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Imitation – The Path to Greatness

In my last post, I talked about how the Thessalonian believers accepted the Word of God. It changed them. It brought them to a new way of life.

But even though it created a desire for change in them, something else was needed. You may have the desire and the power to change, but without a proper example, you won’t know how to live a new life.

For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

The word imitation keeps popping up in this letter. That’s because it’s an important concept for growing Christians. More than ever, we need leaders who are worthy of imitation.

I don’t know where I’d be today if weren’t for the pastors and teachers who I watched and copied along the way. By watching their examples, I learned how to love others, to pray for those in need of God’s touch, and how to witness to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

We were never meant to serve God on our own. It’s not God’s plan for us to figure everything out all by ourselves. We need to follow in the footsteps of those who have walked this path before.

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Hebrews 13:7

We sometimes get the idea that the great men and women of God were somehow born into their positions of honor. We see the work that they’re doing now and can’t grasp that they ever had to struggle with their Christian walk.

The fact is that every believer – whether they’re a leader or not – has to wrestle with the same problems and challenges. The important thought in this verse is to consider how their lives turned out.

That word, consider, means to look again. We need to take a second look at our leaders. See how they got from salvation to their present position. Then, we should imitate the positive way that they trusted and served Christ.

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Hebrews 6:12

Here’s the key. When we look at those who are leaders in the body of Christ, we must always understand the road that they took.

There’s no easy way. It’s not just about faith. Inheriting the promise comes through both faith and patience.

We think that we can simply start trusting God and walk in a ministry like those who’ve been trusting the Lord for years. It doesn’t work like that.

Imitation doesn’t only mean that I minister the way they do right now. It means that I follow the same path that they took to get there. I have to learn the same lessons and fight some of the same battles.

The good news is that if they could come through victoriously, then I can too. God is no respecter of persons. If I’m willing to listen to, trust, and obey God the way others do, then I’ll receive the same inheritance.

Question: What blessings are in your life as a result of godly examples?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2017 in Faith, Leadership, Spiritual Walk

 

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Patiently Complaining?

In my last post we saw what James taught about the Second Coming of the Lord. It will require us to be patient. At this point it’s taken about 2000 years for the fulfillment.

But there is still more to learn about patience.

Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
James 5:9

James tells us to wait patiently without grumbling. Now, that word grumbling was a colloquial term that meant to sigh, to murmur or to say something inaudibly.

It’s just like when someone gets you mad and you speak under your breath.

“I don’t know about that person … I don’t want to do it his way … who does he think he is.”

Many of us act that way, but the Word says that we shouldn’t get caught up in that type of attitude. We shouldn’t be grumbling and complaining about one another.

Why not? “Because the Judge is at the door.” We enjoy the ability we have of always judging everybody else and then walking away.   We’ve always got something to say about somebody.

I know that in my own life it’s so much easier to give myself the benefit of the doubt. But when someone else does something I don’t like – they have no excuse. It may be human nature to see things in that way, but it’s not Christ-like.

Be careful, because the Lord sees everything, and He’s the One who’ll make the final, righteous judgment on the case.

Jesus, especially in these Last Days, wants us to walk in unity of spirit. And so He wants us to be careful not to be found grumbling and judging each other because we know that the real Judge is at the door. We’ve got to be found doing the work that He’s called us to do and not mistreating one another.

There’s one more aspect of patience that James deals with.

Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
James 5:10-11

Especially in these last days, we need to be patient in the face of suffering. Please understand, that word suffering literally means suffering evil. It about the patience we need to be salt in our current evil society.

I have to understand that unsaved people are going to do evil. It’s all a part of their human nature passed down through their DNA. It’s not my place to judge them or tell them what they’re doing is wrong.

I must be praying for them. While God is at work, I need to be patient with them. Then, as I live openly for Christ, I expect the Holy Spirit to convict them and open their heart to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t take any character to gripe and complain about everything that people are doing wrong in our society. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit wait patiently for an opportunity to be a true witness for Christ.

The fact is that people don’t get saved because you tell them how bad and sinful they are. They seek salvation when they see how good and loving the Savior is. The key is that the only place they’re going to see Christ’s goodness is in us.

Question: When have you had to be patient in the face of evil?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Legalism, Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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The Walk of Patience

I’ve been posting from the book of James – the first book of the New Testament to be written. This means that the following passage is the first mention of the Second Coming of Christ.

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm because the Lord’s coming is near.
James 5:7-8

James likens the wait for the Lord’s coming to the patience of a farmer. He says it’s very important for us to be patient. The Greek word he uses for patience is a compound word that means, long-tempered.

In other words, don’t get frustrated easily because it’ll be a long wait.

A farmer has to be long-tempered as he waits for the land to yield its crop. He must wait for the fruit. He can’t just plant the seed and get frustrated that the next day he doesn’t have a harvest. A lot of Christians have to understand this process. We learn a truth today, and we expect it to be living, active, and producing fruit in our life tomorrow. It doesn’t work that way.

When I learn something today, I must relearn it again tomorrow. I then need to relearn it again the next day. Finally, I get to the point where it’s not just in my head but also in my heart. Then, after getting it in my heart, I have to wait for it to grow and produce fruit. That’s the way the Word works.

If this is the process of growth, then it’s the same thing with the coming of the Lord. We have to wait for the right time – the time of the harvest.

James said that the farmer has to wait for the autumn and spring rains. You might think that he had it backwards. For us the order is spring and then autumn rains. In Israel, however, they have a whole different climate than we have.

When we plant, we plant in the springtime because it’s too cold in the winter to do anything, and then we harvest in the fall. In Israel it’s too hot and dry to grow anything in the summer. So they plant in the autumn, when the first rains of the autumn come, and the seed starts to grow.

It then becomes cooler in the winter and there’s a lot more water available. Then in the spring, they take in the harvest. At that time they look for the spring rains to get that final growth spurt before the fruit is picked. Then comes the summer, when it’s too hot and dry to grow anything.

That’s what it’s like concerning the church. James says that the beginning of the church is like the autumn rain. It seemed like everything was happening at once. There were miracles, signs, and wonders. It was an incredible time to serve the Lord.

Then, if you remember, in some of His parables, Jesus said it was going to be as if the church would fall asleep. He said a farmer fell asleep. He said that the ten virgins fell asleep. In all of these parables, the church was seen as entering a time of dormancy. That’s pretty much what the church did over the centuries.

But now, God’s waking us up again. That’s one of the reasons why I believe we’re in the last days. We’re seeing things happen by the sovereign hand of God. We’re seeing the church come to life again. I believe we’re heading into the spring rain getting us ready for the harvest.

So if I need to be patient, then what do I do in the mean time? According to the Scripture above, while I’m waiting, I must stand firm. This word means to establish yourself. We’re to be steadfast in what we’re doing for the Lord.

It also means to look resolutely in one direction without turning. That’s God’s will for us while we wait patiently for the Lord’s return. Once we put our hand to the plow, we don’t look to the right or to the left. We just stand fast, in faith, with what the Word of God says.

Question: How does patience give you a better attitude toward God’s work?

To find out about my new book on the Second Coming of Christ – Click here!

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2017 in Faith, Return of Christ

 

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The Secret of Inner Power

PackageDid you know that it’s what’s on the inside that counts? The things that are happening around us don’t determine our destiny. We need to learn to live above our circumstances.

…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joy.
Colossians 1:11

One of the things that the Holy Spirit desires to do in us is to strengthen our inner man. He wants to give us the power we need to stand our ground for Christ.

This life is very draining on people. I don’t believe there’s any such thing as an easy life. We all have to go through struggles and trials.

We look at the lives of others and think that they have it easy. That’s only because the things that get me down don’t affect you in the same way. Conversely, the things that you’re having trouble with don’t bother me at all. We all experience things differently.

That’s why everyone needs an abundance of endurance, patience, and joy. Those are qualities we seem to lose so easily. But they are the things that the Holy Spirit wants to equip us with.

Endurance. This comes from a Greek word that means to remain under. Sometimes we have to go through experiences that are uncomfortable. We feel like giving up. The Holy Spirit can give us the power to see it through to the final victory.

Patience. This one sounds the same as endurance but it’s a little different. It literally means to be long passioned. In other words, it’s the ability to go through a hard time without “having a meltdown.” Sometimes in the midst of problems we say or do things that we’re sorry for the rest of our lives. The Lord wants to keep us from making these kinds of mistakes.

Joy. Joy is an interesting concept in the New Testament. It’s very different from the emotion of happiness. Happiness is based what happens. Joy is based upon the knowledge that you are in Christ and nothing can touch you without His permission. Therefore, you can have a positive outlook on life because Jesus has the final say.

The fact is, apart from His Spirit we would give up too soon. I want to see the finish line and cross it with strength. I don’t want to barely finish my race then collapse in exhaustion. I want to enter Heaven with my head held high, knowing that the Lord has brought me through victoriously.

To finish strong I must rely on His strength for my life. I must come to the realization that “without Him I can do nothing.” It’s a humbling experience to tell the Lord that you need Him. But that’s why Scripture teaches that if you humble yourself before Him, He will exalt you.

Draw on the power of the Holy Spirit today. Spend quality time in His presence and watch what the Lord can do in a life that’s yielded before Him. Make use of His promises. Let Him grant to you His endurance, patience, and joy.

Question: How have you seen the Lord’s strength working in you recently?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2015 in Power of God, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Give Me My Mountain #happynewyear

2014Welcome to 2014!!  There’s no going back – no do-overs.

As we look forward to what’s in store for us, we must keep our minds fixed on the road ahead.  We have a great destiny in the Lord.  Here’s a wonderful quote from an Old Testament saint.

“Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert.  So here I am today, eighty-five years old!  I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.  Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day.  You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
Joshua 14:10-12

You would think some young soldier spoke these words.  Maybe someone fresh out of boot camp and ready for a battle.  The hill country of Israel is rough terrain, especially when in a war for the possession of it.

But Caleb, the man who spoke up, was 85 years old.  His attitude is remarkable.  He wasn’t content to let someone younger do the work.  He wasn’t one to say, “It’s time for me to sit back and relax.”

On the contrary, Caleb was ready to fight for what was promised to him.

I’m glad that there’s no age limit in the Kingdom of God.  We need to see that we will not be put out to pasture when we reach a certain age.  I want to serve God faithfully with every breath I have.

As someone in their 50’s, I see each new year as a blessing that must not be squandered.  That being said, if you’re younger, then time should be even more precious to you.

Caleb didn’t sit on the couch for 70 years then finally get up ready for a fight.  He was actively walking in the plan of God his whole life.  We need to cultivate the same attitude.

Obtaining the blessings and promises of God require faith, patience and consistency.  Knowing this, we must harden our faith now – so that when we reach our elder years, we’ll continue on spiritually stronger than when we started.

Take the time at the beginning of this new year, to establish the path of your life in the direction God has for you.  Commit your future to the Lord and purpose in your heart to finish the race strong.

We may not know what’s ahead of us in the coming year.  But we do know the God that we serve, and the exciting path He is sure to lead us on.

Have a blessed New Year!!!

Question: What are you trusting God for in this new year?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in Encouragement, Faith

 

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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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