Here are my teaching notes for my Bible fellowship Sunday night. I want to thank Becky Tirabassi for her wonderful books “Sacred Obsession” and “Burning Hearts Contract” that served as the inspiration for this teaching.
God has called us to the fellowship of the burning hearts in the Body of Christ and to be consumed with Him with hearts ablaze for His glory. But most Christians barely have a flicker of flame in their hearts for God as the world has snuffed out the passion, excitement and adventure of living for God above all else. The zeal for the Heavenly Father consumed Jesus Christ and His whole purpose was to do His will and pursue the holy in all things. As Becky Tirabassi so aptly said in Sacred Obsession, “What you chase after, you become whether it is holy or unholy.” She goes on to say:
“You cannot imagine how many people I meet who say they know God, but are broken and confused, hiding their true selves, addicted to substance, involved in emotional affairs, defiantly bitter with something, angry and easily able to wound with their words, abused, trapped, and desperate, obsesses with the illicit, habitual liars, too self centered to love those who need them, and consumed with chasing after the unholy. They believed the lie that the sacred is not enough. Instead of being obsessed with the sacred… Instead of loving God and others with intimacy and intention, instead of being free to dance on the inside and outside, instead of being able to laugh with pure joy and lift their hands with extreme freedom, instead of being aware of God’s presence when His blanket of comfort or power comes over them…they are numb…Can you see? We are enticed toward that which is forbidden-the illicit, the immoral, the unholy. They are determined to have a strong, strange hold on anyone who will give them attention. They almost have a voice. And as they call you to come to them, deep inside there is another voice begging you not to listen, not to pay attention…What has your affection and attention more than God? ..rival gods…Would you just for a moment, consider what or even who might be the rival god you are cherishing-the unholy passion that lures you away from the holy? There is an incredibly mysterious, powerfully insidious seduction in the pursuit of the unholy that pursues you and me endlessly…Unholy lives are inauthentic lives; they are overflowing with deception. You fear being caught so you hide the truth, you rationalize. You reserve the right to hold onto your secret. You still want the option to use, touch, feel, and relapse…to possess the unholy-but really it possesses you….If you want to possess the sacred, then calling sin ‘sin’ is nonnegotiable. This admission, this identification, is the beginning of the end of your unholy passion. If you have opened your eyes to the unholy, you will soon close your eyes to the deception involved…The unholy cannot save you; it cannot satisfy you completely; it is not your friend. It is a stealer, a killer, a destroyer. It seeks to own you. It has a nature a purpose, a passion to possess you. It cannot love you. It hates you-and hates the holy…Run from it, hate it, see it for the poison it is. There is only one way to win over the unholy, you must kill it. Remove it. Mortify it-or it will mortify you. You can stop in an instant the addiction, the lies, the double life, the guilt…come forward now; run toward the holy God…relinquish the unholy passions in your life, be free from the all-consuming hold the unholy has over your thoughts, your actions and your relationships…Chase after the sacred with the same enthusiasm, the same tenacity, the same insatiable appetite you have when you truly want something…Don’t chase after that which can never satisfy.
Romans 12:1,2 (NIV) A Living Sacrifice
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Offer-paristemi from para = beside or near + histemi = set) literally means to place or set beside or near hence to place at someone’s disposal. Paristemi includes the ideas of to yield or surrender up, or to place at the disposal of another. The implication is that every aspect of a believer’s life is to be yielded to God.
DOES GOD HAVE
ALL OF YOU?
Don’t waste your life chasing after the temporal, the unholy, and the momentary gratification but chase after God. What you chase after you become…You will always gravitate to that which you most secretly love.
Where are you when it comes to God? Are you a poser or the real thing? Why not throw yourself into God? Immerse yourself into Him. Are you tired of doing this thing called life on your own. Let Him live through you. Let Him take your heart.
Ravenhill-Prayerlessness in the life of the believer is sin. To be much for God we need to be much with God.
Tozer-Are you ready to present your body with all of its functions and all that it contains—your mind, your personality, your spirit, your love, your ambitions, your all? This is the first thing. It can be a simple act—presenting the body. Are you willing to do it?
Do you long to answer the call to a deeper passion and purity and purpose for God?
Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold. (Phillips)
And do not fashion yourselves after this world (EMTV)
Stop being molded by the external and fleeting fashions of this age
The believer’s lifelong goal and “motto”, if you will, should be…
Wuest has an enlightening expanded rendering…
And stop assuming an outward expression that does not come from within you and is not representative of what you are in your inner being but is patterned after this age; but change your outward expression to one that comes from within and is representative of your inner being, by the renewing of your mind, resulting in your putting to the test what is the will of God, the good and well-pleasing and complete will, and having found that it meets specifications, place your approval upon it.
Conformed (suschematizo from sun/syn = together with + schema = external form, appearance) means to form according to a pattern or mold, to fashion alike, to conform to the same pattern outwardly. The meaning is to form or mold one’s behavior in accordance with a particular pattern or set of standards. The preposition “sun” in this compound verb denotes a personal assimilation to or conformity with the pattern indicated.
Oswald Chambers “Satan’s great aim is to deflect us from the center. He will allow us to be devoted to the death to any cause, any enterprise, to anything but the Lord Jesus.”
I Peter 1:12-16 (ESV):Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
The phrase “It is written” should put a stop to every complaint or excuse as it conveys the full authority of God Himself. It is as if God is speaking, because He is (cp a similar phrase “saith the LORD” which occurs in over 800 verses in the NAS). Peter told his readers to “Be holy” because that is what God expects of His children.
Hebrews 12:14 (NIV) 14 Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.
Holiness for believers means loving what God loves and hating what God hates. God does not call us to pursue happiness (which ought to be spelled “happen-ness,” since it depends on what happens) but instead He calls us to pursue holiness and there are no exceptions to this call (“all your behavior” is all inclusive!).
Therefore you are to be perfect (growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity), as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Mt 5:48) Perfect is teleios (from telos = an end, a purpose, an aim, a goal) which means complete, mature, fully developed, full grown, brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness, in good working order. Teleios signifies consummate soundness, includes the idea of being whole (cp “wholly holy”). Teleios means to reach an intended end (Peter says this is “holiness”).
Success and happiness are not evil in themselves. But they’re not primary on God’s “”wish list”” for His children. One problem with pursuing success or happiness as our main ambition is that the pursuit itself can lead us into desires that definitely are evil. It’s hard to live in “”reverent fear”” when we are running after temporal things. With that in mind, take a close look at your schedule over the past week. Does it allow for time to be holy–to seek God, to confess sin, to learn His will for you? Based on your answer, make any adjustments necessary.
To be holy is to be morally blameless.
Holiness is not an option for the Christian if you ever want to move greatly with the things of God upon the earth and make an IMPACT for God.
Let your whole ambition be to serve God and be Christ-like.
I Thessalonians 4:1-8 (ESV): 1Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4that each one of you know how to control his own body] in holiness and honor, 5not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. 8Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
II Timothy 1:6-9 (NIV): 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 8 So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,
James 1:19-27 (NIV):
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
II Corinthians 5:17-21 (NKJV): 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Join the fellowship of the Burning Hearts. God wants our hearts aflame for Him. God wants our hearts ablaze for Him.
Carlo Carretto-If you are not searching for a personal relationship with God, if you don’t stay with him for long periods in order to know him, study him, understand him, little by little you will start forgetting him, your memory will weaken, you will no longer recognize him.
Deuteronomy 4:9ff (NIV)– 9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. 10 Remember the day you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, when he said to me, “Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and may teach them to their children… 29 But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.
Luke 24:32 (NIV): 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Becky Tirabassi the author of The Sacred Obsession and The Burning Heart Contract has ignited a revival all across the college campuses of this country by having the students pledge to do a burning heart contract for God. I want you to make the same commitment before God.
It is an absolute necessity to daily identify and agree with God about the areas of your life that God calls sin. Do not tolerate unconfessed sin in your life. Examine your heart daily with God and ask God to cleans and purify it. You cannot ignore areas of sin in your heart or it will grow like a cancer and permanently damage your walk, fellowship and work that God accomplishes through your life. Purity is an absolute component of a burning heart.
II Timothy 2:19-22 (NIV):
19 Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.
22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
There is incredible power when as a body, as a fellowship and as a group we call on the Lord and follow him out of a pure heart. God will move in awesome ways out of the pure fires of our hearts.
I John 1:7-9 (Amplified): 7But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations].
8If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts].
9If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action].
James 5:18 (Amplified) 16Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].
There is a mighty healing power in public and private confession that has been lost to the church.
It doesn’t matter what you chase or worship or love…if it isn’t God, it will always lead to destruction of body, mind and soul. Always.
Are you willing to sign the burning heart contract as a pledge of devotion to God?
I Chronicles 16:9a (NASB): “For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His…
Jeremiah 30:21b, 22 (NIV): For who is he who will devote himself to be close to me?’ declares the LORD. 22 “‘So you will be my people, and I will be your God.’”
FELLOWSHIP OF BURNING HEARTS CONTRACT
I, _________________, as a child of the living God by the new birth when I confessed with my mouth Jesus as Lord of my life and believed God raised Him from the dead, I now consecrate my life to God as a living sacrifice. I pledge to devote my heart to God and to chase after, pursue and cleave to Him in all circumstances and at all times. I pledged to have a burning heart for God above all else and be zealous to serve Him and love Him with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. I pledge to pursue the holy, the sacred, and the things of God by specifically pledging to do the following for my God with a burning heart.
1. My heart burns to grow more passionately in love with God. I pledge to spend no less than one hour a day in prayer and Bible reading alone with God. This is my alone time with God where we can grow and get to know each other better, lift things up in prayer, talk, fellowship, learn His words and strengthen my devotion to God. This will be vital to keeping the fires burning in passion for my God.
2. My heart burns to be pure and holy for my God and as an act of love and devotion to God and in response to His call, I pledge to live a pure life and chase only the holy and sacred. Together I will work with God in eliminating the unholy from my heart and refusing to chase after the unholy. I pledge to work with God in confessing my sin in areas that need to be purified and also confess before my brothers and sisters in Christ any areas of impurity that are hindering my heart from burning for Him.
3. My heart burns to fulfill His purpose in and through my life. I pledge to let God work mightily in my heart to lead and guide me to do His work and to have the humility to obey Him in all things. I pledge to use the talents, abilities and spiritual gifts that God has given me to glorify Him with a passionate and burning heart. I will have the heart to do what He tells me to do and to go where He wants me to go. I having a burning desire to fulfill the divine destiny and purpose God has given me for my generation. I pledge to be a living sacrifice for Him and shine as a brilliant light for Him in the darkness of this world.
4. My heart burns to fellowship with likeminded believers of the Body of Christ who together will call upon the Lord with me out of a pure heart. I pledge to meet at least once a week and for no less than two hours a week with burning heart believers where we encourage, pray, learn and confess to one another as we become stronger in the Lord together.
5. My heart burns to witness concerning the Lord Jesus Christ and the promise of salvation and deliverance to the world. I promise to tell one new person a week about the greatness of God and the way of salvation in Christ. I will share the Word of life with the new person with love, compassion, strength, confidence and conviction. I pledge to bring one new person to my church or fellowship every three months.
In the sight of the Living God, my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, I pledge my honor, my heart, my devotion and my commitment to this contract.