I love the word zeal but you don't hear it very often. It means enthusiasm, diligence, eagerness, passion and commitment. The Macmillan Dictionary defines it as great energy, effort, and enthusiasm. The other word in this verse that you don't hear very often is fervour. Its meaning is similar - a very strong feeling or enthusiasm. The Greek word for fervour refers to something boiling and bubbling over.
The Apostle Paul was instructing Christians to be energetic, enthusiastic, passionate, eager, diligent and committed as they served God. I see a lot of zealous people at football and basketball games (not cricket so much). But I don't see a lot of zealous people at church. That must make God sad that we get so excited about a bunch of sweaty people chasing a ball around, but we don't get as excited about praising, worshiping and serving God.
In Revelation chapter three, God told the church at Laodicea, "because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth." God doesn't want us to be lukewarm or even simmering (slowly bubbling) - he wants us to be boiling, bubbling wildly. Where do you sit on the zeal scale? Are you lukewarm - not passionate at all about serving Jesus? Are you simmering - kind of passionate? Or, are you boiling rapidly - living on fire for Jesus? I want to be in that last category?
Here are some tips to help you be zealous and fervent:
Yahweh is the name God used for himself in the Bible. It was first used when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush which you can read about in Exodus 3. In Ancient Hebrew it was spelt YHWH and was combined with the vowels of the Hebrew word for ‘The Name,’ Ha-Shem. It is translated as LORD in all capitals in English Bibles. The Jews believed that Yahweh was too holy to say out loud so they used the Hebrew word Adonai, which means Lord. Yahweh means I am and refers to the fact that God has no beginning and no end. Everything comes from him and relies on him for it’s existence. He is holy, loving, forgiving, ever present, all-knowing, holy, unchanging, truth.
Sometimes we get a bit casual about God. He loves us like children and we need to respect him as the loving Heavenly Father that he is, remembering that he is also the creator of the universe who will judge all people for their thoughts and actions.
Worship is not a style of music or song. It doesn't just happen at church on a Sunday. According to Tim Lucas at https://worshipdeeper.com, worship is declaring the greatness of someone or something. Delesslyn A. Kennebrew at www.christianitytoday.com defines worship as the priority we place on who God is in our lives and where God is on our list of priorities. So basically, worshipping God is making him our number one priority. It starts with an attitude and flows to our actions. If we really love God with all our body, soul, strength and mind we will live a life devoted to him. How we spend our time and money, what occupies our thoughts and attention, what we consume will all reflect this. We will worship him with our songs, with our financial offerings, by spending time reading his word and talking to him in prayer, we will worship him by serving others.
If God isn't your number one priority, something else will be. Money, fame, success, self, music, entertainment, sport, looks, alcohol, drugs or another person will fill that spot. God said that we are to worship him only - and that shouldn't do that out of fear, but out of love.
CHALLENGE: What is your number one priority? Does how you spend your time or money reflect that?
Easton's Bible Dictionary defines a vision as a vivid apparition, not a dream. In plain English it is a visual message from God. I like to imagine that it's a bit like the holographic messages in Star Wars but that is entirely from my imagination and not the Bible. Visions are one way God communicated with his people in both the Old and New Testaments. He used visions to warn people of coming events, to encourage them, to warn people of their disobedience, or to instruct someone what to do. Visions are different to dreams as they can occur while you're awake.
I am fairly certain that God still speaks to people in visions but I think that most of us are too busy to be receptive. In the passage in Acts 2 it was the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came on the disciples. Peter was quoting a passage from the book of Joel in the Old Testament.
This is what I will do in the last days, God says:
I will pour out my Spirit on everyone.
Your sons and daughters will proclaim my message;
your young men will see visions,
and your old men will have dreams.
My understanding is that we are in those last days now (that is, the time between Jesus' first coming and when he will come back again. I don't think Peter was implying that only men will have visions and dreams but that men and women will proclaim his message, see visions and have dreams. He was saying that the Holy Spirit would be poured out on everyone regardless of race or gender.
Unity is a word that we're all familiar with but one that we might not have thought too much about. Unity is not agreeing with everyone, believing the same thing, or being the same. Unity is about loving each other and getting along despite our differences. Unity means oneness, not sameness.
It's like fans of a sports team - even though they follow the same team they have different values and beliefs, wear different clothes, eat different food and listen to different music, but they all follow the same team.
It's also like a sports team - the players are all unique and different, but they are all on the same team. They need to get along and cooperate on the court or field to win. If every player just does their own thing they won't be very successful.
As Christians we need to put aside our differences and get along so that we shine the light of Jesus in our communities.
Ephesians 4:2-3 says,
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
These verses tell us that we are united by:
The Bible compares the church to a body made up of different parts but all the same body. Even though you are all unique and different, you're all part of the same body. We should look after each other because we're all one in Christ.
It's a difficult to wrap your human brain around the Trinity because it's a God thing and outside our understanding and experience. I don't understand how a plane works, but I trust that it does every time I board one. There are a few analogies that can help explain the Trinity but none of them are perfect.
EGG: The Trinity is like an egg, it has a shell, yolk and egg white. All three are different but at the same time they are all part of the egg.
FAMILY: I am a wife, mother and daughter. The three roles are very different, but I fulfil all of them.
You won't find the word, Trinity, in the Bible. All three persons of God are referred to throughout the Bible but not usually together. Matthew 28:19 is what Jesus told his followers before he returned to heaven, So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
I love this definition from Bill Pratt on https://www.toughquestionsanswered.org. The Father is the Source, the Son is the Means, and the Holy Spirit is the Effector of salvation—it is He who convicts, convinces, and converts.
Salvation is God's plan to save us from the consequence of sin which is death and separation from him. Hebrews 9:27-28 says, Everyone must die once. Then they are judged. So Christ was offered as a sacrifice one time to take away the sins of many people. And he will come a second time, but not to offer himself for sin. He will come the second time to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Romans 6:23 explains that when we are judged we deserve death because we have all sinned, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. God's gift of eternal life in Christ is salvation. This plan was put into effect when Jesus came to earth as a baby and died and rose again. It will come to completion when he comes again.
Imagine someone gave you a game (computer or board game - you choose). It's great fun but then you get the expansion pack and it's so much better. When we decide to follow Jesus we get adopted as God's children and he gives us his Holy Spirit - the basic game. When he comes again we get all the expansion packs. It will be so amazing it will blow your mind!
We celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas but this is just part one. Your sins have been forgiven, God calls you his child and gives you his Holy Spirit to guide and comfort you. But when he comes again you will live with him. There will be no more sin, sickness or sadness. That's the hope that drives us, that we cling on to when life gets hard, that makes us smile when we get up in the morning. 1 Thessalonians 5:8 says, the hope of salvation should be our helmet. This hope that we have protects our minds from being disheartened, in despair and discouragement. So hold your head up cause better days are coming.
Righteous means something that is perfect and good. Righteousness means the quality of being perfect and good. Of course, there is only one person who is truly righteous and that's Jesus. In Acts Paul refers to him as the Righteous One. Being righteous or right with God is impossible in our own strength because we're all sinners. Romans 3:10 says, There is no one who is righteous, not even one. Thankfully, we can be made righteous through the blood of Jesus. Because he died and rose again in our place we have been made righteous or right with God. Romans 3:22 says, This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
Imagine eternal life in heaven is like a festival but the tickets are really expensive. Jesus wants all of you to go so much that he buys tickets everyone. It costs him a lot! All you have to do to go to the festival is to trust him that he has bought you a ticket. All you have to do to spend eternity with God is to believe that Jesus has paid the price for you and made you right with God.
Many of us struggle with the belief that we're not good enough. Guess what? We're right - we're not good enough. But praise the Lord we don't have to be good enough. We just have to believe that Jesus is God's son, that he came to earth as a baby, lived a sinless life and died and rose again. It is faith in Jesus that makes us righteous, not anything that we can do.
A prophet was someone in the Old Testament who spoke for God. In Deuteronomy 18:18 God told Moses, I will send them a prophet like you. This prophet will be one of their own people. I will tell him what he must say, and he will tell the people everything I command. God did not give us the Holy Spirit until after Jesus, so he spoke to people through the prophets before that. Sometimes they foretold the future but this wasn't always the case. Women could be prophets as well - Miriam, Deborah and Hulda are three we now of from the Bible. Some significant prophets include Moses, Jeremiah, Samuel, Isaiah, John the Baptist and Jesus.
The New Testament speaks of the gift of prophecy which is different to being a prophet. In 1 Corinthians 14:1 Paul said, Be eager to have the gifts that come from the Holy Spirit, especially the gift of prophecy. A prophecy is a revelation of God. All believers can receive a prophecy or revelation from God because his Spirit lives in us. My understanding is that the gift of prophecy involves sharing a revelation from God, something that has been revealed to you by the Holy Spirit. Any prophecy must line up with God's word, otherwise it is false.
God is omnipresent, that means that he is everywhere at the same time. It's a pretty crazy concept to wrap your brain around but he is God and not confined to human limitations.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
This concept is both encouraging and disconcerting. It is a great comfort knowing that God is with me through the good times and the bad. He is not just with me, but his Holy Spirit is in me and helps me. Helps me to be more patient, kind, gentle and loving, helps me to persevere when life is hard, gives me wisdom, helps me to be more like Jesus. It means I can talk to him at any time of the day or night.
The fact that God is always with me also helps me to be more careful how I act and what I say. It helps me to decide whether to watch that movie, listen to that song, read that article... because God is watching, listening or reading over my shoulder.
Imagine Jesus walking beside you today. Are there some things that you would do or say differently knowing that he is with you always?
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.