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Sharing the insights I discover as I explore and experience the mystery that is our reality. Join me in my journey and share yours.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Heart Zealous for God

I'd like to share a quote I read this morning in the book, Knowing God, by J.I. Packer. I read it this morning and couldn't help but want to share it here. It's all about having zeal for God, having a passion for God that consumes us so much that God is our one and only desire. I found it really inspiring, and would love to hear your thoughts, reflections towards it as well.

"Zeal in religion is a burning desire to please God, to do His will, and to advance His glory in the world in every possible way. It is a desire which no man feels by nature-which the Spirit puts in the heart of every believer when he is converted-but which some believers feel so much more strongly than others that they alone deserve to be called 'zealous' men...A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives, or whether he dies-whether he has health, or whether he has sickness-whether he is rich, or whether he is poor-whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offense-whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish-whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise-whether he gets honour, or whether he gets shame-for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God's glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it-he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him. Such a one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, work, and give money, he will cry, and sigh, and pray...If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, he will do the work of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, on the hill (Exodus 19:9-13). If he is cut off from working himself, he will give the Lord no rest till help is raised up from another quarter and the work is done. This is what I mean when I speak of 'zeal' in religion."     ~ Bishop J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion, p. 130


Do those words touch your heart? Making it leap with excitment towards the notion of being consumed by God so much that all of our motivations, all of our heart's intentions, are devoted with a single-mindedness towards bringing him glory and honor and praise? Towards pleasing Him?

I have to say, it touched mine! I thirst to know God with all of my heart that sometimes it aches. I want to experience Him with all that He will allow my senses to endure. But do I want to please Him? Do I want to bring Him glory? I do...but sometimes I think my search for theological answers and to understand facets of His character and glimpses of His truth overshadow or even come before a simple desire to please Him and bring Him honor.

God wants us to get to know Him. He wants us to reach out with our hearts, our minds, our souls, towards Him and develop strong relationships that don't quake though the whole world might tremble and shake around us. But, from what this quote says, our supreme desire, our only desire really, should be to please Him. And that, really, when one contemplates it, makes sense. For if we wish to please Him, if that is our ultimate motivation, than naturally all other things will fall into place-the knowing and experiencing Him parts.

I want to have a heart zealous for God! Unendingly zealous! Do you? I pray so. It might be a good prayer, for all of us really to pray- that we might cultivate a heart that puts God first and puts the focus of our intentions and the motivations of our hearts in pleasing Him above all other things. If we are honest with ourselves, I really don't think anyone can have a perfectly zealous heart for God...I mean, it seems certainly a process, an unending one at that. The world is full of tempations, our hearts are permeable enough that influences that steal our focus from God, no matter how sincere we might be towards Him, invade from time to time. So, it would seem natural that prayer and communion with God would be an essential thing in sustaining a heart of zeal towards God.

Let's pray :)

Heavenly Father,

We praise you for the abundant blessings that you have given us in our lives. We may have to endure trials, suffering and pain but your love and the blessed assurance that you give our souls surpasses all temporary things we might have to endure. You have given us your Son, and His innocent blood was shed for our sins, wiping away all the mistakes, all the blunders that our sinful hearts create clean if only we reach towards Him with souls asking for forgiveness. Thank you. Thank you for your unending mercy, for your gift of divine Grace.

Forgive us for not always guarding our hearts, keeping them from the temptations that creep in, stealing our focus from you God. Create in us hearts that are single-mindedly focused on pleasing you.On bringing you praise and honor and glory. Create in us lives that are living testimonies to the power, wonder and love of your Spirit. Through your Spirit, help us advance your love, your compassion, your gentleness, your patience, to a world of suffering, to those who don't yet know you. Let us not care what the world things of our fervent zeal towards you. Let us not care that the world might call some of our words and actions to please you, foolish. For The things of God are foolish to those that don't yet know Him. Let us not care what the world thinks but let our hearts burn with an all-consuming fire of desire to please you. Direct our hearts, our minds and our actions to bring about your will and to bless others and bless your Holy name.

In the name of Jesus,


  1. I want to be zealous for God! And I want to stand with you and say that I don't care what the world thinks of me. My God is always worthy of my full attention, devotion and praise. Amen!

  2. That's the way to be about God. Anything short of that is just kidding. Sadly, many people are only kidding themselves....for now.

    This is very inspiring, Jessica :)

  3. Amen Lisa!!! Thank you Justin!...You are so right...to leave with only a heart that is lukewarm towards God is to live half-heartedly and it gives God no glory and does no good for us either. Very true...so many live that way, and I think even those of us who seek God with all that is inside of us can fall into that trap from time to time. Something to pray for, for sure...

    ~blessings :)

  4. "Do I want to bring Him glory? I do...but sometimes I think my search for theological answers and to understand facets of His character and glimpses of His truth overshadow or even come before a simple desire to please Him and bring Him honor."

    If I may beg to differ just slightly...I think that, for some people (including myself), applying our minds to searching for theological understanding of God's character is part of the act of honouring Him.

    I have been through periods of being "zealous" in the way that your article describes, but for me, sooner or later that emotional fervour burns itself out and my mind seeks to hold onto something more solid.

    I think that my intellect searches for understanding, because that's the mind I was given by God. It's a spiritual gift He has given me, that I search for truth on that level, because to find understanding means I can help to pass it onto others.

    I can't "give" other people emotional fervour and zeal, but I can help to increase understanding, tolerance, and love (I hope) by sharing my searching thoughts. If I can help uplift someone, or help interfaith dialogue, then I have done something to fulfill the intellectual gift God has given me.

    Galatea Cc

  5. Hi Galatea,

    Thank you so much for your comment :) I am an advocate of interfaith dialogue...I think we need more peace in the world and the more that us individuals can build bridges of understanding to others that might hold different views, theologically or otherwise, the closer we will get to more peace. Thich Nhat Hanh has been an invaluable source for me in learning about compassionate listening as well as other concepts, like mindfulness. If we were all more mindful, the world would be a lot different, and different for the better.

    I'm not against trying to understand things when it comes to the Bible...I do think though, if our faith isn't at a certain point, it can pose a threat to the stability of our walk with God...at least that is what I've found myself spiritually. I wouldn't necessarily apply that rule to everyone, but I can only speak from experience. I had a lot of questions, and wrestled with a lot of concepts-including, but not limited to, God's character, the literal nature of the Bible, etc. awhile back. These questions I had really stole my sense of peace and made me feel a distance between myself and God. I think part of that reason was because I was losing my trust in God, and in His Word. To be able to worship and praise our God, to be able to seek Him (including His understanding) we have to be able to seek Him with all our minds, our hearts and our strength...and we can't do that whole -heartedly if we don't trust Him whole heartedly.

    In proverbs it tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and understanding. From what I've learned and experienced one has to have their heart right and truly fixed on God (with zeal!), with the realization of His holiness, the realization of His Grace and Mercy...when those factors are in place, God blesses our human heart with understanding and knowledge, he opens the eyes of our hearts and minds with invaluable insights and revelations. He blesses us for the trust and faith we put in Him and for our seeking hearts, that our hearts pursue His knowledge in the honest and pure intention of bringing Him glory. When we live a zealous life with God, experiencing Him daily, even minute to minute, the truths that we seek come tumbling towards us at a greater speed than which we could have come across them on our own, and in deeper ways than we could even think or imagine.

    Anyways, just some of my own thoughts that came up while reading your comment. Thank you so much for it. I think it's important to have different views come here-that brings about a meaningful exchange of dialogue that sometimes challenges the way we think...and that's a good thing. It's good to stretch and grow! :)