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SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 20181104 PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM

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       Senior Pastor Phil Roland

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              Pastor Ray Scott

 

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PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD

SERMON STARTER

                     

At 18 I made a vow to God,

LORD, I've watched others come to You and tell You they will love and follow You. As their lives go on they forget the early vows made to You and make their own choices without seeking You. Then, at the end of life's journey, they come back and say, "Lord, here I am!" (Or, what's left) "Use me until it's time to go home."

          My vow to God was to love Him and Serve Him through all the stages of life. Not just at the first and the last, but everything in between. There is a reason why some of us mature followers in the faith have a lifelong passion for Christ.

          One day, a young disciple of Christ ..... desirous of wanting to become all that God has for him visited the home of an elderly Christian. He had heard that this old man ..... over all the years ..... had never lost his first love for Christ.

          The elderly man was sitting on the porch with his dog ..... taking in a beautiful sunset. The young man posed this question:

"Why is it, sir, ..... that most Christians zealously chase after God during the first year or two after their conversion, ...... but then fall into a complacent ritual of church once or twice a week ........and end up not looking any different than their neighbors ..... who are not even Christians?"

"I have heard you are not like that. I have been told that you have fervently sought after God throughout all these years.

People see something in you that they do not see in most other people. ..... What makes you different?"

          The old man smiled and replied,

"Let me tell you a story: One day I was sitting here quietly in the sun with my dog. Suddenly a large white rabbit ran across the yard right in front of us. Well, my dog jumped up, and took off after that big rabbit. He chased the rabbit over the hills with a passion.

          Soon, other dogs joined him, attracted by his barking.

 

PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD, cont. Intro, p.2

What a sight it was, ..... as the pack of dogs ran barking across the creeks, ... up the stony embankments ..... through thickets and through the thorns! Gradually, however, one by one, the other dogs dropped out of the pursuit, ......discouraged by the course ...... and frustrated by the chase.

          Only my dog continued to hotly pursue the white rabbit."

"In that story, young man, lies the answer to your question."

The young man sat in confused silence.

Finally, he said, "Sir, I do not understand.

What is the connection between the rabbit chase and the quest for God?"

"You fail to understand," ..... answered the well-seasoned old man, ..... "because you failed to ask the obvious question.

And that is .... "Why didn't the other dogs continue on the chase?"

The answer to that question is ..... they ..... had not seen the rabbit.   (Do you get it?)

For unless you see the prize, ..... the chase is just too difficult.

You will lack the passion and determination necessary ..... to continue the chase."

Have you seen Jesus?

Has He ever touched you with His Love?

Is your Passion for him engrained in your very soul?

 

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November 04, 2018 - Sheepfold Ministries

Pastor Phil Roland  <><<

 

PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Mark 12:28-34

 

"The call of Jesus into His Kingdom is the Call to Love Him with a whole heart. When you have experienced the love of Jesus, loving Him back and sharing it with others is irresistible.    Pastor Phil  <><<

 

30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12  (NKJV)

Matthew 11:12 (NIV)
12 From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.

 

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.      Matthew 6:33 (NKJV)

 

John Wesley was once asked the secret about his ministry.

He said, "I ask God to set me on fire and let people watch me burn."

 

PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD May Be Described As:

I. LOVING GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART -

30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.
          A. Where is your Heart? Matthew 6:19-21

          19 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust

               destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves

               treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where

               thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your

              heart will be also.

                    1. What do you THINK about more than God?

                    2. You may not be what you think you are,

                    3. But you are and will become what you think

          B. Is your heart with what you own?

                    1. Mammon is the god of possessions and greed

                    2. American Pickers TV show calls them, "Collectors"

                    3. Before that show we called it "Hoarding"

          C. Mammon is the mindless pursuit of riches

                    1. It doesn't make you truly happy

                    2. If your heart is filled with obsessions about possessions

PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD, cont. p.2

 

                    3. There's no room for loving or treasuring God

          D. The heart is the seat of man’s affection and will

                    1. What do you treasure?

                    2. Do you treasure a love for Him?

                    3. Not just what He gives you, but for who He is

 

PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD May Be Described As:

II. LOVING GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL -

30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.
          A. Soul = Mind-Emotion-Will - Genesis 2:7

            7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed

              into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

                    1. Soul is the seat of Thinking, Feeling, Volition

                    2. Soul is the residence of consciousness

                    3. Soul is the seat of the Mind

          B. The total recesses of your inner being - Deuteronomy 4:29

                    29 But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if

              you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.

         

PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD May Be Described As:

III. LOVING GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND

30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.
          A. Watch your Thoughts

                    1. One of the Devil's schemes is the use of fiery darts

                    2. These are thoughts that cause angry flare-ups

          B. Pull Down Strongholds in your Thought Life - 2 Cor. 10:4,5

                    4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for               pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing

              that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought

              into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

                    1. Where do Strongholds exist? (In the Mind)

                    2. Consciously pull them down

          C. Guard your thought life - Phil 4:8

            8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,

              whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is

              excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.   (NIV)

                    1. King David wrote in Psalm 119:148

                                        148 My eyes are awake through the night watches, That I may

                           meditate on Your word.

                    2. Even if he awakened in the night His guarded thoughts were               of God's Presence

 

PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD, cont. p.3

 

PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD May Be Described As:

IV. LOVING GOD WITH ALL OUR STRENGTH

30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.
          A. Maintaining a Loving Relationship with God

                    1. Easy to become angry with God

                    2. Usually over the issue of control

                    3. We serve a Sovereign Lord who gets the last word

          B. Maintaining ANY Relationship takes Forgiving Love

                    1. This takes inner strength and effort

                    2. Its easy to SAY we love GOD, but over time takes work

                    3. Love Him w/all the passion of your entire being

 

PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD May Be Described As:

IV. LOVING YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF - v.31

31 And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
          A. Loving your neighbor is a barometer for how much you love God

                    14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the

              brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.    1 John 3:14

                    1. Who is my neighbor?

                    2. Am I my brother's keeper?

          B. True disciples love one another - John 13:35

                      35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one                        another."

                    1. We who love Jesus are not "Haters"

                    2. Those who walk in darkness harbor hatred for others

          C. What about your Passion this morning?

 

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PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD

Mark 12:28-34 (NKJV)
28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, "Which is the first commandment of all?"
29 Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments is: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.
30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment.
31 And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
32 So the scribe said to Him, "Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He.
33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices."
34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, "You are not far from the kingdom of God." But after that no one dared question Him.

 

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CLOSING ILLUSTRATION

PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD

 

Proverbs 30:18-19 (NIV)
18 "There are (three) things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: 19 the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden.

 

          Last month Lois and attended a HNI conference in Berlin, Ohio. During one session we engaged in breakout groups of four. We were assigned several questions to answer in group. The question the group asked me about was. . .

1) Describe a time in your life when you felt closest to God's Presence.

          My answer took me back to when I was 32 years of age. My body was broken. My soul was in great confusion. I was vocationally burned out and had been seeking the Lord for close to two years about what to do with my life. I persuaded Lois that the week off would do us good. 

          That was an understatement.  For the years between my 26th to my 31st birthday, we never took our vacation.  I always took the pay instead and continued working.  I was frantic at times.  I was torn between the pressures of founding a small business, the needs of my wife and three children and the never-ceasing demands of my church.

               Lois and I arrived at our first vacation in six years to find a mob of noisy, hyper nine to twelve year olds.  It was scary.  I was hardened and bitter inside from vocational burn-out, and chronic back pain. 

          At that time in my life I didn’t even LIKE kids, let alone attempting to give them a spiritual, week-long church camp experience.  Two things children demand is discipline and love.  I was above average in enforcing discipline.  I was a miserable failure in giving love. I didn’t know what God’s love was all about.

Barrack Assignments

               As soon as we arrived at the camp high in the mountains, we received our barrack and bunk assignments. When the dust had settled, we realized that there was no camp director.  PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD, Intro. p 2

 

Everything else was provided for, but no one had been willing to assume that responsibility. As a young man I had a problem with my needs for acceptance and approval and my inability to say “no”.  So, I became the camp director.  This was in spite of my absolute and profound lack of understanding of the duties of a camp director.  I soon found out.

Billy the Challenger

          One particular little boy challenged me and highlighted my inability to love.  His foster-mother was a camp counselor like myself.  She brought the Latino ten-year-old for his first religious camp experience.  The boy’s parents were chronic heroin addicts.  Their love had only been for their drugs and not for a little “affection starved” boy.  The boy was removed from his parent’s home through their neglect and abuse.  That child was the most self-destructive youngster I had ever met.  He pushed.  He shoved.  He defied every rule.  He challenged every attempt at personal discipline.

          On the first day of camp, when the first group of kids were allowed to go for a swim at the local lake, little “Billy” was in the group.  Little “Billy” was told like the other kids not to throw rocks.  But Billy threw the rocks anyway.  He struck several of the children and a public bather.  The manager of the facility said that was enough and our entire camp lost our swimming privileges.

               I decided the boy was to receive some discipline.  His foster mother approached me that evening.  “If you attempt to discipline Billy, I’m taking him down from the camp and we’ll just go home!”  I told her something I have deep convictions about.  “Law without consequences is merely the giving of advice.”  What good are rules if Billy just ignores them and does as he pleases?  “How will Billy ever learn the difference between right and wrong?”  “You don’t understand.  Billy was both neglected and abused by his Heroin-addicted parents.  Your discipline could traumatize him!”

          I went to bed that night more troubled than any time during my adult life.  I knew that if I was going to help these PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD, Intro. p.3

 

youngsters I would need love.  I was so emotionally burned-out, I instinctively knew I had no love to give these children, especially little Billy. 

The Half-Empty Book

               I remember lying in bed that night and seeing a large book that represented my life.  Half the pages were empty.  I saw the other half filled with stress, long working hours, heartaches and disappointment.  My life just wasn’t working any more.  I had the right moral and physical values.  I just had no appreciation for anything any more.  I decided that if I was going to make a difference in myself with my world and with my God, that difference would have to begin now.

 

THE DANGEROUS PRAYER

               All I remember from there was challenging God.  I told Him that I hadn’t a clue as to the actual “Love of God.”  As far as I was concerned those were just pretty words, ink, paper and bindings.  In prayer I challenged Him to show me His love. I prayed, “Jesus, do you love me? and “Will you show me?”  I didn’t want to know ABOUT His love.  I wanted to experience it.  With that prayer on my lips I drifted off to sleep.

          I awakened to the sound of sobbing in the darkened room.  I felt my face.  It was covered with my own tears. Then, my mind was flooded with the memories of a very vivid dream.  In the dream a couple of Mafia-type hit men were pursuing me.  They were going to fulfill a contract that was out on my life.  I realized in panic that I was going to die.  As I fled from them I entered a junkyard and tried to hide.  In the midst of the place I found the twisted remnants of an old tower.  I began to climb the tower.  The hit men spotted me, and began climbing the tower, too.  One was on each side.  I realized that my death was moments away.

          Dreams always have an irrational element.  This dream was no exception.  Magically, my two daughters were there on a platform, halfway up the tower.  In this emotional, anxious state I hugged my 2 and 4-year old daughters and told them I was leaving and would never return.  I told them how much I loved PASSION FOR THE KINGDOM OF GOD, Intro. p.4

 

them, that they would never see their Daddy again.  I begged them never to forget me or forget my love for them. Then I awakened to the sounds of my sobbing in the darkened room.

 

THE VOICE

         It was at that moment I heard a voice.  I had heard it before.  This time it was patient and warm.  “My son, you have asked me about my love.  The SAME WAY you would feel all that love for your daughters in that dream, I feel more love than that toward Billy.”  As that realization of the power of God’s love swept over me.  I literally began to shake with the power of it.  Wave after wave of that awesome love swept over me.  I felt the heartache being swept away.  I felt the disappointment being swept away.  I felt the rage, depression and burn-out

sweep away.  I would cry out for Him to stop and God would send another wave of the love, and another, and another.

When morning came and I lowered myself from the bunk I felt different.  It was as though God had hosed me out with this gigantic fire hose.  I felt clean for the first time in many, many years.  Little Billy ran past me and I grabbed him and hugged him.  His eyes opened wide and he grinned.  I dropped him to the ground.  Oppps!  I was told I mustn’t touch him.  It might traumatize him.  He looked OK to me.  I had noticed that as I hugged him I could feel the power and presence of God as I had experienced it earlier that morning.

          We're talking about Passion for the Kingdom of God. While I didn't know it at the time, that love was what the Kingdom of God was all about.

Pastor Phil  <><<

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 John 4:19 (NKJV)
19 We love Him because He first loved us.

 

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LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH