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Tag Archives: spiritual maturity

They’re Waiting for Us

They’re Waiting for Us

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

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

Romans 8:18

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

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

Hebrews 5:8-9

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

How did Christ deal with this?

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

Hebrews 5:7

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

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

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

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

Romans 8:19

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

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

Romans 8:20-21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Good Suffering?

Good Suffering?

As we continue our study through the book of Romans, Paul is about to show us the way to finally overcome the flesh. He’s told us about the work of Christ on the cross. By identifying with Him, we count ourselves as dead to sin.

At that point, I’m a spiritual infant in God’s kingdom. I’m not where I should be yet. How do I deal with that? I want to be an adult son now.

Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:17

Maturity is something that takes time to develop. How do I live with this frustration of wanting to be mature right now? Nobody wants to wait to grow up.

This verse tells us that we’re co-heirs with Christ. It also tells us that if we’re co-sufferers with Him, we’ll be co-sharers of His glory.

This tells me that the suffering is what we go through to become adults. It’s not really what we want to hear. But, Paul goes on to explain it to us.

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

Romans 8:18

Paul literally says that according to his calculations, our present sufferings cannot even be compared with our future glory. Suffering is one of those topics we don’t want to talk about.

The truth is that we need to co-suffer, but it doesn’t compare to the glory.

What is this suffering that he’s talking about? First off, let me assure you that it’s NOT sickness, poverty, or depression.

The Bible actually lets us know where this suffering comes from.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:24

The word, passion, in this verse is the same word as suffering in the Romans verse. The root of this word is passion, but it’s a passionate suffering. It’s like when something causes you to cry out, “I can’t take this anymore!” It comes from our sin nature. Why is this a good thing?

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:5-7

Here’s another important word – comfort. In our modern culture, we think about someone putting their arms around us and saying, “There, there, it will be okay.” On the contrary, this word means to call alongside. It’s what a coach does when he trains his athletes.

The best illustration I’ve ever seen of the Holy Spirit’s comfort, was from a movie a few years ago. It’s called Facing the Giants. I encourage you to watch it. To see the clip I’m talking about, click here.

That perfectly illustrates the suffering and the comfort provided by our Coach, the Holy Spirit. It’s about making our flesh do what it doesn’t want to, under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

We think we can’t go on. We think we can’t do what we’re called to do. We call it suffering. But God knows better than us.

We need to learn to listen to, and obey our Coach. Only then will we see the glory of a victorious life.

Question: What are some times that you had to suffer on the road to maturity?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Our Spiritual Maturity

Our Spiritual Maturity

As we continue through the book of Romans, I’ve been posting about the spiritual growth process. In the last article, I talked about the childhood phase. The Lord wants us to move on from there.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:16-17

We share in His glory when we walk as mature sons and daughters of God. There are many verses that talk about what this level of maturity looks like. Here are a few.

…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:13

Becoming like Christ is the goal. Our desire should be to minister, love, and encourage as He did. Obviously, we need the ministry gifts for this level of maturity.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:4

Maturity doesn’t just happen. It’s something you have to persevere and strive for. The struggle, however, is worth it. Scripture teaches that when you’re mature, you’re complete and don’t lack anything.

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

James 3:2

The word, perfect in this verse is the Greek word for mature. When I’m walking in maturity, my speaking and doing are in line with God’s Word. That’s a big indicator. We know that our mouth speaks out what’s stored in our hearts. So, clean speech shows a clean heart.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

Colossians 1:28

This was Paul’s goal. He wanted everyone under his influence to walk in the maturity of Christ. That should be our goal as well.

Unfortunately, we don’t seem to know what maturity is in this generation. Many of us are like little kids looking up at their teenage brothers and saying, “I want to get there!” We need to go beyond that point.

It’s all wrapped up in the progression of sonship. The Holy Spirit wants to bring us from the initial adoption papers to the glory of revealed sons.

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.

Galatians 4:1-2

We think that just because we have the spiritual position, we can do whatever we want. No, not if you’re a child. We need the walk of maturity to open up a new world of spiritual freedom.

In this section of Romans, Paul is getting us ready to learn adulthood. That’s why this teaching is so important. The next section of Romans is the key to operating on the level of a revealed son or daughter of God.

Question: How mature do you see yourself right now?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2021 in Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our Spiritual Childhood

Our Spiritual Childhood

I’m continuing my look at Paul’s letter to the Roman church. For the last few posts I’ve been laying a foundation of side issues that needed to be explained in order to go further.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:15

This verse is why I felt the need to explain the concept of a progressive parent-child relationship. It tells us that we’re not a slave to fear, which is what we experience living under the law. Instead, when we’re saved, we received the Spirit of adoption.

It’s by that Spirit, that we cry Abba, Father. You have to understand that Abba is what a little child called his Father. It’s the Aramaic equivalent to our word, daddy.

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”

Galatians 4:6

This verse confirms the truth that it’s the Holy Spirit who cries out “Abba, Father” from within us. This tells me that it’s only in the spirit that we cry “Daddy Father”.

The fact is, that we’ve received adoption in Christ – the standing of a son. We have to understand that adoption is merely the paperwork. It’s not the completed work. That’s where Paul is taking us to in this letter.

Just to see where Paul is leading us to…

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

Romans 8:19

Paul wants us to go from the adoption paperwork to become the revealed sons of God. This means that we’re all adopted sons, but not all of us are revealed sons. We need to go through the Holy Spirit’s training program in order to progress to this point.

The next couple of verses reinforce this truth.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:16-17

Because of our salvation, the Holy Spirit and our spirit jointly agree that we are God’s little children. Verse 17 says that if we’re His little children, then we’re also co-heirs with Christ. That also means that we’re co-sufferers with Him so we can share in His glory.

So, we’re adopted as infant sons of God. We start out as “baby Christians”. What does that mean?

I Corinthians 3:1 tells us that infants are still worldly. According to Galatians 4:3, they’re still in slavery to the principles of the world. Ephesians 4:14 says that infants are tossed back and forth by winds of teaching. Hebrews 5:13 explains that these believers are not acquainted with the teaching of righteousness.

What I’ve found is that many Christians in our generation are in this condition. Paul is calling for us to progress in our walk. We need to be moving on to maturity.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many who teach this progressive relationship between us and the Father. We need to be submitting to the Holy Spirit and His training program for us.

We can’t just assume that because we’ve been given the position of righteousness, then we’re automatically walking in righteousness. It’s the same with holiness and other concepts of Scripture.

Make it your goal to move on to maturity, if you’re not already there. In my next post, I’m going to explain what it means to be mature in Christ. That way we can see how far we need to go down this road.

Question: At what level do you see yourself in Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2021 in Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Maturity and the Gifts

We’re continuing our look at the love chapter – First Corinthians, chapter 13.  We always need to keep in mind that the greater context for this passage is a teaching about the Gifts of the Spirit.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
1 Corinthians 13:9-10

This is another of those hotly debated Scriptures.  There are some who teach that the “perfection” spoken of in this verse refers to the completion of the New Testament.  They say that once the Holy Bible is complete, then there’s no more need for the power-gifts of the Spirit.

But is that what Paul is trying to get across?  I don’t believe so.  The words that he uses don’t open up that interpretation.

He tells us that our knowledge and our prophecy are all partial.  That’s obvious.  None of us gets the whole plan from the Lord.  We only see partial glimpses into what God’s doing.

Paul goes on to say that when the perfect or complete thing arrives, then the imperfect thing will be rendered useless or idle.  This verse does not say that the imperfect thing would become more and more perfect until it was totally complete.  That would be the case if it were talking about the New Testament.

As he was receiving his revelation, the Apostle John was told something very important by an angel.

“Worship God!  For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Revelation 19:10b

All prophecy ultimately points to Christ.  But in our current conditions, it only a partial view of Him, or what He wants to accomplish in us.  However, when Christ – the Perfect One – appears, there will be no need for any of those prophecies anymore.  They will be rendered useless by the Lord’s appearing.

We will then have a perfect view of the One to which all knowledge and prophecy points to.  That’s right in line with what Paul goes on to explain.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:11-12

I think it’s clear from this verse that he’s talking about the church coming to maturity.  It’s not the Bible that needs to be matured and completed, but us.

This is especially true in regards to the Gifts of the Spirit.  As children, we think that everything is about us.  As we grow older, if we mature, we start thinking about the needs of others.

In some cases what you do remains the same.  It’s your attitude that changes.  When I was a teen, one of my chores was to put out the trash.  Guess what?  Now that I’m married I still put out the trash.

There’s a difference, though.  As a teen, I did those chores to gain privileges or an allowance.  Now, I do them because that’s what adults do.  I want my family to be healthy and safe.

That’s what Paul is trying to get us to see through this chapter.  Not that the gifts are going to cease to operate.  But that we need to move in the gifts with a heart of love towards those we are ministering to.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about prophecy, tongues, or giving someone a drink of water.  Walking in love is the sign that you’re becoming mature in Christ.

Question: How does walking in love bring about maturity in you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Imitation – The Road to Maturity

What do you think it takes to start maturing in Christ?  Would you need to go to Bible school for four years?

In dealing with the Corinthian church, Paul had some advice for them.  They were basically a church full of immature believers.  They had been Christians for years but had never grown up.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.  I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.
1 Corinthians 11:1-2

The phrase, follow my example is actually a Greek word that means to imitate me.  It’s the word from which we get the word mimic in English.  Paul was instructing these believers to imitate his lifestyle in the same way that he was imitating Christ.

The apostle had lived among them for months when he was starting their church.  They saw how he lived and worked.  Now they needed to walk before God in that same way.

In the above passage, Paul commends them for remembering his teaching and the things he told them to do.  That’s great.  But simply remembering what you’re taught is not enough.  At some point, you need to start putting it into practice.

The fact is that we can’t watch Jesus living His life.  We can only see the godly leaders that the Lord has placed before us right now.  Imitation is the first step down the road to maturity.

The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us the same thing.

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Hebrews 6:9

This verse gives us a little more detail about who we need to be imitating.  The problem is that just because someone holds a position of leadership, doesn’t mean that they’re worthy of being imitated.

The real question is; do you see the fruit of Christ’s ministry at work in them?  They should be walking in love and the blessing of God must be evident in their ministry.

The real challenge is the walk of faith and patience.  Sometimes imitating Christ isn’t evident in someone’s life.  They seem to be doing the same thing every day.  You don’t realize the significance until you see the outcome of what they’ve done.

It’s those who have a track record of spiritual fruit that we need to imitate.  Anyone can be an overnight success that’s here today and gone tomorrow.

In order to have a sustained ministry of fruitfulness, it requires a different kind of walk.  There needs to be a consistent degree of faith in God.  But more than that – faith must be held with perseverance.

If you want your maturity to grow, then you need to seek out those who are walking in a mature lifestyle.  Then, follow their example and apply their principles to your life.

Question: Who do you know that you can imitate their walk of maturity?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2019 in Leadership, Spiritual Walk

 

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Freedom vs. License

I’ve heard people say that if you preach too much about our freedom in Christ, then believers will start to think that they have a license to live however they want.  But is that the truth?  And if it was, would that be a reason to stop preaching the true Word of God?

Paul starts to deal with some of these issues in his letter to the Galatian church.

At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit.  It is the same now.
Galatians 4:29

It’s obvious from this verse that Paul’s talking about the Judaizers who were causing him so much trouble.  They felt that the Gentiles needed to come under the Law of Moses in order to maintain their salvation.

In my experience, this verse is as applicable today as it was back then.  There are Christians in our generation who believe in a set of rules that must be followed.  They believe there’s a certain lifestyle that must be adhered to.

Understand me – if the Bible calls something sin, then God hates it.  If we’re involved in it, we need to repent and turn from it.  So I’m not talking about a freedom to sin.

What I am talking about, are believers who try to make it so hard for people to grow.  If a child spills his milk, you expect that; he’s a child.  Why don’t we give young believers that same benefit of the doubt?

I’ve been told that you can’t emphasize our freedom in Christ.  It causes believers to “backslide” and fall into sin.

Well, I’ve been a pastor for 30 years.  I preach about our sonship and freedom in Christ.  I preach about the walk of maturity and power.  So I think that I have some experience in this area.

What I’ve found over the years is that the vast majority of those I taught have gone on to a mature Christian walk as well as an understanding of their call to ministry.  Yes, some have fallen away.  But most of those who fell into sin, started by first rejecting me and my teaching.

Paul makes it very clear…

But what does the Scripture say?  “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”  Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.
Galatians 4:30-31

My belief is that new believers should start out being shown what they need to do to grow in Christ.  Reading the Word, attending a church, tithing, praying, etc.  Just like physical children, they need to be shown how to be responsible with their salvation.

Along with that, they need to be shown the freedom and joy of maturity.  That’s what works in the natural.  Children look up to their parents.  They want to be free to drive their own car someday.  They want to have a job and have their own money.

If you never show people what God offers, they’ll never strive for a deeper walk.  It’s not natural for a 25-year-old, living with his parents, to be told that if he cleans his room he’ll get an extra treat after dinner.  There’s a freedom that comes with maturity.

We just have to learn this truth in the family of God.  I like the way the Apostle Paul sums it all up.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

I believe that given the choice, most Christians will choose the power and freedom of a mature walk in Christ over sin every time.

Question: What’s been your experience with legalistic believers?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2017 in Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Breakthrough to Maturity

I’m continuing my study of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  In his teaching about the error of legalism, he now begins to talk about our sonship in Christ.

I’ve found that there’s a certain level of frustration in our growth to maturity.  We’d like to arrive there quickly and easily.  Unfortunately, just like in physical growth, spiritual maturity takes time and consistency.

Paul writes about it in this section.

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.  He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.  So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.
Galatians 4:1-3

This is a truth that many have missed.  Our position in Christ is not enough for us to experience the manifestation of His power.  If you’re a spiritual child, you have the position of righteousness and holiness.  But you’re still in slavery to the principles of the world.

Spiritually, you own everything that Christ has purchased for you on the cross.  But practically speaking, you’re living out your life never experiencing the reality of it because you’re a child.  We have to come to the realization that position only gets you into the presence of God.  When it comes to the power of God, you need the freedom and authority of adulthood.

As spiritual children, we’re still under the supervision – literally the guardianship and training –of the law.  I think you’ll be surprised by this aspect of childhood.

In the Faith Movement, we were taught the importance of trusting the Word of God.  As a result, we learned that the promises of God could be embraced and applied to our lives.  This was when we started to submit to the guardianship of the law of God.

We learned how to follow the requirements of the promises.  For instance – if I tithe, then God will open up the windows of heaven and pour out a financial blessing upon me.

Make no mistake about it, even though this was a fundamental part of our growth process, it was still a part of our childhood.  This is how children are trained to obey.

“If you’ll take out the trash every week, I’ll give you an allowance.”

“If you’ll tithe, I’ll open up the windows of heaven for you.”

Living on the level of “if you do this, then I’ll do that” is the childhood phase of our walk.  We all must go through it, but we’re not meant to stay there.

When I was a child, one of my chores was to put out the trash every week for pickup.  I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could be free of my parents’ rules.

I’m now an adult with a family of my own.  Actually, I’m still putting the trash out every week – but there’s a difference.  I don’t put out the trash because I’ll lose the privilege to use the car.

I put out the trash because THAT’S WHAT ADULTS DO.  I’m not under a law that tells me that I have to do it to receive a blessing.  I do my chores because I’m an adult.

I still give a tithe of my finances to the Lord, but, with an adult mindset.  God blesses my finances because I’m His son.  I tithe because that’s what mature believers do.

Spiritually speaking, I’m in my Father’s family business.  I get my salary from Him.  I know that it would please Him if I reinvest 10% back into His business every week.  Why would I refuse?  He’s never failed to provide for me.

Since I’ve started to look at God’s kingdom from this perspective, I’ve had more peace and freedom than I’ve ever known before.  I’ve seen more answered prayer than I ever have before.  My prayer is that I can apply this to more and more areas of my life.

The Lord is looking for His people to rise up to this level of maturity in Him.  We need a revelation of what sonship is all about.

Question: What’s the next stage in your spiritual growth?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2017 in Faith, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Get a Faith-Coach

I’ve been posting about Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. I’m now starting to look at chapter three. We now begin to see Paul’s desire for their continued growth.

So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith…
1 Thessalonians 3:1-2

If you remember, Paul had to leave Thessalonica before he had a chance to establish the church in his usual way. He had been worrying about their spiritual health as he traveled through the area. Now that things had quieted down a little, he could check up on them.

He decided to send his spiritual son, Timothy, to see how they were doing. With Paul as his mentor, Timothy had grown to a seasoned minister in his own right. Paul even calls him a co-worker in the Gospel. Having Timothy show up in their church was like having Paul, himself.

But the real question is; why did Paul feel the need to send anyone? After all, there are many in the body of Christ today who don’t feel the need to sit under any teaching. What was it that Paul was trying to accomplish?

Why didn’t Paul just encourage them to make sure they were reading the Bible? Okay, so they didn’t have a Bible. This letter was the second book of the New Testament that was written. And the only copy of the Old Testament in Thessalonica was in the synagogue, where most of the persecution was coming from.

If you’ve been following this blog through the book of First Thessalonians, then you know that one of the themes Paul talks about is the principle of imitation. The fact is that we all need spiritual mentors to look up to. I would say that 80% of our growth comes from how we see others living for Christ.

Timothy was given two specific assignments in regard to the people. Paul wanted to position them for growth and maturity. These are the same things that we need from those we find ourselves under in the church.

The first thing Timothy was to do is strengthening them in their faith. This word has a couple of different uses. It means to establish or set fast. We need to be rooted in our faith. Trusting God is not something we can do today and forget about tomorrow. It must be a consistent part of our life.

This word also means to turn resolutely in a certain direction. Faith always has a direction. Faith never wanders around looking for the right path. When I know where God’s leading, I can walk with the assurance that I’ll come to my destiny in Christ.

Timothy’s other job was to encourage them in their faith. That’s a word that means to call alongside. It’s the job description of a coach. A coach is someone who’s walked that way before, and can bring you there quicker than you could have done it by yourself.

Therefore I urge you to imitate me. For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
1 Corinthians 4:16-17

This verse describes perfectly what’s happening with the Thessalonians. The word urge is the same word that means to coach. There’s no doubt about it. We need to place ourselves under faith-coaches in the body of Christ.

It might be a pastor or a teacher that God has brought into your life. Whether we think we need it or not, these faith-coaches will keep us from getting stuck in our Christian walk.

Question: How have godly leaders helped your growth in the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2017 in Faith, Leadership, Spiritual Walk

 

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Does Your Tongue Lead a Double Life?

Are you living a double life? That’s the question James asks us in his small book. I’ve been posting about how our tongue shows publically what’s going on in our heart.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
James 3:9-12

There’s a self-deception sometimes, over how far along we are in our spiritual maturity. We like to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. This is especially true when we find ourselves in a Christian meeting, praising God along with everyone else.

James gives us a more accurate picture. He starts with what it looks like by observation. Praise and cursing coming from the same mouth. “Lord I love you” with one breath, and telling someone “you’re no good” with the next. It looks like you can do both – unless you see God’s perspective.

That’s why James asks these questions. He knows the answer. Jesus answered them with His disciples. I’m sure that James heard Jesus say it on more than one occasion.

“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”
Luke 6:43-45

It’s obvious that James hasn’t changed the subject. He’s still talking about controlling the tongue by what you put in your heart.

More than that, he’s saying what sounds like praise to us, is not always praise to God. If your heart is overflowing with things other than the Word, then your so-called praise is not acceptable to God. It may look like fresh water to all those around, but to God it’s a salt spring.

A life that’s consistently producing bad fruit is a sign of a heart without much of the Word of God. What about the praise that’s going up to God? Isn’t that a sign of a good heart?

I wish it were. Unfortunately, praising God is not a fruit of the spirit. I’ve even heard some ungodly people exclaim, “Praise the Lord” or “Hallelujah” at times. That’s not the sign of maturity.

The fruit of the spirit and maturity are things that can’t be forced or pretended. They have to be grown into. That’s why there must be a consistent walk with the Lord. The more of the Word we receive – both the written and spoken Word of God – the more our hearts overflow with the right things.

Take love, for an example. The world looks at the emotion. As the fruit of a mature spiritual life, love is a choice we make. It goes against our human nature to choose to love people we don’t even like. That’s why we need the power of the spirit working in us.

The sign of our maturity is not a random act of kindness once in a long while. It’s the consistent production of mature fruit on a daily basis. That’s the sign of a life spent in the presence of the Lord.

Question: What fruit of the spirit have been evident in your life lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2017 in Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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