Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Burn Like a Fire

Romans 12:9-13
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. 10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. 11 Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. 12 Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. 13 When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Introduction
            The key verse for this blog is verse 11 - "Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically."
            Have you ever tried to describe people as an object or image?  It can tell you a lot about what you think about their personality.  For instance, if I were to describe Sherry Dickson, I would say she is like a refreshing spring.  She’s caring, calm, quiet, peaceful--just like a refreshing spring.  Sallie Thomas is like a playful puppy.  She’s playful, fun, and gregarious.  
            I describe myself like a lump of coal.  I am pretty boring on the surface and can even seem cold.  But if you can ever get me to catch fire, I burn hot and for a long time.  I'm like that Rolling Stones song:  “If you start me up!  If you start me, up I’ll never stop!”
            And what gets me started?  What lights my fire?  What gets me burning is my passion for the Lord’s Church.  There’s a fire in my bones!  It burns hot within me.  If I try to sit idle, if I try to stay silent, I can’t.  My passion for the Lord bubbles up within me and burst forth like billowing steam from a locomotive.  It propels me to be active and serve the Lord. 
            No matter the obstacle—whether it be climbing a mountain of difficulty or a tunneling through the fear of uncertainty or crossing a bridge over raging adversity—this holy train is gonna keep on chuggin’!  The hardest part for me is looking out the windows and seeing all the people standing idle by as I pass them.  And I want to cry out, “Get on board!  Little children, get on board!  Little children, there’s room for many a more!”
            And so my prayer has been since before I became a minister—in truth, I believe it’s the largest part of my purpose in life and why God called me to be a minister—is my burning desire to see everyone get on board the heavenly train that’s bound for Glory!
            I wrote this in my payer journal.  It’s an entry from July 12, 1999: 
“Father, I want Your people across the whole world to be revitalized.  I want to see lost souls saved and I want to see saved souls filled with holy passion.  Lord come, make us more like Jesus.  I want You to be so close to us that our bodies tremble ans shake.  I want You to be so near that we can see, hear, smell, and taste You.  I want the world to be dumbfounded by Your awesome presence.  No more skepticism.  Nor more dismissal.  No more doubt.  I want everone to see You are real and You are Lord and You are awesome.  Lord, pour out Your Spirit on Your people.  Amen.”
            You see, this was my prayer 17 years ago and it’s been my heart’s desire and prayer ever since then.  I want whole hearts broken and I want broken hearts made whole again.

Whole Hearts Broken
            In America, we are complacent.  We are satisfied, content, and unconcerned.  But we are satisfied and content with the wrong things—worldly things—and we are unconcerned that our complacency and love of the world is sending us barreling down the tracks to destruction.  Our society is eroding.  Our families are weakening.  People are abandoning the church in favor of worldly pursuits.  Our culture has even gone so far as to abandon common sense and redefined the natural order of gender—something that is so basic, so common sense, even animals understand it.  And yet, now it is widely accepted that a man can marry a man or a woman can marry a woman.  Who knows what absurd combinations the depraved human mind in America will be coming up with in the years ahead!
            And we—most of us—are just fine with that.  Let us make our money.  Let us have peace.  Let us continue to feel good about ourselves and our lavish lifestyles and our leisure pursuits.  Don't make us feel uncomfortable about sin.  Don’t trouble us with stories about misfortune and injustice in other countries.  Don’t worry us with concerns about suffering in our own neighborhoods.  Let us go on without any guilt about how our complacency actually makes us responsible for the destruction of our nation.
            And I say, “No!  I will not let you off the hook!  I will not let you go on wearing your blinders so you can’t see your disinterest is leading you to destruction while you drag others with you."  My prayer is that God would turn your world upside down until you see the way you are living and thinking and acting are all wrong—that you’ve put your hope in the wrong things and your passion in life has been misplaced.  My prayer is that God will break your heart.  I pray God will torment you until you surrender it all to Him and let Him fill you with His holy passion—so that your heart becomes like Jesus’, so you will hurt for the hurting and be broken-hearted for the lost, and you will feel a fire in your bones that compels you to give your all for the Kingdom of God!”  I want to see whole hearts broken!  Do you understand what I mean?

Broken Hearts Made Whole
            I don’t mean that I want our world to be full of broken-hearted people.  The truth is, our world is already full of broken hearted people—half of them don’t even realize they are broken.  I want God to make us all whole again.  If God is going to make you whole, you first have to realize you are broken.
            There are many people in our world who already know they are broken—or at least they have a good suspicion.  You don’t have to tell most addicts that they are broken.  They know.  They are bitterly aware that they’re out of control—that their addiction is killing them and hurting others.  Most addicts—whether they are addicted to drugs or alcohol—are racked with guilt over their actions and beyond frustrated that they can’t change their behavior.  And there are all kinds of addiction—addiction to things (buying, materialism), addiction to pornography, food addictions ( what I thin is the leading cause of heart disease), workaholics…  We are all addicts in one common way.  We are addicted to sin.  That’s the whole point of Christianity—to rehabilitate sinners and help us break the chain of our sinful lives.
            Others know they are broken too.  They feel the shame of their sin.  They recognize they are lost.  They know they need something, Someone to save them.  They know there must be something more to this world.  “For God has planted eternity in our hearts so that we are restless until we find rest in Him.”  And for those who are unable to drug themselves and numb the God-ache in their heart, they realize something is missing.  They are broken-hearted.
            Jesus commanded his followers, “Go, therefore, into all the world and make disciples…”  Are you a follower of Jesus?  Are you a Christian?  Then Jesus’ words are for you.  He told you to go and make disciples.  He didn’t say:  go and enjoy your family, go to the ball game, go indulge your worldly desires.  He said, “Go and make disciples…”  So why don’t you obey the Lord?  Pray that the Lord would make your heart more like his—that you would be filled with his holy passion for the least, the last, and the lost.
            Are you broken-hearted today?  Then I want you to find new hope in Christ.  Jesus is here to bind up your broken heart and make it whole again.

Conclusion
            Some of you here today have been complacent.  You’ve been drifting through life pretty content with the way things are.  But today, I’ve lit a fire in your bones.  I’ve unleashed the fire of the Holy Spirit upon you.  Maybe it’s only started as faint flicker, but that fire is gonna grow in you like it grew in me.  I’m here to tell you, it won’t go away.  It won’t leave you alone.  You may try to ignore it, but the holy fire of God is going to burn up in your bones until you can’t stand it anymore and you have to do something about it.  Whether it takes a few days or a few years, it’s gonna torment you until you give in and answer the Lord’s call on your life.  I recommend you answer it know.  Why put off the inevitable and put yourself through more and more discomfort?  Surrender.  Get your heart right with God today.
            Some here today are broken-hearted.  You’ve failed.  You’ve fallen.  You’ve sinned.  Perhaps today you realize you’ve not been following Jesus like you should.  Today, the Lord compels me to pray for you, to offer you the Lord's pardon and peace.  Jesus says, “Come to me all you who are weary and carry heaven burdens and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you.  For my burden is light and I will give you rest.”
            Would you turn to the Lord today?  Would you receive His grace and peace?  But you say, “I don’t know how!  I don’t know how!”  It’s simple.  Close your eyes.  Bow your head.  Ask Jesus to forgive you.  Ask him to take control of your life.  Give him control.  Let him lead you.  Trust Jesus.  He can make a way when there seems to be know way.  It's time to get on board with where Jesus wants to take you.