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The Gospel and Convenience

We live in an age of convenience.  A few taps on my smart-phone and a pizza shows up at my door with the exact toppings I wanted.  A few more taps and my order is waiting, ready and paid for, at the local coffee shop.

The question is; how does this translate over into my spiritual life?  There are many in our generation who are looking for a convenient faith.  They show up for church Sunday morning, fast food breakfast in hand.  They stay for the hour and a half service – in and out – the rest of the day to themselves.

The problem is that a life like that is devoid of power.  I can’t reconcile convenience with the life of Christ.

We say that we want to live and minister as Jesus did.  Do we really?  Do we actually want our life to look like His?

As we continue to look at Mark’s Gospel, we’ll see what it should be like.  A day in the life of the Lord.  It’s a Sabbath day.  He had just preached at the local synagogue.  In the middle of His ministry, a demon-possessed man disrupted the meeting.  (We looked at that in my last post)

After His ministry there, I’m sure He was tired.  At least I am after I preach.  Most people look forward to a nice restful day after the morning service.

As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew.  Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her.  So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up.  The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
Mark 1:29-31

When they back to the house, there was no dinner waiting.  Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was sick and in bed.  The Lord’s ministry wasn’t over for the day.  He graciously prayed with her and her healing manifested.

After she got up, she served them.  No problem.  Dinner was only delayed a little.  We could handle that.  But it’s what happened next that we need to take to heart.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed.  The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases.  He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Mark 1:32-34

As soon as the sun started to set, people began to gather.  Please realize that this wasn’t a planned meeting.  What the Lord was actually looking forward to was a restful night at home with His disciples.

The next thing they knew, the entire town had shown up at their doorstep.  They weren’t there simply to get a look at the new prophet that had come to town.  They were there to be ministered to.

What was Jesus’ response?  Did He tell them to go home and He’d plan another meeting for tomorrow after a good night’s rest?  Absolutely not!  He flowed with the leading of the Holy Spirit and shared the power of God with those waiting.

My question for this generation is; do we want the inconvenience of a truly Spirit-led walk?  Are we prepared to give up some of our precious “me time”?  Are we willing to minister to the hurting people around us, no matter when we’re called into action?

This is what we’re destined for – a ministry like Jesus.  But in order to walk in it, we need to change some of our attitudes toward our time.  We have to realize that our schedules don’t belong to us; they belong to God the Father.  We must be willing to let Him set the agenda and the course of our lives.

Question: How do “spiritual interruptions” affect your attitudes?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on December 13, 2017 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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How Busy is Too Busy?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere are so many opportunities in today’s generation. I’m talking about both ministry and recreational activities. How do you know when you’re too busy?

In the book of Revelation, Christ dictated letters to 7 pastors in Asia Minor. The pastor of the church in Ephesus was told the following…

“I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.”
Revelation 2:2-3

The pastor of Ephesus was doing great things. The church was flourishing. The people were being fed and protected. They were overcoming in spite of many adversities. How could the Lord possibly be displeased with that?

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Revelation 2:4-5

Very simply put, this pastor allowed the work of the ministry to replace his relationship with the Lord. A great truth that I’ve heard again and again is, “Don’t become so involved in the work of the Lord that you forget the Lord of the work.” God was concerned with this pastor’s lack of relationship. He said that this pastor had forsaken his first love.

This is an easy trap to fall into. As the church began to grow and the demands of the ministry started to escalate, time with the Lord became harder to set aside. Before long his relationship time with Christ got pushed into the corner of “when it’s convenient.”

I’d like to say that this problem was only a part of the early church. But some things never change. I believe that there’s a greater pull on us now to overload our schedules. There are so many opportunities to be involved in good things; that we have very little time for our spiritual walk.

Remember that it wasn’t always like this. When you first came to Christ, you were excited about what He was doing in you. Maybe you spent late nights on your knees in prayer. You prayed for souls to be saved. You prayed for wisdom, strength, and boldness. You knew that you didn’t have a chance of fulfilling the Lord’s calling on your life without His working in you.

Things have changed now. You’ve become wiser – more experienced. Now you know what living for Christ is all about. You feel more secure in your calling as a believer.

Please realize that there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s a good thing to become mature in Christ. The problem comes when you no longer feel the need to pray as much. You don’t seem to need God’s help like you used to. You know what living for God is all about now.

The diagnosis is that your relationship with the Lord has grown cold and it grieves the heart of your Lord and King. Have you become so busy with the work of the Lord that you’ve forgotten the Lord of the work? Test yourself. You need to be brutally honest. Has your time with the Lord suffered?

It’s wonderful that you’ve grown in maturity, but that’s not the issue. The question is; are you spending TIME with the Lord as you used to?

Question: How would you rate the quality and quantity of time you spend with the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer

 

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Do We Really Want a Revival?

WaveYou may think that’s a strange question. Of course we want a revival. We pray for revival. We sing about revival. We see the need all around us.

Even though all that is true, it still doesn’t mean that we want a move of God. Why would I make a statement like that? It all comes down to history.

I love history – especially church history. I enjoy reading about the lives of godly men and women who have done exploits for Christ. I encourages me to learn about the past revivals and awakenings that have swept not only our land, but others around the world.

It gives me hope for the future and presses me forward in my calling to prepare us for that next wave. But there is a problem I see looming on the horizon. It’s something that the church is going to need to wrestle with before very long.

It might even be the greatest hindrance to us entering the next move on God’s agenda. It’s something that’s unique to our generation of believers.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25

This passage clearly references the last days when it talks about us seeing the Day approaching. There are some clear commands for us to observe as God’s people.

First, we must hold to our hope in Christ without swerving to the right or the left. We can’t be distracted by what’s going on in the world.

Next, we need to be involved in each other’s lives. Spurring is not comfortable, either for the giver or the receiver. We’d much rather live our lives with any thought to the needs or struggles of those around us.

But it’s the third statement that concerns me the most. The writer is talking to a people in the habit of missing church meetings. I don’t believe he was only talking about Sundays, but all through the week.

What concerns me is this; because he references the last days, he makes it sound like it will become harder and harder to meet together near the end. In fact, that’s exactly what we’re seeing right now.

God’s people have learned from the world to fill up their schedules with so many good things. I fear that many are going to miss out on the best thing that God has planned for us.

From a look at history, it’s obvious that revival isn’t convenient. You can’t add it to your schedule in the free hour you have next Thursday at 4:00.

Revival is a move of God that goes on every day for weeks, months, or even years at a time. Do we really want that? Are we really willing to rearrange our lives to accommodate God’s will?

A bigger question I have is this. Is God waiting for us to simplify our lives in preparation for a move of God? Is He waiting on us to open up our schedules to more fellowship, prayer, and worship activities?

Pray for revival. Pray for a change in the hearts of believers.

Question: How much time do you have in your schedule for a revival?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2014 in Revival, The Church

 

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Do You have Room for the Word? #discipleship

WeedsIn my last post I talked about what Jesus said that it means to be His disciple in John, chapter 8.  It requires us to remain in His Word.  Our response to this truth is an issue today.

Even though Jesus was speaking to those who believed in Him, their response was surprising.  They were offended that He said they needed to be set free.

“We’ve never been a slave to anything or anyone.”

“You’ve gone too far, Jesus.”

“I know you are Abraham’s descendants.  Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.”
John 8:37

Jesus knew that they were believers.  The problem was that they had no admittance, pass, designated space for His Word.  Because they wanted to justify themselves, their minds rejected what Christ was telling them.  Later in His teaching, Jesus explained why this happened.

Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.
John 8:43

He literally said that it was because they did not have the power to hear my logos.  In order to let the Word of God work its change in our lives, we need to draw upon the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul even wrote about it.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

It’s the Holy Spirit who helps us to hear God’s Word.  But don’t get the idea that it’s an easy thing.  The state of the modern church, pastors included – proves just the opposite.  Think about what Christ taught concerning the difficulties involved in discipleship.

And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:27

That doesn’t sound very convenient.  Picking up something that points to the death of my flesh.  Then, as if that’s not enough, I have to watch closely to where Christ is moving, and follow in His footsteps.

It’s no wonder that in the current version of Christianity, we use the word “disciple” to mean anyone who has received salvation.  We need to get back to the radical discipleship that Jesus taught.

In my next post I’ll talk about just how inconvenient this is.

Question: How far are you willing to be inconvenienced for Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Ministry, Revival, Word of God

 

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