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Servants First

What do you think is the best path to leadership in the kingdom of God?  There was a principle of leadership that Jesus had to get across to His disciples.  After all, they were going to be leading the church after His ascension.

They left that place and passed through Galilee.  Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples.  He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.  They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”  But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
Mark 9:30-32

As Jesus approaches the time of the cross, He spends more alone time with His disciples.  He needs to prepare them for the challenges ahead.  Part of this was to instruct them about the cross.  He was going to suffer, die, and then rise from the dead three days later.

The disciples just couldn’t grasp what the Lord was trying to get across to them.  But now, after Peter’s rebuke, they were afraid to ask the Lord to explain it.

As they walked along, the disciples started to debate something among themselves.  I’m sure that it got pretty heated.

They came to Capernaum.  When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”  But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
Mark 9:33-34

This argument probably started with, “What if Jesus were to die?  Who would be in charge of this group?”  I’m sure that Peter, James, and John all thought that they were eminently qualified.  That is until Jesus shared His views with them.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Mark 9:35

The Lord explains that the true path to leadership is through servanthood.  That’s something that we have a hard time grasping in the church these days.

Jesus is our prime example.  The disciples were arguing over who was greatest, right after Jesus told them His plan.  He became Lord of all creation.  But the path He took involved laying down His life – serving – all of humanity.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:5-8

I think that it’s funny the way we get into leadership in our generation.  If someone wants to be a pastor or teacher, they go to a Bible college for years.  Then they graduate and send their resumes to churches.  A lot of them will get voted in and installed as pastors having never served in ministry.

I think that’s why there’s such a high burn-out rate in the ministry.  We haven’t learned that the path to knowing your calling is service in the kingdom.  Without being a true servant, there’s no way of understanding the needs of those you’re leading.

That was the path that Christ took.  It hasn’t changed.  The Father is looking for qualified servants to lead His people.  Don’t ever look down on that season of your life.  Enjoy your call to servanthood.

Question: How are you called to serve in God’s kingdom?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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How do You View Jesus?

JesusDo you know that how you view your relationship with Christ determines your walk? As I was reading Paul’s introduction in his letter to the Romans, it stood out to me. It made me stop and assess how I view the Lord.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 1:1-4

There’s so much here that caught my attention. The first thing I noticed was that Paul talked about Christ’s human nature as being descended form David. I wondered about that. As a Jew; why not a descendant of Abraham?

I started to look deeper into it and found that this was a big part of Paul’s message.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel…
2 Timothy 2:8

The fact that Jesus was in King David’s family was a big part of Paul’s message. It seems to me that Paul placed this on even par with Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The two go hand in hand in the Apostle’s preaching.

This truth is the key to Paul’s attitude toward the Lord. It’s something that we need to return to in our generation. Jesus Christ is King, Lord, and Sovereign. There’s no authority higher than Him in the entire universe.

We like to refer to the Lord in a number of different ways. We call Him Savior, Redeemer, and Friend of sinners. These titles are all true of Christ and speak to us of what He’s done for us. But I refer to them as “safe” titles. They carry with them no inconvenience to us.

Notice how Paul introduces himself in relation to Christ in that first verse. He doesn’t call himself a follower of Christ. He doesn’t say he’s a believer, a minister, or even a disciple. He refers to himself as a servant of Christ Jesus.

This means that above all, Paul’s mission in life was to please his Master. It wasn’t about doing something for the Lord “when he finds the time.” His life was devoted to serving Jesus.

This is the attitude we need to return to in this generation of the church. We need to once again discover the place of servanthood to Christ. Yes, He is our Redeemer, our Savior, our best Friend, and a whole lot more. But we live to please Him.

As we live the life of a servant of Christ, this is one of the fastest ways to receive His power and authority in our lives. We must pick up this attitude – “Lord, not my will, but yours be done in my life.”

Question: What role does servanthood play in your walk with the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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How to Serve the Gospel

Fine DiningI’ve been taking a few posts to talk about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Today I want to talk about an aspect we don’t hear about too often.

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.  I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
Ephesians 3:6-7

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has far-reaching effects.  Paul tells us about the power of this Good News.  As it started to do its work in establishing him, the grace of God began to have an effect.  It called out to him – and he listened.  In the same way, it’s clear that the Good News calls us to that same place of servanthood.

This means that we are to become servants of the Good News and not servants of the law.  This is the servanthood that we are called to.  Sons of God are servants of the Good News.  We must live to serve the Good News.

What do I mean by this?  We must serve the good news just like a waiter serves your food.  Think about it.  In a rat infested dive of a restaurant, they throw your food at you.

In a restaurant where they have “cuisine,” however, they’re not really serving you, but the food.  Why do they have white tablecloths on the tables?  Why the silver utensils, crystal goblets, and fine china?  Do you think that the waiters wear tuxedos for you?  Absolutely not!!  All that finery is because they believe that THE FOOD is worthy.

Now think about church.  It’s not a place of reverence anymore.  Most congregations don’t even dress up these days.  Spiritually speaking, people are coming out to eat less and less at these “restaurants of the Word.”  This causes me to think that maybe the food isn’t as good as it once was.  It just might be that we’re not serving the Gospel like we used to.

As a local pastor, I’m the executive chef of my spiritual restaurant.  That makes me as much to blame as anyone for the quality of the spiritual food at my church.  Then there’s the leadership team – they are the souse-chef and maître de. Our church members are the waiters and waitresses.

Then there’s the fact that at a “high class” restaurant there are no prices on the menus.  If you go there, you expect to pay whatever the meal costs.  As the saying goes, “If you need to ask what the price is, then eat somewhere else.”  Could it be that many American churches today are “spiritual dives?”

The truth is that we need a deeper understanding of the Gospel.  I need to understand my role as a servant.  We need to learn to serve the Gospel as they did in the early church.

Question: What can we do to better serve the Good News of Jesus Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Power of God, The Church, The Gospel

 

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The 5 Warning Signs of Legalism

Many Christians are bound by legalism.  Are you one of them?  The trouble is that legalism can be very deceptive.  You can be caught up in it and never know it – unless you see the warning signs.  I hope this will be both a challenge and a blessing to you.

1. Elevating works over position.  Do you worry about what you can do to please God?  The correct answer is – nothing!!  It’s the blood of Christ that makes me acceptable to God.  Nothing I do can make Him love me any more or any less.  While works can affect my rewards and blessings, they will never change God’s love and acceptance of me if I’m in Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

2. Seeing yourself more of a slave than a son.  Yes, we do serve God and are expected to obey Him in all things.  But the way we obey is as mature sons and daughters.  As spiritual children we learn servanthood.  It is the training ground for our growth in Christ.  The purpose of servanthood is so that we can walk in maturity.  The Lord desires sons and daughters to represent Him to the world.  (Galatians 4:1-7)

3. Relying more on your confession than God’s grace.  I believe in the confession of Scripture.  Rehearsing and memorizing it is an important part of the believer’s life.  Just as important is the reason we do it.  The purpose of confessing God’s Word is to increase our faith in Him.  But ultimately, it’s not my confession, but the power of God that will bring about the changes that I need.  (II Peter 1:3)

4. Giving more time to studying Scripture than to intimacy with Christ.  Scripture study is very important – it is one of my passions.  I couldn’t live without it.  But, spending quality time with the Lord is even more so.  Jesus rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees for diligently studying the Scriptures, yet not going to the Christ that they pointed to.  It’s not enough just to know about Christ.  I need to have an intimate, personal knowledge of Him that only comes from time spent in His presence.  (John 5:39-40)

5. Being confident more in the comparison with others than abiding in Christ.  Comparison is a deadly trap.  the problem is that I can always find someone less committed than me.  It gives me a false sense of security because I’m no worse than anyone else.  On the other hand, I can spend my days feeling worthless, because I look at others who are farther along than me in the faith.  I can’t base my self-evaluation on someone else’s life.  My goal is not to be better than you, but to be like Christ.  (II Corinthians 10:12)

Question: Have you battled with legalism?  How have you overcome it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Legalism, Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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