Saturday my house will be full of family and friends. The table will be spread with all kinds of yummy goodness. The air will be filled with chatter and laughter. And then, then there will be yelling. Lots and lots of yelling. Loud yelling. The kind of yelling that sends nervous pets and small children hiding.
You see, Saturday marks the beginning of college football season. It's a big deal - especially here in the south where rivalries run deep. People are passionate about their team. In my home that means the Georgia Bulldogs and the phrase, "GOOOO Dawgs! Sic 'em! Whoof! Whoof! Whoof!"
A silly little cheer yet one that my husband and sons and many others will gladly and proudly and loudly yell at kickoff. Then for the next several hours they will be glued to the TV eagerly watching every play. Saturday's game isn't against a big rival so it should be a relatively calm day. But when the team is bigger, the stakes higher, my living room couch becomes a roller coaster ride of highs..."What an awesome play!" "He's going ALL. THE. WAY!" "Yes! Touchdown!"...to lows..."What are you doing?!" "That was a foul!" "Come on Dawgs are you just gonna hand 'em the game?!" Yep, my boys are passionate about Georgia football.
As I've watched them over the years and heard their impassioned cries for their team, I've often wondered what would happen if Christians were as passionate about God as college football fans are about their team!
What would happen if everyday we got up cheering God on with our praise? If we eagerly watched for Him throughout our day.
What would happen if on Sunday's Christians flocked to churches, filling them to capacity, then spent the next couple of hours consumed in His Word?
What would happen if Monday through Saturday we showed the world what passionate pursuit of God looks like by the way we live?
What if we did as Paul instructs us in Philippians 4:4 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16 and rejoiced always. What if we were thankful to God in all circumstances, even those sudden, unexpected, stomach stealing dips life sometimes hands us.
I imagine the world would look a lot different. If those who believe in God would show those who don't an enthusiastic, loving, authentic, joy-filled life maybe more would believe and God's Kingdom would come at last.
But life is like my couch on football Saturday's - a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, hard times and good times, sadness and happiness. How is a Christian supposed to portray passion and enthusiasm when we are on the same roller coaster ride as the world? What can we do to help others see God in us no matter what life throws at us?
Here are five p's of passion to portray Christ to the world:
1) Pray. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 Paul tells us to never stop praying. This means we pray when we're at the top of the roller coaster hill, we pray when we're in a long straight away, we pray when life dips into a steep, downward spiral and we can't tell which way is up.
Praying through all of life's circumstances keeps us grounded and helps us have the right attitude.
In Philippians 4:8 Paul exhorts us.
"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
When we fix our thoughts on these things we show the world Christ by handling the ups and downs of this ride with a strength of character that only comes from spending time with God in prayer.
God loves to hear our prayers and He encourages us as we pray.
David says of prayer in Psalm 138:5:
"As soon as I pray, You answer me; You encourage me by giving me strength."
Passionately praying through all of life's circumstances infuses us with God's strength and shows the world His mighty power.
2) Ponder. Ponder means to consider something deeply and thoroughly; meditate. (dictionary.com)
In Psalm 119: 52 David says;
"I meditate on Your age-old regulations; O Lord, they comfort me.
When we meditate on God's Word through all of life's circumstances we show the world the way to have a peace that passes human understanding.
Pondering God's Word, hiding it in our hearts, helps us think on those things listed in Philippians 4:8. It's what steadies us in the storms and keeps us stable when the roller coaster is twisting out of control.
Isaiah says in 52:7:
"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messagener who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the good news that the God of Israel reigns.
Passionately pondering God's Word when life is falling apart opens the world's eyes to see the Prince of Peace in us.
3) Praise. David is the author of most of the Psalms. The Bible tells us David was a man after God's own heart; yet the Bible is clear that he was not perfect, he sinned in big and little ways just like all of us. The consequence of one of his sins was the death of his child. Yet in that tragic event David praised God.
2 Samuel 12:20a:
"Then David got up from the ground, washed himself, put on lotions, and changed his clothes. He went to the Tabernacle and worshiped God."
David demonstrated two truths in this situation. First, he shows us how to grieve. Its okay to be sad, to cry, to not eat, to beg God to change our circumstances. Second, he shows us how to respond when God doesn't do what we've begged Him to do. Get up, wash your face, put on your makeup, get dressed, and go to church. And while you're at church, worship God in your grief.
Passionate praise of God in our grief shows the world that the One in us is greater than the one in the world who tries to steal, kill, and destroy the life Christ died to give us. (1 John 4:4; John 10:10)
David says of God in Psalm 22:3 (KJV):
"But Thou art holy, O Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."
What does it mean to inhabit something? It means to dwell or live in something. So David is telling us that God lives in our praises, He dwells in them.
Passionately praising God in all of life's circumstances brings His presence into those circumstances showing the world that He is indeed alive and working.
4) Pronounce. What exactly is a pronouncement? Dictionary.com defines pronouncement as: a formal or authoritative statement. When we are on life's roller coaster ride we need to pronounce Christ's sovereignty over our lives.
Job was a man who faced tremendous hardships in his life. He was a wealthy man, righteous before God; yet in the span of one day he lost his wealth and his family. In all of his loss, he questioned God but in the end he still declared God's sovereignty over his life:
"I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted." Job 42:2
In saying this Job was submitting his hardships and losses to God and accepting them as God's will. Even when things don't make sense and we can't understand why God allows certain things, we can trust that His will is best and lean into Him through the hardships.
Passionately pronouncing God's sovereignty over our lives no matter how unsteady and rickety the ride shows the world a faith that cannot be shaken.
Another person we can learn a powerful pronouncement for our lives from is Paul.
In 2 Corinthians he declares:
"...Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light."
We have an enemy who sometimes presents things as good when they are not. Realizing this and pronouncing him as defeated helps us overcome the temptations he sends our way. In Colossians 2:15 Paul tells us:
"And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
Passionately pronouncing Christ's victory over Satan and over the circumstances of our lives, regardless of what those circumstances are, shows the world a confidence that only comes from a life surrendered to God.
5) Proclaim. What are we to proclaim to the world on this crazy roller coaster ride? We are to proclaim Christ Jesus. We are to proclaim His life-changing, life-giving attributes. We do this by allowing Christ to live in us and through us in all of our circumstances.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
"This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun."
When His Spirit is in us and we are surrendered to Him our reactions to the sudden dips, flips, and twists of life become our witness to the world.
Passionately proclaiming Jesus as Lord and allowing His Spirit to shine through us, no matter the circumstances, shows the world the power He has to change us and all who will believe and be saved.
Yes, I often wonder what this world would look like if Christians would passionately portray Christ in the way we live, no matter our circumstances. How will you portray Christ today? What is one "p" of passion you can incorporate today to show the world around you the difference Christ can make?
"Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 2 Thessalonians 16-18
So glad you came by today. Come back next week when we crack the door a little wider on the first "p" of passion, prayer! Hope to see then!!
God bless and keep you,