Fervent In SpiritSeries: Fruit Of The Spirit
FERVENT IN SPIRIT
Sermon By Terry Siverd / July 02, 2023 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
The apostle Paul writes some of the deepest truths of any New Testament writer.
His eschatological treatise in Rom.9, 10 & 11 is the most challenging cluster in all of Scripture. Even though Peter
was also an inspired apostle, he acknowledges that Paul's letters included some things hard to understand (2Pet.3:16).
Throughout his rabbinic schooling Paul had advanced beyond his peers (Gal.1:14).
Despite being a highly-educate theologian, the apostle Paul excelled in actuating the gospel of Christ as a way of life.
Christianity is not some theorem to be analyzed in a lab, it is a prescription for daily living.
After wrapping up his heavy-duty discussion of God's providence in the intertwining of the Gentiles and Jews in God's plan of redemption, Paul turns his attention to practical matters (Romans chapter 12). e.g., Rom.12:9-11/NASV - -
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;
not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.
The NIV renders Rom.12:11 - - never be lacking in zeal, but kept your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
James Moffatt paraphrases Rom.12:11 - - never let your zeal lag, maintain the spiritual glow, serving the Lord.
This morning's sermon is a call to focus on ZEAL.
Although not mentioned in either Paul's list of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23) or
Peter's list of virtues (2Pet.1:5-7), zeal is nevertheless a much-needed Christian attribute. *
ZEAL may be best defined as “focused desire, characterized by passion and commitment.”
It speaks of a deep-down fervency, ardor and enthusiasm.
Zeal is a word that describes many Old Testament saints.
Heb.11:1ff enumerates a “cloud of witnesses” (Heb.12:1) that included Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham,
Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David & Samuel and the prophets. (Ones) who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release in order that they may obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, sawn in two, tempted, put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of who the world was not worthy), wandering in caves and holes in the ground (Heb.11:32-38).
Their faith was accompanied by great zeal.
Jesus entered into our world as a newborn baby and grew into manhood throughout His incarnation.
Jesus' first recorded miracle was at a wedding feast in Galilee (Jn.2:11).
From there He and His mother and brothers and disciples went to Capernaum where they stayed a few days (Jn.2:12).
Jesus then went to Jerusalem for the Passover feast and a time of worship at the (Jewish) temple.
While He was there He did something rather unusual and radical, at least for Jesus (Jn.2:13ff). Upon encountering “money-changers” who had “set up shop” and were price-gouging the pilgrims who needed currency exchanged in order to purchase oxen, sheep and doves which were required for sacrifices in the temple, Jesus displayed a fiery disposition.
He made a scourge of cords and drove out the money-changers … pouring out their coins and overturning their tables.
He said to them, Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a house of merchandise. This event caused Jesus' disciples to remember a Messianic prophecy written by David (Ps.69:9) - - Zeal for Thy house will consume me!
Jesus lived zestfully. He constantly glowed with zeal. Living zestfully and living with zeal are very much inter-related.
He possessed a joy that could not be overshadowed. We can see this in words that He spoke:
blessed are the poor in spirit (Mt.5:3) …
blessed are the meek (Mt.5:5) ...
He would tell others to be of good cheer (Jn.16:33).
Jesus often urged His followers to seek that inward glow, exhorting them to be the salt of the earth (Mt.6:13).
As we all know, salt has the capacity to purify and preserve, but it also flavors and enhances life in a delightful way.
Regarding this metaphor of salt, Clovis Chappell writes: “Perhaps the richest meaning that He put into this great
word is that to be a Christian is to find the secret of zest. It is to find a tang in the feast of life and to be able to
give that tang to others. Without the salt of Christian character life becomes insipid.” (Living Zestfully, pg.161).
Our zeal is displayed in a multitude of ways.
Our love of worship (Ps.122:1/I was glad when they said to me, 'let us go to the house of the Lord).'
Our interest in singing (Eph.5:19/speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody in your hearts to the Lord).
Our longing for fellowship with other Christians (Acts 2:42/they were continually devoting
themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer).
Our engaging in good works (Titus 2:7 & 14/show yourself to be an example of good deeds...zealous for good deeds).
Our eagerness to give (2Cor.9:2/your zeal has stirred up most of them).
Our sharing the gospel with others (Rom.10:18/their voice has gone out into all the earth...).
Our stand against immorality (2Tim.2:19/let everyone who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness).
We are in the midst of a culture war that is testing our zeal for the Lord.
Just because many of our national leaders are promoting PRIDE month, we need not acquiesce.
Sadly, far too many believers have become absent (truant) in voicing disapproval concerning immoral behavior.
While recognizing our citizenship in a pluralistic nation, we must not silence our zeal in affirming righteous living.
How can we maintain our zeal for the Lord?
I cannot honestly tell you that once you find zeal it will always stay strong.
Paul's admonition in Rom.12:11 implies that we might find ourselves
lagging in diligence (NASV) … lacking in zeal (NIV) … don't be lazy but work hard (NCV).
We often find ourselves needing to rekindle the fire or to stir up the flame (2Tim.1:6).
We need to associate with others who will help stimulate/provoke us to love and good deeds (Heb.10:24).
We need to continually pray for renewal and resolve daily to keep on seeking first the kingdom of God.
* The word zealot is often used to o describe someone who has gone off the deep end - - becoming
extremists, fanatically foisting their views upon others. One can be zealous without being a zealot!
In expressing our zeal for the Lord we must be always aim to be respectful, kind and loving to others.