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Category Archives: Encouragement

Fear Without Fear

Fear Without Fear

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is teaching His disciples in chapter 12. We now come to a very interesting portion of Scripture. In this section we’re going to see two important aspects of fear.

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

Luke 12:4-5 NIV

The first thing we need to understand is the fear of the Lord. This is the foundation of a mature walk with God. We know from Scripture that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10) and the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).

I’ve heard people teach about the fear of the Lord in the past. Sometimes they’re a little off base when they say that this kind of fear is only a healthy respect. I choose to differ.

The word for fear in this verse is the Greek word from which we get the word phobia. It’s talking about actual fear, but you need to understand how it works.

This kind means a fear that changes your actions. Because you know the possible outcomes, you change what you’re doing. That’s the fear of the Lord.

I know that there will be a final Judgment Seat. There’s a lot at stake. Jesus says that if found guilty, I could be thrown into hell – literally, the lake of fire.

But, I know how I’ll be judged, and I know how to come through with an innocent verdict. The only way to freedom is through the payment made by Jesus Christ on the cross.

Since I know this, it changes what I do. I accept His Lordship over my life. I strive to please Him. This is the fear of the Lord. It’s more than respect; it’s a change of lifestyle.

Having said that, there’s another part to this fear. Look at what Jesus says immediately following this thought.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Luke 12:6-7 NIV

Having talked about judgment and hell, Jesus wants to make things clear to His disciples. Knowing all of this, should I constantly be living under the fear of hell? Absolutely not!

I’ve come to Christ and declared Him as Lord of my life. Now my future is secure in Him. My fear of the future should be gone.

Now I need to concentrate on the grace, goodness, and love of the Lord. His knowledge of me and my situations are deeper than I could ever imagine. Even though I may feel neglected at times, I’m never out of His thoughts. God is always working on my behalf.

Along with this, I need to cultivate a healthy fear of the Lord. But, I’m not talking about fear of judgment and hell. It has a different focus.

I saw a documentary once about diamond cutters. One in particular paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a huge uncut diamond. He believed that if he cut it just right, the cut diamonds would be worth millions of dollars.

What he did surprised me. He didn’t just start cutting. He spent the next year studying the diamond and making notes. He didn’t want to ruin the diamond with a wrong cut.

That’s a great view of the fear of the Lord. I don’t fear judgment and hell. But, my relationship with God is so valuable to me, I don’t want to mess it up. I want it to become more valuable each day.

My relationship with Christ is like an uncut diamond. I don’t see the final outcome yet. God knows what I can become. So, I want to follow His plan as closely as possible each step of the way.

This is what the fear of the Lord is all about. It can be the greatest blessing of your life. Cultivate it more and more each day.

Question: How do you see the fear of the Lord changing your actions?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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You Think You Have Problems

You Think You Have Problems

As we continue through the book of Luke, we now come to the end of chapter 10. An incident takes place that we usually just quickly gloss over. But I think it holds a truth that we need to take to heart.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.

Luke 10:38 NIV

If you remember, the 72 disciples were traveling throughout Israel making preparations for Jesus to minister at various towns. One of the towns they prepared was Bethany. A woman named Martha agreed to host the meetings in that town.

Now the day had arrived, and Martha was doing her part. But she wasn’t happy about it.

She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Luke 10:39-40 NIV

Martha began to feel the challenges of all the things that needed to be done. As the pressure built, she had an emotional outburst. We’ve probably all been there.

There are times when we let the challenges of life get to us. We try to bottle it up inside. But, eventually the pressure gets too great and we crack. Many times it gets aimed at the very ones we love and who don’t deserve the scolding.

What you need to understand, is there was more going on here than what we see on the surface. Jesus saw what was actually at work in her life.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:41-42 NIV

The Lord saw that Martha was “worried and upset”. That’s important to note. These words literally mean that she was distracted and caused to be in turmoil by many things going on in her life. What were those things?

First of all, her sister Mary, was a big problem in itself. For some reason she had a reputation around town as being a very sinful woman (John 11:2; Luke 7:37-38). And yet, she placed herself right at the feet of the visiting preacher.

On top of that, her brother Lazarus, had a very grave illness (John 11:1-14). He was probably bedridden. In all likelihood, Martha was the one caring for him constantly.

I don’t have the space to go into the details, but she had another concern. In my studies, I found that Martha had married a Pharisee who later contracted leprosy. Because of this, he had to leave home. The Law required him to quarantine himself away from society.

So, Martha had to bear all of these things alone. Her mind was distracted and troubled by all of these issues as she tried to host these meetings on her own. It turned out that all these things were more than she could handle. It caused her to break down.

The answer for her dilemma is the same as for us. Although she probably didn’t want to hear it any more than we do. During these times of crisis we have to spend more quality time in the presence of the Lord.

We think that the answer is to keep busy and “do something” to get out of our mess. In reality, the best thing is to simply spend some time listening to the voice of the Spirit. That’s what we really need to get us through the difficult seasons of our lives.

In the above passage, nothing is spoken of what Mary was going through. I’m sure she heard the whispers of those around her. She saw the looks of disgust on the faces of the townspeople.

In spite of all that negativity, she pushed herself to be in the position to receive the only thing that could set her free. She heard a Word from the mouth of God. Her life was changed forever.

We can experience the same thing in the Lord’s presence!

Question: How much quality time do you spend with the Holy Spirit?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Jesus’ Ministry Team

Jesus’ Ministry Team

As you think of Jesus traveling throughout Israel, preaching and teaching, how do you picture it? Judging by how some preachers describe it, your mental picture is far from the truth. As we begin chapter 8 of Luke’s Gospel, we get a glimpse into the daily operations of the Lord’s ministry.

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him…

Luke 8:1

This is a very simple statement, but by itself there’s no hint of the complexities involved. If we really think about it, there’s more to it than simply walking around Israel.

The first thing we have to understand is that this type of traveling was no different for them than it is for us. Here we have at least 13 people traveling together.

Where do they get their food and water? Where do they spend the night? What about washing their clothing, personal hygiene, and those types of things?

We usually don’t think of these things, reading the Scriptures in the comfort of our homes. I do a lot of overnight hiking, spending days at a time in the woods, so this hits home to me. It causes me to ask; what did it take for them to maintain a ministry like this?

I’m glad to say that the Bible has the answers for these questions. But, many people ignore it, because it goes against what they want to believe about the Lord.

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

Luke 8:1-3

Many people like to get the idea of a poor Jesus. They like to think that He was barely getting by, living off the land and any scraps that He could scavenge. That picture is so far from the truth.

Jesus had a very organized and efficient ministry team. He had the apostles to minister along side Him. But, and this is important to realize, He had a very organized fundraising team. This is how the Lord was able to travel so extensively throughout Israel.

It was no different for them than it is for us. They needed to buy food and drink. Many times they would have to pay for lodging. Their clothes would need washing and so forth.

Why is the thought of a financially independent Jesus so hard for people to imagine? One reason, is that because many churches don’t want to give their pastors the salary they need to support their families.

I’ve even heard some board members say that they need to keep the pastor poor so that they’ll stay humble. That kind of thinking is totally selfish and foolish.

In John 6:5, just before He fed the 5000, Jesus asked His disciple where they could buy bread for the crowd. The assumption was that they had the money, they only needed someplace that could supply it. How many ministries do you know that could buy food for 5000 people at a moments notice?

Jesus had a very organized and effective ministry team. He wasn’t poor. But there’s another side to this. The Lord wasn’t overly extravagant either.

They walked wherever they went (or took a boat). Jesus didn’t have a team of golden chariots to carry Him and His disciples from place to place. We need to see the whole picture.

When you talk about godly prosperity, you need to see it from a biblical perspective. God does want His people to prosper. But that means having enough to abundantly fulfill your calling. And, having extra to give away as a blessing to others.

That was how the Lord operated. It should be an example to us in our modern generation. We need the blessing of God – finances included – to bring in the harvest of souls in these last days before the Lord’s return.

Question: How do you give control of your finances to God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Dark Road

The Dark Road

I’m continuing in my study of the Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is walking through Israel, ministering to the people as He goes.

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.

Luke 7:11-12

In this section of Scripture, two crowds are about to meet. The first was made up of Jesus, His disciples, and a large group of people who simply wanted to see what they were doing. They were probably talking and laughing as most do on a walk.

But then, as they approached Nain, another crowd was coming out of the town. This group was more somber. It was a funeral procession for a young man whose mother was a widow.

What are your thoughts when you see a funeral procession? Maybe you’re stopped at a red light, and you have to wait while all the cars go through. Do you see them as family and friends who have just suffered a loss, or an annoying pause in your daily routine?

In those days, it was the custom to weep and wail loudly at a funeral. I wonder what the disciples and others were thinking as they approached the town and saw this group coming toward them. There was probably an awkward silence that came over them.

But just then, the Lord did something that you’re never supposed to do at a funeral.

When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still.

Luke 7:13-14a

Jesus had a different response than was expected. Instead of the usual, “I’m sorry for your loss,” He told the mother not to cry. I’m sure it was obvious that she was the mother by the fact that her tears were real.

Then, He actually grabs the coffin, causing the bearers to stop walking. This was totally unthinkable. Touching the coffin would make the Lord religiously “unclean” for days. I’m sure the disciples were asking themselves; why would He do such a thing?

Very soon they got their answer.

He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Luke 7:14b-15

All I can say is that Jesus is the Lord of the unexpected. Just when we think it’s the end, and all hope is lost, Christ comes on the scene with resurrection power.

We need to trust the Lord no matter what it looks like around us. I don’t know how dark the road is that you’re traveling on right now. But I know Jesus. I know He has the power to come into any situation and raise your dead dreams back to life.

God can do what no one else can do. That way, He gets the glory.

They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

Luke 7:16-17

When something like this happens, there’s no room for doubt. God has showed up. He manifests His love and concern for His people.

Our problem is that we don’t seem to have this expectation anymore. We think things are just going to continue this way forever.

It’s time to start trusting God for the miraculous again. Give Him room to show His power. Spend time in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Let Him impart new faith into your heart.

As the church wakes up to this principle, the world will begin to see the glory of God in us. Then, they’ll be drawn to Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

Question: What are you trusting God for right now?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Mature Enough?

Mature Enough?

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, I’ve been posting about what makes us worthy of the power of God. I started by looking at what the Roman Centurion said to Jesus in Luke, chapter 7.

“Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
Luke 7:6b-7

The last couple of posts I talked about his words I do not deserve – the Greek word axios. Now I want to look at worthy – the Greek word hikanos. It literally means not far enough along.

There are many Christians who believe that they haven’t walked with the Lord long enough to see the manifestation of the power of God in their lives. There’s a big fallacy with this kind of thinking. The very notion that they’re not far enough along implies that there will be a time when they’re mature enough to merit this power.

I am here to tell you that will never happen on this side of eternity. In actuality the centurion had it right – “But say the word…”

Paul understood this concept. He evangelized most of the Roman Empire. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote most of the New Testament.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10

Paul used the Greek word hikanos when he said he did not even deserve to be called an apostle. If Paul was not far enough along to walk in this power, then there’s no chance for us. Yet the important part of this issue is all summed up in the words “but by the grace of God.”

The simple truth is that you’ll never be good enough. It’s only by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that we may stand in His power and authority.

I’ll never be good enough or far enough along to deserve the title of son. I’ll never be worthy of His power based upon my own merits. But by the grace of God I am what I am.

It’s this thinking that drives me to work for the Lord. It’s the foundation for serving Him in the correct way. When I start to think that I can make myself more worthy I miss the whole concept of His grace.

This is what keeps us from experiencing the power of God in the church today. If I think like a child – that if I just work harder to be worthy, then I’ve lost it at the start. If I let sin go unrepentant and refuse intimacy with God then I short circuit the power.

The centurion saw how the power of God worked in the life of Jesus.

For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Luke 7:8

This centurion was commended for his concept of this truth.

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

Luke 7:9-10

It’s time for us to understand that it’s not my ability to be good that gets me anything. It’s God’s grace working in me that allows me to manifest the power of God. The Lord works perfectly through imperfect people.

Question: What’s the role of good works in the life of the believer?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Deserving God’s Best

Deserving God’s Best

We’re continuing our study in the Gospel of Luke. We’re now in Luke, chapter 7.

In my last post I started talking about a Roman centurion who wanted Jesus to come and heal his servant. I wanted to look at this event in detail because it deals with some important principles we need to understand.

Many Christians don’t have a grasp on what makes us worthy of walking in the power of God. The centurion in this chapter said that he wasn’t worthy and used two Greek words, axios and hikanos, to describe how he felt.

In this post, I want to start by looking at the word axiosdeserving.

Think about the prodigal son of the parable I talked about in my last post. He spent a large portion of his life away from the power, yet all that time he was still a son. One of the statements that he made to his Father was, “I am not worthy – axios – to be called your son.” The first concept we must understand is that you can be a son and still feel not deserving.

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.”
Acts 13:46

When Paul and Barnabas first started out on their missionary journeys, they would always preach the Gospel first to the Jewish community. Many times they were met with resistance by this group.

At this point in their journeys they were beginning to get frustrated by this trend among the Jewish people. The literal Greek of what Paul says here is that you have judged yourselves undeserving (axios) of eternal life.

This tells us that, concerning the power of God, if you consider yourself undeserving, you could find yourself rejecting God’s Word. There’s no true power outside the Word of God. Of course, if you reject the Word of Salvation, then you’re lost.

Our salvation experience is the first touch of God’s power which we experience. All believers, therefore, qualify for the power on that requirement.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
Revelation 3:4

This verse brings up an interesting dilemma. How do you keep your clothes white while living in a cesspool? Of course, I’m talking about our spiritual clothes as we live in this society. How do we keep clean with so much sin around us?

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:14

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9

As we live a repentant lifestyle, the Holy Spirit keeps us clean through the blood of Christ. Repentance should be a daily walk before God. These verses tell me that power is for those who can keep themselves clean in Christ. Therefore, your conscience is accusing you of not deserving of the power if you ignore repentance.

This was the lesson that the Prodigal Son had to learn. As soon as he returned home and repented, he was restored to the full rights and privileges of a son. It’s through this same process of repentance that our consciences can be wiped clean. Then it will stop accusing us of being undeserving.

Question: How does your conscience keep you from enjoying God’s best for you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Am I Worthy or Not?

Am I Worthy or Not?

In my blog I talk a lot about the concept of sonship. This is how God views us all (male and female) through the blood of Christ. There needs to be an understanding of the relationship of sonship to walk in the power of the Lord. Sometimes, the tension between the two creates a problem for some Christians.

In going through the Gospel of Luke, chapter 7, verses 1-10, contain an incident that highlights this issue. It happened when Jesus was in Capernaum.

When Jesus had finished saying all this in the hearing of the people, he entered Capernaum. There a centurion’s servant, whom his master valued highly, was sick and about to die. The centurion heard of Jesus and sent some elders of the Jews to him, asking him to come and heal his servant.

Luke 7:1-3

In that town, there was a Roman officer whose servant was sick. He was a part of the occupation force in Israel. He knew that not many people were happy with the Romans being there, but he had the town elders on his side.

Listen carefully to what the elders said to Jesus about this man.

When they came to Jesus, they pleaded earnestly with him, “This man deserves to have you do this, because he loves our nation and has built our synagogue.”
Luke 7:4-5

The elders literally said, “this man is worthy because…” They based his worthiness upon good works. We now know from Scripture that this is wrong thinking. It’s foolish to think that my good works somehow improves my standing with God.

Jesus, however, understood their heart.

Later on in this Gospel, we’ll look at the parable of the Prodigal Son. For now, I want you to see something that he said, because he put it in just the right words.

The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
Luke 15:21

It’s the same question that most of us wrestle with as believers. Am I worthy? This is usually what drives us to the law (or to the pigpen). I need to understand what makes me worthy of having God’s power manifest through my life.

Look at the Lord’s response to these elders.

So Jesus went with them. He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
Luke 7:6-7

By the centurion’s own words he said, “I am not worthy.” The elders said what they thought Jesus wanted to hear. These friends said what the centurion wanted them to say.

This centurion said that he wasn’t worthy of two things. First he was not worthy for Jesus to come to him. He also said that he was not worthy to go to Jesus himself.

The question arises, was he worthy or not worthy? We know that his faith was ready by his statement, “But say the word…”

It turns out that there are two different Greek words that are used in this passage. They are the two that trip up believers every day. When the centurion said, “I do not deserve to have you come under my roof,” the Greek word hikanos is used. The word hikanos means far enough along or good enough in English.

When the man said, “I do not even consider myself worthy to come to you,” the Greek word axios was used. Axios means deserving in English. In other words, many times we feel that we’re not worthy because we either don’t deserve it or we’re not far enough along in our walk with God yet. The big question is, what does the Word of God say?

Over the next couple of posts, I’m going to look at this incident in detail. We need to understand the Biblical concept of what makes us worthy.

Question: How do feelings of unworthiness affect your Christian walk?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2022 in Encouragement, Faith, Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Lord?

Lord?

We’ve been going through the Gospel of Luke. This post will finish our discussion of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus gives us a powerful conclusion to this message.

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

Luke 6:46

This is one of the most important questions that we, as believers, need to answer. We all call Jesus Christ, “Lord”. But, what do we mean by that?

To many Christians, “the Lord Jesus Christ” is simply His title. It’s what you call Him because that’s what it says in the Bible. They have no attachment to the words.

We really need to grasp the significance of this word, “lord”. According to Webster’s Dictionary, lord means – one possessing supreme power and authority.

Having an understanding of this word shows us the foolishness that many believers find themselves in. If you truly believe that Jesus Christ is Lord – supreme ruler of the universe – then how could you ever possibly ignore or defy His commands?

The most impossible statement to ever make is, “No, Lord.” If He’s your Lord, then you can’t say “no”. If you can say “no”, then He’s not your Lord. This is the truth of our situation.

Jesus goes on to describe the results of our decision to obey or not.

I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Luke 6:47-49

The fact is that we’re all in the building process. Every one of us is building a shelter from the ravages of sin in the world. We know that trouble is coming. The only thing we can do is prepare for it.

Let me explain the problem that many of us have with Jesus’ teaching. To the casual observer, there’s no difference between the two. Both houses look the same.

The difference is below the surface. It’s all about making a secure foundation. And that’s where the road separates.

Building a foundation is a slow painstaking process. In the Lord’s day, it required back-breaking labor. There were no excavators or jack-hammers to break through the tough terrain.

Then, large rocks for the foundation needed to be moved and dragged into position. You had to use a horse, or many people working together. Either way, it was a labor intense operation.

I’m sure that in those days there were many people who wanted to go the simpler route and build the house immediately. They decided to forego the foundation, to get into their house quickly.

The deception is, that for a long while it looks like building the foundation was a wasted activity. That is, until the once in a lifetime monster storm breaks out. Then, suddenly, the easy path turns out to be deadly.

It’s like that in the spiritual as well. For the most part, we can weather the minor “storms” of life without the power of God. But, the fact is, there will come problems that are far beyond our ability to contend with.

In times like that, people run to the Lord, expecting a miraculous exit strategy. The problem is that what we’ve built to that point was not according to the Lord’s pattern.

Many times God allows the life-structure that we’ve built to be destroyed. His desire is that when we rebuild, we’ll be wise enough to do it His way.

Don’t let the troubles of life destroy you. Don’t just call Jesus “Lord” out of lip service. Build your life on the proper foundation of His Word. Then, you can rest assured that your destiny is in God’s hands. He’ll bring to pass what He’s promised.

Question: What have you done to provide a secure foundation for your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2022 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Truth Hurts

Truth Hurts

In this post, we’re continuing to look at the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. It contains some important principles on righteousness.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh…Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.”

Luke 6:21, 25

This is one of those truths that doesn’t sound good, but is actually very important. Remember that Jesus is addressing these statements to His disciples – the future leaders of the church.

He tells them that in the “now”, there should be weeping. What could the Lord possibly mean by saying that?

What we need to realize is that spiritual truth, sometimes, goes completely opposite what we’ve learned in the world. The disciples were hearing from Jesus the principles of the kingdom of God. This means that in many cases they had to make an 180 degree turnaround from what they thought was right.

The fact is that truth brings change. And, more than that, change is uncomfortable. The disciples were being taught that it was better to accept the spiritual principles of Christ and deal with the sorrow of change. Later on, as they experience the results, they’ll walk in the joy of the Lord.

This has always been how embracing God’s truth works. Initially sorrow – then the joy His blessings bring (Psalm 30:5).

This is a real problem for those who only want to see blessings and never want to change. Eventually they’ll experience loss, with the grief and mourning that accompanies it. I find it better to submit to the Lord’s process of change right from the start.

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”

Luke 6:22-23

Not only is there pain in receiving the truth, sometimes it hurts when you speak the truth. Not everyone wants to hear the message of Christ.

Here the Lord lists a number of things that will happen when people reject the Gospel of Christ. Many will hate you. That’s a choice to treat you in an abusive way.

Jesus also says that they may not invite you to participate in their events. You’ll be excluded because just seeing you causes them to feel guilty.

The word, insult, in the above verse means to defame you. It’s not just an insult to your face, but they’ll even talk about you when you’re not around. This could even include spreading lies about you.

Jesus doesn’t want to see His disciples hindered by these things. That’s why He’s warning them, and us, in advance. That’s how it’s always been with those who stand their ground for the Lord.

There is, however, another warning that we’re given.

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.”

Luke 6:26

Jesus tells them that they need to take stock if everyone speaks well of them. The message of Christ will always make somebody upset. As a matter of fact, in this society, I sometimes receive a look of disgust simply by sharing with someone that I’m a minister.

We need to realize that the truth hurts. Sometimes it hurts us, when we need to be changed by it. Sometimes it upsets others who hear it. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation must continue to be preached to all who will listen.

Question: How have you dealt with the discomfort of change from hearing God’s Word?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2022 in Encouragement, Ministry, The Gospel, Word of God

 

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Jesus and the Sabbath

Jesus and the Sabbath

We’re now starting chapter 6 of the Gospel of Luke. You may want to read Luke 6:1-11 before continuing with this post.

Because they followed the Covenant of Moses, Judaism had many traditions. Of these, the keeping of the Sabbath stirred up the most controversy in the ministry of Jesus.

The law of the Sabbath was very simple. Exodus 20:8-11 plainly states that the seventh day of the week was to be set apart to the Lord. No work was to be done by any person or animal on that day.

You may think that the Scripture was clear enough for anyone to follow. But…religion likes to make things complicated. So religion asks the question; exactly what is work?

So, over time, the religious leaders of Israel took it upon themselves to define what work was. They drew up a lengthy list of what you could and couldn’t do on the Sabbath. It’s in these man-made Sabbath rules that we can see how foolish religion can get.

For instance: On the Sabbath, you could pick a chair up and carry it across the room. You could not drag the chair across your room, because by making a line in the dirt floor, you were “plowing”.

Normally, you were allowed to drink wine on the Sabbath…unless you had a toothache. Then you couldn’t, because the wine might hit your tooth, deaden the pain, and healing was forbidden on the Sabbath.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to pick some heads of grain, rub them in their hands and eat the kernels. Some of the Pharisees asked, “Why are you doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

Luke 6:1-2

The Lord and His disciples were really in trouble here. They broke three rules. Not only did they pick some grain (reaping), they rubbed them (winnowing), and ate them (grinding). Of course the only law they were breaking was the traditions passed down by the Rabbi’s.

Jesus explained to the Pharisees the foolishness of their traditions.

Then Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

Luke 6:2

It’s important to note that Jesus called himself the Son of Man in this instance. He was emphasizing His humanity. The Sabbath was created by God for the good of mankind.

Our human bodies would break down if we had to work seven days a week. It’s not healthy. So God instituted the concept of Sabbath for our good. It was never meant to be a burden.

I’m amazed at how often we fail to realize how our religious traditions cause people to get the wrong view of God. By our speech and actions, the world sometimes gets the idea that we serve a vindictive, angry, and judgmental God. I’m sure it grieves His heart.

On another Sabbath, Jesus was in a synagogue. He saw a man whose right hand was unusable. He called the man forward. Of course, the Pharisees were upset, wondering what Jesus would do.

Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”

Luke 6:9

Good question! The Lord gets to the heart of what the Sabbath was all about. Sabbath should be rest and restoration for the whole person.

He looked around at them all, and then said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was completely restored. But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus.

Luke 6:10-11

This is proof that sometimes religion can be so illogical. They just witnessed a miracle, clearly performed by God, Himself. That means God approves of healing on the Sabbath. Yet, instead of re-examining their beliefs, they want to do away with Christ.

We need to learn to show people the love of God and not the traditions of religion.

Question: How have you seen religious traditions hurt people?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2022 in Encouragement, Legalism, The Gospel

 

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