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Category Archives: Ministry

God’s Armor – Using the Shoes of Readiness

In my last post, I talked about what the shoes protect.  They keep our endurance to complete God’s will in our lives.  Today I want to talk about how to use this piece of armor.

We’re told in Ephesians 6:15, that this readiness comes from the Gospel of Peace.  The Apostle explained this Gospel right in this same letter.  You may want to read Ephesians 2:11-22 before continuing with this post.

In the second chapter of Ephesians, Paul shows us that the Gentiles were far from God, while the Jews were in His family.  However, when Christ came, He destroyed all the barriers.

Formerly there were three parties at war: God, Gentiles, and the Jews.  Through His death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus reconciled all people to Himself.  We are all members of one body.  We all have unlimited access to God.

Paul concludes that chapter by stating the point of the Gospel of Peace.

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:21-22

Now, everyone who bows their knee to Christ has a place in this Temple.  We are being built into a dwelling place for God.

What we’re told to do takes effort.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3

We’re told here to guard the oneness of the Spirit in the bond, or literally, the ligament of peace.  Contrary to what many say, peace is not just some calming factor.  It’s the glue, the unifying factor, in the body of Christ.

This tells me that I put on my Shoes of Readiness by connecting to the body of Christ.  In talking about the reason for the five-fold ministry gifts, the Apostle Paul explains it.

…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…
Ephesians 4:12

This is why we connect with the body of Christ.  By connecting, I learn to serve.

I know that right now many don’t go to church meetings.  Maybe they’ve been hurt in the past.  Or it could be the proliferation of TV and online preachers.

There’s a question that some ask.  “Can’t I be a Christian and never go to a church?”  The answer to that is yes, but it’s not all about you.  Apart from a local church, you can never be prepared for works of service that build up the body of Christ.

Of course, there are a lot of believers who attend church yet aren’t connected.  That puts you in the same condition.  You’re shoeless.

As a matter of fact, the above verse continues to say…

…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13

It’s all about the body of Christ as a whole operating on the level of Christ.  That’s not going to happen without us all being connected.  The church needs to arise in this generation.

That’s how you put on the shoes of readiness.  You can’t move forward unless you find your connection.  If you’re not connected to a local body of believers, then you’re trying to walk without shoes.

It’s my connection to a local church that fleshes out the Gospel of Peace.  Then, from that connection, my spiritual feet can be protected as I move forward in God’s will.

Question: What are your connections in the body of Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Bootcamp – Warned and Prepared

I’m continuing to post about spiritual warfare.  The Apostle Paul had a lot of insight in this area.  Of course, not everything he wrote sounds good to me.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:13

This is one of those Scriptures that I have to embrace whether I like it or not.  I’m told under the authority of the Holy Spirit to always be prepared to stand my ground.

This is a great lesson that the church needs to hear.  So many people give up when things get hard.  Some of us are under the impression that working for God should be all hearts and flowers.

Why then does Paul use the analogy of a warrior, fully armed, and dressed for battle?  The fact is that there are spiritual forces that don’t want us to succeed in our service to the Lord.  The victory comes from knowing that it’s the Holy Spirit giving you strength, and not giving up.

We need to learn how to stand in the center of opposition.  The ancient Romans knew how to do this.  It was the secret to the success of their army.  Each of the Roman soldiers was taught how to defend a 3-foot square of ground from an invading army.  When they fought side by side, there was no way to break through their lines.

We need to get it into our heads that the only way to victory is to move forward in the Lord.  Backing up WILL NOT get you out of the battle.  It only means that you’ll have to fight to regain that ground later.

Of course, the thing about this verse that gives me the most trouble is Paul saying when the day of evil comes.  Not “if”, not “there might come a time when problems arise”.  He tells us in a straight forward way that this day is coming whether you’re ready or not.  So the best thing to do is prepare now.

The word that Paul uses for stand literally means to stand in opposition to.  This word is used elsewhere in the Bible.

Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

The word, resist, in this verse is the same word as stand that Paul used.  We need to stand our ground and resist the devil.  We’re told that if we do this, in submission to the Lord, the enemy will flee.  It’s the time frame between the resisting and the fleeing that gives us the most problem.

Why would the devil ever flee from us?  After all, we’re not that strong compared to him.  The answer is back in the verse from Ephesians.

The phrase, after you have done everything, actually translates after you have fully accomplished your work.  When you’ve done everything you were assigned to do by the Lord, then it’s time for the Holy Spirit to take over.  One thing I’m certain about.  The enemy is no match for the God I serve!

So, being forewarned with the knowledge that the day of evil is coming, we need to be ready.  We must be fully armed and prepared to stand our ground in Christ.  Then we’ll see the victory of God manifest in our situation.

In my next post, I’ll start talking about what it takes to be fully armed and dangerous to the enemy’s kingdom.

Question: What are you going through right now that will require you to stand your ground?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Developing an Addiction for Christ

In my last post, I talked about the 5 symptoms of being addicted to the ministry for Christ.  It was based upon the KJV translation of a verse in I Corinthians.

I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
1 Corinthians 16:15

Today I want to talk about the steps that it takes to become addicted.  Again, I took them from a pamphlet that I got from the American medical community.

Curiosity causes you to check it out.  Sometimes seeing what someone else is doing for Christ will cause you to ask if you’re able to do something similar.  You step out in faith and see what happens.  After all, we’re encouraged in the Scripture to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Comparing your life with Christ to your life without Him.  How has the Lord changed you?  If you’re like most people, then you can look back on a life of death, sorrow, worry, and guilt.  Now, in Christ, your path should be marked with life, joy, faith, and freedom.

You develop a taste for it.  Most of the things that cause addictions start out tasting horrible.  It’s only after people get used to it that they get “hooked.”  It’s the same with the ministry.

Sometimes it’s hard working with people.  But as you get used to it, and especially the rewards of seeing changed lives, it gets better.  Pretty soon it becomes normal.  Experts tell us that it takes about a month for a habit to develop.

You start to become uncomfortable when it’s taken away (withdrawal).  Being a blessing to others causes you to become a giver.  When that happens, you have to draw on the sufficiency of Christ.  If something happens to stop the process, you feel like something’s missing.

As problems increase, your usage increases.  It’s easy to tell when someone is in the final stages of a “Christ addiction.”  When the normal believer faces a crisis – the loss of a job or a loved one – you don’t see them around for a while.  After all, they need time to sort things out.

Addicted people are different.  During times of crisis or turmoil, you find them seeking more fellowship, prayer, or worship.  Their goal is to use the strength of the Lord and His church to get them through the tough times.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?
Psalms 42:1-2

David understood the concept.  In my estimation, an addiction to Christ is the best thing you could ever experience.  It becomes your strength in weakness and your channel of blessing.  It will keep your walk with God from becoming stale or stagnant.

Cultivate this holy addiction!

Question: What’s your strategy for developing an addiction to Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Are You Addicted to Ministry?

I normally don’t use the KJV in my posts, but this verse from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church gives me a lot to think about.

I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
1 Corinthians 16:15

Stephanus and his family were a great help to Paul as he preached the Word of God.  He goes on to tell a little more about them.  He tells the church…

…to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it.  I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you.  For they refreshed my spirit and yours also.  Such men deserve recognition.
1 Corinthians 16:16-18

What was it about Stephanas and his family that caused Paul to describe them as addicted?

I looked up some facts, not from Christian sources, but from the American medical community.  How do they describe addiction?  You may think you’re “all in” for the Lord.  How does what these doctors say stack up to your experience?

You need an increased level to maintain the feeling.  Are you feeling tired and burned out by what you do for God?  Or are you hungering to go deeper with Him?  Addiction means that the amount you’re doing now doesn’t satisfy you the way it used to.  You want more, greater, and higher dosages in order to stay fulfilled.  I believe that’s the excitement of the ministry.

You are obsessed with the ministry.  What’s your thought life like?  When you’re not actively involved in your calling, are you still thinking about it?  Addiction means that it’s constantly in the back of your mind.  You continually think about ways to improve and increase what you’re doing for the Lord.

Even in recreation times, a thought, word, or something you see will trigger an image of what you could be doing to further the Kingdom.  Thinking about it is uncontrollable.

You are continually sneaking “quickies” throughout the day.  Addiction to the ministry is a lifestyle.  Do you find yourself sharing about Jesus at the mall, school or workplace?  Are you prone to spontaneously be a blessing to people around you, simply for the enjoyment of it?  Maybe you find yourself praying for people as soon as you hear about their need.  This is a sign of an addiction to Christ and His ministry.

You undergo a change in your appearance.  Does the knowledge that you represent Christ change how you present yourself to others?  Does the fact that you’re God’s ambassador to the world make a difference in how you live?  The more we become addicted, the more radical the change.  How much has your ministry affected you?

You are in “denial” – you continue deeper even though others may argue against it.  Some people may say that you’re doing too much for God.  After all, look at the lifestyle of most believers.  “God will let you get away with a lot less commitment.”  Arguments like these don’t even faze you.  You want to touch as many people as you can for the Gospel.

You may like to think that you’re addicted – after all, it sounds good.  But the truth is unless you’ve come to the place I’ve just described, it’s only wishful thinking.  Hey, don’t get mad at me – this is what the American medical community says about it.

If you find that you’re not addicted and you want to be – my next post will be about the 5 steps to becoming addicted!

Question: How has an addiction to the ministry affected your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Planning for the Future

In the closing chapter of First Corinthians, Paul talks about the future.  He lets the church know where he and his team are going.  This gives us some insight into how we should look forward.

After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you — for I will be going through Macedonia.  Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go.  I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.  But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
1 Corinthians 16:5-9

One of the things that I notice right away is Paul’s reliance upon knowing God’s will for his life.  It’s something that we need to come to grips with, in our generation.

The apostle sought out God’s best every step of the way.  So when he looked ahead, he kept that in mind.  He knew what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go.  But he always qualified it by saying “if the Lord permits.”

All that means is that he didn’t yet know God’s perfect will concerning that trip yet.  He had faith that at some point it would become clear to him where he was to go.

It’s unfortunate that in our generation there are many believers who take no thought of what God wants them to do.  They make their plans based on their own wants and desires.  Then they bring these plans to God for His blessing.

We’ve fallen into the trap of planning out our lives without first seeking God’s will.  That’s the very definition of godlessness.  Yes, it is possible to be a godless Christian.

We need to learn to hear from God first and then set our plans according to His will.  In this way, we’ll know that our path is blessed even before we ask God to bless it.

Of course, there’s another side to the issue.  Just because it’s God’s will for us to do something doesn’t always mean that it’s going to be easy.  God opened a door of ministry for him, but Paul acknowledged that there was going to be great opposition.

That seems to be the story of most successful ministries.  A great door opened for a powerful work.  While at the same time, there’s great opposition.  That’s why problems are never an indicator of whether or not you’re in God’s will.  You need to hear from Him before you start.

I also notice Paul providing for those under him in ministry.

If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am.  No one, then, should refuse to accept him.  Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers.  He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
1 Corinthians 16:10-12

The thing that I see is that there’s no sense of competition.  Paul never felt the need to prove he was better than anyone else.

Too often in ministry, leaders seem to think that they have to keep others down.  They don’t want to see their “protégés” reaching a higher level than them.  Leaders don’t want to lose their status.  Personally, I think that it would be an honor to have trained someone who is doing a great work for Christ.

We need to be seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit for every aspect of our ministry.  Only then will we see the results that will point to the power of God at work.

Question: How do you plan what you’ll be doing in the future?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2019 in Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Giving Ourselves to God

I’ve been posting about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  Paul goes into great detail explaining the importance of His rising from the grave.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58

In the context of this verse, Paul has just told us of the defeat of death and sin.  By rising from the dead, the Lord proved once and for all that they had no hold over Him.

Paul concludes this section by talking about our victory in Christ.  The resurrection is the foundation for our victory in this life.  We know that the victory is ours in Christ, no matter what the situation may look like right at the present moment.

So in this passage, Paul uses the word, therefore.  It’s because we know that Christ is victorious – past, present, and future – that we can give ourselves fully to God.  We already know the outcome, so we can give ourselves willingly.

The problem is that willingly and fully are two very different things.  I can willingly serve God with only part of my life, time, and resources.  The real victory comes when I willingly give all to Christ.

Jesus Christ is returning soon.  The clock is ticking.  God wants to do great things in our generation.  The question is; do I want to be a part of it, or simply watch what happens in the lives of others?

Please understand that this has nothing to do with your abilities.  It has everything to do with your willingness to fully commit your life to God.  The Macedonian churches are a great example of this in the Scripture.

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.  Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.  And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.
2 Corinthians 8:3-5

This is one of the most miraculous verses in the Bible.  How can you ever give beyond your ability?  I don’t know, but that’s Paul’s testimony of what they did.

I believe that the key to all this is found in verse 5.  Paul said that they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us.

Your first calling is not to a church or a ministry.  It’s to God Himself.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t commit yourself to a church.  What I am saying is that committing yourself to a church without first giving yourself to God is counter-productive.

It’s only when you first give yourself to God, that you can accomplish something beyond your ability.  That’s when people notice that it’s God working in you.  Only then will God get the glory from your life, and people will be attracted to the Gospel.

Question: How fully committed is your life to God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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An Inheritance of Dirt

As we continue going through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we can see that he’s trying to give them an eternal perspective.  Paul wants them, and us, to be looking forward to the return of Christ on Resurrection Day.

Our inheritance is going to be glorious in Christ.  That means we need to be focused on what is ahead of us.

To do that, we need to understand the difference between us and the world.

As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.  And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:48-49

We know from Scripture that we were created from the dirt.  Even the name, Adam means red, because of the color of the clay God used to form him.

That’s important because the word, earthly in the above verse literally means dirt-like.  Just like Adam was dirt-like, we have the same makeup.

I’m glad that the story doesn’t end there.  There’s a higher calling that we can share.  This verse also talks about the Man from heaven – literally, the one from beyond the sky.

So now we have a choice.  This passage tells us that we can wear like a garment, the likeness of dirt or the likeness from beyond the sky.

That’s the two different perspectives before us.  You can have your eyes on the dirt, or on heaven.  What do you focus most of your attention on?

But you might ask me why that’s so important.  I’ll let Paul explain it.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1 Corinthians 15:50

To put it simply, dirt can’t inherit that which is beyond the sky.  Unfortunately, too many of us want the inheritance of dirt.

What do I mean by that?  Every material thing that we have in this world is either dug out of the dirt or grows from the dirt.  Yes, even your computer chips are made of silicone which is simply refined dirt.

Why are we so mesmerized by the things from dirt, that we ignore the things from heaven – beyond the sky?  We need to retool our priorities.

Scripture teaches us that this is how we do our best for Christ.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

We need to be eternity minded.  That’s where our treasure resides.  Allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse you from the “dirt mentality”.  God’s kingdom offers us so much more.

Question: How do you know the difference between being earthly-minded vs. heavenly-minded?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2019 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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