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Tag Archives: spiritual atmosphere

A Ministry of Life and Death

In my last post, I talked about the victory we have in Christ, even through our humanity.  Paul now goes on to talk about what this victory looks like his in ministry.

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.  And who is equal to such a task?
2 Corinthians 2:15-16

The first thing that we need to understand is who Paul is talking about in this passage.  He’s referring to himself and his ministry team.  He tells us that their lives give off a spiritual fragrance.

Of course, this could also apply to any believer who’s walking in their calling.  Christians who are living for themselves don’t have this “aroma”.  That’s because the life of Christ is only evident in those who strive to live as Jesus did.

The apostle says that their lives create a spiritual atmosphere around them.  When people are near them, they pick up on the truths that are a part of Paul’s ministry.

Paul mentions two groups of people who his ministry affects.  He also tells us what the “fragrance” is that he’s giving off.

The two people groups have to do with the direction that they’re heading.  That’s how Paul describes them.  The first group is those who are heading toward salvation.  The second is those who are heading toward destruction.

The effect that the ministry has on these two groups may sound counter-intuitive at first.  But as we look closely at it, we’ll see what Paul means.

The first group is composed of people who are headed toward salvation.  Their desire is to see God’s completed work accomplished in their lives.  To those believers, Paul’s ministry is the aroma of death.

Why is that?  Simply put, it will take the death of self to see the resurrection power of Christ at work in you.  This all points back to something Paul wrote about in his first letter to this church.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

It’s the message of the cross, where our old self is crucified with Christ, that releases the power of God in our lives.  Those who are headed down the path to ruin and loss think that the message of the cross is foolishness.

However, Paul’s ministry also had an effect on those who were headed toward destruction.  That was the evangelistic side of his calling.  His goal was to bring light and life to those who are in darkness and sin.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

This is the other side of ministry.  There has to be the call to receive Christ’s offer of salvation.  It’s a call to life.

As I look at the apostle’s ministry, and how he sees these two goals, I have to agree with his final assessment.  “Who is equal to such a task?”

In our own strength and intelligence, we’ll never be able to accomplish this great work.  But, I praise God for the Holy Spirit who lives in us.  It’s His work in us that makes us competent ministers of the grace of God.

Question: How do you see the “aroma” of life and death at work in your ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2020 in Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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How’s Your Love-Walk?

Question MarkIn my last post I talked about how love is one of the non-optional ingredients to a powerful ministry. I defined it as treating people as if you like them – whether you do or not, whether you know them or not and whether you are in their presence or not.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I Corinthians 13:7

This is the atmosphere that should surround God’s people. When you’re ministering to others, all these aspects should be evident in your work.

Too often, we’re guilty of loving our ministry more than the people we’re called to perfect. This verse tells us that we’re to always protect, trust in, hope for and persevere for THE PEOPLE.

The ministry is a good thing. But it’s still a thing. Things can never be more important than people. Excellence will never develop in an atmosphere where you love the ministry to the extent that you do not care for the people.

You are not their Lord, Jesus is. Your ministry is never more important than God’s plan for their individual lives. If you’re walking in the way of love, you’ll be able to balance the two.

Love for people must start with your family. Too many Christians think that it’s noble to give up their family for “God’s work.”

I even heard a guest minister once prove how devoted he was to the ministry by saying that his children were not walking with the Lord. It was a sacrifice he had to make for the ministry. I never let him preach at our church again. God has never accepted child sacrifice. The Bible is clear that ministry begins at home.

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

It’s clear from the life of Christ (and we probably don’t want to hear it) that the way of love sees everyone as our friends. Jesus even laid down His life for those who were His sworn enemies. If so, then He included the whole race of mankind into His list of “friends.”

We cannot use this verse for an excuse not to love. Christ’s example stops us from doing this. He laid down His life for the Pharisee and the Atheist, as well as the disciples. When you walk in the love of Christ, you exhibit the same evidence of love that He did.

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1Thessalonians 5:8

Faith and love – they’re the two non-negotiable items with God. Scripture makes it clear that without faith it is impossible to please God. But just as true is the verse we looked at in the last post that clearly states that if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. You cannot please Him unless both are in operation.

Paul wasn’t forgetful either. He didn’t call the breastplate one thing here and then forget about it and call it righteousness somewhere else. The combination of faith expressing itself through love is the completion of our righteousness.

Without them both in balance and harmony, our works are not complete before God. That’s why you must be sensitive to the Lord and seek to develop both. Without them, you have no chance of developing the kind of ministry that will change the world around you.

Question: How has God’s love been evident through you lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2015 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Praise – Prelude to Worship

087True worship of God is essential to maintaining a growing relationship with the Lord. Revelation, chapter 4, is a beautiful picture of what worship is like in the throne room of God. We need to have these same attitudes as we worship on the earth.

Today, I want to start a small series of posts based upon the gems which form the atmosphere surrounding worship. It’s the way God represented this to John in his vision.

And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne.
Revelation 4:3

In this short verse we see 3 precious stones mentioned. On the earth, kings wear jewels and gems. They have crowns and scepters. It shows that they’re special.

There’s a majesty surrounding our God. To look at God is to look at majesty itself. That’s why I want to look at the gems around Christ, and how they inspire worship from His people.

The first stone mentioned is jasper– a mixture of a few different elements. That’s why it has bands and spots of all different colors.

A few years ago I was in Machias, Maine. Near there was a jasper beach. The entire beach was made of jasper stones. It’s one of only two in the world. The other is in Japan.

This beach was an incredible place. Every time a wave would come in, as the water receded, it sounded like thousands of people clapping their hands. It sounded to me like there was continual praise going up to the Lord.

In my experience, worship usually springs from an atmosphere of praise. It seems that praise and worship always go together.

Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, “Amen! Amen!” Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.
Nehemiah 8:6

Usually it’s very easy to go from praise into worship. I’ve only rarely heard a meeting go from worship to praise.

Throughout history jasper has been known as the warrior’s stone. It’s interesting that there’s a link between praise and warfare.

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
Psalms 8:2

That’s because praise clears the air spiritually. It gets rid of the junk we’ve been thinking of and focuses us in on Christ. As we lose sight of the earthly distractions, we’re better able to enter that intimate place of worship. It’s so much easier to enter into worship if you’ve spent time in praise.

Question: What do you do to prepare your heart to worship the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2015 in Prayer, Spiritual Warfare, Worship

 

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