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Monthly Archives: March 2015

Are You Mature Enough?

GradI’ve been posting about what makes us worthy of the power of God. I started by looking at what the Roman Centurion said to Jesus.

“Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
Luke 7:6b-7

The last couple of posts I talked about his words I do not deserve – the Greek word axios. Now I want to look at worthy – the Greek word hikanos. It literally means not far enough along.

There are many Christians who believe that they haven’t walked with the Lord long enough to see the manifestation of the power of God in their lives. There’s a big fallacy with this kind of thinking. The very notion that they’re not far enough along implies that there will be a time when they’re mature enough to merit this power.

I am here to tell you that will never happen on this side of eternity. In actuality the centurion had it right – “But just say the word.”

Paul understood this concept. He evangelized most of the Roman Empire. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote most of the New Testament.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10

Paul used the Greek word hikanos when he said he did not even deserve to be called an apostle. If Paul was not far enough along to walk in this power, then there’s no chance for us. Yet the important part of this issue is all summed up in the words but by the grace of God.

The simple truth is that you’ll never be good enough. It’s only by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that we may stand in His power and authority.

I’ll never be good enough or far enough along to deserve the title of son. I’ll never be worthy of His power based upon my own merits. But by the grace of God I am what I am.

It’s this thinking drives me to work for the Lord. It’s the foundation for serving Him in the correct way. When I start to think that I can make myself more worthy I miss the whole concept of His grace.

This is what keeps us from experiencing the power of God in the church today. If I think like a child – that if I just work harder to be worthy, then I’ve lost it at the start. If I let sin go unrepentant and refuse intimacy with God then I short circuit the power.

It’s time for us to understand that it’s not my ability to be good that gets me anything. It’s God’s grace working in me that allows me to manifest the power of God.

Question: What’s the role of good works in the life of the believer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Legalism, Power of God, Revival

 

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Intimacy and Deserving

 

MeditationI’ve been posting about the concept of being worthy of God’s power. In my last article I started talking about the Greek word axios, which is translated as worthy in Scripture. It literally means deserving.

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Matthew 10:37-38

Jesus doesn’t pull any punches with His teachings. Our problem is that we’ve become divided in our loyalties.

When break it down to its simplest elements, love is a matter of participating in a positive way in someone’s life. Hate, on the other hand, is a refusal to participate positively in someone’s life.

So Christ is saying that if you want to participate with anyone more than Him, you’re not deserving of Him. If you want to be around others more than Christ, you’ll never share in the fullness of His power. The truth is that you’re not deserving of this power, if you refuse intimacy with the Lord.

The problem is that we will not see the miraculous if we’re not intimate with Christ. But it’s a problem that’s easily fixed. It’s not a hard thing to repent and begin a walk of intimacy with God. In my experience, however, our problem is not that we can’t repent or don’t have time. This fact is illustrated in one of the parables of Christ.

He told a story about a king who was preparing a wedding banquet for his son. The king sent out invitations and everyone replied that they would be there. They all wanted to be a part of the celebration. But when the day of the wedding arrived none of these guests showed up. They all had excuses. Listen to what the king said about them.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.’”
Matthew 22:8

What caused the king to have such an attitude? It was all about their excuses. They had all gotten busy doing other things. That’s the biggest problem we have in the body of Christ today. We’re all so busy doing the things that the world offers.

I’m not talking about evil, sinful things. It’s the huge availability of time filling stuff that’s all around us in this society. Sports, entertainment, internet, TV, radio, educational and recreational opportunities all abound in our generation. We haven’t yet learned in the church that we can’t do it all.

Choices have to be made over which things are the most important to us. If going to movies and playing basketball is more important to us than the power of God then it will be evident in our lives. Let me put it another way, it IS evident in our churches today that we lack the move of God’s power that was manifest in times past.

It’s abundantly clear that giving excuses why we can’t repent or be intimate with God will rob us of power. Maturity takes responsibility for the situation that it find itself in. It may be hard to break this pattern of ignoring God at first. But our part is to repent and spend time with God. His part is to keep us clean and bestow His power upon the church.

Power is all about relationship, not works. Power is about attitude – I want to be with God more than with anyone else on this earth. Not about the law, whether I have to do this or that. If you are saved, then repent and spend more time with the Lord. Then you can rest assured that YOU ARE WORTHY – deserving in Christ.

Question: What hinders you from having an intimate walk with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Power of God, Prayer, Revival, Sonship

 

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Do You Deserve God’s Best?

Heart CellIn my last post I started talking about what makes us worthy of walking in the power of God. I looked at the story of the Roman centurion In Luke chapter 7, who asked Jesus to come heal his servant. He said that he wasn’t worthy and used two Greek words, axios and hikanos, to describe how he felt.

We’ll start by looking at the word axiosdeserving.

Think about the prodigal son of the parable we recently looked at. He spent a large portion of his life away from the power, yet all that time he was still a son. One of the statements that he made to his Father was, “I am not worthy – axios – to be called your son.” The first concept we must understand is that you can be a son and still feel not deserving.

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.”
Acts 13:46

When Paul and Barnabas first started out on their missionary journeys, they would always preach the Gospel first to the Jewish community. Many times they were met with resistance by this group.

At this point in their journeys they were beginning to get frustrated by this trend among the Jewish people. The literal Greek of what Paul says here is that you have judged yourselves undeserving (axios) of eternal life.

This tells us that concerning the power of God, if you consider yourself undeserving, you could find yourself rejecting God’s Word. There’s no true power outside the Word of God. Of course, if you reject the Word of Salvation, then you’re lost.

Our salvation experience is the first touch of God’s power which we experience. All believers, therefore, qualify for the power on that requirement.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
Revelation 3:4

This verse brings up an interesting dilemma. How do you keep your clothes white while living in a cesspool? Of course, I’Holy Spirit, repentance, m talking about our spiritual clothes as we live in this society. How do we keep clean with so much sin around us?

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:14

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9

As we live a repentant lifestyle, the Holy Spirit keeps us clean through the blood of Christ. Repentance should be a daily walk before God. These verses tell me that power is for those who can keep themselves clean in Christ. Therefore, your conscience is accusing you of not deserving of the power if you ignore repentance.

This was the lesson that the Prodigal Son had to learn. As soon as he returned home and repented, he was restored to the full rights and privileges of a son. It’s through this same process of repentance that our consciences can be wiped clean. Then it will stop accusing us of being undeserving.

Question: How does your conscience keep you from enjoying God’s best for you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2015 in Power of God, Prayer, Sonship

 

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Worthy or Not

MirrorIn my blog I talk a lot about the concept of sonship. This is how God views us all (male and female) through the blood of Christ. There needs to be an understanding of the relationship of sonship to walk in the power of the Lord. This creates a problem for most Christians.

The “Prodigal Son” put it in just the right words.

The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
Luke 15:21

It’s the same question that most of us wrestle with as believers. Am I worthy? This is usually what drives us to the law (or to the pigpen). I need to understand what makes me worthy of having God’s power manifest through my life. This was illustrated beautifully one day when Jesus was in Capernaum.

There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.
Luke 7:2-3

Listen carefully to what the elders said to Jesus.

When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”
Luke 7:4-5

The elders literally said this man is worthy because… They based his worthiness upon good works. We now know from Scripture that this is wrong thinking. It’s the childhood, slavery mentality to think that my good works somehow improves my standing with God.

Jesus, however, understood their heart.

So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
Luke 7:6-7

By the centurion’s own words he said, “I am not worthy.” The Pharisees said what they thought Jesus wanted to hear. The friends said what the centurion wanted them to say.

This centurion said that he wasn’t worthy of two things. First he was not worthy for Jesus to come to him. He also said that he was not worthy to go to Jesus himself.

The question arises, was he worthy or not worthy? We know that his faith was ready by the statement, “But say the word…”

It turns out that there are two different Greek words that are used in this passage. They are the two that trip up believers every day. When the centurion said, “I do not deserve to have you come under my roof,” the Greek word hikanos is used. The word hikanos means far enough along, good enough in English.

When the man said, “I do not even consider myself worthy to come to you,” the Greek word axios was used. Axios means deserving in English. In other words, many times we feel that we’re not worthy because we either don’t deserve it or we’re not far enough along in our walk with God yet. The big question is, what does the Word of God say?

Over the next few posts I’m going to look at the Biblical concept of what makes us worthy.

Question: How do feelings of unworthiness affect your Christian walk?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Sonship

 

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Clarity – The Result of Worship

ReflectionThis is my final post about the atmosphere of worship surrounding the throne of God in Revelation, chapter 4. I’ve been looking at the gemstones mentioned there.

Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
Revelation 4:6a

This one is a little different than the other gems we looked at. The first three conditions were what brought us to the place of worship. This atmosphere comes from, is created by, our time of worship.

When the word crystal is used we need to understand that it’s a catch-all term for any clear stones. Crystals can be anything from quartz to diamonds. They do have something in common – they’re all clear stones.

Worship brings about an atmosphere of clarity. There’s something about worship that helps you to see clearly.

The reason why is pretty simple. It’s because of who’s there with you in that place.

Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
Revelation 4:5b

The original language of this verse says that this is the seven-fold Spirit of God. That’s who you’re spending time with as you worship. Why is the Holy Spirit referred to as the Seven-fold Spirit? I believe that Isaiah was given the answer to this question.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord
Isaiah 11:2

It’s clear that these are the seven aspects of the Holy Spirit’s work in the church. This is how He reveals Himself. Getting to know the Holy Spirit in this light is what worship is all about.

When we spend quality time with the Holy Spirit, we’re with the Author of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge. Things become clear in His presence. The clouds lift and we start to see our lives and the world around us through the Lord’s eyes.

The problem is that if we don’t maintain this relationship, we start to forget what we’ve seen through Him. Our spiritual vision starts to get hazy.

This is probably why there’s not a lot of deep, intimate worship happening these days. Like any relationship it requires time and commitment. You have to press in to it. The good news is that the rewards are worth the investment.

Over the last few posts we’ve seen that the atmosphere around true worship consists of praise, ownership, holiness, and spiritual clarity. We get into trouble when we only want to cultivate a couple of them. We need them all operating in and through us.

Don’t miss the blessings of God’s Holy Spirit working through you. Create the atmosphere for true worship. Let the presence of God permeate your life.

Question: How has the worship of God changed your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Prayer, Revival, Worship

 

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Holiness – The Pull of Worship

EmeraldI’m currently posting about the atmosphere surrounding the true worship of God. I’m using the gems mentioned in Revelation, chapter 4, as a starting point. I’ve already talked about praise and the principle of ownership.

And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.
Revelation 4:3

The next gemstone that I want to talk about is the emerald. Emeralds are in the beryl family. Because chromium is in their composition, they have a green color.

Many nations have used this gem for their crown jewels. It’s considered by many cultures a “Holy Gem.” The emperor Nero had glasses made of it to watch the gladiator games. Aristotle said that owning an emerald made you important simply because you possessed it.

When I think about all of these aspects, I can understand this emerald glow around the throne of God. When I come into the Lord’s presence I can see things as they truly are.

I came to God as a worthless nobody in my sight, now because of His grace, I’m important to Him. He wants me in His kingdom. The Lord looks the same way at you. We are all precious to Him.

True worship springs from this attitude of holiness. When I understand that I’m set apart for God, for His good pleasure, it’s easier to worship.

You need to understand that in Christ you’re not like everyone else in the world. You’ve been born again into the family of God. You’re a joint-heir with Christ Jesus. You have a calling and a destiny that’s greater than you can imagine.

Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.
Psalms 96:9

Throughout the Bible worship and holiness are linked together. One flows from the other. It’s even found in the New Testament.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

This is true worship. It’s birthed in the atmosphere where you see your whole being as set apart for His purposes. When you’re in that place, worship can flow freely. That’s because you realize just how much you mean to the Lord. You’re free to be intimate in His presence.

As God’s people we need to cultivate this attitude of holiness. It will truly usher us into the matchless presence of our loving Father.

Question: How do our attitudes about holiness affect our worship of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2015 in Revival, Worship

 

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Ownership – The Foundation of Worship

 

SealI’m posting about the atmosphere surrounding the true worship of God. I’m looking at the worship scene around God’s throne as an example to us. Specifically – the gems talked about in Revelation, chapter 4.

And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.
Revelation 4:3

In my last post I talked about jasper stones. The second mentioned is carnelian. This stone is a silicate with iron-oxide mixed in. That gives it the color of orange to a deep blood-like red.

One of the most important properties of carnelian is that hot wax will not stick to it. Because of this the ancient Romans made their signet or sealing rings from it.

When important scrolls or letters were written, hot wax was dripped on it to seal it. While the wax was still soft, the owner would make an impression in it using this ring. Only the one with the proper authority could then open the letter – usually under the penalty of death for unauthorized breaking of the seal.

These rings carried with them the power of authority and ownership. Worship understands God’s ownership of us. So many problems arise from not acknowledging God’s ownership.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22

The Bible is clear – we were bought at a price. The price was the precious blood of Christ. That’s why it’s so meaningful that the carnelian can be a blood red stone.

Knowing that I belong to Christ makes it easier for me to worship Him. When I’m under the impression that I own myself, worship then becomes optional. I worship the Lord when and if I feel like it.

When Satan tested Christ in the wilderness, at one point he showed the Lord all the kingdoms of the world. The devil then said that he would give it all to Christ free and clear if He bowed down and worshipped him. That would have been an easy way out. Jesus would never have had to go to the cross and suffer.

What was the Lord’s response?

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Matthew 4:10

It’s clear from Scripture that worship and service go hand in hand. Unfortunately, many believers worship themselves. I need to come to grips with the understanding that I’m not my own. I’m here at Christ’s good pleasure. That will lead me to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth.

Question: How does your life show that it’s owned by Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2015 in Worship

 

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Praise – Prelude to Worship

087True worship of God is essential to maintaining a growing relationship with the Lord. Revelation, chapter 4, is a beautiful picture of what worship is like in the throne room of God. We need to have these same attitudes as we worship on the earth.

Today, I want to start a small series of posts based upon the gems which form the atmosphere surrounding worship. It’s the way God represented this to John in his vision.

And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.
Revelation 4:3

In this short verse we see 3 precious stones mentioned. On the earth, kings wear jewels and gems. They have crowns and scepters. It shows that they’re special.

There’s a majesty surrounding our God. To look at God is to look at majesty itself. That’s why I want to look at the gems around Christ, and how they inspire worship from His people.

The first stone mentioned is jasper– a mixture of a few different elements. That’s why it has bands and spots of all different colors.

A few years ago I was in Machias, Maine. Near there was a jasper beach. The entire beach was made of jasper stones. It’s one of only two in the world. The other is in Japan.

This beach was an incredible place. Every time a wave would come in, as the water receded, it sounded like thousands of people clapping their hands. It sounded to me like there was continual praise going up to the Lord.

In my experience, worship usually springs from an atmosphere of praise. It seems that praise and worship always go together.

Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
Nehemiah 8:6

Usually it’s very easy to go from praise into worship. I’ve only rarely heard a meeting go from worship to praise.

Throughout history jasper has been known as the warrior’s stone. It’s interesting that there’s a link between praise and warfare.

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
Psalms 8:2

That’s because praise clears the air spiritually. It gets rid of the junk we’ve been thinking of and focuses us in on Christ. As we lose sight of the earthly distractions, we’re better able to enter that intimate place of worship. It’s so much easier to enter into worship if you’ve spent time in praise.

Question: What do you do to prepare your heart to worship the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2015 in Prayer, Spiritual Warfare, Worship

 

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Respond to the Call

 

PowerlessThis is my last post in the series about your callings in Christ. We need to be faithful to the whole calling that God has placed upon us.

It all comes down to a question of motivation. Are you out to please God and to fulfill His plan? If so, then you must seek the Lord as to where His agenda is to be fulfilled in your life.

I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.
Isaiah 42:6

What we need to see is that responding to our personal call is not optional. It’s a part of God’s righteousness for our lives. Salvation is a package deal and calling is a large part of it. How can we ever expect to live satisfying and fulfilled lives if we never bother to find out the purpose for which we were created? If you want to walk in righteousness, then you must find and walk in your calling.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:28-32

What a precious promise! God can and will use all things for our good, but there’s a condition. You must be called according to His purpose. Just knowing a piece and doing your own thing to fill in the gaps is not enough. The reason is clear – you’re not really called unless you’ve heard the call.

God has a calling for everyone, but unless His call reaches your spiritual ears, there’s no clear call upon your life. Without that clear call, you’re like a ship out on the raging ocean with no rudder. You’ll find yourself at the mercy of the wind and waves, instead of the supernatural guidance of the Lord.

The Apostle Peter wrote an excellent statement that should be our attitude concerning the call God has for each of us.

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
II Peter 1:10-11

Finding our calling in the Lord should never just be an exercise in obedience, only done because God says that we should. On the contrary, there should be an eagerness and expectancy that comes from the knowledge that finding your calling is what you were born for. Every blessing that God has for you is wrapped up in your call. Every provision and resource Heaven offers is at your disposal in order to complete that which God has assigned you to do.

Make sure you also seek God for the method and the location where He wants you to fulfill your call. Only then will you have your election, your qualification for service, made sure. Spend the time in God’s presence that it requires, moving you forward into your destiny in Christ.

Question: How well do you understand what you’re called to do by the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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Where Am I Called?

TrailI’ve been posting about our callings in Christ. I’ve already talked about being called by name and being called to do a work for the Lord.

In today’s post I want to deal with a part of our calling that many ignore and, as a result, miss out on some of the blessings that God has for them.

After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Acts 16:10

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
Hebrews 11:8

This is a very important aspect of our calling. Many believers get so caught up in what they’re supposed to do that they never stop long enough to ask God for a look at His roadmap. I’m talking about the calling of place.

We see from the above verses that both Paul and Abraham were called to go to a place – a physical location on the map. I was not merely called to be a pastor. I was called to be the pastor of Christian Life Worship Center in Watertown, Massachusetts.

It should be clear from Scripture that along with the calling to do a work for Him comes a definite calling as to exactly where God wants the work to be performed. This calling must not be taken lightly. Once we know what the Lord wants us to do, it’s a slap in His face to then turn around and decide on our own where we want to do it.

These days, it’s even a problem in the full-time ministry. Pastors seem to change churches as often as they change suits. In the United States, the average pastor stays at a church two and a half years before leaving and finding another. I don’t believe that’s God’s will.

You definitely cannot develop a ministry of excellence in a church without investing time. Researchers say that it actually takes a pastor seven years to transfer God’s vision to the congregation. You must be sure you’re where God’s called you to be. If not, you will act like a hireling and run at the first sign of trouble.

The same holds true for teachers, missionaries, evangelists, ushers, and nursery workers. Are you in the area God has called you to, or are you choosing the spiritual climate and churches you want to be involved in? Are you after the big money offerings, or are you ministering to those whom God has brought you to?

I’m sure that Paul enjoyed being around the Philippians a lot more than the Corinthians, but he had to minister to both because of his calling. Make sure that you’re not just fulfilling part of your calling. Make sure you’re where God wants you to be.

Question: How do you know that you are where God has called you to be?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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