RSS

Category Archives: The Church

The Early Church – Holy Dough

The Early Church – Holy Dough

We’re continuing to look at the relationship of Israel to the church. Paul is explaining it in the book of Romans. He gives us his perspective.

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

Romans 11:15

He literally tells us that their rejection caused the world system to be restored. Since that was the case, then their readmission into God’s kingdom will be life from the dead. So it’s obvious that Paul considers the nation of Israel, without Christ, spiritually dead.

The apostle now give us an illustration.

If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Romans 11:16

He uses a lump of dough as an example. He tells us that because the firstfruits are holy, set apart to God, everything else you make from the crop is holy. In talking about firstfruits, it’s possible that he’s referring back to James.

James wrote his book long before Paul wrote Romans. James wrote his epistle to the saved Jews all over the world.

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

James 1:18

At the birth of Christianity, James calls them the firstfruits of God’s created systems of order. He wrote this without even knowing that Gentiles would someday enter the mix. But the salvation of the Gentiles had its beginnings in saved Israel.

Originally, Israel was set apart as holy to God. After the resurrection of Christ, a remnant remained true to the Lord. These original Jewish believers accepted the Good News by faith in Christ.

I believe that these are the firstfruits both James and Paul are referring to. Then the Gentiles are mixed into the batch of holy dough. However, there’s more to this example.

When giving bread as an offering, leaven was allowed in firstfruits and tithes. Then they would hold back a little to leaven the next batch. It wasn’t like now where yeast is its own thing.

In those days it was fermented dough that was added to the new batch. We must ask then; what is the Kingdom of God about?

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

Romans 14:17

Look at what Paul said earlier about firstfruits.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:23

Jesus also said something along those lines.

Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Luke 13:20-21

Yeast, in this context, is the old dough from the firstfruits that’s now fermented. We can look at the large amount of flour as the Gentiles. Now the Holy Spirit has penetrated all peoples. Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit can flow to all races, generations, and peoples.

The fact is that there would be no chance at salvation for the Gentiles without the Jewish nation. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their part in keeping the Word of God pure.

Question: What’s our part in the plan of God towards Israel?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 5, 2021 in Israel, The Church, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

God’s Heart for Israel

God’s Heart for Israel

I’m continuing my study through the book of Romans. In my last post, we saw that by opening salvation to the Gentiles, God was hoping to provoke a spiritual jealousy in Israel. Paul now summarizes how this happened.

And Isaiah boldly says, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me.”

But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

Romans 10:20-21

This is how God is working His plan. He started by revealing Himself to those not seeking Him. Then, through the faith of the Gentiles, He’s trying to get Israel interested in following Him. Because of this, it turns out that the Gentiles profited by Israel’s rejection of God’s love.

As I started saying in my last post, the Gentile church started rejecting God’s plan in many instances. They started pushing Israel further away. Many taught that Israel was totally rejected by God.

Listen as Paul speaks to this issue.

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.

Romans 11:1

Paul asks the question; did God cast away His people? The answer – Absolutely not! Paul uses himself as proof that God is still in the business of calling the Jewish people to Himself.

Paul now takes us to the important issues in God’s dealings with Israel.

God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah — how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

Romans 11:2-4

The key words in this passage is that God did not reject His people whom He foreknew. God, in His infinite knowledge, knows beforehand who will turn to Him in faith. There are many of the Jewish people who will look to their Messiah in faith, trusting Him for their salvation.

Paul uses the example of Elijah to make his point. This Old Testament prophet interceded with God against Israel. This occurred right after his victory on Mt. Carmel. His life was threatened by the queen, Jezebel, and he went off and had a pity party.

You can read it in detail in 1 Kings 19:9-14. Even with a revelation of God, Elijah had a one-track mind.

“It’s all their fault. Just be done with them. Destroy them all.”

God’s answer to Elijah is very important. He told the prophet that there were still 7000 people who were faithful to God. The Lord still had a remnant.

Where were they? They obviously weren’t very bold in their service to God. Why weren’t they supporting Elijah while he faced the prophets of Baal single-handedly?

But, that’s not the point. There’s always a front line in this spiritual battle. The fact is that Elijah was not alone in his service to God.

So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

Romans 11:5-6

For Paul, this is an example of God’s mercy in the present time. There’s a remnant selected by grace and foreknown by the Lord. That’s why as believers, it should be part of our prayers that Israel should turn back to God wholeheartedly as a nation.

Question: What is your prayer for Israel like?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 28, 2021 in Faith, Israel, The Church, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Holy Jealousy

Holy Jealousy

Continuing through Romans, chapter 10, Paul is getting back to his discussion of Israel. What exactly is their problem. He gets back to asking a series of questions.

But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: “Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.”

Romans 10:18

The first question is; did they not hear the message? The obvious answer is, “Yes!” The apostle quotes a verse from Psalms talking about a voice heard throughout the earth. What is this voice?

It’s found in the context of Psalm 19.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

Psalm 19:1-4a

This Psalm is talking about the voice of the heavens. The entire earth has heard about God through the testimony of the universe. This is how Paul started his discussion in this book. He talked about the entire world seeing the witness of God’s glory.

since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Romans 1:19-20

This brings us back to the verse in Romans, chapter 10, above. Paul makes it clear that the universe isn’t just a passive witness. He literally says that their rhema – their revelation of God – has gone out to the ends of the earth.

So, Israel heard God’s message to them. Was there another problem?

Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, “I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.”

Romans 10:19

Maybe they didn’t understand the message they heard. No, that’s not it. Compared to Israel, the Gentile world has no understanding. But that’s the point. God is trying to do two things through the opening of salvation to the gentiles.

First, it says that the Lord wants to make them envious. That word means to stimulate alongside. God was trying to start a spiritual rivalry between Israel and the church.

Now, because of God’s great mercy, Gentiles are pursuing the God of Israel. By bowing their knees to Christ, they’re receiving the blessings of Abraham. This all happened because we’ve learned the lessons of righteousness by faith.

God is trying to provoke Israel to pursue Him in this same way. He wants them to turn in faith to Jesus Christ in order to restore their place in the kingdom of God.

The second thing that the Lord is doing…He wants to make them angry. Remember, anger is not a bad thing. It can be a strong motivating force to get us to do what we need to do. God is trying to work this in Israel.

The problem is that, throughout the centuries, the church has been short-circuiting God’s plan. Instead of seeking to restore Jews into God’s salvation, we’ve shown ridicule, anger, and prejudice against them.

In many instances so-called “Christians” have pushed Israel away from God’s grace. Because of the history of violence against them, many Jews will not even look into who Jesus really was.

The heart of Paul, and the Lord, is to see Israel restored to right relationship with God. Gentile believers need to understand that God still loves Israel and wants them saved. We need to be a part of God’s restorative work.

Question: What’s your view of the Gentile-Jew relationship?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 25, 2021 in Israel, The Church, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Israel – God’s People

Israel – God’s People

I’m continuing my walk through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. As we start chapter 9, Paul is transitioning to a new subject. It’s like a parenthesis in the letter.

He’s now going to talk about Israel as God’s chosen people. What’s their place in the era of the New Covenant?

I speak the truth in Christ — I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit — I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.

Romans 9:1-4a

Up to this point, Paul is talking about the great work that God is doing in us as believers. As he does so, he starts to reflect on the condition of his own people.

How does the New Covenant affect the nation of Israel? What does it mean to be His chosen people? Throughout his writings, Paul refers to the church as the elect – the chosen. How does that fit in?

The fact is that Paul has a love for his people. He loves them to the point of great sorrow over them. This love is not without reason.

Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Romans 9:4b-5

There is a great heritage that we receive from Israel. They were the first to be adopted as sons of God. That’s clear from Scripture.

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”

Hosea 11:1

They were the first to walk in the glory of God. They were the first to cut covenant with God. They actually received God’s written law.

Remember, from our look at Galatians, that the law is different than the covenants. The law was an addendum to the covenant and was not a new covenant in and of itself.

The people of Israel were the first to establish an organized religious service to God. They were the first to receive the promises of God.

In essence, they’re our fathers in the faith. When Christ took on human flesh, His ancestry is traced from Israel. He is our God.

Based upon this foundation, Paul wants to explain their condition.

It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

Romans 9:6-8

He literally says that the Word of God did not go off course, or fail. Not all who come out of Israel are Israel. What he’s saying is that in God’s eyes, Israel is not merely a genetic group.

Just because they’re related by bloodline, doesn’t make them true children of Abraham. As proof, he offers Isaac and Ishmael.

Paul explains that there are two different types of children. There are the natural children, the children who are born of the flesh. These are not necessarily the children of God.

It’s the children of the promise that are inventoried as Abraham’s true seed. This is the basis for the rest of Paul’s teaching about Israel. As believers, we really need to understand the place of Israel in the scheme of things. That’s especially true now that we’re in the last days before the return of Christ.

Question: How do you view Israel, as God’s people, in these last days?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 24, 2021 in Israel, Return of Christ, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Firstfruits of the Spirit

Firstfruits of the Spirit

In my last post, I talked about the fact that the world system is waiting for the church to be revealed in God’s glory. That’s a body of believers who are walking in maturity. This is the goal Paul is bringing us to in the book of Romans.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Romans 8:22

According to this verse, the whole system is doing two things. The first word Paul uses means to be groaning together. This is a moaning because of the place we find ourselves in.

It speaks of a very narrow place. The world understands that there should be more to life than the petty things they’re chasing after.

The second word Paul uses means to be in birth pains together. Picture this in the spirit…the entire world filled with pregnant, groaning, women. That’s what God sees in regards to His destiny for the church.

In my last article, we saw that the world is desperate to be liberated from its bondage to decay. That’s the physical law that everything goes from new to old and decayed. It’s also known as the Third Law of Thermodynamics for all of us science geeks.

However, the kingdom of God – the church – should be a place where that law has no effect. We should be experiencing healing, prosperity, and joy – in spite of all that’s going on around us.

It’s just like Israel when they were in Egypt. When the plagues came, the land of Goshen, where the Israelites lived was unaffected. I believe this is what we’ll experience in the final days before the return of Christ.

Then, those with eyes to see and ears to hear will run to the kingdom of God before it’s too late. I believe that will be the final harvest before the coming of wrath and the return of the Lord.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:23

Now we see another groaning that the apostle talks about. The world system is groaning under the weight of decay. But we, as the body of Christ, are groaning too.

Who is it that’s groaning? It’s those who have the firstfruits of the spirit. That’s an interesting term. I understand the Fruit of the Spirit. That’s the result of the cultivation of the spirit walk.

In Old Testament times under the Law, you could plant fruit trees. According to that Law, you couldn’t touch the fruit for the first three years. Then, in the fourth year, all of the fruit belonged to God.

Then, from the fifth year on, it was considered a mature tree and all the fruit belonged to the owner. Now he could begin to give a firstfruits offering.

The Scripture didn’t say how much to bring for the firstfruits. So, the priests came up with some guidelines which became part of the traditions of the elders.

They said that the least anyone should give is one-sixtieth. However, if you want to be liberal with your offering, you could give one-thirtieth.

That reminds me of how the Lord blesses when we plant the seed of His Word. He blesses thirty, sixty, and even a hundredfold on His Word. He goes above and beyond all we can ask or imagine.

The fact is that those of us who are starting to see the work of God in us begin to groan inwardly. We’re waiting for the full adoption – the complete ransom – the deliverance of our body.

We’re starting to see the first of God’s work in us through the Fruit of the Spirit. But we’re groaning for the whole thing to be accomplished.

Question: How much of the Fruit of the Spirit do you see in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

They’re Waiting for Us

They’re Waiting for Us

In my last post I talked about the suffering that we’re all called to endure. It’s brought on by making the flesh do things that it doesn’t want to do.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18

I sometimes think that I’m the only one with these problems. The fact is that Jesus had to go through the same things that we do. Even though His flesh wasn’t sinful, the Lord still had to bring it under the Holy Spirit’s control.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.

Hebrews 5:8-9

It’s interesting to note that Christ learned obedience from what He suffered. Now we’re called to obey, so it only follows that we learn obedience the same way that He did.

How did Christ deal with this?

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

Hebrews 5:7

Please understand that this is not talking about the Garden of Gethsemane. This is the suffering that took place during His life.

Think about the football player in my last post. He went forward with loud cries and tears. He screamed, “It hurts, it burns,” yet he kept going.

This is what we are sharers of. According to the verse in Romans, this is for the glory about to be uncovered in us.

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

Romans 8:19

This is the intense anticipation of the creation. The whole system of life on this planet is waiting for the unveiling of the sons (and daughters) of God. The Lord’s endgame is for the church to become a full-fledged son.

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Romans 8:20-21

Actually, this is probably why we’re so hated by the world. The system wants liberation and they expect it to come from us. But, they look at the church, and compare us to what we promise. The result is frustration and hatred.

It’s like being a fan of a baseball team that keeps losing. Even if their team doesn’t win, the fans keep coming out. They hope for the best, but remain angry and frustrated.

The expectation is that there will be liberation from the effects of sin. This liberation should come through us, as believers.

The system is waiting for us to bring freedom. We need to rise to our feet as sons and daughters of the living God.

This could be the final harvest that’s talked about in Scripture. This will happen when the church becomes fully mature.

This is why we need to learn the lessons that Paul lays out in the book of Romans. We need to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Question: What would it look like if the church was fully mature?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

No Glass Ceiling in Christ

No Glass Ceiling in Christ

In my last post I began talking about the concept of our sonship in Christ. But, before I get very far into it, I have to make clear how this applies to women in the church.

Many people accuse the Apostles of being male chauvinists. They say that in their writings the apostles speak mostly to men and assign women to a lower position. I believe that this is an inaccurate assessment based upon a mere surface reading of the Bible.

I’m not going into a detailed discussion of women in the ministry. However, a careful reading of who Paul greeted in his letters, and how they were titled, shows that Paul ordained women as both pastors and apostles.

In truth, there’s no Scriptural “glass ceiling” that would keep a woman from attaining to any position or calling. It’s all based upon the will of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:15-16

What I really want to talk about is the use of the words son and sonship in Scripture. Unlike what many teach, it was not the Apostles trying to make the church a Patriarchy. In reality it was just the opposite.

In the cultures of the day, which included Roman, Greek, and Middle Eastern peoples, the place of women were at the bottom of the social ladder. At best, they were a piece of art to be seen and appreciated. At worst, they were treated as property, slaves, or a family pet.

In Peter and Paul’s letters this concept was totally done away with. They elevate women to a new level of equality unheard of in their day.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
1 Peter 3:7

Peter used a word in this passage that is translated heirs with you. It’s literally the word co-heirs. This means that the wife is someone with an equal share and claim on the inheritance. This was unheard of in those ancient cultures.

Women rarely, if ever, shared in their family inheritance. But in the family of God, all this has changed. Now women are considered of equal importance in the spiritual inheritance of the Lord.

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29

In Christ there is no longer the differences and limitations placed upon us by society. These have all been done away with at the cross. Paul says that there is neither…male nor female. YOU ARE ALL SONS.

Why would the Apostle make such an absurd sounding statement? He did it to emphasize the truth that in the Kingdom of God women have all the rights and privileges of a firstborn son. God sees a woman on the same spiritual level as a man.

If you’re a woman of God, then never feel inferior or of less importance than a man. You can go as high in ministry as the Holy Spirit will bring you.

Question: How has the ministry of women positively affected your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Purpose of God-Given Authority

With this post, I’ll complete our walk through 2 Corinthians.  Paul summarizes some of his thoughts at the end.

Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong.  Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.  For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.  We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.
2 Corinthians 13:7-9

Paul reiterates the fact that he wants to see the church strong and thriving.  That should be the goal of any minister of the Gospel.  We’re not here to nitpick or find fault in everything that’s done.

A true leader wants to see God’s will accomplished through the lives of every believer.  So, through the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, we should seek the advancement of all.

This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority — the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
2 Corinthians 13:10

Paul makes it clear that there’s a purpose to his God-given authority.  The reason the Lord has put Paul in this position is for the building up of the church.

I think there are Christian leaders who’ve forgotten this in our generation.  We have no authority for the tearing down of people.  Then we wonder why there’s no one following.

We need to walk in the grace of encouragement.  Then we’ll see the authority of Christ at work in us.

Paul gives this church some important advice.  It’s always easier for change to take place by being obedient to the Word of God.  The last thing we want is to have to endure a public rebuke.

It should be the same for us.  We need to be living a repentant lifestyle.  We should go to the Lord as soon as we feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

Too many times we sweep things under the carpet.  We wait until things get totally out of control.  Only then do we finally humble ourselves before the Lord.  Instead, we should be quick to repent.

Finally, brothers, good-by.  Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you.
Greet one another with a holy kiss.  All the saints send their greetings.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:11-14

In the end, Paul gives them some final pieces of encouragement.  He wants the best for them.  It’s obvious that he can’t wait to see them and worship with them in person.

Question: In what ways do you use the authority that God has given you?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 5, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

6 Marks of a Spiritual Parent

Through Paul’s ministry, he gave birth to and established the church at Corinth.  In his second letter to them, he’s continuing his role as a spiritual parent.  We can gain some insight from this section of Scripture.

You may want to read 2 Corinthians 12:14-13:4 before you continue with this post.

Spiritual parents are not after your possessions.  They want your love and trust.

Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you.
2 Corinthians 12:14a

Don’t get me wrong.  They may need your support of their ministry.  But, they’ll never use guilt or shame to strong-arm you into giving.  They want to allow the Holy Spirit to direct your support.

Spiritual parents give up their lives for you.  They’re willing to go the distance.  They seek God’s will and will obediently follow His direction.  Many times that means doing things that are difficult or inconvenient.

Spiritual parents don’t exploit you.  This is a key point.  It’s all about attitude.  Why is that person in the ministry?  Some see it as an easy way to make a living.  Others see it as an opportunity to bring people up to a new level in Christ.

Spiritual parents want you strong and growing.  As a spiritual parent, there should be no sense of competition with those you’re leading.  The desire is that all should grow to their highest potential.  It doesn’t matter if you surpass me in some areas.

We’re all in this together.  We’re all working toward the same goal – to lift up the name of Jesus Christ.

Spiritual parents grieve over your sin.  This is something that many believers don’t understand.  They think that church leaders are in the clouds somewhere.  They don’t realize that true ministers are hurting because of the problems they see in their people.

Remember how Paul expressed it earlier in this letter.

Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?  Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
2 Corinthians 11:28-29

Spiritual parents correct you.  This is one of those areas that we try to avoid.  How do you handle correction from a church leader?  It’s actually harder for the leader.  We don’t want to have to bring correction to someone we love.

The problem is that our love for you compels us to want you to get back on course.  We know what’s ahead if you continue in your error.  A true spiritual parent wants your highest and best.

All of these things are at work in true leaders.  That’s why it’s so important that we continue to pray for them daily.  We want their ministry to be a joyful experience and not a burden.

Question: In what ways is God leading you to be a spiritual parent?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 30, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, Relationships, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Burden of Ministry

As we continue through Second Corinthians, we see Paul beginning to do some boasting.  He felt the need to undermine the boasting of those who were simply masquerading as apostles of Christ.

This is a long section, so I don’t have the space to quote it all here.  You may want to read 2 Corinthians 11:16-12:6 before continuing.  Remember, this epistle was inspired by the Holy Spirit.  He must have wanted Paul to record these events for our encouragement in our struggles.

It’s amazing when you see all the difficulties that Paul had to endure.  That’s especially true when we realize that his imprisonment and shipwreck (in the book of Acts) is still ahead of him.

In spite of all these challenges, there’s something that sets him apart from the false ministers.  It’s his care for the churches under him.

Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.  Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?  Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
2 Corinthians 11:28-29

This is the mark of a true minister.  It’s also something that the normal church member will never understand.  That’s the burden of ministry.

Most people look at the daily life of a pastor and say, “That’s a pretty easy job.  You get to study or visit people all day.  Then you make a speech on Sunday.  No problems.”

People think like that and never see the other side.  When a true pastor – a shepherd – sees his or her congregation, there’s an unseen burden that comes with it.

They see individuals that need to be cared for, healed, fed spiritually, and protected.  Many times those that are hurting are fighting against the very thing that will help them the most.  A true pastor is burdened by things that a large percentage of people will never know.

So often when a member is struggling with sickness or tragedy, the pastor feels helpless.  I sometimes feel inferior only being able to listen to them and say, “I’m praying for you.”  I could sometimes wish that God would give us a super-power that could miraculously wipe away every problem our people face.

Then there’s the sin problem.  It happens when our people are led into the wrong areas.  The word Paul uses here means to be trapped, like an animal in a snare.

So often I could see the choices one of my people was making.  I knew exactly where it would lead them.  I’ve even tried to lovingly warn them about it.

Too often I’ve heard the words, “I know what you’re saying, Pastor, but that won’t happen to me.  I know what I’m doing.”  Then, months or years later, they need help and spiritual counsel to put their lives back together.

No, I’m not complaining about it.  These things come with the territory of being a minister of Christ.  I tell you about them so that you’ll be faithful in praying for your leaders.  In that way, we’ll all benefit from a strong healthy ministry.

Question: How often do you pray specifically for your pastor and church leadership?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 21, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,