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Spiritual Restoration

Toward the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatian church, he begins to talk about some important issues for dealing with people.  The first is working with people who aren’t perfect.  I think we forget, sometimes, that none of us walks in the clouds.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
Galatians 6:1

Paul talks about someone who’s had a side-slip.  Whether intentional or not, we sometimes see our past sinful life try to make an appearance.  That’s why God has us doing life together.

The Lord’s desire is always for restoration.  It’s not about guilt or condemnation.  When we experience a failure, there’s usually enough self-condemnation, so that we don’t need to add any more from the outside.

I believe that’s why the Holy Spirit wants restoration to be accomplished only by those who are spiritual.  Notice that He didn’t say that those versed in psychology, or those who’ve never sinned, should work with them.

The qualification is for those who are spiritual.  They spend time listening to the Holy Spirit.  It’s evident from their lives that they consistently produce the Fruit of the Spirit.  They’re the ones uniquely qualified to bring restoration.

But even spiritual people aren’t above being tempted.  Tempted to do what?  Paul goes on to talk about this temptation.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  Each one should test his own actions.  Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.
Galatians 6:2-5

In dealing with the weaknesses of others, there’s always a temptation to compare.  We end up comparing our strength with their weakness.  But that gives us an inflated view of ourselves.

It also makes it easier for us to begin judging others.  We start to criticize and condemn, instead of bringing the restoration of the Holy Spirit.

I think that an important part of this is understanding the difference between a burden and a load.  These are two very different words in the Greek.

The word burden simply means a weight – something heavy.  There are times where, because of what we’re going through, our life seems a little too tough to handle.  Spiritual people are a help during these times.  The law of Christ is their internal prompting by the Holy Spirit to bring encouragement during these times.

The word, load, on the other hand, speaks of an invoice or work-order.  That’s our God-given assignment.  No one can do that for us.  Mine is different than yours.  I can’t compare what I’ve been called to do with your calling.

There are people only you can reach and assignments only you can do the way the Lord wants them done.  So it’s not my job to take over because I think you’re inadequate.  If I truly am spiritual, then I’ll encourage and strengthen you so that you’re able to fulfill your unique destiny.

Comparison and condemnation have no place in the body of believers.  We’re here to fulfill the plan of Christ, not to please each other.

Spend time in the presence of the Lord and then be a blessing to those around you.

Question: What is a time that the Holy Spirit prompted you to be a help to someone else?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on November 3, 2017 in Encouragement, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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Leaders Care

I’m posting about First Thessalonians, one of the foundational writings of the New Testament.  At the end of the letter, Paul is giving some final principles that will help their growth.

And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:14

It’s obvious that Paul is talking to the church leadership in this section.  The word, warn, in this verse is the same word admonish, that was used in the previous verse.  (I talked about it in my last post.)

These are things that true leaders should be watchful over.  The problem is that in our generation, so many people don’t want their leaders to be looking out for them.  We want to live however we choose with no accountability for our choices.

Then, if a leader truly cares about us, and warns us of the dangers of our lifestyle, we get upset and leave the church.  If God’s people are going to become a great spiritual force, then we need to listen to the exhortation of our leaders.

The first thing Paul says that a leader must do is to warn the idle.  This literally means to warn those who are out of order or unruly.

We know that the Lord we serve is a God of order.  The church, as well as our private lives, needs to be arranged according to His plan.  When we start deviating from His order, then we need to be warned of the trouble we’re getting ourselves into.

The next thing Paul tells us is to encourage the timid.  This is actually a very important part of being a leader.  The phrase literally means to relate near to the weak-souled.  The Greek word for relating near to someone implies telling your story to them.

A lot of times those who are weak in the faith think that those in leadership were born into it.  They don’t know the struggles, challenges, failures, or insecurities of those who lead.  When we share our stories with them, they begin to see what God can do through anyone who’s willing to follow the leading of the Spirit.

Another part of leadership is to help the weak.  This means to stand next to, and hold up the unestablished.  There are those in the body of Christ who haven’t put their roots down deep yet.  We need to be there to help those people to stand strong.

In a garden, there are times when you have to tie a young plant to a pole, to keep it stable, until its roots are deep enough to sustain it.  It’s the same with God’s people.  Many need the support and encouragement of a stable believer until they can stand firm on their own.  Too often we’re guilty of letting young believers fall away because we assume they know how to live for Christ right from the start.

The final part of leadership is to be patient with everyone.  Now that’s the tough one.  I’ve heard people say that they’re praying for patience.  That’s actually not the best way to become patient.

The reason for this is because patience is not a commodity you can receive; it’s a choice you have to make.  Patience is a choice to be willing to wait for God’s perfect timing in a matter.  It involves seeing things from God’s perspective and knowing that the final chapter of someone’s life hasn’t been written yet.

These are all important goals in the ministry of church leadership.  We, as leaders in the body of Christ, need to realize the truth that the Lord is looking for these qualities in us.  We aren’t judged on their response, only on our willingness to care for and encourage those under us.

Question: What growth have you seen in the lives of people who you’ve encouraged?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Getting Help

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Most of us like to be helped.  When facing a difficult challenge, even a word of encouragement can go a long way.

If you are like most people, then you have relied upon help at one time or another.  Scripture teaches us that part of showing gratefulness is taking the blessing you received and passing it on to someone else.  It can be anything – a kind word, food, a ride, or a helping hand carrying things.  If it is done in obedience to God’s Word, it’s powerful and life changing.

What we need to start realizing is that even though all these good things came through the people around us, God originated them.  All the blessings that we receive come from the Lord’s hand.  It’s in thankfulness to Him that we are willing to pass a blessing on to someone else.

Look for an opportunity, today, to be a blessing to someone.  Do something unexpected.  Take the good things you have received from God and pass them on to someone around you.  The Lord will see to it that some day, in some way, you will be rewarded for your act of gratefulness to Him.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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The Water Walk – Part 2

Mark 6:48-50
He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.   About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake.  He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost.  They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.”

In yesterday’s post, we saw that after sending the disciples off and dismissing the crowds, Jesus went up on a mountainside to pray and seek the Father.  The disciples didn’t know that He could be up there praying and watching over them at the same time.

We sometimes think that God isn’t watching.  Or maybe He’s ignoring us.  The truth is that the Lord not only knows where you are, but He also knows the quickest route to get to you.  There seemed to be no way for Jesus to be in a position to help the disciples.  That is, until He started walking across the water.

He took the quickest path to the boat.  Remember, the things that keep us down don’t bind the Lord.  He knows how to show up in your time of need.  The disciples weren’t looking for Him to appear.  As a matter of fact, it seems that they were more afraid of the Lord walking on the water than they were of the storm.

If you are going through a storm today, don’t be afraid, Christ is nearby and ready to help you.  Be in position to receive His help.  Don’t fear His solution more than your problem.  Put your life in His hands this day.

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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Proverb – Disgrace or Wisdom?

Proverbs 11:2
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

We all want to be a success.  Solomon, who wrote these nuggets of wisdom, understood what it took to be successful.  He gives us advice that is timeless – as true today as it was the day it was written.

In this proverb, he gives us two contrasting truths, one negative and one positive.  The first deals with pride.  Please understand, we all need a healthy amount of pride to be able to function correctly.  Taking pride in your work is what helps you to advance.  This is not the pride he is talking about here.

The pride that hurts me is the view that I’m better than everybody else.  I guess it could best be described as arrogance.  The rejection of any help from others is a symptom of this condition.  After all, why would we need help from this rabble – they all need our help.

The problem with this kind of thinking is that it leads to disgrace.  What that word literally means is that your opinion is largely ignored.  Have you ever noticed that people who act like they know everything, are rarely gone to for advice.  Solomon tells us that quickest way to being ignored is through arrogance.

Humility is just the opposite.  It understands that there are people you need to go to for advice and help along the way.  There are those who know more than you on certain subjects.  As you listen to them and learn from their experience, you start to grow in wisdom and knowledge.

Eventually, people start seeing those same qualities in you.  They come to you for advice.  Humility is the road to advancement in the kingdom of God.

We all have the choice.  Do we want disgrace or wisdom?  The road we take determines our destination.  If you want to be a person who influences the lives of others, then choose the path that leads through humility – it reaps the best rewards.

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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My Help

Psalm 121:1-4
I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

Whether you are talking about the Rockies or the Appalachians, mountains and hills are a majestic sight.  I can spend hours praising, worshiping, and praying to God when I am in the presence of such beauty.  When I look at their splendor I cannot help but sense a power far greater than my own.

It is an awesome revelation that the God I am in relationship with is the Creator of those mountains.  Greater still, He also created the stars I see wheeling over those peaks.

Yet, in spite of all that power, He wants to help me.  Now that is a humbling thought!  The God of the universe wants to be a part of my life.

Praise the Lord!  He is my source and my strength.  It is He who upholds and sustains me.  I can rest in Him knowing that the path of my life is safe and secure in His loving hands.

Even though I get tired and fall asleep, the Lord does not have that weakness.  That is a comforting thought.  He is always awake and alert, watching over my life and helping it to conform to His Word.

Take the time today to thank God for His unfailing help and protection in your life.  Give Him praise for His majesty and strength.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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