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The Church Garden

I’m continuing my series through First Corinthians.  In my last post, we saw that Paul warned against being politically attached to people and personalities.  Instead, we are to be seeking to please the Lord.

Now Paul gives his reasoning for this.

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.
1 Corinthians 3:5-7

According to this passage, the goal should be growth.  That means both personal growth for the believer and corporate growth for the church.  They are intertwined; you can’t have one without the other.

Also, multiple ministries are needed for growth.  Just one is not enough, no matter how much you like that minister.

As the Senior Pastor of a local church, I was fully aware of this truth.  I would frequently invite guest speakers who I knew had different giftings than my own.  I wanted our church to get all the things needed for growth.

Of course, there were always those who complained about certain ones.

“I’m not partial to his ministry.  I may stay home that week.”

That’s one of the problems in the church.  On the farm, the garden can’t pick and choose who does the work.  It’s obvious that people will love the ones that water more than the ones that identify and pull up the weeds.

All of the ministry gifts are needed if we’re to experience God’s best.  The ones who refuse to sit under certain types of ministries will suffer for it.  Their growth may be stunted…or nonexistent.

On the other side of the coin, each one does his or her job, but we can’t make people grow.  That part of the equation belongs to God.  That’s the same thing that Jesus taught His disciples in a parable.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like.  A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Mark 4:26-29

That might be one of the hardest things to learn as a minister of the Gospel.  Nothing I do will bring about the growth of that seed, once it has been planted.  From then on it’s out of my control.  After the planting it’s time to wait – and that can be the hardest part.

Sometimes we want to force them to produce fruit.  We try to convince and coerce.  That’s usually when we start to push them further away.  We need to learn to plant, then step back and let God provide the increase.

The Word of God, by its very nature, begins to grow below the surface.  It can’t be stopped, but neither can it be hurried along.  It goes at the pace God has set for it.  One thing is certain; it will produce the harvest that God intended it to bring forth.

We all have our part to play in the Kingdom of God.  Some of us plant the seed and some water it.  None of us can make it grow, that’s God’s department.

Question: Have you ever caused bigger problems by trying to force the Word of God to grow in someone’s life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on January 16, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Waiting for the Harvest

As we continue to look at Mark’s Gospel, we come to another parable of Christ.  This one is about a sower and his seed.  The earlier parable about a sower zeroed in on the different types of soil.  This one talks specifically about how the seed works.

This illustration explains our relationship to the Word of God.  Specifically, how it works as seed in our lives.  While I’m responsible to accept God’s Word into my life, there’s another aspect that I have no control over.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like.  A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Mark 4:26-29

One of the most important concepts for us to understand is that the Kingdom of God is all about the Word being planted.  This is a part of all that we do as believers.

As a pastor, my greatest assignment is to receive the Word in order to plant it again in the lives of those who hear me.  Along with that, every Christian needs to be planting the Word into the lives of those around them.

With this comes the realization that nothing I do will bring about the growth of that seed, once it’s been planted.  From then on it’s out of my control.  Once you plant the Word into the lives of your friends and family, it’s time to wait – and that can be the hardest part.

Sometimes we want to force them to produce fruit.  We try to convince and coerce.  That’s usually when we start to push them further away.  We need to learn to plant, then step back and let God provide the increase.

The Word, by its very nature, begins to grow below the surface.  It cannot be stopped, but neither can it be hurried along.  It goes at the pace God has set for it.  One thing is certain; it will produce the harvest that God intended it to bring forth.  This thought was echoed by the apostle Paul.

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.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7

We all have our part to play in the Kingdom of God.  Some of us plant the seed and some water it.  None of us can make it grow; that’s God’s department.  The only help we can give it, once it’s planted, is in the watering process.

In the natural, no farmer would think to dig up the seed, just to check if it started growing yet.  But there are many who are guilty of this – spiritually speaking.  How many spiritual crops have we missed because we didn’t simply leave the seed alone?

Once the Word is planted, it’s time to step back and leave it in the Lord’s hands.  Let Him do what only He can do.  Then we’ll see the harvest come by the power of God.

Question: When have you caused bigger problems by trying to force the Word of God to grow in someone?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2018 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Calling the Discontent

WomanI’ve been posting about how God is calling His people back together. It’s a lot like how the Lord brought the Mighty Men to David when he was on the run from King Saul.

All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.
1 Samuel 22:2

The last group this verse talks about is those who were discontented; or literally bitter souled. That’s quite a picture of these people, yet God wanted to use them for His purpose.

When I think about bitter souled people I have to ask myself; do I really want them in my church? Then I studied out this phrase in the Old Testament. I made some interesting observations.

It was only used of 4 specific people in Old Testament. A woman named Hannah, who desperately wanted child. Job, who desperately wanted his life restored. King Hezekiah, who wanted healing. There was also the prophet Ezekiel…

The Spirit then lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness and in the anger of my spirit, with the strong hand of the LORD upon me.
Ezekiel 3:14

God placed a powerful Word in this prophet. The problem was that no one listened.

In reading about these individuals I found that bitterness can be used of God. But it depends upon the source of that bitterness. It must spring from a godly desire that we have in our heart. But it’s a desire that hasn’t been met yet. This takes place in us when we know that what we’re looking for is God’s will, but it didn’t happen the way we thought it should have.

All these great men and women of God; Hannah, Job, Hezekiah, and Ezekiel were discontent with the way things were. They knew that God was going to do something; they were just impatient in the waiting.

In that sense, God is calling for all the discontent believers. Bitterness in your soul is the sign that there needs to be a change. But how does it take place? We must cry out to God.

In each example of Scripture, God worked it out. Hannah received a son, Samuel, who anointed kings. Job was restored and his friends were blessed through his prayers. Hezekiah was healed. Ezekiel was miraculously brought to those who would listen to his message.

What has to happen for bitterness to bring glory to God?

See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Hebrews 12:15

Simply put; don’t let bitterness take root in your life. Use the bitterness to give you the drive to see things change. Let it bring you to your knees to cry out to God.

No one wants you to be satisfied with things as they are. But God wants you to do something with that discontent.

Bitterness can do one of two things. It can drive you into God’s presence; then you’ll see the power of God. Or it will give you an excuse to drop out.

The Lord wants these drop outs to get back on their feet for Christ. They know the need. They felt the hurt. Now by the power of God they can do something about it.

It’s time to call God’s people to gather back together.

It’s time.

Question: What is your godly discontentment?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2016 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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How to Purchase Revival

Fake MoneyI’ve been posting about why revival seems to be delayed. I ended my last post by saying that we are not waiting for revival, but revival is waiting for us. The Apostle Paul wrote about this principle.

And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment — to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
Ephesians 1:9-10

In this verse Paul talks about the mystery of God’s will. He’s not talking so much about what God’s will is. The mystery is how God’s will comes to pass on the earth. Even today, how God’s will works is a mystery to most Christians.

“We may never understand the way God moves.”

Paul makes it clear that this mystery has been made known to us. It doesn’t matter what you call it. The verse uses God’s will, good pleasure, and purpose to describe what He plans to do on earth. What we need to understand is how His will is put into effect.

That’s the mystery that He has made known to us. This verse literally says that His will is put into effect in the economy of filling the time. The word economy is usually used to describe our monetary system. It’s a way of tracking the flow of assets in society.

We need to understand that filling time is a part of God’s economy. Think about the financial words we associate with time. We spend time, run out of time, save time, and lose time just to name a few. There is an economy of time in the Kingdom of God.

We must realize that time is a commodity. It’s something tangible. It can be traded and exchanged for stuff. That’s what we do on our jobs; we are trading our time for our employer’s money.

In God’s Kingdom, it’s time that purchases the fulfillment of vision and prophecy. Here’s the problem. We’ve learned to become cheerful givers of money. But we’ve become stingy misers with our time.

Getting back to the original question – how do we lay hold of revival? God wants us to repent – change our thinking. He wants us to turn around. Then He’ll send times of refreshing – revival.

We need revival – we may even want revival. But are we willing to do what it takes to initiate revival? If I said that revival would cost a million dollars, someone would come up with it. If I said revival will cost 2 weeks of your time, very few people would make the investment. It’s going to take our time – that’s the commodity of the next revival.

I wrote the outline for this series of posts a while ago. Since then I had the opportunity to meet with a friend of mine with a prophetic ministry. She said that the Lord had been speaking to her about the coming revival.

She said that God impressed her that it won’t be a revival as much as a revolution. Later on I thought about it. The word revolution comes from the word “revolve.” A turning around. It’s time for the church to turn around.

God’s people are spending too much time on their own desires. We have become a generation who gives God the bare minimum that we can get away with. It’s time to turn the tide. Are you willing to give God your time?

Question: Why is our time so hard to turn over to the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2014 in Revival, The Church

 

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Why is Revival Delayed?

ClockIn my last post I started talking about America’s need for revival and why it seems to be delayed. I said that it’s a matter of knowing God’s timing and understanding how to work with it. We can’t afford to be like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who could predict the weather, but didn’t understand the times they lived in.

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Romans 13:11

In this verse Paul tells us that we should understand the times that we live in. That word understand means to know by seeing. If we’re watching what’s taking place in society around us, then it should be obvious what we need to do. It’s the hour for the church to WAKE UP!

I don’t want to be rebuked for the same thing that Israel got wrong. We must understand the times.

God is moving. He wants to bring about His will in our generation. Many people talk about it. “Revival is coming – it’s on God’s agenda.”

Why does it seem to be taking so long?

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:3

There is a truth here that we’ve missed. The revelation of God is for an appointed time. When the verse says that it speaks of the end, it implies that God’s will is like a puff or gust of wind. It’s different than a steady wind.

It’s a gust that the Lord releases and it moves steadily to its intended end. Make no mistake; it will take place.

But here’s the important part. The next line literally says, “Look! It hesitates, it’s reluctant, it questions.” It’s all a matter of timing. The revealed will of God is asking, “Are you ready?”

Then we are told to do something. The original Hebrew of this verse says that if it hesitates, then attach yourself to it. This is not just a passive waiting. It means to nail yourself to God’s revealed will. Don’t let it go.

The final statement tells us that it will come and not loiter or hang around. God isn’t just hanging around doing nothing until His “revival timer” goes off. The fact of the matter is that we are not waiting for revival – revival is waiting for us. We must have the time available for the fulfillment of God’s will. We have to open the space up for revival.

In my next post I’ll show why this is the hardest part of the process. It will require a great sacrifice from this generation of believers.

Question: What will it take for us to lay hold of revival?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2014 in Revival, The Church

 

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