Never Lack In Zeal

Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 5:10 a.m. – The Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Love Must Be Genuine” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Isaiah 29 (NIV).

An Altar Hearth

Woe to you, Ariel, Ariel,
the city where David settled!
Add year to year
and let your cycle of festivals go on.
Yet I will besiege Ariel;
she will mourn and lament,
she will be to me like an altar hearth.

“Ariel” means “the lion of God.” It is a “symbolic name for Jerusalem ( Isaiah 29:1 Isaiah 29:2 Isaiah 29:7 ) as "victorious under God," and in Ezekiel 43:15 Ezekiel 43:16 , for the altar (marg., Heb. 'ariel) of burnt offerings, the secret of Israel's lion-like strength” - Easton’s Bible Dictionary.

Today “Ariel” – the altar - symbolizes the body of Christ, the church. Thus, translated into Messianic terms, “Ariel” - the altar - is symbolically a spiritual (not physical) place of prayer, repentance, worship, spiritual sacrifice, praise, commitment, surrender, obedience, and submission, etc., such as is spoken of in Romans 12:1-2 where we are strongly urged to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to him, no longer conformed to the ways of this world, but transformed of the Spirit of God in the renewing of heart and mind away from sin and towards humble obedience to God – this is our reasonable act of spiritual worship of God. So, the altar speaks of that intimate fellowship with and worship of and relationship with God Almighty via faith in Jesus Christ, who gave himself up for us so we could be free from sin and so we could walk daily in his righteousness. Yet, there is also the imagery here of warmth, comfort, passion, spiritual fire (zeal), home and family.

Empty Worship

“These people come near to me with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
Their worship of me
is based on merely human rules they have been taught.

This passage of scripture, nonetheless, addresses the problem of hypocritical, false, superficial, empty and/or ritualistic worship of and sacrifice to God absent of true heart transformation, true spiritual passion and commitment, and devoid of true repentance, submission and surrender to Almighty God. This could be speaking of those who are “Christian” in form only, but have never truly been born of the Spirit of God. As well, this could be a reference to those who are God’s children, but who have slipped back into sinful attitudes and behavior reminiscent of their days prior to their salvation, resulting in complacency, idolatry, spiritual adultery, hypocrisy and forms of worship, but absent of true worship of God in spirit and in truth. Many who have slipped away from their pure devotion to God have, instead, become followers of humankind and of the ways of mankind over and above the ways of God, and thus they are in great need of revival and spiritual renewal.

Divine Discipline

The Lord says:

Therefore once more I will astound these people
with wonder upon wonder;
the wisdom of the wise will perish,
the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.”
Woe to those who go to great depths
to hide their plans from the Lord,
who do their work in darkness and think,
“Who sees us? Who will know?”
You turn things upside down,
as if the potter were thought to be like the clay!
Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it,
“You did not make me”?
Can the pot say to the potter,
“You know nothing”?

The Bible teaches that God disciplines (rebukes or chastens) those he loves (See Rev. 3:19), and that hardship is one of the ways in which he disciplines us (See Heb. 12:4-12). God’s discipline is or may be unpleasant and painful, yet its intended purpose is to produce within us patience, godly character, perseverance, and “a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it;” and so that we may share in his holiness. It is for our good that we are disciplined by God. Yet, he also sends judgment, at times, on his wayward children, which is a term that is often closely associated with discipline (See 1 Co. 11:27-32), and this may also come in forms of physical ailments, sickness or even death.

As well, the Bible teaches both in OT prophecies regarding the last days, and in the NT, particularly in Rev. 2-3, that God is deeply concerned when his children are not walking in his ways and when they are chasing after other gods, and that he takes their sin seriously. So, he warns them to return to him, to make him their only God, and for them to walk in his ways and not in the ways of this world. But if they do not repent (turn from) their wicked ways, and if they do not obey him, he will send divine discipline and/or judgment upon them in various forms, depending upon their particular sins and waywardness.

Hope and Healing

In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll,
and out of gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see.
Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord;
the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel…

“No longer will Jacob be ashamed;
no longer will their faces grow pale.
When they see among them their children,
the work of my hands, they will keep my name holy;
they will acknowledge the holiness of the Holy One of Jacob,
and will stand in awe of the God of Israel.

The book of Isaiah, which has a strong Messianic message to it, as well as many prophecies regarding the final days on earth prior to Christ’s return, touches on this theme, throughout the book, of the rebellion of God’s people, calls to return, and then of divine discipline, repentance and spiritual renewal. God’s warnings against idolatry and spiritual adultery, his threats of divine discipline (judgment), and his calls for repentance are most always coupled with promises of restoration, revival, and spiritual renewal, which is his purpose in disciplining his wayward children. So, there is always hope, healing, and the promise of new beginnings (renewal) with God available to all who will turn from their wickedness, by God’s gift of grace, and who will surrender their hearts to Jesus Christ in full assurance of faith.

When the people, both those who had been Christian in name only and those who were God’s wayward children, turn to or return to the Lord, suddenly what they were unable to understand or spiritually see (perceive) previously of the teachings and instructions in God’s holy word for godly living, they can now see and they rejoice in the Lord. Amen! They will humble themselves before God, he will renew them in faith, their feelings of guilt will disappear, and they will once again, or for the first time ever honor their God as the holy God that he is. They will walk in his ways in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit of God within them. And, they will no longer lack in spiritual fervor for their Lord, but they will serve him the rest of their days with godly diligence. Amen!

Love Must be Genuine / An Original Work

October 22, 2013 / Based off Romans 12:9-21

Love must be genuine.
Hate what’s evil; cling to good.
Love each other with affection.
Show respect for ev’ryone.
Never lack in your zeal.
Serve the Lord with diligence.

Rejoice in steadfast hope.
In affliction, patient be.
Keep on praying; share with others.
Practice hospitality.
Bless those who persecute.
Feel with others sympathy.

Be not filled with conceit.
Daily sit at Jesus’ feet.
Live in harmony with others.
Live at peace with ev’ryone.
Repay not to someone
With the evil he begot.

Do not take your revenge;
Leave it to the wrath of God.
If your enemy is thirsty,
Give to him something to drink.
Do what’s right for mankind.
Evil: overcome with good.