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You’ve Been Hand-Picked

MixFor the last couple of posts I’ve been talking about Peter’s opening remarks in his first epistle.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:1-2

I’ve talked about the fact that we are aliens, scattered throughout the world. Today I want to emphasize that we are chosen. That word chosen means selected, hand-picked, or favorite.

Why has God chosen us? The answer is simply because we responded to His call.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14

We are all invitedcalled – but chosen means that you responded and put yourself in the position of being selected.

The Apostle, Peter described this truth in the verse we looked at above. He said that we were chosen according to the foreknowledge of the Father. Then we were sanctified by the working of the Holy Spirit in us.

That, in and of itself, is great news. But he didn’t stop there. He had to put in that tough little word – “for”. That changes everything. That means that there was a reason for all that He did. It can be summed up in one word – purpose.

It turns out that we are strangers, scattered and chosen for a purpose. What is that purpose? According the Peter, the purpose is obedience to Christ.

That word obedience literally means to hear under. You could also call it attentive listening. If I’m an alien, then I must listen to MY King. Being scattered in the world I have to listen for the Lord’s special instructions for me.

If I’m chosen, then I need to listen to the one who chose me. We must listen carefully and follow His instructions. If we don’t, then things will start to go wrong.

The problem is that listening requires time in the Lord’s presence. We live in a fast paced world. We look for the quick fixes. How can I get it done immediately?

The truth is that there’s no technology that can speed up the development of relationship. The only way is by spending time. Whether it’s with another human, or the Holy Spirit, I have to take the time necessary to get to know them. This fact will never change.

I am a stranger, an alien, to this world. I am scattered to be salt. I am chosen by God to obey Him. Therefore, I must listen attentively.

We need these attitudes if we’re going to be effective for Christ. Only then will we see a difference in the world around us. The world is desperately waiting for a church that knows who they are in Christ.

Question: How have you made a difference for Christ in the lives of those around you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

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Posted by on September 18, 2015 in Ministry, Prayer, Revival, The Church

 

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Your Wedding Clothes

DinnerIn my last post I talked about being immersed into Christ as the putting on of the new man. The church would look totally different if this were the case in most believers.

In reality, the world doesn’t need to look for Christ in us. What they truly long for is to see us in Christ. Christ in you is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). But if you’re immersed in Christ, then the world can see His glory.

Jesus told a parable about a banquet. To understand it thoroughly you need to read both the way He set it up and His summary at the end. The reason for this is that many of the Lord’s parables sound similar, but have different purposes.

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.”
Matthew 22:1-2

This parable is about the kingdom of heaven. It centers on how the blessings of the kingdom are bestowed upon those who would enter into it. The riches of God’s kingdom include blessings, provision, healing, fulfillment, and much more.

In the parable, we see the king inviting all of his friends. They agreed to come when they originally heard about the plans. When the day of the wedding arrived, however, they changed their minds and refused to show up. I believe that this refers to the nation of Israel who refused to acknowledge Christ as Messiah.

The king became angry over this and made a decision to fill up his banquet hall by any means necessary. He sent his servants out into the streets and highways to get anyone they could to come in and enjoy the feast. In short order the wedding hall was full of guests. Then something very strange occurs.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.”
Matthew 22:11-12

From our perspective this sounds strange. Why even ask this question? Isn’t it obvious? “I had no notice. I came in right off the street.”

That’s not the case. The customs of the day dictated that the person throwing the party was to provide the clothes for the guests. This man was given his party clothes the moment he agreed to come to the wedding. That’s why he was speechless. There was no reason for him to not be dressed appropriately.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
Matthew 22:13

We need to understand the application. In many of Jesus’ parables, people get “thrown out” of places. Sometimes it’s to jail other times it’s into a fiery furnace, or in this case, outer darkness.

I don’t believe that this is referring to someone who is unsaved. He’s not thrown into hell, but merely the dark world outside the kingdom. I base this on the closing statement that Jesus makes to summarize what He’s trying to get across.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14

The issue is not saved versus unsaved, as would be the case if the man was thrown into the fire. Instead, it’s called versus chosen. I think this is an accurate picture of the church today. Many believers are walking around in spiritual darkness, weeping and gnashing their teeth, because they refuse to put on the clothes that the King has provided.

Question: How does walking in the new man bring a life of blessing?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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The Anointing Dilemma – Position versus Manifestation #anointing #theanointing

Different AnointingIn talking about the anointing that we have in Christ, there’s a subject that needs to be addressed.  I’m getting to the point where I cringe when I hear another sermon or teaching about our position in Christ.

It’s not that I think they’re unscriptural.  Far from it.  I believe that I am “the righteousness of God” in Christ Jesus.  I believe that I am holy, healed, prosperous, and anointed in Christ.

The problem I see is that if all we concentrate on is our position in Christ, we miss out on seeing the manifestation.  I want to live out all the things that Christ paid for me to possess.

One of these is our anointing.  We are all called to an anointing in Christ.  I want to see it manifest in us.  That takes more than just sitting back and confessing it by faith.

For a few posts we have been looking at David’s anointing as king.

Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.”
1 Samuel 16:10

Here we can see the problem in some of our teaching on the anointing.  We are all called to an anointing.  The problem is that all of us are called, but few are chosen.  When you talk about walking in the anointing, it involves being chosen by God.

The anointing is not just about calling.  The progression is called, chosen, and anointed.  The simple truth is that you can be called from now until Jesus returns and never see the anointing manifest.

That is, if you never do what it takes to be chosen.

Look at what had to happen in David’s case.

So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”  “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.”  Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
So he sent and had him brought in.  He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features.  Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.”
1 Samuel 16:11-12

“I told you, that your whole family needed to be here.”

These words strike anger and resistance into the hearts of God’s people.

“Who are you to tell me that I need to be at these special meetings?”

When your church has a guest speaker and you see that as an opportunity to take the day off – do you know what you’re missing?

“I have something important that needs to be done.”

There are times and places that God may want to meet with you.  Your prayer time, Bible study, a church meeting, or some other “holy appointment” could be a potential encounter with the anointing of the Lord.

God may have a pinpoint anointing for you.  But you have to be at the right place, at the right time, where God has expected to meet with you.  Don’t miss that appointment.

Question: How could this be a source of the lack of power and effect of the church in America?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in Anointing, The Church

 

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Don’t Miss the Anointing #anointing #theanointing

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIn my last post I started talking about the Old Testament custom of anointing with oil.  Specifically, I was looking at David’s anointing as the King of Israel in I Samuel, chapter 16.  When Samuel approached David’s family, they thought they were merely being called to a public sacrifice.

In reality, they were called to an anointing of power for kingship.  At some point Jesse must have said to David, “It’s not important that you be there.”

That was probably fine with David.  As a teenager, he didn’t want to attend a boring church service anyway.  He’d rather watch the sheep.

Please understand this point.  The whole reason for the meeting was so David could receive the anointing as king.  Yet, both he and his father thought it wasn’t important for David to attend.

This should be a sobering thought.  Your invitation to the anointing of power will come wrapped in an envelope that looks like junk mail.  You didn’t know that God had planned to give you an anointing to heal the sick this Sunday at church.

All you knew was that an invitation somewhere else was more important to you.  After all, “I’ve attended faithfully for a while.  I deserve to miss a week.”

The calling to the anointing will seem very unimportant in comparison to what we want to do.

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.”
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:6-7

As a pastor, I want to find the ones in my church who are called to lead ministries.  But I have to be careful.  The first to arrive is not always the one God wants.  Maybe God’s choice is still in bed.

Don’t miss receiving the manifestation of God’s anointing upon your life.  Be faithful to show up where you’re supposed to be.  Don’t let the excuses and distractions of the world disqualify you for service in the Kingdom of God.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not condemning you for missing church.  There are many legitimate reasons we can’t make it.  God is big enough to work in us during those times.

I’m talking about not meeting with God’s people in order to please the desires of our flesh.  That’s where you run the risk of missing God’s anointing in your life.  Don’t miss out on the good things that God has prepared for you.

Question: What’s the difference between missing public worship for the right and wrong reasons?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2013 in Anointing, The Church

 

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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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