In the pursuit of enthusiasm


This lesson tonight is comes from a tract that Debbie Rose gave me that she thought would make a good sermon and I have to agree with her. The first thing I want to look at is the enthusiasm that Zacchaeus had.


Luke 19:1 Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho.  2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich.  3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature.  4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way.  5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house."  6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully.  7 But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, "He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner."  8 Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold."  9 And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham;  10 "for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."  


You can see just how enthusiastic Zacchaeus was in his pursuit to see Jesus. Notice all these action words associated with this story, sought, ran, climbed, made hast, came down, received him, stood and said, I give, I restore. This little man was excited and he wanted to make his life right and he was going to do it with enthusiasm.


Confucius says, “Whatever you go, go with your whole heart” and that is exactly what Zaccheaeus was doing. This is the same attitude that we should all have in our lives as we strive to serve God. There are many stories that all of us could share about people we know that have had so much zeal that they would suffer through pain to accomplish their goal.


For instance, one example given in this tract was about man who led the Philadelphia Orchestra even though he had a dislocated shoulder and it gave it his all. We need ask ourselves the question, have we continued pursing our spiritual goals even when things are against us or do we even have any spiritual goals?


Sometimes we are guilty about being passionate about the wrong things instead of being passionate about good things. A great example of this comes from the parable that Jesus told in,


Matthew 22:2 "The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son,  3 "and sent out his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding; and they were not willing to come.  4 "Again, he sent out other servants, saying, 'Tell those who are invited, "See, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and fatted cattle are killed, and all things are ready. Come to the wedding." '  5 "But they made light of it and went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business.

This parable is teaching how these people were invited to be God’s people, but they were more concerned about their own lives and so they ignored the invitation. This is what happens to us sometimes. We show all kinds of zeal for worldly pursuits, but we don’t show any for serving God. We need to have our priorities straight and not be afraid to show our enthusiasm for Christ to others even if this means cutting out some of the worldly activities we are involved in. Sometime serving God enthusiastically requires sacrifice.


Paul is a great example of this because when he was converted he had to give up his position as a well-known Pharisee and his comfortable life-style to become a preacher for God’s Word. Notice what he says in,


Philippians 3:4 If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:  5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;  6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.  7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.  8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ  


Even though Paul had a very hard life as a Christian and went hungry, was imprisoned, was beaten and almost stoned to death in his pursuit of enthusiasm to serve God he was content and happy with his choice because he knew with confidence that the path he choose would cause him to gain Christ.


This is the same attitude that we must have today. Even if the world calls us strange and speaks evil us we cannot allow that to curb our enthusiasm for serving our Lord.


Lets take a look now at what enthusiasm can do for Christians. Notice this quote,


“We admire the pluck of the plowman who was asked on the cross-examination if he could read Greek and he replied that he did not know because he had never tried.”


This teaches us the concept that you never know what you might be able to accomplish for the Lord if you enthusiastically try.


One thing that enthusiasm will do is turn a dying congregation into a lively one.

As I have gone around to some of our sister congregations on the preacher exchange program, I have seen some congregations that used to be full of life that are now dieing and hanging on by a thread. Somewhere down the line they lost their enthusiasm. Attendance dropped, they stop giving as they should, the sermons have lost their fire, people stopped evangelizing, the young people left and the old people are slowing dying off.


But this does not have to be the case and some of these same congregation that are dying can turn their situation around, but its going to have to have some members that are willing to enthusiastically serve the Lord and make things happen. They need a preacher who is on fire and loves to preach the truth and who can motive the members to relight their spiritual passion for God. We need to set a spiritual goal in our personal life and what we would like to see happen in our congregation and then we must pursue it.


Ralph Waldo Emerson, said, “Every great and commanding movement in the annals of the world is the triumph of enthusiasm.  Nothing great was ever achieved without out.”


We can learn from the Bible that an enthusiastic church full of zeal can be contagious and stir up other congregation for well. For instance, notice what Paul says about the church at Corinth,


2 Corinthians 9:2   for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia (ah-kay-yah) was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority.    


So, if we get on fire for the Lord will be too hot for the devil to handle.


Enthusiasm improves leadership.

When you have leaders in the church that are excited about serving the Lord and growing the church you are going to have leaders that inspire and encourage it members to be more involved in the working of the church. This will also cause the members to want to do better at inviting people to services, giving more generously, and studying their Bibles. When leaders are full of zeal, they will constantly be looking for ways to grow the Lord’s church and to train and direct its members.


On the flip side, we need members that will encourage and support the leaders in our congregation to help motivate them to have the type of tenacity they need to push forward and make things happen. When you have both the leaders and the other members excited about serving God, then you are going to have a congregation that is growing spiritually and has the potential to grow numerically.


Enthusiasm improves preaching.


Have you ever noticed how excited people are to talk about those things they are passionate about? Their faces light up and they tend to talk a little faster and you can tell they are enthusiastic about what they are saying. Well, this same thing hold true when it comes to preaching the Word of God. I can’t tell how many times I have gone to hear someone preach to find out that they were a dry as piece of toast. They seemed like the life had been sucked out of them and they were just speaking the words. The fire they once had for preaching God’s Word had either went out or was about to go out.


Thomas Fuller said, “When the heart is afire, some sparks will fly out of the mouth.”

And as one older preacher told a younger preacher, “If you cannot put some fire into your sermon, put your sermon into the fire”.


Friends, if you can’t get excited about preaching the Word of God there has to some underlying problem because to have the opportunity to share the words of life to others and to encourage people to follow the way of God should be more than enough to cause a preacher to be passionate and enthusiastic when he speaks before a congregation.


Even when people don’t like to hear the truth it shouldn’t stop a preacher from giving his best when he proclaims the truth. He should have the attitude that Isaiah had,


Isaiah 62:1  For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, And her salvation as a lamp that burns.  


Even if everyone seems to ignore the truth he his teaching he should preach on as Jeremiah did,


Jeremiah 20:7 O LORD, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed. I am in derision daily; Everyone mocks me.  8 For when I spoke, I cried out; I shouted, "Violence and plunder!" Because the word of the LORD was made to me A reproach and a derision daily.  9 Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him, Nor speak anymore in His name." But His word was in my heart like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.


Of course this same enthusiasm should be found in our bible class teachers as well. It won’t take long for a child to figure out if their teacher is passionate about God’s Word or not. When teachers teach because they think they have to, they will not have the kind of zeal that they should have. A teacher must have the attitude that they get to teach and they should be happy that they get the opportunity to shape young minds and old ones from the Word of God.


Enthusiasm makes ordinary Christians extraordinary.


Charles Schwab said, “A man can succeed at almost anything for which he has unlimited enthusiasm.” History is filled with individuals that remained passionate about achieving their goals and even though the failed many times they kept on pushing until eventually the managed to reach their goal.


This same thing can happen in our service to God. We can each set a goal for ourselves to achieve for our Lord and we need to keep at it even if it seems impossible. When we learn to trust in God and allow him to help us we can and will do things that we did not think was possible. Notice the following verses that teach us that we can accomplish great things in the name of the Lord.


Matthew 19:26  Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."


Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.


Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


These verses prove that with God’s help that you can and will achieve great things for God if you will only set you mind to doing so and then enthusiastically pursue them.


One thing that is very important for us to understand is that our zeal must be in accordance with God’s word because a misdirected zeal will take you in the wrong direction. Paul knew of some people just like this and he talks about them in,


Romans 10:1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.  2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.  3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 


Enthusiasm makes extraordinary soul-winners.


When a Christian is excited about being a Christian and then they begin to tell a lost person about Jesus they will be far more effective at gaining the interest of that person than one who shows no excitement. When you really believe in what you are saying and you show confidence in it, a person is going to want to know more about what you are telling them.


This is also true in the world, especially when it comes to sales. The most effective salespeople are those that believe in what they are saying and they do it with enthusiasm. I can’t tell you how many times I have bought things that I didn’t really want, just because the salesperson was excited about what they were selling.


When we start thinking about the great love of God and what he has done for us and for everyone and the hope that we have of spending eternity in heaven it should fill us with excitement and should motivate us to share with others about how they can be saved and spend eternity in heaven as well.


Apollos is great example of this. Notice what Luke says about him,


Acts 18:24 Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus.  25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John.  26 So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue.  

Just like Apollos, when we become fervent in spirit it will cause us not to be shy about talking to others about Jesus. So the more enthusiastic we are about talking about Christ, the less hesitant we will be and we will increase or chances of winning someone’s soul.


Someone put it this way, “The fire of God in your heart will melt the lead in your feet.”


The Bible makes it clear that every Christian is to do their best at whatever they try.


Ecclesiastes 9:10  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might;


Colossians 3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,


It doesn’t matter if you’re doing something for God or working for your employer as Christians we are to give our best as if we are doing it for God because when we show such enthusiasm in everything we do, we are glorifying God, and others will take notice.


Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.


To further show that we are to be zealous as Christians, when Jesus was rebuking the church at Philadelphia for being lukewarm he tells them this,


Revelation 3:19  "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.


Paul adds,


Galatians 4:18 But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always,


Now think about this. If you are not zealous for God or serving him enthusiastically, then what does that make you? It makes you lukewarm and that is not a good place to be. So, I hope this lesson has shown you how important it is that we continually strive to be in the pursuit of enthusiasm.