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Who Hired You?

Who Hired You?

We call Satan “the enemy.”  But in many cases, it looks like regular church people have accepted payment from him to ignore the work of God.  Are you one of these individuals?

As he begins his letter to the Romans, Paul talks about who hired him.

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.  God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

Romans 1:8-10

The first thing I see is that our faith is visible in our actions.  Everyone knew the faith of the Roman church because they heard about what they were doing.  As a result, they were constantly being prayed for as people thought of them.

In the next verse, the word serve literally means to serve as a hired menial.  So Paul is saying that he considers himself hired by God for a purpose.  He understands that there’s a payment, a reward that he’ll receive from God for a job well done.

How do we handle this?  In our modern American culture there’s not a lot of job loyalty anymore.  People are constantly keeping their resumes tuned up in case a better position opens up in another company.  It’s unfortunate, but this same mindset has spilled over into the church.

Satan tries to capitalize on this thinking.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.

“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Matthew 4:8-10

In this verse we see Satan trying to give Christ a better offer.  It was promised that the Messiah would one day rule over all the kingdoms of the world.  But by God’s way, the Lord would have to suffer and die in agony to receive it.

Satan is giving Christ the chance to bypass all the pain.  By a simple act of devotion, He could receive the reward without the pain of the cross.  I’m so glad that Jesus saw through the deception, and carried out God’s plan as it was meant to be done.

Satan tries to buy us off all the time.  He holds out to us all the pleasures, entertainments, and activities of the world.  He tells us to just play with these toys for a little while.

“They’re not sinful, and nobody will be hurt by them.”

But there’s a price that’s being paid.  The work of the kingdom is being ignored by a large segment of believers.  There are souls not being saved, prisoners not being set free, and lives not being healed.  There’s a calling that only you can fulfill.

If you’re looking for a better offer, Satan will give it to you; he just won’t follow through with it.  It’s time for the church of Christ to rise to its feet.  We must throw off the distractions of the world and complete the assignments that we were called to do.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…

Hebrews 12:28

Our wages from the Lord are well worth what we’re called to do.  We’re hired by God for a purpose.  Let’s give all and do great things for God!

Questions: How has the enemy tried to buy your time?  How have you answered his offer?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2020 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our View of Christ

Our View of Christ

Did you know that how you view your relationship with Christ determines your walk?  As I was reading Paul’s introduction in his letter to the Romans, it stood out to me.  It made me stop and assess how I view the Lord.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David…

Romans 1:1-3

There’s so much here that caught my attention. In my last post, I talked about how Paul viewed himself as a slave of Christ.

The next thing I noticed was that Paul talked about Christ’s human nature as being descended form David.  I wondered about that.  As a Jew; why not call Jesus a descendant of Abraham?

I started to look deeper into it and found that this was a big part of Paul’s message.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel…

2 Timothy 2:8

The fact that Jesus was in King David’s family was a major piece of Paul’s message.  It seems to me that Paul placed this on even par with Christ’s resurrection from the dead.  The two go hand in hand in the Apostle’s preaching.

This truth is the key to Paul’s attitude toward the Lord.  It’s something that we need to return to in our generation.  Jesus Christ is King, Lord, and Sovereign.  There’s no authority higher than Him in the entire universe.

We like to refer to the Lord in a number of different ways.  We call Him Savior, Redeemer, and Friend of sinners.  These titles are all true of Christ and speak to us of what He’s done for us.  But I refer to them as “safe” titles.  They carry with them no inconvenience to us.

When we begin to look to Christ as our King, things start to change.  Now there’s a responsibility of obedience placed upon us.  Calling Him, Lord, means that my life is no longer my own.

Remember how Paul introduces himself in relation to Christ in that first verse.  He doesn’t call himself a follower of Christ.  He doesn’t say he’s a believer, a minister, or even a disciple.  He refers to himself as a servant of Christ Jesus.

This means that above all, Paul’s mission in life was to please his King. It wasn’t about doing something for the Lord “when he finds the time.”  His life was devoted to serving Jesus.

This is the attitude we need to return to in this generation of the church.  We need to once again discover the place of servanthood to Christ.  Yes, He is our Redeemer, our Savior, our best Friend, and a whole lot more.  But we live to please Him as our King.

As we live the life of a servant of Christ, this is one of the fastest ways to receive His power and authority in our lives.  We must pick up this attitude – “Lord, not my will, but yours be done in my life.”

Question: What role does servanthood play in your walk with the Lord?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2020 in 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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Giving Results in Thanksgiving

I’ve been posting about the outcome of a lifestyle of giving.  What’s the result of walking regularly in the grace of giving?

We’ve seen how God increases the seed and the harvest of those who sow into His kingdom.  Now Paul continues this thought.

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11

I know there are many who get upset when you talk about God’s abundant financial blessings on the lives of giving Christians.  But, I have to be true to what the Bible says.

This verse literally says that in everything you will be made wealthy.  Of course, in context, he’s talking about sowers.  But this is a verse that you cannot deny or explain away.  It says what it says.

There’s more to it than just getting wealthy.  According to the above verse, there’s a point that this wealth is taking you to.  The purpose of this blessing is to bring you to generosity in all things.

God doesn’t want to bring you a financial blessing just you can sit on a fat bank account.  He wants you to do something with it – be generous with others.

Then, there’s an even further result.  As you bless others, thanksgiving will go up to God.

So there’s a test you can take.  If you have wealth, is it the source of thanksgiving to the Lord?  If not, then you’re not using your finances correctly.

Paul goes on to elaborate on this.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.  And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.  Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:12-15

I really need to tell you what Paul means when he says it’s the service that you perform.  He uses very detailed Greek words.  He is actually saying that this is a liturgy of servanthood.

Giving generously is actually a spiritual exercise.  It’s a part of the mature Christian walk with Christ.

The apostle tells us that it’s the proof of your obedience to God.  It shows that your confession of Christ as Lord is not just lip service.

It becomes obvious to all who see you that God is bestowing upon you this grace of giving.  It’s not from your own abilities or actions.  It’s His power working through you.

Thanksgiving to God will be multiplied as others begin to follow your example of giving.  This is truly a great gift to walk in.

Question: How have you experienced God’s blessings?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2020 in God's Provision, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Principles of Giving

Paul is continuing to coach the Corinthian church in the giving of offerings.  It’s good advice for us as well.

There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints.
2 Corinthians 9:1

The first thing we see is that giving is a part of our servanthood.  Jesus said that if you want to be great in God’s kingdom, then you must be the servant of all.  (Mark 10:42-45)

A part of my service to the kingdom is fulfilled as I use my money to help others.  I might not be able to be physically present to help them.  But by giving my finances, I can help to relieve some of their burdens.

For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.  But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be.
2 Corinthians 9:2-3

What you’ll find is that some believers are quicker to give than others.  Some people take a little longer to reach that decision.  That’s okay, as long as we’re all obedient to the Lord’s prompting.

The fact is, those who are quicker to give are an encouragement to those who need more time to think about it.  When they see the zeal of others, it stirs them to action.  Then, the blessing of service increases.

The word, eagerness, in the above passage is literally forward-passioned.  You are passionate about seeing God’s kingdom advance.  When you give, it’s not simply about the money.  It’s moving in answer to the call of God to advance His work.

For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we — not to say anything about you — would be ashamed of having been so confident.  So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
2 Corinthians 9:4-5

Finally, we must always be prepared to give.  Be open to the Holy Spirit.  Let Him move your heart.

At one point I was stopped at a red light and I saw a panhandler coming towards me.  I felt the Spirit urging me to give. As I fumbled with my seatbelt trying to get to my wallet, eventually the light turned green before I could get the money out.

I felt bad about it.  Now I make sure that I have some money in the compartment between the seats so that if it happens again, I’ll be ready.

We need to be people who want to serve not just with our time, but our money as well.

Question: How prepared are you when the Spirit prompts you to give?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Servants First

What do you think is the best path to leadership in the kingdom of God?  There was a principle of leadership that Jesus had to get across to His disciples.  After all, they were going to be leading the church after His ascension.

They left that place and passed through Galilee.  Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples.  He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.  They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.”  But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.
Mark 9:30-32

As Jesus approaches the time of the cross, He spends more alone time with His disciples.  He needs to prepare them for the challenges ahead.  Part of this was to instruct them about the cross.  He was going to suffer, die, and then rise from the dead three days later.

The disciples just couldn’t grasp what the Lord was trying to get across to them.  But now, after Peter’s rebuke, they were afraid to ask the Lord to explain it.

As they walked along, the disciples started to debate something among themselves.  I’m sure that it got pretty heated.

They came to Capernaum.  When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?”  But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.
Mark 9:33-34

This argument probably started with, “What if Jesus were to die?  Who would be in charge of this group?”  I’m sure that Peter, James, and John all thought that they were eminently qualified.  That is until Jesus shared His views with them.

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
Mark 9:35

The Lord explains that the true path to leadership is through servanthood.  That’s something that we have a hard time grasping in the church these days.

Jesus is our prime example.  The disciples were arguing over who was greatest, right after Jesus told them His plan.  He became Lord of all creation.  But the path He took involved laying down His life – serving – all of humanity.

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

I think that it’s funny the way we get into leadership in our generation.  If someone wants to be a pastor or teacher, they go to a Bible college for years.  Then they graduate and send their resumes to churches.  A lot of them will get voted in and installed as pastors having never served in ministry.

I think that’s why there’s such a high burn-out rate in the ministry.  We haven’t learned that the path to knowing your calling is service in the kingdom.  Without being a true servant, there’s no way of understanding the needs of those you’re leading.

That was the path that Christ took.  It hasn’t changed.  The Father is looking for qualified servants to lead His people.  Don’t ever look down on that season of your life.  Enjoy your call to servanthood.

Question: How are you called to serve in God’s kingdom?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2018 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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How do You View Jesus?

JesusDo you know that how you view your relationship with Christ determines your walk? As I was reading Paul’s introduction in his letter to the Romans, it stood out to me. It made me stop and assess how I view the Lord.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 1:1-4

There’s so much here that caught my attention. The first thing I noticed was that Paul talked about Christ’s human nature as being descended form David. I wondered about that. As a Jew; why not a descendant of Abraham?

I started to look deeper into it and found that this was a big part of Paul’s message.

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel…
2 Timothy 2:8

The fact that Jesus was in King David’s family was a big part of Paul’s message. It seems to me that Paul placed this on even par with Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The two go hand in hand in the Apostle’s preaching.

This truth is the key to Paul’s attitude toward the Lord. It’s something that we need to return to in our generation. Jesus Christ is King, Lord, and Sovereign. There’s no authority higher than Him in the entire universe.

We like to refer to the Lord in a number of different ways. We call Him Savior, Redeemer, and Friend of sinners. These titles are all true of Christ and speak to us of what He’s done for us. But I refer to them as “safe” titles. They carry with them no inconvenience to us.

Notice how Paul introduces himself in relation to Christ in that first verse. He doesn’t call himself a follower of Christ. He doesn’t say he’s a believer, a minister, or even a disciple. He refers to himself as a servant of Christ Jesus.

This means that above all, Paul’s mission in life was to please his Master. It wasn’t about doing something for the Lord “when he finds the time.” His life was devoted to serving Jesus.

This is the attitude we need to return to in this generation of the church. We need to once again discover the place of servanthood to Christ. Yes, He is our Redeemer, our Savior, our best Friend, and a whole lot more. But we live to please Him.

As we live the life of a servant of Christ, this is one of the fastest ways to receive His power and authority in our lives. We must pick up this attitude – “Lord, not my will, but yours be done in my life.”

Question: What role does servanthood play in your walk with the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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How to Serve the Gospel

Fine DiningI’ve been taking a few posts to talk about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Today I want to talk about an aspect we don’t hear about too often.

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.  I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.
Ephesians 3:6-7

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has far-reaching effects.  Paul tells us about the power of this Good News.  As it started to do its work in establishing him, the grace of God began to have an effect.  It called out to him – and he listened.  In the same way, it’s clear that the Good News calls us to that same place of servanthood.

This means that we are to become servants of the Good News and not servants of the law.  This is the servanthood that we are called to.  Sons of God are servants of the Good News.  We must live to serve the Good News.

What do I mean by this?  We must serve the good news just like a waiter serves your food.  Think about it.  In a rat infested dive of a restaurant, they throw your food at you.

In a restaurant where they have “cuisine,” however, they’re not really serving you, but the food.  Why do they have white tablecloths on the tables?  Why the silver utensils, crystal goblets, and fine china?  Do you think that the waiters wear tuxedos for you?  Absolutely not!!  All that finery is because they believe that THE FOOD is worthy.

Now think about church.  It’s not a place of reverence anymore.  Most congregations don’t even dress up these days.  Spiritually speaking, people are coming out to eat less and less at these “restaurants of the Word.”  This causes me to think that maybe the food isn’t as good as it once was.  It just might be that we’re not serving the Gospel like we used to.

As a local pastor, I’m the executive chef of my spiritual restaurant.  That makes me as much to blame as anyone for the quality of the spiritual food at my church.  Then there’s the leadership team – they are the souse-chef and maître de. Our church members are the waiters and waitresses.

Then there’s the fact that at a “high class” restaurant there are no prices on the menus.  If you go there, you expect to pay whatever the meal costs.  As the saying goes, “If you need to ask what the price is, then eat somewhere else.”  Could it be that many American churches today are “spiritual dives?”

The truth is that we need a deeper understanding of the Gospel.  I need to understand my role as a servant.  We need to learn to serve the Gospel as they did in the early church.

Question: What can we do to better serve the Good News of Jesus Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in Power of God, The Church, The Gospel

 

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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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