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Sowers and Reapers (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

At one time I did a series of posts about Jesus’ view of His ministry.  To see the original series, click here.

It occurred after Jesus had talked with the woman at the well.  The Lord told His disciples that He had food they didn’t know about. He was talking about finishing the Father’s will.

Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
John 4:35-36

In the natural, you can tell when the harvest is coming. You can tell how ripe the wheat is just by looking at it.

In the same way, there should be a spiritual sensitivity to when hearts are ready. It should be just as obvious to us that someone is ready to hear and receive the message of Christ.

One question that needs to be asked when we read this verse is; who is the reaper that’s receiving his wages? The answer should be obvious – it’s Christ!

The Apostle Paul talked about some of the same things.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe — as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 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. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
1 Corinthians 3:5-8

Usually, we think of this reward for our labor as future. But we need to remember what Jesus said. The reaper IS RECEIVING His wages. I HAVE food you don’t know about. The sower and the reaper can be happy together.

It sounds to me like there’s a reward in this life for fulfilling the Lord’s will. That’s something we need to think about.

Who was the sower that Jesus referenced? I believe that He was talking about the woman. Listen to what the townspeople said about her.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”
John 4:39

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
John 4:42

What was her reward? I don’t really know. It might have been children or a stable family of her own. We have to wait to find out about her in Heaven.

Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
John 4:37-38

Which is harder – sowing or reaping? I think that it might be the sowing. Especially if we don’t see the fruit of the seed we plant into someone. Sometimes a soul that we spoke the Gospel to is brought into the Kingdom by someone else.

There’s no need to get jealous about it. It’s the Kingdom of God that’s increasing. Everything in our lives is all directly related to the principle of sowing and reaping.

The bottom line is that the Samaritans ultimately believed because they heard Jesus speak. It’s our job to bring people to a personal encounter with Christ. That’s where we receive great rewards.

Question: What are some Gospel seeds you have planted?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on August 31, 2018 in Faith, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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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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Don’t Give Up

WomanHave you ever felt like giving up? Everyone goes through times like this. We feel like giving up on our jobs, ministries, or marriages. You’re not alone. Even the prophet, Elijah, went through a point in his life when he felt like this.

It took place when the Queen of Israel, Jezebel, was threatening his life.

Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
I Kings 19:3-4

Elijah is probably one of the most powerful Old Testament figures. Through him, God performed incredible miracles to turn Israel around. Yet at this point in his life he was ready to throw in the towel. He actually prayed for God to take his life.

What could cause such an uncompromising individual to leave the race? The answer lies in the first line. Elijah was afraid.

The evil queen, Jezebel, had ordered his arrest and execution. Fear had gripped his heart in spite of the presence of God in his life.

How many times do we lose sight of our calling when faced with the overwhelming problems of life? We need to take the same path that Elijah took – but not the same attitude. We need to run to a place of solitude with God and pour out our heart in prayer.

Just like Elijah, we need to admit our faults and failings. Only the Lord is able to meet the needs of our inner man.

We must use this time to seek the Lord’s help for the challenges we face. This may include confessing your failures and trials. God stands ready to enfold you in His arms. By doing this, we allow His strength to work in us the restoration that is needed.

Then he [Elijah] lay down under the tree and fell asleep.
All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.
The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
I Kings 19:5-8

While he was on the very edge of despair, Elijah received sustenance from the Lord. As he was running away from the stress in his life, God provided him with supernatural food. God knew that the journey before him was too much for his flesh to handle. So, He provided what Elijah needed.

I’ll let you in on a secret. If you’re following God’s plan for your life, then your journey is more than you can take. You’ll need this supernatural food to sustain you.

That’s why your time with the Lord is so important. Spending time with the Holy Spirit is one of the most powerful, life-changing events you could ever plan for. Don’t neglect your spiritual food.

Take the time to find nourishment for your soul in the Lord’s presence. Cast your burdens upon Him and allow His strength to revive your spirit.

Question: How has the Lord strengthened you in His presence recently?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2015 in Encouragement, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Obedient Faith

BlurI’ve been posting about the Holy Spirit as the one who nourishes our spirits. I talked about Jesus speaking to the crowd who had been miraculously fed by the loaves and fishes.

The Lord told them that He was the living bread from Heaven. They got offended at some of His words and many began to leave Him. As He was left alone with His disciples, they told Jesus that His teaching was hard for them to understand. So He said the following…

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
John 6:63

He explained to them that He wasn’t talking about His physical flesh. Christ was talking about His Spirit – the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is sent from heaven He will give life.

At that point in history, Jesus fulfilled the role of the Holy Spirit to His disciples. That’s why He could tell them to believe His words and receive life – the living bread.

But understand; right now it’s the job of the Holy Spirit to give life. If I want this in my life I must feed on His word to me. Hearing and believing the Holy Spirit is the key to everything we need.

But the real question is; do you truly believe if you don’t obey?

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
James 2:17-18

What kind of faith is James talking about here? Some ethereal faith, believing it will all turn out good in the end? Absolutely not!!

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
James 2:20-23

We must have faith in the instructions God gives us. How? By the Holy Spirit. Why did Abraham offer his son? Because God had said to do it

That’s righteousness – our spiritual food. Believing that what God speaks to you is the right thing to do. That’s the same spiritual food that Jesus ate. That’s the life that the Holy Spirit is offering to us right now. But in order to see this manifest, I must spend time with the Holy Spirit – the giver of life to the church.

Question: How have you been obedient to the Holy Spirit lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Holy Spirit – Our Nourishment

FlyingI’ve been posting about the Holy Spirit as the Sent One to the church. I said that believing Him is what feeds our soul. Remember when Jesus met the woman at the well.

The disciples went off to the city to get lunch, and left Him alone. When they returned they saw that revival had broken out.

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

What did Jesus tell the people about this spiritual food that feeds your soul? Believe the one God has sent.

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

According to Jesus, His food was to do the will of the One who sent Him. That means He heard, believed, and obeyed the Father. But how did He hear from the Father; how did they communicate?

I think the answer is obvious – it was by the Holy Spirit. So, what’s required to finish the work? Continue hearing, believing, and obeying.

Now I want to look back to the crowd in Capernaum that I talked about in my last post. They started arguing with Jesus about this spiritual food. They told the Lord that if He would do a miracle they’d believe Him. Incredibly, these are the same 5000 that He had just miraculously fed with the loaves and fishes.

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
John 6:32-33

We need to understand this. The bread of God is He who comes down from heaven. Who is the One from Heaven in our generation?

In talking about the prophets of old, Peter said…

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
1 Peter 1:12

Who is now sent from heaven? It’s the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. He comes from heaven; He’s the spiritual bread to us. He’s the One who gives life to the world.

This is an important truth for us to grasp. It’s one of the main reasons the church is lacking in power these days. Without a deep relationship with the Holy Spirit, we’ll lack the spiritual nourishment – the vitality – to see God’s power work through us.

In my next post I’ll take this thought a step further.

Question: How have you been strengthened as you spend time with the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Food for the Journey of Life #wordofGod

TrailHave you been starving your inner man?  Spiritual victories require a healthy soul.

The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.  Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.  With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.
Exodus 12:37-39

Israel was about to leave Egypt.  Moses, the man of God, had warned them days before that they would need to depart quickly.  In order to accomplish this, they took along dough made without yeast.

I’ve shared in the past that I like to get away now and then to hike and pray in the wilderness.

I’ve learned a lot of spiritual lessons along the way.  It comes as no surprise that one of the most important hiking supplies is food.  Thru-hikers walking the Appalachian Trail plan “food drops” to be waiting for them at strategic post offices along the route.  This way they can easily resupply along the way.

One Friday night in a shelter, I met a young man who was out of food and money.  This was a big problem for him even though he had a supply box waiting at a nearby post office.  Ahead of him was a full day’s walk to the post office (which closed at noon on Saturday).  This was compounded by the fact that this particular Monday was a holiday.  That would be three days without food.

I happened to be at the end of the section I was hiking – so I was able to bless him with a ride to pick up his drop before the post office closed.  Needless to say, he was very grateful.

That got me thinking of a spiritual application.  The Word of God is our spiritual bread.  There are many Christians who try to hike the road of life with only one or two meals a week.

So often we wonder why the obstacles of life take such a toll on us.  We blame God and ask why it’s so hard to serve Him.  All the while we live in spiritual starvation.

We need a constant diet of God’s Word if we’re to be victorious.  In the same way that we can’t be healthy without nutritious food, we can’t live for God without a diet of His Word.

Please don’t neglect this vital nourishment.

Question: What do you do to keep well fed in the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Word of God

 

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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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