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How Do We Keep Our Passion For God Hot?

How do we make sure we keep an eternal flame burning in our hearts? Well, this was the issue for the people to whom the book of Hebrews was originally written. Jews who had become Christians were being tempted to leave Christianity and go back to their old lives and former Jewish religion.

1. Pay Attention : Don't Drift

Hebrews 2:1-3
1 We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.
2 For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment,
3 how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?

The Hebrew writer says "how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?" How does anyone miss seeing Jesus? We can blinded by a sense of self-importance, self-sufficiency and pride. We may end up not paying attention to the warning.

As life goes on as disciples, we need to pay even more attention to the word, not less! There is a strong temptation to think "I've been around. I've heard it all before!, I don't really need to delve into the Bible today - I know what it says"

Drifting is very gradual. The danger with drifting is that you often don't realize you are drifting until it is too late.

2. Fires Need Stoking: The Power of Encouragement

Hebrews 3:12-13
12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.
13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

To keep a fire going we have to stoke it. Feeding the fire on a winter's night at home, shovelling coal into the firebox in a speeding steam engine, huge coal pulverisers blasting an explosive dose of coal particles into the power station boilers that power our cities. All fires need fuel. And the fires in our hearts need stoking too! We are people powered by Encouragement!

Do we really understand the power we have in encouraging others?

We need to understand that God's plan is for us to build a refuge of encouragement. The world, work-places, schools, universities, other people do a good enough job of discouraging us. The times we are in contact with other disciples are opportunities to reverse the process.

The Bible sets no maximum on the amount we can encourage others. "Encourage? as long as it is called Today" You cannot overdo this. No-one has ever over-encouraged!.

- Practical 1: Decide to call someone this week, just to be an encouragement!.

- Practical 2: Don't miss church. {Heb 10:25} 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.

- Practical 3: Don't forget to encourage those that are going well! We all know that even when fires are burning brightly, they still need stoking. The speeding steam-train needs its regular shovelful of coal to keep it going the same way.

3. Extinguished Emotions

Hebrews 5:7-9
7 During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.
8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered
9 and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Lessons from Jesus here on how to handle trials. We read here of Jesus facing the most intense challenge of his life connecting with God at an emotional level - "loud cries and tears". Jesus did not hold back from expressing his deep feelings to God about the situation.

Expressing our deepest desires to God. What do You really want? Do you have deep desires about anything? We need to get in touch with our emotions. How do we really feel about God? Do we passionately love him, or are we totally ticked off with him, or are we just "numb". Are your emotions extinguished? We need to learn to "connect" with God emotionally if we are going to make it for the long haul.

Jesus was heard because of his reverent submission. But hang on! Jesus' most intense prayer recorded in the NT is surely the prayer of Gethsemene, and even after praying about it Jesus still went to the cross. So what does the Bible mean when it says God heard Jesus? God didn't take away Jesus' looming suffering. How can you say God heard Jesus' prayers? The outcome didn't change! Well, no, but Jesus' heart did. His anguish became acceptance and resolve, his actions were obedience, and the result although agony and death for him, brought salvation and victory for us!

Also impressive is Jesus' attitude of reverent submission. If we are facing trials do we have an attitude of reverent submission? Or is it more one of irreverent rebellion? If we get angry with God, or discouraged, or develop a martyr's complex we are not being reverently submissive.

Jesus had a right view of God. Although he was a son, he learned obedience. There is an old saying: familiarity breeds contempt. Jesus was a son, and therefore had the closest relationship with God. How many sons today after twenty years treat their fathers with contempt instead of respect? How many fathers today fail in teaching their children to be obedient? Jesus didn't abuse his close relationship with God for granted. He learned obedience. Jesus learned the hard lesson of the value of simply being obedient to God even when it hurts personally.

4. Fired up not Fizzled out

Hebrews 10:32-39
32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.
33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated.
34 You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions.
35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
37 For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay.
38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him."
39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

We live in a throwaway society: We are used to throwing things away: packaging, junk mail, disposable nappies and disposable razors. We are advanced at this! We have separate bins now for plastic, paper, food and glass! It's convenient, it is wonderful. We like to throw things away.

But don't throw away your confidence. But I don't feel very confident about my relationship with God! Remember the earlier days (v32)you stood your ground, you've been insulted for God, you had the joy, you knew you had the better and lasting (the eternal!) possessions. The confidence is based not on how you may be feeling at the moment, but on God and his faithfulness. We need to persevere.

"{38} But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." {39} But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.

"Shrinking back" : Perhaps like an army in ancient times. The worst routs happened when the army lost their courage, turned tail and ran. Then the slaughter was great. God wants us to not slacken our course, but pull the sail tighter into the wind. Live by faith - allow God to fill our sails with his power.

- Pay Attention : Don't drift, pay closer attention
- Fires need Stoking : Shovel on the encouragement!
- Extinguished Emotions : Don't quench your passions. Connect with God emotionally.
- Fired up, not Fizzled out : Persevere. Live by Faith, Let God fill your sails!