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Ministry Qualities Part 1

I’m continuing to look at Second Corinthians.  In my last post, I ended with Paul beginning to talk about the qualities of a true ministry for Christ.  Now we’ll see these in greater detail.

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger;
2 Corinthians 6:4-5

Great Endurance – This is from a Greek word that means to live or continue under. Sometimes that’s one of the hardest things to do.

God’s calling will lead you to a certain place or group of people.  Things don’t always work out the way we want.  We’d much rather leave and do something different.  This attitude says, “I’m not leaving here until God sends me someplace else.”

The kingdom of God doesn’t work like corporate America.  We don’t search for the best pay packages and move on when something better opens up.  We follow God’s call wherever it leads.

Troubles – This word actually means pressure.  This always comes with the calling of God.  We feel the pressure to complete what God desires us to do.

Of course, we also feel the pressure of the normal conditions of life.  We must fulfill the call to provide for our home and family.  We need to take care of our social requirements as well.  You can never get away from the pressures of life.

Hardships and destresses – I’m dealing with these two together because they’re very close in meaning.  Hardship means constraints while distress means narrowness of room.

They both talk about the fact that there’s very little “wiggle room” in the call of God.  As followers of Christ, we need to watch how we live before people.  They will always judge the Lord based upon what we do and say.

We have to be careful to let Christ be seen in us.  We can’t live like everybody else.  We want others to be drawn to the Lord and not turned away by our actions.

Beatings and imprisonments – I’m glad that I live in the United States.  But for many believers around the world, this is a real possibility.  We should always remember to pray for our brothers and sisters who are under persecution and remain true to Christ.

Riots – This Greek word literally means instability and disorder.  That’s a good description of what’s happening across our nation right now.

As Christians, we’re always called to be the voice of hope in extreme situations.  We must always be prepared to share the love of Christ no matter what’s happening around us.

Hard work – This should go without saying.  But Paul lets us know the truth about the ministry.  It definitely involves hard work.

That’s because we have to help a lot of hurting people.  One of the things that you learn quickly is that hurting people don’t mind hurting those who are trying to help them.

Of course, that’s when we need to pray for great endurance.  It’s hard to continue to walk this road continually, showing the love and joy of Christ.

But in the end, it’s all worth it for the blessing of seeing transformed lives.  I’ll continue with this in my next post.

Question: How have you experienced these qualities in your life and ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Grace Under Pressure

Right now, the world is reeling under the threat of the Corona Virus.  People are scared.  Whole sections of grocery stores are sold out.  All public venues are closed down.  How do we respond to all of this?

The Apostle Paul had pressures in his day as well.  Listen to his insights.

We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia.  We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.  Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.  But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.  He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us.  On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us.
2 Corinthians 1:8-10

It’s my hope and prayer that you’re never in a life-threatening situation.  I’m also trusting God to keep us safe and healthy in spite of all that’s going on around us.

I know, however, that weather, accidents, and natural disasters can come when least expected.  It seems like every day there’s something going on in the United States that could have tragic results.  If and when that occurs, you will be faced with a choice – do you despair and give up or do you continue to put your hope in God?

I’ve been in that kind of situation.  I know what it feels like to be trapped by an unforeseen incident with no way out and no help in sight.

At one point, I was on a solo hike in the backwoods of Maine.  I had an accident that resulted in a severe sprain.  I could barely walk and I was miles from the nearest road.

At about the same time, a huge thunderstorm hit the area.  I can tell you that at a time like this there’s a great temptation to just give up.

I praise God that the Holy Spirit within me was there to encourage me.  I continued on, even through the pain, and was miraculously brought safely out of the wilderness.  I say “miraculously” because this was before I had the use of a cell phone.

It’s truly in those times of need that God proves Himself faithful.  I can say, without hesitation, that God has never abandoned me to my problems.

We’re facing many challenges right now in our society.  The question is; how will we respond to the pressure?

The key to making it safely through a problem, either present or future, is to make the choice now, that whatever happens, you will not abandon your trust in God.  You’ll find that He’s always there with you to help you in your time of need.

The main thing that helped the apostle was the ability to look back and see how God had been faithful in the past.  As you remember what God already accomplished in you, it’s easier to trust Him with your future.  Because God showed Himself strong in my past challenges, I can expect Him to show up in my present situation.

In your prayer time today, reaffirm your trust in the Lord to take you through the hard times.  Place your life fully in His hands.

Question: What challenges has God already brought you through in the past?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2020 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God

 

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Walking in Faith, Hope & Love

In my last post we finished looking at the book of James, the first epistle given by the Holy Spirit to the church. During that time, a man named Saul of Tarsus was persecuting the believers.

After an encounter with Christ Himself, Saul became a Christian and his life was totally changed. He was eventually called to preach and became a missionary to the gentiles. The next revelation of God’s Word to the church was through this man, who changed his name to Paul.

On one of his journeys, Paul went to the city of Thessalonica and many were saved. (These events can be read in more detail in Acts 16-18.) Because of intense persecution, Paul had to leave quickly. This immediate exit caused him to be concerned about the health of the newly formed church.

Paul eventually traveled to Corinth, where he stayed for over a year. During that time, he sent Timothy to check-up on the church at Thessalonica. Timothy brought back a good report that the young believers were standing in the truth.

The letter of First Thessalonians was written to encourage this church, after Paul listened to Timothy’s report.

Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you. We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-3

Paul opens the letter by remembering their faith, hope, and love. These are the three things that the Bible says will be with us eternally. Too often we think about them only in spiritual terms.

We sometimes get the idea that they’re just good feelings that Christians should enjoy. Some believers act like they’re wonderful gifts that should be tucked quietly away in our hearts.

NO WAY!!! According to Paul, faith, hope, and love are the sparks that ignite our ministry before God. There are three different things that happen in us as a result of their influence upon us.

First, faith produces our work. That word literally means your assignment. It’s the task that God has given you. As you go before God in faith, He gives you grace for the calling He’s placed upon your life. As I trust God more and more, I learn to follow His ways. Eventually I start to understand why He wanted me in His kingdom. Faith causes me to stand in my assignment.

Then comes love – it prompts us to labor. That word labor, means to use up your strength in performing a task. Without the love of God, we’ll never pour ourselves into the calling He’s placed upon us. We’re called to work with all of our strength. Without love, that will never happen.

Finally, hope inspires endurance. It’s easy to start out strong, but it’s how we finish that matters the most. Hope is the biblical word for expectation. If I do my part, then I can expect God to show up and do His part.

That’s what keeps me going even when I don’t feel like it. I know what God says in His Word. Because I place my expectation on Him, I can continue to live for the Lord. Hope gives you the endurance to persevere to the end.

Let faith, hope, and love give you more than just a warm feeling. Let them spur you on to accomplishing your destiny in the Lord’s Kingdom.

Question: How have you seen faith, hope and love at work in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2017 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Your Free Life Coach

weightsI’ve been posting about Scripture and the role it has in the lives of God’s people. We should be grateful that the Lord allowed His Word to be written down for our enrichment.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Scripture was given to thoroughly equip us for the good works God has prepared for us. Accordingly, Scripture is useful profitable – for certain things that we need. The first thing Scripture is useful for is teaching.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:4

We need to know who God is and how He operates. The Bible looks at people that the Lord has worked with in the past and how He dealt with them. It also shows us what the Lord likes and dislikes. That’s the place of Scripture. As I study its pages, I come to know who this God is, that I’m serving.

Endurance. The first thing that being teachable brings me is cheerful endurance. God has put certain things in writing so that I’ll know what to expect. I learn that as long as I’m in the world, there will be troubles and trials coming my way.

Because of this Word, I won’t be offended that the path before me isn’t an easy one. But I also know that God is with me, and He has already triumphed over my problems. All I have to do is keep walking forward in faith and trust in Him and I’ll see His deliverance manifest in my life.

Encouragement. The Scripture also encourages me. The closest concept we have to the Greek word for encouragement is coaching. The Bible is my life-coach.

I can see what others have done in my situation. I have the example of those who went their own way and lost out, as well as those who trusted God and were victorious. This gives me the strength to carry on even when I don’t feel like it. That’s what a coach does. It inspires me to a higher walk in the Lord.

Hope. The Scripture brings hope. It’s because of this endurance and encouragement that I can walk in the hope that only comes from knowing what God has promised to those who serve Him.

Please understand that the word hope in the Bible is not like the watered down version that the world uses. They say things like, “I hope it won’t rain tomorrow.” It’s more like wishful thinking. That’s not the hope found in the Scripture.

Our hope is fully expecting things to turn out the way God said it would. It means that I know in my heart that God doesn’t lie. It doesn’t matter what the situation looks like right now. It doesn’t even matter whether I can see a way out or not.

What I rely on is the fact that God said it, so therefore I expect it. That’s the hope that Scripture will equip us with if we let it be our teacher and life-coach.

Question: How has the Scripture helped you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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The Secret of Inner Power

PackageDid you know that it’s what’s on the inside that counts? The things that are happening around us don’t determine our destiny. We need to learn to live above our circumstances.

…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joy.
Colossians 1:11

One of the things that the Holy Spirit desires to do in us is to strengthen our inner man. He wants to give us the power we need to stand our ground for Christ.

This life is very draining on people. I don’t believe there’s any such thing as an easy life. We all have to go through struggles and trials.

We look at the lives of others and think that they have it easy. That’s only because the things that get me down don’t affect you in the same way. Conversely, the things that you’re having trouble with don’t bother me at all. We all experience things differently.

That’s why everyone needs an abundance of endurance, patience, and joy. Those are qualities we seem to lose so easily. But they are the things that the Holy Spirit wants to equip us with.

Endurance. This comes from a Greek word that means to remain under. Sometimes we have to go through experiences that are uncomfortable. We feel like giving up. The Holy Spirit can give us the power to see it through to the final victory.

Patience. This one sounds the same as endurance but it’s a little different. It literally means to be long passioned. In other words, it’s the ability to go through a hard time without “having a meltdown.” Sometimes in the midst of problems we say or do things that we’re sorry for the rest of our lives. The Lord wants to keep us from making these kinds of mistakes.

Joy. Joy is an interesting concept in the New Testament. It’s very different from the emotion of happiness. Happiness is based what happens. Joy is based upon the knowledge that you are in Christ and nothing can touch you without His permission. Therefore, you can have a positive outlook on life because Jesus has the final say.

The fact is, apart from His Spirit we would give up too soon. I want to see the finish line and cross it with strength. I don’t want to barely finish my race then collapse in exhaustion. I want to enter Heaven with my head held high, knowing that the Lord has brought me through victoriously.

To finish strong I must rely on His strength for my life. I must come to the realization that “without Him I can do nothing.” It’s a humbling experience to tell the Lord that you need Him. But that’s why Scripture teaches that if you humble yourself before Him, He will exalt you.

Draw on the power of the Holy Spirit today. Spend quality time in His presence and watch what the Lord can do in a life that’s yielded before Him. Make use of His promises. Let Him grant to you His endurance, patience, and joy.

Question: How have you seen the Lord’s strength working in you recently?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Power of God, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Know When to Give Up

SunriseIn my last post I talked about the times we find ourselves wrestling against God’s plan for us. We’re looking at Jacob as an example of this.

Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Genesis 32:26

No, God wasn’t getting tired. No, God wasn’t going to turn into a pumpkin when the sun came up. Why then did He impose a time limit? Purely and simply out of His love for Jacob. God knew that having fought all night, Jacob was getting to the end of his strength.

The Bible teaches elsewhere that God will not allow our struggles to go beyond our ability to endure. This is how God worked with Jacob. He made Jacob fight to the end of His strength. Up to this point, Jacob always found the easy way out of his troubles.

The scheme, the bribe, the fixed fight, whatever it took to win without breaking a sweat – that’s who Jacob was. God, however, knew he was better than that. He was created to father a nation. Through this experience God taught Jacob that he was able to overcome by his inner strength and determination alone, without all the scheming.

God wants to do that with us as well. He’ll allow us to get to the end of our strength so that we’ll cry out to Him. Don’t drop out of your fight too quickly. Make the determination to lay hold of the prize God has called you to obtain.

The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
Genesis 32:27-29

You would think that because he wrestled with God, Jacob would get in trouble. Nothing could be further from the truth. God doesn’t care if you struggle with Him as long as you learn the lesson He’s trying to teach you.

Up to this point in his life, Jacob had been trying to buy, fight, and steal his way to the blessing of God. Now he was to learn that the only way to obtain it is by freely receiving it from the Lord’s own hand.

He spent his life fighting God and man. Now God tells him that he has overcome. Overcome what? He has finally overcome himself. He now has the control to take his life and lay it at the feet of the Lord.

How do we know this? God gives him a new name – Israel – that means, “conquered by God.”

Perhaps you’ve been struggling in your walk with the Lord. Maybe there is an area in your life you’ve been refusing to turn over to God.

It’s time for you to give up and receive the blessing God’s been waiting to give you. Today, allow yourself to be overcome by God.

Questions: Are there areas, right now, where you’re struggling against God? What will it take for you to give up?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Power of God, Prayer

 

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Why Work for God?

WorkThere are many believers who never enter into their calling.  Are you one of them?  Don’t miss the point of why God wants us to work for Him and with Him.

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:3

Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, commending them on their work for the Lord.  He mentions three aspects that speak volumes to us as God’s people.  We need to take these things to heart if we’re going to be productive in the Kingdom of God.

Our work is produced by faith.  The word for work means what we do for God.  It’s the task to which we’ve been assigned.

We’ve all been called to do something different in the Body of Christ.  Your personality, strengths, weaknesses, and skillsets all combine to bring about the plan God has for your life.

The key is that you must seek God to find out what you’re called to do.  That’s where faith comes into the picture.  How well do you trust God for your future?  Are you willing to give up your agenda for His?

Then, by faith, we must let the Holy Spirit train and prepare us for the work.  Too many believers want to rush ahead and get “on the job training.”  Usually they become tripped up when they run ahead of the Lord.  You need to trust God to bring about the plan He has for your life.

Our labor is prompted by love.  This word labor, in the Greek, literally means your toil that results in weariness.  It speaks of using your strength to accomplish something.

We’re willing to do this for our bosses, because they pay us cash for our strength.  The Kingdom of God has a different economy.  What we do for the Lord is based upon our love for Him, or at least it should be.

Your love for God is expressed in how much time, money and energy you’re willing to expend in His work.  There’s no way around it – there’s something that you need to do for the Lord.

Our trouble is that we want to reap without sowing.  We wait until we want to eat a salad, then go out and plant the garden.  At that point, we blame God that our “salad bowl” is empty.

If you cultivate a love for the Savior, your work for Him will be a lot easier.

Our endurance is inspired by hope.  The word endurance speaks of our ability to persevere through the completion of the work.

This is the hard part.  Once we’ve started the task, we need to keep going.  Hardships, opposition, and even the daily grind of repetition saps our will to continue.

Our attitudes often surprise me.  We’re willing to drag ourselves to our job, even though we’re sick – and our boss will pay us to stay home – just to impress our employers.  Why aren’t we so inspired to impress the King of kings?  This is the secret to walking in the abundant life.

As I focus on the hope, the expectation, held out in the Gospel, I’m able to endure through the hard times.  Then I can see the power of God released in my life.

Question: What do you find to be the hardest part of enduring in your work for God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2013 in Ministry

 

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Lives Laid Down for the Scripture #Revivals past

MountchurchI’ve been posting about the first great move of God after the Dark Ages.  The Lord was using His people to restore the Bible as the foundation for faith and practice in the church.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:4

It’s obvious from the lives of these people, that they were able to endure beyond the normal experience.  It was their reliance on the Scripture that brought them to this level.

Who were these dedicated believers?

There were the Cathari in France.  They believed that tradition, alone, is not a basis for faith.  So they started printing and circulating Scripture.  Pope Innocent III actually called for a crusade against them.  Not only did he wipe them out, but the entire local population as well.

Another name to remember was Peter Waldo.  Around this time he started preaching the Word of God and circulating Scripture.  His followers were called the Waldensians.  They fared a little better.  When the order was given to kill them all, they were able to flee.  This community of Christians escaped to the mountain caves of Northern Italy, where they still exist today.

One of the more famous names of this move was John Wycliffe, from England.  Again, his goal was to preach the Word and get the Scripture into the hands of God’s people.  His followers were called the Lollards.  Unfortunately, they had to give up their lives for the faith.  They were martyred by Kings Henry the IV and V.

In many cases, the problem with our humanity is that we don’t want to know that we’re wrong.  The fact is that I need Scripture to correct me and then show me how to get back on solid ground again.  Many don’t want to admit their need for change.  Especially when there’s political power involved.  That was a big reason that they crucified the Lord.

The list goes on and on of those who started preaching a new way of following Christ – using the Scripture as the standard of their lives.  It includes such men as St. Jerome, John Huss, John Calvin, and Martin Luther.  Many people don’t know that Luther was actually working on a German translation for the common people to read.  Most of these saints of God were persecuted and killed.

Their commitment is summed up pretty well in a line from the dedication page of the KJV Bible: “So that if, on the one side, we shall be traduced by…persons at home or abroad, who therefore will malign us, because we are poor instruments to make God’s holy Truth to be yet more and more known unto the people, whom they desire still to keep in ignorance and darkness;”

I am eternally grateful for their sacrifice so that I could have a foundation for my faith.  And, so that you could know the truth of God for yourself.

Question: What’s the best way to show our gratefulness to God for our unlimited access to the Scripture?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Revival, The Church

 

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Faith Hope Love

1Thessalonians 1:2-3
We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.  We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Faith, hope, and love – they are the three things that the Bible says will be with us eternally.  Too often we think about them in spiritual terms.  We get the idea that these are just good feelings that Christians should enjoy.  Like they are wonderful gifts that should be tucked quietly away in our hearts.

NO WAY!!!  Faith, hope, and love are the sparks that ignite our ministry before God.  There are three different things that happen as a result of their influence on us.

First, faith produces our work.  That word literally means your assignment.  It is the task that God has given you.  As you go before God in faith, He gives you grace for the calling He has placed upon your life.  Faith causes you to stand in your assignment.

Then comes love – it prompts us to labor.  That word means to use up your strength in performing a task.  Without the love of God, we will never pour ourselves into the calling He has placed upon us.  We are called to work with all of our strength.  Without love, that will never happen.

Finally, hope inspires endurance.  It’s easy to start out strong, but it’s how we finish that matters the most.  Hope is the biblical word for expectation.  If I do my part, then I can expect God to show up and do His part.  That’s what keeps me going even when I don’t feel like it.  Hope gives you the endurance to persevere to the end.

Let faith, hope, and love give you more than just a warm feeling.  Let them spur you on to accomplishing your destiny in the Lord’s Kingdom.

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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Matthew 26:45-46
Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting?  Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Rise, let us go!  Here comes my betrayer!”

I always stand in awe of how determined Christ was to accomplish the work He was called to do.  After His time in the presence of the Father we see no hesitancy or fear.  He has set His face toward the path ahead.

I realize that, unlike us, He had no sin nature.  However, it is clear that He keenly felt the sting of His mortality.  I believe that He also understood clearly the pain that He would have to endure.  It was these realizations that brought Him to His knees in the garden.

What I really need to grab hold of is the understanding that it is only in the presence of God that I can receive the strength and determination that it takes to move forward in my life.  All of my will power and good intentions will never bring me to my destiny in the Lord.  I need help from beyond myself.

Seeking intimacy with the Lord is time well spent.  Use this peaceful moment that you have been given to get into that place of safety in God.  In that way – just like Jesus – you may leave your time in the wilderness physically drained, but you will be spiritually strong.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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