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A Mature View of Pressure

As we continue through the epistle of Second Corinthians, we’re seeing Paul’s attitude toward the ministry.  He views the challenges that he faces as a way to see God’s power at work in his life.

This power then becomes a source of life for those he ministers to.  He stays focused on the benefits rather than the struggles.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18

What really speaks to me about his attitude is the first part of his statement.  He describes the pressures as light and momentary.

From my perspective, some of his troubles seemed to linger on and on.  How could he call them momentary?

I believe it was because he turned them over to Christ daily.  He let them go.  So, each new day was viewed as a brand new pressure.  We need to follow that example.  I think that it would go a long way toward changing the bad attitudes that we get sometimes.

Instead of the problems, Paul focused his attention on the glory that was being accomplished in him.  He makes an interesting comparison.  Temporary troubles; eternal glory.  Light pressure; far heavier weight of glory.  The apostle found that it was worth the trade-off.

The question is; how does this really work?  The answer to that question is a little hidden in the English translations.  By adding the word, “so”, it sounds like we fix our eyes on the eternal because of the glory.

That’s not really what it says.  The original is all one sentence.  It says, in effect…

Our pressures are working in us an eternal glory, not as we look to the seen, but the unseen.

That tells me that the only time pressures are working for my good, is when I focus on the eternal.  When I keep looking at the troubles, they’re wearing me down.

We need to take this truth to heart.  Keep the Word of God before you.  That’s what works God’s glory in you during the challenging times.

Problems and challenges are going to continue to come my way.  But the realization is that if I can see it, then it can be changed.  It’s the unseen things – the things of the spirit – that remain eternal.

The Apostle Peter understood this as well.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10

Look to the unseen, eternal truths of God’s Word.  That’s what will sustain and strengthen you during these challenging times.

Question: How do you stay focused on the eternal?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Higher Wisdom

We’ve been looking at the message preached by the Apostle Paul.  It was a Gospel of power.  It could totally change the lives of those who heard it.

This message was all based upon the wisdom of God.  He explains it further.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Corinthians 2:6-8

The first thing I see is that the message of God’s wisdom is for the mature.  It’s not a basic instruction.  There are things that you need to be taught when you’re first saved.  These foundational teachings will give you the ability to understand the greater wisdom of God.

That’s because we’ve spent our whole lives before salvation learning and operating in the “wisdom of this age”.  God’s wisdom is on a whole other level.  So much so, that those versed in the world’s wisdom can’t even understand it.

According to Scripture, the greatest wisdom of this age will only bring you to uselessness.  That’s what the phrase means that’s translated coming to nothing.

On the other hand, I like the results of God’s wisdom.  God destined His wisdom for our glory.  That word means that you have respect – that what you say and do has weight and value.

I think that much of this glory is missing from the church these days.  Could it be that we’re trying to use the world’s wisdom instead of God’s?  It’s the difference between uselessness and glory.

Paul uses the crucifixion of Christ as an illustration.  It was a part of God’s wisdom.  The world can’t fathom it…dying on a cross as the road to victory.

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.”
John 10:17-18

When I watch a movie for the first time, I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I’m in suspense when something bad happens to the hero.  Sometimes they’ll do something I don’t understand.

Then, I wonder how the hero could possibly survive.  But as the movie progresses, I find out that everything he did was part of a plan to bring down the villain.

If I liked the movie, I may watch it again.  But this time I know what’s going to happen.  I’m not in suspense.  I’m actually happy when I see the hero going into danger because I know how it’s going to turn out.

That’s what knowing the wisdom of God should do for us.  We’ve seen the movie before.  What Jesus did on the cross was a carefully planned, strategic attack on the enemy.  He wasn’t taken by surprise.

In that one move, Jesus Christ took down the entire kingdom of sin that was holding us captive. We’re now free to serve God without fear or condemnation.  All because of what happened through the wisdom of God.

So when I look back at the events of 2000 or so years ago, I’m not sad.  As a matter of fact, I have a sly smile.  Because I know that even though it looked bad, three days later it all turned around.  And that’s something to rejoice about!

God wants to do that same thing in us.  But first, we must grasp the wisdom of God.  The big question is; how?  In my next post, we’ll see how Paul begins to explain that to us.

Question: What would it look like if the whole church walked in the wisdom of God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2018 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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What’s Driving You?

If you’ve been following my posts, then you know that we should be driven by the Holy Spirit.  Time in His presence should be strengthening us on the inside and propelling us forward.  That’s how we fulfill our destiny in Christ.

But as we continue our study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we see that there’s another driving force that could be detrimental to our spiritual walk.

Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Galatians 5:26

The word translated as conceited in this verse means that someone is after vain or empty glory.  To understand this we must first understand what glory is.  We use that word a lot, especially about God.  In spite of that, most Christians don’t really know what it means.

Glory is the amount of weight that you assign to someone’s opinion.  To give God glory means that we place what He says higher than anyone else’s word.  That means that what God says about me is more important than the word of the doctors, reporters, financial advisors, or even the voice of my past.

But this verse is talking about empty glory.  That means that I place my opinion higher than anyone else’s.  The reason it’s empty is that it’s usually based on what I perceive as my high level of spiritual performance.

Empty glory is all about me.  It’s how great I’m doing and I want you to know about it.  I want you to acknowledge that I’m more spiritual than you.  This kind of thinking is empty because my walk with God has nothing to do with my abilities and everything to do with the power of the Holy Spirit.

According to Paul, there are two factors involved in this empty glory.  The first is that we provoke each other.  That literally means to call someone out or to challenge them.

I’ve seen this even in ministry circles.  When I was a new pastor it used to annoy me, but now I’m just amused by it.  With some ministers, the first thing they ask when they initially meet you is, “What seminary did you graduate from?”

Then, based upon your answer, they decide how much value they’ll place upon your beliefs.  It has nothing to do with the anointing of God on your life or ministry.  (For the record – I haven’t completed seminary yet.  I’ll let you assign a value to my opinions based on my posts.)

Of course, this happens with church people as well.

“How many chapters a day do you read?  I read through the whole Bible every year.”

“How many hours a day do you spend in prayer?  I get up at 4 AM every morning to seek God.”

We call people out so that we can brag about our great spiritual accomplishments.  Fortunately, the move of the Holy Spirit in our lives isn’t based upon how many chapters a day that we read, or what time we wake up.

The second part of empty glory is envy or jealousy.  This is also used so we can feel better about ourselves.

It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.
Philippians 1:15

There are those who witness for Christ out of rivalry.  It’s like they’re placing another notch on their spiritual gun when they lead someone to Christ.  Then they try to make you feel bad because you don’t witness to others the way they do.

Of course, even Paul had to concede that preaching Christ is a good thing, no matter the motive.  (Philippians 1:18)  But if it’s more about how great I am than it is about Christ, that’s what makes it vain and hollow.

Watch your attitudes and let the Holy Spirit be the driving force in your life and ministry.

Question: How can you be a better encouragement to others in the body of Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2017 in Legalism, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Eternal Attitudes

Jet Plane to NowhereAttitudes play an important role in our walk with the Lord. It’s the determining factor in how well you receive from Him.

Abraham understood this fact. Especially as he looked at the promises of God in contrast to his circumstances.

And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
Hebrews 11:12

That phrase; as good as dead, means to deaden. In the natural, Abraham saw himself as becoming deader and deader.

We all must acknowledge that the power of God will change us. Our walk, attitudes, habits, likes & dislikes, friends, etc. are all affected. This is all a part of the deadening process.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5

When we read this verse, the key word is therefore. That word means that the reason we do what’s in this verse is because of what he just wrote. What was that?

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-3

We desire to put to death the things of the flesh because we now have a higher calling. We kill off the desires of the world in order to seek the eternal.

This is a very important truth. We receive from God when we seek the eternal. The writer of the book of Hebrews understood this.

People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.
Hebrews 11:14-15

Eternally minded people search for, crave, demand a home town. That’s why Jesus told us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. We’re not looking for the temporary high that the world offers us.

Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:16

The final result of this attitude is that God is not ashamed to be called their God. That’s interesting. Are there times when God is ashamed to be called someone’s God? I think this verse implies that He could be.

Before we pick up this eternally minded attitude, we’re only accomplishing what a man can do. Is God satisfied with what is merely possible – even without His help? Of course not. He expects us to do a God sized work.

When that happens; the world can see His glory. God’s people need to stop chasing the temporary pleasures of the world, and focus in on the eternal glory of God. Let Him accomplish what He desires in you.

Question: What is a way that the glory of God is seen in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2015 in Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Watching for the Signs

WorkI’m posting about supernatural signs. Specifically, we’re looking at the sign of the virgin birth of Christ.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

In my last post we saw that the Lord was dealing with an evil king of Judah named Ahaz. He refused to ask God for a sign when asked to by the prophet Isaiah.

Because of this act of disobedience, God Himself would choose the sign. This would be the sign that the Lord is victorious. You can do your own thing. But God will accomplish his will though you…or around you.

This sign was what God was going to accomplish. Basically what God said was, “You don’t want to know what I’m doing now so I’ll tell you something you’ll never see.”

Someday there will be a virgin. She will not be married and never had sex. Yet, miraculously, she will conceive and bear a son. His name – the designation of who He is – will be Immanuel. The Hebrew word Immanuel literally means with us is God.

Now let’s fast forward to the New Testament. A young woman named Mary is found to be with child. She’s a virgin. Her fiancé, Joseph, is confused. Then he’s visited by an angel with a message, exhorting him to marry her, because this is no ordinary child.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:22-23

Years of waiting were now fulfilled. The Messiah was soon to be born.

A supernatural sign brings hope to those trusting God. I’m waiting for a sign. The Bible says that when you see the sign of the Son of Man in the sky, stand to your feet and lift up your head for your redemption is here. That gives me hope.

I know that God is going to step into our world one day. Things aren’t going to go on like this forever.

There was a day when many were waiting expectantly for the Messiah. There were shepherds in the field watching their sheep. They heard the angelic announcement.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:14

These angels were giving glory to God in the highest place. On earth, they proclaimed peace, shalom to men of good-will. That literally means to those who have a will to do good. This message was to people who have God’s good (pleasing and perfect) will resting in them.

This is because; ultimately a supernatural sign brings glory to God. When I see the sign come to pass, I give God glory.

I want God’s will. He wants to show signs and wonders as He brings forth His will. Therefore, we need to work with Him. Expect God to speak. Expect Him to show up. Expect a miracle each day.

Question: What signs have you seen of the Lord working in and through you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Four Kinds of Glory

 

 

BeamWe use the word glory quite a lot in the Christmas season. But what does it mean when we say, “Glory to God!”

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

I don’t know if you can really define glory. All you can do is see how it’s used. I want to talk about four uses – 2 from the Old Testament and 2 from the New.

Glory is the visible manifestation of God.

This is probably the most well-known. In the tabernacle and temple there was a visible ball of light as bright as the sun. This was called The Glory.

Glory is the weight assigned to God.

How much weight do you give to what God says vs. what the world says? What Christ says vs. what the doctor says?

Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.
Psalms 29:1-2

We must give God the weight that His name deserves. His ways, will, and Word are more important than anything else. How much priority do you place on the Lord’s will for you? That’s the glory you give Him.

Glory is an opinion expressed about God.

What’s your opinion of God? That’s the glory you give Him.

“He’s nice; I talk to Him once a week.”

How do you affect the opinion others have about God? Jesus looked at it this way…

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.
John 17:4

We give glory to God in our service to Him. Standing in church with your hands lifted doesn’t raise people’s opinion of God. It’s what you do out there on the street. I can tell your opinion of God, by how you serve Him.

Glory is the visible sign of God at work.

This is probably the most important one. When others see God’s work in us, it brings the focus to Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
2 Corinthians 4:7

We are the clay pot that houses this glory. Should His glory be in a clay pot? I don’t think so; but God planned it like that. He wants His glory to be seen in us.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

Do everything so that people see how much weight you give to God. And how high an opinion you have of God. But mostly, so they can see God at work in and through you.

Question: How have you seen God’s glory in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2014 in Ministry, Power of God, The Church

 

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You Can Change Your Family

 

Jet Plane to NowhereI’m posting about Sonship and how it’s a part of God’s plan to work in His people. The Lord is leading us from glory to glory.

By the way, you may notice that I mostly use the word son, rather than sons and daughters. Check out my post, Sonship Includes Women Too, to see why I do that.

In speaking about Sonship, it’s the very reason why God has called pastors into the ministry. Our calling is to help the process of becoming like Christ. Paul speaks of this in his letter to the Ephesians. He says that the ministry gifts (of which pastoring is a part) are given…

…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:12-13

The goal then, for every believer, is to be like Jesus. This means we’re to talk like Him, work like Him and love like Him. Jesus Himself said that we were to do His works.

It’s the work of the Holy Spirit in us to achieve this result. But, in order for that to happen, we must cooperate with Him. It’s at this point – me cooperating with the Spirit of Christ – that the life changing power of God manifests. As this takes place it becomes evident to those around that we are walking as sons of God.

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
John 1:12-13

This verse should cause us to jump up and praise the Lord. The implications alone are staggering. The word right in this verse is the Greek word exusia. It literally means that we have the authority or permission to be God’s children.

If you remember, authority means that we have the right to use power. This means that because God has adopted us, we have the right to use the power of a son of God. Sonship, then, is a position of authority.

But now, notice what this entails. In order to walk in the authority associated with Sonship, we must receive Him and put our faith in His name. When we asked Christ to be our Lord and Savior we took on a new family name. We now are of the household of Christ – we are Christians.

When you’re a member of a family you always carry with you the authority and the power of your family name. This is true whether your name is Smith or Trump. We now carry the family name of He who spoke the world into existence. Yet for the most part we live in spiritual defeat. It’s time for us to rise up and be who God has destined us to be.

Question: What does the word Christian mean to you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in Power of God, Sonship, The Church

 

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The Walk of Sonship

 

FallenI want to take a few posts to talk about the concept of sonship. I want to begin this study by reminding you of the Scripture we looked at regarding the power of the Spirit. We talked about this verse when we dealt with how praying in the spirit brought about a change in the way you live. Indeed, both miracles and the walk of righteousness come from spending time in the spirit.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…
Romans 8:13

At that point I was only looking at the concept of righteousness. Now I want to move on to the next verse which brings us deeper into this truth.

…because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Romans 8:14

The Word of God is clear. Those who are led by the Holy Spirit are sons. Understand this – if you’re saved, then the Holy Spirit is leading you. As a matter of fact, the Spirit of God is leading even if you’re not following. He’s gently waiting for you to catch up with Him. Why is this?

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29

Now, reading this, I find it interesting that Paul tells us that we’re of the seed of Abraham, and not Moses. Abraham followed God in a walk of faith that worked righteousness in him. He allowed himself to be led by God. So Abraham operated as a son of God. This is because “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:15-17

This is an incredible truth. Sonship is how we explain the relationship of “ever increasing glory”. Because the Holy Spirit is working in us, leading us from glory to glory, we are seen to be sons of God.

Please understand that even though we are adopted as sons of God, Jesus Christ is THE only begotten Son of the Father. We are not equal in position or authority to Him. He is the Head of the Church. That needs to be made clear.

However, even in our position as adopted children, Sonship is a position of power. This is because the Holy Spirit Himself testifies that we are sons. He does this as He bestows the power of God upon us. As the Spirit does His work in us, we have the likeness of Christ ever-increasing in us.

Question: How is the relationship of Sonship different than that of a slave?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2014 in Power of God, Sonship

 

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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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Discipleship – The Cost and the Glory #discipleship

Jet Plane to NowhereI’ve been posting about discipleship.  How far are you willing to go to follow Christ?  The Lord doesn’t make it sound very convenient.

In my last post we saw that Christ said it involved picking up your cross and following Him.

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26

Most people get tripped up by this verse because they don’t understand the usage of the word hate in the Scripture.  This word has no emotional attachment to it.  It’s just like the word agape, used to convey the idea of love.  Hate is a choice rather than an emotion.

This word hate means a choice to not participate with.  There are times when being a disciple of Christ means that you choose not to participate in every family event.  Maybe it’s a baby shower or a graduation party that’s held on a Sunday morning.

Christ is saying that if you choose to participate with your family over the Lord, then it shows that you’re not a disciple.  You might be a believer who loves God.  But you have yet to choose the high road of discipleship.

Following Christ can be very inconvenient at times.  However, if you want the same results as Christ, you must live as He does.

Jesus also makes the point that we must count the cost of discipleship.

“In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:33

If you find your Christian walk to be easy, then you’re not yet a disciple.  The closer you follow to Christ, the harder your choices will become.  But there is a bright side.  The longer you serve the Lord, the easier it will be to make those choices.

It’s all about cultivating an attitude – I am nothing else but a disciple.  It may sound like a tough road, but in the end it’s worth it.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
John 15:7-8

The way of discipleship leads to a fulfilled life.  There’s a manifestation of the power of God working through you.  When you live at this level it becomes obvious to all those around you.  Your life shows the fruit of the spirit.

It’s apparent that you couldn’t produce the blessings that you’re walking in.  God is at work in you.  That’s the ultimate goal.  Living as a disciple shows God’s glory.

It’s that glory that will draw others to Christ.  This is what the Christian walk is all about.

Question: How much is the glory of God worth to you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2014 in Power of God, Revival

 

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