How to Maintain Spiritual Fervor
Robert D Pace
Spiritual fervor is necessary to advance the Kingdom of God. His Kingdom is propelled by Spirit-filled Christians that dare to share the Gospel of Christ. That’s why Paul said, “never be lacking in zeal.” The Kingdom simply cannot be contained 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 flaming and bright. And we must do this regardless of how long we serve Christ.
(Quote) John Wesley was asked how he attracted great crowds. He replied: “I set myself on fire, and the people come to see me burn.”
(Quote) The great missionary David Livingstone said: “I have found [that] . . . 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 east coast of Georgia to recuperate. Many people wanted to see him but his secretary sought to keep him isolated and calm. One day, a man noticed Dr. Grenfell walking on the beach, so he asked his secretary for permission to speak with him. Her 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.”
Do you see it? Our spiritual fervency plays an important role in our accomplishments for Christ.
(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.
I. 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 that’s better than having no zeal at all because 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!
If you really want to underscore and understand the preeminence of zeal as it relates to accomplishing great works for God, then notice how the Old Testament associated zeal with the Messiah:
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.”
Every time that Jesus displayed urgency and passion he was literally fulfilling OT Scriptures! Jesus, our Example of how to live for God, was consumed with zeal!
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 cults that thrive and grow, not because they proclaim truth, but because their disciples are zealous about spreading the message. They simply practice what the Bible says about zeal.
Some years back, a 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. He wanted to support a minister that was completely “sold out” to his work for Christ.
(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 works! Even worldly organizations understand the power of zeal! When Christians are filled with the Holy Spirit it produces godly enthusiasm that helps accomplish incredible things for God! Why? It’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.”
We need Christians imbued with the Spirit’s fire! That’s because Scripture says, “Our God is a consuming fire” and he wants us to partake of his very nature!
When you search the Scriptures you will discover that God and fire are inseparable! That means God’s priority for his messengers involves setting them “on fire.” For example:
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.”
In Acts 2, the fire of the Holy Spirit transformed the first Believers of Christ into blazing ambassadorial torches and brought thousands of souls into the Kingdom of God. The Spirit’s fire changed everything! And the same fire of early Believers that brought millions to Christ will work today!
(Transition) I cannot overstate the need to stay passionate about Christ and the Gospel. Thus, my second point is this: Spiritual fervor is maintained by breaking up your fallow ground.
II. Spiritual Fervency Is Maintained By Breaking Up Your Fallow Ground
Remember how I began this message. I issued a word of caution against spiritual complacency. Moreover, I want you to notice how the Old Testament Prophet, Hosea, exclaims his warning: 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. 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 tells 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? Are you willing to “stay on your knees,” repent of sinful ways, and sanctify your heart? If so, God will rain mightily upon your thirsty soul!
(Example) Farmers report that their fields must be plowed and harrowed between four to six inches deep (down to the hardpan), to prepare the soil to retain water and enable it to produce an abundant crop. Without proper plowing and harrowing the soil lacks the ability to retain moisture. This means that the plowing of last year won’t work! We must plow today so we can receive rain tomorrow!
I want to mention several ways you can plow into the hardened areas of your heart so you can 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 believe God’s Word regularly.
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, I want to mention that you can maintain spiritual fervency if you will discern the days.
III. You can Maintain Spiritual Fervency if you will Discern the Days
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.”
Saints of God, 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:
God sovereignly re-birthed the Nation of Israel May 14, 1948.
According to Old Testament prophecies, Jews from around the world have remigrated to Israel, and today statistics account for more than 5.5 million Jews returning to their homeland!
According to the prophet Zechariah, Jerusalem has become a “cup of trembling” to the world.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah predicted that when the Jews reclaimed their land during the Last Days, that they would plant an abundance of trees throughout their desert region. And according to government estimates, there have been more than 260 million trees planted since the turn of the Twentieth Century. If that’s not the fulfillment of Endtime prophecy I don’t know what is!
Christians must “discern the days” and understand that we are living in the “last hour” of Bible prophecy. 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.” When we properly “discern the days” it will create zeal and urgency to work in the Lord’s harvest field!
(Transition) Let’s hear the testimony of the Apostle Paul.
The mighty Apostle Paul knew that his Kingdom accomplishments were connected to zeal. Have you noticed that nothing was able to douse his zeal for Christ? He continued ministering regardless of what happened to him. He was constantly tried with: beatings, floggings, stoning, shipwrecks, imprisonment. No doubt he had memorized the words of of Psalm 69:9 that said: “. . . zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.”
That’s how we should be about God’s call upon our lives!
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 nongreeks, 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—a divine purpose—on their life! But there’s more: God has done more than give you a purpose; he has enabled you to accomplish your purpose. As a “called one,” you are also an “empowered one”! And you must not ignore your purpose in God’s Kingdom regardless of how insignificant you think you are! Something is always lacking when people ignore their place in the Kingdom.
(Illustration) Imagine yourself being caught in a desert sandstorm. At that particular moment, what becomes the most important part of your body? It is not your feet or hands. The most important parts of the human body during a sandstorm are the eyelids! Without them, a person could lose their eyesight if they couldn’t shut their eyes. Further, imagine how difficult it would be to sleep without eyelids.
Perhaps you have assumed you are nothing more than an “insignificant” 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.