8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children. 9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.[i]
And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
zeal (z¶l) n. Enthusiastic devotion to a cause, an ideal, or a goal and tireless diligence in its furtherance.
Today was really a life-changing day for me as I just finished speaking at a meeting where I experienced such love and passion for God which I have not seen in a long time. Although I was asked to speak, I felt I walked away with more just by seeing the evidence of passion for God in these people. Some weeks ago, preached a message on ‘Resetting our Passion for God”, so as I write this ‘recharge-devotional’, I won't talk about passion a little more.
Now the word “passion” is interesting because it draws together two realities that seem to be opposed to each other. On the one hand, when you think about passion, you think about love. You think of a couple that is passionate about one another. On the other hand, when you think about passion, you think about suffering, like the Passion of the Christ. So passion that can be described as a love so intense that you would be willing to endure suffering.
Passion involves three ingredients…
First, it involves imagination: One of the reasons why we get passionate about something is because we can imagine a world or a situation better than the one that we have now.
The second thing that passion involves is belief. You see, it is one thing to imagine a better situation but it is quite another to believe that this is possible. So passion involves imagination and belief. But there is a third thing.
And the third thing is an investment. This is where passion gets painful. If we want to make our dreams become reality, then we need to be willing to invest ourselves in it. This means sacrifice and surrender.
Passion is what separates them:
Men from the boys
Prayers from the players
Intercessors from the interferers
Contenders from the pretenders
Complimenters from the complainers
Supporters from the reporters.
Passion is what the church is missing today!
PASSION IS WHAT SEPARATED:
Mary and Martha
Martha was more worried about the setting, but Mary was only worried about sitting at Jesus’ feet!
Martha had a passion for the work of God, but Mary had a passion for the God of the work!
Demas and Timothy
Demas forsook Paul when the allure of the world became too strong, but of Timothy Paul said: “I call to remembrance your unfeigned faith!”
Cain and Abel
Cain tried to slide by with a half-hearted sacrifice that cost him nothing, but Abel was willing to shed blood in his worship. I’ll tell you this when you have a passion for Jesus, you’re willing to lay on the altar anything else that would distract you!
WHY DO WE LACK ZEAL?
Why do we not have the passion that I ought to have?
Let me suggest to you 4 reasons: 1. Because we have allowed something precious to become familiar, to become ordinary, everyday, common.
We just take for granted that there will be a tomorrow, that the church will always be there, that the altar of repentance and fire will always be there, but we cannot lose our passion! 2. The need for approval.
We all want to be loved and we all want to be needed. We all want to be accepted by others. If you want real passion you need to recognize that while passion draws some people it will also repel some others. A desire for popularity pours water on the fire of passion for God. Without thinking about it, we turn the fire of passion down. We trade passion for approval. 3. Apathy:
The word means, “without love”.
People have lost their love.
What once caused our hearts to beat faster now barely affects our pulse.
We fall into routine or ruts. You see we become routine about our faith. We become routine about going to church. We don’t deny Christ, we just demote Him to the commonplace. Apathy is not a state of mind it is a condition of the heart. 4. People will affect you:
You have heard the expression, birds of a feather flock together. Well, it is the same with people. There is a saying; “You are who you hang with”
It was a saying reminding us to be careful who we spend our time with because it will affect our walk with God. When you take a red-hot poker out of the fire and throw it on the cold concrete floor, what happens? It slowly loses its red glow.
What happens when we remove ourselves from God’s furnace and hang around the cold, lifeless places and people?
We begin to wax cold.
It was the warning that Jesus gave to his disciples: Matthew 24:12
12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
The word “wax” means to “wane gradually”.
The passion doesn’t go out in an instant like a candle’s flame being snuffed when a strong gust of a wind blows thru the open window.
It just cools gradually…………passion seeping out a little at a time.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PASSION IS LOST?
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast bore, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
This church was a serving church: “I know your deeds...” • This church was a sacrificing church. “...your hard work...” • This church was a steadfast church “...and your perseverance...” • This church was a sanctified church “...you cannot tolerate wicked men...you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not...” • This church was a suffering church “...you have persevered and have endured many hardships...”
BUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Now, wait a minute. According to today's standards, this was a church of the NOW generation. It was a happening place. It had all the right STUFF!!! What could God possibly see something wrong with this church?
It seems the Ephesian church had the fire once, but they had let it grow cold. They left their first love. Service is not the same as passion.
It is possible to serve God without passion. Serving God out of a sense of duty is draining.
HOW DO I RESTORE PASSION TO MY LIFE?
The word of God repeats over and again the importance of maintaining a spiritual fire.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:19 warns the believer “Do not put out the Spirits fire”
Make Sure You Have A Fire Place:
In 1 Tim.2: Paul exhorts the young pastor Timothy “to stir up the gift of God that is in you.”
Everyone knows that a fireplace equals a safe place to have a fire.
It’s a place where you can put logs together and they share each other's heat.
Christians need a place where their passion can burn brightly, where their passion is encouraged, and where the passion of one person can inflame the passion of another.
The church is Gods gift of a fireplace to passionate Christians. He gave us the church as a fireplace as a safe place to burn. Christians who are living with a passion for Christ, in a world that resists that passion needs the church, the church where love for Christ is openly expressed.
Realize that fire changes its surrounding environment:
Determine that passion makes a difference.
A Christian without passion is like a river without water.
Passion energizes the Christian life. Passion gives us additional focus in life. Without the passion of God in our lives, we will lead dull and draining existence.
Passion is one of the ways that God empowers our lives.
Romans 12:11 says; Never be lazy in your work, but serve the Lord enthusiastically Passion for God protects me from wrongdoing.
My passion to please Him causes me to say no to temptation.
My passion for what God wants to happen in my life causes me to instantly recognize any departure from that. 3. Associate with Passionate people:
Fire needs to be fed in order to keep growing. If it is true that people affect how we live and walk, then it is true that if we spend time with people who are passionate about the Lord, it will cause our hearts to grow brighter
Paul reminded his young apprentice Timothy about the power of people to affect his own flame. In 2 Tim.1:5, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois, and in your mother, Eunice and I am persuaded now lives in you.”
David with the 400 men who were in debt, discontented and discouraged.
Pray for Passion:
God’s fire is a gift:
2 Tim.1:6 “Fan into flame the gift of God which is in you...”
How would Timothy do this?
Colossians 4:2 says, “continue earnestly in prayer being vigilant about it.” Earnestly, fervently, vigilantly.
These words speak of passion.
Anything worthwhile, any good thought, any inspiration for songs, poems, music, any concern for people comes from this
John Wesley was once asked the secret about his ministry. He said, “I ask God to set me on fire and let people watch me burn.” My prayer for you, this church, my life, and family is to ask for Gods Holy fire. Let it burn in your soul setting you on fire for his kingdom.