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God Pleaser or Man Pleaser?

Who are you trying to please by your ministry?  That’s a question we all need to answer.  It determines your destiny in Christ.

I’m continuing my look at the book of Galatians.  It’s Paul’s letter combatting legalism.  He starts off by talking about his own walk with the Lord.  What was the Apostle’s motive toward the ministry?

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10

This verse deals with some key motivational attitudes.  What is it that you’re actively trying to accomplish in your ministry?  If your fulfillment isn’t coming from Christ, then there may be some course correction that’s needed.

The first important word in this verse is approval.  The phrase, trying to win the approval of men, means to convince men.

Are you trying to convince people that they need to serve God?  If you are, that’s the first sign of a man pleaser.  It’s not our job to convince people.

We’re called to hear from the Holy Spirit, then to speak the Word that we’ve heard.  It’s the job of the Holy Spirit to use the Word to convict and convince those listening.  This is something Paul was keenly aware of.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

The next important word is trying.  It means to desire and seek after.

Where are you seeking your validation from?  That may require some soul searching to truly answer the question.  Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re looking to man.

You preach the Word.  Many lives are touched and blessed by the message.  One person comes up to you after the service and tells you they didn’t agree with you.  Suddenly you feel like a failure and want to quit the ministry.  That’s a sign that you’re seeking in the wrong direction.

It’s nice when our ministry has a positive effect on those who receive it.  But that’s not always a requirement of the assignment we’ve been given.  I’m glad that Christ didn’t rely upon the response of the Pharisees to continue His plan to save us.

The final phrase I want to look at is to please men.  That literally means to get an emotional response from people.

Are you trying to stir people’s emotions?  Emotionalism and hype are the mainstays of the entertainment industry.  In case you didn’t already know this, the ministry of the Word is NOT a form of entertainment.

It’s so unfortunate that many churches build their services around the American entertainment model.  Please understand; I know that we have to present the message of Christ in a way that’s relevant to our society.  In that sense, there will always be a measure of professionalism.

We want the music, the flow of the service, and the time investment to be welcoming to those attending.  It’s the motivation that needs to be examined.  What’s the goal?

Am I choreographing the service so that at one point people will stand to their feet and cheer?  Am I out to bring tears to peoples’ eyes?

According to Paul, my ultimate goal is to serve Christ.  I firmly believe that if I do that well; then emotions will be stirred.  But instead of a passing excitement, their lives will be changed by the power of God.

Like the Apostle Paul, we need to have the attitude of a God pleaser.

Question: When have you had to choose between pleasing God or man?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Legalism, Ministry, The Church

 

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Have You Been Gospel Approved?

ApproveIn my last post I talked about the true Gospel. I said that it was more than just words, but included the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. Why is there so little of the whole Gospel of Christ being presented in our generation?

The same letter of Paul that we looked at last time gives us the answer to this question.

On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4

In the last post we saw that Paul understood the true Gospel as including power, the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, and deep conviction. That might have been surprising to some. But I believe his words in this verse would totally shock many preachers if they understood their significance.

According to Paul, you need to be approved by God to preach this Gospel. Actually it’s deeper than that. He said that you need God’s approval even to be entrusted with this Gospel.

Is this what’s taught in Bible schools? I don’t think so; at least I’ve never heard it taught. In my experience preaching the Gospel is simply coming up with a Scripture for an opening text. Then we apply it to the need for the hearers to “get saved.”

Where’s the power? Where’s the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, and the deep conviction? I believe that there’s too much unapproved Gospel being preached these days. That’s why many have written off Christianity as a dead horse that needs to be removed from society.

How do you become approved to be entrusted with the true Gospel? The answer to this is why there’s so little of it in our generation. It’s not about college degrees or denominational accreditation. No, it’s much deeper than that.

Paul makes it clear that this approval can only come from God. Furthermore, the test takes place in your heart. It’s what Jesus talked about in the parable of the sower.

“Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop — thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”
Mark 4:20

The test is in your heart – where you hear and plant the Word. This requires time in the presence of the Lord. It means that we have a listening ear toward the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Then, when Gods sees the quality of the crop produced by the Word planted in our heart, He grants His approval. Then we see the manifestation of the Word of God when we present the Gospel. Then the lives of the hearers are changed by that powerful Word from God.

Question: How would churches be different if we sought the approval of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in Anointing, Ministry, Power of God, Word of God

 

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Approved for the Anointing #anointing

ApproveI’ve been posting about David’s anointing as king and how it relates to us.  It’s surprisingly similar to what we go through in the church today.

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power. Samuel then went to Ramah.
1 Samuel 16:13

It’s clear from this verse that the Holy Spirit and power follows the anointing.  That’s what Christ was referring to when He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me BECAUSE He has anointed me.” (Luke 4:18)

I believe that this is a special move of the Holy Spirit to work signs and miracles.  It’s not the same as the Holy Spirit simply being in us because of salvation.  It’s the power of God, present to confirm His word.

If you’ve been following these posts, you may remember I said how little the word “anointing” was used in the New Testament.  If you check it out, except once by Paul, all the usage was Jews writing to Jews.

Paul wrote most of the New Testament to Gentiles.  What would a Greek know about the Hebrew anointing?  Paul wrote to people who had no knowledge of it.  How did he describe it?

To understand it, let’s talk about the priesthood in Israel.  To become a priest, you didn’t just walk up to the temple and say, “I’m a Levite and I want to be a priest.”  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!

To be anointed as priest, you had to attend and graduate a school of the law taught by a Rabbi.  Then you had to prove that you’ve memorized the Pentateuch (The first five books of the Bible).  You had to show your family records proving priestly lineage.  Then you would strip and every inch of your body would be inspected by a board of priests who were looking for any defect that would disqualify you.

Only when you had passed every test would you be robed in priestly clothes and the oil of the anointing was poured on your head.  Being in the right family was only the beginning.  It wasn’t until you were tested and approved to be a priest that you could be anointed.

In reality, our spiritual anointing involves being approved by God.  That’s the word Paul used throughout his writings to the Gentiles.  They wouldn’t understand anoint, but approve they could grasp.

The Greek word that Paul used is translated as approve, commend, chosen, or election depending upon the context.  But these words were used by Paul the same way anointing is used in the Old Testament.

What we miss sometimes, is that we can be saved, but not approved to walk in the power of God.  We think that just because we have the Holy Spirit in us, we have the same authority as Christ.  We have to be approved to walk in God’s authority.

That’s the true anointing of power.

Question: What does it take to be approved to walk in the authority of the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2013 in Anointing, The Church

 

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