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Imitation – The Path to Greatness

In my last post, I talked about how the Thessalonian believers accepted the Word of God. It changed them. It brought them to a new way of life.

But even though it created a desire for change in them, something else was needed. You may have the desire and the power to change, but without a proper example, you won’t know how to live a new life.

For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

The word imitation keeps popping up in this letter. That’s because it’s an important concept for growing Christians. More than ever, we need leaders who are worthy of imitation.

I don’t know where I’d be today if weren’t for the pastors and teachers who I watched and copied along the way. By watching their examples, I learned how to love others, to pray for those in need of God’s touch, and how to witness to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

We were never meant to serve God on our own. It’s not God’s plan for us to figure everything out all by ourselves. We need to follow in the footsteps of those who have walked this path before.

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Hebrews 13:7

We sometimes get the idea that the great men and women of God were somehow born into their positions of honor. We see the work that they’re doing now and can’t grasp that they ever had to struggle with their Christian walk.

The fact is that every believer – whether they’re a leader or not – has to wrestle with the same problems and challenges. The important thought in this verse is to consider how their lives turned out.

That word, consider, means to look again. We need to take a second look at our leaders. See how they got from salvation to their present position. Then, we should imitate the positive way that they trusted and served Christ.

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Hebrews 6:12

Here’s the key. When we look at those who are leaders in the body of Christ, we must always understand the road that they took.

There’s no easy way. It’s not just about faith. Inheriting the promise comes through both faith and patience.

We think that we can simply start trusting God and walk in a ministry like those who’ve been trusting the Lord for years. It doesn’t work like that.

Imitation doesn’t only mean that I minister the way they do right now. It means that I follow the same path that they took to get there. I have to learn the same lessons and fight some of the same battles.

The good news is that if they could come through victoriously, then I can too. God is no respecter of persons. If I’m willing to listen to, trust, and obey God the way others do, then I’ll receive the same inheritance.

Question: What blessings are in your life as a result of godly examples?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2017 in Faith, Leadership, Spiritual Walk

 

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Spiritual Adolescence

SkateboardI’m continuing to post about the growth stages of the believer. Today I’m talking about spiritual adolescence.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the worse stage of growth whether you’re talking about the spiritual or the physical. If there was one point in my life I wouldn’t want to go back to, it would be my pre-teen and teenage years.

The problem with life as an adolescent is that you’re coming into the height of your adult strength and intelligence. Yet, you lack the experience and permission to do things on your own. You see the freedom and resources that adults enjoy, yet you’re locked into a world where you have to wait for your turn to experience it.

In many ways, this is the place that most of the modern church finds itself in. We understand what should be ours in Christ, but walking in it seems to elude us. We need to learn how to overcome and make it successfully through this stage of our Christian development.

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 4:14-16

In this passage, Paul urges his people to follow his example as a mature believer. That’s the toughest assignment for a growing Christian. It’s a very hard thing to move from a childish mindset to that of an adult.

There are behaviors that will work for children that adults will never get away with. The problem in most of the church is that we want the irresponsibility of childhood with the freedom and resources of adulthood. This will never happen.

There has to be a giving up of childish ways. We have to move into our role as mature followers of the risen Lord. Until this happens, we will never attain to our true potential in Christ.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

This verse should wake us up. Paul is writing to believers who are in the adolescent stage of their spiritual growth. They are saved and on their way to Heaven, but he tells them something that should get our attention. His burning desire is that Christ would be formed in them.

This is the Greek word morphoo. It’s where we get our English word morph. We hear this word a lot in dealing with computer graphics. When we see special effects in a movie, where one thing turns into something else, we say that it morphed. That’s the spiritual change that we’re looking for.

I want to let the world see a change in me. I want to “morph” into the same life that Christ lived. This is the point where the change happens that brings me from being a child to living as an adult.

In life it happens almost unnoticed. Then one day you see what you’re doing and realize you’re not a child anymore. As Christians, we need to go through this change on a spiritual level. This is what Christ is looking for in us.

Question: What stage of growth do you find yourself in right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Sonship, The Church

 

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Is Christ Really Our Example? #Christourexample

JesusI am posting about how Christ walked in the power of the Spirit.  He’s our example for a life of victory over the power of the enemy.

You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Acts 10:37-38

This was the theme throughout the ministry of Christ.  Whoever sought help to escape the enemy’s grasp was set free by the Lord.  The reason He could accomplish this is because His anointing was based upon the power of the Holy Spirit.  By the way, this is the same Holy Spirit who’s now resident in us.

So, the big question is why was He able to heal?  Was it because of the Old Testament promises that spoke of healing?  No, it was because God, the Holy Spirit, was with Him.  What we need to come to grips with is the fact that God wants to heal.  He doesn’t want anyone bound by the power of the enemy.

So we can see clearly that Jesus’ power was from the Spirit, not from the law.  It’s vitally important that we understand this truth.  This is the key.

To aid in our realization of this we’ll look at the best example that the Gospel record gives us.  We will go to the section of Scripture where the devil and Jesus have their first battle – in the wilderness.  The accounts of both Matthew and Luke, together, show the fullness of what happened during this time in Jesus’ life.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert…
Luke 4:1

The first thing that we see is that the Lord Jesus allowed Himself to be led by the Spirit.  That means that this encounter wasn’t an accident.  This event was part of the strategy for victory over sin.

…where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
Luke 4:2

When Jesus went into the wilderness His intention was to meet with the Father.  His desire was to fast and pray for the ministry He was about to begin.  In order to do this, Jesus fasted for forty days.

This brings up an interesting question.  How important to us is walking in God’s power?  How far are we willing to go to obtain it?  Are we willing to do a long term fast?  Spend time in the wilderness, away from all distractions, seeking God?  In most cases I see believers who live for themselves and are simply “trusting God for a breakthrough.”

If we want to see the results of Christ, we need to walk His walk.

Question: How far are you willing to go to walk in the power of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God

 

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God of Our Fathers

Psalm 22:4-5
In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.  They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

Today is the day set aside to honor our fathers.  We should especially look to the godly men who exemplified the Christian walk to us.  Those who went before us, leading the way.

Many of them had to walk through troubled times – be it economic, physical, or social.  Some had to go through the dangers of war, while others had to struggle for equality.  We must look to those whose strength came from the hand of God working in them.  They set for us an example of diligence and perseverance.  Let the legacy they left for us speak to our hearts and equip us for our race.

But even greater than their contribution to us, is the God that they served.  He is the ultimate Father that we look to.  When we look back and see what was accomplished by our God through the cooperation of our fathers, it gives us hope.  We need that same level of faith that they had.

God is still on the throne.  The same God who brought our fathers through their trials will safely lead us to victory.  His love for us was proven in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We must never forget where our help comes from.

Look to the faith of our fathers.  Then, as we follow their example, put that faith in the God of our fathers.  He will work in us the same way He worked in them.

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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