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Godly Imitation

They say that imitation is a form of flattery.  I’ve found that I learn things best when I can watch someone else do it first.  This is just as true in our Christian walk.

In his exhortations to the Corinthian church, Paul tells them their need to follow after his way of life.

Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 4:16

In serving Christ, it’s always beneficial to have a mature, godly example to follow.  In that way, we can see how this walk is lived out.

I praise the Lord for the Scripture.  It’s a blessing that His written Word is so accessible to us as believers.  But there’s so much in the Word that I have a hard time applying.

I need to see an example of how it operates in someone’s life on a continual basis.  I’m talking about someone through whom the love and power of Christ are operating consistently.

Of course, there are those that I look at and by their lives, they teach me what NOT to do.  However, this post isn’t about the negative examples in our lives, but the positive.

Paul saw that over time the Corinthian church had lost sight of the things that he had tried to get across to them.  In their struggle to do things their way, they had missed the clear path of the Gospel that Paul preached to them.  Now they were in need of correction.

For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord.  He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
1 Corinthians 4:17

This verse is very important for us to see and understand.  It should remind us of something that was written in the Gospels.  On different occasions in Jesus’ ministry, a voice was heard from Heaven saying, “This is the Son I love, listen to Him.”

Now we see the Apostle Paul saying the same thing about Timothy.  He adds that Timothy is faithful in the Lord.  That’s an important thing for us to understand.

We know that Christ only did those things that He saw of the Father.  Then, after the Lord’s ascension, the apostles did what they had seen in Jesus.  Now, they’re exhorting the church to follow in they’re footsteps.

Paul knew that Timothy was faithfully living out the Christian walk that Paul had preached to the church.  He was now sending his spiritual son to remind the Corinthians how that walk was to be lived out.

With Paul, he wasn’t just preaching theory on how to follow Christ.  He had experienced the walk of maturity.  He knew what it would take to be faithful to the Lord.

The Corinthian church had heard the message but treated it as a suggestion.  As a result, their church was wallowing in divisions and power struggles.  They weren’t able to fully proclaim the Gospel of Christ.  They needed to get back on track, spiritually speaking.

The only way for the church to course-correct was for each individual believer to submit to Christ’s lordship.  Then, as each person follows God’s plan, the church is back where it should be.

That’s why it’s so important for us to seek out and watch the lives of mature believers.  Even as a pastor, I need to watch the lives of those who are further along in Christ than I am.  In that way, we can see the growth that only comes through godly imitation.

Question: Who do you know that you can follow their example of a mature walk with God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2019 in Leadership, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Jesus Describes Himself

JesusJesus reveals Himself to the church in many different ways. It all depends upon what we need to see. Look at how He describes Himself to the pastor (angel, messenger) of a church in a town called Laodicea.

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.”
Revelation 3:14

The Lord reveals Himself in three ways. First, He shows Himself as the Amen. The literal translation of that word throughout the New Testament is so be it.

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
II Corinthians 1:19-20

It’s through Christ that the Amen is spoken to all the promises of God. So many times we don’t understand why promises seem to be delayed.

Our first response is, “Well, maybe it’s not God’s will for me.” Scripture is clear. If you’re in Christ you already have the yes and the so be it.

It’s no longer a matter of if, but of God’s timing – which, by the way, seems to be on a different level than our timing. Just remember, when it comes to His revealed will as recorded in His Word, we need unwavering faith to trust in Him no matter what the situation looks like.

He also reveals Himself as the Faithful and True Witness. He’s the One we can totally rely upon. He’s the only One worthy of putting your complete faith and trust in.

Not only is He true and genuine, the Lord is truth, the Word of God made flesh. It’s important, however, to understand how He’s a witness. What is it that the Lord is a witness to? The answer to that question makes all the difference.

God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
Romans 1:9-10

Over and over again in the New Testament we’re told that God is a witness to all that we do. We may be able to hide our activities from other people, but not from God. This should give us a motive to serve God with all of our hearts.

This is because the Lord is our attorney at the judgment seat. Granted, that in Christ we will not be in danger of Hell, but our rewards are dependent upon His testimony. Remember this – He is the faithful and true Witness. He will not whitewash your actions or cover up your wrong doings.

The testimony of Christ will be perfectly correct and accurate. If you want your rewards to be great, then you must live your life at the highest level for the Lord.

Finally, He shows Himself to be the Ruler of God’s creation. Everything was made by Him and for Him. He is the Origin and Source of the universe.

Therefore, the Lord is also the Owner. He has complete sovereignty over all there is. We must acknowledge that He’s in charge and we are not. It’s God’s plan that we follow His lead and not seek after our own petty desires.

Question: What are the ways in which Christ revealed Himself to you in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Abraham’s Heritage of Unbelief

Dry2How do you compare to Abraham? We read about men like Abraham, Noah, and Moses and think they were somehow different from us. Kind of like a higher breed of human – much more godly than we could ever be.

We look at our lives, where we came from, the baggage we carry with us, and we think that we can never be like them.

“If only we were more like them, then we could accomplish great things for God.”

That kind of thinking only serves to make you ineffective as a child of God.

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
Genesis 12:1-2

Many people think that God called Abraham out of the blue – without any warning. They think that the calling of God isn’t based upon any past history. This is simply not the case.

Actually, we’re more like the faithful men and women of the Bible than we think. I want to take a couple of posts to show what Abraham’s family history was like. He had to go against his upbringing in order to follow God. Like us, it would have been easier for him to just ignore God and go on business as usual.

Do we have a double standard when it comes to our children? We want the best for them. What about where faith is concerned? Abraham’s family had to wrestle with this.

When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber.
Genesis 11:14

Shelah was an ancestor of Abraham – 7 generations before he was born. He was given a name which meant the spear of attack. Interesting name…his parents must have seen great things in his future. Actually, we know that Shelah had a deep relationship with the Lord. God spoke to him just like He called out to many in this family line.

Long before Abraham was called, Shelah was given the same orders as Abraham. He was told to leave his home to follow God’s leading. The difference is that he never left everything to follow God’s voice.

How do I know this? Instead of leaving his home, he named his son Eber – which means the land across the river. He must have reasoned, “I can’t go, but I’ll have my son obey God’s call.” It turns out that Eber didn’t leave home either.

Procrastination can keep you from God’s best. The fact is that this incident happened before the Tower of Babel. That means that it was before the giants moved into the Promised Land. God’s people could have had it free and clear with no wars or struggles – if they had obeyed God immediately.

We need to learn this lesson. The quicker we obey God, the easier it is to see the outcome He’s planned for us. If there’s something you were meaning to do for God, but were putting it off – now is the time. Don’t wait any longer. Obey God’s call; you’ll be glad you did.

Question: How have you experienced the blessing that come from obeying God quickly?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2015 in Encouragement, Faith, Word of God

 

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Respond to the Call

 

PowerlessThis is my last post in the series about your callings in Christ. We need to be faithful to the whole calling that God has placed upon us.

It all comes down to a question of motivation. Are you out to please God and to fulfill His plan? If so, then you must seek the Lord as to where His agenda is to be fulfilled in your life.

I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.
Isaiah 42:6

What we need to see is that responding to our personal call is not optional. It’s a part of God’s righteousness for our lives. Salvation is a package deal and calling is a large part of it. How can we ever expect to live satisfying and fulfilled lives if we never bother to find out the purpose for which we were created? If you want to walk in righteousness, then you must find and walk in your calling.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:28-32

What a precious promise! God can and will use all things for our good, but there’s a condition. You must be called according to His purpose. Just knowing a piece and doing your own thing to fill in the gaps is not enough. The reason is clear – you’re not really called unless you’ve heard the call.

God has a calling for everyone, but unless His call reaches your spiritual ears, there’s no clear call upon your life. Without that clear call, you’re like a ship out on the raging ocean with no rudder. You’ll find yourself at the mercy of the wind and waves, instead of the supernatural guidance of the Lord.

The Apostle Peter wrote an excellent statement that should be our attitude concerning the call God has for each of us.

Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
II Peter 1:10-11

Finding our calling in the Lord should never just be an exercise in obedience, only done because God says that we should. On the contrary, there should be an eagerness and expectancy that comes from the knowledge that finding your calling is what you were born for. Every blessing that God has for you is wrapped up in your call. Every provision and resource Heaven offers is at your disposal in order to complete that which God has assigned you to do.

Make sure you also seek God for the method and the location where He wants you to fulfill your call. Only then will you have your election, your qualification for service, made sure. Spend the time in God’s presence that it requires, moving you forward into your destiny in Christ.

Question: How well do you understand what you’re called to do by the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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Are You a Prodigal Son?

DonkeyIn Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-52) there are actually two prodigals. Both sons disappointed the father. If I can understand the problem, then I can walk in a way that’s pleasing to God.

You’re probably wondering why I said that both of the sons disappointed the father. Most people teach that only the younger son was in the wrong. Actually, they both had the same problem, they just handled it differently.

The Scripture shows that the two sons had an incorrect view of their relationship to the father. After spending all of his inheritance, the younger brother made this statement.

‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
Luke 15:18-19

He had lived his life on the assumption that his father wanted him to be a servant. As a result, he broke free by demanding his inheritance and leaving home.

The older brother had the same view of his father. But instead of leaving, he lived under it his whole life. It all came out when the younger brother returned and the father wanted to know why the older brother didn’t want to celebrate.

But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.’
Luke 15:29

Did you hear him?

“All these years I’ve been your servant.”

Both sons were under the assumption that the father wanted them as slaves. Nothing was further from the truth. The father was looking for faithful sons who he could entrust all of his possessions to.

It’s the same in our walk with the Lord. How do you see yourself? Do you think that God wants you for a slave? If so, then you’re headed down the same road as the prodigal.

You might turn out like the older brother and spend your life in frustration thinking that God’s treating you unfairly. Or you may respond like the younger, giving up on serving God altogether.

The truth is that God doesn’t want you to be His slave. He’s looking for mature sons and daughters who will carry out His will on the earth.

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:6-7

Our goal should be to learn how to mature in Christ. To be a faithful representative of the Lord on earth. The Father is looking for adult sons and daughters who will live according to the leading of His Spirit in us.

Question: How does laying aside the slave mentality help you in your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Legalism, Sonship

 

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Leadership – The Point of no Return

FinishIn my last post, I talked about being faithful to your calling. I started with the following verse.

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
I Corinthians 4:1-2

This should be very meaningful to church leaders. We are described as those entrusted with the secret things of God. The picture Paul uses here is that of a manager or steward.

In the Greek it’s a compound word, house-distributor. God has given us a trust, not only to receive deep things from the Lord, but also to distribute them.

This steward was the hired hand who oversaw the whole household operation in the master’s stead. He was the one responsible for its smooth efficiency. Again, if I’m going to fulfill this part of my role as a leader, I’m going to need to look to Christ as my model for the ministry.

Even after you’ve done all of this to the best of your ability, the Scripture says that there’s still one more thing that is required – faithfulness. You must be faith-ful. That means that someone can put his or her faith in you.

We always talk about having faith in the Lord. Rightly so – there’s no other person in the universe more worthy than He is to receive our faith. The problem is that we’re called to be just like Him. We are to be people who are faithful in the same way that He is faithful.

I’ve found that faithfulness in the ministry is hard to come by these days. Please realize I’m not talking about faithful works, but faithfulness to the call that has been placed before us.

It seems that many pastors and leaders have bought into the myth that’s being fostered in corporate America. They’re constantly updating their resume. That way they’re able to jump ship at the first sign of trouble or whenever a “better opportunity” arises.

We, as God’s people, have got to come back to the realization that success in ministry is not climbing a ladder; it’s following the clear call and leading of Christ.

For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men.
I Corinthians 4:9

More and more I’m beginning to understand what Paul was writing about here. He’s not griping about the problems he’s facing in the ministry. On the contrary, he’s becoming aware of a fact that everyone in ministry must face.

He says that he feels like a man doomed to die in the arena. He’s just like a professional fighter who knows that he’ll always fight until the day his life will end.

If you’re going to be an effective leader, you’ll have to come to grips with the fact that you’ve made it past the point of no return. You need to know within yourself that there’s no going back. This calling is for good – there’s no safety net – you are going to “die in the arena” of ministry.

Question: Why is there such a temptation to quit the ministry when things get tough?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in Leadership, The Church

 

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The Key to Leadership

KeyWe need godly leadership in the body of Christ.  But what’s the greatest character trait that a leader needs?  Here’s one that I think is high on the list.

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.  Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
I Corinthians 4:1-2

The Apostle Paul wrote this section of Scripture to encourage spiritual leaders to be faithful to their calling.  He’s talking to those who work in the ministry.

The word regard means, to account or to take inventory.  In essence, we’re told that when other people take inventory of our lives as leaders, it should be obvious to them that we are servants of Christ.  It should be just as obvious that we’ve been entrusted with the secret things of God.

Unfortunately, what should be is not always what happens in reality.  There’s some uncertainty in Paul’s writing because he uses the phrase men ought to.  This means that he faced the same problem in his generation that we have today.  There are many leaders who don’t live up to their high calling in Christ.

The issue should be as clear to those around us as it was to the members of the Sanhedrin in the book of Acts.  It says that when meeting with the apostles they took note that these men had been with Jesus.  The apostles talked, ministered, and acted like Jesus.

That should be our testimony as well.  It’s sad that in many parts of the church, ministry has fallen short of from this ideal.

But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.  When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32

In context Paul is teaching on the subject of the Lord’s Supper.  He makes it clear, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that if we would only take the time to judge ourselves we would not come under judgment.

When will we learn this simple lesson?  We wait for condemnation to come on us from the outside before we’ll take a long, hard, and honest look at ourselves.  Then, when we’re criticized for our failure to follow in the footsteps of Christ, it seems to be easier to get defensive than to take stock of our own lives.

We should be constantly comparing ourselves to the ministry of the Lord.  Only in that way can we be assured that we’re adequately portraying the role of a leader.

In the verse, from I Corinthians 4 above, Paul uses the word servant.  It actually refers to an under-oarsman.  Like those responsible for propelling the ship forward, we have a shared ministry with Christ.

Leaders need to be supplying vision to the people.  The church should have a forward momentum because of our commitment as those who lead.  In most cases, if a rowboat isn’t moving, the problem lies with the oarsman.

It’s up to us, as those in ministry, to set the speed and direction as ordered by Christ.

Questions: What are your areas of ministry?  How do you submit those areas to Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2014 in Leadership, The Church

 

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