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What You Really Lack

Question MarkI’ve been looking at the path to maturity in the book of James. I want to talk in a little more detail about the result.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:4

This is obviously something that James believes that we can attain to. But in understanding the words that he uses, it goes against what many people preach.

I believe that God’s Word is truth. That means that no matter what people say, I have to trust that God’s way is correct.

What do I mean by all this? Simply that the word James uses for complete is a compound word. It means having your whole allotment. It speaks about everything that God has for us.

God wants us to be mature, receiving everything that Jesus paid for on the cross. But James doesn’t leave it at that. He goes on to repeat himself by coming at it from the opposite direction.

He says that as a mature believer you lack nothing. That literally means that there is not even one thing missing.

As I said in the first post of this series, the Book of James was the first Scripture that the Holy Spirit gave to the church. I find this amazing. The very first thing that the Spirit reveals to His church is that He wants us mature…AND…that there’s no lack in the walk of maturity.

Why is it that so many Christians seem to be missing out on God’s best? I think that it’s because we don’t know what we’re really lacking. We’re under the impression that we need things, or money. But that’s not the lack – according to Scripture.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5

Immediately after telling us that we should lack nothing, James tells us what to pray for. If there’s an area of need in our lives, then the deficiency is in our wisdom. At the point where we lack wisdom, there will be a material need.

This is clear from what Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote.

Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
Proverbs 3:13-16

You can sum up this passage by saying that if you possess Godly wisdom, then you don’t need anything else. Finances, a home, a good job, friends, and much more will be available to you if you can walk in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

The reason should be obvious. Wisdom is the ability to make the right choices based upon the knowledge you’ve received.

We live in an age where we have all the knowledge we need, right at our fingertips. We can search out any answer we require on Google. The problem is that knowledge by itself doesn’t guarantee our success. You need to know what to do with it. That’s why God promises us His wisdom.

I’m so glad that there’s no qualification on the Lord’s promise of wisdom. Anytime, anywhere, I can ask Him and receive the wisdom I need.

If you lack anything, then it’s time for a new strategy. Instead of praying for “stuff”, ask God for the wisdom you need. Then be listening for His voice to guide you in the right paths.

Question: How has God’s wisdom helped you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in God's Provision, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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On to Maturity

FinishIn my last post, James showed us that our faith has to be approved. We need this if we’re going to grow spiritually. The final piece he talks about is perseverance.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:4

This goes right along with what Jesus taught His disciples.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

This word, perfect, is the same word mature that James used. This is God’s desire for His people. That we attain to the same level of maturity as Christ.

The unfortunate thing is that many teach that this is impossible. Over and over we’re told that to walk like Jesus is beyond our reach. I don’t buy into this type of reasoning.

When I see the lives of the Apostles in the book of Acts, I don’t get the idea that they’re immature. I see the same signs and wonders that were performed by the Lord. I see thousands of people drawn to, and changed by, the Word of God.

If it was possible for them, then the same is true for us. But we have to be willing to walk the same road they walked to get there.

One of the key ingredients to us reaching this level is the ministry gifts God has given to the body of Christ. In talking about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, Paul said that they were given as gifts to the church. They have a very clear purpose.

…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:12-13

The goal of this five-fold ministry is the maturing of the saints. The level of that maturity is beyond question. It’s so that we would live and minister in the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Why would the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to write these words if it was impossible? We need to stop making excuses, and start working towards the walk of maturity.

Paul understood this aspect of his work as an apostle of Christ.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Colossians 1:28-29

That’s the goal of the ministry. We’re here to present everyone – not just a select few – perfect and mature in Christ. This requires supernatural strength and wisdom.

We cannot hope to perform this on a merely human level. As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I need to yield to the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this great task.

The belief that this is impossible to achieve in our lifetime only serves to undermine the Lord’s goal for us. We need to recognize where He’s leading us to, and cooperate with the Lord’s program for our development. After all, He’s bringing us on an incredible spiritual journey.

But I want us to see the result of this work. What happens once you reach this mature walk?

In the first verse we looked at, James clearly states, from the Holy Spirit and his experience, that when you walk in maturity you lack nothing. Lacking nothing – that’s what the church is striving for in this generation.

If we’re going to operate at this level, then we need the spiritual walk of maturity.

Question: What would the ministry of a spiritually mature believer look like?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2017 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Are You Mature Enough?

GradI’ve been posting about what makes us worthy of the power of God. I started by looking at what the Roman Centurion said to Jesus.

“Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
Luke 7:6b-7

The last couple of posts I talked about his words I do not deserve – the Greek word axios. Now I want to look at worthy – the Greek word hikanos. It literally means not far enough along.

There are many Christians who believe that they haven’t walked with the Lord long enough to see the manifestation of the power of God in their lives. There’s a big fallacy with this kind of thinking. The very notion that they’re not far enough along implies that there will be a time when they’re mature enough to merit this power.

I am here to tell you that will never happen on this side of eternity. In actuality the centurion had it right – “But just say the word.”

Paul understood this concept. He evangelized most of the Roman Empire. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote most of the New Testament.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10

Paul used the Greek word hikanos when he said he did not even deserve to be called an apostle. If Paul was not far enough along to walk in this power, then there’s no chance for us. Yet the important part of this issue is all summed up in the words but by the grace of God.

The simple truth is that you’ll never be good enough. It’s only by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that we may stand in His power and authority.

I’ll never be good enough or far enough along to deserve the title of son. I’ll never be worthy of His power based upon my own merits. But by the grace of God I am what I am.

It’s this thinking drives me to work for the Lord. It’s the foundation for serving Him in the correct way. When I start to think that I can make myself more worthy I miss the whole concept of His grace.

This is what keeps us from experiencing the power of God in the church today. If I think like a child – that if I just work harder to be worthy, then I’ve lost it at the start. If I let sin go unrepentant and refuse intimacy with God then I short circuit the power.

It’s time for us to understand that it’s not my ability to be good that gets me anything. It’s God’s grace working in me that allows me to manifest the power of God.

Question: What’s the role of good works in the life of the believer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Legalism, Power of God, Revival

 

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Spiritual Frustration

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been posting about the stages of spiritual growth. In my last post I talked about spiritual maturity. I showed the blessings that come with it.

Here’s the problem. We know what it should look like. But many are trying to do it within the confines of a childish spiritual walk.

We’re always on the lookout for some new teaching or “move of God” that will give us our breakthrough. We want the Six Steps to Prosperity or the Ten Confessions that bring Healing. We’re trying to get the freedom and resources of maturity while desperately hanging on to our childhood. This is never going to happen. It’s only when we attain to the goal of spiritual adulthood that we’ll see these things accomplished in us.

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
James 3:2

There’s more to the mature walk than simply getting our needs met. This word perfect is the same word for mature that we have been talking about. When you reach this level in your Christian experience sin is the exception rather than the rule. It’s not about trying harder. It’s the Holy Spirit working in you to perfect you.

So much of our energy is spent on trying to “be good.” Many preachers are wasting their time using guilt and scare tactics to try and get their people to live a righteous life. That’s not the scriptural way to get there.

It’s the work of the Holy Spirit in us that overcomes the sin nature. We have watered down this good news by making it all based on what I can do. Then we get frustrated that we can’t live up to the lifestyle put forth in the Word of God.

I believe that we’re at the point, in this generation, where we don’t understand what maturity is. We read the Bible and see how far we are from the abundant life described by the Lord. We’re like little children looking up to their older siblings and saying, “Why can’t I do that?”

We need to break out of our childhood. We must enter into the adult world, spiritually speaking. That’s why it’s so important to understand the progression of sonship. We have to go from the initial paperwork of adoption to full-fledged, mature, revealed sons of God. I am convinced by all that I see happening in the church today, that this is the next step on God’s agenda for us.

The frustration comes in when we want to walk in the blessings of the mature without going through the stages of growth. We need to focus on becoming mature, instead of merely seeking God for things.

In order for us to get where we need to be, we must first acknowledge where we are. Then submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in us. There’s no quick solution.

It’s all about time in the presence of the Lord. That’s where true change takes place. As the life of Christ is birthed on the inside of us, the outside will become more like Him.

Question: What are you doing to submit to the Holy Spirit’s work in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Revival, Sonship, The Church

 

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Spiritual Adulthood

Lion2This is a continuation of a series about the spiritual growth stages in the life of the believer. Today I’m talking about adulthood.

Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

This word, perfect, also means to be mature and complete. This is God’s desire for His people. That we attain to the same level of maturity as Christ.

The unfortunate thing is that many teach that this is impossible. Over and over we are told that to walk like Jesus is beyond our reach. I don’t buy into this type of reasoning.

When I see the lives of the Apostles in the book of Acts, I don’t get the idea that they’re immature. I see the same signs and wonders that were performed by the Lord. I see thousands of people drawn to, and changed by, the Word of God. If it was possible for them, then the same is true for us – if we’re willing to walk the same road they walked to get there.

One of the key ingredients to us reaching this level is the ministry gifts God has given to the body of Christ. In talking about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, Paul said that they were given as gifts to the church. They have a very clear purpose.

…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:12-13

The goal of the five-fold ministry is the maturing of the saints. The level of that maturity is beyond question. It is that we would live and minister as the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Why would the Holy Spirit inspire Paul to write these words if it were not possible? We need to stop making excuses, and start working towards the walk of maturity.

Paul understood this aspect of his work as an apostle of Christ.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Colossians 1:28-29

That’s the goal of the ministry. We are here to present everyone – not just a select few – perfect and mature in Christ. This requires supernatural strength and wisdom. We cannot hope to perform this on a merely human level. As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I need to yield to the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this great task.

The belief that this is impossible to achieve in our lifetime only serves to undermine the Lord’s goal for us. We need to recognize where He’s leading us to, and cooperate with the Lord’s program for our development. After all, He’s bringing us on an incredible spiritual journey.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:4

In the book of James we are shown the path it takes to get to maturity. The final piece he talks about is perseverance. But I want us to see the result of this work. What happens once you reach this mature walk?

James clearly states, from the Holy Spirit and his experience, that when you walk in maturity you lack nothing. Lacking nothing – that’s what the church is striving for in this generation.

If we’re going to operate at this level, then we need the spiritual walk of maturity.

Question: What would the ministry of a spiritually mature believer look like?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2014 in Ministry, Sonship, The Church

 

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Becoming Mature in the Word

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven though the church talks a lot about the Word of God, I wonder sometimes just how mature we really are.  At one point the writer of the Book of Hebrews rebukes his listeners for their lack of maturity.

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:12-14

In order to become mature, we must learn the elementary truths of God’s Word.  Then when we’re mature, we are able to discern the good from the evil.  This is especially needed when someone supports their evil with a verse of Scripture.

People try to push the dumbest things, all in the name of God’s Word.  I believe these days of such foolishness are coming to an end.  I believe that God is bringing His people to a new level of maturity in the Holy Spirit.

As we mature, we will be able to discern whether something is of God, or just a clever deception.  That’s one of the reasons I’m posting this blog.  So that the Lord’s people can live for God unashamed and correctly handling the Word of Truth.

In Jesus’ encounter with the devil in the wilderness, He made the following statement.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

Here is why maturity in the Word is so important – The Word is our Life.  Jesus said that food was not enough for man to live on.  If someone truly wants the abundant life, then he needs to grasp the Word of God.

Paul understood this truth as he ministered to his people.  He wrote to them about how to live as examples to the world.

…as you hold out the word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
Philippians 2:16

This is such an important aspect that God’s Word is even called the Word of Life.  That’s why Jesus – the Word made flesh – could say that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  The Word of God brings life.  The Word of God is life.  This is a very important point for us to understand.

Question: In what ways have you experienced the abundant life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Scripture, the Truth, and the Word of God

We live in an age where people are using the Bible to support what they’re doing or teaching.  How do I know if I’m truly hearing God’s Word?  Just because someone quotes the Scripture – is it really God’s Word they’re proclaiming?

In my last post we saw that Jesus didn’t accept the scriptural declaration of the devil.  He knew that the enemy was not speaking God’s Word to Him.

BibleHere is a surprising fact you may not know.  Throughout the entire Bible, the Scripture never calls itself the Word of God.  That’s something we have done.

At this point you’re probably ready to stone me as a heretic.  Please wait.  I’m not saying that the Bible is not the Word of God. All I’m saying is that the Bible doesn’t call itself the Word of God.

There is an important reason for that, which Christ Himself will testify to.  You need to let His words speak to you to understand the true nature of Scripture and the Word of God.

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
John 17:17

Jesus is very clear in this passage.  God’s Word is not just truthful.  It doesn’t only contain truth.  It is, by its very nature, TRUTH.

What about Christ the Living Word?  Didn’t He say, “I am the Way, THE TRUTH, and the Life.”?  There’s no getting around it – God’s Word is truth.

It’s unfortunate, but people can take the words of Scripture and twist them around for their own ends.  That’s why we need a daily walk with the Holy Spirit.  There’s a reason He’s called the Spirit of Truth.  The Spirit of God gives us the discernment we need when reading or hearing the Scripture.

Christ needed to discern the “word” He heard from the devil.  He was mature enough to see that even though Satan was quoting Scripture, his intent was evil.  In that case, the verse that the devil spoke was not the Word of God to Jesus.

We’re running into the same type of problems in the church today.  It grieves me that there are ministers whose only reason for studying the Bible, is to find passages that will convince you to put your money into their wallets.  They’ll tell you, based upon a Bible verse, that you will be blessed if you send them an offering of your month’s salary.

They’ll tell you that it’s God’s Word to you that if you’ll send them the money, then you’ll be out of debt and in a new house by the end of the year.  Of course, when it doesn’t come to pass you’ll blame God.  “I stood on God’s Word and He failed to keep it.”

Unfortunately, it was not God’s Word that failed.  What happened was that some preacher’s faulty use of the Scripture failed.  Then again, it got him the money he wanted, so it didn’t fail to bring in what he was after – your money.

Question: Have you ever seen the Scripture used to promote a lie?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Word of God

 

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