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Jesus and Fasting

Jesus and Fasting

We’re continuing our walk through the Gospel of Luke. Today’s post will talk about Luke 5:27-38. You may want to read that passage before continuing with this article.

The Pharisees were starting to get annoyed by Jesus’ style of teaching. He was reaching out to the members of society that they felt were not worth their time. These self-righteous leaders didn’t want to associate with tax-collectors, prostitutes, or drunks.

Jesus, on the other hand, saw them as people who God loved and wanted to restore. In trying to find fault with this, the Pharisees questioned Jesus about fasting. They asked why the Lord’s disciples didn’t fast on the religious fasting days.

In His answer, Jesus basically told them that there was going to be a transition from Old Testament fasting to that which would take place in the New Testament. Jesus gives a description of the differences in parable form.

He told them this parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.”

Luke 5:36

First, the Lord talks about the outside – a garment. The old way was to take an old cloth and patch an old garment. Fasting in the Old Testament was only a patch. At that time, fasting was all about getting God to listen to me. I needed to patch things up between God and me.

If I try to patch the garment in the New Testament it only makes things worse. Then how do I get God to hear me? I DON’T!!! In Christ we now have access to God 24/7.

Now we are a new garment and we don’t need a patch. But a new garment (back then) would shrink with usage. Fasting under the New Covenant shrinks the outer garment. That’s what we look for – the flesh to decrease. We want the voice of the flesh to get quieter.

Fasting forcefully puts down the flesh. This is because now it’s about me hearing from God. God hears me in Christ. But I need to hear Him when He speaks. And that’s where fasting comes in. Fasting helps me drown out the noise of my flesh.

But Jesus gave another parable…

“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.”

Luke 5:37-38

In this parable the old wineskins stand for those who walk in legalism. Once wineskins were used, they became empty, used up, dry, and unyielding. That’s a good description of many of the Pharisees. They had nothing on the inside to give that would bless others.

In the natural, new wine is unfermented grape juice. As it becomes wine, it produces gasses that pressurize the skins. Old, dry and unyielding wineskins would burst under that internal pressure.

A New wineskin – one that’s unstretched, oiled, soft, and pliable – is ready to be used in this process.

As we get that new wine of the Holy Spirit in us, it starts to ferment. There’s a spiritual pressure that builds up. That’s what brings growth.

Now you’re hearing from God and something is being poured into you. The pressure is building. You have something to give and pour out into someone else.

Listen to Jesus’ next statement.

And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
Luke 5:39

Once you get a taste for legalism, you don’t want the new work of the Spirit. Why is that? Simply put, legalism is intoxicating and addictive.

Legalism strokes my ego. “Look at what I’m doing for God. I read my Bible and pray every day. I go to church every week. I’m better than most.”

This “intoxication” with self-righteousness will put us to sleep, spiritually speaking. We don’t feel the need to hear from God. We can live the way we want as we perform our minimal church obligations.

Basically, we can live for God without being changed by the Spirit. That’s the deception of legalism.

I want to be prepared to hear His voice. This requires that I allow the Holy Spirit to work His change in me – to sometimes shrink my flesh, and stretch my inner man at other times. It may feel uncomfortable, but it’s worth it to see the Lord working through me.

Question: How often, and for how, long do you fast?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2022 in Fasting, Legalism, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Sickness – A God’s Eye View

Sickness – A God’s Eye View

We’re studying through Luke’s Gospel. In today’s post, I’m looking at sickness and healing from God’s perspective. Some of the principles found in this section of Scripture are missing from most teaching in the church these days.

I suggest that you read Luke 5:12-22 before continuing with this post. In that way you’ll know the scriptural basis for what I’m saying.

Jesus heals two people in this passage. The first is a man covered in leprosy. This is a skin disease that most Jews considered as God’s judgment poured out on him.

When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”

Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him.

Luke 5:12b-13

There are ministers today who would handle this situation very differently. If someone were to state, “If God wills,” the preacher would send him back to his seat until he could “believe God for his healing”.

Sometimes we get the idea that the sick person has to have enough faith to be healed. That’s not always true.

In this case, Christ healed the man regardless of his small faith. What made the difference? Jesus had, by the Spirit, seen the Father accomplish it already (John 5:19).

That’s why we need to be intimate in prayer with the Holy Spirit. That’s where we receive the Word of healing. For more details on this, click here to read my Something’s Missing Series.

The next healing was prompted by some friends who lowered a sick man down through a hole in the roof. By the way, applying the above principle, Jesus healed this man based on the faith of his friends.

But, there’s another important principle that no one seems to talk about. That’s the fact that sickness is a part of the sin package Adam embraced when he fell from grace.

I covered this aspect in great detail in a series I posted called Healing 101. To read that series click here.

Sin means to miss the mark. Adam was created to never be sick. Sickness misses the mark of God’s desire for our health.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.

Luke 5:20-26

It’s important to note that the Greek word that we translate as forgive literally means to remove. Therefore, according to Jesus’ own testimony, in order to prove that He could remove sin – He removed sickness.

Jesus would not have made such an amazing statement unless it was true. This is one of the most important concepts we need to hear. When a person is healed, a manifestation of the sin nature is removed from their life.

In order to understand how healing works in the church, we must first come to grips with these two truths. God feels the same way about sickness that he feels about any other manifestation of sin – He wants it gone!

That’s good news. I don’t have to worry about whether or not it’s God’s will to heal me. It is. I just need to understand the guiding principles about how that healing is accomplished in me.

Question: How have you experienced God’s healing power?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2022 in Faith, Healing, Ministry, Prayer, What's Missing?

 

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Looking for Convenience?

Looking for Convenience?

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, today’s post finds us starting chapter 5. You may want to review Luke 5:1-11 before reading this post.

Jesus has now started His public ministry. He’s traveling around Israel, teaching as He goes. This section of Scripture finds Him at the Sea of Galilee.

As the Lord begins speaking, a large crowd forms around Him to listen to the Word of God. Seeing some fishermen nearby, Jesus asks them if they could take Him out on the water a little way. This is because the lake acts like a natural sound amplifier, so the people could hear Him better.

There’s some background that you need to understand about this encounter. This is not the first time Simon (Peter) has met with Jesus.

Andrew, Simon’s brother, was a disciple of John the Baptist. After hearing the testimony of John, Andrew met with Jesus. Realizing that He was the Messiah, Andrew took his brother, Simon, to meet with the Lord. It was at that meeting that Jesus began calling Simon by the name Peter. (John 1:35-41)

Now, getting back to the present events, we find Peter and his business partners washing their nets. They had just spent the whole night fishing, with no results. Peter were tired, frustrated, and probably not in the best mood when Jesus came to him with this request.

One more thing. Here’s a spiritual nugget for you. When you read the Gospels, you have to realize that Jesus had the same ministry to the disciples that the Holy Spirit has to the church right now. We can gain a lot of insight as we read it this way.

Sometimes, the Holy Spirit is instructing us to do something when we don’t feel like it. We need to learn to get over our attitudes and simply obey Him. We must think like Peter and agree with the Spirit.

I don’t know how long Jesus taught the people. The Scripture doesn’t say. However long it was, I’m sure Peter was anxious to get home to rest.

Finally, Jesus finishes His teaching to the crowds. Peter is ready to return home. But that doesn’t happen.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Luke 5:4

Jesus has another request. Isn’t that just like the Holy Spirit. There are times the Spirit wants you to do things when it seems most inconvenient.

There have been times I was tired, frustrated, or just in a bad mood. It seems like that’s the time the Lord picks for me to minister to someone to help meet their needs. I have to pick up Peter’s attitude in these instances.

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

Luke 5:5

“Lord, I really don’t feel like helping anyone right now. But, because You say so…I’ll do it.”

The results of obedience are amazing. In Peter’s case, they got a haul of fishes beyond anything they could have imagined.

It cut Peter to the heart. He saw that Jesus was operating in the power of Almighty God. As he reflected on all of his bad attitudes and internal complaints, he fell to his knees. He realized his need for a life-change.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”

Luke 5:10b

It always strikes me that true repentance brings a confirmation of God’s love. Peter was truly changed that day. And not just him, but his whole fishing company.

Peter, Andrew, James, and John all laid down their nets that day. They left all to follow Christ and obey His words. We need to walk that same road, and we’ll see the same results.

Question: How have you obeyed the Holy Spirit’s call when it was inconvenient?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Solitary Prayer

Solitary Prayer

We’re continuing our walk through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post, we saw how Jesus began His public ministry. People’s attitudes were an important part in how they received His ministry. It was a ministry of power by the Holy Spirit.

How was He able to operate on this level? Is it something that I can tap into?

I believe that Jesus is the example for how we should approach the ministry. We need to see how He prepared Himself for the days ahead of Him.

The Lord Jesus was God in the flesh; yes, but He limited Himself to operating as a man led by the Holy Spirit. Christ didn’t operate in a vacuum. He didn’t do anything that the Holy Spirit hadn’t shown Him. The next question that arises in my heart is this; how did He hear from the Spirit?

Obviously, the Lord didn’t just decide “on the fly” what He was going to do. He had to go to the Father first, and then see what was coming up in His ministry.

Only then was the Lord prepared for the work He was about to do that day or that week. If I can get a handle on this aspect of His ministry, then it can revolutionize mine. The fact is, the Scripture is clear as to how He saw the Holy Spirit working.

At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Luke 4:42-44

Many times Jesus would leave a house to find a solitary place to pray. Most of the time, He would leave while it was still dark. I’m sure that He didn’t even tell anyone He was leaving. It must have been much later when the disciples and others started their search.

He was there alone in the presence of the Father – away from the crowds and the demands of the ministry. This is what Jesus felt He needed to do to clearly hear the voice of the Spirit.

How do I know this? It’s clear from the passage. When the searchers arrived, I’m sure that they were upset they had to go looking for Him.

They made it clear that they wanted the Lord to continue working in their area. People were being healed and set free from demonic oppression. They wanted to keep their revival going.

Notice that He ignored their statements. Instead, He simply said, in effect, “I know where we’re going next and what we’re going to do when we get there.”

How did He suddenly know this? How could He ignore the pressure placed upon Him to stay where He was? He had heard from the Spirit.

Jesus went on to accomplish incredible things throughout Israel. What made the difference? Jesus had, by the Spirit, seen the Father accomplish these things already.

Most people don’t understand the power of solitude. When you’re alone you can see the way ahead more clearly. Walking in the Spirit is a lot more efficient than the trial and error method most Christians use. “I’ll try going forward, if the door closes I’ll try another direction.” You usually only end up with a sore nose!

When you spend quality time with the Lord, seeking His will for your life, you don’t have to waste your time on all these dead-end paths that lead nowhere. Jesus knew where He was going before He was surrounded by the crowds of people. They couldn’t sway Him from His path by their persuasive arguments. It’s that level of guidance you should be seeking from God.

Do you need to know the next step in your life? If Jesus needed to seek God in this way, I assume the same has to be true for us. We desperately need a Word from the Father to complete our task.

Find that solitary place today. Go before the Lord in the stillness that surrounds you and open up your soul to Him. Spend some time just listening for His still, small voice to your heart. Then, answer the call in obedience to His will.

Question: Where is your solitary place?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2022 in Ministry, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Asking the Right Questions

Asking the Right Questions

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. The following will be taken from the Scriptural passage found in Luke 4:16-40. You’ll want to read that first to understand what I share in this post.

We live in an age of hero worship. It seems that people are more inclined to follow those with the most glitz and showmanship. In many areas, unfortunately, it’s carried over into the body of Christ.

How do you choose a church to attend or a ministry to follow? Some people look for the latest technology. They want great music with smoke and lights. But, is that always an indicator of a solid church in the Biblical sense?

When it comes to the teachings we accept, how do we decide who to listen to? We need to be asking the right questions. This was something that was clearly portrayed in the ministry of Christ.

In the section of Scripture I referenced above, Jesus preaches at two different synagogues. One was in His hometown of Nazareth, and the other in a nearby town called Capernaum. In both cases He preached the same message. Knowing that it was the Lord, I’m assuming that both messages had the same level of anointing.

In spite of these similarities, only one of the towns, Capernaum, received a blessing from the Lord’s visit. It’s clear to see from the narrative, that the reason was found in the questions that they asked themselves as Jesus was ministering.

This is important to us because, many times, we’re guilty of the same type of attitudes that these people had. I believe that we may have missed out on countless blessings because our attitudes got in the way. What makes the difference?

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

Luke 4:22

This verse shows what they were focused on in Nazareth. It says that they spoke well of Him. They were amazed at the words from His lips. But, they asked, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

The problem was, they were concentrating on who was speaking – was He all that they were expecting? What was His background? Their focus was on the person.

Capernaum was a different case altogether.

They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority…

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!”

Luke 4:32, 36

These verses make it clear that they were amazed at His teaching. It was about what the Lord said and did. They recognized that His Word had power and authority. Who He was and what He looked like didn’t figure into their acceptance of the Word.

As a result, revival fell in Capernaum that day. Demons were cast out and all the sick that lived in that area were healed (Verse 33-40).

We need to learn this lesson. Sometimes the biggest, most impressive looking show has the least anointing. On the other hand – there are times God wants to perform great miracles through His “unknown servants”.

I believe that in these last days before the return of Christ, God is going to be moving in “grass roots” ways. We will see Him working outside of the churches – in homes, schools, workplaces, and anywhere people look for Him.

We need to be asking, “What is the anointing, authority, and power upon this Word.” How big a following someone has shouldn’t figure into it. It’s all about the spirit behind the message, not the person God is using.

If we keep this in mind, then we’ll find the blessing of God in some of the most unlikely places. We’ll also open ourselves up to the miraculous.

Question: Have you ever received a blessing from God’s unknown servants?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Misunderstanding the Anointing

Misunderstanding the Anointing

Christ’s ability to walk in the power of God was brought about in three major events. These were His baptism, temptation, and His announcement of ministry. As we go through the Gospel of Luke, we’re about to see the Lord’s entrance into His ministry.

I believe that God is about to pour out a revival upon His church. Right now, we’re in the preparation stage. Our concern should be, with positioning ourselves to receive it.

Jesus is our example in ministry. If we see how He positioned Himself, then we can follow His lead.

He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

Luke 4:15-18

After reading the portion of Isaiah, the Lord announced that it was being fulfilled in their presence. I believe that this holds the key to positioning ourselves. It’s all about the anointing.

We’ve heard a lot of teaching on the anointing over the years. Unfortunately, some of it has been a little off base.

First, let’s look at where we were right. The anointing removes burdens and destroys yokes. That’s a true statement based upon Isaiah 10:27. That was Jesus’ whole ministry in a nutshell.

Another part is that the word Christ encompasses the Anointed One and His anointing. Since that’s true, it’s also the case that as Christians, we are little anointed ones. That’s the meaning of the name.

The final truth that we must embrace is that we all have an anointing from God. Scripture is clear on that point.

With all of this truth, then where are we off? My question is this; with this entire teaching being proclaimed, why are burdens NOT being removed and yokes NOT being destroyed in much of the church?

I’ve also heard it taught that the Holy Spirit is our anointing. That’s where we’ve misunderstood the Scripture. Look at the above passage carefully.

Jesus clearly said, “The Spirit…is on me BECAUSE he has anointed me.” What we’ve missed is that the Spirit follows the anointing.

This is a different work than salvation. Yes, the Holy Spirit lives in me when I receive Christ as Lord. But the anointing for the power of the Holy Spirit is a different thing. That’s why there are so many believers in the body of Christ that live powerless in this generation.

We need to understand exactly what the anointing is and how to receive it. Then, like Christ, we can walk in the power of the Holy Spirit that this anointing opens up.

What we need to understand is that, in Scripture, the anointing was something experienced by prophets, priests, and kings. When we look at how it works, we find an important fact. They were only anointed when they were prepared and chosen to fulfill their place of service.

We’ve missed that important point. We quote the phrase, many are called, few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). What we don’t realize is that though we’re all called to fulfill an anointing, we’re not all chosen to walk in it.

The anointing was mostly a Jewish experience. Paul, in writing to the Gentiles, used a different word for the same concept.

…we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.

1 Thessalonians 2:4b

He used the word, approved, to convey the same thought. You may want to do a word study of this in the New Testament to see it in detail. I think it will increase your understanding.

We’re all called to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. But, only as we spend time with the Holy Spirit, do we receive the approval – the anointing – to fulfill that calling. That’s how we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Question: How much of the power of God is evidenced in the church today?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Continuing in the Power of God

Continuing in the Power of God

I’ve been posting through the Gospel of Luke. In the last few posts, I’ve been talking about how Christ was tempted in the wilderness. He is the perfect example of victorious living.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, He overcame all the assaults of the enemy. But there’s more to the story than just the devil’s defeat.

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
Luke 4:13-14

The story goes on. After the devil had done everything he knew to do, he was finished. The enemy’s battery was totally drained. He had to leave for a while to recharge.

Jesus, on the other hand, didn’t miss a beat. He’d been fasting in the wilderness for 40 days. Then the Lord experienced a spiritual battle the likes of which we’ve never seen in our lives.

Was He drained? Did he have to recuperate? Absolutely not! Jesus Christ came out of the wilderness experience just as powerful as when He entered 40 days before.

We need to walk in this kind of power. But in order to do this we must let go of our reliance upon the promises and start acting like spiritual adults. We need to truly tap into the full potential of the power of the Holy Spirit who is at work within us.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
Ephesians 3:16

Without a doubt, this is the key – the Holy Spirit living within us. Being led by the Spirit is the earmark of a son or daughter of God. We must remain in Christ if we are to access this potential. Christ is our example.

I don’t know why we’ve turned it around and made it all about us. As if we have the power to change anything. We think that if we find the right promise or confess the right Scripture verse, then a miracle will happen. Maybe if we put together the correct formula of words in a prayer, the power will manifest.

What’s the secret of how Christ consistently walked in the power of the Spirit? It wasn’t confessions or formulas. It was the time He spend remaining in the Father’s presence. He prayed, He listened, and He obeyed.

So often we think that if we say the right words in the right order, we’ll see a miracle. That’s not how life in the kingdom of God works. The Scripture makes it abundantly clear.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

1 Corinthians 4:20

For too many of God’s people, It’s all talk and no power. They talk about faith, they mindlessly recite Bible verses, but they walk in defeat. The only way to break this cycle is to spend quality time listening for God’s voice.

It’s time for us to learn this lesson. We need to stop looking for an easy way to tap into the Spirit while continuing to live for ourselves. We need to submit to the Lord’s agenda for our lives. Time in the presence of God is the only thing that will bring about this transformation.

But, hearing from God is only half of the equation. Once I hear from the Holy Spirit, I need to obey what He’s told me. That’s the key to an abundant, victorious, life.

Question: What would have to change in order for you to spend more time in the Lord’s presence?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Testing God

Testing God

As we’ve been going through the Gospel of Luke, we’re now talking about the Lord’s time of testing in the wilderness. So far, Satan has tried to influence Him twice. He failed on both attempts.

But, the devil doesn’t give up easily. He tried one more time. Since Christ had used the Scripture to answer each attack, the enemy tried a new strategy. He used a quote from the Bible, itself.

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Luke 4:9-11

The enemy tried to use a promise to tempt the Lord. The devil quoted a Scripture that directly referred to the Messiah. Nothing at all could harm the Lord until He made it to the cross.

The enemy uses the same strategy with us. He uses just enough truth to get our minds going in his direction. Then, he hooks us with the final big lie.

Actually, there was more than one verse that the devil was trying to use against Christ. In jumping from the pinnacle of the temple, the Lord would appear suddenly in the temple courtyard. It would take everyone by surprise. This would seem to fulfill another prophecy from Malachi.

“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.

Malachi 3:1

The devil was hoping that all the weight of these Scriptures would convince Christ to follow his lead. He wanted Jesus to prove that God was protecting Him, by throwing Himself off the roof of the temple.

Then, by miraculously appearing in the temple, unharmed, the spiritual leaders would be convinced that the Christ had come. But, by doing this, Jesus would be operating in the power of His flesh to accomplish God’s will.

There are many times that the devil does the same thing with us, trying to get us to test the Lord. Of course, the results are usually different when we’re involved.

How do you respond when you’re tempted to test God? Do you trust Him or not? There’s no need to put God to the test. He’s already proven Himself in Christ. We need to follow the example of Jesus, who once again did not take the bait that the devil put before Him.

Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”

Luke 4:12

This usually turns out very differently when the devil runs this scenario before us. We love to do foolish things, then “trust” God to get us out of the mess. We spend our money on movie tickets, new technology, video games, and new cars. Then, when we can’t pay the bills, we “trust God” for the money.

How foolish! Don’t you realize that the money you spent on your toys was the money God provided for your bills? But we just sit back in bitterness and say, “I tested God and He failed me.” As the people of God, we need to get our lifestyles back in line with the Word of God.

Along those same lines, we look at where the church is today. We wonder why there’s so little power evident in God’s people.

Actually, it’s a product of the sum total of each individual believer. As I get my life in line with God’s Word, the church is one step closer to where it should be. That should be the attitude of every Christian.

Let’s stop putting God to the test. Let’s operate in the faith that trusts the Lord’s Word, no matter what it looks like around us.

Questions: How do our faith and our actions work together? How do they oppose each other sometimes?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2022 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Cutting Corners

Cutting Corners

We’re now back to our study of the Gospel of Luke. Before New Year’s Eve we had begun looking at the temptation of Christ.

In my last post on this subject, I showed that Christ refused to be tempted to claim a promise. This is the opposite of what many believers do today. We’re trusting God to provide things we don’t even need just because we found a convenient Scripture to “stand on.”

Paul talked about this in his letter to Timothy. Paul warned Timothy about people…

who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:5b-6

I believe that there’s something inherently wrong with a message that continually focuses on my happiness, my comfort, and my pleasure. It’s true that God loves us and wants the best for us. I also believe that there is a scriptural prosperity that God desires for His people.

But I also believe that many have taken this too far. As a result, God’s people are spending too much time, prayer, energy and “faith” running after the things of the world that they think will satisfy them. At the same time, they ignore the work of the Kingdom of God. As a result, they never lay hold of what will ultimately fulfill the desires of their souls.

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Luke 4:5-7

The devil continued his assault using the promises of God. This time he used a promise specifically aimed at Christ, the Messiah. He was making a deal with Jesus in which the Lord could obtain the Messiah’s blessing without having to go to the cross.

Jesus was going to become ruler of all creation. The only issue was, according to the Father’s plan, the Lord had to endure all the pain and suffering of the cross. He could now get all of this handed to Him without the struggle.

The only problem was, Jesus would have to bow before Satan. Of course, He didn’t have to mean it. It was tempting because it was a little act with a big reward.

I’m glad to say that as far as the Lord was concerned, this was totally unacceptable to Him.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'”

Luke 4:8

Jesus saw right through the devil’s smokescreen, and rejected the offer without even giving it a second thought. How dumb can we be? So often we fall when the enemy tempts us to do foolish, unscriptural, and even ungodly things…all for spiritual reasons, of course. We sometimes make crazy decisions all under the guise of “God wants me blessed, happy, and wealthy”

I’ve heard things like, “God told me that this is the woman He created for me.” My question is; what about the woman you’re married to right now? What about “God hates divorce”?

We need to see how very differently Jesus lived than we do. He didn’t feel the need to spend His life rehearsing the promises. Neither did the Lord try, in His power, to fulfill the requirements so that He could obtain the blessings in His own strength.

The simple fact is, Satan could only give Jesus the authority and splendor of these earthly kingdoms. The Lord was worthy of so much greater power. Look at what Christ said after the resurrection.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

Matthew 28:18-19

He could have never said this if He took a short-cut around the cross. As God’s people, we need to stop looking for the easy way to serve God. Find the Father’s plan for your life and obey it with all of your heart.

Question: How have you experienced people doing foolish things for “spiritual” reasons?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Looking to 2022

Looking to 2022

As we stand on the brink of a new year, we should take the time to meditate on where we’re headed. I want to take this post give you some thoughts to pray on.

For many years, I’ve had a tradition when it comes to the New Year. I’ve only posted about it a few times.

A long time ago, I noticed that since 1901, the Psalms have pretty much lined up with what was happening in world events. For at least 20 years, I’ve been using them to prepare me, and those under my ministry, for the year ahead.

I just noticed something that I find very interesting. With the global pandemic that started in 2019, a majority of Christians stopped attending church in-person. Coinciding with that, Psalm 120 on, are what’s known as the Psalms of ascent. That means they are Psalms calling God’s people to meet together. Hmmmm!

That makes 122 the Psalm of Ascent for 2022. That’s what I want to talk about in this post. It’s up to you whether or not you see it as a prep for the coming year.

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.

Psalm 122:1-2

This verse is a clear call for God’s people to physically meet together. There’s a joy in the Holy Spirit that only comes from the in-person fellowship.

As I listen to the news regularly, I’m struck by the fact that again and again, they’re discovering new strains of the Covid virus. I feel like that’s going to go on indefinitely. It’s time for God’s people to stop fearing what the world fears. Let’s get back to what we’ve been called to do.

Please understand that I realize some people have a compromised immune system. They do need to use wisdom in where they go. But, that’s not the condition of most believers.

Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel.

Psalm 122:3-4

I believe that Jerusalem is symbol of the church. The word, city, in this verse literally means a place that’s guarded and protected. So, this verse tells us that when we’re closely joined together, we’re in the place of protection.

It also reminds us that our meeting together is commanded by God. That’s even found in the New Testament. Hebrews 10:25 actually makes it sound like the closer we get to the Lord’s return, the harder it will be to meet together.

There the thrones for judgment stand, the thrones of the house of David.

Psalm 122:5

The word for throne, in this verse, means a covered place. When we meet together, we’re covered under the authority of Christ – the final King of the house of David.

The rest of the Psalm speaks of the blessings that are a part of our fellowship. Praise God for Zoom meetings when necessary, but there’s a special anointing when we come together physically.

In verses 6-9, we’re told that we receive peace, security, and prosperity in the place of meeting. It’s time to return to our calling. Make it a goal to return to in-person meetings this coming year.

I believe that you will be abundantly blessed if you do.

Question: What do you believe about meeting together?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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