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The God Who Sees Me

I’m looking at Philip’s call to become a disciple of Christ. He went and brought Nathanael to Jesus. When Jesus looked at Nathanael, He spoke out what He saw in the young man.

Nathaniel didn’t know how to respond.

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
John 1:48

“Where do you know about me from? Who’s been talking about me? Did Philip tell you about me?”

This is the big question. Everybody has it. Does God know me?

The fact is that Christ knows us all personally. He knows who we are and what we want from life, as well as our struggles and triumphs.

But Jesus went even further with Nathanael. He looked at him and told him, “Before Philip called you – while you were under the tree…I knew you.” This is the God we serve.

In the Old Testament book of Genesis, we see a servant named Hagar. She was pregnant and running away from Sarah, her master’s wife. She finds herself in the desert and about to die of thirst. That’s when an angel showed up to rescue her and prophesy about her and her son’s future.

She’s shown where to find water nearby. She was totally overwhelmed by the knowledge that God cared enough to intervene in her situation.

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
Genesis 16:13-14

She called God by a new name – El Roi – literally, the God who sees me. She then named that place the well of the Living One who sees me.

“Yes Nathaniel, I knew you before you knew me.”

His heart was laid bare.

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
John 1:49

This is why Philip was called to bring the Good News to Nathaniel. He shared that this Rabbi, Jesus, was the Son of God; the King of Israel.

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
John 1:50-51

Nathanael believed simply because of what he heard Jesus say. That’s amazing. There were people in Israel who saw great miracles and still didn’t believe.

We need to be excited about the God who sees us and knows us. We must let those around us know that God sees them, knows them, loves them, and is excited about them.

Be a Philip.

Question: Who can you share the Good News of Jesus with?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2016 in Encouragement, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Your Calling – Unique to You

DifferentIn my last post I started talking about how Christ called Philip to be His disciple. Just like Andrew, who went and found his brother Peter, Philip immediately goes out and tells someone.

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
John 1:45

When Andrew went to Peter, he proclaimed that they had found the Messiah. What does Philip announce? His message is a little different. He doesn’t mention the Messiah.

Philip was looking for a different sign from God. He was trusting God for the One Moses wrote about…

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.
Deuteronomy 18:15

Moses also recorded the prophecy about Christ that was given by Jacob to his son, Judah.

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.
Genesis 49:10

This is who Philip was looking for. Jesus went personally to call Philip. Why didn’t the Lord send Andrew to Philip? Simply put; because that wouldn’t have worked. It wouldn’t have worked for Nathaniel either.

There are times when God lays someone on your heart to share Christ with them. The Holy Spirit does this because you’re uniquely qualified to reach them. I can’t do it; it’s got to be you.

There is another thing we know about Philip. He knew a lot about Jesus. Mary’s husband, Joseph had passed away by this point, yet Philip knew who Jesus’ adopted father was. He also knew where Jesus came from, even though Nazareth was on the other side of the lake.

Immediately upon becoming a disciple, Philip goes to his friend Nathaniel. Now we meet another unique individual. Who was he?

The name Nathaniel means, the Gift of God. Usually you get that name because your parents had trouble bearing children. When they were finally able to have a child, they see him as God’s gift to them.

That probably means that Nathaniel was an only child. We’ll find out later that he was chilling under a tree when Philip found him. That in itself tells us something.

Here it is in the middle of the day. Nathaniel should be out working somewhere. Instead, we find him relaxing in the shade of a tree. This might mean that his parents were spoiling him rotten.

In my next post we’ll see the encounter between this new follower of Christ, and his friend under the tree with a bad attitude.

Question: What kinds of people have you shared the Gospel of Christ with?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2016 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Seeing Like a Disciple

GlassesAs I post about what it means to be a disciple of Christ, there’s one more thing I want to mention. It just may be the hardest to accomplish.

We were looking at Andrew as he brought his brother, Simon, to Jesus.

And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).
John 1:42

One of the biggest misunderstandings in the Bible is when we refer to Simon as Peter. Let’s look at the whole picture.

Andrew comes to his brother and says, “You’ve got to meet the Messiah.” Simon then agrees and goes to see Jesus.

The first thing that happens, according to Scripture, is that Jesus looks into him. This phrase is used only a few times in Scripture. Like with the rich young man who asked Jesus how he could inherit eternal life. The Bible literally says that Jesus looked into him and loved him.

This is a look of discernment that sees beyond the external. The Lord saw who Simon could become. That should be how we view people.

“But that’s Jesus; I can’t see into people’s lives.”

Remember the definition – a disciple wants to become what their teacher is. Disciples of Christ should look beyond the outward appearance of those around them.

Let’s talk about Simon. Jesus looked into him and said, “You are Simon (which means obedient listener) the son of John (which means God’s grace).” He then went on to say, “You will be called Cephas.”

The only Greek word to translate Cephas was Petros – which is Peter to us. I believe that’s why the Holy Spirit recorded it here for us. So that we would know what Jesus was really saying about him. Cephas is a very specific Aramaic word. It’s only used two times in the Old Testament.

It literally means a hollow rock. In both places in the Old Testament it was used for a place people ran to for hiding. It was a place of refuge.

It turned out that Peter was a rock that the disciples could hide in. When he was around, no one else needed to talk. He answered all the questions, right or wrong.

When he came to the Lord, Jesus looked and saw beyond the rough exterior of a fisherman. He looked into the plan of God for his life.

“You are a place of refuge – a hollow rock.”

This is the greatest anointing you can use to win the lost. We need to look at people through the eyes of Christ. To see them as what they can become in Christ. Sometimes that means that we see what could be called a flaw now; but how Christ could use it for His glory in the future.

God is great at turning defects into His glory. He can turn a big mouth into evangelist. He can change a worrier to prayer warrior. In my experience, the easiest person to befriend was the one no one else liked in the group or the office.

Be open to the Spirit. Be courageous. Tell what you found in Christ. Lead people to Jesus. And look beyond the outward.

Be an Andrew for the glory of the Lord.

Question: What was a flaw in your life that God turned around and used for His glory?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on February 12, 2016 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Sharing Like a Disciple

SharingI’m posting about what it means to be a disciple of Christ. In my last article I talked about sharing your faith with others. We sometimes get intimidated by what non-Christians say. That shouldn’t be the case.

I recently read an article called something like What Non-Christians Really Think about Christians. It was based upon a huge amount of research. It turns out that in spite of what they say as a group, many non-Christians have these attitudes:

“I would like to develop a friendship with a Christian.”

“I would like to learn about the Bible from a Christian.”

“I wish I could learn to be a better (husband, wife, father, mother) from a Christian.”

We act like they hate us and want to kill us. The fact is, how they act in a group vs. what’s going on inside are two very different things. We can’t be afraid to talk to them.

We must learn to use friendship rather than confrontation. Instead of using the “You need to get saved” approach, we need to simply tell them what we’ve found in Jesus.

But after that, you need courage to go even further. In my last post we saw a verse that told us what Andrew did with his brother, Simon.

And he brought him to Jesus.
John 1:42a

Disciples of Christ lead others to Christ. What exactly does this mean? It could take in a lot of different things.

That word brought has a few different meanings. It could mean to drive – like a herd of cows – to push forward. Or it could mean to bring by laying hold of. But it could also mean to bring by accompanying.

One thing’s for sure, it requires the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to know exactly what approach to take. Sometimes we need to be forceful, while other times gentleness is required. Sometimes you may pray with them to submit to Christ. Other times they need to be invited or taken to church.

By the way, another of the What Non-Christians Think was…

“I wish a Christian would take me to his church.”

It turns out that most non-believers want to be invited to church…privately. They wouldn’t go on their own, but are willing to be accompanied by someone who knows what happens there. We’re the only way for people to get to Jesus.

Nine times out of ten, it’s not because of Christian TV or radio that someone chooses Christ. It’s because of a friend or family member that brought them to a knowledge of the cross, and then loved them into the kingdom.

Don’t be intimidated by what’s said in a group situation. If the Holy Spirit is prompting you to share, it’s because there’s a work being prepared in that person’s heart.

Cooperate with the Spirit. Share what you’ve found in Christ. Bring someone to Jesus.

Question: How have you been a witness for Christ in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2016 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Do You Have a Disciple’s Heart

FishingI want to take a few posts to talk about what it means to truly be a disciple of Christ. I think that in this generation we have a lot of students, but very few disciples.

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
John 1:40-42a

Let me introduce you to one of Jesus’ first disciples. His name was Andrew. He gives us insight onto what discipleship is all about.

The first thing I notice about him is that the name Andrew means brave.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13

In practice, disciples of Christ must be courageous. After we’re saved, we’re called to leave our comfort zones for Christ.

We know some things about Andrew from the Scripture. He was Peter’s brother and therefore a fisherman by trade. He grew up by the Sea of Galilee involved in the family business.

Yet when he heard John the Baptist’s teaching he followed John out to the desert and became one of his disciples. At one point, John introduced him to the Messiah; so he left John and followed Jesus.

What we find is that change is one of the hardest things to do. But remember, Andrew was a man of courage. If we’re going to follow Christ, then we’re going to have to rely upon the Lord’s courage in us.

I’ve posted in the past about what a disciple is. Disciples and students are very different. A student wants to learn what’s being taught. A disciple wants to become what his teacher is.

The first thing that Andrew does is to go to his brother, Simon. They met together. In the course of their meeting he tells Simon that they’ve found the Messiah.

The words we use are interesting. Andrew said, “We found the Lord.” We talk the same way sometimes. The funny thing is that Jesus wasn’t lost…we were.

The truth is that Andrew was seeking something.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Matthew 7:7-8

In his search, Andrew first followed John the Baptist, and then he followed Jesus. As a result he’s found the answer to his need. Now he wants to tell someone about it. Andrew’s first choice was his brother Simon.

This leads us to an important truth. Disciples of Christ tell others what they found. What have you found in Christ? People say they have a hard time telling others about Christ. Just tell what you found.

Andrew spent time with Christ. He saw and heard the anointing. That’s why he could say definitively, “We found the Anointed One.”

Who do you tell? An evangelist would say, “anyone within talking distance.” There is an anointing for that, but most believers aren’t in that category.

90% of believers are Andrews. He went to his own sphere of influence. That means family, friends, and co-workers.

Take a cue from Andrew. Rely on the strength and courage of the Holy Spirit within you. The next time you feel His urging, tell what you’ve found in Christ.

Question: What’s your experience in sharing your faith with others?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2016 in Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Christians and Disciples

 

ClassIt’s always interesting when you see something happening for the first time.  I may be dating myself, but I remember the first time I saw a man walk on the moon.  I also remember the first time I ever saw a computer in someone’s home.  Firsts are important.

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
 Acts 11:25-26

In this verse we see the first time the word Christian was used.  It was coined in a place called Antioch.  If you read the chapter that this is in you’ll find that this church was so active, news of them reached all the way to Jerusalem.  They were doing an incredible work for Christ.

But probably the most important thing to see is that the disciples were called Christians.  What exactly is a disciple?  I’ve heard many who say that a disciple is simply a student.  That description is close, but not entirely accurate.

A student is someone who wants to learn what somebody else is teaching.  They want to know what you know.

A disciple, on the other hand, is person who follows someone else in order to be like that person.  It’s not enough just to understand what they teach.  The disciple wants to be what the teacher already is.

The ones in the above verse were people who wanted to be like Jesus.  They didn’t only want to talk about Him or read about Him.  They wanted to do the same work that the Lord did when He walked this earth.

It’s sad that over time the impact of the word Christian has changed.  Now, anyone who is even remotely affiliated with a church is called Christian.

We need to understand what following Christ is all about.  It’s more than just a head knowledge of what the Lord did and said.  It must be a desire to minister the same way He did.

That should be our goal if we call ourselves a Christian.  I need to ask myself – am I just using that name, or would the people of Antioch recognize me as a Christian?

Question: Why has the word Christian become so watered down?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2015 in Ministry, Revival, The Church

 

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The Mystery of the Cross

Question MarkDo I want to be a disciple – a student – of Christ? Do I want to learn the path of life from His example? If not, then the cross is a word I push off to the corners of my Christian walk.

How do you turn all this around and get the victory? The Word of the cross is what makes the difference. There’s just one problem with this kind of thinking. We don’t like the cross. It makes us nervous. It sounds too much like sacrifice.

This isn’t the first time the church has had to deal with this issue. Paul wrote about it 2000 years ago.

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2

This is a totally different approach to ministry than what we see today. Paul said that he didn’t arrive on the scene with great, persuasive words of wisdom. Instead, he preached a simple message – Christ crucified.

That was it. Not the risen Lord, not the King of Heaven, not Christ the Healer, or seated at the right hand of the Father. Only the crucified Savior, which he calls the testimony about God.

The Greek word for testimony in this verse literally means mystery. Scripturally, a mystery is something that wasn’t understood until God actually accomplished it.

That’s what Christ did on the cross. The Old Testament saints had no concept of how God would use the cross to provide our salvation.

No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Corinthians 2:7-8

It was a secret that God kept hidden away from before our age began. Even Satan, as intelligent as he is, couldn’t conceive of how God would save us. If he even had a hint of the power of the cross, Satan would never have crucified the Lord. The working of the cross was the greatest mystery of all time.

But wait! Does this mean that it’s a mystery to us? Of course not.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

This is a mystery that God wants to reveal to us. If we can grasp what happened on the cross, then it will have the power to totally transform our lives. This is the message for those who want to participate with the work of God’s ongoing salvation in their lives. It’s for those who desire to be disciples of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

This is how we’ve gotten so far astray in this nation. We spend most of our time seeking God for things. We follow Him for healings, joy, and prosperity. Yet, we don’t realize that all of these things are available in the person of the crucified Savior. We need to seek a relationship with the One who has the power to completely save us from the effects of sin.

Question: Why does this generation seem to avoid teaching about Christ crucified?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in Power of God, The Church

 

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The Cross and Discipleship

ClassIn my last post I started talking about our view of the cross. Paul said that we need to preach the Good News without emptying the cross of its power. Jesus gave some pretty clear instructions to His disciples about it.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20

The key assignment was to preach and make disciples. Disciples are those who have chosen to participate with God’s ongoing work of salvation in their lives. Then, they are to baptize those who believe this message.

The baptism is secondary to preaching and making disciples. What are we to preach? The Word of the cross. That’s what makes disciples.

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

It’s clear that discipleship and the cross go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Unfortunately, we have a lack of disciples these days. Maybe it’s because we don’t preach the cross as we should.

I Corinthians 1:18 says that the Word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing – literally, those who are being destroyed. There are many believers who are being destroyed because of our de-emphasis of the cross.

They are downtrodden, overcome by the world, and bound up by all kinds of sin and addictions. Our lives, homes, and marriages seem to have the same sicknesses as the world without Christ. The world no longer looks to the church for answers, because we don’t look much different than they do.

We wonder why we can’t get the victory. These verses make it obvious that without the life changing power of the cross, we’re fighting a losing battle. It’s time to turn this around and bring the victory in this area. We need to get back to the Biblical foundation for our lives.

We need to restore the Word of the cross. But, for some reason, we resist this work. We seem to have come to the conclusion that the cross is only for the unsaved. Why does Paul tell us that it’s foolishness to those who are being destroyed? Because the cross is for those who want to move on to maturity.

Literally, this verse tells us that the word of the cross is a manifestation of God’s power in His people. But it’s not for all. It’s the power of God to those of us who are continuing in the ongoing work of salvation in our lives. This is why we shrink from it. We don’t like the sound of the cross. When we think of the cross we think of humility, weakness and pain. Could this really be the road to power?

Jesus’ command to carry the cross is not a call for unbelievers to come to Him. It’s a radical command to follow Christ by giving up all other desires. To pick up the cross means to lay everything else down. To follow Christ means to ignore all other paths. This is a message that gets lost in our generation’s search to experience the best that the world has to offer.

I’m not talking about whether you’re saved or not. You can be saved and on your way to Heaven, yet ignore the call to the cross. It all comes down to discipleship.

Question: How do you define being a disciple of Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2014 in Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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Christian – Why the Word Gets Bad Press #Christian

Dry2It used to be that if you were known as a Christian, it was considered a good thing in our society.  Now, if you use that term, you’re labeled everything from a loser, to a hypocrite, to emotionally disturbed.  Why is that?

It has a lot to do with how we portray ourselves to the world.  We say things about ourselves that give hope to the world only to let them down when they find out the real story.  I’m not talking about Christ, but about us.

I believe that if we truly portrayed Christ to the world, they’d have a different opinion of us.  It’s obvious, even today, that those churches and individuals who walk as Jesus did are drawing many to the cross.  What makes the difference?

A few months ago I wrote a post about what it means to be a disciple.  You can click here to read it.  In that post I said that disciples are more than just students learning what someone taught.  They want to become what the teacher is.

This requires us to follow, come near to, experience, and live in Christ and His Word.  It’s a deeper walk than many want to attain to in our generation.  The reason I bring this up, is a statement I read in the book of Acts.

The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
Acts 11:26b

It’s a very simple declaration.  The first time the disciples were called Christianslittle christs – was in a town named Antioch.

This was at a time when the church was walking in the power of God.  Even though they were small and suffering some persecution, they were turning their world upside-down with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Notice what Luke doesn’t say.  He doesn’t record that the believers were called Christians.  It wasn’t all those who attended church.  The disciples – those who were striving to live like Christ – were called little christs by the world.

This is why the world largely rejects our witness.  They look at how we live versus what we say.  They don’t see the same thing in modern Christianity that was evident in the early church.

I know, it’s too late to change our language now but, we can let God change us.  If I’m going to wear the name of Christ, then I need to let Him work His plan in me.  I want the world to see me in Him.

When we lift up Christ by our lives, the world will gain a different perspective of who we are.  It will be easier for them to hear the Gospel.  We need to follow the path of true discipleship.

If that’s already your heart’s desire – continue on and let nothing sway you.  If the Lord is convicting you about it, then repent and move forward right now.  Let the world see Christ through His church.

Question: How would Jesus minister to people in our generation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Discipleship – The Cost and the Glory #discipleship

Jet Plane to NowhereI’ve been posting about discipleship.  How far are you willing to go to follow Christ?  The Lord doesn’t make it sound very convenient.

In my last post we saw that Christ said it involved picking up your cross and following Him.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26

Most people get tripped up by this verse because they don’t understand the usage of the word hate in the Scripture.  This word has no emotional attachment to it.  It’s just like the word agape, used to convey the idea of love.  Hate is a choice rather than an emotion.

This word hate means a choice to not participate with.  There are times when being a disciple of Christ means that you choose not to participate in every family event.  Maybe it’s a baby shower or a graduation party that’s held on a Sunday morning.

Christ is saying that if you choose to participate with your family over the Lord, then it shows that you’re not a disciple.  You might be a believer who loves God.  But you have yet to choose the high road of discipleship.

Following Christ can be very inconvenient at times.  However, if you want the same results as Christ, you must live as He does.

Jesus also makes the point that we must count the cost of discipleship.

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:33

If you find your Christian walk to be easy, then you’re not yet a disciple.  The closer you follow to Christ, the harder your choices will become.  But there is a bright side.  The longer you serve the Lord, the easier it will be to make those choices.

It’s all about cultivating an attitude – I am nothing else but a disciple.  It may sound like a tough road, but in the end it’s worth it.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
John 15:7-8

The way of discipleship leads to a fulfilled life.  There’s a manifestation of the power of God working through you.  When you live at this level it becomes obvious to all those around you.  Your life shows the fruit of the spirit.

It’s apparent that you couldn’t produce the blessings that you’re walking in.  God is at work in you.  That’s the ultimate goal.  Living as a disciple shows God’s glory.

It’s that glory that will draw others to Christ.  This is what the Christian walk is all about.

Question: How much is the glory of God worth to you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Power of God, Revival

 

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