not a state of mind; it's a state of heart.

• The love is there, but not with the same zeal or passion. This can happen in friendship, in marriage, and in our relationship with God.

• We still serve God, but no longer with excitement or enthusiasm. Someone describes this as “serving God in such a way as to not offend the devil”.

Jesus says, be passionate about God, that is the number one, most important thing in life.

• Why? Firstly, because God loves us that way. Jesus dies for you. He gives up ALL for you.

• Secondly, because loving God this way fulfills us fully. We are most happy, most satisfied, most fulfilled in life when we are passionately in love God and things of God.

Now the problem is - passion leaks. It is not something that is static or stays the same all the time. Our love is there, but our passion wanes.

• It is like fire, it can either spreads around or dies out. The tendency is if left by itself, it will go out.

• You need to work it, fan it and build it. Throw in anything combustible, pour in the fuel. Don’t let it dies off.

• It is not easy to keep our passion for God burning. You need to take care of your passion for God and fan it all the time.

Paul tells Timothy to “fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Tim 1:6)

• He is not talking about a new thing that Timothy needs, but re-igniting the one he already had!

• It’s there but you need to fan it to keep it ablaze. Guard the flame within you. Don’t let the world or devil’s wind blow it off. Protect your passion.

How can we stay passionate for the Lord? Firstly, watch the Passion Killers.

There are many passion killers; I will name the common ones:

(1) Cluttered Lifestyle – any athletic will tell you, you need to be very focused and determined, if you want to win the race.

- If you are “jack of all trades, master of none”.

- Jesus says, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt 6:24)

- MM Lee says even in the mastery of languages, no one can be equally good at two languages. One language would inevitably stands out as the stronger one, by nature of its frequent use.

- We cannot live a divided life. Prioritize. Seek God first. Some things need to drop if you really want to do something worthwhile for God.

(2) Unconfessed Sin – you cannot be passionate for God when you sinned against God. When you are feeling guilty, the fire is put out. Passion and guilt cannot co-exist at the same time.

- What do you do? Confess your sin - 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” That’s His promise. Confess means agreeing with God.

- Do it quickly! Don’t wait. Why carry the guilt around for days, weeks, or months? Don’t do that. Confess and ask God for the strength to move on.

What about the Fire Lighters? Where to catch the fire? From God.

(1) Prayer

- He is the source of motivation and passion for all that we are doing today.

- The Holy Spirit ignites that fire in us. The song says, “We run to the altar and catch the fire…” Our intimacy with God fuels the passion for His work.

- Prayer and passion goes together. Ask God to re-ignite the fire again.

- PRAYER is one area we will be focusing on next year. We want to spur one another up in prayer.

(2) Get Close to People of Passion

- The coal that is taken away from the heap of burning coals will die out. You need to stay close to the people who are on fire.

- Heb 10:24-25 “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

- We need relationships in order to grow and to glow. This is another area will are focusing on next year - RELATIONSHIPS.

How to keep your passion burning in ministry?

(3) Use Your God-Given Gift

Do you notice this? People who excel in certain fields, who are passionate in what they are doing, are people who are using their gifts (talents, skills, or love) fully.

- What comes to mind when I say Billy Graham? Evangelism, reaching the lost. James Dobson (focus on the family). Mother Teresa (care for the needy). Don Moen (music, worship, songs).

- What comes to mind when people think about you?

There is something in them that stand out, right?

• God has gifted every one of us different talents and loves. That’s where our passion lies.

• They are God-given desires, placed in us for the work of His church. So when we use these gifts, we set the fire blazing in our heart.

You will never be passionate for the things you are not gifted in. Make sense?

• Imagine you are stuck in a job that does not use your talents at all. You are going to lose your zeal very soon.

• If the job uses only 20% of your talent, that is going to give you an 80% boredom factor.

• Worse still, if you are spending all the time doing things you are not gifted in, you are going to go through a lot of stress.

If you want to be passionate for God, discover what your gifts are and use them to the fullest. You will be happy serving God.

• When you use them, not only are you fulfilling God’s plan for you, you are being fulfilled.

• When you see how God blesses the people or the ministry through you, you will want to do it again, and again, and again.

FINDING YOUR PASSION – questions to help you think through. Copy this down:

(1) If you have all the resources and help needed, what would be the one thing you want to do for God?

(2) At the end of my life, I’d love to be able to look back and know that I’d done something about ____________________________.

(3) If I were to mention your name to a group of your friends, what would they say you were really interested in or passionate about? _______________________

(4) What conversation would keep you talking late into the night?