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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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4 Traits of a Godly Woman

Pray1This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. As it approaches, I’m thankful for the godly women in my life. I’m thankful for my wife who stands beside me, and works with me in ministry.

Then there’s my grandmother – the first in her family to come to Christ and my mother, who faithfully made us attend church whenever the doors were open. Lastly, my daughters, who have now picked up the torch of Christ and continue our legacy of faith.

What is it that qualifies a woman as “godly?”

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
Titus 2:3

I believe that by using the word older here, Paul is talking about older in the faith. It’s someone who has experience in serving God.

1. Godly women seek maturity.

This should come naturally in our walk with the Lord. It should always be our goal to grow up in Christ. It’s normal for a child to want adulthood.

The word reverent is interesting in the above verse. In the Greek it’s a compound word. The first part of it means to be outwardly consecrated to God, sacred. In a way, it’s one step down from holiness. The word emphasizes the outward look.

2. Godly women live for Christ outwardly.

There’s an outward display of godliness. Can people tell that you’re dedicated to God by your actions, your words, or the way you work? Is there an outward show of Christ? The faith of a godly woman should be obvious to those around her.

The second part of the compound word means to tower up.

It’s one thing to be dedicated to God. It’s another to “tower up” for God. A tower assumes that you’re higher than the surrounding landscape. A tower is conspicuous.

3. Godly women live for Christ unhidden.

Jesus talked about us living for Him like a city on a hill.

“If I live like that I’ll be noticed.”

That’s how we are to live. This requires us to be careful in what we say and do. You have to count the cost of this type of lifestyle. I’m talking about living radically for Christ.

The last thing I see in the above verse is the phrase, in the way they live. It literally says the position or condition of their life. The grace you receive from God is always based on position. You need to be in the position of building up a tower of outward consecration to God.

4. Godly women are positioned to build.

She is building a life sold out to the Lord. But she is also building up the faith of those around her. The foundation is Christ. The rest of the materials come from her obedience to the call of God that’s upon her.

Praise the Lord for the example and faithfulness of godly women in the body of Christ.

Questions: Who are the godly women in your life? How will you honor them this Mother’s Day?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Encouragement, 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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Are We Creating a Church Full of Liars? #praiseandworship

Music SmokeFirst, let me say that I feel privileged that the Lord has me living in this period of history.  We’re at such an exciting time in the body of Christ.  It’s my desire to be at the cutting edge of what the Lord’s doing in His people.

One of the areas I see this, is in praise and worship.  This generation has given rise to worship leaders who reached new heights in their songs and choruses.  Singing some of these new songs opens up my spirit to the deeper work of God in me.

That being said, there’s a negative aspect to this as well.  I’ve found that marginal, shallow believers, singing those same songs, have replaced singing for experience.

Just because I sing, “Jesus, You are everything,” doesn’t necessarily means that it’s true in my life.  The Lord saw this as a problem in Israel.

“What do you think?  There was a man who had two sons.  He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing.  He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.  For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did.  And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”
Matthew 21:28-32

The Pharisees that Jesus was talking to looked like they were serving God, but in truth they were after their own agenda.  They needed to be shocked back to reality.

Please understand; I realize that in many instances we need to sing and praise “higher” than our current level.  In our hearts we’re aspiring to a deeper walk in Christ and these songs push us to press in to the manifestation of it.  I have no problem with that.

My concern is over the Christians who are in denial.  They’re living for themselves and think that singing about a powerful walk with God is the same as experiencing it.

Somehow, like in Christ’s ministry, we need to communicate the difference to our people.  This needs to be done with love, sensitivity, and respect.  Then we’ll see the affects that these songs should truly be working in all of God’s people.

Question: What are some praise and worship songs that have caused you to grow in Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Ministry, Music, The Church

 

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Healing 101 – Sickness and God’s Will

PillsThroughout both the Bible, God equates sickness with the sin nature.  His treatment of sickness is the same as His treatment of sin – total removal.  In my last post we saw that Jesus taught that sickness was a manifestation of sin.  During His ministry He went about removing sickness.

This proves that sickness is never God’s will for your life.  In the Gospels, there’s no evidence that Jesus refused to heal anybody for any reason.

To prove that God wants you to remain sick, all you have to do is find a verse where Jesus said, “I’m sorry.  I would really like to heal you, but it’s the Father’s will that you bring glory to Him by remaining sick.”

There’s nowhere in the Bible where Jesus ever touched someone and said, “Be blind.  I need to teach you something that you can’t learn any other way.”

You will not find it.  It’s not there.  Jesus healed everyone who came to Him.

What about the apostles?

As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.
Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.
Acts 5:15-16

When the apostles prayed – ALL WERE HEALED!  There are some who say that this was just the infancy of the church.  God wanted to start things off with a bang; a lot of healings right at the beginning to get people’s attention.

So really what these people are saying is that God thought, “I’ll get everybody healed now, to get them excited about the church.  Then, once they get going, I’ll show them what I’m really like.”

The God I serve does not change!  He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.  Look at the testimony from the end of the book of Acts when Paul was shipwrecked on the island of Malta.  During that time he met an official named Publius.

His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.
When this had happened, the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.
Acts 28:8-9

All were healed!  What about the next generation of believers?

Based upon my studies, I believe that the book of James was the first book of the New Testament to be written.  It’s our first glimpse into the teaching of the church.  What does Pastor James tell us about the ministry of healing that took place among his people?

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up.  If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
James 5:14-15

According to James, all the sick, not just some, could go to the elders and expect to be healed.  Not maybe or most of the time.

We know that confessing sin brings forgiveness.  James only mentioned that once.  He declared the fact of healing twice.

Just because this isn’t our experience, doesn’t make it any less of God’s will.

We need to relearn our knowledge of God’s plan.  God is teaching this truth to the church right now.  We need to trust God for the total restoration of this gift to the church.

Question: Why is it easier to believe that God forgives sin than for Him to heal the sick?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2014 in Healing

 

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Majesty

Psalm 36:5-6
Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.  Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep.  O LORD, you preserve both man and beast.

The majesty of nature is indescribable.  I have taken pictures and videos of mountains, lakes, and rivers that have left me breathless.  Yet when I return home and look at them, they don’t come close to the experience of actually being there.  Nothing gives you the sense of wonder like standing in the wild and experiencing the real thing.

It is the same with God’s love, His faithfulness, His righteousness, and His justice.  You can read about it in the Bible.  You can tell about how God has poured them into your life.  Yet, until someone actually experiences these things for themselves, they will never really understand the full impact.

God is a person.  He can be described and read about.  But there is only one way to fully appreciate His awesome majesty.  You must come face to face with Him for yourself.

Take the time to enter the presence of the Lord.  Worship and praise Him for who He is and what He has done in your life.  Let His majesty overwhelm you the same as a view of mountains and lakes. Experience God today in the beauty of His holiness.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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