As the temperature drops outside, and what was once “morning dew” becomes a seamless carpet of frost, I’m glad to dwell in a heated home. Doubtlessly, nearly every person is now utilizing their heater to offset the crippling winter cold. In such a simple heating system, I draw your attention to the thermostat. This simple device has one function, to set the temperature of the house. We have all used one at some point and realize its vital function. The user defines the acceptable minimum temperature, and the device allows an electric current to turn on the heat until the desired level is reached. I wonder in a world that has grown cold towards God, what our spiritual thermostat is set at? I wonder what we allow our minimum baseline level of spiritual heat to be? We would all agree that keeping a home at 40°F (4.4°C) is below an acceptable level for anyone to dwell therein. Might heaven be asking us to turn our spiritual thermostats to a higher level? Might there be a temperature that God is more comfortable and capable to move in? What is our thermostat currently set for and what should it be set for?
I equate the thermostat to spiritual passion. Passion, also known as zeal, is an essential spiritual force inside of every professing Christian. Passion can be defined as an extraordinary concern, an intense heat, a jealously for the things of God, an enduring enthusiasm, a fervent mind and spirit, an indignation for all other things, an excitement of the mind, and a spiritual fierceness. Without passion, there is no capacity to entertain, know, or experience the presence of God. Without passion there is no ability to excel, change, or deepen your spirituality. Passion is a primary driving force to seek God, to praise God, to give to God, to become like God, to be born again of God, and to win others to God. Without a personal spiritual passion – praise is reduced to senseless motions (2Sam 6:20-23, Acts 2:11-13), prayer is reduced to empty words (Mat 6:5, 6:7, 7:6), the miraculous becomes seemingly impossible (Mat 13:58, 17:19-20, Mark 6:5-6, 9:23-24, 16:14, Heb 3:12), and experiencing a personal touch from God’s Spirit becomes increasingly unimportant (Acts 7:51). But possessing passion sets the spiritual thermostat higher; allowing the atmosphere to heat up. It opens a door for the miraculous, for revival, and for a manifestation of God (Exo 40:34-35, 2Chron 5:13-14, 7:1-2).
Where is your thermostat set at? Do you have a burning passion for God? When is the last time you prayed with such hunger and desperation that it drove you to tears? When is the last time you worshiped God with all of your body, heart, soul, and mind? How often are you willing to skip church and miss meeting with God? How radical are you about growing the church, winning souls, teaching bible studies, praying for the unsaved? How many days of the week do you read your bible? How many days do you pray? How many people have you intentionally invited to church, shared your testimony with, or shared Acts 2:38/John 3:5 with this week? Are you content to go through a service without really touching God, really being changed, seeing someone baptized, seeing someone receive the Holy Spirit, hearing God speak to you, or receiving a miracle? Might the deficit between where we are and where we ought to be, be derived by setting our spiritual thermostats too low? We should aim to settle for nothing less than a passionate, red-hot, spirit-filled, anointed, miraculous, & vibrant walk with God. We ought not justify our inactivity, complacency, apathy, and contentment – but we ought to stir up a passion for God (2Tim 1:6, Psa 35:23, Exo 36:2, Hag 1:14).
Rev 3:15-16 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Here, in the book of Revelation, God gives a firm warning to a church filled with the “lukewarm.” These were not atheists, they had done good in the past, they knew the truth, and they were still church-goers. However, these had let their passions grow dim. Perhaps by laziness, perhaps by cause of their human concerns, or perhaps by the many busy distractions of their day, they straddled the fence between possessing true passion for God and total spiritual inactivity. This represents the most dangerous population of Christendom, to whom the Spirit has already spoken to and challenged to do more, to excel, to respond, to preach, to pray, to grow – and yet they remain motionless, passionless, liturgical, full in their mind and empty in their hearts. Entire churches can be composed of the lukewarm, where miracles are rare, gifts of the Spirit are unheard of, and the infilling power of the Holy Spirit goes unexperienced. Many believers go their entire lives without winning a single soul, teaching a bible study, giving to God, improving their character, deepening their Holiness, or really praising God. The spiritual danger in this is due to the failure to respond, not by cause of ignorance, but by cause of apathy (James 4:17, Luk 12:48, Luke 12:47, Ezek 33:8-9).
Rev 3:17,19 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: […] (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
We need to realize our need of God. He has preserved this passage in Revelation as a wake up call. An invitation to return to what should be our first love and focus, Him. We need to stir that passion, we need to set our thermostats, we need to be filled with that fire (Mat 3:11). God cannot stand the ambivalent; those that ride the fence between spiritual activity and dormancy (Rev 3:15-16), those that live between consecration and sin (Mat 6:24), and those that are “in” His house but don’t invest themselves fully “to” his house (Acts 5:1-5). What is the response then, which the lukewarm are expected to heed:
Jos 24:14-15 Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. (15) And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
The invitation is simple “choose this day whom you will serve.” Get off the fence, turn up your thermostat, stir up your passion for God, and abandon every-other distraction. I have used the term “apathy” several times. “Apathy” comes from two Greek words. The first is the “a-” prefix, which means “without.” This is a common prefix. For instance, medically, when someone is running a fever they called are “febrile,” but to be “without a fever” they are referred to as “afebrile.” Thus, “apathy” refers to a lack of “pathy.” This second word, “pathy,” is defined as “passion, love, and emotion.” Such apathy grips Christianity today. A passionless, ambivalent, indifferent, unconcerned, emotionless, halfhearted, lukewarm, and monotonous spirituality is considered “the norm.” Wake-up from your slumber, arise from spiritual dormancy, and let your walk with God be more passionately hot than that! You may not be able to change the world, but resolve this day, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Regardless of what others will do, I will pray, I will be at church, I will know the Word, I will become like-Christ, I will go deeper in God, I will love the Lord, I will win souls, and I will be on fire for God.
To be “Christian,” is to be “Christ-like.” And there might be nothing more Christ-like, than the possession of compassion. Jesus was referred to as being compassionate multiple times (Mat 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 18:27, 20:34, Mark 1:41, 5:19, 6:34, 8:2, Luk 7:13, 15:20, Rom 9:15, etc). Compassion is another two word conjunction, and is the antonym of apathy. “Com” is a prefix meaning “with,” and this is simply followed by the word “passion.” God was filled with a passion for us; a passion for the lost, a passion for the sick, and a passion to redeem us. It was the passion of God for us, that drove him to step out of heaven and to die on a cross for us. And it is a passion for God that drives us out of our comforts and concerns, to seek Him fervently. There are only a few that will heed the call to be passionate, but you can be among them that truly embody being “Christ-like.”
Jud 1:22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
1John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
Luk 10:33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him[…]
God didn’t come and die for a passionless, prayerless, worshipless, miracleless, unfaithful, empty, quiet, and cold church. Titus 2:14 says “[He] gave himself for us,that he might redeem us from all iniquity,& purify unto himself a peculiar people, [passionate] of good works.” What does a true passion filled heart sound like? Consider the writings of David:
Psa 119:139 My [passion] hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.
Psa 27:4-6 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. (5) For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. (6) And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.
Psa 84:1-2, 4, 10 How amiable are thy tabernacles, O LORD of hosts! (2) My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God[…](4) Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they will be still praising thee[…](10) For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Passion is said by Webster’s to denote “a strong emotion that has an overwhelming or compelling effect.” This emotion, this spirit, this mentality, and this attitude is essential of Christians. Simply put, you must be passionate for God, for the house of God, for the things of God, and towards the cause of God. After all, passion was first possessed and exhibited by God.
John 2:13-17 And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, (14) And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: (15) And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; (16) And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. (17) And his disciples remembered that it was written, The [passion] of thine house hath eaten me up.
He, so wildly and passionately, desired to move in their lives he could not passively go through the service and let their focus be drawn away to other cares. But literally and physically shook them from their frozen spirituality. As to awaken their spirit and activate an internal realization of spiritual dormancy, initiating a return to refocused spiritual passion. As tables were turned over, hearts were turning back to God. As money fell to the ground, walls that dammed back spiritual passion fell with them. The people would emerge convicted, but invigorated by a realization of their need for God.
God places a high premium on passion. Few there be that have sufficient care and passion to shake off the concerns of this life. Get ahold of a red-hot spiritual passion that drives you to pray, drives you to praise, drive you to attend church faithfully, drives you to reach the lost, and drives you to excel in God. Get serious enough to turn tables over in your life, in your home, and in your spirit. Take a moment to earnestly/objectively stop and consider where your spiritual thermostat is set. And consider, if you really got a true passion for God, what could it change in your life? Where could you be in another month, year, ten years, and in eternity? What in heaven would be constrained from you in this life or in the next? Truly, I know not a thing!
- Zeal/Passion: Isa 59:17, Eccl 9:10, 2Kings 10:16, Psa 119:2,139, John 2:17, Rom 10:2, Col 4:13, 2Tim 1:6, 2Pet 1:13, Psa 119:139, Num 25:11, Jer 29:13, Joel 2:12, Luke 8:39, Acts 18:25, 21:20, 1Cor 14:12, Tit 2:14, Rev 3:19