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Messiah is Coming!

Messiah is Coming!

Continuing through the Gospel of Luke, today’s post will talk about Luke 1:61-75. You may want to read this passage before going forward in this article.

We’ve seen the angel, Gabriel, bringing a message to Zechariah and Mary. Zechariah was to be the father of John the Baptist, while Mary was to give birth to Jesus Christ. After nine months of waiting, Elizabeth was about to give birth to John.

When the child arrived, everyone wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. But, both Elizabeth and Zechariah were adamant that his name was John. They were determined to walk in obedience to God’s Word to them.

You may remember that Zechariah was told by the angel that he would not be able to talk until the child was born. On the day that the baby was named, he was able to talk again. He immediately started praising God and began to prophesy.

He beautifully proclaimed what was about to take place in Israel. He foretold the ministries of both John the Baptist and Jesus. In today’s post we’ll look at what he said about Christ. It will give us incite into what they were expecting.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.”

Luke 1:68

The first thing he talks about is the fact that God is showing up. It has been many years since the Old Testament was closed. There’s been no prophetic ministry since Ezra and Nehemiah’s time. Now God is doing a new thing in Israel.

This verse literally says that God has come and is now doing redemption. He has started the process of paying the price to loose His people from their slavery to sin and death.

He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago)…”

Luke 1:69-70

The culmination of Old Testament prophecy was about to come to pass. The picture of a horn was a symbol of strength to these ancient people. So, this talks of the power of God’s salvation.

This word, salvation, is a huge word. It not only means to be saved from sin, but from everything that would hurt us. This includes sickness, poverty, depression, confusion, and a whole host of other things that hinder God’s will for us.

…salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us — to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham:”

Luke 1:71-73

This salvation not only includes the things that come against us. It also protects us from people and spiritual forces of evil that would try to stop us from carrying out God’s plan.

At this point in Israel’s history it may have looked like God’s covenant had failed. The nation had been conquered by the Roman Empire. There was no supernatural ministry. It was a dark time in their lives.

But now, a light was about to break through into their darkness. God was raising up the answer to centuries of prayer and intercession. The Messiah was on His way!

…to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Luke 1:74-75

This is probably the most important part of the prophecy. It reveals the purpose of all that God is doing. There’s a reason He’s redeeming, saving, and protecting us. The Lord’s desire is to have a people who can now serve Him without any fear.

We can now walk in holiness and righteousness. We don’t have to fear death. We don’t have to fear God’s wrath. We can look forward to the glory that will be revealed in us.

I can’t imagine what those who heard this message were thinking. Maybe they heard things like this before. Hopefully, faith was being raised up in their hearts. They were given the hope they needed to await the ministry of the Messiah.

Question: How does this apply to us as we await the return of the Messiah?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2021 in Encouragement, Faith, Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner

Tomorrow, in the United States, we will be celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. This was originally established to give thanks to God, for His blessing on our nation. So, I want to take a post to get our minds into that frame of reference.

I was reading in the Old Testament about thanksgiving. It was interesting to see that, in the Law of Moses, God instituted a sacrifice of thanksgiving. It’s found in Leviticus 7:11-15, but I’ll only quote one verse here.

The meat of his fellowship offering of thanksgiving must be eaten on the day it is offered; he must leave none of it till morning.

Leviticus 7:15

In the Old Testament there are different classifications of sacrifices. One of these is known as the fellowship offerings. They were the freewill offerings. They weren’t required. They were only offered if the worshiper wanted to.

Of these fellowship offerings, this is the “Todah” sacrifice. It’s an offering of thanksgiving by raising the hands.

In this offering, an animal was killed and the blood was drained and sprinkled upon the altar. Then, only the fat around the organs was burned on the altar.

The rest was cooked and eaten by the priest and worshiper. The priest and his family would get the breast and the right leg. The worshipers would get the rest. Along with this, the offering included four kinds of bread that they ate along with the sacrifice.

I found this to be very interesting. In the Old Testament, the Thanksgiving offering was a meal. They celebrated Thanksgiving just like us.

Did you know that a meal can be worship?

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

Think about it. At one point Peter was rebuked for refusing to eat with Gentiles. In the New Testament we’re also instructed not to eat with hypocrites. That’s because a meal involves fellowship.

Do you see the Thanksgiving meal as worship? Make a point to mention it this year.

“This meal is an act of our worship to God.”

Why is this important? It turns out that in the Old Testament, the root of the word, fellowship, is the word, shalom. In that case, Thanksgiving is the celebration of God’s gift of shalom.

Even though shalom is usually translated as peace, there’s a lot more to it. It’s one of those huge words in Scripture. Shalom actually speaks of fullness of life, wholeness, prosperity, safety, and peace with God.

Isn’t that what Jesus came to accomplish in us?

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

The reason Jesus came was so that we could enter the covenant. The result of this is shalom – fullness of life.

The thanksgiving meal should celebrate what God has done for you. If you remember, you may want to pray with your hands raised this year.

Celebrate the good things God has done, and is doing in your life.

Question: What are you thankful for right now?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2021 in Encouragement, Faith, Fellowship, Worship

 

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Our Glorious God

Our Glorious God

In my last post, I started talking about the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth. This occurred when they both became pregnant after hearing a message from God. Elizabeth was carrying John the Baptist, while Mary was pregnant with Jesus.

We saw that when they met together, God showed up. He overshadowed their time together. Elizabeth was given a revelation of who Mary would give birth to – the Messiah. Now Mary is overcome by the presence of the Lord and she begins to prophesy.

This is found in Luke 1:46-56. You may want to read this passage before continuing with this post.

She begins with a revelation of who she is, and the magnitude of what God is doing in her.

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name.”

Luke 1:46-49

It’s important to see her attitude here. She understands that it’s all about God, and has nothing to do with how good she is. She sees God as her Lord and Savior. Her blessing is from Him alone.

We need to learn this lesson. There’s nothing we can do to work for, or earn the Lord’s blessing. It’s all a part of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross. All we can do is accept the blessing of His salvation.

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.”

Luke 1:50-51

God alone is merciful and mighty. It’s important for us to understand what that means. We get a skewed understanding of mercy sometimes.

In our modern generation we use the word, mercy, incorrectly. We think it means to give someone a second chance after they’ve wronged us. We sweep their sin under the carpet. That’s not the Biblical idea.

Notice that God extends mercy to those who fear Him. That’s because God’s mercy is His reward to those who are obedient to His covenant. It’s the added benefit you get for being part of the family.

To fear God means that you humble yourself before Him. These verses reinforce the fact that pride hinders our relationship with the Lord. It’s all about our attitudes.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

Luke 1:52-53

Ruling, humble, hungry, and rich are all attitudes. They’re choices we have to make. Am I in charge of my life (ruler) or is God in charge (humble)? Do I see my need for the Lord’s help (hungry) or do I think I can make it without His help (rich)? How we answer these questions determine the amount of grace we receive.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”

Luke 1:54-55

I especially love this last part. This blessing is forever on the descendants of Abraham. That includes me.

Remember, from the book of Romans, that as Gentile believers we’ve been grafted into the family of Abraham. Genetically, I have no part of this heritage, yet because of Christ I can claim the full rights of a son of Abraham. And, you can too if you’ve bowed your knee to Jesus Christ.

This whole exchange was just the first few minutes of Mary and Elizabeth getting together. I can only imagine what the next few months were like. The mutual encouragement must have been incredible. This is what life in the family of God should be like for all of us.

Question: How is your knowledge of God increased by your meeting with other believers?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Meeting Together

Meeting Together

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. I think it’s interesting that it comes as we’re entering into the holiday season. I didn’t plan it that way, but it worked out great.

Today’s post will deal with Luke 1:39-45. You may want to read that passage before continuing with this article.

Soon after the angel met with her, Mary journeyed to Elizabeth and Zechariah’s house. They were her relatives.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:41

Mary probably felt the need to get away from her village and the questions that would certainly come up about her pregnancy. Elizabeth and Zechariah provided her with a safe place.

When Mary arrived at their home, it’s obvious that God showed up as well.

In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Luke 1:42-43

In the spirit, she recognized the mother of Messiah, even though she had no way of knowing it in the natural. But, it was in this moment that she asked a question. “WHY?” We miss this sometimes.

In our fellowship, the “why” is important. That’s a question we rarely ask. Why do we meet together?

We have a few stock answers: Because Jesus told us to. Because that’s what the early church did.

These are true, but not the right answers. There’s an epidemic of believers who stay away from church these days. The pandemic has become an excuse for many to forsake in-person meetings.

I think that in many cases we get the wrong idea of what church meetings are for. “Because we learn the Bible. Because we need ministry. Because we like each other. Because we agree with everything. Because the church meets my needs.” All of these reasons set you up to stay home.

Look at what happened when Mary arrived at the house. This is how Elizabeth described it.

As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

Luke 1:44

Why did she say this?

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:41

Think about the excuses we use. Could the Holy Spirit fill Elizabeth without Mary being present? Yes.

Could John have leapt for joy in the womb without Mary? Yes.

Would those things have happened without their meeting? No.

That’s what we have to learn. God does unique things in our fellowship. There’s a special move of God that He reserves only for those times that we are together. That’s probably because there’s a greater focus on what God is doing when we meet in-person.

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

Luke 1:45

Mary was blessed because she believed. This verse literally says that there will be a performance of what was told her. We have to see that the private and the public work together.

Mary was told something by the angel in private. Now she gets public encouragement. That’s because we’re encouraged in our fellowship.

Zechariah was told something in private. He shared it with his wife. Now she’s in her sixth month of seeing the “performance.” Elizabeth is in the perfect position to encourage Mary to continue trusting God.

We have to learn that the private can never replace the public. Just like the public can never replace the private.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

God has a work for us to do. We may hear His call to us in private, but we need the public to spur us on. It gives us the boldness we need, to do what God has called us to.

Don’t let the times we live in rob you of the blessings that can only come from our in-person fellowship.

Question: How often do you meet in-person with other believers?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Faith in Humility

Faith in Humility

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, the next section I want to look at is Luke 1:26-38. You may want to read that section of Scripture before continuing with this post.

In the last couple of posts, we saw the angel, Gabriel, bringing a message to Zechariah the priest. The message was that Zechariah and his wife would have a son, John the Baptist, in their old age.

Because of his pride, Zechariah questioned the angel as to the truth of his message. Because of that, he couldn’t speak until the child was born.

Now, this same angel is sent with a message to a young Jewish woman named Mary. She was engaged to a man named Joseph. She was a virgin, yet she was told that she would conceive a child without any sexual relations.

Right from the start, she was caught off guard, not only by the angel’s appearance, but his greeting to her.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

Luke 1:28-30

It’s at this point that we see the difference between Mary and Zechariah. This verse literally says that she was agitated and confused by his words to her. As a result, she was questioning internally and trying to figure out what this angel could possibly mean by this greeting.

Where Zechariah spoke out of his pride, Mary remained humble and kept her thoughts to herself. This makes a big difference. We need to learn this lesson. We don’t always need to say everything that’s passing through our brain.

Because of her silence, the angel could continue with his message to her.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Luke 1:30-33

In this passage, Luke begins to show us some insight into who Jesus is. He is Son of the Most High God. He’s the last king of Israel, because when He reigns, there will be no end of His kingdom. It’s obvious that Mary is being told that she will bear the long awaited Messiah.

Believing the angel’s words, Mary then asks the next logical question.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Luke 1:34

This question is very different than the question asked by Zechariah. He was looking for proof that the angel spoke the truth.

Mary, on the other hand, assumed that the message was true. She simply was curious as to how it was going to take place. Would this Son be a product of her upcoming marriage? Or, would He be the result of a miracle?

Gabriel then responds to her faith. He let’s Mary know that God is doing miraculous things. Not only in her, but in Elizabeth as well. The times were changing. Messiah was about to appear. God’s plan was going to move forward.

Her response at this point is incredible.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Luke 1:38

I can’t even imagine the faith that she showed at his statements. She was in total surrender to God’s will for her.

There was no thought to herself. What would people think of her – pregnant outside of marriage? What would her parents say? What would Joseph, her fiance, think about this?

None of this seemed to even enter her thinking. The only thing that concerned her was to carry out God’s will. We need to walk in that same kind of faith.

Question: How would you have reacted to Gabriel’s message?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2021 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Faith is not Knowledge

Faith is not Knowledge

I’ve started posting through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post we saw how the priest, Zechariah, was praying for a child. As he was ministering in the temple, he had an encounter with an angel from God.

The angel announced that he and his wife would have a child. This child, who would be John the Baptist, was destined to be a blessing to many people.

For today’s post, I’ll be looking at Luke 1:15-22. You may want to read this Scripture before continuing with this article.

Having talked about the blessing that this child would be, the angel goes on to talk about his ministry.

…for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Luke 1:15-17

Yes, Zechariah was receiving an answer to prayer, but there was a bigger work God wanted to do. Zechariah was looking at his little situation, the need for a child. God was looking at preparing Israel for the Messiah.

We do the same things. We look at what we’re going through. God is looking at preparing His people for the coming of Christ.

Think about it. What can God do through you? NO! – think bigger!…NO! Bigger than that!!! We limit ourselves to what we think we can accomplish, instead of looking at God’s ability. We need to start thinking about the power of God working in us.

Now, having heard the Word of God from this angel, Zechariah does something that totally blows my mind. We sometimes miss it because of the language used in this verse.

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

Luke 1:18

When Zechariah asks this, it’s not really about how old he is. The word used for old man, is actually more about life experience than how long you’ve lived. It’s a tense of the word, elder.

He was really asking how he could be sure about this message before he told anyone. He was an elder in Israel. He had a reputation to maintain. It was more about pride than curiosity.

That’s why the angel got so upset with him. Knowing that, it’s easier to understand why Gabriel responded the way he did.

The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”

Luke 1:19-20

The angel basically said, “Hey Mr. Bigshot. You think you’re special because you stand as an elder before Israel? I stand before God Himself. If I lie to you, I’ve got more to lose than a little pride.”

Zechariah wanted to know for sure before he told this to anyone. So, Gabriel gave him a sign. He wouldn’t be able to speak until the child arrived.

We have to learn this lesson. Faith is about believing God’s Word without any proof that it will happen the way God says it will. If we knew for sure, then it wouldn’t be faith.

For the next nine months, Zechariah had to meditate on this truth. When God speaks, no matter how He gets the message to you, you need to believe it and walk in it. Faith is the fundamental attitude that it takes to please God.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

Question: What are you trusting God for right now?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Why We Receive a Blessing

Why We Receive a Blessing

In my last post, I introduced my study into the Gospel of Luke. I’m looking forward to what we’ll learn through this journey.

You may want to read Luke 1:5-14 before starting this post. That’s the passage of Scripture I’ll be dealing with today.

There were meetings that took place before the birth of Christ. They were between heaven and earth; between God and His people. We need to understand how and why God meets with His people. It’s through these divine appointments that we find God at work.

In the above passage, we see a priest, Zechariah, who has been praying for a child. It says that both he and his wife were blameless.

It was the custom of the priesthood to choose a priest for incense duty. It was Zechariah’s turn, it was nothing special. This was a normal prayer time.

The first thing we need to see is that God meets with us during normal times. This is why our prayer times are so important. We don’t know what God has planned for us.

and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior…

Titus 1:3

We need to understand and work within God’s appointed seasons. We pray, not knowing the “when” of the answers. Sometimes we get tired of praying, we lose heart, and we get distracted. How many times have we lost out because we didn’t show up at the divine appointment?

But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.”

Luke 1:13

This is an interesting thing for the angel to say. “Your prayer has been heard.” As a priest, he was supposed to be interceding for Israel. But instead, he was praying about his personal desire for a child.

The fact is that God meets with us in spite of our selfishness. Studies show that for most Christians, most of what we pray for concerns ourselves. We pray for things that either directly or indirectly affect our comfort.

But, God knew that this child would be a blessing to this couple.

He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth…

Luke 1:14

The angel announced that he’s going to be all you ever wanted in a child. There will be joy and gladness. He could have said, “Zechariah, why have you been praying for yourself?”

The same is true for us. Praise God for the New Covenant!

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Romans 8:26

The truth is that we don’t know everything. We base our prayers on what we want. The book of James tells us we don’t receive answers because we ask incorrectly.

If that’s the case, then why would I neglect prayer in the spirit? I don’t want God’s answers to be in spite of my prayers. I want my prayers to line up with His will.

But notice what God did here. Not only will this child be a joy to you, but also to others. I love the fact that God makes our blessing overflow to others.

We pray for ourselves. But do we ever look at the whole plan of God? I heard a speaker, Ray Mcauley, once say, “God always blesses you with someone else in mind.” There are others who need the same blessing that you need.

We must learn to ask; why is God blessing me? Is there someone I need to overflow into? We must realize that there’s more that God wants to do than just the little we see.

Questions: What have you been trusting God for in prayer? How can it be a blessing to others?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Luke’s Gospel – Christ Our Example

Luke’s Gospel – Christ Our Example

In my last post, I finished our study in the book of Romans. Those who have followed this blog for a while know that my goal is to go through the New Testament in the order it was reveal to the church. That means the next book, based upon my studies, is the Gospel of Luke.

To review, it seems to me that the Holy Spirit had a plan in how He inspired the New Testament to be written. He started with the foundational books of James, 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, and Mark. The next group dealt with what I personally need to know to serve Christ. These books are 2 Thessalonians,1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans, and Luke.

After that, we’ll go on to the books that deal with our corporate walk with Christ. But for now, we will start with Luke’s Gospel. Here’s how he introduces his message.

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Luke 1:1-4

In this post, I simply want to introduce you to Luke. Who was he, and why did he write this Gospel? Luke was the physician who traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys. He was probably a Gentile who was saved at Antioch about 15 years after Pentecost.

After his salvation, Luke became a friend and associate of Paul. He was highly educated and as a Greek speaking Gentile, he had a high literary ability.

When we read through the Gospel of Luke, it’s obvious that he’s writing to the Gentiles of his day. He rarely references the Old Testament and explains Jewish customs. God was able to use him because as a companion of Paul, his ministry was to the Gentile people.

What we find is that each of the four Gospels has their own purpose and theme. So far, we’ve only looked at Mark, which was basically a short outline of the Life of Christ. Now, Luke comes along and is writing in the style of the Greek culture.

This means that he uses a lot of descriptive language as well as prayers and sermons. His goal was to have a specific order to his book for people who liked to think about what they read.

We also need to realize that when he says that he’s writing an orderly account, that does not mean chronologically. It means that he’s writing with a definite plan. Many times Luke quotes a sermon Jesus gives and then gives us some examples from His life that illustrates what He just taught.

From the above verse, it’s clear that he’s writing to someone who already had a basic knowledge of Christ. He now wants to give that person a more grounded knowledge of who Jesus is.

What does that mean to us? As we go through this Gospel we’ll be looking to Jesus as our example of how to live for God. We know that He was fully God and fully man.

To live in this world, the Lord chose to lay aside the power He had as God. Then, He lived as we have to live. He served God with His humanity, relying on the Holy Spirit to guide Him the same way that we have to.

That’s what we’ll be concentrating on as I move forward with these posts. Yes, Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but He’s also the Son of Man. I can look to Him as the greatest example of the victorious life.

Hopefully you’ll come along with me on this journey. It’s a lengthy book, but the rewards of studying it will be great.

Question: What are you expecting to receive from the Gospel of Luke?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2021 in Encouragement, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Paul’s Conclusions

Paul’s Conclusions

In my last post, I started going through the greetings at the end of the book of Romans. I talked about some issues with women in leadership. There’s another that I’ll hit quickly today.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house.

Romans 16:3-5a

You may remember these people if you’ve read through the book of Acts. Priscilla and Aquila were a Jewish couple, who Paul met in Corinth. (Acts 18) They were tent-makers, like Paul, so he stayed with them and joined their business.

They began to minister with Paul, and moved to Ephesus where they planted a church in their home. Now they’ve moved to Rome where they again have a house-church.

In the book of Acts, Luke refers to the woman as Priscilla. That’s the informal, friendly name used for the name, Priska. In this verse in Romans, Paul uses her more formal name, Priska, even though the translators chose to use Priscilla so we’d know who was being talked about.

Why is that important?

The fact that Paul listed her first, along with her husband is significant. On top of that, he used her formal name out of respect. That tells me that she was the senior pastor of their home-church. Like I said in my last post, God can call whoever He desires to do His work.

Then, in verses 5b through 16, Paul sends his greetings to a number of people in the church. That tells me a lot about who the apostle was. He was a man who loved people.

Of those listed in this group, half of them were either women or slaves. In that society, they were treated like property or pets. Yet Paul saw them all as important, and he appreciated them.

We need to learn this lesson. We need to let others know that they’re loved. I recently heard a speaker give us this principal: “People love people who love people.”

We like to be around others who we think can uplift us. We need to learn to appreciate people who can do nothing for us. The church, more than any other group, should be a place where everyone gets love and affirmation.

That’s why Paul gives his next instruction.

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

Romans 16:17-19

Our human nature wants to constantly feed itself. We look for others who will stroke our egos. We need to constantly guard against this.

Part of winning this mind battle, is to keep away from those who obviously are after their own agendas. We need to choose our friends wisely. Attitudes have a way of rubbing off on those around them.

After sending greetings from his companions, Paul makes a closing statement.

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him – to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Romans 16:25-27

This is the summation for everything he’s written in this letter. I think it’s appropriate that he calls this letter his Gospel. It does contain everything we need to know to establish our lives in Christ Jesus.

Question: How has the book of Romans affected your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Commending Phoebe

Commending Phoebe

In going through the book of Romans, we’re now in the final chapter. Here, Paul gives his greetings to various people he knows in the church.

Don’t ignore these verses. They still contain truth and insight that will benefit us.

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.

Romans 16:1-2

The first person he talks about is a woman named Phoebe. I need to take some time to talk about her. The English translations don’t do her justice.

I understand that there are churches and denominations who believe that women have no place in leadership. I don’t want to offend any of these people, but truth is truth.

Suffice it to say that there are a few places in Scripture where the translators try to blur the more controversial verses. They want believers to be happy, reading them in church.

Some are happy because the translation doesn’t offend their traditions. Others are happy simply because they don’t know what the verse is actually saying. This is one of those places in Scripture.

One of my pet peeves with translators is their treatment of women in the Scripture. Let me explain with this section. It has a number of examples.

First, the word, servant, is the word, diakonon in the Greek. In reality, it literally means a household servant – so what’s the problem?

Actually, the problem is this…when it refers to a man (1 Timothy 4:6, Colossians 1:7; 4:7) it’s translated as minister or deacon. Yet, when use for Phoebe, they chose the word, servant.

While the words servant, minister, and deacon all have the same original meaning; in our modern terminology, they imply much different functions. We get the idea that women servants are somehow less important than men servants.

In this section, Paul is commending her to the church. That tells me that they are just meeting her for the first time. Phoebe must have been one of the group of travelers who brought this letter to the church in Rome. He asks the church to receive her worthily.

He instructs the church to give her any help she needs. That Greek passage literally reads, stand with her, be at hand, ready to assist her in her work. But what is that work? Here’s where it really gets interesting.

The NIV says that she has been a great help to many people including me. The Greek word that Paul uses for her is a prostatis. This is the only place that word is used in Bible. It’s a word that’s full of meaning.

It’s definition is a woman set over others. According to Thayer’s Lexicon, it describes a female guardian, protectress, or patroness, caring for the affairs of others and aiding them with her resources.

This word basically means that she is the head of a mission’s organization. Phoebe runs an organization that raises money for missions. More than that, according to Paul’s own words, he is one of those missionaries that she supports. That’s why Paul asks them to help her any way they can.

It’s sad that many translations water down these verses that show women in a place of authority. God will use whoever is available to further His kingdom.

I have a problem with people who try to erect a glass ceiling in God’s church. Any person, no matter who they are or where they came from, can rise as far as God calls them in His kingdom.

Question: What is God’s calling on your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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