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You are Called to a Life of Excellence

TrophyA couple of weeks ago I blogged about how the Bible describes our excellent God.  It’s one thing to acknowledge that a perfect, holy, and Most High God is excellent.  It’s quite another to see that we’re called to that same level of excellence.

Again, let me remind you that it’s not what we do, but whom we have become that makes us excellent.  A ministry is not excellent because of its money, technology, modern equipment, large size, big building, or anything else that we may possess.  It’s only when we compare what we’re doing to the normal, the average, or the expected that excellence can be seen.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 13:2

The very act of finding and entering your calling is being set apart – you are being divinely moved from a large group to a smaller group.  This, by definition, is the more excellent group.

It is a group of those who have been called, prepared, chosen, and accepted for a divinely appointed task.  Don’t ever think you’re just like everybody else; you’re not.

There are levels to our callings based upon our obedience and excellence.  The more we manifest excellence in our walk and ministry, the further from the pack we move.  Make no mistake about it; the Lord is very clear in His call to us – we are to leave the normal behind.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

This seems like an almost impossible task. Are we really to be as perfect as God?  Actually, the word perfect in this verse means fully mature.  God wants us to grow up and act as mature believers.  The life of maturity in Christ is the life of excellence to which we are called.

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15-16

It is clear from the above verses that God is calling us to live a life worthy of His excellent name.  Please don’t get confused by what I’m saying.  I’m not talking about your salvation.  It’s not by works that we’re saved, but through the grace of God.

What I am speaking about, however, is the fact that once we’re saved, there is an expectation of change (for the better) in our lives.  God is looking for His children to grow and mature into a people who accurately portray His kingdom and His desires.

For Christians, the walk of maturity is the walk of excellence.

Question: In what areas have you seen yourself mature since you’ve come to Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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God’s Excellent Kingdom

CastleI’ve been talking about excellence for a few posts.  I want to finish up this topic by showing that everything God has for us in His kingdom is excellent.

The Greek word usually translated excellent in the New Testament is hyperballoHyperballo, literally means, to throw beyond.  The word picture being used is of an Olympic sport such as throwing the javelin.

Everyone else has thrown it to a certain, average point.  You, however, get up and throw it beyond all the others.  That’s a picture of the concept of excellence.  When you throw beyond the normal or what’s expected, then you’ve entered the realm of the excellent.

Here are some examples of how the word hyperballo is used of the Lord in the New Testament:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:18-19a

The word that was translated incomparably great is hyperballo.  Many people have a measure of strength, but God desires to work His power in us.  This is a power that goes beyond the normal, the average or the expected.  His power working in us is excellent.

In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:7

Not only does He desire to show us His excellent power, but He also wants to work His excellent grace in us.  Most of us know that the grace of God is His unmerited favor.  The favor of the Lord goes beyond what’s deserved or expected.

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:19

He also wants to show us His love that throws beyond knowledge.  This love is greater than anything we have ever experienced before in our lives.  His love goes further than we could ever ask, think, or imagine.

If you have ever received teaching on the book of Hebrews, you have probably heard that the theme of the book is “Better.”  How much better the ministry of Christ is than any other!  It incorporates a better sacrifice, a better priesthood, and better promises.

Why would anyone settle for mediocrity?  Knowing who the Lord is should spur us on to excellence.  His excellent power, excellent grace, and excellent love are the treasures that He is ready to bestow upon us.  We only need to be willing to walk the high road of excellence.

Question: How have you experienced the excellence of God’s kingdom?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Encouragement, Spirit of Excellence

 

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Do you have a Spirit of Excellence?

SpeedFinally, brothers…if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

Excellence.  It’s a word we hear all the time in the church.  Everyone talks about wanting an excellent ministry.  Sad to say, most of it is just talk.  We need to strive for excellence.

What is a spirit of excellence?  I’ve found that many Christians have no clue.  If you can’t define it, then you have no basis upon which to judge yourself.

To excel is defined as to do or be better than; to surpass; to show superiority; to surpass others.  Some synonyms of this word are to surpass, exceed, transcend, and outdo.  These verbs mean to be or to go beyond a limit or standard.

It should be very obvious by now that this word excel is a word of comparison.  You only use it when you’re relating to the norm, the average, or the expected.

Excellence, therefore, means that you’re going beyond what’s expected or what others are doing.  We tend to get caught up in what people do or how they do it.  Excellence is more than that.

It’s something you are.  You’re either ahead of the pack or you’re not.  There’s no partly excellent, halfway excellent or almost excellent.  You’re either living in the realm of the excellent or you’re not.

A word with a similar root is accelerate.  To accelerate means that you’re in a state of continually increasing speed.  Your speed now is higher than that of a moment ago.

When purchasing a new car, one of the considerations is how well it accelerates.  Acceleration is important when passing another car on the highway.  In the same way, on the highway of life, if you intend to surpass the normal or that which is expected, then you need the power of excellence operating in your life and ministry.

We know how a great car should act.  When we pull out into another lane to pass the car in front of us, we expect an immediate response when we step on the “accelerator.”  If the car hesitates, if the engine sputters and coughs, then we know there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

In the same way, if the Lord speaks to your heart to do something above and beyond what you’re doing now, or what’s expected for your type of ministry, He expects immediate agreement to His Word.

Hesitation in ministry is a sign that we lack excellence.  When God instructs you to “pull out and pass” the normal or the expected, He’s looking for obedience.  Responses such as “We’ve never done it that way before,” “No one else does it like that,” or “I can’t possibly handle that” are indications that you must move on to new levels of excellence.

That’s why He’s given us His Holy Spirit.  He’ll work with us, bringing us to new heights in Christ, but only if we’re willing to submit to His leadership.  You must desire this walk of excellence.

Question: Do you desire a walk of excellence with Christ?

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Encouragement, Spirit of Excellence

 

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How to have a More Satisfying Prayer Life

Pray1Have you ever thought, “If my prayer time was more satisfying, I would pray more.”?  What does it take to have a prayer time that you can feel good about?  I think the answer may surprise you.  It surprised me.

I was reading an chart sent to pastor’s about their prayer lives.  It was based on some research done through a survey.  They asked a number of probing questions.  I want to comment about their findings, which I think can apply to all believers, not just those in full-time ministry.

…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

The researchers broke down their findings into 4 categories – those who were very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, and very dissatisfied with their prayer lives.  They found that the average pastor spends 39 minutes a day in prayer.

That might not sound like much to you.  But, the last survey I heard before this one placed it at 20 minutes a day.  So, I’m glad to see that the prayer time of most pastors is on the rise.

What I found very interesting, was the breakdown of averages.  Those who were least satisfied in their prayer lives averaged 21 minutes a day.  Somewhat dissatisfied – 29 minutes.  Somewhat satisfied – 43 minutes.  Very satisfied – 56 minutes.

I find that absolutely wonderful!  The more time spent in prayer, the better you feel about it.  That seems right to me.

The study also looked into what pastors include in their prayers.  It was found that the average pastor spends 5 minutes in confession, 7 minutes in thanking God, and another 7 minutes in praise.  They also averaged 8 minutes quietly listening and 12 minutes giving their requests to God.

How does the average stack up against those who were most satisfied with their prayers?  It turns out that the pastors who were very satisfied with their prayer lives didn’t follow the crowd.  On average, they spend more time listening to God and less time on their requests.

I think that this survey speaks volumes to us.  My blog title was how to have a more satisfying prayer life.  The answer is clear.  The more time you spend in prayer – specifically listening for God’s voice – the more satisfied and fulfilled you’ll be in the place of prayer.

(The above was based upon an Ellison Research Survey for Facts & Trends 05/06/05)

Question: How does your prayer life compare to the research above?  How satisfied are you with your present prayer habits?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Prayer

 

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