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Rewards From God

Rewards From God

In my last few posts, I’ve been looking at a teaching that Jesus gave His disciples about a Last Days mindset. He finishes, by talking about rewards and punishments. Our best bet is to live in such a way as to receive rewards.

Did you know that your eternal rewards are based upon how well you live up to the Lord’s teaching? The Bible does speak over and over again about the different levels of rewards based upon the work we perform throughout our lives.

“That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Luke 12:47-48 NIV

The fact is that we’re responsible for what we’ve received. A young Christian is not responsible for the truths that have not yet been made real to him. Someone who’s been walking with the Lord for years, and ignoring the Lord’s call, will receive less in the kingdom.

It’s clear from Scripture that we’re going to be responsible for the grace that we’ve been given. With a greater anointing and calling comes greater responsibility.

I’ve found that many believers, ministers especially, want the miracles and the big churches without the character it takes to walk uprightly before God in that kind of work. The Lord wants us to grow from the inside out. An increase in power, without a corresponding increase in character, will destroy our spiritual walk.

As a matter of fact, it’s probably too late for you now. You’ve read too much. If you’ve been reading my blogs regularly, then God is going to require excellence from you and your ministry. Now that you know He’s a God of excellence, and that He requires excellence in His followers, you must begin to walk in it. Read on!

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Matthew 7:13-14 NIV

The Lord talked to His disciples about the narrow road. We like to interpret this verse as if it’s merely talking about the road of salvation. Salvation is indeed the first step. When we choose to follow Christ, we choose a better path than that of the world.

I believe, however, that this Scripture has a broader meaning in application to the body of Christ. Very few find the walk of excellence to which we’ve been called. “The few;” that sounds like the definition of excellence to me – “that which goes beyond the expected or the normal.”

The Lord expects us to find the narrow gate of excellence. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. That’s why we need to be living up to the revelation we’ve received.

This is especially true as we live out the last few years before the Lord’s return. The world is not going to get any better. The challenges of society will continue to grow. Our only response should be to deepen our walk with God, if we want to live victoriously.

I know there are those who get upset when I talk about striving to receive a reward from the Lord. They say that we should serve God without any thought of rewards.

That is partly true. If I received nothing from the Lord except for this great salvation, it would be worth it all. I would serve Christ wholeheartedly no matter what.

However, God knows how human beings think. He makes it clear to us that He has rewards in store for those who overcome in life. If the Lord didn’t want this knowledge to motivate us, then He should never have told us about it.

So, since He places the hope of rewards before me, I’ll strive to receive everything that God has prepared for me and wants me to have. I hope you have that same desire.

Question: How well are you living up to your knowledge of God’s Word?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Only One Judge

Only One Judge

As we continue through the book of Romans, we’re talking about the relationship between weak and strong believers.

You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

Romans 14:10

This is a review of what Paul was saying. The weak one, who needs a set of rules to follow God, cannot judge others for not using those rules. Then again, the strong ones should not look down on the weaker ones because of their need for these rules.

The bottom line is that Christ is the Judge. We will all stand at the judgment seat of Christ. This is made clear throughout the Scripture.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

2 Corinthians 5:10

We will all stand before God for His judgment. But, here’s the good news…it’s God who makes us stand in Christ, if we belong to Him.

This judgment is not to decide whether we’re going to heaven or hell. That was already decided when we bowed our knees to Christ as Lord and Savior.

This particular judgment is for our rewards – or lack thereof. It’s based upon what we did by faith. It’s about how we acted upon the Word we received. Did we listen and obey?

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'”

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Romans 14:11-12

This is an Old Testament quote (Isaiah 45:23-25). But, if you look this verse up, you’ll find an assumption that Paul was making concerning the judgment seat of God.

But in the Lord all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.

Isaiah 45:25

“In the Lord” are the key words in this passage. Praise God! Those of us who are Gentile believers are now grafted into the descendants of Israel.

However, there’s more to the passage in Romans, above, that we need to take note of. It literally says that every one of us will confess the word around ourselves to God. There’s another confession you need to be aware of.

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:17

This verse tells us that those in authority must give an account as well. As a pastor, I have to give testimony as to what I’ve seen in the lives of those under my ministry.

You may be surprised at what your authority sees. As a pastor, I can tell you that there are those who I can’t wait to brag about before the Lord. Then, there are others that I hope I’m not asked about.

So, we all have to understand, that part of our rewards are based upon how we related to those God placed in authority over us. To some, that will be a real eye-opener at the judgment seat.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

Romans 14:13

Paul brings us to a conclusion. So, now that we know all this, see to it that no one puts one of these two things in his brother’s way. No stumbling block, and no obstacles. In my next post, I’ll look at these two things in more detail.

Question: What do you expect to happen when you stand before the judgment seat?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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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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Judgment and Fear

In my last post I talked about feeling at home in God’s presence.  We look forward to our permanent home with Him.  However, we know that when Christ returns there will be a performance review.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
2 Corinthians 5:10

I believe that, in this verse, Paul is describing the judgment of believers.  That’s why I called it a performance review.

It’s not a judgment that decides whether I go to Heaven or hell.  That choice was already settled when I received Christ’s offer of salvation through His shed blood.  Now the issue is how well I follow His leading.

The words that Paul uses in this verse are very important in order for us to understand all that he’s saying here.  It’s necessary for us to be prepared for that day.  We don’t want any surprises.

He starts by saying that all of us must appear before Christ.  There are no exceptions.  Every believer must come before the Lord.

The apostle then tells us the reason for this meeting.  The word, receive, literally means to carry away.  So the reason for this judgment is for us to carry away from it all that’s due to us based upon our service to Christ.

This determination is for our benefit.  This is where we receive our rewards, if any, for our faithfulness.  Paul says that it’s for the things done through our body.

The word he uses for done is also important.  It’s a Greek word that means to practice.  It doesn’t refer to a one-time event.  It’s about things that we did repeatedly or habitually.

What kind of things is he talking about?  Paul describes them as good and bad.  Good things don’t need any explanation.  He uses the normal word for good.

Bad things are important for us to understand.  Paul used a word that was not the common word for something bad or evil.  It actually means something easy, ordinary, worthless, or of no account.  It’s only sometimes used figuratively for evil.

In my walk with God, how do I choose to serve Him?  When I choose the easy or ordinary road, I’m losing my rewards.  When I decide to take part in worthless or no-account activities, I’ll have to answer for it before the Lord’s review.

This should be my focus in all that I do.

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.  What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
2 Corinthians 5:11

This gives us the foundation for what the fear of the Lord actually involves.  It’s not about me being afraid of God.  I’m not worried that He’s going to “smite” me if I do something wrong.

The true fear of the Lord is living under the knowledge that my life will be reviewed in His presence someday.  My eternal rewards will be based on this.  Therefore, I live my life intentionally, knowing that I want to do my best for Christ.

Question: How well are you preparing for your future performance review?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Warnings from the Past

Many times I’ve been asked, as a Pastor, why the Old Testament is even important to us.  Many believers don’t ever read it.  They say it’s too bloody and violent.  Grace hadn’t been fully accomplished yet, so there are many instances where we see God’s wrath.  Why read that kind of stuff anyway?

In today’s post, I want to continue talking about the example of ancient Israel.  We must let the Bible take its rightful place in our daily lives.

We’ve been looking at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He used ancient Israel as an example of how not to serve God.  In telling the church about how God dealt with the Jews, he mentioned some of their rebellions as well as the judgments they received.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
1 Corinthians 10:11

This verse makes it clear that the things that happened under the Old Covenant, especially the negative things, are a warning to us.  The Greek word for warning in this verse means to place in our minds – in other words, the Lord is trying to grab our attention.

This is because we’re quickly approaching a time in history when all things will be fulfilled.  The goal line is before us.  We’re about to witness the final days of this entire age.

Because of that, we’re at a point in time that requires a different kind of walk from God’s people.  We can’t live the way they did in ages past – that will not work for us.

Israel saw and heard incredible things – yet they fell away.  We need to take this to heart.  Even though we’re under grace, the message of the Old Testament is still important to us.

No, we won’t come under judgment as Israel did.  But the fact remains, God still hates the same lazy attitudes that He hated back then.  He still loves the mindset that’s passionate for His will.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
1 Corinthians 10:12

In this verse, the word, think, means to assume or to have a reputation of.  In other words, don’t believe your own press.  Just because people tell you that you’re standing strong doesn’t necessarily make it true.

We must take inventory of our walk with God and see if it lines up with the truth of God’s Word.  Only then will we be assured of the rewards that Christ has set aside for us.

The Jews thought that they would be rewarded simply on the basis of them being in Abraham’s family.  It didn’t work that way.  The Lord is looking for a combination of faith and faithfulness.  We need to serve God out of a heart of loving gratitude for all that He’s done for us.

Israel didn’t know the great lengths that the Father would go to in order to save us and bring us into His family.  They didn’t know about Christ dying on the cross.  We do.

How much more should we embrace all that God has for us – both the responsibilities and the glories?  The examples of Scripture warn us to be careful.

Even though we’ll not come under the judgment of the world, we may still lose some of our rewards if we live for ourselves.  Salvation is based on grace; rewards are based upon obedience.  Scripture is a warning to us that disobedience will always be dealt with.  If you want all the rewards the Lord has set aside for you, then heed the warnings of Scripture.

Question: How have the warnings of Scripture kept you out of trouble?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Different Callings – One Purpose

In my last post, Paul talked about the need for different types of ministries in order for God’s people to grow.  Now Paul continues with that thought.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
1 Corinthians 3:7-8

This is one of those passages that gives me great joy as a minister of the Gospel.  It helps to keep me in line with God’s calling upon my life.

It tells me that all the various ministries in the body of Christ have one purpose.  That’s to make known the riches of a relationship with Jesus Christ.

That’s good, but the second half is even better.  Everyone will be rewarded according to his own labor.  That’s a great statement.  I’m not going to be judged based on what you did, but my own unique calling.

We all have different personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and challenges.  Praise God!!  He judges me as an individual.  That’s good news.  We’re each rewarded for our own work in Christ.

The Lord made mention of this with His disciples.  It was during the time when He met with the woman at the well.

Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’?  I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields!  They are ripe for harvest.  Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
John 4:35-36

One question that needs to be asked when we read this verse is; who’s the reaper that’s receiving his wages?  The answer should be obvious – it’s Christ!

Usually, we think of this reward for our labor as in the future.  But we need to look carefully at what Jesus said.  The reaper IS RECEIVING His wages.  I HAVE food you don’t know about.  The sower and the reaper can be happy together.

It sounds to me like there’s a reward, in this life, for fulfilling the Lord’s will.  That’s something we need to think about.

Who was the sower that Jesus referenced?  I believe that He was talking about the woman.  Listen to what the townspeople said about her.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”
John 4:39

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
John 4:42

What was her reward?  I don’t really know.  It might have been children or a stable family of her own.  We have to wait to find out about her in Heaven.

The fact is, that there’s no need to get jealous about ministry among God’s people.  It’s all about the Kingdom of God increasing.  Everything in our lives is all directly related to the principle of sowing and reaping.

The bottom line is that the Samaritans ultimately believed because they heard Jesus speak.  It’s our job to bring people to a personal encounter with Christ in the unique way God has called us to do it.  That’s where we receive great rewards.

Question: What are some Gospel seeds you have planted?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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