Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg
with Tom Fuller
A Passion For Your Presence
Passion n. 1. A powerful emotion or appetite. 2. a. Ardent love. B. Strong sexual desire; lust. C. The object of such love or desire. 3. a. Boundless enthusiasm. B. The object of such enthusiasm. 4. Passion. The sufferings of Christ following the Last Supper and including the Crucifixion. [< Lat. Passus, p.p. of pati, to suffer.]
We all know what passion is, right? We see it in the movies we watch - on television there's even an entire program called Passions.
Passion is something you feel strongly. Passion is something you want badly. Passion is not an emotion for the faint hearted.
We all have passions.
Some people are passionate about their work. I know of people that boast of how many hours they work and how they are there when all the lights go out and no one is around. Some people put all of their energy and talents to their work - they love it. I know a Salem Police Officer who wouldn't think of doing anything else - he loves his work so much that he carried on in his duties even though he was suffering from Appendicitis.
Some people are passionate about money. I knew a guy who lived and breathed to make money. He had all the theories, all the strategies, all the know-how. He didn't have any money - but making it was still his passion.
Some people are passionate about their hobbies. Maybe its gardening or boating or mountain climbing or sky diving. Do you know someone who lives to play and spends every waking moment putting the last finishing touches on that boat they are building in their garage?
For some people sports is a passion - the guy who can tell you how many runners were on base in the top of the ninth inning in the 1965 World Series - not only how many but their names and batting averages.
Some people are passionate about causes. I once knew a woman, Willow, I think her name was - who was so passionate about saving some old trees along a street in Medford that she chained her self to one of them and was willing to have them cut it down over her if need be.
And some people are passionate about passion. They want to do anything that gives them a rush or a high or challenges them in a new way. It's that feeling of adrenaline flooding into your veins and getting your heart going.
Passions ignite us, passions motivate us - passions can also influence us control us, even ruin us if taken to the extreme. I know one guy whose passion was news - spot news we call it - you know the fires and police chases and car crashes. He was passionate about being there on the scene that he hooked up a police scanner in his bedroom and left it on all night every night. Needless to say that man and his wife are not married anymore.
Today I want to talk about a passion - and more than that I hope to ignite a passion in you - a passion for something many people either do not understand or do not want. A passion for God's presence.
I want to talk about three people or groups who wanted more than anything else in their life to come into the presence of God and worship Him. Yes, it influenced and controlled their lives - but perhaps it's the one kind of passion that can do that - and be the best thing we can do.
II. The Passion of David
Turn to 2 Samuel 6:12-14
Background - David is bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem after it went to the Philistines in battle some years previous.
1 - Sacrifice - David worshipped and fellowshipped with God
2 - David wore an ephod - the clothes of a priest, not a king - he was humbled
3 - David danced - he expressed his love
4 - Before the Lord - he came into God's presence
5 - With all his might - his expression was passionate
vs 19 - Out of the abundance God had given him, he gave out to others.
When ridiculed, David told his wife Michal that the beneficiary of his passion was God, not man - and that he would even humiliate himself if it meant giving more praise and more expressions of love to His God.
David was a man with a passion for God's presence. He said in:
10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
David knew something - a secret we need to know - that coming into the presence of God is better than anything else. And David had plenty of other things to occupy him - he was, after all the king - he had beautiful wives, he had land, he had power, he had unimaginable wealth - yet he'd rather be the door man for God's house than anything.
III. The Passion of Paul
Now turn to:
2 Corinthians 12:2-4
Paul was a man who was caught by God - an enemy of the church he got busted on the road to Damascus and once God got a hold on him there was no turning back.
At one point during his journey with God - the Lord took on a side trip that changed everything.
Paul was caught up to heaven and heard "inexpressible" things.
Later he made known the effect of that time spent in God's presence.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.
Paul actually had two encounters with God's presence. The first, on the road to Damascus, was a meeting of terror. Jesus called Paul up short and Paul responded by giving his life to God.
The second experience also changed Paul - it says later in 2 Corinthians 12 that God actually sent a messenger of Satan to buffet Paul's flesh so that he wouldn't boast about what he saw or heard in God's presence.
Paul knew something - a secret - that being in God's presence is better than any earthly gain or honor or wisdom - even better than life itself - and that the shadows of God we experience here in earth are nothing compared to the reality of heaven.
IV. The Passion of Isaiah
Now turn to: Isaiah 6:1-9
When Isaiah came into God's presence and saw the awesomeness of His throne he realized his weaknesses - when Isaiah saw God he saw himself.
Isaiah saw the need to deal with sin - and saw the wonderful act of atonement on his behalf. Something about that experience altered Isaiah - and when God then called for someone to speak on His behalf, Isaiah offered himself to the Lord as a messenger to His people. The experience lit a fire in Isaiah that could never be quenched.
V. The Passion In Us
For all three of these men there are common elements to their encounters with God's presence. It did three things:
David realized his position in God - as a servant and privileged to be there
Paul realized his place - where he belonged: home - in heaven
Isaiah realized his purpose - to be free from sin and proclaim God's truth
The commonalities speak to us as we cultivate a passion for God's presence.
All three were humbled, changed, charged.
So too with us, when we have a passion to come into God's presence we experience the humbleness as we see God and he sees us - we experience change as he forgives and forges a new person inside us, and then He charges us to bring his message to the world.
So how do we have a passion for God's presence?
I want to mention two ways - things you are familiar with but in a new way.
1 - Your Mouth
Ps 95:2 "Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song."
Worshipping God with your mouth is one of the best ways to enter into His presence.
There are two aspects to worship - two words, one Hebrew, one Greek.
The Hebrew word for worship means to bow - this is the idea of experiencing the awesome glory of God and seeing our own weakness.
The Greek word means to kiss the hand - the idea of a dog licking her master's hand. This is the concept of the intimacy of worship.
As we speak praise to Him and sing worship to Him we come into His presence - James 4:8 says: "Come near to God and he will come near to you."
2 - Your Trials
I know this sounds strange - but the most difficult things you go through can become the most awesome times of experiencing God's presence and cultivating a passion for His presence.
Paul said: Phil 3:10 "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."
As we suffer for and in Christ, we experience a fellowship we did not know before - if we seek to know Him better. We, like Isaiah and Paul die to ourselves but in death what has died is replaced with something so much more alive than we ever thought.
Do not be dismayed when you go through trials - instead cling to God like you've never clinged to Him before - and develop a longing for His presence like never before.
Passion: A New Definition
A powerful emotion of appetite - do you feel strongly for the Lord - get all teared up sometimes when you talk about what He means to you? Can you not wait to worship and adore Him, your appetite never satisfied?
Strong desire - There is an intimacy in God's presence that will be what giving in marriage is to us today.
Boundless enthusiasm - Do you get all excited when you think about worshiping God?
Have a passion for His presence - be like Moses who said:
Exodus 33:14 "The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." 15 Then Moses said to him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here."
Be someone who dares not move with God's presence, and can't wait to enter His courts - now in Spirit - soon in person.