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Monthly Archives: June 2022

Nothing Hidden

Nothing Hidden

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we find Jesus teaching His disciples. In my last post, I talked generally about not adding any of our own opinions to the Word of God. Today, I want to talk specifically about what the Lord is teaching.

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

Luke 12:1 NIV

The Pharisees were a group of religious leaders who knew the Bible intimately. They had memorized the entire Torah (the first five books) as well as other huge sections. You would think that they, of all people, would agree with the teaching of Christ.

The problem was, they added their “yeast” to the Word. The yeast the Lord talks about is hypocrisy. Jesus saw that many of the Pharisees were hypocrites. That word in the Greek language is very specific. It’s the word they used for an actor in a play.

An actor studies his lines and gets into character. He does this so that he can convincingly portray a different person before an audience as he’s on the stage. That’s how the Pharisees viewed the Jewish religion.

For them, it was all about putting on a convincing performance before the people. They studied the traditions and laws. They practiced their roles, lines and actions. It was all a show with nothing coming from their heart.

The Lord doesn’t want His disciples to fall into this trap. Hypocrites actually get to the point where they’ve convinced themselves that they’re righteous and holy. Unfortunately, they’ve missed the whole foundation of the fear of the Lord.

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”

Luke 12:2-3 NIV

Jesus is giving His disciples an important truth here. We would do well to listen and apply it to ourselves.

The word for hypocrisy literally means to act under an assumed persona. Your real identity is hidden, covered, under the character you’re acting out.

In the above verse, Jesus says that there is nothing covered that will not be uncovered. The truth is that hypocrisy cannot stay hidden forever. No matter how well you act it out, at some point you will be discovered as a hypocrite.

The sad thing is, by that point, you’ve convinced yourself that you’re sincere. You’ll get offended and mad that someone would dare accuse you of this evil. Unless you come to the point of repentance, you’ll sink into bitterness and defeat.

Jesus had better hopes for those under His teaching. The second sentence of the above verse is for them. He wants the apostles to live in such a way that their private conversations can be proclaimed from the rooftops.

That needs to be our desire as well. Because I’m a pastor, I’ve been in meetings with various groups and denominations. There have been times where the discussion sounded more like a political strategy meeting than a ministry.

We have to be careful that we don’t lose sight of the fact that our goal is to serve Jesus Christ – the Head of the church. It’s not about power struggles and who gets the credit for what happens. Our goals and motives should be an open book before all men.

In this way, when a move of God takes place, He gets the glory. We need to reorient our thinking to a ministry mentality. Like Jesus said, “I’m not here to be served, but to serve…” (Mark 10:45). This will keep us from the yeast of the Pharisees.

Question: What are some ways you can keep your life open before God and men?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God’s Word Without Yeast

God’s Word Without Yeast

I’m continuing to post through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus has just finished rebuking the Pharisees and teachers of the Law for their blatant opposition to His teaching. They simply refuse to listen to the Word of God.

On top of that they’re doing everything in their power to stop the Lord from continuing His ministry.

When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say.

Luke 11:53-54 NIV

In spite of this opposition from the religious leaders, the people continued to listen to the Lord’s teaching.

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
Luke 12:1 NIV

On different occasions Jesus told His disciples to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. At that time they didn’t understand what He was saying to them. Later on they realized that the Lord was speaking about their hypocrisy.

This was not a warning that only applied to the disciples. We need to take care not to add our own baggage into the mix. If so, then we’ll corrupt the pure Word of God with our own pet doctrines. What we mix into the Word determines the spiritual climate of our churches.

For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Hebrews 4:2

This verse speaks to us about the similarity between us and Israel. It warns us about how we receive the Word. It literally says that the logos of their hearing did not benefit them. The only way it will is if we combine it with faith in the process of receiving it. The Word of God must be combined with your faith in order for it to be of benefit to you.

So, here we are. I’m doing my best to present you with the pure, clear, logos of God in this article. I want to give you life and nourishment through the Word of God. This is the logos of your hearing. There’s only one way that it will accomplish what was intended. That’s for you, the reader, to combine it with faith. But wait a minute! Where do you get this faith which you’re to combine with the Word?

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

Most of us have this verse memorized. Faith comes by hearing the Word. What it says in the Greek is that this faith comes by hearing the rhema of Christ. What is this? Is it a “catch 22”?

I present the logos to you, but the only way it will benefit you is if you combine it with the faith that only comes through rhema. What kind of circular logic is this? Actually, it’s a picture of the infinite wisdom of God. It’s better than anything you could ever imagine.

In actuality God wants to give you both logos and rhema at the same time. BUT, you have to be expecting Him to do this. God won’t just hit you over the head with His Word.

That’s why when you go to a meeting, or hear a godly speaker on TV or the internet, you need to be ready to receive from God as the message is coming to you. There actually can be times when God speaks to you something totally unrelated to what’s being preached.

You just need to be open to the Lord’s voice. But remember, don’t mix your “yeast” with the message. Too many people add their opinions, ideas, and prejudices into the word that they hear. That will water down God’s Word and make it unprofitable to you.

Spending time in the presence of the Lord helps you to develop a listening ear in the spirit. Then you can hear and guard the pure Word of God in your heart.

Question: When have you heard a Word from God while listening to a human speaker?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Listen to God’s Messenger

Listen to God’s Messenger

I’ve been posting about the Lord’s rebuke of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. This is found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 11. Both of these groups of religious leaders are steeped in tradition. They’ve lost their love for God or the people.

Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs.”

Luke 11:47-48 NIV

Jesus judges these leaders by their actions. He comes to them declaring the pure truth of God. But, these men hate Him for it. They try to silence and discredit the Lord’s message at every turn.

So Christ points out that they decorate elaborate tombs for the prophets merely as a show. They want people to be impressed by them. In actuality, they would have agreed to kill these very prophets because they spoke the same message that Jesus is preaching.

The truth is clear. If they hate the message of Christ, they would have hated the message of these holy prophets. However, the Lord shows them God’s mercy.

Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’”

Luke 11:49 NIV

It’s never God’s desire to leave people in their ignorance and sin. In spite of their obstinate behavior, He continues to send those who will speak out on behalf of God’s truth. The door is always open for repentance. But in His foreknowledge, the Lord knows that the message will go largely unheeded.

Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.”

Luke 11:50-51 NIV

The Lord concludes this rebuke with a grim warning. Because the religious leadership rejects Christ and His apostles, a great calamity will come upon Israel. It comes upon the whole nation because, for the most part, all of the Jewish people followed the lead of their rulers.

In saying this, Jesus makes some interesting points. Most people don’t know that Abel was the first prophet. He was actually killed by Cain because Abel was the prophet – the only one designated to bring offerings before God. And, Cain refused to go through his brother in giving the offering.

The other thing you may find surprising, is that Zechariah is listed as the last prophet to be killed. That’s because the Bible that Jesus used was in a different order than our Old Testament.

The last book in the Lord’s Bible was 2 Chronicles. Zechariah was the last martyr in that Book. So Jesus was saying that this generation would be responsible for the first to the last martyr.

After this prophecy, the Lord makes one more point.

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

Luke 11:52 NIV

I believe that Jesus is speaking about Himself and His ministry in this verse. Scripture teaches that true knowledge is hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:2-3).

These leaders rejected Christ and the knowledge He preached. On top of that, they tried their best to hinder or stop the people from receiving this gift from the Lord.

We need to learn the lesson these religious leaders failed to grasp. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you in whatever way He chooses.

Whether you like the vessel or not is immaterial. Look for the truth of God’s Word and allow it to take root in your life. This will bring the growth and maturity you need to live out your faith.

Question: What wisdom and knowledge have you found in Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Burden Remover

The Burden Remover

In my last post, I started looking at a conversation that Jesus had with a Pharisee who invited Him for a dinner. The Pharisee was surprised that Jesus didn’t observe the traditional washing ceremony before the meal.

The Lord took the opportunity to explain to this religious leader the difference between the inside and the outside. Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.

Now Jesus continues with this discussion.

Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces.

Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it.”

Luke 11:43-44 NIV

Again, the Lord brings up another area where these leaders choose appearance over substance. They are very people conscious. They’re always looking for the approval of those around them.

It’s a lot like our present political system. It’s not about what you know as much as who you know, and what they think of you.

Even with the Pharisees, it wasn’t a matter of right and wrong. That usually didn’t figure into it. They wanted to express the opinion that most of the “important people” would agree with.

That’s why Jesus had a problem with this group. He looked at them like they were unmarked graves. In walking through the area, it may look like a beautiful field full of wildflowers. But people don’t know that right under their feet were dead bodies.

These religious leaders looked great on the surface. They made a public spectacle of their praying, tithing, fasting, and sometimes even giving to the poor. The problem was that their motives were anything but pure.

They wanted to look good in the eyes of the people. They may have looked good on the outside, but as far as God was concerned, they were dead inside.

In saying this, Jesus got a reaction from one of the listeners.

One of the experts in the law answered him, “Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also.”

Luke 11:45 NIV

One of the teachers of the law got upset at what the Lord said. Of course, he proved the advice that sometimes you should just be quiet and take it! The Lord now turns His attention to these teachers.

Jesus replied, “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.”

Luke 11:46 NIV

These religious “lawyers” were another level of the problem. They were experts in the letter of the law. Most of it was traditions added to the law by various Rabbis over the years.

They would teach people what the law said. They gave Israel all of the do’s and don’ts of the law. Most of the time they were rebuking the people for any minor infraction that they were caught doing.

Instead, they should have been teaching about why the law was important. They should have been teaching the love, mercy, and forgiveness of God. But, in their zeal to be seen as experts, they represented God as merely a bringer of death and judgment.

It’s unfortunate that there are many Christians who do the same thing. They make up all of these rules that you need to follow in order to “make it to Heaven.” One of them even told me flat out, they believed it was easier to get saved than to stay saved.

That doesn’t sound like the God I serve.

“I’ll make it easy for you to be saved through Jesus Christ. But, at the first misstep, I’ll send you to hell.”

The fact is, when we bow our knee to Christ, His blood covers our sin, past, present, and future. I know that there are people who twist this truth so they can live however they want. We need to realize that Jesus Christ is the burden remover. I praise God for His great salvation!

Question: What burdens has the Lord removed from your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2022 in Legalism, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Outside Vs. Inside

Outside Vs. Inside

As we continue through the book of Luke, we come to a meeting between Jesus and a Pharisee. I don’t think that the Pharisee knew what he was getting into as he ate with the Lord.

When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.

Luke 11:37-38 NIV

The first thing we need to realize is that Jesus did not have bad hygiene. The washing this refers to, is a ceremonial washing. It was a tradition that sometimes could take up to an hour to accomplish before a meal, even though everything that was washed was already clean.

When He saw the Pharisee’s surprise, Jesus takes the time to explain things to him. The Lord wants to show this leader that there are more important things than following tradition.

Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?”

Luke 11:39 NIV

Jesus is talking here about the Pharisees themselves. They are very outward conscious. What people thought about them was more important than their inner character. Jesus is now going to bring that to their attention.

He literally tells them that they’re acting mindlessly. They’re not taking into account the fact that God places greater importance on what’s on the inside of a person.

He sees their lives as full of greed and wickedness. They grasp at what they want with no regard to God’s will for them. They have evil motives, but no one can see this part of their lives.

You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside [the dish] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”

Luke 11:40-41 NIV

The Lord makes it clear that they should be following God’s law instead. They should live as givers. They should be trying to be a blessing to those around them who are in need. That would be a “cleaner” lifestyle.

Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”

Luke 11:42 NIV

Jesus makes it clear that these Pharisees were practicing tradition over substance in their walk with God. They were doing some of the things required by the law, but neglecting the heart of it.

Actually, what they were doing amazes me when I think about it. They even tithed (donated ten percent as an offering) from the herbs they grew in their gardens.

I wouldn’t have even thought about doing that. Counting how many basil leaves I picked and then giving ten percent to the temple. It would be a tiny amount. Yet these leaders were doing just that.

The problem was, they were doing it to look good in front of the people. They loved the reaction. “Look! He even tithed from the mint he grew!”

They weren’t doing it out of love for God. They wanted the adoration of the people.

But that brings me to the application of this. Why do we do what we do? Do we have pure motives for how we serve God?

Why do we attend church every week? Is it because we worry about what people would think if we missed? Or, is it because we love being in the presence of the Lord and His people?

This is the same for any “religious” activity. We need to be asking ourselves if we’re doing it because of tradition, or out of love for our God? God looks at the heart. Motives are everything.

Make it a point to cultivate a true love for the Lord. All that we do should proceed from that relationship.

Question: How is your love for God being manifest to those around you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Full of Light

Full of Light

We’re continuing in our study of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is teaching on the importance of hearing and obeying God’s Word.

No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.”

Luke 11:33 NIV

I believe that the Lord is speaking about Himself in this verse. Many times He referred to Himself as the Light of the world (John 8:12).

The religious leaders were making an effort to subdue this light. They wanted to silence Jesus to keep His Word from going forth.

Jesus explains to them that His purpose is for all to see His light. God has sent Him into the world to give spiritual sight to those who will listen.

Then, the Lord makes a very interesting statement.

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.”

Luke 11:34-35 NIV

What He says really catches my attention. Recently, I felt the Holy Spirit directing me to do a study of light and darkness in the Scripture. Along with that, since my background is in science, I did a study of light in the physical world.

Light is actually made up of sub-atomic particles called photons. Biblically speaking, these were the very first things God created when He said, “Let there be light!”

I was recently reading about some cutting edge research. They wrote that it has been discovered that every cell in our body contains structures that harness and direct the flow of photons.

It’s very possible that our cells communicate through a type of fiber-optics rather than simple electrical impulses. However, this research is still in its infancy. Be that as it may, we know that our brains are full of photons – these particles of light.

We also know that in the natural, our bodies need light to function properly. That’s why there are seasonal disorders. We get depressed in the winter if we don’t get enough sunlight.

You may be asking what does all of this have to do with what Jesus said. I believe that many times things in the spiritual work like they do in the natural.

Just like our physical bodies need sunlight, our spiritual beings need the light of God’s Word. Many Christians have a “seasonal disorder” because of a lack of exposure to the Word.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Psalms 119:105 NIV

If we want our spiritual man to be full of light, then we need to be walking in the light of God’s Word. Take this to heart. We don’t want to be walking with inner darkness.

See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.”

Luke 11:35-36 NIV

This verse literally say that we need to make it our aim, our focus, not to let the light in us become dark. Keep the light intense. Focus on the Word of God.

In that way we’ll be able to clearly see the path before us. Don’t be like the foolish leaders who didn’t like what they saw when the light shined on them. Allow it to change you into who God desires you to become.

Spend time in the Word. Let it fully light up your life.

Question: How has God’s Word brought you spiritual light?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2022 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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God’s Word – Listen and Obey

God’s Word – Listen and Obey

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. In this section, Jesus is explaining some things about demonic activity. It started when the Pharisees accused the Lord of casting out demons by the power of Satan.

“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”

Luke 11:24-26 NIV

Christ gives the Pharisees a stern warning. His ministry was cleaning up Israel. Many of the demonic forces were being expelled as He traveled throughout the land.

But the religious leaders, because of their petty jealousy, were attempting to block what the Lord was doing. He warns them that if they allow the enemy’s kingdom back in, it will be seven times worse.

As Jesus says this, something happens that totally annoys me. Mainly because it’s happened to me while I was teaching. Someone interrupts Him.

As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”

Luke 11:27 NIV

It’s one thing if someone interrupts with a pertinent question. But, this woman makes a statement that’s simply irrelevant.

Has she not been listening? Is everything that Jesus is saying going straight over her head? I believe that Satan was using her to try and sidetrack Jesus from what He was trying to get across.

I’m glad that Jesus is our example of how to be constantly led by the Holy Spirit. This interruption didn’t even slow Him down. It just gave the Lord an opportunity to make a very important point.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Luke 11:28 NIV

This is the basis of the Lord’s ministry to Israel. The blessing doesn’t come from simply attending a meeting, no matter how wonderful the speaker is. Many people in Israel were in the crowds that heard the Messiah speak.

Unfortunately, many of them were only excited just to say they saw and heard Jesus. “Yes, I heard Jesus speak when He came through our town. I saw Him heal my friend of blindness. It was so amazing!” They were there, but they didn’t let it affect their lives.

Jesus is telling this crowd that the blessing comes from truly listening to the Word of God that He’s speaking. Then, don’t just let it end there. It needs to be put into practice.

It’s the same with us. Hearing the Word of God in church, on TV, or on the internet isn’t enough. You must allow that Word to change you. It needs to be applied and made a part of your life.

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.

Luke 11:29-32 NIV

Jesus goes on to give a couple of examples. He uses Jonah and Solomon. In both of these cases they were dealing with unspiritual, Gentile, people. Yet, at both times these unbelievers were changed by the Word that they heard.

Don’t miss this great truth. Right now, in the United States, we have access to more of the Word of God than at any other time or place. Yet, much of the church seems oblivious to how they should be living for the Lord.

Allow God’s Word to make a transformation in your life!

Question: How has God’s Word transformed you so far?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2022 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Gathered or Scattered

Gathered or Scattered

I’m continuing through Luke’s Gospel. We’re at the point where the Pharisees are starting to get intimidated by Jesus’ ministry.

In my last post, we saw the Lord cast a demon out of a young man’s life. As a result, he could now hear and speak. The crowd watching was touched by this miracle.

The religious leaders, on the other hand, used self-promotion to try and look like they had authority over Jesus. They accused Him of being demon possessed. They said that He cast out demons by the power of Satan.

I showed how Jesus revealed the foolishness of their argument. But, these leaders had placed themselves in a very dangerous spiritual position. They assigned what was clearly an act of God, to the satanic kingdom.

Now Jesus warns them of the possible consequences.

But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

Luke 11:20 NIV

It was clear to the crowd and the Pharisees that the hand of God drove out this demon. If that’s the case, then the only conclusion is that the kingdom of God has showed up. Remember, the kingdom of God is the manifestation of God’s authority. This is over and above the authority of the religious leaders.

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.”

Luke 11:21-22 NIV

What most people don’t realize is that this is a warning to the Pharisees. They felt like they were “strong men”. They were guarding their house – the religious power base of Israel. They had convinced themselves that they were fully in control.

Now Jesus comes on the scene. He proves to be someone with real authority. He obviously walks in the authority and power of God Himself. They are starting to feel threatened. Their hypocrisy was being exposed publicly.

The Lord is warning them that if they continue down this path, they’ll lose everything. Actually, we know from history and the record of Scripture, this is exactly what happened.

We know that Jesus not only did this with the Pharisees, but with the kingdom of Satan as well.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Colossians 2:15 NIV

It’s always unfortunate when people try to fight against God’s will. It’s always a losing battle. That’s why we need to seek to know His will through time spent with the Holy Spirit. In that way we won’t find ourselves fighting against God.

Jesus said it clearly…

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.”

Luke 11:23 NIV

Here’s another verse we usually misunderstand. The first part is pretty straight forward. If you’re not on the same path as He is, then your against His plan for you.

The second part is more important. The word, gather, does not mean that we are collecting something. It’s talking about a gathering together of people.

If we’re not a part of the crowd that’s gathered around Jesus, then we’re going to find ourselves scattered everywhere in life. We’ll have no purpose or destiny. It’s like what happened at the tower of Babel when the people were scattered across the earth.

Do your best to find God’s plan for your life. Don’t find yourself scattered, heading against God’s will. Spend time listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Question: What’s the next step in God’s plan for you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Judgmental Spirits

Judgmental Spirits

I’m continuing to post through the Gospel of Luke. We’re in chapter 11, where Jesus has just given His disciples a teaching on prayer. When we pray like Christ, we’re calling for God’s kingdom to be manifest on earth.

When that takes place, we experience the miraculous. There are many responses when that happens. Now we’ll see an example of this in Jesus’ ministry.

Jesus was driving out a demon that was mute. When the demon left, the man who had been mute spoke, and the crowd was amazed.

Luke 11:14 NIV

Here was something to praise God over. A man was unable to speak, and probably unable to hear, because of demonic oppression. Jesus cast out the demon and the man was healed. This should have cause everyone to enjoy God’s goodness. But, that wasn’t the case.

But some of them said, “By Beelzebub, the prince of demons, he is driving out demons.” Others tested him by asking for a sign from heaven.

Luke 11:15-16 NIV

These responses simply amaze me. Instead of enjoying the blessing of God, the religious leaders felt the need to prove their authority.

Some of them, out of jealousy, said the Jesus could cast out demons because He was one of them. Others wanted to inflate their egos by saying they needed the Lord to show them a sign that proved what He was doing was of God.

The Lord just cast out a demon. That should be sign enough!

This is what happens when people who are self-important run into someone with real power. They have to prove, mostly to themselves, that they’re really superior. However, I think it was clear to the crowd exactly what was going on.

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebub.”

Luke 11:17-18 NIV

The first thing that Jesus does, is to prove the foolishness of their argument. Kingdoms cannot stay strong if they’re divided. Satan is not going to cast out a demon if God’s going to get glory from it.

But, there’s another important point I want to make here. This is not the first time the Pharisees have seen Jesus cast out devils. They’ve witnessed many miracles at His hand.

The above verse says that Jesus knew their thoughts. The word, thought, in that verse, literally means their conclusions, something they had already thought through.

Their response to the miracle was not something they said quickly, without thinking. This was something that they had discussed previously and had planned to use at the next opportunity. They concluded that the best way to undermine the Lord’s work, was to attack His character.

The religious leaders wanted people to question His motives. Is He really operating in the power of God? Has He really proven that His power is from the kingdom of Heaven?

This is why, on many occasions, Jesus seemed to be very strict with the Pharisees and teachers of the Law.

Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

Luke 11:19-20 NIV

The fact is, the Pharisees understood that it was the power of God driving out demons. There were some Pharisees who truly trusted God and were operating in the same authority. Jesus encouraged these foolish ones to go to them and let them judge the argument.

The lesson is that we need to be careful who we judge as to the validity of their ministries. You might not like their personalities. However, that doesn’t mean that God’s not working through them.

Question: How judgmental are you of other ministries?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2022 in Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Prayer and Sonship

Prayer and Sonship

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, I’ve been talking about chapter 11. In this chapter, Jesus is teaching His disciples about prayer. He started with what we know as The Lord’s Prayer.

He then began to teach them about prayer for the needs of others. We need to be bold in our acknowledgment of God’s power. We should be allowing the Lord to work through us to meet the needs of others.

That was a big part of the context of our “asking, seeking and knocking” in prayer. I talked about that in my last post. Today, I want to take this verse a little further in its application.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Luke 11:9-10 NIV

I’ve heard many people preach on this verse. For the most part we take it out of context and miss what it’s really saying. Indeed, we’re told that we have the power to receive answered prayers, to find that which is hidden, and to open doors that seem impenetrable.

But the first thing we should ask is; what is this authority based upon? If we would just read the next few verses, we’d see that Jesus gives us the guidelines for this type of power.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:11-13 NIV

It’s obvious that Jesus is talking about the authority of Sonship in this passage. He tells us that we’re asking for the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit that then confers upon us the Spirit of Sonship. Once that’s in place, and I’m walking as a mature son (this includes women as well), then I’m free to ask, seek, and knock as led by the Spirit of God.

In many cases our trouble is that we don’t ask for the Spirit. We want to do it our way. We want what our earthly desires are prompting us to seek for. Then we end up begging God for a snake or a scorpion. It’s no wonder why we don’t get most of what we pray for.

The simple fact is that true authority resides in the correct use of mature sonship. There was another time in Jesus’ ministry when He was talking about being a disciple. He said that if you were truly His disciple, then the truth would set you free.

The religious community – those who continued to rely upon the power of the law – were outraged.

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:33-36 NIV

I’m sure that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law had no clue what the Lord was talking about when He said this. To us, however, it should be rich in meaning. The words of Christ tell me that Sonship is a position of freedom.

We’ve been set free because of the authority of Christ. We’re no longer under the bondage of sin, the world or the devil. What we need is the maturity to walk in it.

That should give us a new freedom in our prayer life. When we realize that we want the same goals as the Lord, it’s a lot easier to stand in faith.

As mature believers, we should be spending quality time with the Holy Spirit. That will bring us the wisdom and knowledge we need to ask, seek, and knock for the desire of God’s heart.

Question: What does it mean to be free in Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2022 in Faith, Power of God, Prayer, Sonship

 

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