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Category Archives: Leadership

Ministry Qualities Part 3

This is the third in a series about the earmarks of a godly ministry according to the Apostle Paul.  He wrote about them in his second letter to the Corinthian church.

…in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left…
2 Corinthians 6:6-7

My last post ended with patience.  Now we’ll continue on…

Kindness – This is a quality that most believers don’t understand properly.  For a detailed explanation, click here.

Simply put, kindness is not just a matter of doing nice things for people.  In God’s eyes, the definition of kindness is; doing good to those who absolutely don’t deserve it.

Our problem is, when someone is doing wrong, we want to see them punished.  Of course, when we do something wrong, we want to be forgiven.

We need to spend time with the Lord so that we can pick up the same heart that he has.  In that way we can show the love of Christ to all people – even those we label as “undeserving”.  We must see others as the Father sees them.  They all have great potential in Christ.

In the Holy Spirit – This is probably the most important one.  Many of the qualities we’ve looked at so far are impossible to maintain in our own strength.  We need the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

That’s how the fruit are produced.  We must remain in the vine – Christ Jesus.  Time spent praying in the Holy Spirit is never wasted.  It changes us more and more into the image of Christ.

Sincere Love – This is a big one!  The literal Greek reads love without hypocrisy.  How can we do that?

This verse is talking about agape-love.  This love is a choice; there’s no emotional involvement.

So if I show love – doing something good – for someone I really don’t like, isn’t that hypocritical?  Good question.

Actually, that’s not being hypocritical; it’s being obedient to the Lord.  Hypocrisy would be to do something nice for them now, then gossip about them when they’re not around.  We’re to show people love and respect whether we like them or not.  This also includes whether they’re physically present or not.

This is another reason why we need the power of the Holy Spirit active in our lives.  Without His influence, we could never hope to live up to these godly qualities.

Question: How have others treated you with kindness and love in the past?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Ministry Qualities Part 2

We’re continuing to look at the qualities of a true ministry according to Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church.

…in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love…
2 Corinthians 6:5-6

In my last post, I talked about hard work, now we’ll go on from there.

Sleepless Nights – The Greek word used here literally means awake.  In the New Testament, it’s normally used to mean keep watch.  The Scripture teaches that church leaders keep watch over the souls in their care (Hebrews 13:17).

Those who are in leadership can’t afford the luxury of falling asleep spiritually.  We need to stay alert as to what’s happening in society around us.  We also need to be listening to what the Holy Spirit would have us speak.

Hunger – This is not the normal word for being hungry.  It’s a choice to abstain from eating food.  I believe that it should rightly be translated fasting, as it is in the KJV.

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I think fasting should be a normal part of any Christian’s life.  So for those who are following the call of God in their life, it’s a necessity.

Purity – this literally means cleanness in the original.  We need to keep ourselves spiritually clean.

Does that mean we need to live a perfect life?  Absolutely not.  What it does mean, is that we’re always quick to repent when we realize that we’ve missed the mark.  Don’t let a day go by without confessing your sin to the Lord.

Understanding – In the above verse, this word simply means knowledge.  I believe that we need to constantly be learning and growing in our knowledge.  That not only includes Scripture but also the world around us.

Technology is changing so rapidly, and we need to be aware of these things.  Each day brings new advantages to how we present the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Always stay teachable and open.

Patience – In the Greek, this is a compound word.  It means long tempered.  A true minister doesn’t get immediately angry in a bad situation.  They don’t let their emotions carry them away.

We have to be careful to always be led by the Holy Spirit.  We can’t afford to do or say something that we’ll end up regretting later.

If you have an anger problem, it will help if you spend time in the Lord’s presence.  Intimacy with the Holy Spirit brings great changes in our lives.

We’ve covered a lot of ground in these last two posts and we’re not finished yet.  Don’t get discouraged.  None of us are perfect, but this gives us something to strive for.  I’ll continue this in my next post.

Question: How do you see these qualities at work in your ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Ministry Qualities Part 1

I’m continuing to look at Second Corinthians.  In my last post, I ended with Paul beginning to talk about the qualities of a true ministry for Christ.  Now we’ll see these in greater detail.

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
2 Corinthians 6:4-5

Great Endurance – This is from a Greek word that means to live or continue under. Sometimes that’s one of the hardest things to do.

God’s calling will lead you to a certain place or group of people.  Things don’t always work out the way we want.  We’d much rather leave and do something different.  This attitude says, “I’m not leaving here until God sends me someplace else.”

The kingdom of God doesn’t work like corporate America.  We don’t search for the best pay packages and move on when something better opens up.  We follow God’s call wherever it leads.

Troubles – This word actually means pressure.  This always comes with the calling of God.  We feel the pressure to complete what God desires us to do.

Of course, we also feel the pressure of the normal conditions of life.  We must fulfill the call to provide for our home and family.  We need to take care of our social requirements as well.  You can never get away from the pressures of life.

Hardships and destresses – I’m dealing with these two together because they’re very close in meaning.  Hardship means constraints while distress means narrowness of room.

They both talk about the fact that there’s very little “wiggle room” in the call of God.  As followers of Christ, we need to watch how we live before people.  They will always judge the Lord based upon what we do and say.

We have to be careful to let Christ be seen in us.  We can’t live like everybody else.  We want others to be drawn to the Lord and not turned away by our actions.

Beatings and imprisonments – I’m glad that I live in the United States.  But for many believers around the world, this is a real possibility.  We should always remember to pray for our brothers and sisters who are under persecution and remain true to Christ.

Riots – This Greek word literally means instability and disorder.  That’s a good description of what’s happening across our nation right now.

As Christians, we’re always called to be the voice of hope in extreme situations.  We must always be prepared to share the love of Christ no matter what’s happening around us.

Hard work – This should go without saying.  But Paul lets us know the truth about the ministry.  It definitely involves hard work.

That’s because we have to help a lot of hurting people.  One of the things that you learn quickly is that hurting people don’t mind hurting those who are trying to help them.

Of course, that’s when we need to pray for great endurance.  It’s hard to continue to walk this road continually, showing the love and joy of Christ.

But in the end, it’s all worth it for the blessing of seeing transformed lives.  I’ll continue with this in my next post.

Question: How have you experienced these qualities in your life and ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Character is Everything

In my last post, we looked at the purpose of God’s grace.  It brings about God’s will in us.  What is that will?  It’s to bring the message of His salvation and favor to the world.

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”  I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2

This is God’s priority.  Bringing the message of salvation to the world we live in.

But what about us?  Is this our priority?  There are so many other things that we want to do and experience.  To some, God’s will is inconvenient.

Paul is getting to that.

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.
2 Corinthians 6:3

This is something that every believer has to come to grips with.  How people view our ministry is based largely on how they view us personally.  Paul is literally saying that he doesn’t want to create an offence that would cause the ministry to be blamed.

That’s why we need to be constantly working on our character.  It’s the character of the minister that determines the perception of the ministry.

Unfortunately, there are those who think it’s just the opposite.  They feel that people should think highly of them because of what their ministry is accomplishing.

We have to understand that how we live is a reflection of Christ.  The world judges the Christian message based upon what they’ve seen in the believers they’ve met.  Sometimes they’re left with a negative opinion.

We need to accurately reflect the love of Christ no matter what we’re going through.  Paul now goes through a list of these qualities.  I think that it’s important for us to hear them.  So I’m going to take a couple of posts to explain what he’s saying to us.

And yes, some of them sound very inconvenient.

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
2 Corinthians 6:4

The key is, Paul wants everyone to know that he’s a servant of God.  He doesn’t serve his own needs or wants.  He doesn’t serve the world or even the churches.  He serves God.

That has to be the foundation of our attitude.  We live and act at the Lord’s good pleasure.  We’re in the service of the King of the universe.  We want His kingdom to be accurately represented.

We serve with that in mind.  We desire the character of Christ to shine through us.  That’s the only way to draw people to the cross.

Question: How does your character reflect your service to Christ?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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What Do You Live For?

Before the holiday, I was posting about Second Corinthians.  The Apostle Paul was explaining to the church that they needed to be prepared for their future performance review before the judgment seat of Christ.

That’s how Paul described the fear of the Lord.  It’s living under the knowledge that we have to give an account to Him someday.  That’s also why the apostle went into such detail describing his ministry.

We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.
2 Corinthians 5:12

The word, commend, in the above verse actually means to introduce.  Paul was afraid that his epistle was beginning to sound like a letter of introduction to a church that didn’t know him.

That wasn’t his goal.  The word opportunity is a Greek word that means a starting point.  Paul is giving them the basis for understanding true ministry.

The starting point is what’s in the heart.  That’s how you judge a ministry’s value.

Sometimes you ask someone about their ministry and immediately they start talking about all that they’re doing.  They take pride in the outside – what is seen.  That’s not the heart of a true ministry.

The more important issue is what God has done in the heart and life of the minister.  It’s about why I’m doing what I’m doing.  That’s where ministry for the Lord begins.

If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
2 Corinthians 5:13-15

This speaks volumes to me about the mindset of a church leader.  Paul makes it clear that it is Christ’s love that compels him – keeps him on track – to do God’s will.  That’s important.  It keeps us free from wrong attitudes.

Notice that it’s not the need that compels him.  Too many people are need-driven.  They see all the people who need salvation, help, or counsel.  They end up burned out because they’re not in tune with what God wants them to do.

Also, it’s not about the work that needs to be done for God.  There are those with the attitude, “If I see something that needs to be done, I just do it.”  That’s great in the short term, but you can’t sustain it.

That’s why in many churches 10% of the people are doing 90% of the work.  I can’t do both my job and yours and be effective at either.  We all need to be fulfilling our calling.  We all need to be compelled by the love of Christ.

The bottom line is that we live for Christ.  We don’t live to fulfill the needs of the people.  We don’t live for the work of the ministry.

WE LIVE FOR CHRIST!!!

Question: How do you see this at work in your ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Believing and Speaking

I’m continuing to go through our study in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.  He is talking about his ministry to the body of Christ.  In my last post, he declared that by carrying the death of Christ, he can minister life to others.

He continues that thought.

It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence.
2 Corinthians 4:13-14

This is a very important truth that needs to be addressed in our generation.  There are many who preach about the relationship between our faith and our words.

It seems like many Christians spend their lives living in the “ruts”.  Instead of traveling down the main road of the Word of God, they take these side trails that lead to trouble.  This is one of those truths.

On the one hand, there are many who take no thought as to what they say.  They feel no need to talk about the Lord or His blessings.  As a matter of fact, if you only listen to what they say, you’d never even know that they’re a Christian.

Then there are those who live in constant fear that a “bad confession” might come out of their mouth.  They’re afraid that one wrong sentence could destroy all that they’ve gained in years of serving God.

Neither of these two scenarios is any way to live for Christ.  The above verse is referring to the result of faith.

The word translated as therefore means through which or consequently.  In other words, the consequence of my faith is manifest in what I speak.  It’s the spirit of faith within me that spills out of my mouth.

That’s how the life of Christ is at work in us by the Holy Spirit.  He is producing faith in us.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:15

Because Paul spoke out what he believed, many were placing their faith in Christ.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16

Remember, in this passage, Paul is not talking about the entire church. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 4, Paul is talking about himself and his ministry team. Paul, who prayed in the spirit more than most believers of his day, was allowing himself to be renewed daily in the spirit.

This is why our daily time with the Lord is so important. We must take the time to read the Bible and pray in the spirit. Reading gets the written word into you. Prayer in the spirit activates that word and brings it to life within your heart.

That’s how you can be prepared to speak from the spirit of faith within you.

Question: How do you spend your daily time with the Lord?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2020 in Faith, Leadership, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Servants of a New Covenant

As we continue looking at Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, we’ll begin to see his view of ministry.  But in order to understand clearly, we must strip away our “Christianization” of some important words.

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.  Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6

If you read my last post, then you know the context of this passage.  Paul is talking about his confidence that his ministry is life-changing.  The Corinthian church was proof of that.

He makes it clear that his ability to accomplish this was not from himself.  It was God working through him.  God made him competent.

Paul describes this work as being a minister of a new covenant.  That’s where we have to be careful in how we understand what he’s saying.

The covenant we have in Christ is the same one God gave to Abraham (Galatians 3:16-18).  But now in Christ, it’s been refreshed, which is what the Greek word, new, means in that verse.

Now we get to one of our problem words – minister.  This is the Greek word, diakonos.  This word means a household servant.  It’s someone who does what their master tells them to do.

Paul is clear that he and his ministry team are servants of this covenant with Christ.  But more than that, they’re servants of the Spirit of this covenant.

There’s a difference between the letter of the covenant and the Spirit.  That word, letter, means something that’s written down.  I believe that this includes what we call the New Testament in our Bibles.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I believe that the New Testament is the Holy, Authoritative, and Infallible Word of God.  I’m not trying to diminish its place in the life of a believer.

However, if I turn the New Testament into a law, then I’m falling into the same trap of legalism that Israel did.  I serve Christ through the Holy Spirit.  The Bible simply serves as the guide to bring me to Christ (John 5:39-40).

The apostles understood this truth.  They knew who they served.  It was brought out when they needed to start a ministry to the widows of Jerusalem.

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
Acts 6:2-4

They had a choice either to be a servant of the Word of God or servant of the widow’s ministry.  They chose to pray and then to serve the Word that they heard from the Holy Spirit during their time of prayer.

When did being a minister change from being a servant of the Holy Spirit to become an authority over church people?  We need to get back to our first calling.

We must spend time with the Holy Spirit, hearing His voice.  Then be obedient to do what He desires.

Question: What does the word, minister, mean to you?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Word of God

 

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Proof of Ministry

As we continue through the book of Second Corinthians, Paul now explains what true ministry is all about.

Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit.  On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God.
2 Corinthians 2:17

The apostle explains things clearly in this verse.  He first shows what the ministry is not about.  He literally says that he doesn’t retail the Word of God.

I get uncomfortable around leaders who talk about their ministries in terms of business models.  The church is not a product of cash flow and getting customers through the door.

Ministry is about bringing people into an encounter with Jesus Christ.  Then, they must be shown how to let the Holy Spirit bring about a change for the better.

I understand that money is needed to accomplish these things.  But money isn’t the primary focus.

Paul explains that when they talk, they speak before God with sincerity.  That word actually means a sunlight test.

When I was dating the woman who is now my wife, I wanted to buy her a diamond engagement ring.  The salesman showed me different styles.  I eventually found one that I liked and it was within my price range.

At that point, the salesman explained that most dealers would show you what the ring looked like under a special light.  It brings out the luster of the diamond.  Instead, he took me and the ring outside the store into the direct sunlight so I could see it in the real world.  That’s the sunlight test.  How does your ministry look in real life?

Paul tells us what this sunlight test really is.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again?  Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you?  You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody.  You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
2 Corinthians 3:1-3

The real proof of ministry is in the people it produces.  In the plant world, like produces like.  Tomato seeds produce tomatoes while dandelion seeds produce weeds.

The true question is; what’s the effect that a congregation is having on the world around them?  It will be positive, negative, or no effect at all.

In church leadership, we need to focus on what really matters.  The important issue is touching the world with the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Everything else is of secondary importance.

It’s clear from God’s Word that we’re not to live for ourselves, but for the Lord’s glory.  To many around us, we’re the only “Jesus” they’ll ever see.  It’s only by our lives that they’ll know that God loves and cares about them.

Because of this fact, it must be by the power of the Holy Spirit.  That’s the only way we can fulfill such a challenging call.  God’s church must be a letter from Christ to the world!

Question: How have you shown Jesus to those around you lately?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Tough Love

As we continue to look at Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we can begin to see his heart for them.  His first letter was very bold and authoritative.  He dealt with many of the sins and failures of the church.

I’m sure that many who read that letter were convicted and sorrowful over their actions.  Paul understood this and now he addresses this issue.

I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.  Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
2 Corinthians 1:23-24

The first thing Paul does is to let the church know that he understands his place in this process of correction and renewal.  It’s something that modern church leaders need to follow after.

He essentially says that “I am not the lord over your faith.  Instead, I’m a fellow worker with you.”  That’s an important concept for all leaders to grasp.  There’s only one Lord in the church – Jesus Christ the Son of God.

It’s not up to me, as a church leader, to make people do what they’re supposed to do.  All I can do is instruct in the way of Christ.  Then, the choice is theirs whether they’ll follow or not.

I can’t make them stand firm in their faith.  Faith is personal.  Everyone needs to stand on their own as they trust in God and His ways.

So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you.  For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved?  I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice.  I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy.
2 Corinthians 2:1-3

Now Paul bares his heart to them.  He’s overflowing with love for them.  After all, it was Paul’s ministry that gave birth to this church (See Acts, chapter 18).  How could anyone ever think that he was out to hurt them?

Usually, Paul is lifted up when he’s with his spiritual children.  But as he was going through that area, he knew that they had just received his letter.  He also knew, by the Spirit, what the effect upon the church would be.

He assumed that there would be much sorrow and guilt.  He also knew that as it ran its course, this sorrow would produce the repentance necessary for the church to get back on track.

Paul was operating in wisdom.  He knew that if he showed up too early, he might short-circuit the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  So Paul made a painful choice to put off his visit until a later time.

For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
2 Corinthians 2:4

This final thought lets us know what Paul was going through as he wrote First Corinthians.  First, he says that he felt under great distress – literally pressure – to write his letter of correction.

Also, he had great anxiety.  This word means that he felt like everything was falling apart.  It was through his great love for the Corinthian people that he forced himself to write a strong word to them.

It took a tough love to help them to get back to their first love for Christ.

Question: How have you experienced someone’s tough love for you?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, Revival

 

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Arrogance – The Ministry Killer

How open are you to the constructive criticism of those who are further along than you?  It’s amazing how defensive we get when we find out what we’re doing isn’t the best.  Scripture shows that this has always been a part of human nature.

Did the word of God originate with you?  Or are you the only people it has reached?  If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.  If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.
1 Corinthians 14:36-38

Paul is concluding his exhortation concerning the gathering of the saints.  He has explained that the worship service is not a vehicle to show off how spiritual you are.  Instead, it should be a place of ministry and blessing for all who attend.

Having founded this church, Paul knew many of the personalities involved.  He also knew that some of them would resist his guidelines.  Because of this, he made some very strong remarks to get their attention.

God’s Word didn’t start with them.  As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul was the first person to bring it to them.  He established their church.  Furthermore, they are one of many churches that were started by Paul’s ministry.

He then mentions two groups of people – those who think that they’re a prophet or highly spiritual.  He lets them know that if they really are sensitive to things of God, they’ll acknowledge that his letter is a Word from God.

That’s interesting.  We can look back on these events.  We don’t give it a second thought.  Of course, First Corinthians is the Word of God; it’s a part of Scripture.

But to them, it was something new.  Many of them looked at it as if it were simply another letter from Paul – the traveling evangelist.

They should have known by his lifestyle and the fruit of his ministry that what he said held a lot of weight.  He had pressed into the Holy Spirit more than any of them.  So they should have received this command accordingly.

I watch a reality show where a famous chef, making millions of dollars with his Michelin Star restaurants, tries to help struggling restaurant owners.  I’m blown away by some of their reactions.

Here’s someone who knows the restaurant business.  He knows what it takes to be successful.  Yet the owners resist his advice, telling him that he doesn’t understand their business.

I’ve seen this happen over and over in the ministry.  Young Christians, or even ministers, hear the advice of those who have already been through many spiritual battles.  Yet they resist the advice that could save their ministry, marriage, or church.

I’ve heard this so many times.  “You don’t know what I’m facing.”  “I understand what you’re saying, but I know what I’m doing.”

The unfortunate results are that they eventually crash and burn.  Their arrogance insulated them from the truth that could have protected them.  Take stock of the advice you’ve received.  Don’t put yourself in this dangerous situation.

Paul concludes with this summary.

Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.  But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
1 Corinthians 14:39-40

We should take this to heart.  Don’t resist the gifts of the Spirit.  Yet make sure that they’re only used to build up the body of Christ.

Question: What advice have you received that saved you from future problems?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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