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Tag Archives: reward

Have You Seen the Red Flag?

There’s something interesting that happens when you’re watching football.  Have you ever noticed that everything stops when the announcer says, “There’s a flag on the field.”

That means that something happened that shouldn’t have.  Now we’re waiting to find out what happened…and what needs to be done about it.  Did you know that we have that same type of experience in our Christian walk?

Listen to how Paul explains it to the Galatian church.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21

Paul has just told the Galatians that if they cultivate their walk in the spirit, then the flesh will not be an issue.  Now he goes on to tell them that the work of the flesh shines its light through the following list.

Some of these things we classify as really bad.  Things like sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, drunkenness, and orgies.  But the interesting thing is the list of sins that we barely even think about as sin.  Paul sandwiches them right in the middle of all the “big” ones.  In God’s eyes, they’re all the same.

First of all, I want to talk about what this list is NOT.  This isn’t a checklist for judging whether someone’s a Christian or not.  The phrase, those who live like this, literally means those who perform these things repeatedly or habitually.  He’s not talking about a one-time failure.

Also, he’s not saying that Christians who live like this are not saved.  There’s a difference between our salvation and our inheritance.  We do not inherit salvation.  Salvation is our supernatural birth into God’s family.

Our inheritance is our reward for being a contributing member of the family.  As a matter of fact, if you believe he’s talking about losing your salvation here, then according to this list, most churches in America are unsaved.

If you’re habitually involved in one or more of these activities, then there’s something you’re not doing that you could receive a reward for.  The things on this list can rob you of your inheritance in Christ.  Paul makes it clear that you can be saved and yet have absolutely no rewards (1 Corinthians 2:10-15).

We need to understand what this list is really all about.  Paul says that it’s the shining light of the flesh.  These things are warning signals to us.  It should be like a flag the referee throws down on the field of our life.

These were not given so that I could judge you.  I have this list so that I can assess my own walk with the Lord.

My goal is to cultivate my walk in the spirit.  These behaviors are a sign that some area of my life is off track.  In my relationship with God, I need more interaction with the Holy Spirit.

So the bottom line is that Paul isn’t telling the Galatians a list of activities to keep away from.  He’s giving them a group of signals that will point them back to Christ.  They show our need for a deeper walk in the spirit.

Don’t get caught up in guilt and condemnation.  If you see these things appear, there’s a simple solution.  Go immediately before God and admit your fault in humility and repentance.  Receive His forgiveness.  Then use this experience to propel you forward into a deeper fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

Question: How have you seen your life change as your relationship with the Lord grows?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Judgment and Mercy

In my last post I talked about the judgment of God that we all need to be prepared for. James completed his thought by talking about mercy.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
James 2:12-13

But what is this mercy? I believe that our generation has no concept of what this word means.

When we use the word mercy it’s usually when we’ve done something wrong. We want to be shown leniency, so we say, “Please have mercy on me.” This is not the Biblical concept of mercy.

It’s interesting to note that two times were recorded in the Gospels where Jesus made the same statement to the Pharisees. In both cases they were condemning Him for what He was doing. He did things like eating with “sinners.” The Pharisees were thinking, “How can the power of God work in you if you do that?”

Jesus had a stern rebuke for them.

“If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”
Matthew 12:7

This statement was directed at the Pharisees, But I have to admit that when I began studying about mercy I had no idea what He meant by it. I had always quoted the verse “to obey is better than sacrifice.” This view of the mercy of God was new to me.

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. For a detailed teaching on the mercy of God, click here.

This is why James talks about the fact that mercy triumphs over judgment. God would much rather reward your faithfulness than discipline you. It’s the same with sacrifice in the above verse. The Lord would rather reward your obedience than forgive your sin – even though His forgiveness is unlimited.

This knowledge of the mercy of God should color all we do in our relationships with other believers. If God wants to show us His favor, then we should have that same attitude toward fellow Christians.

James is clear on how we’re to do this. First of all, we’re to speak to each other in the understanding that the one we’re speaking to is under God’s favor. Why would I treat someone badly, that God loves and favors?

To do that would be to invite God’s discipline. It’s like that in any family. When someone is mean to their sibling, they’ll definitely get a time-out.

The second part has to do with our actions. Sometimes they speak more loudly than our words. How do we treat each other?

When we refuse to participate with fellow believers, it’s a sign that we don’t favor someone that God loves and wants to work with.

An understanding of God’s mercy is what should drive us forward. We need to let it work in us to live and act as Jesus did. Then we’ll see the results of God’s work in us and in those around us.

Question: How have you seen God’s mercy operate in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Unseen Food

BreadThere are a lot of believers who don’t fully give themselves to the ministry. Many times it’s because they want their fulfillment from the world – immediate gratification. They feel that God’s rewards are too far off in the future.

But if you read the testimony of Scripture, you’ll find that this just isn’t true. God’s Word promises great rewards – here and now – for those who are faithful to their calling. I want to take a couple of posts to talk about this.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 4, we’re told about an incident in the life of Jesus when He met with a woman at the well. They have a long talk and she realizes who He is. Immediately she goes back to her village and returns with a crowd.

Jesus begins to minister to these people. The Disciples, who had gone off in search of lunch, come back with the food. Upon seeing the crowd around Jesus, they had no idea what had just happened.

Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
John 4:31-32

Jesus makes a statement that totally confuses the disciples. He wants them to see that life is more than food. There are things unseen that are much more important.

What does this tell us about Jesus?

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
1 Corinthians 3:1-2

The word translated as solid food in this verse is the same word that Jesus used when He said he had food the Disciples didn’t know about. That tells me that Jesus operated in a mature walk. He’s our example for how to minister to the fullest extent.

The Lord then tries to explain what’s going on.

Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
John 4:33-34

There are two distinct things that Christ is talking about here. The first is to do the will of the Lord. That implies that you know the Father’s will. It involves spending time in His presence hearing what He wants you to accomplish.

The second part is just as important. That’s to complete the work that you’ve been assigned. It’s not enough just to hear from God. There must be a desire to do all that He speaks to you. That’s the spiritual food that Jesus is talking about.

This is important for us to understand. I’ll talk about it in more detail in my next post.

Question: What is the work God is calling you to accomplish?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2017 in God's Provision, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Master’s Investment

Our Supply in GodI’m posting about Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. In my last article we saw the instructions that the Master gave to His servants.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master’, he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master’, he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
Matthew 25:19-23

Everything seemed to be going well. There was increase. Both of the servants ended up with twice as much as they were given. They had used the money they were entrusted with wisely. Their Lord commended them. Now they could expect the reward that they earned.

Finally, the last servant showed up.

“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master’, he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’”
Matthew 25:24-25

This servant took what was given to him and instead of using it and putting it to work, he just buries it. The worst part of this whole scenario is that he knows his master is expecting him to increase it.

He has no excuse. The servant even said, “I know you expected me to work with it and to make more because that’s the kind of person you are.”

Listen to the attitude. It’s heard throughout the church today. It’s the cry of those who have bought into the lie of the enemy concerning their lives.

This servant has the audacity to accuse the master of harvesting where he hasn’t planted. It was the master’s money he was entrusted with. The master was planting his own money into the lives of his servants.

I’ve seen this exact attitude in the church. “What has God ever done for me? I’m going to take care of myself first. If I have any leftover time, then I’ll worry about serving Him.”

The Lord gave them the very life in their body. They belong to Him. He has sown so much into their lives, yet they act like they’ve been given nothing and now have to make their way on their own.

Our attitudes play a big part in how we serve our Lord.

Question: What has Christ sown into your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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The Five Warning Signs of Ungodliness

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAUngodly.  The word usually makes us think of the unsaved.  The problem is that there are many ungodly Christians that are totally unaware of their condition.  Are you one of them?  Check out what the Bible says about it.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 13:5

Paul tells us that we are to examine our lives.  This word literally means to scrutinize how we live.

Do you know Christ is in you?  Most Christians understand this concept.  They realize that Christ is in them.  When they asked Him to be the Lord of their lives, Christ made their heart His home.  Most believers will pass this test.

Does it matter to you?  This is where the test starts to get tough.  It’s surprising that many who belong to Christ really don’t give Him a second thought.  They go throughout the day without ever acknowledging Him.

It seems that they’re oblivious to the fact that Jesus is accompanying them wherever they go.  He’s a silent listener of every conversation.  If this was a reality to us, we would probably behave much differently.

Do you want to know God’s will?  Not only is Christ with us at all times, but He has a plan for our lives.  The question really comes down to; whose will is more important – mine or the Lord’s?  Many don’t want to know God’s will for their lives because they’re afraid it will interfere with their plans.

Do you want to accomplish God’s will?  Knowing God’s will is not the end of it.  What we really need to do is accomplish it.  Not only is Christ with us wherever we go, He expects us to represent him and His kingdom to the world.  What many don’t realize is that unless we answer “yes” to this question, God will not reveal His will to us.

Are you seeking God’s approval?  This is the final and greatest test of godliness.  Who are we seeking to please?  Are we after our own pleasure?  That of our friends or family?  The Bible is clear that unless we’re “God-pleasers” our lives will be worthless – there will be no reward at the end.

How do these questions play out in your life?  A “no” to any of the highlighted questions should be a warning that you’re in danger of ungodliness.  If so, then repent of it and move on with the Lord.

It’s time for God’s people to live like they truly understand the Lord’s presence in their lives.

Question: What signs of godliness do you see in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Encouragement, Faith

 

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