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What Do You Live For?

Before the holiday, I was posting about Second Corinthians.  The Apostle Paul was explaining to the church that they needed to be prepared for their future performance review before the judgment seat of Christ.

That’s how Paul described the fear of the Lord.  It’s living under the knowledge that we have to give an account to Him someday.  That’s also why the apostle went into such detail describing his ministry.

We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.
2 Corinthians 5:12

The word, commend, in the above verse actually means to introduce.  Paul was afraid that his epistle was beginning to sound like a letter of introduction to a church that didn’t know him.

That wasn’t his goal.  The word opportunity is a Greek word that means a starting point.  Paul is giving them the basis for understanding true ministry.

The starting point is what’s in the heart.  That’s how you judge a ministry’s value.

Sometimes you ask someone about their ministry and immediately they start talking about all that they’re doing.  They take pride in the outside – what is seen.  That’s not the heart of a true ministry.

The more important issue is what God has done in the heart and life of the minister.  It’s about why I’m doing what I’m doing.  That’s where ministry for the Lord begins.

If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.  For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
2 Corinthians 5:13-15

This speaks volumes to me about the mindset of a church leader.  Paul makes it clear that it is Christ’s love that compels him – keeps him on track – to do God’s will.  That’s important.  It keeps us free from wrong attitudes.

Notice that it’s not the need that compels him.  Too many people are need-driven.  They see all the people who need salvation, help, or counsel.  They end up burned out because they’re not in tune with what God wants them to do.

Also, it’s not about the work that needs to be done for God.  There are those with the attitude, “If I see something that needs to be done, I just do it.”  That’s great in the short term, but you can’t sustain it.

That’s why in many churches 10% of the people are doing 90% of the work.  I can’t do both my job and yours and be effective at either.  We all need to be fulfilling our calling.  We all need to be compelled by the love of Christ.

The bottom line is that we live for Christ.  We don’t live to fulfill the needs of the people.  We don’t live for the work of the ministry.

WE LIVE FOR CHRIST!!!

Question: How do you see this at work in your ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Shining for Christ

In my last post, I talked about the light of the Gospel.  It shines through us if we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.  But we also saw that it’s possible for the devil to blind the spiritual eyes of unbelievers if they stubbornly refuse to hear the message.

We must always remember that the message is the most important part.  Methods may change, but the Gospel remains the same.

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:5-6

The message is Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  That’s where the power resides.  That’s where we find salvation, healing, provision, protection, and fulfillment.  There’s no other light that can pierce the darkness of this world.

Our light needs to radiate all around us.  Only in that way will people see their need for the Lord and come to the foot of the cross.  The light of the Gospel is all that matters.

But we always have to remember, it’s not our light but His. Peter talked about having the Word in you and allowing it to grow and produce fruit in your life. In speaking about this fruitfulness, he says the following…

But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
2 Peter 1:9

Peter calls unfruitful Christians blind and nearsighted. He says that you’ve forgotten about your past being cleansed by the blood of Christ.

That’s because this person is blind to what God is doing. They’re also nearsighted; they can only see what’s right in front of them. They major on the temporary things of this world.

We need 20/20 vision in the spirit.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Romans 13:12

It’s interesting to see the contrast here between deeds of darkness vs. armor of light. That’s because the armor is all about action.

Truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith – all of these things must be visible. It’s up to us to make the light accessible to the world.

We’re the ones looking into the light. We should be walking in it, letting it change us.

…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…
Philippians 2:15-16

How do we shine like stars? As we hold out the Word. The Word is the light. We hold it out. Not everybody wants it, but some people are touched and changed by it. We need to live in such a way that the light is seen.

Question: How have people seen the light of Christ in your life lately?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Modern Idolatry

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes learn more from the negative examples of others.  I see where someone failed and I now know how not to do it.  That’s how the Apostle Paul is using the example of the children of Israel.

Remember, in this verse he’s writing to a church where the manifestation of the Holy Spirit was strong and active.  So this verse is for believers.

Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.”
1 Corinthians 10:7

When I read this verse it causes me to wonder about my pre-conceived ideas.  When I hear the word “idolatry”, I think of a group of people bowing and worshipping a statue of stone or metal.  That’s nothing like what Paul is saying here.

The Greek word that’s translated, indulge in pagan revelry, is simply the word for play.  So Paul’s description of idolatry is very different than mine.  It’s about sitting down to consume and getting up to play.

Wow!  If that’s not a description of our present society in America, then I don’t know what is.  We have a nation of consumers and players.

To be a consumer means that you pour your resources into things that have no lasting value.  You buy a new car and it loses half its value when you leave the parking lot.  You by a brand new electronic device and it’s obsolete in a few weeks.

This became real to me while I was helping someone move.  They had boxes of VHS movie tapes that they’d purchased over the years.  Thousands of dollars in movies, but they can’t even watch them anymore because technology has moved on.

Playing is another big area for us.  Online gaming is a huge industry.  Big league sports are another huge money-maker.  Our society will pay people millions of dollars to throw and catch balls, while those who help others have to work two or three jobs to support their families.  That’s where our priorities are as a society right now.

I realize that without Christ, the “eat, drink, and be merry” lifestyle is sometimes the only way to cope with the pressures of life.  My problem is when Christians get caught up in the frenzy of the world.

We seem to feel left out if we’re not doing what they’re doing.  We want to experience everything that’s available.  So, we consume much of our time and resources chasing after the same temporary things that the world does.

Throughout the Bible, that’s called dissipation.  We are dissipating our energy and resources on things that don’t matter for eternity.  All the while, the kingdom of God has relatively few who are moving it forward.

We need to rethink our way of life.  How should we be living in this day and age?  What should our priorities be like?  I like the way Paul answers these questions in another of his letters.

Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

Living a life that’s mostly consuming and/or playing is a symptom of idolatry.  Don’t let the world dissipate your life.  Live for Christ wholeheartedly.

Question: How do we keep ourselves separate from the idolatry of the world?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Godless Christians?

Dry2I’m posting about the pattern of life handed down to us in the Scripture. Living for Christ is not all about following a set of rules. That’s the way the world tries to function.

“As long as I’m not breaking the rules, I can do what I want.”

A number of years ago I was leading a high school boy’s Bible Study at a Christian school. A frequent question that I got asked on a regular basis was, “Can I ___________ and still be a Christian?”

The blank was different every time, but the attitude was the same. It might have been about alcohol, dancing, R-rated movies, or rock music. The focus was the same each time it was asked. They were basically asking me, “How close to the world can I go and still make it to Heaven?”

Unfortunately, that’s the way a lot of Christians live out their lives. They look at the “religious” side of their life. They read the Bible, pray regularly, and go to church. So they’re okay. The rest of the time they do what they want. In our society they’re considered good Christians.

I’m about to say something that will probably make you mad. Please continue reading with an open heart. My goal is to see the church become who we were meant to be.

Right now there are a large percentage of “good Christians” who are godless. That’s a word that we usually associate with the unsaved. But a study of the Word of God will show that it sometimes applies to Christians as well.

Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
2 Timothy 2:16

Here Paul is warning a young pastor not to get involved in godless talk because it leads you further into ungodliness. That makes it clear that a Christian can be ungodly to a point. But what does that mean?

Simply put, ungodliness means that you live each day with no thought of God being involved in your life. You can be saved, on your way to Heaven, and love Jesus. But in your daily life you don’t look for God to have a big role.

You make your plans for the day or the week ahead. Then you go before God in prayer and ask Him to bless it. You may not want to hear this, but that is an ungodly lifestyle. You’re not unsaved, you’re not an evil person; you’re just living a godless lifestyle.

The Scripture gives us the pattern of life that will bring God, Himself into our daily lives. He should affect all that we do.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…
Titus 2:11-13

In my next posts I will talk about what the godly pattern of living is all about. If we will strive for that, it will bring us to a whole new level in Christ.

Question: What does it mean to get God involved in our daily lives?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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The Light of the World

 

NightIn my last post I started talking about the parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew, chapter 25. I concluded that the key is identifying what’s meant by the light, the lamps and the oil. If we can understand these three parts, then we’ll know how to act wisely in the days leading up to the return of the Lord.

All ten virgins had the ability to light up their area, at least for a little while. This tells me that all of the Christians in the end-time church will have the same ability to be a light to their generation.

This should help us, because on more than one occasion Jesus told us to be a light to those around us. What does this mean? And more importantly, does it fit into the constraints of the parable of the ten virgins? Let’s allow Jesus Himself to explain it to us.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world. He wants our light to be as conspicuous as a city on a hill, showing that we belong to Him. What is it that shines from our lives to those around us?

It’s clear from the above passage that our light is the works we show forth to those needing a touch from the Lord. All of us have the same ability. Jesus is clear that He will not allow our light to be hidden.

There are many believers who think that they should be able to live their lives without anyone knowing that they’re Christians. They don’t want to do anything to label themselves. Jesus never gave us this option.

We’re to share the Gospel, pray for the sick, and give hope to the hurting around us. I’m not talking about activities that we do in church buildings. God wants us to function like that in our society.

I’m to be a light on the job, at school, at home, or even on the ball field. The point is that when I’m with people, my works should be a light to reflect who Jesus is. So the light then, is the good works that I perform in Jesus’ name.

But wait, when the Lord speaks of “good works”, He’s talking about righteousness. Please understand that righteousness is the only work that’s good in God’s eyes. It’s as I live righteously before God that the world sees the light of life.

This concept is underscored by the Apostle Paul.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
2 Corinthians 6:14

In this passage Paul states that righteousness and wickedness are the spiritual equivalents of light and darkness.

Question: How can our lives be as bright as possible?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2014 in Ministry, Return of Christ, The Church

 

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Walking in the Word #returnofChrist

MirrorI’m posting about being the “John the Baptist Generation”.  I believe we are the last generation before the return of Christ and we need to live it out.

In my last post I said that we need to be hearing a Word from God.  This is essential for the end-time church.

But the key is that John didn’t just hear a Word.  He walked in it.  Our generation must walk out what we hear in God’s presence.  Hearing from God is only half of the equation.

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
James 1:21

This is talking about the engrafted word of God.  It’s not just reading the Bible or hearing a sermon, even thought it might start there.  It’s when you know God has spoken to you.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
James 1:22-24

We’re told not to simply hear a word from God.  We’re good at saying that God spoke to us.

“I know what I need to do.”

The problem is that years later there’s no change.  God is looking for an obedient people.  He wants someone who’ll not only speak for Him, but live for Him.

Sometimes I think that’s why we don’t listen – we don’t want to do what God might tell us.

I’ve been feeling more spiritual pressure on me lately to hear and obey the voice of God.  When I look at John’s life I see the insight I need to do what’s required of me.

John was born at that time for a purpose.  He could have said, “It’s not fair.  Why can everyone else do what they want?”  But by his obedience, he changed the course of history.

History Makers don’t get to just “do what they want.”  That’s our calling because of the generation we were born into.  Like it or not we were placed here to be a part of the greatest move of God the world has ever seen.

Instead of running from it, or hiding in the distractions of the world, we should embrace it.  It’s time for the people of God to let the Word shine through us.  I believe this will initiate the great end-time harvest of souls into the kingdom of God.

Question: What do you see as the greatest hindrance of us fulfilling this end-time call?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2013 in Prayer, Return of Christ, Revival

 

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