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Imitation – The Road to Maturity

What do you think it takes to start maturing in Christ?  Would you need to go to Bible school for four years?

In dealing with the Corinthian church, Paul had some advice for them.  They were basically a church full of immature believers.  They had been Christians for years but had never grown up.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.  I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.
1 Corinthians 11:1-2

The phrase, follow my example is actually a Greek word that means to imitate me.  It’s the word from which we get the word mimic in English.  Paul was instructing these believers to imitate his lifestyle in the same way that he was imitating Christ.

The apostle had lived among them for months when he was starting their church.  They saw how he lived and worked.  Now they needed to walk before God in that same way.

In the above passage, Paul commends them for remembering his teaching and the things he told them to do.  That’s great.  But simply remembering what you’re taught is not enough.  At some point, you need to start putting it into practice.

The fact is that we can’t watch Jesus living His life.  We can only see the godly leaders that the Lord has placed before us right now.  Imitation is the first step down the road to maturity.

The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us the same thing.

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Hebrews 6:9

This verse gives us a little more detail about who we need to be imitating.  The problem is that just because someone holds a position of leadership, doesn’t mean that they’re worthy of being imitated.

The real question is; do you see the fruit of Christ’s ministry at work in them?  They should be walking in love and the blessing of God must be evident in their ministry.

The real challenge is the walk of faith and patience.  Sometimes imitating Christ isn’t evident in someone’s life.  They seem to be doing the same thing every day.  You don’t realize the significance until you see the outcome of what they’ve done.

It’s those who have a track record of spiritual fruit that we need to imitate.  Anyone can be an overnight success that’s here today and gone tomorrow.

In order to have a sustained ministry of fruitfulness, it requires a different kind of walk.  There needs to be a consistent degree of faith in God.  But more than that – faith must be held with perseverance.

If you want your maturity to grow, then you need to seek out those who are walking in a mature lifestyle.  Then, follow their example and apply their principles to your life.

Question: Who do you know that you can imitate their walk of maturity?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2019 in Leadership, Spiritual Walk

 

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Advice for the Journey

It’s so easy to give up when times are tough.  That’s the difference between surface Christians and overcomers.  Which kind are you?  Only you can make the choice to keep going forward.  This is what it takes to make it to your destiny in God.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

There are times that I’ve felt like giving up.  Problems started closing in and it seemed like there was no way out.  But what I came to find out is that God never took His hand off of my life.  He was with me through the problems and brought me through them victoriously.  Here are some things I learned along the way.  I hope they’ll be a blessing to you.

Realize that God has a good plan for your life.  Whether we know it or not, God has us walking a good path.  He wants the best for us.  He knows what will fulfill us better than we do.  But we must continue to the end if we’re going to enter our destiny.

Know that everything worth having requires effort to obtain.  Sometimes the road we’re on seems rough and steep.  That shouldn’t stop us, however.  Struggles are a part of life.  If it were easy, everyone would be walking in the blessings of God.  It takes an attitude of perseverance to make it over the hills of life.

Keep your eyes on the finish line.  Don’t let your present hardship become the focus of your attention.  Keep your vision upon Christ and His plan for your life.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:2-3

That’s what can sustain you during the difficulties that you encounter.  If you can see the goal, then you know that it’s not over yet.  God will have the final word in your life.

Keep moving forward, no matter what happens.  I love to go out hiking.  But it doesn’t always turn out well.  There have been times that I’ve been injured on a hike.  It would have been very easy for me to let weariness and despair take over.  I felt very much like lying down on the ground and giving up.  I had to keep telling myself, “Keep putting one foot in front of the other – you’ll eventually come to the end.”

Understand that moving slowly is better than standing still.  This is probably the best advice I could give you.  No matter how slow you think you’re going, don’t give up.  You will make it!  Never look at your life in terms of a sprint to the finish.  You need to see yourself as being in it for the long haul.  The victorious finish of your race depends on it.

Maybe you’re going through a seemingly impossible situation right now.  Give it over to God in prayer, if you haven’t already done so.  It could be that you’ve taken the responsibility for the problem back to yourself.  Let go of it and allow God give you the strength you need to see it through.

Questions: Have you ever felt like giving up?  How have you found the strength to continue on?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Encouragement, Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Mercy and Perseverance

MountainI’m continuing the series about understanding God’s mercy. If you boil it all down to a simple phrase, here’s what I see in Scripture. Mercy is the favor God shows to His sons and daughters.

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 5:11

One thing that’s abundantly clear from Scripture, the walk of mercy will require perseverance. Of all the people for James to use for an example, did he have to pick Job? The simple truth is that Job drove his friends crazy. The big question on everybody’s mind is; why was Job at a standstill? According to his friends it was because he must have been doing something wrong.

That kind of thinking was absolutely incorrect. Job was being trained for a higher walk in God. As I’ve said before, promises are for spiritual children. In order to get them to obey you must say things like, “Clean your room and you can have ice cream.” Adults don’t live like this.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

Many times I’ve preached from this verse telling my congregation the importance of laying their lives down as living sacrifices. But until I understood the concepts of Biblical mercy, it was always in a legalistic vein. Notice the motivation we’re to use to propel us to offer our lives before God.

Is it in view of God’s law? Maybe it’s in view of the promises? NO!!! It’s as we keep the Lord’s mercy in our sight that we have the drive necessary to lay our lives down on His altar. That’s how powerful the walk of mercy can be. In order to obtain it, it’s worth the greatest cost we can imagine. The total surrender of our lives to God’s plan.

God simply asks you to make the offer, wholeheartedly. Why do we make this life altering decision? It’s because we know that this is the Lord’s desire. No strings attached, no hidden agendas. “Lord I want to know You, because only You are worthy of the investment of my life.” We only obtain mercy through becoming a willing sacrifice.

This is why I made such a bold claim earlier in this series. This isn’t something that you can just try for a day. It would be just as foolish as trying a diet for a day, and then saying that it didn’t work. If we want the benefits of mercy, then this walk must consume our lifestyle. Only then will we have that “blank check” in the spirit.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
Galatians 6:14-16

If you desire to walk this walk, you must know that mercy makes this the only rule. “Boast only in the cross.” Do you want power? Do you want to live above the law and the promises? Then you must learn to walk the way of mercy.

You must pursue God simply to know Him. You must offer all you are to God, simply because He desires it. Then, when you see the manifestation of His power in your life, boast only in the cross. This is the secret to how Jesus lived and ministered in the world.

Question: What must you do to begin walking in God’s mercy?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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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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The Abundant Life #abundantlife #wordofGod

ThanksgivingOver the past few posts we’ve looked at the parable of the seed planted in different soils.  The message Christ was focusing on should be clear.  In order to prepare my heart for a great harvest, I must come to the realization that the Word of God must be the single crop in my heart.

This is what Scripture means by being single-hearted.  When you have a single crop of the Word planted in your life, you’ve set yourself up for a plentiful harvest.

We have a spiritual epidemic across our nation.  There’s an abundance of the Word of God, with very little fruit being produced.  It’s time to weed out these distractions from the good, rich soil of our hearts.  What we need is the mindset of a farmer when it comes to the Word of God.

“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
Matthew 13:23

It’s clear from this verse that in order to see the harvest, I must understand the Word – see that it applies to my life.  I have to go beyond the person who lives too close to the road.

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
Luke 8:15

This literally says that I must hold it down fast; keep it secure in my heart.  It has to take root deeply in my life.  I must go beyond those who have rocky soil.

Mark’s Gospel adds that we have to accept the Word. (Mark 4:20)  This means to associate with, delight in.  If you delight in a crop, you’re going to keep it free of weeds.  You don’t want anything choking it out.

The bottom line is that you must persevere.  In actuality it’s never easy to keep a farm or a garden.  It always requires tending.

I must come to the point where I acknowledge that the Word of God is everything to me.  It’s the same principle as in the physical world.

In the past I’ve had a garden.  The fresh tomatoes, peppers, and squash were a welcome sight throughout the summer and fall.  I could proudly say, “This eggplant came from my garden.”  Here’s the difference – I wasn’t a farmer.  I enjoyed the fresh vegetables grown in my garden, but I didn’t need them to survive.

A true farmer, on the other hand, lives by what he grows.  His livelihood is tied to the crops that he produces.  His new car is a result of the crops he harvested.  The renovations to his home are a result of the harvest.  Everything he has is tied up in his ability to produce a bountiful crop.

We must pick up this same mindset in regards to the Word of God.  We live by the Word.  Everything we need for life and godliness is all tied up in the Word. How I relate to the Word determines my destiny.

Hopefully, you can see by Christ’s teaching that it’s not just a matter of getting the seed into the ground.  You can be planting huge amounts of seed and never see a single piece of fruit if you’re not following the basic principles of spiritual farming.

It’s all about getting the right seed into the right ground, then persevering to make sure that the seed can grow and produce fruit unhindered.

Question: How do you cultivate a “farmer’s mindset”?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on October 18, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Jehovah Jireh – The Mountain

TrailThis is the final post about how Abraham positioned himself to receive God’s supernatural provision.  At this point we find him with the knife raised, about to sacrifice his only son.

But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham!  Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said.  “Do not do anything to him.  Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Genesis 22:11-12

Abraham was able to come through this time of testing victoriously.  But there was something that always puzzled me.  God said, “Now I know that you fear God.”  I thought God knew everything, so why would He say that?

The Hebrew word for know is Yada, which means to know by seeing.  What God said was that now Abraham’s faith could be seen.  His fear of God was now obvious to everyone.

That’s the reason for trials and testing.  We may have faith quietly tucked away in our hearts.  Without works, it’s not yet a living faith.  It must be proved genuine.

It’s the trying of our faith that causes it to be seen by those around us.  That’s why Scripture tells us over and over again that without trials we’ll never become mature in Christ.

It was when his faith was tested, and proved genuine, that Abraham’s eyes were opened to the provision of God that was before him.

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.  He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.  So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide.  [Jehovah Jireh]  And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
Genesis 22:13-14

Jehovah Jireh – the God Who provides.  There are many who think this name is a promise of unbridled wealth.  They think that it’s all about their physical comfort.  What they fail to see is that Jehovah Jireh is a place of supernatural provision in Christ.

As I said in the first post of this series, it’s a spiritual mountain that must be climbed.  To get to that place in God, it will require the same thing from us that it did of Abraham.

It will take a life of immediate obedience to God, perseverance, speaking our faith, and a decision to give up everything for the cause of Christ.  That’s the real mountain that Abraham had to climb.  The physical mountain was easy in comparison.

As with all things in Christ, God has already provided everything we need for life and godliness.  The problem is that we need to position ourselves to receive the provision of God.

That’s the point.  Why do we want God’s blessing?  To accomplish His will or ours?

If you want Christ to be exalted in you, then you’re in a position to receive.

I ask everyone who reads this post to pray and believe God for those who respond to the following question…

Question: What is God calling you to do that you need His supernatural provision for?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2013 in Faith, God's Provision, Prayer

 

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Going the Distance

JogI have been posting about Abraham and his experience on the mount of sacrifice.  He is an example to us of how to position ourselves to receive God’s provision in our lives.

In my last post I talked about how he was quick to obey the voice of God.  But sometimes, even when we respond right away, things don’t happen when we think they should.

On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
Genesis 22:4

We saw that God had told Abraham to leave home with his son.  He also told Abraham that He would show him the place where he was to sacrifice Isaac.  Abraham obeyed immediately, but that was not the end of it.

It’s now three days later and they’re still traveling through the wilderness.  This had to be the hardest walk Abraham ever took.  Yet he continued on, even knowing that he would lose his son in the end.

I’m sure he kept telling himself to just turn around and go home.

“You must have heard wrong.”

In spite of this constant internal pressure he continued to move forward.  He did this not even knowing where his final destination would be.

This is the second key to being victorious in the face of trials and unlocking the blessing of God.  We must cultivate perseverance.  Sometimes it all comes down to the choice to put one foot in front of the other no matter how hard that is.  We must continue to serve God day after day, even when everything around us looks just the opposite of what we think it should be.

It’s in times like this that we must place our confidence in the Lord.  Drawing strength from Him is the only way to move forward when the going gets tough.  Christ has promised us that He would never abandon us.

The good news is that situations can change.  Just because things don’t look good now doesn’t mean that God is not in control.  He is still on the throne.

The truth is that it’s not always easy to follow God’s leading.  But the end result is always worth the effort.  Don’t let the temporary problems rob you of the blessings that the Lord has for you.

Maybe you’re going through something right now that you don’t understand.  You might not know how the Lord could possibly get you through it.

Take the time to draw upon the Lord’s power for you.  Spend time before Him in humility, acknowledging that without Him you can do nothing.  Place your future in His hands and commit yourself to seeing His plan fulfilled in your life.

Question: How has God proven Himself faithful to you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Faith, God's Provision

 

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