I have titled this short discourse “The Thrill Is Gone”. The late bluesmaster
B.B. King’s most well known song was “The Thrill Is Gone.” Well, what is
sometimes true in romantic relationships, can be true in our relationship
with God. The thrill is GONE! You know it is true. You know it can be you.
Don’t lie. Don’t deny!
Revelation 3:14-22…“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The
words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s
creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you
were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor
cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have
prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable,
poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so
that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself
and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your
eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so
be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone
hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him,
and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on
my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Lukewarmness makes the Lord sick to His stomach. And what does He
command as a remedy…BE ZEALOUS and REPENT. Brethren, if the thrill is
gone, we are making the Lord sick and we are in deep deep trouble needing
a change and quick! God hates lukewarmness more than coldness. You
heard right. Something about tepidness is so precarious to our souls, the
Lord seems to think more badly of it than coldness…completely turned off of
the Lord. Is this because He knows us better than we know ourselves? You
know He does. Could it be that the prospects of reigniting the thrill of
passion we have for the Lord is harder to get done when we are half
heartedly serving him, than when we are stone cold? Could be. Shivering,
coldness may actually more likely move us to return to the heat of zeal
because we are so lonely, frigidly, cold, than when we are a little warm…
lukewarm, that is. Make sense?
Now, just in case you are thinking that maybe the Laodicean Christians had
never been hot for the Lord, never have they had the thrill of their
salvation…let me just say I highly doubt it. But, either way, the thrill is not
there and did you know they are the only congregation of seven mentioned
in Revelation that has nothing good said about? NOTHING! Wow! But, go to
the Ephesians Christians mentioned in 2:4…But I have this against you, that
you have abandoned the love you had at first. They once had it, but the
thrill had been abandoned. The loving thrill was gone from what it was at
first. And Jesus says, you better get back there. — And so, if the thrill of
your faith is gone, whether that happened a day, a week, a month or years
after you were baptized…you have to get the thrill back. NOW!
Now, some of you may say, but I am just not the exuberant, bubbly kind.
Well, I will grant you that some folks show their zeal outwardly more than
others. But, do not for a moment disregard this because it just isn’t the way
I am. Whether like king David you dance a jig before the Lord or whether
you like Hannah pour out your soul in silent prayer for a son, brethren the
lesson still stands. Be zealous for God. Be fervent in spirit. Turn up the heat
of passion about your salvation before it is too late!
And one word of warning, some people can use passionate speech to lead
folks astray. Be careful of false teaching by the smooth and flattering talk
some use to deceive folks. See Romans 16:18. You’ve heard of charismatic
speakers or leaders…The word charisma originally connotes spirit driven.
Fervency in spirit can be misguided. But, this does not mean we have to be
bland and boring in our presentations of the gospel so that doesn’t happen.
That’s like saying we should not appoint elders, because one of them may
turn into a preeminent minded Diotrophes. Apollos is described in Acts 18 as
a preacher who was eloquent, fervent in spirit, boldly speaking, powerfully
refuting. Now that is passionate preaching.
Let’s examine Romans 12:11…Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in
spirit, serve the Lord.
Not Slothful in Zeal – God is saying don’t be slow to act passionately. Don’t
be a slacker. Just because you are not doing a lot of evil things, like selling
drugs to children or running over old women with your car; but you’re
slothful in zeal. Maybe you once had it, but now the thrill is gone. Jesus
didn’t live and die for us so that we could be mild mannered about him.
Fervent in Spirit – The word fervent in Greek means boiling, bubbling over
due to high heat, energetic and passionate. In America today many are not
excited with real life. Rather, we artificially create it through entertainment.
We are desperately waiting for the weekend when we can play, because real
life is not great cause that inspires us. Our work ought to inspire us. The
bible says whatever you do do it with all your might. (Eccl. 9:10). It says
elsewhere to work heartily, as unto the Lord. (Col. 3:23). God is saying, be
thrilled to go to work…to be able to work. But, God also says be thrilled to go
home and be intoxicated with your wife’s love (Prov. 5:19) and love your
children. Sure, you can be thrilled about the Packers going to the Super bowl
this coming season, but let us not let that be the only thing that gets us
jacked up, or that it dwarfs all other passions of my life. And you ready for
this? No others must be more thrilling than serving the Lord!
And this is not to be a once in a while thrill. It is to be constant. The RSV
interprets Romans 12:11 “Never flag in zeal.” The NIV says, “Never be
lacking in zeal.” NEVER! This is a strong rebuke of passivity and laziness and
lethargy and apathy. Paul assumes that if you see this in yourself, you can
do something about it. We have been given the Word of God which is
sharper than any two edged sword, able to pierce and penetrate into the
deepest parts of our heart, will and intents. So the Holy Spirit speaks this
word directly to us…don’t lag, don’t drift, don’t sit idly by, mindless in front
of TV, don’t have only little thrills of playing on the weekend. Or watching
March Madness. Stir up zeal for God. Stir it up always!
But how do you “get on fire” for the Lord? Here are some steps you can take
to reach the boiling point of spirit again. Get the thrill back.
1. Get back in the Word. Listen to the disciples who walked with Jesus on
the road to Emmaus, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was …
explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32). The Word can set your heart
2. Stoke the furnace with prayer. Prayer is not just a way to get things
done. It is a way to effectually fervently express ourselves to God. (James 5)
3. Praise God vehemently. Sing and shout! When you praise God with
exuberance, new strength will arise. Make a decision that you will praise God
in a more vocal, uninhibited way this year than ever before. The other day I
walked out in the parking lot and looked up to the sky some and walked
around a while speaking to God of how great nature is.
4. Break free from bad habits. Paul told the Thessalonians, “Do not
quench the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19). Are you doing anything that is
extinguishing the Spirit’s flames in your life?
5. Get rid of your resentments. Jesus said in the last days of the Jewish
system “most people’s love will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). Nothing puts out
the flame of God’s love faster than bitterness. Don’t allow unforgiveness to
freeze your soul.
6. Get in close fellowship. God called us to be in a community. Hang
around zealous, passionate Christians because their heat directly affects
7. Serve others. Real spiritual passion is ignited when you serve others.
Conclusion: Five passion questions…ask yourself…
1. What is the greatest passion in my life?
2. What would those closest to me say is the greatest passion of my life?
3. Am I satisfied with where my passion stands with God?
4. What would I have to change in order for God to be the greatest passion
of my life?
5. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being cold, 5 being lukewarm and 10 being hot,
how would I rate my relationship with God right now?
The thrill is gone. But, it doesn’t have to stay that way. It mustn’t stay that
way. Repent and be zealous again.