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Are You Addicted to Ministry?

I normally don’t use the KJV in my posts, but this verse from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church 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

Stephanus and his family were a great help to Paul as he preached the Word of God.  He goes on to tell a little more about them.  He tells the church…

…to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it.  I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you.  For they refreshed my spirit and yours also.  Such men deserve recognition.
1 Corinthians 16:16-18

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 an addiction to the ministry affected your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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The Ordered Life

Do you know Christians who live a life that’s out of order?  What’s your response to that kind of living?  The Apostle Paul wrote about this issue and gives us some clear commands.

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.
2 Thessalonians 3:6

Here Paul gives us a command from Christ Himself.  It’s not an opinion or a suggestion.  It’s a guiding principle that Paul will apply to a specific situation later on.

Unfortunately, the translators use a more specific word than the one Paul used.  The word idle is not in the original Greek.  Paul uses a word that means out of order.  He’s talking about people who are not living in their God-assigned positions in the body of Christ.

I’m not talking about religious positions.  You can be a lawyer, plumber, or IT specialist and still fulfill your calling in Christ.  I’m talking about knowing where you fit into God’s kingdom and functioning in that role.

Paul also talked about those who don’t live according to the teachings passed on from the apostles.  They gave us a specific pattern of living that’s recorded in the Scriptures.  The goal of every believer should be to follow this lifestyle.

That being said, our generation of the church has some definite issues that need to be overcome in relation to this command.  The first is that we don’t like commands of any kind, especially in regards to our spiritual life.

If someone wants to give us their opinion, or suggest something to us, we’re usually okay with that.  We just don’t want to be told that we have to do something; or even worse, being told we can’t do something that we want to do.

Another problem I see is that a large percentage of the modern church has no idea what the pattern of living is that was handed down by the apostles.   They don’t know what a Christian lifestyle should look like.

Then, there’s that part about keeping away from or avoiding those whose life is out of order.  The fact is, out of order people like being around other out of order people.  It helps them to suppress any feelings of guilt about how they’re living.

It’s sad that we live in a time in history when many believers simply want to blend in with the world.  We say that we want to be “relevant”.  But in many cases, it’s because we want what the world offers.

Those of us who try to live according to the pattern handed down to us are the ones who are avoided.  In many instances, we’re labeled as “self-righteous” or “haters”.

It’s time for the church to pray for a restoration of the Scriptural patterns.  It’s time for the church to once again walk according to the lifestyle handed down to us from the apostles.

Make that a priority in your prayer time with the Lord.

Question: What are the main attributes of a Godly lifestyle?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2018 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Four Mistakes that can Kill Worship

Heart CellEvery weekend thousands of Christians around the world attend church. They think that they’re worshipping God. Unfortunately, in many cases, they’re doing just the opposite and God isn’t pleased with them. Learn from their mistakes and offer true worship to the Lord.

I invite you to read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7, verses 1 through 20, which is the basis for this post. Here are the four worship mistakes commonly made by modern Christians.

Making sure the outside is cleaned up, and not the inside. Most people get all cleaned up and looking their best for church. That’s just normal. You want to look nice when you’re around others.

It’s far easier to hide the dirt that can accumulate on the inside. As we live and interact in the world, we can pick up thoughts and attitudes without ever knowing it. Over time, they can lead us off track in our Christian walk.

We need to continue in the repentance and forgiveness that only comes from time in the presence of Christ. That’s where our true beauty should come from – a life that’s kept clean before God.

Saying all the right words, and not living them. You may not want to hear this, but every service, churches are filled with liars. How can I say that? Think about the songs we sing.

“Lord, you are more precious that silver…Nothing I desire compares with you.”

The whole time we’re thinking about what’s for dinner. We sing passionately about how we would do anything for God or how deeply we want to know Him. Yet, once we leave the church, we don’t think twice about it until next week.

In many cases we act like the fact that we’re singing the words, automatically makes it true. To live a life of worship, our lives need to line up with our “Sunday personas”.

Preferring to follow a set of rules rather than cultivating a relationship with God. Sometimes we get the idea that just because we don’t murder, cheat, steal, or do drugs, then we’re okay. We read the Bible and pray for our needs every day, because that’s what a Christian is supposed to do.

What about simply spending time in God’s presence because He’s God? The Father wants us to get to know Him personally. He wants to speak to our hearts and enjoy our fellowship.

Being a Christian is not just a choice to do good things. It’s a living relationship with a holy God. Worship is not a chore to complete. We are to become worshippers.

Giving money in the offering rather than giving yourself. This is one of the biggest mistakes that we can make. Thinking that we own everything except what we willingly give to God.

God is the Creator of Heaven and earth. It’s all His. It’s my responsibility to acknowledge that fact. I am His. My greatest act of worship is to, willing, give myself to Him. Only Christ is worthy to receive an offering like that.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
John 4:23

Don’t waste your life being a superficial believer. Enter into a lifestyle of worship. True worship is not a matter of what you do on Sundays, but who you are all week long.

Questions: What’s your definition of worship? Have you ever had to deal with these issues in your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2016 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Spiritual Childhood

FallenI’m posting about the growth stages in the life of believers. Today I want to talk about spiritual childhood.

There’s a Greek word that is close to the modern word for children. They’re no longer infants, but they still need constant care and supervision. Scripture talks about this group. It’s interesting that Jesus used this word for the disciples at the Last Supper.

“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:33-35

As He called His disciples children, Jesus was showing that they had not yet reached their full potential. The disciples’ response to Jesus’ command to love one another in the next verse shows exactly this point.

Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
John 13:36

If that’s not the response of a child, I don’t know what is! Jesus gives a very important exhortation for the future leaders of Christianity. Yet, the only question Peter comes up with is, “Where are you going?”

This is still the mindset of the spiritual child. They hear and understand what’s being taught, but they seem to zero in on the superficial parts. You can give them an in-depth teaching on the righteousness of God, and all they come away with is – “I can live however I want and God still loves me.”

The Epistle of First John gives us the greatest insight into this stage in the growth of the believer. John uses this word throughout his letter to the church. It’s obvious, because of its frequency that those he was writing to were at this stage in their walk. He dealt with the basics of the spiritual walk.

John had to remind them that their sins were forgiven because of Christ (I John 2:12) and that now they were to endeavor to live a life without sin (2:1). He also went on to show them how and why to live a repentant lifestyle where you immediately brought your failings and sins to Christ.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
1 John 3:7

In this verse we clearly see the Apostle explaining that they need to go beyond mere positional righteousness. They need to walk in the truth. This goes right along with what we saw in talking about infant believers. They are not acquainted with the teaching on righteousness.

At the child stage, you begin to understand about what the manifestation of the Lord’s righteousness should look like in us. In spiritual childhood you start seeing that there’s a difference between the lifestyle of God’s people and the world. We have victory over the world by the Holy Spirit in us (4:4) and we don’t worship the way the world does (5:21).

At this point we start to realize that we need to live differently than the world. We start to feel the Holy Spirit within us calling us to a deeper walk. At this stage we still don’t know how to follow this call, other than to live up to the rules we’ve been taught. We should desire to continue our growth in Christ.

Question: How do you deal with the spiritual children in your circle?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Sonship, The Church

 

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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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Christ – The Foundation of a Counter-Culture

SONY DSCOur culture is our way of life.  Why, then, is modern Christianity so much like the culture of America?

It doesn’t matter what you talk about, the statistics are very close.  Divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and a host of other issues seem very much a part of church life.  I have known Christian girls who couldn’t wait to turn 18 so that they could lose their virginity legally.

Why are we so much like the world?

We would rather talk about religion than Jesus.  We try to be so careful not to offend anyone by what we believe.

I think an important word to use is counter.  Think about how we use it in society.  We have groups in counter-intelligence or counter-terrorism.  To be counter means that you are going opposite that group.

More than any other people, Christianity should be counter-culture.  We should have our own cultural lifestyle.  If you remember from my last post, that means our own way of doing things.  It should be different than how our society operates.

We need to see the Scriptural pattern.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22

This verse tells us that it’s God’s job to make us stand firm in Christ.  How does He do that?  The Lord accomplishes it by anointing us.

Anointing – now there’s a rich word.  The very word Christ means the Anointed One.  His anointing came from the Holy Spirit that was upon Him.  Now we are standing firm in the Anointed One.  That’s where we have the power to fulfill what we’re called to do.

This passage states that the anointing upon us is one of the things that are guaranteeing what is to come.  That tells me that I have a future in Christ.  This anointing is taking us somewhere.

In the same way, this culture we live in is headed somewhere.  It leads to addiction, divorce, depression, guilt, and, worst of all, hell.  Personally, I don’t want to go where the American culture is leading us to.

As the church of Jesus Christ, our future – our direction – should be vastly different.  Actually, the world should want what our culture leads to.  The differences should be that obvious.  We need to get back to the basics of what Christ wants to do in us.  Then we must follow it through to the end.

Question: What are some differences that should be obvious to the world?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2012 in Revival, The Church

 

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Are You Truly Thankful?

These thoughts on Thanksgiving come from reading Luke 17:11-19.  In this section of Scripture we see an interesting event in the life of Christ.  It caused me to ask myself if I am truly thankful for all God has done for me.

This story from the life of Christ surrounds ten lepers.  These were men who had an incurable skin disease.  They came to Jesus for a miracle and were not disappointed.

In these verses, we see everything needed for obtaining the blessing of God.  There’s faith, obedience, and expectancy.  Jesus’ response to them is simple.

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
Luke 17:14

There was no special religious display.  The Lord didn’t touch them or even pray over them.  He simply gave them a task to complete.

Then, something unexpected happened.  As they were on their way to the priests, their healing was completed.  By the time they got there, the leprosy was totally gone.

But that wasn’t the only unexpected occurrence that day.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.
Luke 17:15

On the way to the priests, one of the men sees what’s happening to him.  As he experiences his healing, he turns around.   He begins to make his way back to Jesus.

As he does so, he starts yelling.  The literal Greek uses the words mega-phone.  This was not a quiet thankfulness of the heart.  His actions must have attracted attention.  And what’s more, he didn’t even care who heard him.  He wanted to praise God because of His blessing.

What this passage taught me is that thankful people live out loud for the Lord.  This is not just a church thing, but a lifestyle of praise to God.

That’s why I believe Thanksgiving is more than just “Turkey Day” or “Football Day.”  It’s about what God has done for us.  Even the disciples of Christ caught hold of this.

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen…
Luke 19:37

This is a normal response to the hand of God at work.  It doesn’t mean you have to yell all the time.  What it does mean, is that God’s work should be abundantly evident in your life.

Question: What are you thankful to God for? Are you willing to let people know about it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2012 in Encouragement

 

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