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Called to Become

The next encounter we have in Mark’s gospel is the calling of the four fishermen.  I’m referring to Andrew, Peter, James, and John.

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets.  Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Mark 1:16-20

In this narrative, we’re only given the outline of what happened.  It should be obvious from human nature and the accounts in the other gospels that this was not the first time these men had met Jesus.  No one will leave their family business because an unknown man walks by and asks them to follow Him.

On the contrary, there was already a relationship that had formed between these five men.  Jesus had been preaching and healing the sick throughout the area.  At one point, Peter even let Jesus use his boat as a pulpit.  They knew the Lord’s ministry.

We know from John’s gospel, that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist.  He had heard John’s testimony of Jesus being the Messiah.  He had met with Christ in private, and then Andrew introduced his brother Peter to Him.

This was not just a “cold call” on the part of the Lord.  It was the culmination of an ongoing relationship.  They knew who it was that was calling them.  They wanted what Christ was offering.

But what was the Lord promising them?  It’s a very interesting way to invite someone.  There are two important phrases that Jesus says to them.  The first is; I will make you.

He told them that if they’d fall in behind Him, He’d do a work in their lives.  I think that’s the key, even for us.  It’s our job to follow – that’s all.  Too often we get the idea that we need to work on changing ourselves.  Then we get frustrated with the results.

If I’m willing to spend time in the Lord’s presence, through the Holy Spirit, He’ll bring about the changes needed in my life.  That’s where the power is.  It’s clear from Scripture that only the spirit can control the flesh.

The second phrase is not apparent in this English translation.  It’s the phrase; to become.  The original Greek reads; I will make you to become fishers of men.  I believe this means it’s a process, not an instant change.

God has a calling on your life and mine.  He wants us to become something for His glory.  I wish that the transformation was instant, the day I bowed my knee to Him as Lord.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way.

There’s a growing process involved.  I follow behind Christ.  I spend time in the spirit.  Over time, the work of God’s grace becomes evident in my life.  Eventually, I become what I was created to be.

It was like that with these disciples.  They had their rough spots.  Sometimes it looked like they’d never get there.  But after the day of Pentecost, they turned their world upside-down for the glory of Christ.

Let this speak to you.  Follow behind Christ.  Be patient.  Don’t get frustrated that the changes in your life aren’t happening as quickly as you’d like them to.  Become a disciple of Christ through the work of His Holy Spirit in you.

Question: What are some changes that are already evident in your life since you started following Christ?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Imitation and Leadership

I’ve been sharing about First Thessalonians. In my last post we saw how the Gospel is more than just words. It’s the power of God demonstrated to those around us.

Paul made a statement that I want to go back to. It was at the end of the verse we looked at last time.

You know how we lived among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 1:5b

This verse shows us an important part of our spiritual growth. It’s something that we don’t think about too often these days. That is; how do my actions affect you?

Immaturity will say, “I don’t care what you think, I’m going to do what I want anyway.” But as we grow in Christ we realize that what we do has an effect upon those who see us.

Please understand that I’m not saying to compromise the Gospel in order not to offend. What I am saying is that in all my decisions I need to take into account the needs and understanding of those around me.

Paul’s reasoning is made clear in the next verse.

You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 1:6

What we need to be aware of, is the principle of imitation. A mature believer understands that they’re going to be an example to those who are younger in the faith.

Example and imitation is a big part of our growth in the Lord. According to Paul, by imitating him, they were actually imitating Christ – to the extent that Paul was following the Lord.

We should all aspire to leadership in the body of Christ. The role of a leader is, by its very nature, an example to others. This is found throughout the Scripture.

When Paul was preaching the Gospel in Thessalonica, he didn’t take up an offering for his expenses. He worked as a tent-maker to support himself. Listen to his reasoning.

We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.
2 Thessalonians 3:9

The word follow in this verse is the same word, imitate that we’ve been talking about. Paul wanted his life to accurately portray what it meant to live for Christ. In that way, those who were looking to him as a leader would be able to see the mature lifestyle lived out.

I need to live with this thought in mind. My actions are either spurring someone on to greater growth in Christ; or giving them permission to walk in the flesh. You may not like it, but that’s what leadership is all about.

It should be our goal, as godly leaders, to have the same mindset as Paul.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
1 Corinthians 11:1

Be that mature role-model that others can look to and follow.

Question: How have you seen your example positively affecting the lives of others?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Journey of Faith

TrailThe word picture that’s used the most in the Bible to describe our Christian life is probably walking. We even call our life in Christ the walk of faith.

I personally love walking and hiking. It seems that the more I pursue this in the natural, the more I learn about the spiritual walk.

The Bible uses Abraham as an example of one who walked by faith in God.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:8-10

Abraham was a man of faith. He lived in tents and shelters. He didn’t know what lay on the trail ahead, nor did he know where it was leading. But because he trusted God, he kept moving forward, and entered the land of promise.

Every time I hike, I illustrate the walk of faith – the dependence that if I continue to follow the path, step by step, I’ll come out to the end promised by the map. In my case, I don’t actually know the person who wrote the guidebook. I don’t even know the person who marked out the trail.

Yet in spite of this, I’m willing to strap a pack on my back, and follow a trail through the woods for days at a time. I willingly trust those who have done it before me and those who “wrote the books and maps.” I have faith that the trail I’m on will come out where they say it will.

You may ask, “What does that have to do with our spiritual walk?” It turns out that there are definite parallels between the two.

The fact is, sometimes the trail I’m on doesn’t feel right. There are times I’m hiking a southbound trail that, because of the twists and turns, actually heads north for a time. I know that I’m supposed to come out south of where I started. But when I look at my compass, it seems that I’m headed in the wrong direction.

What do I do? To put it simply – I trust the book and keep going. Eventually the trail makes a turn and heads south again. Amazingly, it comes out exactly where the map said that it would.

When I think about Abraham’s walk of faith, I see the same things happening. The Lord gave him a path to walk. There were times he had to go in a direction that didn’t seem right to his natural mind. But in spite of his present circumstances, he looked forward to the distant end of his journey because he trusted the One who wrote the “guidebook.”

It takes trust and obedience toward God to reap the promises of His Word. We need to trust Him even when life doesn’t look like it will turn out the way He says it will.

God knows the end from the beginning. He sees all the twists and turns ahead of you. The Holy Spirit can guide you on the best possible course to navigate your way through the tough parts of this life.

Spend some time in the Lord’s presence. Recommit yourself to following his path for your life. Let Him know your desire to trust His Word as the only true guide for your steps. Then you can rest assured that you’ll see His destiny for your life come to pass.

Question: What is a time when you thought that God was taking you in a “wrong” direction?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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