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What Are You Known For?

In my last post I talked about the way the Thessalonian believers imitated Paul’s lifestyle. They were commended for it.

But as we read further in Paul’s letter to them, we find out even more. This lifestyle, living for God, wasn’t a private thing. They weren’t just “closet Christians”. Here’s what Paul said about them.

And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia — your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
1 Thessalonians 1:7-10

All over the region, people were talking about how the Thessalonians had received the Gospel. Of course, it was a Gospel that included a demonstration of God’s power. They allowed it to get into their hearts and change their lives.

The first thing that we see is that they were turned around. They had formerly been worshipping idols, but now they are servants of God. It takes the power of God to make that kind of change.

Serving idols is easy. As a matter of fact, our culture is full of idolatry. No, not the carved images, but we serve man-made idols. There are those who worship the gods of education, finance, entertainment, or sports.

The thing about idolatry is that it makes you feel good about what you can do. You can compare yourself to those around you.

“Look at me! I’m smarter than you.” “I’m more athletic than you.” “I’ve got more money than you.”

The reason it’s hard to turn to God from this is because it requires a whole new mindset. Once I turn to Christ, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God. It’s not about what I can do, but what the Lord is doing in me.

When we serve idols, we’re actually serving ourselves. In the kingdom of God we serve Him. God sets the agenda for us.

The secret to their faithfulness was that they kept their eyes on Jesus. Part of Paul’s testimony about them was that they were actively waiting for Jesus. With their focus on Him, they were able to serve with joy.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Romans 12:11

The word zeal means to be very eager to serve the Lord. I think that’s what’s missing in the lives of many believers. They have no eagerness to serve God. Why is that?

According to this verse, it requires spiritual fervor. The word translated as fervor literally means to be boiling over. It requires power to heat water to the boiling point. Left to itself it remains at room temperature – lukewarm.

If we will spend time with the Holy Spirit, then His power will be at work in our spirit. He can give us that spiritual fervor that we need to serve God with true zeal.

Then, just like the Thessalonian believers that Paul commended, our faith will become known to all those around us.

Question: How “hot” is your spiritual life right now? What can you do to increase it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Overcoming Abraham’s Past

WeedsDo hurts from the past hinder you from serving God wholeheartedly? Do you think the pain will stop you from achieving God’s best? Your past can only defeat you if you let it. Abraham’s father found that out.

I’m taking a couple of posts to show how Abraham’s past was actually working against his faith. He had to overcome family history to serve God the way he did.

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there.
Genesis 11:31

Here’s another ancestor of Abraham who heard the call to leave Ur and go to Canaan. Terah, Abraham’s father, did more than just talk about it. He actually packed up his family and left for the Promised Land. His plan was short-lived though.

What was it that short circuited Terah’s try at serving God? What was the significance of Haran. Haran was both the name of a person and a place that was named after him.

It turns out that Haran was Terah’s youngest son. Haran died at a young age, leaving his son Lot in the care of his grandfather.

When Terah decided to go to Canaan, he made a stop at Haran, his departed son’s old homestead. This was the place of his greatest pain. Because of this, Terah just couldn’t get past it – literally. He let the hurts of the past stop him from pursuing God’s best.

Don’t let this happen in your life. Christ can heal and restore. Draw on His strength to overcome your pain. Yes, you’ll remember it, but it will not control your destiny. Let God’s best be your compass.

Was it easy for Abraham to follow God’s call? NO! He came from a family that had ignored or put it off for generations. He had to go against everything he was brought up with.

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
Genesis 12:1-2

In spite of everything his family did to put off the call of God, Abraham succeeded. Generations of procrastination was ended on that day.

Abraham had to rely on the strength of God. He stepped out into new territory. We need to trust God in that same way. Serving God will almost always go against our natural inclinations. We need to look ahead through the eyes of faith.

This is how destinies are forged. We hear a Word from God and walk in it. There may be temptations that we need to hold off or refuse. We may hesitate because of past hurts.

Just don’t let the enemy stop your progress. Determine to see the Lord’s perfect will accomplished in you. Never let go of the dream God has given you.

Question: What dreams are you striving for by the Spirit of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2015 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Have You been Bought Off?

PeopleWe call Satan “the enemy.”  But in many cases, it looks like regular church people have accepted payment from him to ignore the work of God.  Are you one of these individuals?

God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you
Romans 1:9-10

In this verse, the word serve literally means to serve as a hired menial.  So Paul is saying that he considers himself hired by God for a purpose.  He understands that there’s a payment, a reward that he will receive from God for a job well done.

How do we handle this?  In our modern American culture there’s not a lot of job loyalty anymore.  People are constantly keeping their resumes tuned up in case a better position opens up in another company.  It’s unfortunate, but this same mindset has spilled over into the church.

Satan tries to capitalize on this thinking.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Matthew 4:8-10

In this verse we see Satan trying to give Christ a better offer.  It was promised that the Messiah would one day rule over all the kingdoms of the world.  But by God’s way, the Lord would have to suffer and die in agony to receive it.

Satan is giving Christ the chance to bypass all the pain.  By a simple act of devotion, He could receive the reward without the pain of the cross.  I’m so glad that Jesus saw through the deception, and carried out God’s plan as it was meant to be done.

Satan tries to buy us off all the time.  He holds out to us all the pleasures, entertainments, and activities of the world.  He tells us to just play with these toys for a little while.

“They’re not sinful, and nobody will be hurt by them.”

But there’s a price that’s being paid.  The work of the kingdom is being ignored by a large segment of believers.  There are souls not being saved, prisoners not being set free, and lives not being healed.  There’s a calling that only you can fulfill.

If you’re looking for a better offer, Satan will give it to you; he just won’t follow through with it.  It’s time for the church of Christ to rise to its feet.  We must throw off the distractions of the world and complete the assignments that we were call to do.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,
Hebrews 12:28

Our wages from the Lord are well worth what we are called to do.  We are hired by God for a purpose.  Let’s give all and do great things for God!

Questions: How has the enemy tried to buy your time?  How have you answered his offer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2013 in Ministry, The Church

 

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