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I Am what I Am

When you take inventory of your life, how do you see yourself?  Do you feel like you have nothing to offer God?  Do you feel unworthy of His calling?

The Apostle Paul had to deal with these feelings because of his past.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10

If Paul wasn’t far enough along to walk in this power, then there’s no chance for us.  Yet the important part of this issue is all summed up in the words but by the grace of God.

There are many in Scripture who’ve felt like this.  Another example is the Centurion who wanted Jesus to heal his servant.  He sent messengers to the Lord asking His help.

So Jesus went with them.  He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.  But say the word, and my servant will be healed.
Luke 7:6-7

Paul used the Greek word, hikanos when he said he didn’t even deserve to be called an apostle.  When the centurion said he was not worthy, he used that same Greek word.  It literally means not far enough along.

There are many Christians who believe that they haven’t walked with the Lord long enough to see the manifestation of the power of God in their lives.  There’s a big fallacy with this kind of thinking.  The very notion that they’re not far enough along implies that there will be a time when they’re mature enough to merit this power.

I’m here to tell you that will never happen on this side of eternity.  In actuality, the centurion had it right.  “…but just say the word.”

Paul understood this concept.  He evangelized most of the Roman Empire.  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote most of the New Testament.

The simple truth is that you’ll never be good enough.  It’s only by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that we may stand in His power and authority.

I’ll never be good enough or far enough along to deserve the title of son.  I’ll never be worthy of His power based upon my own merits.  But by the grace of God, I am what I am.

It’s this thinking that drives me to work for the Lord.  It’s the foundation for serving Him in the correct way.  When I start to think that I can make myself more worthy I miss the whole concept of His grace.

Many times this is what keeps us from experiencing the power of God in the church today.  If I think like a child – that if I just work harder to be worthy, then I’ve lost it at the start.  If I let sin go unrepentant and refuse intimacy with God then I short circuit the power.

It’s time for us to understand that it’s not my ability to be good that gets me anything.  It’s God’s grace working in me that allows me to manifest the power of God.

Question: What’s the role of good works in the life of the believer?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Unworthy?

I’m continuing my look at Paul’s teaching about the Lord’s Supper to the Corinthian church.  As we’ve already seen, this celebration in the church is more than just a mindless tradition.  It’s not just an act we do to fill the time.

There’s a power that’s released in us as we proclaim what Christ has accomplished through His death.  Through the participation in the Communion table, we embrace what Christ obtained for us on the cross.

That’s why we have to watch our attitudes as we receive the elements.

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
1 Corinthians 11:27-28

I’ve seen these verses used to beat up God’s people.  It’s important that we understand what Paul’s saying here.

The word, unworthy, means to be unfit.  In the context of this chapter of the Bible, we see a group of people who viewed the meal as an opportunity to exalt themselves.  That’s being unfit.  The Lord’s Supper is not about me, it’s about Christ.

We are to come to the table humbly, with the understanding that I have nothing to offer God.  He has everything I need.  If that’s not my attitude, then I’m “guilty of the body and blood…”  But what does that mean?

It means guilty in the sense that something wrong was done and now I’m obligated to make it right.  In other words, if I steal something from you, I’m now indebted to you.  If I claim that Christ is the Source of my life and He’s not, then God will work to bring me there.

Part of coming to the Lord’s Table with the right attitude is to examine myself.  That literally means to test and approve myself.

Unfortunately, there are some churches do the testing for you.  They let you know whether they think you’re worthy or not to receive the Communion elements.  That’s not God’s will.  He wants us all to examine ourselves.

What do I have to do?  Do I check under all the rugs?  Search for any little hidden sin that I might not have repented over?  I don’t believe that’s what’s being talked about here.

There’s only one place in Scripture that uses that same word to tell us what to examine.  It’s found in a letter that Paul wrote to this same church.

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

We must examine and approve our faith.  Are we truly trusting God with our lives?  Are we in the faith?

In order to receive the communion elements in a way that’s worthy, we need to be looking to Christ in faith.  We see Him as the one who has already purchased all we need for life and godliness.

It’s not about me striving to be good enough.  It’s about me yielding my life to Him and letting the Holy Spirit bring me to where I need to be.

Question: What have you received from Christ that you couldn’t obtain on your own?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Intimacy and Deserving

 

MeditationI’ve been posting about the concept of being worthy of God’s power. In my last article I started talking about the Greek word axios, which is translated as worthy in Scripture. It literally means deserving.

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”
Matthew 10:37-38

Jesus doesn’t pull any punches with His teachings. Our problem is that we’ve become divided in our loyalties.

When break it down to its simplest elements, love is a matter of participating in a positive way in someone’s life. Hate, on the other hand, is a refusal to participate positively in someone’s life.

So Christ is saying that if you want to participate with anyone more than Him, you’re not deserving of Him. If you want to be around others more than Christ, you’ll never share in the fullness of His power. The truth is that you’re not deserving of this power, if you refuse intimacy with the Lord.

The problem is that we will not see the miraculous if we’re not intimate with Christ. But it’s a problem that’s easily fixed. It’s not a hard thing to repent and begin a walk of intimacy with God. In my experience, however, our problem is not that we can’t repent or don’t have time. This fact is illustrated in one of the parables of Christ.

He told a story about a king who was preparing a wedding banquet for his son. The king sent out invitations and everyone replied that they would be there. They all wanted to be a part of the celebration. But when the day of the wedding arrived none of these guests showed up. They all had excuses. Listen to what the king said about them.

“Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.’”
Matthew 22:8

What caused the king to have such an attitude? It was all about their excuses. They had all gotten busy doing other things. That’s the biggest problem we have in the body of Christ today. We’re all so busy doing the things that the world offers.

I’m not talking about evil, sinful things. It’s the huge availability of time filling stuff that’s all around us in this society. Sports, entertainment, internet, TV, radio, educational and recreational opportunities all abound in our generation. We haven’t yet learned in the church that we can’t do it all.

Choices have to be made over which things are the most important to us. If going to movies and playing basketball is more important to us than the power of God then it will be evident in our lives. Let me put it another way, it IS evident in our churches today that we lack the move of God’s power that was manifest in times past.

It’s abundantly clear that giving excuses why we can’t repent or be intimate with God will rob us of power. Maturity takes responsibility for the situation that it find itself in. It may be hard to break this pattern of ignoring God at first. But our part is to repent and spend time with God. His part is to keep us clean and bestow His power upon the church.

Power is all about relationship, not works. Power is about attitude – I want to be with God more than with anyone else on this earth. Not about the law, whether I have to do this or that. If you are saved, then repent and spend more time with the Lord. Then you can rest assured that YOU ARE WORTHY – deserving in Christ.

Question: What hinders you from having an intimate walk with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2015 in Power of God, Prayer, Revival, Sonship

 

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Do You Deserve God’s Best?

Heart CellIn my last post I started talking about what makes us worthy of walking in the power of God. I looked at the story of the Roman centurion In Luke chapter 7, who asked Jesus to come heal his servant. He said that he wasn’t worthy and used two Greek words, axios and hikanos, to describe how he felt.

We’ll start by looking at the word axiosdeserving.

Think about the prodigal son of the parable we recently looked at. He spent a large portion of his life away from the power, yet all that time he was still a son. One of the statements that he made to his Father was, “I am not worthy – axios – to be called your son.” The first concept we must understand is that you can be a son and still feel not deserving.

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.”
Acts 13:46

When Paul and Barnabas first started out on their missionary journeys, they would always preach the Gospel first to the Jewish community. Many times they were met with resistance by this group.

At this point in their journeys they were beginning to get frustrated by this trend among the Jewish people. The literal Greek of what Paul says here is that you have judged yourselves undeserving (axios) of eternal life.

This tells us that concerning the power of God, if you consider yourself undeserving, you could find yourself rejecting God’s Word. There’s no true power outside the Word of God. Of course, if you reject the Word of Salvation, then you’re lost.

Our salvation experience is the first touch of God’s power which we experience. All believers, therefore, qualify for the power on that requirement.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
Revelation 3:4

This verse brings up an interesting dilemma. How do you keep your clothes white while living in a cesspool? Of course, I’Holy Spirit, repentance, m talking about our spiritual clothes as we live in this society. How do we keep clean with so much sin around us?

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:14

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9

As we live a repentant lifestyle, the Holy Spirit keeps us clean through the blood of Christ. Repentance should be a daily walk before God. These verses tell me that power is for those who can keep themselves clean in Christ. Therefore, your conscience is accusing you of not deserving of the power if you ignore repentance.

This was the lesson that the Prodigal Son had to learn. As soon as he returned home and repented, he was restored to the full rights and privileges of a son. It’s through this same process of repentance that our consciences can be wiped clean. Then it will stop accusing us of being undeserving.

Question: How does your conscience keep you from enjoying God’s best for you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2015 in Power of God, Prayer, Sonship

 

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Worthy or Not

MirrorIn my blog I talk a lot about the concept of sonship. This is how God views us all (male and female) through the blood of Christ. There needs to be an understanding of the relationship of sonship to walk in the power of the Lord. This creates a problem for most Christians.

The “Prodigal Son” put it in just the right words.

The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
Luke 15:21

It’s the same question that most of us wrestle with as believers. Am I worthy? This is usually what drives us to the law (or to the pigpen). I need to understand what makes me worthy of having God’s power manifest through my life. This was illustrated beautifully one day when Jesus was in Capernaum.

There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.
Luke 7:2-3

Listen carefully to what the elders said to Jesus.

When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”
Luke 7:4-5

The elders literally said this man is worthy because… They based his worthiness upon good works. We now know from Scripture that this is wrong thinking. It’s the childhood, slavery mentality to think that my good works somehow improves my standing with God.

Jesus, however, understood their heart.

So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
Luke 7:6-7

By the centurion’s own words he said, “I am not worthy.” The Pharisees said what they thought Jesus wanted to hear. The friends said what the centurion wanted them to say.

This centurion said that he wasn’t worthy of two things. First he was not worthy for Jesus to come to him. He also said that he was not worthy to go to Jesus himself.

The question arises, was he worthy or not worthy? We know that his faith was ready by the statement, “But say the word…”

It turns out that there are two different Greek words that are used in this passage. They are the two that trip up believers every day. When the centurion said, “I do not deserve to have you come under my roof,” the Greek word hikanos is used. The word hikanos means far enough along, good enough in English.

When the man said, “I do not even consider myself worthy to come to you,” the Greek word axios was used. Axios means deserving in English. In other words, many times we feel that we’re not worthy because we either don’t deserve it or we’re not far enough along in our walk with God yet. The big question is, what does the Word of God say?

Over the next few posts I’m going to look at the Biblical concept of what makes us worthy.

Question: How do feelings of unworthiness affect your Christian walk?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Sonship

 

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Excellence – From the “Musts” to the “Oughts”

FlyingHow far into the realm of the excellent are you venturing?  In my last post I looked at a sobering statement that Jesus made to His disciples.

“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
Luke 17:10

If all you’re doing in your life and ministry are the things you’re supposed to do, then you’re unprofitable in the kingdom of God, according to the Lord.  There are always things that we must do or that we’re expected to do.

The word unworthy is derived from a Greek word that means, not ought.  The thought is that you are not what you ought to be.  To break into the realm of the excellent you must break through the “musts” and enter into the “oughts.”

Those who are not only doing what they have to do, but have found a way to do what they ought to do, are considered to be walking in the excellent.  When a person goes beyond the expected in his or her walk with the Lord we marvel at their spirit of excellence.

What does that mean to me?  I must stop saying, “I ought to have…”, “I ought to do…”, or “I ought to be…” then with the next breath say, “But I have so much I need to do; I can’t.”  When you develop the spirit of excellence, the Holy Spirit is now free to work in you to accomplish what wasn’t expected.

As excellence starts its work in you, you can tap into God’s “excellent power,” His “excellent grace,” and His “excellent love.”  You’ll find out that God has all the resources you need to fulfill the call to excellence that He’s placed inside of you.

In II Corinthians 12:7, Paul talks about being the recipient of excellent revelations.  He would not have received these had he not been walking in excellence.  Galatians 1:13 says that before he was saved, Paul excelled at persecuting the church.

Everyone else was persecuting Christians in the normal way.  Paul, however, went above and beyond the call of duty.  He dragged people out of their homes, and if they tried to move away, he even tracked them to other towns.  Once saved, He carried over this same spirit of excellence into his work for Christ.  That’s why the Holy Spirit entrusted him with all the revelation that he received from the Lord.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
II Corinthians 4:7

The word all-surpassing is the Greek word hyperballoexcellent.  This excellent power does not come from our own strength.  Don’t ever take the credit for the excellence in your ministry.  The glory belongs to God.

Walking in the spirit of excellence is one of the earmarks of the power of God in your life, showing that you hear from God and are obeying His voice.

Question:  What are some of the marks of God’s excellence in your life and ministry?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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Are You Profitable in the Kingdom?

ProfitMany Christians want to hear Christ say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  But do we really know what Jesus looks for in a servant?  Listen to what He tells His disciples.

“Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep.  Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’?  Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’?  Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
Luke 17:7-10

Christ shows us a servant, working in the fields.  He comes home tired and hungry.  Just as he sits down to eat with his family, he hears the master arrive.

Does he have the luxury of finishing his meal first?  Of course not.  He must immediately get up and tend to the needs of his master.  That’s the life of a servant.

After he has served, he can go back to his meal.  After all he did, does he now expect a bonus?  No, he’s only done what’s normally expected of a person in his position.

God expects more from us than we expect from ourselves.  In the verse above, the Lord asks a very fearful question.  As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I tremble at the implications.

Should you, as a servant, do as you’re told and then expect to be thanked?  The word thanked means to be blessed, tipped or given a special reward.  Actually, a servant is supposed to do what he or she is told.

If all we do in your ministry is what’s expected or normal for our kind of ministry, then we’re not operating in the excellent.  As a matter of fact, Jesus calls us unworthy servants, meaning unprofitable.

In a business, profit is that which goes beyond the “break even” mark.  Therefore, by definition, profit is in the realm of the excellent.

Many believers are content to sit in a pew.  They feel secure that they’re just like everyone else.  They’re comfortable in their mediocrity.  I find that even in ministry, many pastors and evangelists are content to plug along doing what’s expected of someone with their title.

They do all the necessary things – preaching, praying for the sick, visiting, etc.  Then they pray and expect God to increase their level of anointing based upon the principle that they’re breaking even.  They never realize that their work doesn’t impress God.  More than that, He considers it unprofitable and unworthy of His excellent Name.

Christ is looking for excellence in His servants.  We need to raise our vision of what we’re doing for the Lord.

Question: How should we be “profiting” the kingdom of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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