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The Destiny of Grace

The Destiny of Grace

We talk a lot about the grace of God.  As believers we’re always praying for grace.  Many of us seem to be always running around seeking God’s grace.  Why is that?  How we answer this question is very important.

Why do you want the grace of God in your life?  Is it simply another way of saying, “I want God’s blessing on my life.”?

I’ve heard grace defined in many different ways.  God’s unmerited favor.  The enabling power and presence of God.  All we need for life and godliness.  They’re all good descriptions, but they leave out a key ingredient – purpose.

There’s always a reason attached to the grace of God.  Listen to how the Apostle Paul explains it.

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

Romans 1:5

In this short verse I see three elements of grace. They speak not only about what God wants to bless us with, but how He wants us to use what He freely gives us. We need to take these to heart as we seek to manifest God’s grace.

Through Him and for His Name’s Sake – He doesn’t give us His grace so that we can spend it on our own pleasures.  It’s about His agenda on the earth.  What does the Lord want to accomplish through me?  That’s where His grace comes to the forefront.

I need to pick up this attitude.  I receive His grace so that His name will be magnified in my life.

We Received Grace and Apostleship – Grace and calling go hand in hand.  Seeking God’s grace without finding your calling in Christ is worthless.  It’s through His grace that you fulfill your purpose.

It’s the Lord’s grace that brings you into your destiny – what you were created for.  Without that knowledge, you’re simply living from problem to problem.  Instead of always seeking grace to get over the next obstacle, find the direction that the Holy Spirit is leading you to.

To Call People from among All the Gentiles – Paul was aware that God’s grace had pinpoint accuracy.  He was called to bring the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles.  That’s why God poured His grace on Paul’s ministry.

It’s the same for us.  As we grow in Christ, we need to fine tune our calling.  Who am I called to reach?  What are my gifts and abilities?  As you begin to answer these questions, you find that perfect position of grace that you’re called to walk in.

Be careful to always heed Paul’s warning…

As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.

2 Corinthians 6:1

This means that I don’t receive the grace of God for no purpose.  Grace is always attached to destiny.  Our walk today must be with an eternal focus. That’s what the Lord’s grace is all about.

Question: How have you seen the grace of God active in your life and ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2020 in Ministry, Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Weakness + Grace = Power

In my last post, we looked at God’s answer to Paul’s weakness.  It’s something we need to apply to our own lives today.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

It all comes down to the grace of God.  We have to understand that this grace is everything God is working in us.  It’s the power He bestows on us whether we realize it or not.

What I also need to hear is that His power works perfectly in my weakness.  That goes contrary to what many people believe.

We sometimes get the idea that my weakness diminishes how God’s power can work in me.  That’s a lie we need to fight against.  If I had no weaknesses, I could never see the power of God at work in me.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10

What Paul is saying here comes from years of experience walking with Christ.  He’s found that all of these challenges are really good things.  They’re invitations for the power of God to show up in your life.

Later on in this letter, Paul explains it in more detail concerning Christ.

For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power.  Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.
2 Corinthians 13:4

Here Paul equates the crucifixion with weakness.  That tells me that all the challenges we face are a part of the dying process in our flesh.

Spiritually speaking, we need to take them to the cross of Christ and leave them there.  Then, we look to the Lord with expectancy that His power will show up at just the right time.

That’s also why I need my mind to be renewed by the Word of God.  Instead of fear and doubt clouding my vision in times of trouble, I need to see things the way Paul does.  I must realize that problems and weaknesses are the preludes to my most powerful victories.

This means that I have to rely totally on the Holy Spirit of God at work within me.  After all, that’s why God chose to place Him in our lives.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
Romans 8:26

Nothing can replace time spent praying in the spirit.  It will change our attitudes and ultimately our situations.  It gives God permission to change our weaknesses into His power.

Question: How do you view the challenges of life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Liberality of God

We’ve been looking at Paul’s view of giving.  He’s talked about sowing and reaping as well as giving from the heart.  Now he’ll show us the results of giving into God’s work.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8

This is an incredible promise to us.  It describes the attitude of God toward His faithful children.

I know that a lot of Christians don’t like to hear this teaching.  They believe in a God of “just enough”.  They’re trusting God for just enough so they can get by.

That’s actually the most selfish attitude you could have.  You’re only thinking of yourself.

The truth is that God wants to abundantly bless you.  Not so that you can have all kinds of stuff you never use.  God wants to bless you so that you can be a blessing.

Look at how Paul describes our God.  The first thing he tells us is that God is powerful enough.  All power in heaven and earth belongs to Him, and He can use it however it pleases Him.

The Lord uses that power to cause all of His grace to super-abound toward us.  Please remember that grace is not some ethereal cloud around us.  Specifically, grace is God’s response to our faith. (Romans 5:1-2)

That word, super-abound, is important.  It means to be in excess in quantity and/or quality.  In other words, God wants to give you an excessive amount of His grace – that’s more than you’ll need in your situation.

However, God has a reason that He gives you too much of His grace.  He has an ulterior motive.  The Lord wants you to do something.  In everything you do, at all times, He wants you to super-abound in the good work you’re doing.

That means God wants you to do excessively good works.  He wants you to go over and above what people expect.  Then, when people ask why you’re doing this, you can point to your excessively super-abundant God.

I know that there are some people who would say, “Wait a minute.  The verse says ‘all that you need’.  I told you God only gives you what you need.”

No!  You took the verse out of context.  It says that God gives you all you need to do your good works excessively.  Paul illustrates this with an Old Testament quote.

As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
2 Corinthians 9:9

The word, scattered, in this verse means to disperse liberally.  It implies that God is scattering to the point where it appears to be wasteful.  That’s the God we serve.

If you’re a giver seeking to please and obey God, then He will faithfully and liberally supply all you need.  Not just to bless you, but so you can bless others as well.

Question: How have you been a blessing to others lately?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2020 in Faith, God's Provision, Ministry, Power of God

 

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The Grace of Giving

We’re continuing our study through the book of Second Corinthians.  The Apostle Paul will now begin a new subject.

And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.
2 Corinthians 8:1

I realize that many ministers consider the giving of offerings a taboo subject.  They’re afraid to offend and then lose some of their supporters.

I believe that understanding the Biblical way of giving is important for us as believers.  We need to know how God views it.

Some people get all upset when preachers talk about offerings.  Tithing, prosperity, and God’s provision are controversial in some places.

However, the fact that Paul devoted two whole chapters in his letter explaining this issue tells me that it’s a much-needed teaching in the body of Christ.

Even the way Paul approaches the subject lets us know the importance.  He tells us that he wants to explain the grace God is giving to the churches.  Yes, you heard correctly, giving is a grace that God bestows upon us.

That sounds good to me.  Because where there’s grace, there are miracles.  Giving is a way in which you can allow the Holy Spirit to work through you.  That’s exactly what happened in Macedonia.

Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:2

Do you really hear what Paul is saying?  Under normal circumstances these words don’t belong in the same sentence.  Especially since they’re describing the same group of people.

Paul says that they were experiencing a huge trial of pressure.  Yet, at the same time, they had an over-abundance of joy.  I know people who don’t have more than enough joy during non-stressful times.

Paul goes on to say that they were in the depths of poverty.  But in spite of that, they showed a super-abundance of wealthy liberality in their giving.

To me, the above two paragraphs are the definition of miraculous.  There is absolutely no way that Paul’s statements could be true apart from the intervention of an all-powerful God.

That’s the grace of giving at work.  I don’t know about you, but I want to experience this in my life.

Over the next series of posts, we’ll be looking at the principles that the apostle talks about.  So if you don’t already subscribe to this blog, you may want to so you won’t miss an installment.

Question: What is your present view on Christian giving?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Grace for a Purpose

Paul continues to talk about the attitudes of a true minister in his second letter to the Corinthian church.  It’s something we can apply to our lives right now.

As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.
2 Corinthians 6:1

We talk a lot about the grace of God. As believers, we’re always praying for grace. Many seem to be always running around seeking God’s grace. Why is that? How we answer that question is very important.

Why do you want the grace of God in your life? Is it another way of saying, “I want God’s blessing on my life.”?

I’ve heard grace defined in many different ways. God’s unmerited favor. The enabling power and presence of God. All we need for life and godliness. They’re all good descriptions, but they leave out a key ingredient – purpose.

There’s always a reason attached to the grace of God. Listen to how the Apostle Paul explains it in his letter to the Roman church.

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
Romans 1:5

In this short verse, I see three elements of grace. They speak not only about what God wants to bless us with, but how He wants us to use what He freely gives us. We need to take these to heart as we seek to manifest God’s grace.

Through Him and for His Name’s Sake – He doesn’t give us His grace so that we can spend it on our pleasures. It’s about His agenda on the earth. What does the Lord want to accomplish through me? That’s where His grace comes to the forefront.

I need to pick up this attitude. I receive His grace so that His name will be magnified in my life.

We Received Grace and Apostleship – Grace and calling go hand in hand. Seeking God’s grace without finding your calling in Christ is worthless. It’s through His grace that you fulfill your purpose.

It’s the Lord’s grace that brings you into your destiny – what you were created for. Without that knowledge, you’re simply living from problem to problem. Instead of always seeking grace to get over the next obstacle, find the direction that the Holy Spirit is leading you to.

To Call People from among All the Gentiles – Paul was aware that God’s grace had pinpoint accuracy. He was called to bring the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. That’s why God poured His grace on Paul’s ministry.

It’s the same for us. As we grow in Christ, we need to fine-tune our calling. Who am I called to reach? What are my gifts and abilities? As you begin to answer these questions, you find that perfect position of grace that you’re called to walk in.

Be careful to always heed Paul’s warning not to receive God’s grace in vain.  That means that I don’t receive the grace of God for no purpose. Grace is always attached to destiny. Our walk today must be with an eternal focus. That’s what the Lord’s grace is all about.

Question: How have you seen the grace of God active in your life and ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2020 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Spiritual Immorality?

“God wants us to enjoy ourselves.  Why should I deny myself if it makes me happy?”  As a pastor, I’ve heard this question many times.  It’s the same question that worldly believers have been asking since the start of the church.

Paul had to deal with it in the church at Corinth.  This is how they worded it…

“Food for the stomach and the stomach for food” – but God will destroy them both.  The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
1 Corinthians 6:13

“The stomach was made for food, so give it all it wants.”

“Our sexual organs were intended for pleasure, so don’t deny yourself.”

The problem with this type of thinking is that our bodies were not made to take part in sinful activities.  Even though you may get a momentary “high”, God didn’t create our bodies for drunkenness, immorality, or gluttony.

We live in a society that constantly preaches that if it feels good, then do it.  As long as you’re not hurting anybody, go for everything you want from life.

The problem is that there are many things that are not evil, and they make you feel good.  Yet, if they’re not a part of God’s plan for your life, they’re sinful.  We have to be careful not to chase after things that will rob our spiritual vitality.

Paul uses sexual immorality for his example but it can be applied to anything that we use to replace God’s will.

By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?  Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute?  Never!  Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body?  For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”  But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.  Flee from sexual immorality.  All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.
1 Corinthians 6:14-18

Your response to this might be, “But I’m not involved in immorality.  This doesn’t apply to me.”

I beg to differ.  If you’re pursuing anything the world is offering you, at the expense of your spiritual walk, then you’re in this position.

Listen to how James describes it.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?  Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

James makes it clear that chasing after the world is adultery in God’s eyes.  The church is pledged in marriage to Christ.  Running after the world is like having an affair – spiritually speaking.

Because the Holy Spirit lives in us, we’ve become one with Him.  When we chase other love interests, we grieve Him.

Are we pursuing our callings in Christ to the extent that the Lord wants us to?  If not, we need to take a long hard look at our lifestyles.  Then, by the power of the Spirit, we must make the changes that will bring us back on course.

Question: How does your lifestyle show that your life is united with Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2019 in Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Don’t Return to Slavery

As we continue to follow Paul’s practical teaching through 1 Corinthians, he’s been talking about carnal Christians.  These are believers who love the Lord but are ruled by their feelings rather than the Word of God.  They’re saved people who act like the world.

In my last post, we saw that these carnal believers have no kingdom inheritance.  They’re missing out on many of the blessings that are ours in Christ.

As a matter of fact, there may have been some self-righteous Christians who got offended by my last post.  They would disagree with me when I say that carnal believers are saved.  My understanding of the grace of God will not allow me to so easily destine these people to hell.

I know that it’s very easy for worldly Christians to use the grace of God like a doormat.  They live like the world and “wipe their feet off” every so often to ease their conscience.  But the Bible does teach that this is a possible response to God’s grace.

However, living this way gets very little of the kingdom blessings.  There will also be no eternal rewards waiting for them.

Paul records their mindsets as we continue in his letter.

“Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial.  “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12

They say that they’re free to do whatever they want.  That much is true.  But as Paul comments on it, he makes it clear that certain behaviors come with a price.  This worldly lifestyle will bring no kingdom benefits.  And it will also come to the point where these sins are controlling you.

In telling His disciples about the last days, Jesus warned them of falling into this trap.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”
Luke 21:34

Here Jesus tells us of three weights that can hinder us from fulfilling our destiny.  They are called dissipation, drunkenness, and anxieties.  We will never reach our true potential in Christ if we try to live with these hindrances.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

We’re warned to throw off the things that hinder.  Probably the worst is dissipation.  We allow the best parts of our life to be dissipated.

The world has so many distractions these days.  Classes we could take, recreational opportunities, athletic events, and entertainment.  All of these things, in and of themselves, add to our enjoyment of life.  They’re good things.

Yes, they’re all permissible things, but they can become the masters of our lives. They dictate our schedules. They tell us what we can and can’t do for God.

We fill up our time with all these good things. Then, more often than not, God gets the leftovers.  Our leftover time, strength, and resources.

If left unchecked, the church can become a prisoner to our permissible things.  If we find ourselves in this condition, then we need to be set free by the power of God.

Question: What will it take to break free from a worldly lifestyle?

© Nick Zaccardi 2019

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2019 in Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Nature of the Faith-Love Connection

SpeedIn the natural world, you must always have fuel to use power.   No matter if it’s electricity, cooking, heating, or driving.  Even something as simple as a candle requires wax as a fuel.  The same is true for power in the spiritual realm.

What we commonly mean when we use the term fuel is combustible matter.  But there’s also a general definition of fuel.  According to this definition, fuel is whatever feeds or sustains any expenditure, outlay, passion, or excitement.  What, then, is the fuel for our spiritual power?

It doesn’t take much study of the Bible to realize that faith is the fuel – that which feeds and sustains our spiritual passion – for the Christian life.  Without faith it’s impossible to please God.  Without faith we would have no access to the grace of God.  Faith is the requirement for God to do anything at all in our lives.

Having the fuel is important.  But we must also know how to utilize it.  Just holding a can of gasoline doesn’t automatically make me travel 60 mph.  I need to put it in the gas tank of a working automobile.

Unfortunately, there are many in the body of Christ who haven’t learned this simple concept.  We hold on to the fuel of faith and expect the light and heat of God to start working.  When nothing happens, we conclude that the Scripture is wrong, or that maybe God doesn’t do miracles anymore.  The Bible has the answer to this dilemma.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.  The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6

In the above verse the word value literally means force in the Greek.  It’s not how you look on the outside that gives spiritual force, or power, to your walk.  It’s the fuel, faith, expressing itself through love.  What that verse says in the Greek is that faith must energize or activate itself through love.

If I put this in natural terms I could say that faith is the fuel and love is the generator producing the voltage needed to maintain the power of God in us.  The Bible clarifies this truth.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:2

If I have all the faith-fuel in the world, but don’t have the love-generator to use it in, I am nothing.  This is where most of the church finds itself in this generation.  We seem to be so full of faith, yet accomplishing nothing for God.

According to this verse it sounds like a love problem to me.  If we are not using our faith correctly, then there will be no manifestation of power.  I must use my faith to power my love-walk.

Question: Have you ever experienced the failure of faith without love?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Faith, Power of God

 

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The 5 Warning Signs of Legalism

Many Christians are bound by legalism.  Are you one of them?  The trouble is that legalism can be very deceptive.  You can be caught up in it and never know it – unless you see the warning signs.  I hope this will be both a challenge and a blessing to you.

1. Elevating works over position.  Do you worry about what you can do to please God?  The correct answer is – nothing!!  It’s the blood of Christ that makes me acceptable to God.  Nothing I do can make Him love me any more or any less.  While works can affect my rewards and blessings, they will never change God’s love and acceptance of me if I’m in Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

2. Seeing yourself more of a slave than a son.  Yes, we do serve God and are expected to obey Him in all things.  But the way we obey is as mature sons and daughters.  As spiritual children we learn servanthood.  It is the training ground for our growth in Christ.  The purpose of servanthood is so that we can walk in maturity.  The Lord desires sons and daughters to represent Him to the world.  (Galatians 4:1-7)

3. Relying more on your confession than God’s grace.  I believe in the confession of Scripture.  Rehearsing and memorizing it is an important part of the believer’s life.  Just as important is the reason we do it.  The purpose of confessing God’s Word is to increase our faith in Him.  But ultimately, it’s not my confession, but the power of God that will bring about the changes that I need.  (II Peter 1:3)

4. Giving more time to studying Scripture than to intimacy with Christ.  Scripture study is very important – it is one of my passions.  I couldn’t live without it.  But, spending quality time with the Lord is even more so.  Jesus rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees for diligently studying the Scriptures, yet not going to the Christ that they pointed to.  It’s not enough just to know about Christ.  I need to have an intimate, personal knowledge of Him that only comes from time spent in His presence.  (John 5:39-40)

5. Being confident more in the comparison with others than abiding in Christ.  Comparison is a deadly trap.  the problem is that I can always find someone less committed than me.  It gives me a false sense of security because I’m no worse than anyone else.  On the other hand, I can spend my days feeling worthless, because I look at others who are farther along than me in the faith.  I can’t base my self-evaluation on someone else’s life.  My goal is not to be better than you, but to be like Christ.  (II Corinthians 10:12)

Question: Have you battled with legalism?  How have you overcome it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Legalism, Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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True Security

Psalm 46:4-6
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.  Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

Yesterday I posted about the fact that there is nothing certain in this world.  Our trust, hope, and expectations must abide elsewhere.  We need to fix our eyes on the heavenly kingdom.

No matter what kind of trouble this world faces, the power of God remains secure.  The river of life will never fail.  If we remain in Christ, then the things that shake this world around us will not affect our walk.

Rising gas prices, economic failures, terrorist threats, and global warming are just a few of the issues that have nations in turmoil.  Through it all, the kingdom of God is still secure.  No matter what happens I know that the grace of the Lord can still reach me.  I can come to this river at any time for sustenance and refreshment.

We can face the uncertainty of life without fear.  This only comes from the knowledge that our feet are securely in a kingdom that is not of this world.

Spend time meditating upon the faithfulness of God.  Think about the times He has brought you through the difficulties you have faced in the past.  This should inspire praise and worship before Him.  Then, take your future and commit it into the Lord’s hands.  Only then will you have true security.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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