A Zeal for God

Consuming Passion

It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” 

John 2:13-17

For almost thirty years Jesus watched men desecrate the Temple. He was outraged at their greed. He was disgusted that they polluted the temple courts with the stench of animal excrement.

The scripture said in verse 13 that, “It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover.” This is probably what ignited the Lord. Jesus knew the significance of Passover in a way that these money changers had long forgotten!

This was not a sudden burst of anger. Jesus contemplated it for many years, and now men fled before His whip and righteous anger. Each Gospel author tells of the “whipping Christ.” Luke makes a very valuable addition. He tells us that before Jesus reached the temple, as He was still entering Jerusalem, He stopped to weep over this precious city. Luke reveals the “weeping Christ” before he reveals the “whipping Christ.” This reminds us of a powerful Bible truth; “You will never face the wrath of God until you ignore the mercy of God!”

Consider your passion and your zeal for God’s house. To be a Christian is to be like Christ. Since Jesus had a passion for God’s house, then you must as well. Would the people who know you best describe you as zealous for God’s house or indifferent to it?

I have always loved the House of God! I remember when I was about 7 years old, my family went on vacation. Sunday came around and I insisted we go to church! I said, “It’s Sunday! We go to church, no matter where we are! It’s the Lord’s Day!” Some of my family members weren’t so pleased with me, but my daddy was super proud. I know my Father in heaven was proud of me as well!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a passion for Your house, above all others. Remind me to revere your house. Remind me that Your house is set apart as a place for Your people to honor You. It is not about social functions. It is about Your business and about Your honor. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Check Your Zeal Thermometer

Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.”

John 2:17

Webster’s Dictionary defines zeal as eagerness or ardent interest in something. God describes Himself as having zeal, and His zeal had great impact on mankind. Throughout the Old Testament the Lord says, “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Numbers 25:11 demonstrates God’s appreciation of zeal in His people. “Phinehas son of Eleazar and grandson of Aaron the priest has turned my anger away from the Israelites by being as zealous among them as I was. So I stopped destroying all Israel as I had intended to do in my zealous anger.

Jesus was also zealous. Isaiah 59:17 prophesied of Jesus, “For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad (clothed) with zeal as a cloak.” (KJV)

The disciples watched Jesus. They saw His action, not just His words and realized Psalm 69:9 described Jesus: “Passion for your house has consumed me, and the insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.

Jesus’ zeal was for doing His Father’s will. He said in John 4:34, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.” As believers we are to pursue a passionate or zealous relationship with God. The apostle Paul spoke of his own zealous efforts! He wrote, “That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.” (Colossians 1:29)

Our God is zealous! He operates in absolute righteousness and calls us to imitate Him. Imitating Christ, following Christ, is not something to be done half-heartedly. This is not a casual undertaking. You have the privilege to be in relationship with a zealous God who is jealous over you, who loves you.  Reciprocate with some passion of your own!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let me always be passionate about my relationship with You. You come before all other relationships and pursuits! Remove any activities and attractions in my life that distract me from You. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Further Reading: Ecclesiastes 9:10, Galatians 4:18, 1 Corinthians 14:12

Why Do We Lack Zeal?

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Romans 12:11 (NIV)

Many Christians have so much zeal and passion for earthly things, they have no zeal left for spiritual things. You spend your time, money and energy on the things for which you have zeal. If you want to know where your zeal is, follow the money and check your calendar! 

Some believers lack zeal because they want the acceptance of others. Sometimes our desire for popularity is greater than our zeal for God. Many believers grow more apathetic with age; the older we get, the less fire we have. We want to let someone else do it. After all, haven’t we put in our time? Consider instead the example of Caleb, one of the 12 spies who went into the Promised Land. He was 40 years old then. He was 80 when Israel marched across the Jordan and 85 when the land was divided among the tribes. 

Listen to his words from Joshua 14:11-14; “I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. So give me the hill country that the Lord promised me. You will remember that as scouts we found the descendants of Anak living there in great, walled towns. But if the Lord is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the Lord said.”  

Jesus Christ set the bar for our zeal. When the devil tempted Him in the wilderness, he showed Him all the same types of things that distract us today. Yet, His passion for the Word of God, for His relationship with God the Father, caused Him to set all of those things aside and walk in power. Let your day, every day, be focused on God. Watch how He will respond to a life lived with zeal for Him! 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let me be like Caleb. He saw the world around him. He saw the giants in the land, but he fully relied on Your promises. In the middle of other leaders, others of equal social standing, he let his passion for You, his trust in You, guide him. He spoke up, he stood out. Give me that kind of faith. Give me zealous faith! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Further Reading: Romans 12:2

God Requires Zealousness from Me

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 

Romans 12:11

John Wesley was asked why crowds of people came to hear him preach. He said, “I just set myself on fire, and the people come to watch me burn!” 

In order for a church to have a zeal for God, it must have Christians who have a zeal for God. It is not up to the rest of your congregation to have zeal, it is up to you! If you want to be part of a passionate church, build up your own passion for Christ! Purpose yourself to be zealous for God, purpose yourself towards personal revival and the Holy Spirit will be all in! God will always respond to a heart that is hungry for Him, a heart that is tender towards Him!

God cannot, however, use you if you are complacent. You can read Jesus’ message to the church at Ephesus in Revelation Chapter 2. He had many praises for them but He said; “I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first…” Revelation 2:4-5

Apathy is not a condition of the mind, but a condition of the heart. The Psalmist spoke to this so precisely in Psalm 119:11, “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Your heart must be full of the Word of God! Your heart must be full of the Spirit of the Living God! Your heart must be protected by the peace of God! Your heart must be zealous for the Lord our God!

Zeal comes from within, from the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It is impossible to be filled with the Holy Spirit and not be on fire for God! Paul challenges us in Ephesians 5:18, “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead be filled with the Holy Spirit…” 

Prayer: Heavenly Father, let the fire inside me burn so fiercely that it consumes me. Let  passion for You take over my life. Let my conversations be about You. Let my heart’s desire be to spend every moment in Your presence. Let me have a passion for encouraging others to build a strong relationship with You! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Further Reading: Revelation 3:15-16, 19

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