This Friday night, I will be leading a study on accomplishing great things for the Lord during your teen and young adult years. We live in an age of extreme selfishness, where most people are trained to be successful for themselves. We teach our children that the world revolves around them and they carry that idea into their teen and young adult years. They are ready for great accomplishment and many of them are successful yet they end up being unsatisfied with their accomplishments because their motives and priorities are not correct. This generation does what it does for selfish reasons because that is they way that they have been trained. Or, others, unfortunately many more that I would like, end up being so self-centered that they become apathetic to life and end up accomplishing nothing because they are so self occupied in what makes them “happy” or brings temporal pleasures. I see this among the “gaming” crowd. They sit around all day or all night, playing virtual games, attaining temporal pleasure but really accomplishing nothing useful. The entire world revolves around them, their wants and desires. As people, God created us for greatness, under His guidance and leadership of course, yet so many young people do nothing for the Lord and very little to help their fellow man. This should not be the “norm” yet that is the status quo of the day. I really believe that this can be changed if we “train up our children” the way that God teaches us. It is not too late. God wants to use us, the older generation, to invest in the younger generations to train them in His ways so that their character and attitudes will change and they will be passionate for God and passionate for success in this world, success that will leave them satisfied instead of disappointed.
I. Passion for God must be a priority and is developed over time.
In order to be passionate for God, it is important that we get to know Him, who He is, how He acts, why He does what He does, what He has done, does, and will do for you, as well as what He wants from you and for you. This is where Bible study, prayer, and personal obedience come into play. Saint Paul explains how we can develop a passion for God, by being connected to the source, His Holy Word.
16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness ; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (II Timothy 3)
- God teaches us through the Scriptures. This is God’s method of speaking to us. This is how we learn of who He is and what He wants from us.
- God shows us where we are wrong as He speaks to us through His Word.
- God shows us how to get right after He has shown us where we are wrong.
- God trains us how to live day by day as we spend time in His Word, daily.
If you want to develop a passion for God, you must spend much time studying His Word. An awesome resource for learning how to do this is through Inductive Bible study and Precept Ministries International has many, many Bible study books that can help you learn the method and apply it to your daily Bible study time. As you study God’s Word, you will want to respond to His communication with you by communicating with Him. This happens via prayer. The more you study, the more you will pray and as the two disciplines grow in your life you will find yourself being more and more obedient to God day in and day out.
II. Anybody can have a passion for God, no matter what your past was like.
There are a lot of people who would like to know God and maybe even do great things for Him yet their past (or even present) becomes a hindrance to them. Are you like this? There is a story of a man in the New Testament, a man who was a scoundrel yet Jesus Christ entered his life and he developed a passion for God which changed his entire world. He went from swindling people to helping them. This man’s name is Zacchaeus. His story is in Like 19. He was a tax collector who defrauded his own people. He served the Roman Empire, robbing his people to make the Empire and himself richer. After meeting Jesus, his priorities changed. He went from being a selfish, greedy, swindling man to a man who was ready to use what he had to serve God by helping others. It is clear that his acquired wealth did not satisfy. His high position was not satisfying because he was doing everything for himself. Zacchaeus turned away from his evil ways and began to use his success for the good of others (and himself as well). God can use you the same way if you will allow God in your life and develop a passion for Him manifested in the fact that you serve the people around you.
III. Realize what you can accomplish if you passionate for God and being successful.
There are two passages in the book of Acts that I would like to share which show how much people can accomplish when they are passionate for God and for success. In Acts chapter 3, Peter and John healed the lame beggar outside of the temple. They shared the Gospel with him and he believed. They all three then went inside the temple and as the people gathered around the new believer, Peter and John shared the Gospel again. As a result, in chapter 4, they are arrested and taken to jail where they share the Gospel once again. They are beaten and told not to teach anyone else about salvation in Jesus Christ. Then they are released and sent home. They go on teaching about salvation in Christ and are arrested again. They are brought to trial once again and here is what the authorities tell them:
25 But someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people !” 26 Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned ). 27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. (Acts 5)
These ordinary, uneducated people were changing the entire city of Jerusalem. They were bold and courageous because they had a passion for God and were passionate about being successful in taking the message of Jesus Christ to the people around them. They do not stop with just one city. They have the world in view. Let us fast-forward a few years to Acts 17.
1 Now when they had traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women. 5 But the Jews, becoming jealous and taking along some wicked men from the market place, formed a mob and set the city in an uproar ; and attacking the house of Jason, they were seeking to bring them out to the people. 6 When they did not find them, they began dragging Jason and some brethren before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have upset the world have come here also ; 7 and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.”
By this time, the original believers in Jerusalem has spread to the corners of the Roman Empire and everywhere that they had stopped, churches were planted and cities were being transformed. The people of Thessalonica had heard about this teaching that was changing the world. In their view, it was upsetting the world because it was changing their pagan way of life of idol worshiping and living openly in grave sins. In the period of about 20 years, a small handful of people had manged to influence and entire city, even an Empire. What have you accomplished during the past 20 years? I believe that is a question that we all need to ask ourselves. Do you realize the scope of God’s plan or do you limit God’s plan in your life, being satisfied with accomplishing very little? I pray that this will be a motivating idea that lights a fire in us to be passionate about doing great things for God as He guides us.
IV. Be inspired by those who have already done great things for God.
The wheel has already been discovered and there is no need to try and reinvent it. Use it to do great things as the people before you have done. Look to their examples and be inspired. This is a Biblical concept that is laid out for us in Hebrews 12:1.
1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Who are the witnesses mentioned here? That is a great question. This is one of the principles of inductive Bible study, Scripture interprets Scripture. If you take a look one chapter back in Hebrews, 11, then you will discover who those witnesses are.
- the prophets
This group of people did great things for the Lord because they were passionate about their relationship with God and passionate about being successful in His work. Wouldn’t you like your name added to this list? If so, you must do as they did by living in a passionate relationship with God and being serious about doing great things for God, being successful in His work day in and day out. In order to live like this, you must lay aside every sin that entangles you, anything that distracts you from being successful in God’s great work, anything that keeps you from being passionate about a genuine relationship with God.
V. Practical advice
- Plan and set goals, putting them in writing. (see Habakkuk 2:2-3)
- Be aware of pitfalls (I Peter 5:8)
- Always keep the main goal in view (John 6:27)
- Keep on working until the end (Philippians 3:12-14)