Spiritual fervor is necessary to advance the Kingdom of God! God’s Kingdom is propelled by Spirit-filled Christians that daringly share the Gospel of Christ with boldness and power. That’s why Paul said, “never be lacking in zeal.” The Kingdom cannot be thwarted when Christians stay aflame! However, Paul’s command to “never be lacking in zeal” also indicates that Christians can chill and become lethargic. Complacency can dampen our love, joy, and passion and eventually anesthetize our entire Christian testimony. This is why we must learn how to keep our spiritual fervor alive and strong. The Bible tells Christians to maintain spiritual passion no matter how long they serve Christ. It tells us to keep our experience hot-hearted!
(Quotes) John Wesley was asked how he attracted great crowds. He replied: “I set myself on fire, and the people come to see me burn.” The great missionary David Livingstone said: “I have found . . . I have no unusual endowments of intellect, but I . . . resolved that I would be an uncommon Christian.” The story is told of Dr. Grenfell the famed missionary to Labrador. After spending fifty years on the field he came to the coast of Georgia to rest. Many people wanted to see him. A man noticed Grenfell walking on the beach and asked his secretary for permission to speak with him. Here was her reply: “You can see him but do not talk to him about Labrador. He will become so excited that he will not sleep well tonight.”
(Transition) Since spiritual fervency easily evaporates, let’s consider how Christians can maintain their enthusiasm. First, Spiritual fervency is maintained by stirring your passion for Christ.
Do you remember when your soul, heart, and spirit were spiritually aflame? You wanted to tell everyone about Christ and His goodness. You had more zeal than Biblical knowledge; but you were aflame for God! But that’s better than having no zeal at all. God wants Christians excited about His plan of salvation.
(Quote) John Wesley said: “If I had three hundred men who feared nothing but God, hated nothing but sin, and were determined to know nothing among men but Jesus Christ and Him crucified, I would set the world on fire.” Wesley knew the incredible influence that passion and zeal created.
It must be noted that the zeal Christ manifested was a fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture:
Psalm 69:9 says: “Zeal for your house has consumed me.”
Psalm 119:139 says: “My zeal consumes me.”
Isaiah 9:7 says: “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”
Think about this: For years, non-Christian religions have outgrown mainline American denominations, not because these non-Christian religions had a superior product, but because they employed an impassioned approach. There are religious sects and even cults that thrive and grow, not because they proclaim truth, but because their disciples are zealous about spreading the message. They simply practice what Jesus told Christians to do: “Compel people” to follow them.
Some years back, one Christian man told me this: “I’ll give financial support to any preacher that’s enthusiastic about God’s work.” That’s probably not the best criteria on which to base your contributions but you get the point.
(Example) Have you noticed how non-profit organizations raise their budget? The telethons incorporate drum-rolls, high-powered music, celebrities, inspiring testimonies, and donor-matched challenges. And it appears to draw in resources! Don’t misunderstand me because I am neither condoning nor disapproving of excitement. But what I am suggesting is this: When Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit this produces genuine enthusiasm and they can accomplish incredible things for God. And that’s because people are emotional creatures.
Paul’s instruction to Timothy was: “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. (15) Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress” (1TI 4:14-15).
The writer of Hebrews instructed Believers to avoid laziness in Hebrews 6:9: “Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case things that accompany salvation. (10) God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. (11) We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. (12) We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
The Apostle Peter expressed his concern for diligence in 1 Peter 1:13, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” In essence Peter’s instructions were: ‘Always be ready for Christ’s work and live with an awareness of Christ’s return.’
We need Christians imbued with the Spirit’s fire; and that’s because Scripture says, “Our God is a consuming fire.” God and fire are inseparable. Thus, God’s priority for His messengers involves setting them “on-fire”!
Moses was called by fire.
Elijah called down fire.
Micah prophesied fire.
God told Jeremiah: “I will make My words in your mouth fire,” and for Jeremiah the urgency for preaching was like “a fire shut up in his bones.”
John the Baptist cried of Christ, “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”
And Jesus said, “I have come to send the fire.”
When fire engulfs Christians evangelism will pervade the world. In Acts 2, the fire of the Holy Spirit transformed the early Believers and brought thousands of souls into the Kingdom of God. The fire of Pentecost changed everything!
(Transition) Second, Spiritual fervor is maintained by breaking up your fallow ground.
Remember how I began this message: I issued a word of caution against spiritual complacency. I cannot overstate the need to stay passionate about Christ and the Gospel. The Old Testament Prophet Hosea provides us with why this is necessary: Hosea 10:12 says: “Sow for yourself righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and (b) break up your unplowed ground; (c) for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.”
Did you hear what God promised through Hosea? He promised “showers of righteousness.” And that’s what Christians need. We need constant renewal and refreshment from Heaven. We need the refreshing rain of love, joy, zeal, and blessings. But how do we get this rain? I want to answer that by making an analogy from the sky.
(Example) Do you realize rainclouds form only after atmospheric laws are met? Cumulus nimbus rainclouds form and then drop rain when an updraft of moist air condenses in the troposphere. That’s when the skies drop rain. And the spiritual law governing the rain from Heaven is similar. Rainclouds gather in Heaven when Christians on earth create an updraft. That’s what Hosea is telling us. He says: “If you’ll sow righteousness, plow your heart, and pray, it will create an “updraft” that will create a refreshing rain from Heaven.” Are you willing to do these things? If so, God will rain upon your thirsty soul.
Farmers report that fields must be plowed and harrowed four to six inches deep, down to the hardpan, to prepare the soil to retain water and enable it to produce a respectable crop. Without proper plowing and harrowing the soil lacks the ability to retain moisture. The plowing of last year won’t work. We must plow today so we can receive rain tomorrow! And what is the cultivation process for a Christian? I’ll mention several ways you can plow into the hardened areas of your life in order to produce spiritual fruit:
A. Pray and Fast. David said: “I humbled my soul with fasting and my prayer returned to my bosom.” Prayer and fasting break strongholds!
B. Read, study, and confess God’s Word.
C. Invite the Holy Spirit to flow through your life.
Acts 1:8 says: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Luke 4:18 says: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, (19) to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Acts 10:38 says: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
(Transition) Finally, let’s point out that, Spiritual fervency is maintained by discerning the time.
Ephesians 5:15 16 says: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, (16) making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” This isn’t the First Century. We are living in the Day the ancient Prophets foresaw. We live at the threshold of Christ’s Return. And this is what Christians, and especially God’s messengers, must recognize! Christians will become more zealous for Christ once they “discern the days” and recognize mankind has begun the march into the Endtime.
Notice the prophecies that have come to pass recently:
The Nation of Israel was rebirthed in 1948.
More than 5 million Jews have re-gathered from around the world into their homeland.
Jerusalem is a “cup of trembling” to the world.
Deception permeates the planet.
Christians must “discern the days” and understand the urgency of this last “hour.” We must take note of the Endtime passages that foretell Christ’s return: Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21; 1 Thessalonians 4; 2 Thessalonians 2; 1 Peter 3; Jude, and the entire book of Revelation. Jesus said in John 4:35: “Do you not say, `Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.”
(Transition) Let’s hear the testimony of the Apostle Paul.
Paul, understanding his calling, passionately pursued his “heavenly vision.” Even in the face of King Agrippa he testified he had not been “disobedient to the heavenly vision.” That’s how we should be about God’s Call upon our lives.
Are you fully aware of God’s “Call” for your life? In 2010 I accepted God’s commission to propagate the message of Endtime prophecy. I know the Holy Spirit has directed me to alert people to the nearness of Christ’s Return. What about you? What is the “heavenly vision” God has given you?
God wants you living with the passion of Paul that’s described in Romans 1:14 when he said: “I am obligated both to Greeks and non Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.” And in Romans 9:2 he spoke of having “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in . . . [his] heart” for his countrymen. We need to heed the words given to Timothy to “stir up the gift of God” within us. We must not sleep or “grow weary in well-doing.”
Every person here has a divine mandate on their life! You have a divine mission! But there’s more: God has not just given you a mandate; He has anointed and equipped you to accomplish your mission. The “called ones” are also the “empowered ones”! And you must not ignore your mission or place in the Kingdom of God regardless of how insignificant you think it is! Your anointing is important to the Kingdom and something is always lacking without your involvement.
(Illustration) Imagine yourself being caught in a desert sandstorm. At that moment, what becomes the most important part of your body? The most important part of the human body during a sandstorm is an eyelid! Under extreme circumstances a person could lose eyesight without the ability to shut their eyes during a sandstorm. Further, imagine how difficult it would be to sleep without eyelids. Now, maybe you have assumed you are nothing more than an “eyelid” in God’s Kingdom. But you see, you aren’t so insignificant after all!
I trust this message has helped you understand how to maintain spiritual fervor for Christ. Let’s close by reading Matthew 24:14-30.
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