Day 26: Having Passion for God
Today is simply to remind you the importance of seeking God continually. This is more than a routine, or force of habit, or obligation, but instead a true desire to know Him. Without this, we are doomed to fall back into sin every time.
Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. -1 Chronicles 16:11 (NIV)
Our own strength will fail us, but by the power of Christ we are saved. What does it mean to have the power of Christ overcome obstacles where our own strength fails? It’s a constantly evolving reality that God is present in every moment of our lives. It’s recognizing in every situation that we have an opportunity to glorify Him. By relying on Him we are cultivating a relationship with Christ and realizing that He has the strength to overcome areas that we cannot.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” -Matthew 6:33 (NIV)
To seek God first means we love Him more than anything else. Often, as people who have been hurt by this world, it is easy to associate loving God with the way we see love defined by humans. It often looks like more pain, heartache, and trouble than it's worth. With God this is not the case, He loves us unconditionally. Problem is, without having ever seen unconditional love played out in the real world, we don't always recognize it. What if I told you that God had every reason to wipe each of us from existence, but instead chose to die for us that we might have right relation with Him? This is the gospel message.
SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM
What things have you sought before the kingdom in the past? I can tell you for me it was a long list. I was trapped in a lifestyle of sin, but there were many other things that I put before Him, such as work, video games, television, and media. In all of these things I made no time for God on a daily basis. As a result I entered a state of numbness towards the gospel and my role in it. There are many things we put before God that by themselves aren't bad. When they're preventing us from growing closer to Him they become major stumbling blocks. We must rid ourselves of idols if we want freedom. God refuses to share His glory with another, and He knows the things we treasure. It is not enough to simply make empty sacrifices for God; He wants people who truly love Him. God will take a broken spirit any day over life sacrifices done out of obligation:
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. -Psalm 51:16-17 (NIV)
I didn’t detest the things that I was setting before God in the past. I quite enjoyed my life and simply wanted to be rid of the guilt that sin caused. As I found out, our walk with God doesn't work that way. He rejects half-hearted sacrifices. He wants all of you, He wants all of me. This is about relationship with God. Think of the difference it would make if a man told you, "I do the dishes every night to please my wife," rather than, "I do the dishes every night because I love my wife." It's a subtle wording difference, but it reveals where the heart truly is.
God said this to Cain after he brought a sacrifice less than worthy to God. His response is the same to us when we don’t give Him all of our lives. Similarly, when we change our lives for selfish gain, even if that gain is freedom from sin struggles, we undermine the very purpose for which we ought to be seeking God. If I do more around the house because I want to be seen as a better husband, who is the focus? A partner knows the difference between self-motivated actions and those done out of love with no personal gain in mind. Is God any different? Is the motivation to give God our all an attempt to be free from sin? Freedom from sin is never about what we do or can offer to God, but what Christ has already done. We are already freed, paid for in blood, and the only thing required of us is to love God and love one another. The thought that we can or must give something to God to have salvation should be indication enough that we do not fully understand or accept what Jesus accomplished for us, thus still making us prisoners of sin. No measure of what we offer can correct that.
GROWING YOUR PASSION FOR HIM
Here are some practical steps to help you grow closer to God and become more passionate about your walk with Him:
- See Him in the Morning/Evening
Often we like to start/end our days doing things that we enjoy. It is important that we give God the most valuable moments of our time. I'm talking about times specifically spent seeking Him through His word, prayer, and worship. God wants us to seek Him even when it inconveniences us. This is illustrated in the early chapters of the Bible when Abel brings God his best and Cain brings Him what is convenient:
...Now Abel kept the flocks [of sheep and goats], but Cain cultivated the ground. And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. But Abel brought [an offering of] the [finest] firstborn of his flock and the fat portions. And the Lord had respect (regard) for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and his offering He had no respect... -Genesis 4:2-5
- Don’t be Discouraged
It’s easy to fall back into old habits. This can be discouraging and cause us to throw in the towel. Trust me, I’ve been there many many times. Don’t give up if you don’t see immediate change. Keep pressing forward!
Day 26 Application
Do you feel passion in your walk with God? Why or why not?
Why do you suppose God wants relationship with us at all? Isn't He self-sustaining? Why even bother with lowly creatures such as us?
Desire gone awry can get us into trouble. Is it possible to turn to God with those desires? Have you been in contact with your accountability partner such that you were asked tough questions about purity?
Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?