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Hearts on Fire 04: Fueling Our Zeal w/ Wisdom

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Introduction
We are continuing our series today on the topic of zeal. Our theme verse for this series has been .
Titus 2:14 NKJV
14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
1 Timothy 1:12–13 CSB
I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry—even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief,

Scripture Reading

“who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
This passage challenges us to be the people who Jesus died for. He freed us from slavery to sin, He cleansed us, and He made us His people with the goal in mind that we would have a passion within us to do good deeds/works for Him and to follow in His steps. He was a zealous warrior in coming to this earth to fight for the salvation of souls. And we too must put on our spiritual armor with zeal so that we can be victorious when Satan comes against us.
Last week we began working through our definition of zeal that we gave in our first lesson in this series. We talked about the burning desire that we need to have within ourselves to please God in what we believe and do as Christians.
Today, I would like to build upon the ideas of that lesson. We are going to begin looking at how we can fuel our fire - how we can keep it burning hot and growing stronger. This lesson and the next three lessons will give us spiritual logs to add to our fire. The first of these “logs” that we are going to talk about is fueling our fire by seeking wisdom and knowledge.
This subject follows up well the ideas of our last lesson. If we have a burning desire to please God, then we are going to seek wisdom, first and foremost from His word, but also from others who are experienced in his word and mature in the faith.
There are a couple benefits to seeking wisdom and knowledge that I would like to look at today.
Today, I would like to build upon the ideas in that lesson. We are going to begin looking at how we can fuel our fire - how we can keep it burning hot and growing stronger.

They Will Keep You Zealous for the Right Things ()

Point 1 ()

The first reason we need to seek wisdom to keep our fire burning hot and growing is that knowledge and wisdom will keep you zealous for the right things. We can have zeal, but be passionately wrong in what we are pursuing and making the focus of our lives. An example of this is the Jews, especially those who were leading the people at the time of Jesus and the Apostles. Paul says about them in :
Romans 10:2 CSB
2 I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.
“I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Romans 10:2).
Paul knows the fire that they have. He used to be one of them. He used to have his zeal focused on the same things that they did. In , Paul says that he even surpassed his contemporaries.
They had zeal for God, but it did not lead them in the right direction because knowledge of God’s will and wisdom was not directing it. And it is not the case that Paul is just ridiculing them here and calling them ignorant people. He is speaking from experience. Paul knows the fire that they have for God because He used to be one of them. He used to have his zeal that was misdirected as they do.
Paul knows the fire that they have. He used to be one of them. He used to have his zeal focused on the same things that they did. In , Paul says that he even surpassed his contemporaries.
verses talking about his zeal as a jew in phil and gal.
For instance, in , Paul says this about his former way of life as a Pharisee to the Galatian Christians:
“For you have heard about my former way of life in Judaism: I intensely persecuted God’s church and tried to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many contemporaries among my people, because I was extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors” (Galatians 1:13-14).
Galatians 1:13–14 CSB
For you have heard about my former way of life in Judaism: I intensely persecuted God’s church and tried to destroy it. I advanced in Judaism beyond many contemporaries among my people, because I was extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.
Also in , in giving some examples of things he could have boasted in as an Israelite, he says:
“circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.” ().
Also in ,

regarding zeal, persecuting the church

If anyone else thinks he has grounds for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee; 6 regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.

Philippians 3:5 CSB
circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; regarding the law, a Pharisee;
regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.” ().
Philippians 3:
Paul understood very well what is was like to have zeal that is misguided or misdirected. The Jews at the time and Jesus and Paul were this way. In the context of , we see that there zeal was focused on the wrong thing. It was focused on seeking righteousness based on the law, and this led them to neglect God’s teachings all throughout the law and the prophets which taught about the Messiah and how righteousness and the mercy from God comes by faith.
Romans 10:3 CSB
Since they are ignorant of the righteousness of God and attempted to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness.
You see in Paul, and also in the Jewish leaders as they interacted with Jesus, a zeal focused on other things. Paul talked about how, as a Pharisee, he was zealous for of the traditions of his fathers. This is often what the Jews were most zealous about. Jesus says in that they were exalting their traditions to the level of God’s law. This is how zealous they were for their traditions. They fought for their way of practicing Judaism. They zealously went after and attacked those who were not doing things their way, all the while neglecting things in the law that they needed to be doing for God.
JESUS
Jesus gives us an example of being zealous for the right things… We have seen this in , the passage where we are told that He put His battle armor on with zeal so He could go fight for the deliverance of His people. His zeal brought us salvation. We also see another instance of this in . When Jesus came into the temple and saw how those who claimed to be God’s people had turned it into a marketplace, Jesus with zeal cleansed the temple. He drove out people who were buying and selling animals. He turned over the money-changers’ tables. His disciples heard this, and they remembered a passage of scripture from
“And his disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for your house will consume me" ()
What led Jesus to have such zeal for God’s house and to do such a thing to cleanse it? And more than likely, He did this two times, once in the beginning of His ministry and once at the end. His knowledge of what this Holy place was to be used for is what led Him to do this. His Father’s house was not supposed to be a marketplace. It wasn’t supposed to be a den of thieves. It was to be a house of prayer for all the nations to come to so they could receive mercy and worship.
Many may have looked at what Jesus did as being radical and over the top, but this is not the case. This is Jesus showing HIs zeal and love for God and for things that are holy in His actions.
APPLICATION:
May this describe us at times? May it be the case that our zeal is directed towards the wrong things: towards our traditions or towards seeking self-righteousness? Whenever we find ourselves so quickly condemning others and saying people are sinning because they do not doing things or believing things exactly like we do, may it be the case that we are showing that we are more zealous for our traditions than for obeying God’s law?
He was a Pharisee who claimed to love the law and the traditions of the Jews.
1 Timothy 1:12–13 CSB
I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because he considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry—even though I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief,
May we instead have zeal like our Lord Jesus - zeal towards things that are worth being zealous about. About God, His holiness, His household… His people. Things and people we are told to devote ourselves to.

Knowledge & Wisdom Will Keep You From Doing Damage

Gaining wisdom and knowledge also guards us from doing damage to others. Sometimes we may not seek God’s wisdom and end up saying or doing things we may regret later on. I gave an example of this in our first lesson.
It can keep us form saying or doing things we may regret later on. I gave an example of this in our first lesson.
we can, in our zeal, not first think through how we need to say or do things. Sometimes we may not seek God’s wisdom and end up saying or doing things we may regret later on. Sometimes our zeal can lead us to even do something that is sinful or to be a stumbling block to someone because we do not first seek wisdom regarding how to interact with people. I gave an example of this in our first lesson.
What often happens is that those who obey the Gospel - they are on fire, but then they are like a bull in a china shop because they are not focusing their zeal correctly. At times, if zeal does not have wisdom accompanying it, more damage can be done than good. When someone who has this fire for the LORD sees that they are not being helpful to people that they are trying to serve and teach, you begin to see the fire dwindle.
Sometimes we see something that needs done or see something that the LORD wants done being rejected by His people, and we don’t stop and consider how to interact with those who we want to help or exhort, and because of this we can make things worse when we act. It is good that your zeal is leading you to want to do something. Always be willing to do what God wants you to do, but seek wise counsel and seek God’s word first.
I believe Jehu is a great example of how we can go “overboard” in our zeal for the Lord and cause damage. We talked about him for a moment in our study of . In , Jehu was anointed King over Israel. When he was anointed, God also commissioned Jehu to destroy the whole house of Ahab for his injustice and for the innocent blood he had shed. Jehu did a mighty fine job at this. He killed the King of Israel, Jehoram the son of Ahab, and also Jezebel. In chapter 10 of 2 Kings, he has all of the sons of Ahab, 70 in all, put to death.
Jehu is a great example of how we can go “overboard” in our zeal for the Lord and cause damage.
After this, in , Jehu invites a man to come into his chariot and tells Him:
“Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord.” So he had him ride in his chariot. And when he came to Samaria, he struck down all who remained to Ahab in Samaria, till he had wiped them out, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke to Elijah.” ()
Everything is looking great here, right? He is showing great zeal in obeying the LORD. But then, after this in , Jehu used deception to get all of the priests and worshippers of Baal into one place so that He could put them to death. Although God wanted idolatry cleansed from the land, the means by which he did it was not good. He also, in , kills 42 men who were relatives of Ahaziah, the king of Judah who Jehu put to death. These men were likely descendants of David. So in His zeal, he had been deceptive, and He had killed some in David’s house, going beyond what the LORD had commanded. At the end of His reign, this is what is said of Jehu:
“Yet Jehu was not careful to follow the instruction of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart.” ().
In , God says He would punish Jehu’s house for the blood that was shed at Jezreel.
So in , God said that He would punish Jehu’s house for the blood that was shed at Jezreel.
APPLICATION:
Jehu’s zeal later on led to the judgment of God’s people ()
Proverbs says:
We need to learn from Jehu’s example here. When, in our zeal, we are not careful to seek the instruction of the LORD, we can get ourselves into trouble and do things that we will later regret. We need to stop and think before we act to make sure what we are going to say or do is pleasing to the LORD.
Proverbs says:
knowledge/wisdom will guard you and keep you from stumbling????
Paul says in Colossians 4:5-6:

Examples of rightly channeled zeal: Jesus & Phineas

Probably the best person to look at as an example of zeal that is channeled rightly by wisdom is the Lord Jesus.
John 2:17 CSB
And his disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for your house will consume me.
His love for God and His knowledge of God’s word led Him to have this zeal that led Him to cleanse His Father’s house. He knew that scripture taught that God’s house was designed to be a house of prayer for the nations - a place to find mercy and to show one’s devotion to God, but the Jews of His day turned the temple court into a marketplace where greed and theft were practiced. Many may have looked at what Jesus did as being radical and over the top, but this is not the case. This is Jesus showing HIs zeal and love for God and for things that are holy in His actions.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” ()
Application
Another example is Phineas in .
Conclusion
Application & Conclusion
We need to have a zeal that is led by and fueled by the knowledge of God and His word. When we are pouring ourselves in scripture to gain wisdom, and when we are seeking wise counsel from God’s people who are experienced and mature in the faith, we greatly lessen the chance of our zeal being diminished due to foolish things we may say or do without thinking first. God’s wisdom will help us to make sure it is Him and His cause we are being zealous for.
Remember, Jesus died for you in order to cleanse you from all your sin and to make you one of His special people whoa are zealous for good works. If there is anything that we can do for you today to help you receive God’s mercy today and to help you grow in your zeal for the LORD, we offer an invitation for you right now to do so. If you desire to obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to make your life right with God, the Bible tells us that if you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and if you desire to submit your life fully to Him as your Master and Lord, He is willing to wash your sins away when you are baptized into Christ.
INVITATION
If there is anything we can do for you to be a faithful and fruitful disciple of the LORD who is zealous for good works, we give you the opportunity right now at the end of our time together for you to either obey the Gospel or to request prayers of the church here. If there is anything we can do to help you know the LORD and to help you receive His mercy, why don’t you come forward as together we stand and sing?
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