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The Leader’s Prayer

I’m continuing to post about Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church. He’s been very encouraged by the reports he heard about their strong walk with the Lord. It’s Paul’s desire to visit them again in the future.

Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
1 Thessalonians 3:10

According to Paul, it’s his constant, earnest, prayer that he would see them again. But I want you to notice that it’s not just about friendship. As great as their Christian walk is now, the apostle wants to see them increase their effectiveness.

They may be strong in their faith, but they’re not perfect. Paul wanted to spend the time necessary to impart what they need. It’s interesting to see that he included an example of how he’s praying for them.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

There are three specific things that Paul is praying about. First – he wants the Lord to open up a way for him to return to Thessalonica.

This is an important truth. I don’t decide what I want to do for God. My schedule doesn’t belong to me. My time is the Lord’s and I use it as He directs. Paul wanted to be in the center of God’s will; hoping that it would lead him back to this church.

The second request that Paul prayed about, was that their love would increase. He already commended them on the fact that their faith and love were actively seen. Now Paul wants their love to increase to the point where it’s overflowing.

This is something that should be a prayer of our heart. This overflowing love literally means that you have excess or too much love than there are people to share it with. When you operate at this level, you’re truly walking in the love of Christ.

The final prayer that Paul has for this church is that their hearts would be established, immovable, and set fast in one direction. In that way he would know that they were able to go the distance in their faith.

That should be the desire of our hearts as well. That we stand strong in all the will of God.

I want to hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when I come before the throne of the Lord. To do that, I must have a heart that’s firmly established in Christ. No looking to the right or left. Never wondering what I may be missing out on in the world.

This prayer of Paul is even more important to serve as an example to us as church leaders. We need to have a heart for our people. It’s not just about teaching and preaching to them. Our desire should be for them to grow in maturity and to be able to stand strong in the Lord.

Never lose your vision for others; for their strength and establishment. Make that your prayer, just like the apostle Paul. Be a leader who sees their people through the eyes of Christ.

Question: What prayers do you bring before God for those in your care?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, The Church

 

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The Master’s Investment

Our Supply in GodI’m posting about Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. In my last article we saw the instructions that the Master gave to His servants.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master’, he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master’, he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
Matthew 25:19-23

Everything seemed to be going well. There was increase. Both of the servants ended up with twice as much as they were given. They had used the money they were entrusted with wisely. Their Lord commended them. Now they could expect the reward that they earned.

Finally, the last servant showed up.

“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master’, he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’”
Matthew 25:24-25

This servant took what was given to him and instead of using it and putting it to work, he just buries it. The worst part of this whole scenario is that he knows his master is expecting him to increase it.

He has no excuse. The servant even said, “I know you expected me to work with it and to make more because that’s the kind of person you are.”

Listen to the attitude. It’s heard throughout the church today. It’s the cry of those who have bought into the lie of the enemy concerning their lives.

This servant has the audacity to accuse the master of harvesting where he hasn’t planted. It was the master’s money he was entrusted with. The master was planting his own money into the lives of his servants.

I’ve seen this exact attitude in the church. “What has God ever done for me? I’m going to take care of myself first. If I have any leftover time, then I’ll worry about serving Him.”

The Lord gave them the very life in their body. They belong to Him. He has sown so much into their lives, yet they act like they’ve been given nothing and now have to make their way on their own.

Our attitudes play a big part in how we serve our Lord.

Question: What has Christ sown into your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Reflecting God’s Glory #gloryofGod

Music SmokeAnd we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

In this verse, Paul is referring to Moses.  When he was leading the children of Israel through the desert, they stopped for a while at the foot of Mt. Sinai.  Moses went up to meet with God.  As he spent time in the presence of God, he started to soak in some of the glory.  At one point, upon his return, the people couldn’t look at his face because it shone like the sun.

The glory of God was reflecting off his face.  Moses had to wear a veil until things were back to normal.  It’s interesting that way the Bible relates it.  It sounds like Moses wore the veil so that the Israelites wouldn’t see the glory fading.  His experience was great, but it didn’t last a long time.  He had an incredible encounter with God, but it eventually faded back to the way it was.

Understand this, the Lord has greater plans for us.  The Holy Spirit is working in us to make us like Christ.  Each day we are becoming more and more like Him, if we submit to His plan for our lives.  This is the glory of God in us.

This glory that God is clothing us with is different than that of Moses.  First of all, it doesn’t fade.  It’s a glory that’s always on the increase.  My prayer in the presence of the Lord is that throughout my life people will see more of Jesus and less of me.

This is a wonderful thought.  God is doing greater things in us than He did in Moses!  We sometimes look to the pages of Scripture and wish we were a part of what God did back then.  In reality, there’s no need to go back.  God is working just as powerfully today – if we let Him.

Another aspect of this glory is that we reflect it with unveiled faces.  It’s not a glory that frightens others and pushes them away.  It’s the warmth of love and freedom that draws men and women to the cross.  Don’t ever use your walk with Christ as an excuse to condemn or put down other people.  That’s not what the glory of God is about.

We are here to draw men to Christ.  It’s the love, patience and passion of the Lord that brings people to a knowledge of His grace.  We need to use the same tactics that He does.

What should our goal be?  We must desire to spend time in the presence of this glory.  Let it continue to do its transforming work in us.  By doing this we are making it our goal to reflect more of His beauty. That’s what will attract people to Christ.

Question: How much quality time do you spend in God’s presence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2013 in Encouragement, Prayer

 

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Are You Addicted to the Ministry? 5 Symptoms

PillsI normally don’t use the KJV in my posts, but this verse gives me a lot to think about.

I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
1 Corinthians 16:15

What was it about Stephanas and his family that caused Paul to describe them as addicted?

I looked up some facts, not from Christian sources, but from the American medical community.  How do they describe addiction?  You may think you’re “all in” for the Lord.  How does what these doctors say stack up to your experience?

You need an increased level to maintain the feeling.  Are you feeling tired and burned out by what you do for God?  Or are you hungering to go deeper with Him?  Addiction means that the amount you’re doing now doesn’t satisfy you the way it used to.  You want more, greater, and higher dosages in order to stay fulfilled.  I believe that’s the excitement of the ministry.

You are obsessed with the ministry.  What’s your thought life like?  When you’re not actively involved in your calling, are you still thinking about it?  Addiction means that it’s constantly in the back of your mind.  You continually think about ways to improve and increase what you’re doing for the Lord.

Even in recreation times, a thought, word, or something you see will trigger an image of what you could be doing to further the Kingdom.  Thinking about it is uncontrollable.

You are continually sneaking “quickies” throughout the day.  Addiction to the ministry is a lifestyle.  Do you find yourself sharing about Jesus at the mall, school or workplace?  Are you prone to spontaneously be a blessing to people around you, simply for the enjoyment of it?  Maybe you find yourself praying for people as soon as you hear about their need.  This is a sign of an addiction to Christ and His ministry.

You undergo a change in your appearance.  Does the knowledge that you represent Christ change how you present yourself to others?  Does the fact that you’re God’s ambassador to the world make a difference in how you live?  The more we become addicted, the more radical the change.  How much has your ministry affected you?

You are in “denial” – you continue deeper even though others may argue against it.  Some people may say that you’re doing too much for God.  After all, look at the lifestyle of most believers.  “God will let you get away with a lot less commitment.”  Arguments like these don’t even faze you.  You want to touch as many people as you can for the Gospel.

You may like to think that you’re addicted – after all, it sounds good.  But the truth is, unless you’ve come to the place I’ve just described, it’s only wishful thinking.  Hey, don’t get mad at me – this is what the American medical community says about it.

If you find that you’re not addicted and you want to be – my next post will be about the 5 steps to becoming addicted!

Question: How has addiction to the ministry affected your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Encouragement, Ministry

 

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Growth – Beyond My Control

SproutI’ve been posting about our relationship to the Word of God.  Specifically, how it works as seed in our lives.  While I am responsible to accept God’s Word into my life, there is another aspect that I have no control over.

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

One of the most important concepts for us to understand is that the Kingdom of God is all about the Word being planted.  This is a part of all that we do as believers.

As a pastor, my greatest assignment is to receive the Word in order to plant it again in the lives of those who hear me.  Every Christian needs to be planting the Word into the lives of those around them.

With that comes the realization that 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.  Once you plant the Word into the lives of your friends and family, it is 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, by its very nature, begins to grow below the surface.  It cannot 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.  This thought was echoed by the apostle Paul.

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 3:6-7

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.  The only help we can give it, once it’s planted, is in the watering process.

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

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in Word of God

 

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