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Love Pressure

Love Pressure

In my last few posts about the book of Romans, I’ve been talking about the power of God at work in us.  We’ve seen that there’s a process that begins when it’s initiated by our faith in God.  It brings us from faith to an experience of God’s glory.

Paul continues this thought.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Romans 5:5

Paul now brings us to the greatest power in the universe – love.  That’s the place the Holy Spirit is bringing us to.  His desire for every believer is for us to walk in love.

Love is the spiritual pressure placed upon us to produce change.  It was what compelled Christ to minister the way He did.

Actually, I can’t think of any more powerful force in all of life other than love.  For the love of God, or another person, we’ll do things that we might never have done under ordinary circumstances.  Love is a driving force in many of the things we do.

God’s love that He pours into our hearts is the source of our spiritual power.  The same love that drove Christ forward is now placed within us.  When we had no power, God saved us by the death and resurrection of Christ.  He has plugged us into His power source.  The very love that pressures Him can now drive us forward to bless others.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

It’s Christ’s love that should empower everything that we do.  We need to take inventory of what drives and motivates us.

Do you feel a pressure that drives you to reach out to the lost?  Does love compel you to be a blessing to those around you even when you don’t feel like it?  Do you have a compassion for those who are in need?  If not, then you haven’t tapped into the love of Christ.

It’s so easy to say, “I love the lost and I want to see them saved.”  But if there’s little or no pressure to do something about it, then that’s a sign that there’s little or no manifestation of God’s love.  The verdict is simple, no love, no power.

If you want to see this principle in action, just look to the early church in the book of Acts.  They felt the pressure of God’s love to the point where they were willing to die, if necessary, to bring salvation to those around them.

In my last post, I talked about our faith being proved as genuine.  I believe that walking in the love of God is one of the proofs of a genuine faith.

We don’t talk very much about God’s approval of life and ministry.  We seem to think that we can just do what we please and ask God to bless it.  After all, we’re doing it for the Lord.

No.  On the contrary, it’s God’s standards that we need to aspire to.  It’s found again and again in Scripture, if we look for it.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

We must do what it takes to live in intimacy with the Lord.  Only in this way will His love increase in our hearts.

Question: How much of the pressure of Christ’s love do you feel within you?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2021 in Anointing, Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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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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Transferring Ownership

Transferring Ownership

In this post we start our journey through the book of Romans.  I love the way Paul starts this letter.  It says a lot about how he viewed himself.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God

Romans 1:1

Paul uses some interesting language in this verse.  He calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ – literally a slave.  It’s interesting, because on various occasions Paul made a point of proving his freedom.

Once he was arrested and he asked the guard why he was being denied his right to a trial as a Roman citizen.  The guard explained that he, personally, had to buy his freedom.  Paul, on the other hand, said that he was born a free Roman citizen.  (Acts 22:25-29)

At that time, if you were born a slave, you were expected to be a slave forever – there was no escaping it.  Under Roman law, a slave could find out his “sale price” from his master.

Then, if he saved enough money, he could pay the buying price to his master and have the ownership transferred to one of the many Roman gods.  Then, as a slave to that god, could serve as a free man.

I believe this was in the back of Paul’s mind as he penned these words.  We’re all born under slavery to sin.  That was our unfortunate lot for the rest of our lives.

Jesus Christ paid the “slave price” for us.  Now, just as Paul did, we need to transfer the ownership of our lives over to God.  As God’s slaves we can now serve as free citizens of the kingdom of Heaven.

We have to live under this knowledge if we’re to have a fulfilling life in Christ.  We don’t own our lives.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:5-8

Christ, Himself, set the standard of living that we need to follow.  He said that He came to live a life of service.  That should be our attitude as well.

The Apostle Peter also understood this truth.

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

1 Peter 2:16

In the first verse above, Paul said that as a slave, he was called to be sent forth as an apostle.  Once we’ve transferred the ownership of our lives to God, our callings will open up to us.  We’re now free to serve Him to the best of our ability.

Paul finished off the verse by saying that he was set apart to the Good News.  That literally means that we’re set off by a boundary.  The Good News is our field of service.

This is the attitude that will push you to great things in the body of Christ.

Question: Have you transferred the ownership rights of your life to the Lord?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2020 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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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

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

 

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The Marks of an Apostle

As we go through Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, he’s continuing to deal with their infatuation with these “super-apostles” that travel the region.  These ministers exalt themselves and put down any other ministry that are not a part of their group.

When these “minsters” came to Corinth, they berated Paul’s work.  Yet, even though it was Paul’s ministry that gave birth to this church, they didn’t speak up on his behalf.

I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it.  I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.
2 Corinthians 12:11

Paul understands that it’s foolish to exalt yourself.  But, because the Corinthians didn’t speak up for him, he had to remind them of his work in their church.  They should have stood with Paul when these people were slandering his work.

I like Paul’s sarcasm here.  He makes the statement that even though he’s nothing, he’s better than those “super-apostles”.

He goes on to explain.

The things that mark an apostle — signs, wonders and miracles — were done among you with great perseverance.  How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you?  Forgive me this wrong!
2 Corinthians 12:12-13

If you don’t already know this about me, let me tell you that I believe God never stopped anointing apostles and prophets.  These callings are still available today, to those who are open and listening for the Lord’s voice.

The marks of an apostle are the things Paul lists.  All of them are miraculous works of God through His servants.

Signs are miracles that point to the truth of God’s Word.  They confirm that what God says will stand forever.  Wonders are miracles that cause you to simply stop and stand in awe of God’s power.  Of course, there are also miracles that don’t fall into either of those categories.

We need these ministries today.  The Bible tells us what they’re for.  In Ephesians 4:11-13, we’re told that they mature us.  To my knowledge, these verses aren’t fulfilled yet, so these gifts are still needed.

More than that, apostles are vital to the saving of souls.  Listen closely to what Paul says to the Roman believers.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18-19

The Gospel is more than just spoken.  It involves what we say and do.  My question is; can you fully proclaim the Gospel of Christ without signs, wonders, and the power of the Holy Spirit?

I don’t think so!

Question: Why do so many people try to win the lost with only convincing words?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2020 in Anointing, Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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Free isn’t Always Free

In the closing chapters of his letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about the other “apostles” (not the 12) that were going around at that time.  The church was comparing Paul with them.  Usually, it was not in a good way.

Paul was a man who understood his weaknesses.  He admitted that he wasn’t a trained speaker like some of these “super-apostles.”

He now talks about another point of comparison.

Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge?
2 Corinthians 11:7

The word, sin, does not always mean something evil.  In this case, it simply means to miss the mark or make a mistake.

Paul asks them; was I wrong to bless you by preaching the Gospel to you without asking for your support.  According to some, it was because Paul wasn’t an apostle, and so had no right for support.

Paul was willing to humble himself.  By doing this he was able to bring the Corinthian church to a higher level in Christ as a result of his preaching.  But was it really free of charge?

I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you.  And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed.  I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so.  As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine.
2 Corinthians 11:8-10

The simple fact is that support for the ministry has to come from somewhere.  It could come from the minister taking a second or third job.  It could come, as in this case, from other supporting churches.

As in all things, God is our ultimate source.  But He uses people to supply our needs.  It doesn’t always have to come from those being ministered to.

That’s why Paul said that he “robbed” other churches.  No, he didn’t take their money at sword point.  It was because they were giving him money with no direct service in return.  Of course, they received God’s blessing for their faithfulness.

This in itself proved that those accusers were wrong.  They were trying to show that Paul had no right to support.  All the while there were churches around the region that not only recognized the Apostle’s gifting but were willing to support it financially.

Why?  Because I do not love you?  God knows I do!  And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about.
2 Corinthians 11:11-12

God has a way of exalting his faithful servants.  No one even knows the names of these other preachers.  But, because of his willingness to serve, Paul was honored in God’s kingdom.

Question: What is your area of service to God?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2020 in God's Provision, Ministry, Missions, The Church

 

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Spiritual Boasting

We’re continuing through the epistle of Second Corinthians.  We’re seeing Paul as he talks about the field to which God has sent him.

We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you.
2 Corinthians 10:13

Having talked about the ministries that commend themselves, now Paul wants to deal with the fruit of his own ministry.  According to the apostle, there is a place for boasting.

He says that the limits involve what God has called you to do.  The Corinthian church was a part of the mission field that he was called to.  So it’s proper for Paul to boast about the work being done there.

We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ.  Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others.  Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you.  For we do not want to boast about work already done in another man’s territory.
2 Corinthians 10:14-16

Paul is very careful to confine his boasting to the work he has been assigned to.  We have to be careful about how we talk about our ministry.

Before COVID, I was able to travel and preach at a number of churches.  Just because I spoke at a church that was growing, doesn’t mean that this growth was a direct result of my ministry.  I can’t take any credit for it.

I can’t boast about what God is doing in that church.  The problem comes in when we feel the need to make ourselves look good by claiming someone else’s victory.  Too often we boast beyond the limits God has set for us.

Paul’s desire was for the church to continue to grow and mature in the faith.  Because they were within the field of his calling, their growth means his growth as well.

The apostle doesn’t want to be constantly babysitting them.  He wants them to get beyond the correction stage.  In that way, he can move on to further expansion in the ministry.

I like the way Paul gives us the bottom line of this boasting.

But, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”  For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10:17-18

Ultimately, everything we accomplish is because of what Christ has done.  I might have obeyed Him and saw the results of that obedience.  But the ultimate glory belongs to the Lord.

In the final analysis, it’s not what I think that counts.  My approval is going to come from God.  He’s the One I should be trying to please.

Question: What victories has God accomplished through you lately?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2020 in Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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The In Crowd

In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul begins to talk about some of the “super-apostles” that were traveling around at that time.  There were a number of them who associated together.  They looked down on ministers like Paul who was not a trained speaker.

This is like the associational or denominational groups of our day.  They have the temptation of thinking their group is the best.  Paul gives us some insight into these people.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.  When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
2 Corinthians 10:12

The first word I want to look at in this verse is “classify.”  That’s an interesting word.  It literally means to judge in or to count among.

There’s a modern word that I think, best describes what Paul is saying here.  That’s the word, label.  Paul tells us that he doesn’t label himself as one of them.

We live in a society of labels.  We label people in regards to everything from appearance (race) to gender identification to religion, and politics, just to name a few.

I believe that labels have no place in the body of Christ.  As soon as you place a label on yourself, a barrier goes up that can begin to exclude people.

The next thing he says is that he doesn’t use that group as a standard of comparison.  What these other ministries do or don’t do has no bearing on what Paul is called to accomplish.

This should apply to us as well.  We have no business judging ourselves based upon what others are doing.  Each of us has a unique set of gifts and callings in Christ Jesus.

One of the biggest problems with the “super-apostles” that Paul’s talking about is that they commend themselves.  This means that they put themselves forward or display themselves.  That’s never a good idea.

In the church, we need to let our praise come from the Lord or others.  What I say about myself is immaterial.  Only those who have been affected can say what they have received from my ministry.

According to Paul, the problem with these other ministries is that they’ve come up with their own method of comparison.  It’s also a problem among church leaders today.  It’s all wrapped up in the word, measure.

That word is all about size.  How big is your church?  How many people are on your e-mail list?  How many subscribers to your blog?

Since when do these factors translate to your anointing?  It’s more about maturity, obedience to God, and the eternal effects of your ministry.

We need to stay focused on what really matters.  Don’t be looking at and comparing yourself to what others are doing.  Walk your own path with Christ.

Question: What is the number one calling upon your life right now?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2020 in Anointing, Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Chosen for Service

We’re continuing to look at the offering that Paul is collecting for the needy churches of Judea.  He’s now informing the Corinthian church, who exactly will be taking this gift to Jerusalem.

This is found in 2 Corinthians 8:16-24.  You may want to read that passage before continuing with this post.

In this section of Scripture, we see three men.  One of them we know well, the other two are anonymous.  But they all possess a high degree of integrity.

I want to look at the way Paul describes them.  It should be something that we all strive to be like.  They definitely exemplify those who church leaders look for to advance in their calling.

The first of these men is Titus.  He was probably the leader of the group.  He was saved and trained up under Paul’s ministry.  It’s obvious that Paul treated him as a son.

One of the major parts of Titus’ attitude was a willingness to do anything Paul asked of him.

For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.
2 Corinthians 8:17

As I read through Paul’s Corinthian letters, it seems to me that this church was not an easy one to work with.  In many regards, they seemed pretty arrogant about themselves.

“We don’t need your help.  We know what we’re doing.”

Yet, in spite of all that, Titus was enthusiastic to go to them as Paul’s representative.  This earnest willingness to do whatever it takes is a great asset in any ministry.

Next, we have an unknown brother.

And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel.
2 Corinthians 8:18

This is someone who most people praised for his service.  This means that his service to the Gospel was an obvious thing.  He could always be counted on to help out.  It goes on to say that all the churches wanted him in particular to be a part of this “offering detail”.

Finally, there was a third man that was a part of this team.  Look at Paul’s description.

In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you.
2 Corinthians 8:22

He has a big plus; he’s passionate.  That’s what the word, zealous means.  The church needs people of passion.

We need to get emotional about those things that stir the heart of God.  When this man thought about the need in Judea, he was moved with compassion.  Then he heard about the fact that there were Greek churches who wanted to help out financially.  This moved him to action.

It’s leaders like this who should be examples to us of how to live our best for Christ.

Question: What leaders have affected you the most in your walk with Christ?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Financial Equality

We’re continuing to look at Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s talking to them about money and the giving of offerings.

As I’ve said, the churches of Judea were experiencing a famine and Paul wanted the Gentile churches to help out in this time of need.  He now explains a principle that we all but ignored in the modern church.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.
2 Corinthians 8:13-14

What Paul says here is that he doesn’t want one part of the body of Christ at ease and relaxed while another part is under great pressure.  He wants to see an equal sharing of God’s work.

Unfortunately, we don’t see this in the church today.  Actually, it’s not been seen for a very long time.  In most cases, it’s every church for themselves.

Throughout the church, there are believers who could care less about the work of God.  They’re about going to work and making money.  They feel their part is attending church most weeks and giving a little something in the offering.

The way the world is right now, it’s time for the church to wake up.  We need to get back to the priority of sharing Christ.

At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.  Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”
2 Corinthians 8:14-15

This verse says that your surplus will supply their deficit.  I praise God for churches who see beyond their own four walls.

Too many ministries have taken on the structure and attitude of corporate America.  American greed is at an all-time high.

The head of the company makes more money than they could spend in 10 lifetimes.  While their employees have to take on multiple jobs just to survive.

It shouldn’t be that way in the church.  We’re here to make Christ known.  What does the world see when they look at us?

There are ministry leaders across the country with multiple homes, cars, motorcycles, and jets.  At the same time, there are ministries that are struggling to survive.  What message does that send to the world?

What am I trying to say?  As much as it depends on us, we should be a giving people.  We should also seek to be a part of a ministry with open hands.  Giving is a part of the lifeblood of the church.

Question: What is your attitude toward the giving of offerings?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2020 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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