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Leaders and Followers

I’ve been looking at Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church.  As one of the first New Testament Scriptures written, it has a lot of foundational principles for us.  One of these has to do with church leadership.

Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.  Live in peace with each other.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

The word translated respect in this verse means to know by seeing, watching and observing.  We are to focus upon those who we know are our leaders in the Lord.  In this way, we can observe the direction we’re to be heading.

This verse is important for us to hear.  It tells us some of the jobs that God expects His leaders to perform.

The verse tells us that our leaders are to admonish us.  That literally means that they’re to put things into our minds.  By observing them, we learn what we’re to be accomplishing for Christ.  We also learn what to be careful for.

Too often we don’t want to be led.  We want to make our own choices without anybody else’s input. Then we get in trouble because we miss out on the insight that only comes through experience.

But how exactly do we focus on each other so that we all keep in step with what God’s doing?  We see a great example of this in Scripture, when Paul was first saved and he met with the Apostles in Jerusalem.

James, Peter, and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me.  They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.
Galatians 2:9

This is an interesting verse.  When they met together, the Apostles understood how the Lord works.  They didn’t expect Paul to operate exactly the way they did.

It says that they recognized the grace that Paul had been given.  This is a spiritual perception that comes from time with the Holy Spirit.

Too often we take a “cookie-cutter” approach to ministry.  We find what God is calling us to do and we run with it.  But, because it works well for us, we make the assumption that everybody should be ministering the same way that we do.

That’s foolish.  We’re all different.  Not only that, but we’re all called to reach different people.  What you do in your ministry will never work to reach those I’m called to deal with.

It’s the Holy Spirit who organizes what we do.  That’s why it’s so important to let Him take the lead in showing us how to minister.

I must be able to watch what you’re doing for Christ and recognize the grace that’s operating through you.  Then, even seeing the differences, we can still march together in unity.

Unity and fellowship are all about knowing our place in the body of Christ.  It not only means that I recognize those marching next to me.  I need to see those who are marching in front of me, leading me. I also need to recognize the ones behind me, who are following my example.

Only then can we accomplish all that the Lord has for us to do.

Questions: Who are the leaders you are following?  Who are those that are following you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on July 5, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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5 Ways to Keep Your Vision #vision

MountainDo you have vision – a God given goal that you desire to achieve for His glory?  If you do, then the worst thing that could happen is for you to lose sight of it.  Without a clear vision, you end up floundering around and accomplishing nothing of significance.

The Scripture gives us the tools we need to keep our vision clearly in focus.  Then as we keep our priorities in check, we will eventually arrive at our destiny in Christ.

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.  For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:2-3

This verse gives us five principles that will help keep our vision strong.

1. Write it down.

One of the biggest problems we face as human beings is our tendency to forget.  We hear a Word from God.  We make a commitment to walk in it.  A year later we don’t even remember it.

A spiritual journal is a great way to keep your walk with God on track.  You must record what you prayed about, what God spoke to your heart, and decisions you’ve made.  Then, take the time to review it periodically.

2. Make it plain.

Serving God doesn’t have to be complicated.  You need to see where you’re headed in clear, simple words.  Only then can you break it up into small manageable pieces.

It doesn’t matter how unreachable it seems to be right now.  I had a Pastor who would always ask us, “How do you eat an elephant?”  His answer was, “One bite at a time.”  A vision that’s written down in clear, plain terms will always be easier to achieve.

3. Run with it.

Of course, having a vision doesn’t really help if you never do anything about it.  There has to be some action taken.  Once you know where you’re headed, start moving forward.

Don’t let fear, intimidation, or a low self-image keep you from pursuing your dream.  It’s not about whether you can accomplish it or not.  It’s about what God can do through you.

4. Wait for it.

This is sometimes the hardest part.  Once you’ve done everything you know to do, it’s time to wait for the Lord to do His part.  Timing is everything.  We need to understand that there is a divine appointment with God.

He knows the times and the seasons we’re going through.  We want to blindly rush forward.  The Bible is clear that in order to obtain the prize, we must walk in patience.

5. Walk in faith.

After everything is said and done, it all comes down to faith.  Do you trust God for the outcome?  Remember that it’s not how things look on the surface that matters.  It’s what God has spoken that will ultimately prevail.

Continue to hide His Word in your heart and trust Him to bring it to completion.

These are the principles that will keep your vision clear and focused, no matter what challenges come your way.

Question: What’s the next step you’ll take to move toward your God-given assignment?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 3, 2014 in Faith, Ministry

 

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Your Thought Life

Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.

This is one of the most important areas of your life.  It will either make or break you.  It’s always interesting to see what people do with their “down time”.  I’m talking about the time during the day that you’re not having to concentrate on what you are doing.

This is the time that you’re getting dressed, driving to work, or doing other things that don’t require a lot of thought.  These are times where you have nothing but your own thoughts to keep you company.  Using the time wisely can be very challenging.

Of course, with many people, this time is filled by their I-pod, radio, or cell phone.  The last thing this society wants is to think too deeply.  Like it or not, we need to take the time to think about important issues.

It has become abundantly clear to me through the Word of God and my own experience that what you meditate on during these times will ultimately shape your character.  If you are to achieve the maximum benefit from this, then you need to focus on what is spiritual – the Word of God, God’s calling on your life, and songs of praise and worship.

As these thoughts start to fill your mind, a change starts to take place in your heart.  You start to be drawn upward to God.  This idle time will now become a time of spiritual growth, renewal, and refreshing.

Take the opportunity today to turn off the external “noise”.  Begin to steer your thoughts toward the things of the Lord.  Discover the power you need for living as you fill your heart with the only thoughts that can bring lasting change to your life.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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Transformation

Isaiah 55:12-13
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.  This will be for the LORD’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”

We have the power to transform our world.  It would be an amazing thing if we could see this verse happening as we going about our daily tasks.

I have mentioned that I enjoy hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  There is a portion of this trail in Pennsylvania that traverses a barren, polluted wasteland.  It became that way because of the carelessness of man’s industry.  Nothing grows there, and you cannot drink the water.  You just want to get through it as quickly as possible.  It is an ugly scar on the earth.

What a joy it would be to see it blossom with new life before our very eyes.  Unfortunately, the literal fulfillment of this verse will have to wait for the coming of Jesus Christ to establish His kingdom on earth.

The good news is that there is another way to bring this verse to life.  We can fulfill this every day in the area of our attitude.  That is what makes all the difference in our outlook. It can change our whole view of the world around us.

If we are always looking for problems, disappointments, and sorrows, we will see plenty of them in this world.  But, on the other hand, if we are looking to see God’s Spirit at work, opportunities for ministry and things to praise God for – this attitude will transform our world.  We will see it change from thorn bushes and roadblocks to myrtle trees and singing mountains.

Transform your world today.  Renew your attitude in the presence of the Lord.  Let Him realign your focus so that you see His goodness and grace, instead of your problems.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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By the River

Ezekiel 1:1
In the thirtieth year, in the fourth month on the fifth day, while I was among the exiles by the Kebar River, the heavens were opened and I saw visions of God.

I find that there is something about being by a river that refreshes you.  The noise of the rushing water has a soothing effect on the senses.  Many people use the sound of water as a background noise in their homes.  It seems to have the ability to calm everything down.

At this time in Ezekiel’s life, he was in the wilderness by the Kebar River.  He was there as an exile from his own country.  Yet, he was able to focus in on God.  It says clearly that as he was by that river, he saw visions of God.

No matter what you are going through, you need to find a place that is conducive to meeting with God.  You should learn the places and conditions that calm your soul.  These are the places that will really benefit your time in God’s presence.

The Lord can take a quiet, undistracted heart and renew vision, impart faith, and give direction.  You may never see the heavens open up like Ezekiel did, but all it will take is one word from God to turn your whole world around.

Spend some time in His presence today quietly listening to hear His voice.  Be open to the soft, gentle leading of His Spirit.  Allow yourself to be renewed and refreshed in His presence.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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