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Monthly Archives: April 2013

You are Called to a Life of Excellence

TrophyA couple of weeks ago I blogged about how the Bible describes our excellent God.  It’s one thing to acknowledge that a perfect, holy, and Most High God is excellent.  It’s quite another to see that we’re called to that same level of excellence.

Again, let me remind you that it’s not what we do, but whom we have become that makes us excellent.  A ministry is not excellent because of its money, technology, modern equipment, large size, big building, or anything else that we may possess.  It’s only when we compare what we’re doing to the normal, the average, or the expected that excellence can be seen.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 13:2

The very act of finding and entering your calling is being set apart – you are being divinely moved from a large group to a smaller group.  This, by definition, is the more excellent group.

It is a group of those who have been called, prepared, chosen, and accepted for a divinely appointed task.  Don’t ever think you’re just like everybody else; you’re not.

There are levels to our callings based upon our obedience and excellence.  The more we manifest excellence in our walk and ministry, the further from the pack we move.  Make no mistake about it; the Lord is very clear in His call to us – we are to leave the normal behind.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

This seems like an almost impossible task. Are we really to be as perfect as God?  Actually, the word perfect in this verse means fully mature.  God wants us to grow up and act as mature believers.  The life of maturity in Christ is the life of excellence to which we are called.

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15-16

It is clear from the above verses that God is calling us to live a life worthy of His excellent name.  Please don’t get confused by what I’m saying.  I’m not talking about your salvation.  It’s not by works that we’re saved, but through the grace of God.

What I am speaking about, however, is the fact that once we’re saved, there is an expectation of change (for the better) in our lives.  God is looking for His children to grow and mature into a people who accurately portray His kingdom and His desires.

For Christians, the walk of maturity is the walk of excellence.

Question: In what areas have you seen yourself mature since you’ve come to Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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Do You Interrupt the Lord?

SpeakerWe all know that it’s impolite to interrupt someone when they’re speaking.  Have you ever thought about this in relation to Christ and His work in you?  He speaks to us in various ways.  Are we guilty of interrupting what He’s doing in us?

I want to look at an incident in the life of Jesus that illustrates this.  It’s found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 12.  At this point in the Lord’s ministry, He’s publicly teaching somewhere when all of a sudden a loud voice interrupts Him.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Luke 12:13

Can you imagine that?  Jesus is walking down the street giving words of instruction and perhaps ministering to the sick when somebody yells out, “Tell my brother to give me my share of the inheritance.”

It makes you wonder what type of individual would be so self-absorbed, that they would make a public statement like that.  Well, that kind of presumption was enough to set Jesus off in a new direction of teaching.

Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”  Then he said to them, “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Luke 12:14-15

When Jesus got done, that person probably felt as though he should have kept his mouth shut.  Jesus used this interruption to teach the crowd about the foolishness of greed.

He told them a parable about a rich man with no common sense. This man got a big harvest, built bigger barns, and stored it all up.  Jesus explained that the man ended up dying before he could spend all of his wealth.  That foolish man lost the eternal to gain the temporary.

The Lord’s message to those gathered around Him was that our life does not consist of what can be accumulated.  You’re not to worry about what you’re going to wear or what you’re going to eat.  God will provide for you.

Worry about serving God.  Worry about doing the Father’s will.  In that way you’re laying up treasure in Heaven.  Christ said that where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is going to be.

This got me thinking.  The Lord is attempting to do a particular work in my life.  He communicates His plan to me through a series of events.  He speaks to my heart, allows circumstances to come my way, and teaches me through the lives and words of others.

How often do I “interrupt” His plan with a totally unrelated request?  I get my eyes off His plan and onto my desires.  When it comes to the Lord, I need to think before I ask.

We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit at work in us.  Make sure that your requests are in line with His plan.  Don’t be discourteous and interrupt the Lord.

Question: Have you ever found yourself guilty of interrupting God’s work in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Encouragement

 

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The Foundation for Revival

FireI have said that the United States desperately needs a revival.  What is that?  Is it a church full of weeping, “falling down under the power of God”, or huge crowds on Sunday morning?

Is it something we plan into our schedules?  “Revival Meetings the first week of December.”

The truth is that it’s not something we put on, but a work that God performs in us.  It’s a special presence of Christ revealing Himself to our society.

I believe that revival is birthed out of desperation.  When we reach the end of what we can do, all we can rely on is the work of God in us.

It’s kind of like the condition of Israel as they prepared to leave Mt Sinai in the book of Exodus.  They had already turned from God before Moses had even come down from the mountain with the law.

Now God has cleansed the camp and they are about to move out.  They are headed for the Promised Land.

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?  What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
Exodus 33:15-16

Now there’s a desperate prayer!  What if the modern church prayed like this and meant it?  Most churches would close their doors the first week.

Unfortunately, we just go on with the show.  We’ve learned how to experience growth without the move of God.  A great music team and a charismatic preacher is all you need for success.

We need to learn that growth doesn’t mean that God is in the work.  It grieves me to say it, but if the Holy Spirit left us today, 90% of churches would be unaffected.  Much of the church in America is leaning on the arm of flesh to sustain it.

We need the presence of the Lord.  What else will distinguish the church from any other good social program?

The key is transformed lives.  That’s the proof of the power of God.  When Christ works through His people, we don’t remain the same.

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
Exodus 33:18

This is the prayer of desperation that needs to go up from God’s people.  We must put aside our goals, and seek the glory of God in our lives.  If He does the work, then He gets the glory.

It’s time for revival in our nation.

Question: How desperate are you for a move of God in our nation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Revival

 

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America, Terrorists, and the Lord

FlagcrossThe past week has been very challenging to us as a community and a nation.  I live and minister in Watertown, Massachusetts.  It’s a tiny area where not much seems to happen – until now.

I have a friend who was at the Boston Marathon.  Upon looking at the pictures they took, they saw the terrorists standing right next to them in the crowd.

My daughter works in the Watertown Mall.  She arrived at 10 pm for an overnight inventory shift.  At 2 am they were informed by FBI agents that the store (and the town) was in lockdown – no one in or out.

I have a member of our church who lived in the area of town where she witnessed explosions and gunfire that evening.  She spent the rest of the night comforting her children and grandchildren as she saw Swat Teams sweeping her neighborhood.

What’s happening in our nation?  Where are the days when this only happened in other parts of the world and we only watched the events on TV?

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.
Psalms 33:12

I believe that the protections we enjoyed in the past were due to the heritage of faith laid down by our godly forefathers.  That was then, this is now.  We have become a nation where any public reference to Jesus Christ is considered an abuse against society.

We have effectively told God that we don’t want Him interfering in our schools, courts, or politics.  Then, in times of crisis, we ask where He went to.  We have become so enamored by our own prowess that we think we have the answer to all our problems.

I do not believe this is the judgment of God on America.  He is a God of grace.  Instead, the Lord is respecting our wishes for Him to keep His hands out of our business.

No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.  A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.
Psalms 33:16-17

America needs a change of heart and not a change of politics.  We desperately hunger for revival.  God’s people must awaken from slumber and turn the tide upon their knees.  That is where true restoration will come from.

I believe that the recent events will be a part of the call to us.  The pressure is on.  Are we willing to pray the price required to save our nation?  It is time for us to rise to our feet and be true men and women of God.

Question: How have these events affected your faith?  How will you respond?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2013 in Revival

 

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Waking Up on the Last Day

Clouds ReturnI’m continuing my posts on John chapter 6.  So far I’ve covered through verse 44.  If you read through the rest of this chapter, you’ll find that Jesus continues talking about eternal life.  He explains that you must eat of His flesh and drink of His blood to have eternal life.

I’m not going to go through the whole doctrine of the sufficiency of the body and blood of the Lord, given for us.  That would take a year’s worth of posts!  Suffice it to say that the Lord tried to tell them, “I’m the One who gives eternal life and I will raise you up (or literally wake you up) at the last day.”

Please take the time to understand this.  Jesus’ audience refused to hear it.  Even today many Christians have missed this simple truth.

He gives the disciples and us a term we must understand: “the last day.”  The word day in this Scripture is a literal, 24-hour day.  The word is singular.  Jesus said that if you put your trust in Him, He would raise you up at the last day.  What exactly is the last day?

I believe that Jesus built the disciples’ faith step by step.  The disciples were taught by the Lord that there was a time period called this age.  They also knew that the Lord intended to do some cleaning up of the world toward the end of this age, just before He called His people from their graves to receive their rewards. (Matthew 33:24-43)  The only conclusion that makes any sense is that Jesus was talking about the last, literal, twenty-four hour day of this present age.

I think it’s amazing that some preachers and teachers who normally make it a rule to interpret the Bible literally, unless it’s impossible to do so, suddenly lose all concept of reality.  Jesus said, “the last day.”  There’s nothing in this context to indicate that He meant anything other than a normal 24 hour day.  Yet, so many people have interpreted this last day from months to years long.

Throughout the Bible we find both of the terms last day and last days.  I believe that the Holy Spirit knew which term was appropriate in each section of the Scripture.  I also believe that Jesus meant what He said and said what He meant.  I believe that He intends to raise His people – to resurrect them – on the last day of this present age.

Jesus’ teaching is very clear on these points if you dare to take Him at His word.  As we approach the end of this age, God will somehow do a work that establishes a clear distinction between the “sons of the kingdom” and the “sons of the enemy.”  This work will culminate on the last day of the age when “all those who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live…” (John 5:28-29).

This is the great hope of the church.

Question: How does meditating on the return of Christ give you hope?

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Return of Christ

 

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God and the Candy Machine in the Sky

CandyI’ve been posting about how similar our modern attitudes are to the crowd in John Chapter 6.  They seem to have their eyes on the temporary, while Christ is trying to point them to the eternal.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty…And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:35-40

Notice that Jesus repeats Himself here.  Two times He said to them, “I will raise them up at the last day.”  It’s a very simple statement.  It’s so simple, in fact, that most Christians miss it as well.

He told them that if they come to Him and put their trust in Him, He’ll give them eternal life and He’ll raise them up at the last day.  The key is that you must have this eternal life in you BEFORE you enter the grave.  If you have this eternal life in you, then death will not be able to keep you any more than it could hold on to the Lord.

He said it twice yet they didn’t hear him.  Look at their reaction.

At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
John 6:41

It went right over their heads.  They missed it.  The Lord said you can have eternal life and that He’d raise you up at the last day.  All they heard was that He thinks He’s bread that has come down from heaven.  “What does He mean He’s bread coming down from heaven?”

They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?  How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:42-44

Jesus is desperately trying to get it into their head that He wasn’t emphasizing bread coming down from heaven.  He was trying to get them to embrace eternal life.  Over and over again He said, “I’ll raise him up at the last day.”  They just didn’t get it.

I think, that just like us, they didn’t want to get it.  They could tell that what Jesus was talking about meant change.  They would have to change their views and attitudes about God.  The Lord would no longer be that big “candy machine in the sky,” but a friend with whom you must spend time cultivating a relationship.

Question: How do you deepen your relationship with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Encouragement, Return of Christ

 

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The Temporary vs. the Eternal

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been posting about the discussion Jesus had with the crowd in John chapter 6.  Having told them that He understood their motives; Jesus goes on to explain further.

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.  On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
John 6:27

The Lord is about to tell them that He’s the Bread of Life and He has the Words of truth.  He goes on to explain that if they’ll come to Him in faith, they’ll never lack for life.  The point is that you can’t spend all your time and energy chasing the things of this world.  There’s a more important issue at stake here.

Too many believers spend their prayer time with the Lord running through their lists of needs and wants.  While there is a place for petitioning the Lord in prayer, that should not be the major part.  Prayer is where we get to know Christ in relationship.  It’s give and take.

Yes, it is talking, but it’s also listening.  If we’re going to be prepared for the last days, then we must get past this mentality that chases God around simply for what we think we can get from Him.

The crowd made their motives very plain to Jesus.  Even in their answer, they show Him that His assessment of their true character was correct.

“Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
John 6:34

Their thoughts are, “You’ve got the bread from heaven.  Give us this bread.”  Again, they’re thinking in a material way.  If His earthly bread was good, the heavenly must be even better tasting!

It reminds me of the woman at the well.  Jesus said that He could give her living water so that she would never thirst again.  Her reply was, “Great, then I won’t have to come to this well every day to draw water.”

Why are we all so foolish?  Jesus longs to give us eternal, abundant life, yet we are content to simply ask Him for things.  I know that in His Word He’s promised to take care of our needs.  The problem is that we seem to major on the physical.

My true needs are so much deeper than that.  He wants to satisfy the longing of our souls, but this will require that we spend time in His presence.  We fail to enter the abundance that He has for us because we’d rather have the “quick fix” of more money or more stuff so that we can then get on with our plans.  The better solution would be for us to bow our knee to the Lord and take up His plan for our lives.

Question: Why do the temporary issues of life seem so important sometimes?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Encouragement, Faith, Prayer

 

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