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Defining Love

Snow HeartWe talk a lot about desiring to see God’s power working through us. But I think there’s something that we overlook sometimes. Without increasing our love-walk, we’ll never experience all that God has for us.

You can understand all the concepts of vision, calling, and the power of God, but love is the attitude that ties them all together. If you want to develop a Spirit of Excellence, then it can’t be attained without developing love. The Scripture makes it abundantly clear that apart from love, you’ve missed the way of excellence altogether.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
I Corinthians 13:1a-3

It’s clear that as far as God is concerned, it doesn’t matter what you do or how great you build your ministry apart from love. If love isn’t the main ingredient, you’re only spinning your wheels.

It doesn’t matter what the size of your congregation is or how many churches call you Bishop. God is looking for the evidence of love flowing through you. Faith and love are the two non-optional requirements for ministry in the Word of God.

But let’s start at the beginning. Do you really understand what love is? People have so many ideas. Let’s see what God has to say.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
I Corinthians 13:4-6

Think about what this verse says – patient, kind, not rude, and not easily angered. Are there any times during which we have a better chance of doing this – times when it feels more natural? Of course, this happens when we’re around people that we like; when we’re with our friends. I was first able to grasp this concept while reading the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

We must first understand that this type of love carries with it no emotional attachment. It’s purely based on decision and will. Over and over again in the Scriptures we’re commanded to love.

If it were based on emotions, it wouldn’t work any more effectively than commanding someone to laugh. You can only command something that’s an act of my will. True love cannot be based upon emotion, it must be my choice.

I find that it’s easiest for me to treat people I like in this way. Sometimes I choose to treat them correctly even if I don’t feel like it, simply because I like them. This brings us to the definition of love that I first heard from C.S. Lewis.

The way of love is to treat people as if you like them – whether you do or not. Also, I would add, whether you know them or not and whether you are in their presence or not.

Question: How does this definition compare to what the world thinks about love?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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The Practical Side of Fasting #spiritualfast

FlyingI want to wrap up my posts on fasting with some practical advice for those who are just starting out.

Fasting has a cumulative effect over time.  Don’t just try fasting once and expect to become “Faith Man.”  Step by step it decreases the pull your flesh has over your life.  It allows the faith that you have to exert a greater influence.

You need to know your body’s limitations.  There are some people who need to take a cautious approach.  These are people who are on certain medications or have medical conditions (such as diabetes) that require you to have food at regular intervals.  If you are one such person, then you need to consult with your doctor before starting a fast.  Tell them that you desire to fast for spiritual reasons and ask if there is a way to do so safely.

Remember that fasting is not a religious exercise, but a spiritual encounter.  God, who knows your heart, will release His power in you.  If you have to eat something with your medication, then look at the food as a part of your medicine.  It will not detract from your fast because your faith is in Christ.

There are side effects from caffeine.  If you are addicted to caffeine (which means that you regularly drink coffee, tea, or soda with caffeine in it) it’s possible that you will get moderate to severe headaches during your fast.  These headaches are the symptom of withdrawal from caffeine.  This can be avoided if you continue to drink something with caffeine in it on your fasting day.

There are side effects from sugar.  If sugar is a regular part of your diet, then you will experience hunger pains.  That’s your body’s normal reaction to a withdrawal from sugar.  Just be aware of that and let it run its course.

Drink large amounts of water while you’re fasting.  In this way you will get some health benefits as well as the spiritual.

Just make the decision and start fasting.  I believe that every Christian should be fasting at least one day a week with some kind of extended fast once a year.  You might ask, “Can’t I just use more self-control over the flesh to keep it down?”  Sure you can; it is possible.  It’s also possible to build a house without the use of any power tools, but there are not many people who would want to do it that way.

God has given us some supernatural “power tools” to strengthen us spiritually.  We’re being foolish if we ignore them.

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.”  So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Acts 13:2-3

Here is a good example of fasting at work.  The church leaders were in the midst of a time of fasting and prayer.  They were able to hear the voice of the Lord and obey quickly.  I believe that this is one of the secrets to the power that the early church possessed, and that we need in our generation.

Questions: If you fast regularly, how often do you fast?  If not, has this series encouraged you to try it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Fasting, Spirit of Excellence

 

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The First Step to Excellence #excellenceinministry

MountainI’ve been posting about the walk of excellence for a few days now.  Hopefully, as a child of God, you desire to walk in excellence before Him.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

Where do you start on this road to excellence?  As is the case with many things in Christ, it’s going to start with a choice.

It’s sad to say, but many believers will not be willing to make that choice.  The cost is great.  This is that small gate that leads to the narrow road that Jesus said few would find.

The reason is not that it’s difficult to see or understand, but because it involves sacrifice.  I have to sacrifice my plans, dreams, and hopes to make room for His.

Basically, I have to learn to see myself as lying dead upon the altar of the Lord in order for His resurrection power to raise me to new levels in Him.  That’s why, generally speaking, the body of Christ in this generation is in its present state.

There is a transformation process that I need to undergo in order for His Word, His will, and His Way to become a part of my being.  I must allow the Living Word and the Holy Spirit to renew my heart and mind.  My thought processes and desires must be transformed into that which conforms to His plans.

It’s only when I’m willing to see it through to completion, in God’s way, that He will entrust me with His excellent plan for my life.  So many people have come to me as pastor down through the years asking me how to “find” God’s will for their lives.

The above verse doesn’t say that I need to struggle or search for God’s will.  It says that if I’m willing to lay my life down on His altar and begin the renewal process of my mind, then I will just know it.  When I see His will for my life, I will approve it.  I think you can agree that if something is good, pleasing and perfect – it can also be described as excellent.

It’s only after the decision of excellence is made that God will entrust you with His will.  Too often our attitude is that we want to know His will first so that we can decide whether we want to do it or not.  The Lord requires faith if we’re to please Him.  We must come to Him with the decision to see it through before He’ll give us the glimpse of the road ahead.  If you will not trust God with your future, then He will not trust you with His vision.

Question: Have you chosen the road of excellence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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Jehovah Jireh – The Mountain

TrailThis is the final post about how Abraham positioned himself to receive God’s supernatural provision.  At this point we find him with the knife raised, about to sacrifice his only son.

But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham!  Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said.  “Do not do anything to him.  Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Genesis 22:11-12

Abraham was able to come through this time of testing victoriously.  But there was something that always puzzled me.  God said, “Now I know that you fear God.”  I thought God knew everything, so why would He say that?

The Hebrew word for know is Yada, which means to know by seeing.  What God said was that now Abraham’s faith could be seen.  His fear of God was now obvious to everyone.

That’s the reason for trials and testing.  We may have faith quietly tucked away in our hearts.  Without works, it’s not yet a living faith.  It must be proved genuine.

It’s the trying of our faith that causes it to be seen by those around us.  That’s why Scripture tells us over and over again that without trials we’ll never become mature in Christ.

It was when his faith was tested, and proved genuine, that Abraham’s eyes were opened to the provision of God that was before him.

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.  He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.  So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide.  [Jehovah Jireh]  And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
Genesis 22:13-14

Jehovah Jireh – the God Who provides.  There are many who think this name is a promise of unbridled wealth.  They think that it’s all about their physical comfort.  What they fail to see is that Jehovah Jireh is a place of supernatural provision in Christ.

As I said in the first post of this series, it’s a spiritual mountain that must be climbed.  To get to that place in God, it will require the same thing from us that it did of Abraham.

It will take a life of immediate obedience to God, perseverance, speaking our faith, and a decision to give up everything for the cause of Christ.  That’s the real mountain that Abraham had to climb.  The physical mountain was easy in comparison.

As with all things in Christ, God has already provided everything we need for life and godliness.  The problem is that we need to position ourselves to receive the provision of God.

That’s the point.  Why do we want God’s blessing?  To accomplish His will or ours?

If you want Christ to be exalted in you, then you’re in a position to receive.

I ask everyone who reads this post to pray and believe God for those who respond to the following question…

Question: What is God calling you to do that you need His supernatural provision for?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Faith, God's Provision, Prayer

 

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