Fanatic For Jesus!

 I remember as a teenager, the excitement of retreats or revivals. I came away all charged up. Out I'd go into my routine lifestyle expecting to start seeing changes. People didn't seem to get as fired up as I was, and in about a week I'd be back to my daily plodding. That fire doesn't have to wane. A continuous state of revival is possible, and even more, to be expected (Romans 8:6-13; 1 Peter 3:17,18; 4:1,2; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Galatians 4:18; Titus 2:14). There will be battles and emotional changes, but zealousness for God is a flame constantly fed, if we walk in the Spirit. We need to be careful that we don't mistake all zealousness as meaning we're in the Spirit, however.
  Moses might have had an inkling of God's ultimate destiny for him when he was zealous for his brethren and acted to protect them (Exodus 2:11-15). From the fact he had to flee and wasn't able to push through to the full deliverance he was to see 40 years later, we can see his zealousness at that time was fleshly. Later, God converted that zeal into proper alignment with His Spirit, so he returned a changed man powered by God (Exodus 3:1-10).

  To be revived, or at least given a little more umph, we've got to start with our part, commitment. It's easy to say we want to serve God without thinking it over. If we don't, though, we may find we can't finish the course a little later. We need to check for commitment.
  My wife and I got to know this Christian woman. Let's give her the alias name of Bonnie. Now Bonnie had been a Christian most of her life. She was brought up in a Christian home always going to church. She was, however, very young in spiritual development. We started sharing with her the things God had shown us in our walk. We explained "walking in the Spirit" and other important doctrines. Bonnie was so excited to be learning these things, no one had ever told her before. She said, "The more I learn, the more I know I want to be a fanatic for Jesus!" Amen? I hope you can relate to that statement! The spirit of revival had sparked in Bonnie. She was excited, eager to learn and be committed 100%.
  In the story of Bonnie there's also a warning. Bonnie was willing and eager, ready to pay any price, or so she thought. She made that statement of commitment late on a Monday night. We had a Bible study with her and her husband on a topic of concern to them Tuesday evening. The issue was one that condemned an aspect in their lifestyle. She could see what the Bible said and it condemned her. The topic this time wasn't some new thing to receive, but it meant a sacrifice in a change of lifestyle. After the Bible study, we left. Bonnie and her husband did some more studying that evening and on Wednesday morning. Come Wednesday afternoon, she had almost completely hardened her heart. Her attitude was on the violent side. She wasn't honest with scripture and sought council from friends and family that would support what she wanted to believe. Bonnie said to my wife, "What if I go along with you on this? When you leave I'll be on my own." Her concern was her personal cost not, "What does the Bible say?"
  It would most likely have cost Bonnie her friends and family, even the ministry she badly wanted. Bonnie and her husband would have been happy if we forgot about the issue and went on. If we want to be fanatics for Jesus, there's something we need to realize. We can't pick and choose from God what we want to do and believe. Our Christian walk isn't a menu, it's obedience no matter what the consequences. We need to pay heed to what God shows us, when He shows us (Philippians 3:15). We can turn from a fanatic for Christ into a not so cooperative servant in a short span of hours.
  A question we should be asking ourselves, "What could Bonnie have done to safeguard her Monday night commitment?" This is an important point. If there's a way to prevent ourselves from falling, we need to know. Maybe we need to start by checking if we're really committed. We may think we're committed simply because our heart hasn't been tested (Luke 14:25-33; John 6:41-71; Luke 18:18-23).

  9 For with thee is the fountain of life; in thy light shall we see light.    Psalm 36:9
  As this Psalm shows, we need to gain revelation from the position of first being in the light. We need to ask God to search our hearts. God, am I willing? Am I sacrificed to You in all areas? Are there areas I would rather You didn't bring up?

  I've included a list of situations we could find ourselves in. Go through this list picturing yourself in each situation. Examine your heart's response. As Christians, we almost exclusively have one of two responses:

  A) We begin a sort of panicky search to find a means to justify the easy way out. Our heart attempts to satisfy the flesh's desires, while pacifying the conscience and fear of God.                      or
  B) We resign in God's peace, standing just on His word and following it.

  As you go through the list, circle the number of any you struggle with. Go back to those and seek the Lord's overcoming. Ask for His application of the cross in that area of your life:

1.   a) Your boss tells you to tell someone on the phone he's not there.
    b) Your boss asks you to make a copy of your cassette, or computer program for him. (Available copyrighted material.)

2.   a) For the wife: Your husband says "I don't want you reading the Bible anymore." He forbids you to fellowship with Christians. (I know a couple who considered these and said they felt they could handle them. Later her husband turned from the Lord and commanded his wife to cease fellowshipping with fellow saints and she obeyed him saying, "I have to have peace in my own home.")
    b) For the husband to be: Your finance refuses to have the "to obey" in her part of the wedding vows.

3. Your brothers, sisters, parents, in-laws, etc. count you as an enemy and treat you as such with slanderous rumors, cursings and the like. (Your heart's temptation here is to strike back or hate.)

4. You begin to realize you and your Christian friends are living in sinful ways (not blatantly obvious ones.) You take a stand for righteousness and thus realize, if you hold to these new realizations, you'll soon be alone. No more friends or companions.

5. You may evaluate your heart and feel secure on blatantly obvious sins. You won't go along with embezzlement, etc. Consider the little things. The people you're with tell you a racist, sadistic, or sexual joke. (Religious commitment is one thing. What if they think you're a fanatic or worse yet, a stodgy prude for not laughing with them.)

6. Your Christian brother or sister is in a sin you need to confront, be it major or minor.

7. You've accomplished a lot. You have your Ph.D., lots of training, experience, served on lots of committees, great resume. (The heart's temptation is to make sure everyone around you knows or you have a secret feeling of superiority/look down on others.)

8. You've trained for years, now God tells you to go another direction and not use that skill you learned.

9. God wants you to move some place other than where you want to live, away from family, near family, cross-country.

10. Someone you know takes your offers of help for granted. He even begins to act like you owe it to him. The gratitude you're repaid is his criticizing your help behind your back. (The heart's temptation is to bitterness, or vindication of your slandered name.)

11. In accomplishing God's will, you have your motives misunderstood and are ridiculed. (The heart's temptation is to make them understand so you're vindicated.)

12. You're generous about doing things for others, going out of your way. After all this, you still have time reserved just for yourself. You're asked to give even this up.

13. On one of your doctrinal beliefs, you have accepted an erroneous view. Someone is trying to show you the correct view. (In this there can be another heart response of stonewall hardness. A predetermined prejudice of, "I'll look, but I already know" attitude.)

  If you breezed through the list, no struggles at all, this still doesn't guarantee you'll never fall, but it's a good beginning. If we're to stand before Christ and hear Him say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant" we're going to need to have some understanding of ourselves (Matthew 25: 14-30). Overconfidence is a dangerous thing. We need biblical enlightenment and evaluation not to be mistaken with psychology. If we don't recognize we're sinners, we can't repent. If we don't realize what comes from ourselves is worthless, we won't be letting God do His work through us. If we have self-confidence, then that's exactly who we're trusting, self.
  Several powerful passages that relate to this discussion at this point are:

  12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.  
 1 Corinthians 10:12
 12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.                   
 Proverbs 14:12
 2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the hearts.    Proverbs 21:2

  2 All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.    Proverbs 16:2

  Now we've taken a look at our commitment, we need to know how to secure our commitment. A good place to start, is with the parable of the sower:

  4 And when much people were gathered together, and were come to him out of every city, he spake by a parable: 5 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. 6 And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. 8 And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. 9 And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? 10 And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand. 11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.       
Luke 8:4-15 (Matthew 13:3-23)
 In this parable, we find seed falling upon different grounds. The only soil the seed held ground on was that which had been properly prepared, the honest heart. If the soil of our heart is rocky, we need to have it broken up. If it's too weedy, it needs to be weeded out.

  What's it going to take to be that good, prosperous soil?
  The second poor soil was the commitment made on the excitement of new revelation. From this we can see that excitement alone isn't sufficient. From verse 15, we see the good soil was founded in an honest heart. An honest heart admits to God, "God, I can't do it, it's all in your hands, help me, even make me willing where I'm not!" We need to keep an eye on our heart's honesty, and be aware of our corrupt nature. Don't forget, the Devil is the Father of Lies (John 8:44), he starts corrupt at his foundation. We have to have revelation of our corrupt nature, or we won't die to it. This nature is the focus of Romans chapter 7. Our awareness will lead us to the next step of dieing to ourselves.
  Jesus says:

  27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.  33 So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not ALL that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.            (ALL in caps, my emphasis)
Luke 14:27,33
  Forsaking ALL would include our own efforts, for it's that which "we" have. For us to forsake our own good efforts, our spirit has to break. A verse in the Psalms goes along with this:

  17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.       
Psalm 51:17

  Once our own strength is broken, we're free to be moved by God's strength through the Holy Spirit. This is the walk of faith. Galatians 5:22 and 23 tells us the righteousness of God being manifested through us is a fruit, not a work.
  Romans chapter 8 tells us that for any good to come from us, it has to be by the Spirit. All else is corrupted. The walk of faith is like the salvation by faith. We don't do good works to be saved, we believe God for it; likewise, we don't do good works as a process of our life, we believe God to live it through us.

  The committed people in the good soil bear fruit. How do committed people behave? You'll find a blanket answer in 2 Timothy:
 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.      
 2 Timothy 3:15-17

  We'll find all we need in the scripture. It's a complete training manual. In our embarking on a commitment, we're going to need to become students (Acts 17:10,11; 2 Timothy 2:15,16).
  Picture yourself being hired for a new job. If you didn't know how to perform the tasks you were hired for, you'd be rather useless, wouldn't you? If you embark on a new career, you need to learn a new skill. Christians who commit themselves to the Lord, but don't study His Word, are like those who take on a new line of employment without studying how to use the equipment. It sounds kind of ridiculous doesn't it? This is where most Christians seem to come up against a rock wall. They refuse to do real, honest study of God's Word on their own. With many, the best you'll get is to have them read someone else's written lessons and accept that, but they still won't hit the Book. Spiritual laziness has to go.
  In our reading the Bible, we need to read with diligence. Don't just look at scripture superficially. Look at the Bible as if it were a legal document, after all, a testament is. If, because we look at a passage superficially, we assume we'll get something because of its wording, we may be disappointed or even shamed. An advertisement in a paper read: Solar Powered Clothes Dryer $50. Many people ordered this expensive clothes line, but they got what was advertised. God doesn't put deceptive advertising in His Word, but similar misunderstandings happen all the time. We need to be diligent and honest in our examination.
  All our Bible study will avail us nothing, unless we apply what we learn. Here is where the commitment will apply itself, in our daily walk. We need to QUESTION all our activities. EVALUATE the principles involved in each one, the purposes and the results. SEE what the Bible has to say about these (Psalm 119; Psalms 26:1-3; 2 Corinthians 13:5).

  The Bible does discuss everything, right on down to modern television entertainment. In everything we do, there's a principle involved and that principle is dealt with in the scripture.

  We need to discern our heart, making sure it stands in the right place before God so we can truly confess, "The more I learn, the more I know I want to be a fanatic for Jesus!"

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Free to Copy under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND3.0 License by Darrell Farkas
All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible

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