RSS

Monthly Archives: June 2015

Mercy and Perseverance

MountainI’m continuing the series about understanding God’s mercy. If you boil it all down to a simple phrase, here’s what I see in Scripture. Mercy is the favor God shows to His sons and daughters.

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
James 5:11

One thing that’s abundantly clear from Scripture, the walk of mercy will require perseverance. Of all the people for James to use for an example, did he have to pick Job? The simple truth is that Job drove his friends crazy. The big question on everybody’s mind is; why was Job at a standstill? According to his friends it was because he must have been doing something wrong.

That kind of thinking was absolutely incorrect. Job was being trained for a higher walk in God. As I’ve said before, promises are for spiritual children. In order to get them to obey you must say things like, “Clean your room and you can have ice cream.” Adults don’t live like this.

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

Many times I’ve preached from this verse telling my congregation the importance of laying their lives down as living sacrifices. But until I understood the concepts of Biblical mercy, it was always in a legalistic vein. Notice the motivation we’re to use to propel us to offer our lives before God.

Is it in view of God’s law? Maybe it’s in view of the promises? NO!!! It’s as we keep the Lord’s mercy in our sight that we have the drive necessary to lay our lives down on His altar. That’s how powerful the walk of mercy can be. In order to obtain it, it’s worth the greatest cost we can imagine. The total surrender of our lives to God’s plan.

God simply asks you to make the offer, wholeheartedly. Why do we make this life altering decision? It’s because we know that this is the Lord’s desire. No strings attached, no hidden agendas. “Lord I want to know You, because only You are worthy of the investment of my life.” We only obtain mercy through becoming a willing sacrifice.

This is why I made such a bold claim earlier in this series. This isn’t something that you can just try for a day. It would be just as foolish as trying a diet for a day, and then saying that it didn’t work. If we want the benefits of mercy, then this walk must consume our lifestyle. Only then will we have that “blank check” in the spirit.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
Galatians 6:14-16

If you desire to walk this walk, you must know that mercy makes this the only rule. “Boast only in the cross.” Do you want power? Do you want to live above the law and the promises? Then you must learn to walk the way of mercy.

You must pursue God simply to know Him. You must offer all you are to God, simply because He desires it. Then, when you see the manifestation of His power in your life, boast only in the cross. This is the secret to how Jesus lived and ministered in the world.

Question: What must you do to begin walking in God’s mercy?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

Advertisements
 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Mercy and Sacrifice

surgeryIn my last post we saw Jesus rebuke the Pharisees for not understanding God’s mercy. The Lord said that God desired mercy and not sacrifice. I want to look at this truth. It’s through the power of God’s mercy that Jesus ministered the way He did.

So I ask you, do you want a higher walk before the Lord? Do you want to live above the promises? Do you want to walk as Jesus walked? If so, then you must learn what God meant when He said, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”

“Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”
Hosea 6:1-2

At this point in history, Israel was broken. But God was looking forward to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. They could be healed of their grievous wounds.

Please understand that they had the same problem with God that we have sometimes. It’s all a matter of perspective. From their perspective God was wounding them, cutting them and hurting them. From God’s perspective, He was performing open heart surgery.

Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.
Hosea 6:3

Hosea calls the people to acknowledge God. The literal Hebrew means to know by seeing and experiencing. The phrase press on means to pursue. We pursue God in order to know and experience Him. The object should not be to know about Him, but to know God in person as He truly is.

“What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.”
Hosea 6:4-5

Here God is showing Israel how they respond to Him. He tells them that their love like the dew or a mist. It’s here for a short time and dissipates in the morning sunlight. Think about the church of today. Sunday mornings we sing and cry out about our undying love for the Lord. We tell Him that we can’t live without Him.

Right after the service, however, that love burns off like the dew. It’s because of this that God said He has to perform the surgery. So the Lord carved His people by the prophets, stabbed them by His Word.

For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
Hosea 6:6

Here is the heart of the matter. This is the desire of God for His people. He desires us to obtain mercy by obeying Him out of a heart of love for Him. Mercy is all about pursuing God simply to be with Him.

Many in our present generation miss this. They pursue God, but it’s for healing, for prosperity, for a better job, or a new car. Many pursue God for the things that He can give us, not because we simply want to know Him more intimately. The walk of mercy is a walk that seeks to know God for who He is in that secret place.

Questions: How is your pursuit of God characterized? Why do you pursue God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 26, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Mercy and the Power of God

Lightning 3In my last post I started talking about the mercy of God. I believe that it’s very different from what we think it is.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

This is the power of God that changes us day by day if we’re submitted to it. As good as this verse is, that’s not the end of it. We usually miss the point because there’s a chapter change right after that verse. The original has no such break in the writing. This thought continues into the next verse.

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
2 Corinthians 4:1

What we need to realize is that it’s through the power of mercy that we have ever increasing glory manifest in our lives. It should be obvious by now that our tiny view of mercy is inadequate to explain the great depth of this truth. The best part is that we can approach the throne of grace to lay hold of this mercy. At this point I want to show you exactly what it is.

Since it brings the power of God into our lives, we know it’s not by the law. It’s interesting to note that two times were recorded in the Gospels where Jesus made the same statement to the Pharisees. In both cases they were condemning Him for what He was doing. He did things like eating with “sinners.” The Pharisees were thinking, “How can the power of God work in you if you do that?”

Jesus had a stern rebuke for them.

“If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”
Matthew 12:7

This statement was directed at the Pharisees, But I have to admit that when I began studying about mercy I had no idea what He meant by it. I had always quoted the verse “to obey is better than sacrifice.” This view of the mercy of God was new to me.

The first thing I notice is that this is a desire of God. It’s not a command or a law. This means that the obtaining of mercy is optional. It’s not something that you need to have for salvation, or even for your growth in the Lord.

As a matter of fact it’s very rarely used in the body of Christ, because in this generation we strive to live by the promises. I’m here to tell you that living the walk of mercy is above the promises.

The walk of mercy is a blank check in the spirit. I’ve heard many preachers in the past talk about faith and the promises and they’ve said things like, “You can have a blank check from God, just fill it out by faith.”

The trouble is that I’ve walked what they preached and it didn’t work quite the way they said it would. In this case, however, I know for a fact that the walk of mercy brings you to that level. It’s how Jesus Christ Himself operated. You would never hear Him quoting promises to build up faith, He just spoke out the Word and it happened. That’s the type of walk I am talking about.

This is not an easy Word to fulfill. I’ve only started down this road myself, but I’ve already seen the “first few drops of rain” in the spirit. In this series you’ll find out what it will take to walk at this level of power.

Question: How is your view of God’s mercy changing?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Do You Understand God’s Mercy

ThroneLet us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

This verse speaks about that place of intimacy that’s available to us in Christ Jesus. We have access to boldly enter the throne room of God. It’s a place of rest and peace in the Lord. According to this passage we can confidently approach the throne of grace for two things. The first is to find grace. The second, according to the literal Greek, is to take, lay hold of mercy.

This is one of the greatest yet unused blessings that God bestows upon His people. Unfortunately, we have no idea what God means by mercy in this modern generation.

When we use the word mercy it’s usually when we’ve done something wrong. We want to be shown leniency, so we say, “Please have mercy on me.” This is not the Biblical concept of mercy. The mercy of God is so much higher than that. I want to show you a glimpse of the power of mercy.

As Jesus went on from there, two blind men followed him, calling out, “Have mercy on us, Son of David!”
When he had gone indoors, the blind men came to him, and he asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they replied.
Matthew 9:27-28

This is a very interesting encounter in the life of Christ. It’s unlike any other which is recorded in the Word of God. While it’s true that many people asked Him to have mercy on them, and many blind people came to Him, Jesus never ministered like this any other time.

He waited until they were in a private place. Then the Lord asked them if they believed that He could do this. Believed that He could do what? Since there was no other request, Jesus was asking if they believed that he could give mercy.

I believe that Jesus looked into their heart and saw that they understood the concept of mercy and wanted them to confirm it with their lips. Why is this so important to us?

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. Jesus warned them sternly, “See that no one knows about this.”
Matthew 9:29-30

Again we see something out of the ordinary in the ministry of Jesus. He never asked them specifically what they wanted. He simply said that what they believed for was theirs. Apparently, they were trusting God to restore their sight because that was the result.

But the mystery doesn’t end there. Jesus warns them not to tell anyone what happened. Why would He do this? Everyone knew that Jesus gave sight to the blind. Why would He possibly say not to tell anyone about it?

I don’t believe that it was the healing that Christ was referring to. As you’ll see in the next few posts, only God can give mercy. This encounter was proof to the Jews of Jesus’ divinity. Whenever He did a miracle on that level, like raising the dead, He usually instructed the witnesses not to tell anyone about it.

I believe that there’s more to mercy than we could have ever imagined. That’s what I want to share with you in this series of articles.

Question: What’s your definition of the mercy of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 22, 2015 in Faith, Healing, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Getting Things in Order

SpotlightIn the last couple of posts I’ve been talking about how those of us in ministry run the risk of getting too busy. By that I mean we start to neglect our intimate times with the Lord. Specifically, what Christ said in the following verse.

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Revelation 2:4-5

What do you do if you find yourself in this condition? How do you get your spiritual life back on track?

The answer to this problem is clear from the Lord’s own words. The first step is to remember. Remember the height from which you have fallen. Think back to what your walk with the Lord used to be like. Allow a hunger to be birthed in you for the way it was. This will make the next step that much easier.

Step two is really the key to the whole process. Restoration always involves repentance. At this point, you may complain, “But I didn’t backslide – I still love the Lord, and I’m still doing the work of the ministry.” That’s probably very true. However, to God, the most important thing is your relationship with Him.

In any relationship, it’s not the fact that you love the other person that brings you closer. It’s the time spent communicating. If you haven’t deepened your walk with the Lord, through time in the Word and in prayer, then there needs to be repentance. I’m sure you already know that true repentance includes a 180-degree turn around to the right path. It’s time to renew your walk with Christ.

You also need to realize that if you ignore His call, you’re missing out on God’s best for your life. The words of the Lord in Revelation 2:3 above make it clear that if this condition is left unchecked long enough, then the church will suffer for it. Jesus said that He would remove the lampstand from its place.

It doesn’t sound fair that just because a church leader is out of relationship with the Lord, that the whole church can be dragged down with him or her. Unfortunately, that’s the way of spiritual things. Jesus said that if the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch. The church will never progress beyond the depth of the leadership’s walk with the Lord.

At this point I have to pause, and give a special exhortation to pastors and teachers. Too often we fall into the rut of self-deception. Sermon and Bible Study preparation time is NOT the same as a personal time in God’s Word. Interceding for your congregation is not intimate, personal prayer time with the Lord.

In my experience I’ve found that many leaders substitute the work of the ministry for the walk of relationship. The key to renewing your first love is to cultivate your relationship with God in personal time with God’s Word and in prayer. Above all else, we should be deepening our relationship with our Lord.

Question: How have you struggled in setting aside time for intimacy with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 19, 2015 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Remembering Your First Love

Snow HeartIn my last post I talked about time spent with the Lord. Sometimes the more work you do for God, the less time you have to spend in His presence. We looked at the following verse.

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Revelation 2:4-5

Church leaders especially need to constantly be taking stock of their work. Why did you enter the ministry back then? What motivated you to work for the Lord?

It was the love of Christ that constrained you.   Why are you doing the work now? It needs to be done, no one else will do it, or it’s expected of you. If that sounds like you, than you’re letting your relationship with the Lord grow cold. You’ve lost your first love.

That’s why the Lord is seen as the one who walks among the churches. He’s the one inspecting the work. He’s checking not only what’s done, but also why it’s being done.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

Timothy was a young pastor. Paul was his father in the ministry. Even though this was written almost two thousand years ago, it should serve as a warning to all of us in the ministry today.

There’s an inspection process constantly going on in the church. The Chief Shepherd inspects the work of the under-shepherds.

This verse says that we should be approved. That Greek word literally means inspected and stamped with a seal of approval. It doesn’t matter what man thinks of you. Are you approved by God?

This calls for self-evaluation. Paul said that if we would judge ourselves we would not come under judgment. When you take a long hard look at your spiritual life, what do you see? Has it grown in depth since you started out in the ministry?

Has the fire started to wane, and you find yourself more and more “running on empty”? If this is the case, it’s an indication that you’ve lost your first love. Don’t let pride – the unwillingness to admit your situation – keep you from God’s renewal process.

Even pastors are not exempt from this. That’s the reason for the rash of “clergy burnout” that’s seen across America in this generation. One study showed that 80% of all seminary graduates had left the ministry after 5 years.

Another study tells us that 1,500 pastors per month leave the ministry because of burnout, problems, and moral failure. Without a living relationship with the all-powerful Creator of the universe, we’ll never find the strength needed to cope with all the stresses placed upon us by the church work we’re involved in.

Are you on the fast track to a spiritual derailment? Do you feel like you’re constantly giving out and never replacing your spiritual stores? If so, then the time is now to make a course correction that will affect the rest of your life positively for the glory of God.

In my next post I’ll talk about the specifics of how to get back on track.

Question: How do you regularly take stock of your spiritual life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 17, 2015 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

How Busy is Too Busy?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are so many opportunities in today’s generation. I’m talking about both ministry and recreational activities. How do you know when you’re too busy?

In the book of Revelation, Christ dictated letters to 7 pastors in Asia Minor. The pastor of the church in Ephesus was told the following…

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.”
Revelation 2:2-3

The pastor of Ephesus was doing great things. The church was flourishing. The people were being fed and protected. They were overcoming in spite of many adversities. How could the Lord possibly be displeased with that?

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Revelation 2:4-5

Very simply put, this pastor allowed the work of the ministry to replace his relationship with the Lord. A great truth that I’ve heard again and again is, “Don’t become so involved in the work of the Lord that you forget the Lord of the work.” God was concerned with this pastor’s lack of relationship. He said that this pastor had forsaken his first love.

This is an easy trap to fall into. As the church began to grow and the demands of the ministry started to escalate, time with the Lord became harder to set aside. Before long his relationship time with Christ got pushed into the corner of “when it’s convenient.”

I’d like to say that this problem was only a part of the early church. But some things never change. I believe that there’s a greater pull on us now to overload our schedules. There are so many opportunities to be involved in good things; that we have very little time for our spiritual walk.

Remember that it wasn’t always like this. When you first came to Christ, you were excited about what He was doing in you. Maybe you spent late nights on your knees in prayer. You prayed for souls to be saved. You prayed for wisdom, strength, and boldness. You knew that you didn’t have a chance of fulfilling the Lord’s calling on your life without His working in you.

Things have changed now. You’ve become wiser – more experienced. Now you know what living for Christ is all about. You feel more secure in your calling as a believer.

Please realize that there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a good thing to become mature in Christ. The problem comes when you no longer feel the need to pray as much. You don’t seem to need God’s help like you used to. You know what living for God is all about now.

The diagnosis is that your relationship with the Lord has grown cold and it grieves the heart of your Lord and King. Have you become so busy with the work of the Lord that you’ve forgotten the Lord of the work? Test yourself. You need to be brutally honest. Has your time with the Lord suffered?

It’s wonderful that you’ve grown in maturity, but that’s not the issue. The question is; are you spending TIME with the Lord as you used to?

Question: How would you rate the quality and quantity of time you spend with the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,