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Imitation – The Path to Greatness

In my last post, I talked about how the Thessalonian believers accepted the Word of God. It changed them. It brought them to a new way of life.

But even though it created a desire for change in them, something else was needed. You may have the desire and the power to change, but without a proper example, you won’t know how to live a new life.

For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

The word imitation keeps popping up in this letter. That’s because it’s an important concept for growing Christians. More than ever, we need leaders who are worthy of imitation.

I don’t know where I’d be today if weren’t for the pastors and teachers who I watched and copied along the way. By watching their examples, I learned how to love others, to pray for those in need of God’s touch, and how to witness to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

We were never meant to serve God on our own. It’s not God’s plan for us to figure everything out all by ourselves. We need to follow in the footsteps of those who have walked this path before.

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Hebrews 13:7

We sometimes get the idea that the great men and women of God were somehow born into their positions of honor. We see the work that they’re doing now and can’t grasp that they ever had to struggle with their Christian walk.

The fact is that every believer – whether they’re a leader or not – has to wrestle with the same problems and challenges. The important thought in this verse is to consider how their lives turned out.

That word, consider, means to look again. We need to take a second look at our leaders. See how they got from salvation to their present position. Then, we should imitate the positive way that they trusted and served Christ.

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Hebrews 6:12

Here’s the key. When we look at those who are leaders in the body of Christ, we must always understand the road that they took.

There’s no easy way. It’s not just about faith. Inheriting the promise comes through both faith and patience.

We think that we can simply start trusting God and walk in a ministry like those who’ve been trusting the Lord for years. It doesn’t work like that.

Imitation doesn’t only mean that I minister the way they do right now. It means that I follow the same path that they took to get there. I have to learn the same lessons and fight some of the same battles.

The good news is that if they could come through victoriously, then I can too. God is no respecter of persons. If I’m willing to listen to, trust, and obey God the way others do, then I’ll receive the same inheritance.

Question: What blessings are in your life as a result of godly examples?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2017 in Faith, Leadership, Spiritual Walk

 

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No Pain, No Gain

JogI’ve been posting about the uses of Scripture as listed in 2 Timothy 3:16. Today I’m going to talk about training in righteousness.

This word training means to mentor or to train up like a child from infancy to adulthood. The Bible is written for all. It doesn’t matter where you are in your spiritual walk.

If you’re a baby Christian, who was just saved, it can be your milk bottle. If you’re mature in the Lord, it has the meat of the deep truths of God. It can satisfy any hunger.

But what exactly does it train us in? Paul is very specific – training in righteousness.

In Scripture, you’ll find that righteousness is the whole package of what Christ has paid for on the cross. Throughout the Word righteousness is associated with: Rewards, victory in battle, prosperity, salvation, honor, life, and healing. Scripture truly is the owner’s manual for our walk with the Lord.

When Paul speaks about training in righteousness, he’s talking about the whole plan of God for your life. The job of Scripture is to take you from wherever the Lord found you when you were saved to the heights of His perfect plan for your life.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

The word discipline in this verse is the same Greek word as training in Second Timothy. The writer of Hebrews tells us that there is pain associated with this kind of training. Why is that?

The answer is simple. This training is what causes us to grow from infancy to maturity. Growth means change, and change hurts. Think about it – when I was an infant I could throw my toys all over the floor and my parents would joyfully pick everything up.

Then, there came a day when I was told, “It’s time to pick up your toys and put them away.” There must have been a look of pain and distress on my face when I had to clean my room.

Then, there came a day when I couldn’t just do as I pleased all day long. My parents came to me and informed me that I would be starting school next week. Suddenly there was a place I had to be every day. At school, they made me read, learn, and take tests whether I wanted to or not. It was painful to me.

As a matter of fact, almost every new responsibility throughout our lives causes some degree of discomfort. That’s what this Scripture is talking about. As we’re brought to maturity there are going to be painful changes.

There are things we used to do, that we’re no longer able to do. There are also things we’ve never done that we’re now responsible for. Through it all we must let the Scripture do its work, so that we can be mature and complete – not lacking anything that the Lord has provided for us.

Question: What did you find painful in this maturing process?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in Scripture Series, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Worship – The Place of Change

LightningI’ve been posting about the worship that takes place in the throne room of God. We enter that place as we pray in the spirit.

From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
Revelation 4:5

Here is another picture of what happens before the throne of God. We need to understand that the term seven spirits of God could also be translated as the seven-fold spirit of God. I believe that’s referring to the Holy Spirit.

Also around the throne we see flashes of lightning. We see this happening throughout the Bible when God’s throne is mentioned. Lightning, loud noises, and thunder. But when you read Scripture there are only certain times when this happens.

We see this taking place when God changes something. In Revelation, chapter 8, we see the prayers of the saints offered like incense before God. Then, as they were being offered to God, the following takes place.

Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
Revelation 8:5

What was taking place in Heaven started happening on earth. That’s because worship is a place of change. It’s in His presence that our lives are changed.

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

The Apostle Paul understood this. When he wrote this, Paul was talking about himself and his ministry team. He knew that in the place of worship there could be daily change happening.

Just think about it; we can come into God’s presence for daily renewal.

We try so hard to be good. We fail. Then we keep trying to be better. We need to learn the truth of that old chorus…

“I am changed in the presence of an awesome God.”

Enter into God’s throne room through prayer in the spirit. Everything we need is there. It’s in His awesome presence that we find unity, peace, and a changed life.

Question: How has your life been changed in God’s presence?

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© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Spirit Overcomes Flesh

FlyingIn my last post we saw how the spiritual walk, specifically prayer in the spirit, will bring change from the inside out. This truth is also brought out in other parts of the Scripture.

No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
Romans 2:29

This is another piece of that same puzzle. Our outside will never change unless we have a change of heart. The problem is that our heart itself is very deceptive. We can’t always trust what we’re feeling.

That’s why true change can never be imposed upon it from the outside, by the written code. It must come from the inside, by the power of the spirit. Isn’t it great to know that your spirit can change your heart?

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Galatians 5:16

Our new knowledge of the power of prayer in the spirit should give us a whole new insight into what this verse is actually saying. Many times, when people quote this verse, they’re using it as a weapon.

I’ve heard people say things like, “Look at how that person lives, and they call themselves a Christian. They’re walking in their flesh so they must not have the Holy Spirit in them. They can’t really be saved.”

This isn’t a verse that Paul gave us to test whether a person is saved or not. This is a passage of Scripture to tell us how to receive the power we need to walk in victory over the flesh. The only way you’ll have the power you need to not gratify the flesh, is to live your life in the spirit.

You cannot do it by exercising the will power of your soul, or even disciplining your body. This means that you spend time praying in the spirit, communing with God in the realm of the spirit. That’s where we access the power to overcome the desires of the flesh.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

This is one of the most popular passages with many Christians. Unfortunately many believers have no clue what this section is actually saying.

What is fruit? Fruit are those yummy balls of sweet goodness that hang from various kinds of trees. How do they get there? Does the tree have to sweat and fret and work hard to push them out? Does a tree try and fail and get frustrated and try again to do better?

Of course not! Fruit are a natural result of being an apple tree. They are produced simply because the tree is healthy, and has access to everything it needs (air, minerals, water, and sunshine).

This is something that most Christians miss. They think that producing the fruit of the spirit only comes by hard work and a lot of will-power. That’s not what God intended. The fruit mentioned here will not be produced by reading the Bible or going to church.

They will not even come by will power or guilt. These things are the fruit of the SPIRIT. Why would we then think they would be the product of our works, will power, or trial and error?

The fruit of the spirit are the natural product of a life lived in the realm of the spirit. As our spiritual relationship with the Lord grows, then so will the fruit. They will not be from our strength.

In my next post, I’ll give some examples of how this works.

Question: Why is it impossible for our flesh to discipline itself?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Change – From the Inside Out

ButterflyI’ve been talking about walking out the spiritual life. In my last post I said that because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, we hold the mind of Christ.

Having this access to the mind of the Lord is a very powerful thing. It affects our lives in a number of ways if we’re willing to walk in it. Remember, power is the ability to produce change, and the power of God changes everything it touches. Let’s take a look at some of the changes it affects in our lives.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
Jude 1:20

What you need to note about this verse is that the word and is not in the Greek text. It should read, build yourselves up…praying in the Holy Spirit. What we need to realize is that God wants to explain things to us on His level.

When I pray in the gift, I build up my most holy faith. This is the faith that’s resident in my spirit. It’s a faith that goes beyond what I know about the Scripture or the situation I’m in.

There are times when there may not even be a Biblical verse that covers my situation. What do I do then? I pray in the Spirit. This helps me to trust God when there seems to be no earthly reason to put my faith in Him. It’s a faith that goes beyond what my mind can understand.

As great as that is, there’s even more that this gift can accomplish.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…
Romans 8:13

This is a very interesting verse. If you just skim through it you’ll miss what it says. We understand, according to the Scripture, that we’re dead to sin and alive to God. Elsewhere in Romans we’re told to count ourselves dead.

This is based upon the truth that we were crucified with Christ, and this death separates us from the dominion of sin. That’s NOT what the above verse is telling us about. This verse is very different because it contains the word if. This verse is telling us something we could do or we could choose to ignore.

There’s a battle that rages in my being. Even though I’m saved, my flesh is still subject to its sin nature. I find that even though I’m dead to sin in Christ, I continue to fall to the temptations that come before me. Even Paul wrote about this struggle that we all face. How do I overcome this dilemma?

Many people try differing methods to bring about the victory. Some try to live right in their own strength. I’ve found that if I live trying to use my flesh to overcome my flesh, by shear will power, I will fail miserably. The above verse tells us that if I use my flesh, then death will reign in me. The problem is, to use a computer term, there’s a virus in the software.

The good news is that I can use the power of God’s network. I can use my spirit to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh. This is a truth that we have totally missed in the modern church. You can use your spirit to change your flesh.

In simple terms, you can download God’s anti-virus program and it will change the way you live. This is a powerful change because you’re allowing God to change you from the inside out.

Question: How has prayer in the spirit changed the way you live?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Changes

GravesMost of us don’t like changes in our lives. Unfortunately, without change, there can be no growth. Jacob had to learn this lesson as he traveled through the wilderness.

Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you have another son.” As she breathed her last – for she was dying – she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.
Genesis 35:16-18

Change is never easy. I wish it were. Sometimes it’s like we’re dying to ourselves. Psychologists say that when change takes place there’s a grieving process that we must go through.

We can’t stop change from happening. The only thing we have control over is our attitude. It’s how we deal with change that makes all the difference.

Jacob was “on the road” when his wife Rachel died in childbirth. If anyone could have had a reason for bitterness, he did. But he didn’t wallow in self-pity.

She named the child Ben-Oni, which means, the son of my trouble. The hurt of that day would have followed the child for his entire life.

Instead, Jacob immediately changed the boy’s name to Benjamin, the son of my right hand. He released the pain into God’s hands.

I don’t know what you’re going through right now. But if there’s a great change you’re grieving over – give it to God.

Only the Lord can bring you through. Spend time before Him. Let Him turn your Ben-Oni into a Benjamin.

So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.
Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder.
Genesis 35:19-21

There’s many times that change is not easy to cope with. It’s our attitude that must be worked on during those times.

When God speaks to us as we spend time in His presence, He may require us to make a great change in our lives. So great is that change sometimes, that it may seem like our old way of life has died and we have been reborn to a new way of living.

It’s essential that we learn to bury the “old man” and then move on. Unless we leave the past behind, we can never enter His future.

Change is a constant in life. Either you’re going through it right now or you will in the near future. Make the choice now to rely on God’s grace in times of change. Be willing and ready to accept His leading, whatever form it may take. Only then will change do its work and make you a better, stronger person.

Question: How are you letting God work through the changes you’re facing right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2016 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Walk of Power

High VoltageIntimacy with Christ. Why is it so important that I become intimate with Christ? Because, like we saw in my last post – He is the beaming out of God’s glory. So, if I can get close to Him, then I’ll find what I need in order to get into the flow of the Lord’s anointing.

The flow of power. There was a woman who figured this out before any of Jesus’ disciples did. She had a sickness in her body that none of the doctors of her day could heal.

One day she heard that Jesus was coming to her town. When she heard this, the Holy Spirit quickened faith on the inside of her. She soon had a plan to see Him because she knew that if she could just touch the Lord, she would be healed.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
Mark 5:30

As soon as the woman touched Him, Jesus realized that power had flowed out from Him. That’s a great revelation. As it is in nature, so also in the spirit. Power has a flow associated with it. It can travel from one person to another.

Making contact with Christ. This is an astounding truth to grasp onto. True power flows from Christ to those who touch Him. This means that it’s available to me. If I can just touch Him – make contact with Him – then I can receive His power in my life. That would change everything.

Think about it. What would this mean to you?

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
2 Peter 1:3

Everything means everything!!! This verse explains that God’s power touches all that pertains to this life – finances, healing, etc. But just as important it includes my spiritual life – godliness.

The fact of the matter is that true power changes everything that it touches. The question this creates is; do we want everything to change? Do we want our world to turn upside-down?

This is what trips us up most of the time. We only want certain changes, not all of them. We want our finances to change for the better. We want our body to be healed. But…then again, do I really want to watch less TV and have a deeper prayer life? This power affects it all. That’s why we hesitate to go for it.

In order to walk in the manifestation of God’s power, I have to be open for everything to change. It’s an all or nothing proposition. I have to come to God with the expectation that my whole life will change when He touches me.

Question: How much change are we willing to go through for God’s power?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2016 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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