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Different but Effective

I don’t know about you, but in some circles, I’ve found Christianity to be very judgmental.  No, not about sin, but about other Christians.  I’ve heard so many believers commenting about a ministry they saw on TV.

“I don’t know if they’re really saved.  I’d never preach like that.”

As we go through Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we see that the apostles understood the Gospel.  The message will always be Jesus Christ – crucified, buried, risen, and ascended.  The methods we use to bring out the message will always change.

Here’s what Paul found when he met with the apostles in Jerusalem.

As for those who seemed to be important — whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance — those men added nothing to my message.  On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.
Galatians 2:6-7

I think that it’s interesting to note what Paul had to overcome.  When he met with Peter, James, and John, he knew that formerly they were fishermen.  None of them had any Temple training like Paul did.  Yet he humbled himself and submitted his ministry to their scrutiny.

This is a sermon in itself.  There are times that God has us serving under people who aren’t as smart, trained, or experienced as us.  We have to watch our attitudes, stay humble, and be committed to our calling in Christ.

But what I really want to bring out is that in this meeting, the apostles understood that there was a Gentile method of preaching and a Jewish method of preaching.  They didn’t try to change one another.  They realized that there’s no cookie cutter for the ministry.

The methods may change depending on who you’re trying to reach with the Gospel.  I find that this alone causes a lot of strife in the body of Christ.

“I just visited a church where they let their people take coffee with them into the sanctuary.  I think that’s sacrilegious.”

“That pastor preaches in jeans and a t-shirt, how can he be a real minister?”

The simple fact is that my methods and personality will never speak to everyone.  If we want the world evangelized; different cultures, generations, and education levels; then we need to embrace the different ministries that are speaking to these people.

For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.  James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me.  They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.  All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Galatians 2:8-10

The bottom line is that in all of these methods, the Holy Spirit is at work.  People are being saved.  Lives are being changed by the power of God.

Yes, there may be some churches that I wouldn’t feel comfortable attending.  But that simply means that their method doesn’t speak to who I am.  It in no way invalidates that ministry.  I’m glad that the work of the Gospel is not limited to my comfort zone.

Question: How often do you pray for ministries that are very different from yours?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2017 in Ministry, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Election Thoughts

FlagcrossHere in the USA it’s getting close to Election Day, when we choose a new president. It has me thinking about where we are as a nation and as the church.

I’ve noticed that, more than ever before, people are asking me how they should vote. It’s as though they’re asking me to tell them who to vote for. Of course, that’s not my place, especially in this election.

The more I think and pray about it, the more I realize that we’ve come to a unique place in our history. Unfortunately, it seems that very few believers actually understand where we are.

Scripture talks about the men who came to support David and make him king of Israel. It lists the strengths that each group had to offer.

…men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do – 200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;
1 Chronicles 12:32

Obviously, knowing the times that you live in and then applying that knowledge goes a long way. It’s what we need in the church right now. Contrast that to the leadership of Israel when Christ came on the scene.

He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
Matthew 16:2-3

I’m worried that so many in the church are in this condition – not seeing the signs of the times. It will be a crucial strength if we’re to navigate the uncertain waters ahead.

This is because of what I see happening all around us. For the first time, a large percentage of people don’t particularly like any of the candidates we’ve been given. To go even further, no matter who’s elected, we will not have a leader with a strong Christian worldview.

I believe that we’re living in an age a lot like what Israel faced in their Babylonian captivity. They were removed from their land and placed in a totally new environment where those who ruled had no knowledge of Biblical truth.

“But we haven’t been taken into captivity,” you may say. Think about it. The nation we live in right now is not the same nation that our grandparents were born into. We may not have been taken to another country, but this is definitely not the same nation that was founded in 1776.

Please realize, I’m not talking about technology and education. I’m talking about attitudes toward Christ. What’s accepted as a devoted believer today is miles from where it had been.

I don’t say any of this to frighten anyone. That’s not the point. As a matter of fact, this could actually bring an increase in the manifestation of the power of God. It could even trigger a national revival. (Read the book of Daniel)

I want to take a few posts to talk about the times that we live in; and how we should act. You might not agree, but it may get you thinking about it.

Question: In your opinion, what is the spiritual condition of the USA right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Memorial Day – Our Assignments from God

FlagcrossWe’re living in troubled times; that’s beyond question. In spite of this, I still believe that the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth in which to live. I’m very grateful to God for the privilege I have to live here.

Memorial Day is the day all Americans should reflect upon the price that so many men and women have paid for our freedom. As I think about this, I can see what our role as believers should be.

There are so many complainers who gripe about what’s going on around us. There are Christians pointing fingers and blaming various groups for the problems we face. That’s not the Biblical response that we should take.

When Israel was defeated because for her sin, and went into captivity, Godly Jews were affected. What were they told to do?

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Jeremiah 29:7

First and foremost, we must pray for our nation. Complaining doesn’t solve anything. All it does is to bring division and more problems.

As a matter of fact, I can’t think of anything that will work effectively in the natural. There has never been a vote that brought about lasting change. There’s no candidate that will turn our nation back to God.

The only solution is for God’s people to get on their knees and pray. Then we’ll see the results that only the Holy Spirit can orchestrate. As believers, we need to be found doing what only we can do – interceding for our country.

As we do our part, God will see that we’re taken care of, no matter what’s happening around us. When these things came upon Israel, they were in the same position. Listen to what God spoke to the faithful.

Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.
Isaiah 3:10

There is also a second assignment that we’ve been given from the Lord. It’s an outgrowth of the first. As we spend time in prayer, the Lord will show us His heart. We’ll hear from heaven concerning what we need to do and say.

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.”
Ezekiel 3:17

As we spend time in the spirit, we must warn our nation of what lies ahead. I believe that God informs His people about things that will happen in the future. He wants us to be prepared for what’s coming – good or bad.

It’s not the time to sleep or party, spiritually speaking. We must become the laborers in the fields that He’s called us to be.

These are important days in America. We’re placed here by God for this time in history. Don’t let it be said of us that we let the enemy have our nation without a fight.

This Memorial Day, thank God for the service men and women who help protect our freedom. But more than that, take some time to pray for our nation. Seek the Lord’s spiritual healing for America

Question: What can you do to fight the spiritual battle for America’s heart?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Encouragement, Prayer, Revival

 

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Salt or Sand

In my last post I looked at a verse from Peter’s first letter. He talked about the fact that we’re to live as aliens in the world. He goes on to speak more about it.

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

The next thing Peter says is that we are scattered all over the world. Literally, he said that we are dispersed. In the context of this letter, he was talking to a people who had moved because of persecution.

But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
Acts 8:3-4

The enemy brought persecution on the early church thinking that he could extinguish it before it caught on. Unfortunately for him it was like putting water on a grease fire. They scattered everywhere, but they told the Good News of Jesus Christ wherever they went.

This should apply to us in our generation. Right now we’re scattered everywhere. There are Christians in schools, hospitals, offices, sports, and entertainment. If only we would “preach the word wherever we go,” we would see the same results that they had.

Our trouble is that we want to blend in. Jesus wants us scattered, but to keep our identity in Him.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
Matthew 5:13

We are salt – a seasoning with a distinct taste. I know there are those who are on a low salt diet. I’ve tasted some of the salt replacement spices on the market. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no true replacement for salt.

Most people can’t eat anything without some salt on it. When you scatter salt on something, it changes and enhances the flavor of it.

How can salt lose its saltiness? Back in the ancient world, salt was not as pure as it is today. There was always a small amount of sand in it. If that salt got wet, the true salt would dissolve away leaving only the sand. Anyone who’s tried to have a picnic at the beach on a windy day can tell you that sand does not make your food taste better.

When we compromise with the world in order to blend in, we’re trading sand for salt. We think that we’re doing so good for God. What does the world think?

According to Christ, we’re good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled. That’s kind of where the church finds itself today – on the fringes of society. We’re mostly ignored by the world. I guess we blended in too well.

It’s time for the church to rise up and be the church. Not just during your weekly service, but all week long. We need to show Christ to the world wherever we’ve been scattered. That’s what will change the flavor of the world around us.

Question: How have you portrayed Christ to your world lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2015 in Ministry, Revival, The Church

 

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You’re Not Home Yet

Jet Plane to NowhereIn my last post I talked about some of our attitudes toward our faith in God. There was a word that we looked at that stood out to me. I want to take it a step further today. The Apostle Peter mentioned it as well.

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

Peter wrote to the churches that he was in relationship with. His desire was that they experience God’s grace and peace in abundance. This is something that every believer should seek after.

The question is; how do we receive this? In this verse Peter shows us the foundation. It’s how we view our walk with God. The first thing he mentions is that we are strangers in this world. The word strangers literally means aliens alongside, resident foreigners. In my last post we looked at a verse from Hebrews that said almost the same thing.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:13

These saints confessed that they were aliens in this world. We need to pick up this same mindset. I do not belong to this world. I live by a different set of rules. I live on a different level.

You may not know this about me, but I’m a Sci-Fi geek. I love TV shows and movies with a Science Fiction theme. One of the major types of shows revolves around aliens.

There are two kinds. The first involves aliens that try to take over by force. That’s not what I’m talking about. The second is the group of aliens that infiltrate society and look just like the humans around them. They hold down a job, go to school, and act like all the humans they come in contact with.

But there’s more to their story. They have a different agenda. They have a goal that’s bigger than society around them. Their goals were set by a government that’s not of our world. Why am I talking about all this Science Fiction stuff?

The answer is simple. As Christians we’re supposed to be living it. We belong to a government – a kingdom – that’s not a part of this world. We have an agenda that’s so much bigger than just getting the highest paying job that we can. It’s more than getting degrees and fame.

We’re to be preparing society for the biggest takeover that could ever be imagined. Jesus Christ is returning to establish His kingdom. It’s up to us to get everything ready for that day.

Our priorities should be different than the rest of the world. Who’s in power, the economy, the weather; all these things interest me and I need to understand them, but they don’t determine what I do. It’s the Holy Spirit that I ultimately answer to.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

Scripture makes it clear that our loyalties are above. We are to live as aliens and strangers to this world system. Only then will we see the grace and peace of God working abundantly in our lives.

Question: In what ways have you experienced an “alien lifestyle”?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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The Spirit and the Bride

 

DoveIn my last post I showed that not all believers are residents of the New Jerusalem, and therefore, are not part of the Bride of Christ. The understanding of all this is found in the characteristics of the Bride.

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”  And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.
Revelation 22:17

This verse shows us the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Bride of Christ. The first thing I notice is that the Bride is listening to the voice of the Spirit. Do all Christians listen to the Spirit of God? Absolutely not. But the Bride hears the voice of the Holy Spirit.

And more than that, the Bride speaks what the Holy Spirit is speaking. What I find amazing is that there’s no lag time. Their words are totally in sync with each other.

When the Spirit says, “Come,” the Bride is proclaiming the exact same thing. There’s a connection between the Spirit and the Bride.

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
James 1:18

Let’s talk for a moment about our spiritual birth. We know that we were given birth – born again – by the Word of God. Christ, Himself, is the Living Word. Obviously He’s the Father. But for a birth to occur there has to be a mother. Spiritually speaking, who’s our mother?

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul talks about the difference between self-righteousness and the salvation of God. As he explains this, he makes a surprising statement.

But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.
Galatians 4:26

I’ll try to not be too graphic. We were given birth by the seed of the Word, planted in the Bride. These two must be combined for a birth to take place. The Spirit is calling, “Come!” The Bride is calling, “Come!” We have been given birth by the Holy Spirit and the Word operating through the Bride.

The Bride is made up of the overcomers in Christ. It’s the Bride that’s manifesting the Kingdom of God. That should make it abundantly clear to us that it’s the Bride that’s producing the fruit of the Kingdom. If you’re saved, it’s because the Bride of Christ declared the Word of God to you. That’s how you entered the Kingdom.

Then the choice is up to you. You can join the Bride or remain one of the attendants. But there’s one more characteristic of the Bride that’s important to us.

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.
Revelation 19:7

The Bride prepares herself for the wedding day. Why? Because it’s important to her. She wants to give herself to the Groom. She wants to be pleasing to her husband. So she dresses up in the finest clothing available to her.

Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear. (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)
Revelation 19:8

It’s not her clothing. She could never present herself to her husband dressed in the filthy rags of her own righteousness. This wedding gown had to be given to her. It was a work of God. The bottom line is that even though she was given this treasure – she had to prepare herself by putting it on.

Question: What does it take for the church to make herself ready?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Return of Christ, Revival, The Church

 

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Are You Profitable in the Kingdom?

ProfitMany Christians want to hear Christ say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  But do we really know what Jesus looks for in a servant?  Listen to what He tells His disciples.

“Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep.  Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’?  Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’?  Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
Luke 17:7-10

Christ shows us a servant, working in the fields.  He comes home tired and hungry.  Just as he sits down to eat with his family, he hears the master arrive.

Does he have the luxury of finishing his meal first?  Of course not.  He must immediately get up and tend to the needs of his master.  That’s the life of a servant.

After he has served, he can go back to his meal.  After all he did, does he now expect a bonus?  No, he’s only done what’s normally expected of a person in his position.

God expects more from us than we expect from ourselves.  In the verse above, the Lord asks a very fearful question.  As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I tremble at the implications.

Should you, as a servant, do as you’re told and then expect to be thanked?  The word thanked means to be blessed, tipped or given a special reward.  Actually, a servant is supposed to do what he or she is told.

If all we do in your ministry is what’s expected or normal for our kind of ministry, then we’re not operating in the excellent.  As a matter of fact, Jesus calls us unworthy servants, meaning unprofitable.

In a business, profit is that which goes beyond the “break even” mark.  Therefore, by definition, profit is in the realm of the excellent.

Many believers are content to sit in a pew.  They feel secure that they’re just like everyone else.  They’re comfortable in their mediocrity.  I find that even in ministry, many pastors and evangelists are content to plug along doing what’s expected of someone with their title.

They do all the necessary things – preaching, praying for the sick, visiting, etc.  Then they pray and expect God to increase their level of anointing based upon the principle that they’re breaking even.  They never realize that their work doesn’t impress God.  More than that, He considers it unprofitable and unworthy of His excellent Name.

Christ is looking for excellence in His servants.  We need to raise our vision of what we’re doing for the Lord.

Question: How should we be “profiting” the kingdom of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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