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Never Enough

Where do we get our fulfillment from? Many in our generation would like to tell us that we’re fulfilled by our accomplishments. If that’s the case, then why are so many accomplished people miserable, depressed, and even suicidal?

I’ve been posting about Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. In it, he gives us some insight into this question.

But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you — certainly I, Paul, did, again and again — but Satan stopped us. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

But first, before I talk about our fulfillment, I want to deal with the translation problem in this verse. Satan can’t stop us. The word Paul used in that verse literally means to cut in front of. It means to hinder or detain. So Satan didn’t stop Paul, and he can’t stop us, either!

Now, back to my main topic. In this small passage, Paul used four different words to describe what he received from the church at Thessalonica.

He says that he has hope – the expectation of great things – because of their faith. He was also filled with joy at the thought of what they were doing for Christ.

Paul then used the word glory, which means weight or importance. By looking at this church, Paul knew that what he was doing was important – it really mattered. He wasn’t just filling time.

These are all wonderful things, but what I really want to focus on is the crown Paul talks about. In the literal Greek, Paul calls it the crown of boasting. What makes this strange is that he is going to have this boasting in the presence of the Lord. Actually, there is a good kind of boasting.

But, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10:17-18

Here Paul tells us that our boasting should not be about what we’ve accomplished. Instead, it should be about what God has accomplished through us. Understanding the difference will determine whether you’re fulfilled or not.

The principle that we need to learn is that we were not created to accomplish anything on our own. We’re made as vessels for God to work through. My purpose is only fulfilled by what the Lord does in and through me.

That’s why when I look at what I’ve done; it never seems to be enough. There’s always something missing. No matter how great the accomplishment, I look at it and say, “Is that it?”

I am made to do the works of God by His Spirit. Anything less will never satisfy the inner longing. That’s why there are so many unsatisfied Christians. Even our salvation, all by itself, doesn’t quench that thirst. We must allow the Lord to accomplish His plan through us. Anything less will never bring us fulfillment.

Question: What has God done through you that you can boast about in Him?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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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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Mercy and Hope

ThroneI’m posting about the hope that we have in Christ. In my last article we saw that the living hope we receive is birthed in God’s mercy.

The problem I find is that many believers have no concept of what God’s mercy is. In our society we think of it as a “free pass” for something wrong that we’ve done. God can’t operate like that.

Every sin has to be paid for. That’s why Jesus had to go to the cross. Every sin, no matter how small it seemed, had to be laid upon Him.

Mercy is a whole different matter. If you do a word study of how mercy is used in Scripture, you’ll find a rich truth. In actuality, mercy is the favor God shows to His obedient children. That was brought out in the book of Hebrews.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

If I’ve been disobeying the Lord, then I definitely don’t have confidence in approaching His throne. But as I obey Him, He births in me a living hope. It will never die and never go stale. According to the Old Testament, His mercies are new every morning. This is something that helped the apostle Paul face his many trials.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.
2 Corinthians 4:16-17

In Christ we have a hope that’s birthed, brand new, each day. Why does God have to give us fresh hope each day? It’s important because…

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Proverbs 13:12

This verse literally says that old hope wears out your heart. So God keeps His hope alive and fresh each day if you’re walking obediently before Him.

In my last post we looked at a verse from Peter.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
1 Peter 1:3

It’s clear to see that this Living Hope is given through the resurrection. Our hope could never be alive if not for the resurrection. If God could raise Christ, then I can be raised as well.

That’s good news. Not only did Jesus take my sin with Him to the cross, but He rose from the dead as well. That proves that He has the power to accomplish His will in my life. This should inspire a fresh hope in us each day, as we spend time in His presence – before His throne.

Question: How does the Lord’s mercy and hope affect you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2016 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Sonship

 

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Our Living Hope

Cross SunsetI want to take a few posts to look at the hope we have that’s talked about in I Peter 1:6-9.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:6-7

This truth is seen all through the Bible. It’s one of those teachings that we don’t want to hear. The fact of the matter is that we will all face trials and challenges.

Yet in spite of all this we can walk in the joy of the Lord. It’s also good to know that in those trials our faith being perfected.

In all of this, Peter understands that there’s a problem we face.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9

The problem is that we don’t see the Lord. Because we can’t see Him we must operate by faith. We have to trust in His Word to us.

Of course faith always has a goal. Our goal is to see God’s life-changing power at work in us. Because we look to this goal by faith, it inspires hope – expectation – in our hearts.

As we continue to walk with Christ, we learn more about His ways. This causes us to love Him more and more.

So actually, the trials of life are foundational to our spiritual growth. They produce faith, hope and love in us as we continue to look to the Lord. These are the three essentials that we can’t live without if we want to live a life pleasing to God.

Of all the apostles, Peter had the best handle on this. When it came to persevering under trials, there was no one else like him. When Paul and Silas were in jail they had to start singing to keep their spirits up. When Peter was in prison, chained between two guards, he actually fell asleep!

The question is; how can I rejoice in trials? The secret is in the verses before these.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
1 Peter 1:3

We’ve been given a Living Hope, an expectation of what God’s going to accomplish in and through us. It’s this living hope that causes rejoicing in the trials. The prophet Jeremiah understood this truth.

O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.
Jeremiah 17:13

He knew that the hope of Israel was the Lord, as the spring of living water. Israel missed it. I don’t want to miss it.

It’s clear from the above verse that the Lord’s mercy gives birth to a Living Hope. Hope is birthed in His mercy. In my next posts I’m going to expand on this thought.

Question: How has placing your hope in Christ changed your outlook?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Scriptural Meditation – Unlocking Your Anointing

MoonThis is the final post on the three levels of godly meditation. It’s a missing ingredient in the church today.

My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.
Psalm 119:148

The Hebrew word for meditate in this verse is Siyach, which means to speak to oneself. This is the highest and most anointed form of meditation. This is where you actually start preaching (out loud) to yourself.

This type of meditation causes the insight and wisdom of the Holy Spirit to flow through you in an incredible way. I’ve gotten some of the most beautiful revelations of Scripture as I meditated (preached to myself) before God.

How does this work? The first thing you must do is find a quiet, out of the way place, where you can be by yourself. Then, out loud, begin to preach to yourself concerning the Scripture you’re meditating on. Just let it flow from your inner man. Don’t forget to bring paper and pen to write down the revelation you’ll receive.

You may think, “This is weird! It’s crazy to preach to myself.”   Actually, just the opposite is true. Psychiatrists tell us that the most well-balanced people are the ones who speak to themselves – and know that they’re speaking to themselves!

Most of the anointing to preach or teach is dependent upon the expectation level of the listeners. There were times in Jesus, ministry when He hardly did any miracles because the expectation of the people was so low.

During this type of meditation, the Holy Spirit’s anointing to teach is as strong as when you are before a crowd of expecting believers. This is because, if you’re expecting to hear from God, you’re drawing upon your own anointing. It’s a very awesome place to be in.

The Lord will then start to open up the Word to you prophetically.   When I meditate in this fashion, I usually have to keep stopping to take notes. You’ll find more of the Word opening up to you, the longer you meditate in the Lord’s presence.

This is such an incredible source of revelation from the Word of God that I’m convinced, like David, that you too will spend many nights awake upon your bed receiving insight and revelation from the Spirit of God. I know this happens to me from time to time. Rather than it being a burden, the study of the Word becomes exciting, because you never know what to expect or when to expect it.

Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.
Psalm 119:97-99

Once you enter into this level of meditation, you have a source of instruction that goes beyond what you learned from others. No longer do you need to rely on the next conference to get fresh revelation from the Lord. You’ll have a source of insight that you can tap into by yourself.

As for me, I’m not content just to repeat what everyone else is saying. I want a Word from the Lord. I want it fresh, vital, and relevant. I want it to speak to my situation and to the lives of those who are listening to me.

I need to draw on the supernatural revelation of God. This is what meditation on the Word is all about. My prayer for you is that you enter into the fullness of the Word that God has for you.

Question: What insights have you learned through the use of Scriptural meditation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

This series was adapted from my book, Breaking Free from the Pack – How to Develop a Spirit of Excellence.

 

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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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How to Discover a New World

I have been posting about faith lately.  Our faith is seen in our choices.  As we learn new things about Christ, we then have a choice whether to believe it or not.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

We looked at this verse in my last post.  I said that being sure meant that our faith is a support to our expectations in Christ.  So each time I learn something new about Christ, and make the choice to believe it – I add a new support structure.  As long as this continues, my walk with the Lord grows.

The above verse also says that faith is being certain of what we do not see.  The word translated as certain means proof or discovery.

Faith, then, is the discovery of things not seen.  Notice that the writer of Hebrews did not say it was the discovery of things invisible.  Rather, faith is the discovery of things you haven’t seen.

We say that Columbus discovered America.  We understand that the New World was not invisible; it just couldn’t be seen from Europe.  Through a series of choices Columbus got to a place where he could see it.

In the same way, you can discover new worlds of faith in Christ.  You may not have known that the Lord paid the price for your healing.  Through a series of choices, you came to a healing service.  While there, you hear a message that touched your spirit proclaiming Christ as Healer.

As the Holy Spirit works in you, you choose to accept this truth by faith.  Now your faith is the proof, the discovery, of that which was not seen.

The things that God has prepared for me are not invisible; I’m just not in a place where I can see them.  Faith is the proof I need that they are there.

But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all…
1 Corinthians 14:24

When we let God speak through us, an amazing thing happens.  Someone may hear the message that has not yet accepted Christ.  He discovers that he’s a sinner.  If he embraces this new discovery, he can make the choice to cross over into the kingdom of God.

Faith is always discovery and response.  As I respond in faith to each new revelation, I lay hold of a new support.  Each positive response helps me to climb a little higher.  We must continue to live out this faith-walk and let God complete His work in us.

Question: What was the most recent discovery that added to your faith-walk?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2012 in Faith

 

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