We continued the "Ideal to Real" series this week at Wednesday Night Worship. We watched a Disciple Now wrap-up video which I will post tomorrow. We then went into a worship set that included: "Meet With Me" (?), "Holding Onto You" (Paul Colman), "Empty Me" (not sure who, not the Chris Sligh song though), "Good" (Chris Sligh).
This week we focused on being on fire for God. We hear it often that people want to be on fire for God, but sadly I believe that they just expect it to happen. We began with a discussion of who some of their heroes are and why. Some answers were Tim Tebow, someone mentioned their grandparents, another mentioned their tae kwon do instructor, etc. They said that these people had the personal qualities, and some athletic qualities that they would like to be like. We read Revelation 3:15-16 which is the famous verses about being lukewarm. We briefly looked at why this lukewarm example made sense to the people at Laodicea. First of all the word "spit" used here literally means to vomit. Physicians would use lukewarm water to induce vomiting when someone was sick. Also this made sense because nearby Hierapolis was known for its natural hot springs, and Colossae was known for it's cold refreshing mountain water. However Laodicea had an underwater aqueduct that brought in water and by the time it reached there it was dirty, tepid, lukewarm water that would make you want to vomit. So Jesus is saying that He would rather you be either hot or cold. It seems that we usually simply focus on not being lukewarm when we study these verses, but this time we looked at being hot or being on fire for God. How do you get there? What does it take? We looked at these three steps that I believe we must do in order to be on fire for God.
1) You Have To Want It
It makes sense doesn't it? You can say you want to be on fire for God, and even have a little bit of that desire. However you must deeply want it first in order for it to become a reality in your life. We read Hebrews 11:13-16 from the "hall of faith". These people of faith had a desire for God and for heaven even without knowing and understanding all that was in store for them. They were willing to follow God regardless of what it meant. They had a deep desire for God. I recently read a blog post where my friend Teddy's wife has been on a mission trip in Africa. You should take the time to read this post here. I read this to the students and shared that my first thoughts after reading it was "good for her, that's great that she is serving like that", but then I thought to myself "but that's just not for me". Then God got my attention as I heard Him say "Why not Nathan?". Even though God knew the answer it humbled me to think it through as I responded to Him. I am ashamed to say that the reason that wasn't me is because I didn't want it to be. If I do not have a desire to do the things that God has called me to do as a Christ-follower then how I will I ever be on fire for Him and be more like Him? We must first want it.
2) You Have To Work For It
At first you might think "we don't have to work for salvation" and you are right. We do not work for salvation or even work to earn God's love, we work because of God's love. If we want our relationship with God to grow to the next level, we have to work at it even when we do not feel like it. In Romans 12:9-18 we see a great outline of what a Christian actually looks like. Even when we do not want to, we are still called to pray fervently, love others, bless those who persecute us, etc. I brought up again those who we began the night talking about as being our heroes. How did Tim Tebow become the athlete he is? By working for it. Sometimes we say we want to be good at something, but we really are not willing to do the work it takes to become that. They say it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. If you only worked at something for an hour a day, it would take over 27 years to achieve this amount of time! It takes hard work to get to that level. This is why we must work hard at our relationship with Jesus Christ. The thing we have to realize too is that it is so worth the work we put into it, and He deserves our best! I shared that a stuntman who is going to be set on fire doesn't just get set on fire. They have to put several layers of clothing, gels, etc. to protect them and it takes a lot of work, time, and effort. This is a great example that it takes work for us to be on fire for God.
3) You Have To Maintain It
Once you are on fire for God, you have to maintain, and work to make it grow even more. How do you do this? I believe you do it by celebrating what God has done in your life. I also believe that you share with others about Jesus. When you do this, your desire for God will grow even more so.
We closed the night in prayer by evaluating where we are in our relationship with God like we have been with each message in this series. I challenged the students that if they do not have a great desire for God that they pray that He gives it to them. I challenge you to do the same thing. There are many days when we do not feel like following God and doing what it takes to have a relationship with Him. I challenge you to ask God to give you a greater desire for Him.