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The Church Garden

I’m continuing my series through First Corinthians.  In my last post, we saw that Paul warned against being politically attached to people and personalities.  Instead, we are to be seeking to please the Lord.

Now Paul gives his reasoning for this.

What, after all, is Apollos?  And what is Paul?  Only servants, through whom you came to believe — as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
1 Corinthians 3:5-7

According to this passage, the goal should be growth.  That means both personal growth for the believer and corporate growth for the church.  They are intertwined; you can’t have one without the other.

Also, multiple ministries are needed for growth.  Just one is not enough, no matter how much you like that minister.

As the Senior Pastor of a local church, I was fully aware of this truth.  I would frequently invite guest speakers who I knew had different giftings than my own.  I wanted our church to get all the things needed for growth.

Of course, there were always those who complained about certain ones.

“I’m not partial to his ministry.  I may stay home that week.”

That’s one of the problems in the church.  On the farm, the garden can’t pick and choose who does the work.  It’s obvious that people will love the ones that water more than the ones that identify and pull up the weeds.

All of the ministry gifts are needed if we’re to experience God’s best.  The ones who refuse to sit under certain types of ministries will suffer for it.  Their growth may be stunted…or nonexistent.

On the other side of the coin, each one does his or her job, but we can’t make people grow.  That part of the equation belongs to God.  That’s the same thing that Jesus taught His disciples in a parable.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like.  A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Mark 4:26-29

That might be one of the hardest things to learn as a minister of the Gospel.  Nothing I do will bring about the growth of that seed, once it has been planted.  From then on it’s out of my control.  After the planting it’s time to wait – and that can be the hardest part.

Sometimes we want to force them to produce fruit.  We try to convince and coerce.  That’s usually when we start to push them further away.  We need to learn to plant, then step back and let God provide the increase.

The Word of God, by its very nature, begins to grow below the surface.  It can’t be stopped, but neither can it be hurried along.  It goes at the pace God has set for it.  One thing is certain; it will produce the harvest that God intended it to bring forth.

We all have our part to play in the Kingdom of God.  Some of us plant the seed and some water it.  None of us can make it grow, that’s God’s department.

Question: Have you ever caused bigger problems by trying to force the Word of God to grow in someone’s life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on January 16, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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How to Miss God’s Best

As we continue through the Gospel of Mark, we now come to one of the more popular sections.  It’s when Jesus teaches the parable of the sower and the seed.  The parable itself is contained in Mark 4:1-9.  You may want to look it up and read it before going on with this post.

There are a lot of important truths in this section.  So I’m going to spend a number of posts on it.  Apparently, the disciples didn’t understand the meaning of the parable.  Later, when they were alone with Jesus, they asked Him about it.

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.  He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you.  But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'”
Mark 4:10-12

To understand what Jesus is saying here, we need to know His role in the lives of the disciples.  Christ was to the disciples, who the Holy Spirit is to the church.  He was the One leading, training, guiding and teaching them.  So how the Lord worked with the disciples is how the Holy Spirit works with us now.

The goal of Jesus with His disciples was to bring them into an understanding of the kingdom of God.  His words are spirit and life.  Jesus tells us that by not accepting His Word, there are three consequences.  Unfortunately, I see these very things at work in much of the church today.

Ever seeing but never perceiving.  The word used for seeing is the generic word, to look at.  The word, perceiving, means to know by seeing or to experience.  This is talking about those who see what God has done for them but never experience it.

There are many Christians who spend lots of time confessing their position in Christ.  But they never do what it takes to cross over into the manifestation of it.  It only comes about by hearing and obeying the Lord’s voice.

Ever hearing but never understanding.  Hearing simply means to listen with your ears.  That’s the easy part.  Plenty of people do that every week in church services.

Understanding is on a higher level.  The word literally means to put together.  That’s where we usually miss out.  I need to know how to apply what I’ve heard to the area of my life that needs it.

Again, that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in.  If I’m not listening to His instruction, then I’ll never see the changes take place that will move me forward in my Christian walk.

Otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven.  This is obviously the most important part.  But it’s totally dependent upon perceiving and understanding.  What exactly does this mean?

The word, turn, means to turn around and start walking in the opposite direction.  That’s good, but it’s the forgiven part that most of us miss the depth of.  Our understanding of forgiveness is very shallow compared to the Scriptural concept.

When we think of being forgiven, it means that we did something wrong and now it’s okay.  This is not what the Greek word indicates.

The word, forgive, in the Greek, means to pick up, remove, and throw away.  This brings a whole new view of what’s happening in this verse.

When we perceive, understand, and obey a word from God, it causes us to turn around.  Then, at that point, things start dropping off and being removed from our lives.  Things like habitual sins, sicknesses, lack, and depression.

Hopefully, as we continue looking at this parable, we’ll learn to walk in this truth and experience God’s best for us.  If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, take the opportunity now so that you won’t miss an installment.

Question: What is your current level of experiencing God’s best in your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Overcoming Abraham’s Past

WeedsDo hurts from the past hinder you from serving God wholeheartedly? Do you think the pain will stop you from achieving God’s best? Your past can only defeat you if you let it. Abraham’s father found that out.

I’m taking a couple of posts to show how Abraham’s past was actually working against his faith. He had to overcome family history to serve God the way he did.

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.
Genesis 11:31

Here’s another ancestor of Abraham who heard the call to leave Ur and go to Canaan. Terah, Abraham’s father, did more than just talk about it. He actually packed up his family and left for the Promised Land. His plan was short-lived though.

What was it that short circuited Terah’s try at serving God? What was the significance of Haran. Haran was both the name of a person and a place that was named after him.

It turns out that Haran was Terah’s youngest son. Haran died at a young age, leaving his son Lot in the care of his grandfather.

When Terah decided to go to Canaan, he made a stop at Haran, his departed son’s old homestead. This was the place of his greatest pain. Because of this, Terah just couldn’t get past it – literally. He let the hurts of the past stop him from pursuing God’s best.

Don’t let this happen in your life. Christ can heal and restore. Draw on His strength to overcome your pain. Yes, you’ll remember it, but it will not control your destiny. Let God’s best be your compass.

Was it easy for Abraham to follow God’s call? NO! He came from a family that had ignored or put it off for generations. He had to go against everything he was brought up with.

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

In spite of everything his family did to put off the call of God, Abraham succeeded. Generations of procrastination was ended on that day.

Abraham had to rely on the strength of God. He stepped out into new territory. We need to trust God in that same way. Serving God will almost always go against our natural inclinations. We need to look ahead through the eyes of faith.

This is how destinies are forged. We hear a Word from God and walk in it. There may be temptations that we need to hold off or refuse. We may hesitate because of past hurts.

Just don’t let the enemy stop your progress. Determine to see the Lord’s perfect will accomplished in you. Never let go of the dream God has given you.

Question: What dreams are you striving for by the Spirit of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2015 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Do You Deserve God’s Best?

Heart CellIn my last post I started talking about what makes us worthy of walking in the power of God. I looked at the story of the Roman centurion In Luke chapter 7, who asked Jesus to come heal his servant. He said that he wasn’t worthy and used two Greek words, axios and hikanos, to describe how he felt.

We’ll start by looking at the word axiosdeserving.

Think about the prodigal son of the parable we recently looked at. He spent a large portion of his life away from the power, yet all that time he was still a son. One of the statements that he made to his Father was, “I am not worthy – axios – to be called your son.” The first concept we must understand is that you can be a son and still feel not deserving.

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.”
Acts 13:46

When Paul and Barnabas first started out on their missionary journeys, they would always preach the Gospel first to the Jewish community. Many times they were met with resistance by this group.

At this point in their journeys they were beginning to get frustrated by this trend among the Jewish people. The literal Greek of what Paul says here is that you have judged yourselves undeserving (axios) of eternal life.

This tells us that concerning the power of God, if you consider yourself undeserving, you could find yourself rejecting God’s Word. There’s no true power outside the Word of God. Of course, if you reject the Word of Salvation, then you’re lost.

Our salvation experience is the first touch of God’s power which we experience. All believers, therefore, qualify for the power on that requirement.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
Revelation 3:4

This verse brings up an interesting dilemma. How do you keep your clothes white while living in a cesspool? Of course, I’Holy Spirit, repentance, m talking about our spiritual clothes as we live in this society. How do we keep clean with so much sin around us?

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:14

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9

As we live a repentant lifestyle, the Holy Spirit keeps us clean through the blood of Christ. Repentance should be a daily walk before God. These verses tell me that power is for those who can keep themselves clean in Christ. Therefore, your conscience is accusing you of not deserving of the power if you ignore repentance.

This was the lesson that the Prodigal Son had to learn. As soon as he returned home and repented, he was restored to the full rights and privileges of a son. It’s through this same process of repentance that our consciences can be wiped clean. Then it will stop accusing us of being undeserving.

Question: How does your conscience keep you from enjoying God’s best for you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2015 in Power of God, Prayer, Sonship

 

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Counter-Culture or Counterfeit?

Fake MoneyI have been posting about the difference between the Christian culture and the culture of the world.  In my last post, we saw that there are two anointings in the world – the anointing of the Holy Spirit and the antichrist anointing.

The apostle John talked about these anointings in his first letter.  In that same context he also said the following…

See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you.  If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father.  And this is what he promised us — even eternal life.
I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.
1 John 2:24-26

It is important that we remain in Christ – the Anointed One.  If we do, then we will also remain in His anointing.  The problem with many of us is that we try to jump back and forth.

Today we want the blessings of Christ.  The next day we try and chase after what the world is offering.  Sometimes we appear to be a little split in our loyalty.

We need to make a choice.  What is it that I want from life?  Do I want God’s best, or the world’s best?

After all, there are those who would try to lead us astray.  It literally means that they are trying to cause us to roam.  When that happens, we lose direction and focus.

It’s sad, but in many cases there are believers who are teaching us how to live with our feet in both worlds.  While it’s true that we have to live within the present world system, we don’t have to embrace its philosophy of life.  The priorities of the world should not be our priorities.

As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit — just as it has taught you, remain in him.
1 John 2:27

The truth is that the Lord wants to place His priorities in us.  If we will listen to the Holy Spirit at work in us, we will walk in this anointing.  If not, then we become a counterfeit.

A counterfeit is something that looks real, but it’s not.  Usually, only something valuable is counterfeited.  The counterfeit anointing is referring to those who appear to love God, yet really want what the world is offering.

Their priorities are in direct conflict with God’s, while appearing to serve, praise, and honor Him.  Don’t be a Christian in appearance only.  Remember, it’s what’s going on inside that counts.

Drink in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  Let Him change your priorities from the inside out.  Don’t fall victim to the counterfeit anointing that is so prevalent in the world today.

Question: Why is the world’s anointing so appealing?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2012 in Revival, The Church

 

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Why You Need to Keep a Spiritual Journal

Journal 2

Spending time in God’s presence is not an option, if we want to hear from God.  As we quiet ourselves in His presence we can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more clearly.

The question is, what happens when you leave the place of prayer?  Do you remember what you heard in the Lord’s presence a week later?  How about a month or even a year later?  How can you thank God for fulfilling His word to you, if you don’t remember what He’s said?

As you seek the Lord’s presence, you’ll find more and more that He wants to speak to you.  He wants us to be a people who hear His voice.

Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.”
Habakkuk 2:2

It’s God’s desire to reveal Himself to all believers.  If you’re listening, you may receive a word from Him concerning your personal walk, your home life, your ministry, or your career.  The Holy Spirit may speak to you about new ventures to launch or old things to cut out of your life.  The point is, whenever you hear from God for your life, write it down!

It doesn’t matter if you’re sure it was God’s voice, or if it was only a slight impression.  Maybe your heart was stirred over a certain passage of Scripture.  Perhaps you feel a leading to do something new for God.  It doesn’t matter how weak or strong the feeling is – it needs to be recorded.

So often we miss out on God’s best because we forget what we heard, or we alter it along the way.  It’s good to be able to look back in a journal and see the conversations we’ve had with the Lord.  Make it a point to bring a journal along with you in your prayer times  – and use it to record what you’ve learned.

Very often, I look back through my journals.  It gives me encouragement as well as insight onto the path God has me on.  I need to review the things I’ve learned in the presence of God.

Keep your eyes and ears open.  God will speak to someone who is prepared to listen.  Keeping a journal shows that you value the voice of the Lord.  Begin today recording what you learn in your private times with Him.

Question: Do you keep a spiritual journal?  How has it helped you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2012 in Encouragement, Prayer, Word of God

 

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