Catching Holy Fire
but not according to knowledge.”
In this passage Paul is referring to the Jews. They place such high priority on knowledge that this verse at first glance wasn’t clear to me. The NLT clarifies it, “I know what enthusiasm they have for God, but it is misdirected zeal.” The Jews had knowledge about God, but not of God. They had zeal for the law, but not for God Himself. They knew about God, but they didn’t know Him. Theirs was a cultural religion, not unlike how the southeast “Bible belt” can be. The Jews missed the whole beauty of the gospel, that we can know God, the God, I Am! And that is what burdens my heart to write today. There are so many people I know that lack a zeal for God and I keep thinking in my head, “How can you spend time with God and lack a zeal for Him?” And I realize that’s it. The church is spending time in bible study and reading the Bible and being at church, but we aren’t spending time with I Am. Our zeal is misplaced on the actions of cultural Christianity rather than on God himself. As a whole, God’s bride doesn’t want to be with Him. That is the answer to the lack of zeal for God: we aren’t with Him. We haven’t caught fire because we stand aloof. We just want to experience the warmth not the burning. We want redemption but not to be redeemed, to be made holy but not by sanctification. There were no lukewarm followers among the disciples gathered at Pentecost. They spent ten days in prayer awaiting the Holy Spirit, and that time forever changed their lives! We have access to that same spirit, but we don’t want it. We prefer distraction and shadows for really experiencing God and being changed from glory to glory. Spending 10 days praying, even 10 hours praying would be ludicrous to most believers. As much as I think I know about prayer, I have only reached the tip of the iceberg, but I know where zeal comes from. I want to catch holy fire, and the more time I spend in prayer with God and listen to His voice the more I want His voice. The more on fire I become the more God’s flame can spread through me to other people.
Zeal for God only comes from encountering Jesus there are no substitutions or shortcuts. Everyone in scripture who encountered Jesus was changed. Some went away from Him because of what they encounter showed them about themselves, but any who embraced the truth were caught on holy fire. The men who simply spent the most time with Jesus are 12 men who literally changed the world. They were caught on fire by His presence. If you are in Jesus presence, it is impossible to not catch fire. So, if you are wondering where your zeal has gone or just desire a zeal for God, like most truths, the answer is simple and totally accessible. Jesus is waiting. You draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. The nearer you draw the closer He comes and the holiness of His presence will catch you on fire. When you grab onto Jesus like there is nothing else, your vision will clear and you will see that there is nothing else.
Zeal for God needs to be daily. Drawing near to God has to be daily. I need zeal in the daily. The daily is what zaps me of zeal; the monotony is what Satan uses to blind me to the importance of what I am doing. Living in God’s presence in all of the small stuff adds up to purpose that will carry me through. If I am not, then my life will meander along through the monotony and I will end like most people, bored in my comfort. I don’t want a life like that. I don’t want my kids to grow up and not be sure if God is real because they never saw me moved by Him, I refuse to tell my children that God is worth everything and then strive for nothing. If I want them to grow into adults who shine like stars in a crooked and twisted generation holding fast to the word of truth, then that is how I have to live my life. Zeal has a trickledown effect. Are we going to be a generation that makes a difference, or will we be lulled to sleep with the comfort that surrounds us? Will we teach our children how to have a zeal for God by being in His presence or will we settle for less? There are precious few adults that lead a life I want to imitate. Those are hard words, but they are sadly true. I will strive to know God and surround myself with the truth of eternity more and more so that my children can see Him who is invisible.
Sometimes I feel alone in my desire for God, but I am starting to think that that is also a tactic of Satan. I am learning that when I feel this way, what I need to do is express and celebrate my nearness to God. Satan knows that zeal for God is like wildfire, if he can make us feel all alone, we aren’t catching. If we were to really see the truth, that each simple act of declaring God’s goodness sparks something in hearts to come alive to who God really is, then we would talk about him as we walk along the way, and as we go about everything. We would feed each other’s fires as we rehearse His faithfulness instead of only seeing the depravity of the world our vision will clear and we will start to change those around us and usher in a season of revival or even better, hasten Jesus return. What would ten days in prayer do in your life? What would 10 hours. I challenge you to take 1 hour, just one, for the next ten days and draw near to God, ask Him for Holy fire and see what happens. Get out of bed early, I just heard you grumble, it is possible and I promise you will not be disappointed. Do a half hour of prayer in the morning and half at night. Make it work for you, but don’t ignore the tug you feel on your heart right now. It just has to be concentrated prayer, not reading. Reading the Bible is excellent, but prayer is our focus. Pray specifically; use this time to target praises and petitions that will be a fragrant offering to God. Pray over a desire for God, a revival in your home, intercede for a friend, and make a list. Satan will delight in nothing more than trying to discourage and distract you. You have a good block of time to fill, but if you ask God for help filling it, there will be no end to the ideas He gives you.
Ten days is not a magical number and there is no magic in the completion of it, it’s a sign of your seriousness to God. It’s a sacrificial offering of your time for His design, and God always honors that. Doing this cannot help but kindle a fire for God in your heart, and that fire cannot help but spread into a blaze that cannot be quenched.