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Your Ministry of Excellence #excellenceinministry

TrophyIn my last post I talked about deciding to walk in excellence.  It’s never too late with God.

I looked at God’s promise of restoration to the nation of Israel.  But what about our ministry under the New Covenant?  Does God expect us to walk in a spirit of excellence?

If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!  For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.  And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
II Corinthians 3:9-12

The two verses we looked at in the last post were from that former ministry that condemned men.  The glory that God exhibited back then was indeed glorious.  But Paul says in verse 10 that we are now living in the day when God wants to exhibit His excellent glory.

When I think about the glory He showed in the Old Testament, I wonder how it could be any better.  He ordained a place of worship that was lined in gold.  Even the utensils used in its service were mostly of gold and silver.  The priests themselves were lavishly dressed – the high priest having precious stones on his garment.

But wait a minute.  Remember, that excellence is not about things, but about spirit.  It’s based on who you are.  Do you excel beyond the normal and the expected?  This is different for everyone.

In some places it might mean a large building and the latest technology.  In other places around the world, however, excellence might mean a building with a roof that doesn’t leak.  I’ve found that in some cultures, just starting a meeting on time is a mark of the spirit of excellence.  Remember that it’s not the “what” of the ministry that makes it excellent, it is the “why.”

The preceding verse goes so far as to say that your boldness will be based on the excellence that your ministry exhibits.  If you’re content with an “I’ll just get by” spirit, then it will show in your lack of boldness.  But one who has learned to step out and believe God for that which is excellent, will be just as willing to believe Him in other areas of his life.

It’s only those who are bold for Christ who are willing to go beyond the normal church routine and enter the realm of the excellent.  There are many that desire to be average, simply because they don’t want to attract attention.  This is just the opposite of what God wants.

He’s looking for a people who will allow Him to shine through them.  That should be our desire as well.  Then the world will see and be attracted to the excellent glory of God revealed in us.  Oh, that the Church would rise up in excellence and boldness, that the world might once again be turned upside down for the glory of God!

Question: How does excellence and boldness play a role in your life and ministry?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

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Posted by on July 31, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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Excellence and Rewards

CrownIn my last post I talked about how we are called to live a life of excellence.  Did you know that your eternal rewards are based upon how well you live up to this?

The Bible does speak over and over again about the different levels of rewards based upon the work we perform throughout our lives.

But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.   From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Luke 12:48

The fact is that we are responsible for what we’ve received.  A young Christian is not responsible for the truths that have not yet been made real to him.  Someone who’s been walking with the Lord for years, and ignoring His call, will receive less in the kingdom.

It’s clear from Scripture that we’re going to be responsible for the grace that we’ve been given.  With a greater anointing and calling comes greater responsibility.

I’ve found that many believers, ministers especially, want the miracles and the big churches without the character it takes to walk uprightly before God in that kind of work.  The Lord wants us to grow from the inside out.  An increase in power, without a corresponding increase in character, will destroy our spiritual walk.

As a matter of fact, it’s probably too late for you now.  You’ve read too much.  If you’ve been reading my blogs regularly, then God is going to require excellence from you and your ministry.  Now that you know He’s a God of excellence, and that He requires excellence in His followers, you must begin to walk in it.  Read on!

Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Matthew 7:13-14

The Lord talked to His disciples about the narrow road.  We like to interpret this verse as if it’s merely talking about the road of salvation.  Salvation is indeed the first step toward excellence.  When we chose Christ, we chose a better path than that of the world.

I believe, however, that this Scripture has a broader meaning in application to the body of Christ.  Very few find the walk of excellence to which we have been called.  “The few;” that sounds like the definition of excellence to me – “that which goes beyond the expected or the normal.”

The Lord expects us to find the narrow gate of excellence.  If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Question: Have you made the decision to live a life of excellence before God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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You are Called to a Life of Excellence

TrophyA couple of weeks ago I blogged about how the Bible describes our excellent God.  It’s one thing to acknowledge that a perfect, holy, and Most High God is excellent.  It’s quite another to see that we’re called to that same level of excellence.

Again, let me remind you that it’s not what we do, but whom we have become that makes us excellent.  A ministry is not excellent because of its money, technology, modern equipment, large size, big building, or anything else that we may possess.  It’s only when we compare what we’re doing to the normal, the average, or the expected that excellence can be seen.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
Acts 13:2

The very act of finding and entering your calling is being set apart – you are being divinely moved from a large group to a smaller group.  This, by definition, is the more excellent group.

It is a group of those who have been called, prepared, chosen, and accepted for a divinely appointed task.  Don’t ever think you’re just like everybody else; you’re not.

There are levels to our callings based upon our obedience and excellence.  The more we manifest excellence in our walk and ministry, the further from the pack we move.  Make no mistake about it; the Lord is very clear in His call to us – we are to leave the normal behind.

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

This seems like an almost impossible task. Are we really to be as perfect as God?  Actually, the word perfect in this verse means fully mature.  God wants us to grow up and act as mature believers.  The life of maturity in Christ is the life of excellence to which we are called.

But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15-16

It is clear from the above verses that God is calling us to live a life worthy of His excellent name.  Please don’t get confused by what I’m saying.  I’m not talking about your salvation.  It’s not by works that we’re saved, but through the grace of God.

What I am speaking about, however, is the fact that once we’re saved, there is an expectation of change (for the better) in our lives.  God is looking for His children to grow and mature into a people who accurately portray His kingdom and His desires.

For Christians, the walk of maturity is the walk of excellence.

Question: In what areas have you seen yourself mature since you’ve come to Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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God’s Excellent Kingdom

CastleI’ve been talking about excellence for a few posts.  I want to finish up this topic by showing that everything God has for us in His kingdom is excellent.

The Greek word usually translated excellent in the New Testament is hyperballoHyperballo, literally means, to throw beyond.  The word picture being used is of an Olympic sport such as throwing the javelin.

Everyone else has thrown it to a certain, average point.  You, however, get up and throw it beyond all the others.  That’s a picture of the concept of excellence.  When you throw beyond the normal or what’s expected, then you’ve entered the realm of the excellent.

Here are some examples of how the word hyperballo is used of the Lord in the New Testament:

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:18-19a

The word that was translated incomparably great is hyperballo.  Many people have a measure of strength, but God desires to work His power in us.  This is a power that goes beyond the normal, the average or the expected.  His power working in us is excellent.

In order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:7

Not only does He desire to show us His excellent power, but He also wants to work His excellent grace in us.  Most of us know that the grace of God is His unmerited favor.  The favor of the Lord goes beyond what’s deserved or expected.

And to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:19

He also wants to show us His love that throws beyond knowledge.  This love is greater than anything we have ever experienced before in our lives.  His love goes further than we could ever ask, think, or imagine.

If you have ever received teaching on the book of Hebrews, you have probably heard that the theme of the book is “Better.”  How much better the ministry of Christ is than any other!  It incorporates a better sacrifice, a better priesthood, and better promises.

Why would anyone settle for mediocrity?  Knowing who the Lord is should spur us on to excellence.  His excellent power, excellent grace, and excellent love are the treasures that He is ready to bestow upon us.  We only need to be willing to walk the high road of excellence.

Question: How have you experienced the excellence of God’s kingdom?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2013 in Encouragement, Spirit of Excellence

 

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Do you have a Spirit of Excellence?

SpeedFinally, brothers…if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

Excellence.  It’s a word we hear all the time in the church.  Everyone talks about wanting an excellent ministry.  Sad to say, most of it is just talk.  We need to strive for excellence.

What is a spirit of excellence?  I’ve found that many Christians have no clue.  If you can’t define it, then you have no basis upon which to judge yourself.

To excel is defined as to do or be better than; to surpass; to show superiority; to surpass others.  Some synonyms of this word are to surpass, exceed, transcend, and outdo.  These verbs mean to be or to go beyond a limit or standard.

It should be very obvious by now that this word excel is a word of comparison.  You only use it when you’re relating to the norm, the average, or the expected.

Excellence, therefore, means that you’re going beyond what’s expected or what others are doing.  We tend to get caught up in what people do or how they do it.  Excellence is more than that.

It’s something you are.  You’re either ahead of the pack or you’re not.  There’s no partly excellent, halfway excellent or almost excellent.  You’re either living in the realm of the excellent or you’re not.

A word with a similar root is accelerate.  To accelerate means that you’re in a state of continually increasing speed.  Your speed now is higher than that of a moment ago.

When purchasing a new car, one of the considerations is how well it accelerates.  Acceleration is important when passing another car on the highway.  In the same way, on the highway of life, if you intend to surpass the normal or that which is expected, then you need the power of excellence operating in your life and ministry.

We know how a great car should act.  When we pull out into another lane to pass the car in front of us, we expect an immediate response when we step on the “accelerator.”  If the car hesitates, if the engine sputters and coughs, then we know there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

In the same way, if the Lord speaks to your heart to do something above and beyond what you’re doing now, or what’s expected for your type of ministry, He expects immediate agreement to His Word.

Hesitation in ministry is a sign that we lack excellence.  When God instructs you to “pull out and pass” the normal or the expected, He’s looking for obedience.  Responses such as “We’ve never done it that way before,” “No one else does it like that,” or “I can’t possibly handle that” are indications that you must move on to new levels of excellence.

That’s why He’s given us His Holy Spirit.  He’ll work with us, bringing us to new heights in Christ, but only if we’re willing to submit to His leadership.  You must desire this walk of excellence.

Question: Do you desire a walk of excellence with Christ?

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Encouragement, Spirit of Excellence

 

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The Day after the Resurrection

FishingYesterday was Resurrection Sunday.  If you’re like most Christians, you went to church to celebrate this world-changing event.  I hope you had a great time of praise and worship to our God.

My question is this: What happens the next day?  How does the reality of the resurrection of Christ affect the rest of your walk with Him?

Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.  “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
John 21:2-3

This is a very interesting event in the lives of the disciples.  What arrests my attention, is that this happened after the events of the first day of the week.

They decided to go fishing after Mary came running to them with the news that she had seen the risen Lord.  It was also after Jesus came to them in their apartment.  It was after Thomas was told to touch the wounds in Jesus’ hands, feet, and side.

I would understand it if they had not yet know about the resurrection.  But at this point they were well acquainted with the risen Lord.  Why did they go back to the same old routine?  Especially since fishing is what they did before they had even met Jesus.

Where are we today?  Are we stuck in the same old stuff we’ve always been doing?  It’s funny just how like the disciples we seem to be.

It was in this setting that the disciples had another encounter with the risen Lord.  This time He broke into their everyday world and turned it upside down.  They realized that they couldn’t even go fishing without the help of the Lord.

This is the moment when Jesus told Peter, “Feed My sheep.”

Everything changed.  There was no going back.  Because of the resurrection, the very course of their lives was changed.

What about us?  Yesterday, we celebrated the Risen Lord.  How does it affect us today?  How can we live a “normal” life knowing what Christ has accomplished?

Allow the truth of the resurrection to fill your thoughts.  Don’t just consign it to one Sunday a year.  Let it set you on a new course.  A course that will turn the world upside down.

Question: How does the resurrection of Christ affect what you do today?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in Encouragement

 

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Christianity: The Counter-Culture…or not?

DifferentIs the church called to run contrary to the world?  If so, then where are we missing it?  I want to take a few posts to deal with this issue.  I want us to think about our walk as Christians in America.

This topic actually isn’t that new.  James wrote about it long ago.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?  Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

Those are some strong words he uses.  He called them an adulterous people.  What does cheating on your spouse have to do with the spiritual condition of a generation?  The answer is found in the verse just preceding this one.  It explains his choice of words.

As he talked about asking for things in prayer, he wrote…

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:3

Here’s the problem that James is describing as adultery.  They asked God for things so that they could then spend those things on their pleasures.  It literally says that their motives in seeking God, was so that they could become consumers of pleasures.

That sounds a little too familiar.

“God, please help me to get a better job.”

Then, as our blessings increase, we get more things and push God further into the background.  After all, now that I have more stuff, I have less time for “church”.

Here’s the problem from God’s perspective.  It says in verse 4, above, that trying to make friends with the world is an act of hostility toward God.  To make a friend, you need to try to please them or be like them in some way.

Remember, we’re not talking about the people, but the world system.  You can make friends with people without buying into the system.

There’s a word we use for the world’s system of order.  It’s the word culture.  Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary defines culture as, the sum total of the attainments and activities of any…people, including their implements, handcrafts, agriculture, economics, music, arts, religious beliefs, tradition, language and story.

In other words, the American culture is our entire way of life.  It’s how we live and what we expect.  It’s what we strive for as well as what we accept as “normal”.

When I think about the mainstream of life in the United States, I get a picture of the system at work here.  Then, when I see the lifestyle we are called to as followers of Christ, I get a whole different picture.  There are some areas where the two cultures are drastically different.

How do we live in both worlds?  That’s what I want to talk about in the next few posts.  Hopefully you’ll join the conversation.

Question: Do you see areas where the church is too friendly with the world system?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2012 in Revival, The Church

 

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