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Category Archives: Faith

Christ’s Visible Return

Christ’s Visible Return

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post we saw Jesus answering the Pharisees’ question about the kingdom of God. When they leave, the Lord turns to His disciples and starts teaching them about the last days.

Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.”
Luke 17:22

Jesus begins to tell them what the Pharisees were really asking about. He told them that they would not see one of the days of the Son of Man. It turns out that there’s a special reason why He gave this teaching to His disciples. He needed to warn them that none of the disciples would be alive when Jesus Christ was to return.

“Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.”
Luke 17:23-24

The Lord knew that as soon as He died, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, there were going to be people who claimed to be the Messiah. There would be those who proclaimed, “Jesus has returned, He’s back again”.

After all, even when Jesus was ministering, the people thought He was the return of Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the other prophets. He knew that there would always be those who claimed to be a new incarnation of the Christ. In this teaching, the Lord wanted to nip that heresy in the bud.

He told His disciples clearly that if anybody said that the Lord had returned, they would automatically know it was a lie. They wouldn’t have to go someplace to check it out. They wouldn’t have to verify it.  He was saying, “Know for sure that I will not come back in your lifetime.”

This verse then, was specifically for the disciples. As it turned out, they were very glad that the Lord gave them this wisdom. Following the ascension of Christ, there were plenty of false Messiahs that came along. The disciples were fortunate in knowing that they didn’t have to worry about whether they were the real thing or not.

Even Paul ran into this problem. He had to write to the Thessalonian church dealing with this issue. They were all upset because somebody told them Jesus had already returned and they had missed it. Paul had to tell them, “No, it hasn’t happened yet.”

He didn’t have to go and find out. He didn’t have to call up anybody or check it out. He knew with a certainty that Christ had not yet returned.

As a matter of fact, Jesus said, “When I come, it’s not going to be in secret. It will be like lightning flashing from one end of the heavens to the other. Everybody is going to see Me.”

Even in my generation, I’ve heard about a few people who’ve claimed to be the Christ. They said that they were the next incarnation or avatar of Jesus. I can say with absolute certainty, these people are lying.

When Christ truly does return, every eye will see Him. I won’t have to pay to go to a meeting in Florida or fly to India. I’ll see the Lord perfectly fine, right where I’m at.

I also believe that we’re the generation that will see His return.

Question: How are you preparing and looking forward to the day Christ will appear?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2022 in Faith, Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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Thankful People

Thankful People

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. Now, we see Jesus traveling throughout Israel. He’s preaching the Word and doing God’s will. As the Lord is walking along, some men with leprosy approach Him.

You may want to read Luke 17:11-19 before going on with this post. This section of Scripture gives us some insights into what it means to be thankful. It should cause you to stop and think; how thankful am I for all that God has done?

In this portion of Scripture, a group of lepers went to Jesus for healing. In these verses, we see everything needed for obtaining the blessing of God. There’s faith, obedience, and expectancy. Jesus’ response to them is simple.

He told them to go and show themselves to the priests. There was no special religious display. The Lord didn’t touch them or even pray over them. He simply gave them a task to complete. As they obeyed His command, they found they were healed along the way.

One former leper had a great response.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.
Luke 17:15

The first thing he does is to come back to Jesus, yelling praises on the top of his lungs. The literal Greek uses the words mega-phone. This was not a quiet thankfulness of the heart. He must have attracted a lot of attention, but he didn’t care. He wanted to praise God for what happened to him. That’s the first thing we see…

Thankful people live loud for the Lord. We must learn to have a lifestyle of praise. It’s time that God’s people come “out of the closet” with their thankfulness.

That’s because this is a normal response to the hand of God at work. It doesn’t mean that you have to yell all the time. But I am saying that God’s work should be abundantly evident in your life. But there was more…

He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan.
Luke 17:16

Next thing we see is this man throwing himself at Jesus’ feet. This is the position of worship.

Thankful people live a life of worship. Because we’re thankful – we worship. Worship acknowledges God for who He is. We’re simply grateful because He allows us to come before Him anytime we want, clothed in His righteousness.

But that verse also said that he thanked Jesus.

…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20

Are we to thank God for everything? The actual Greek says over everything. I need to thank God over everything I receive. (I don’t receive sickness, etc.)

Thankful people thank God over everything. We know the source of life and blessing. Of all people, we should be the ones who are constantly thanking God for the good things we see in our lives.

But there’s one more aspect of thankfulness that we need to look at. It comes from Jesus’ reaction to the healed man.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”
Luke 17:17-18

This question gives us insight into the heart of God. We all want to be loved and appreciated. Where do you think that comes from? I’ll tell you – we were created in the image of God.

Thankful people are sought out by God. Thank offerings were not required by the Law of Moses. God wanted the hearts of the people to prompt them to be thankful. When we’re thankful, it opens the door for a richer walk with the Lord. We need to take the time to be truly thankful before God.

Questions: What are you thankful to God for? Are you willing to let people know about it?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2022 in Encouragement, Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Watch for Stumbling Blocks

Watch for Stumbling Blocks

We’re continuing to study the Gospel of Luke. We’re now starting chapter 17. Jesus makes a comment that many people think is just a random exhortation.

That’s because of the way our Bibles were put together. Remember, originally there were no chapters and verses. They were added later to make it easier to find things. This is one of those places where they mess things up.

Jesus is continuing His same thought from chapter 16. He has just told the story of the rich man and Lazarus. This comment refers to that story.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.”

Luke 17:1-3a NIV

The phrase, things that cause people to sin, actually means things that cause offense. It means things that could possibly trap you in anger and bitterness.

Going back to the rich man and Lazarus, we can see the connection. Everyday Lazarus was placed at the rich man’s doorstep. Everyday, Lazarus watched the lavish lifestyle that was lived out in that house.

Everyday he longed for the scraps that were carelessly thrown away, but he was denied from getting them. This means that everyday Lazarus was given an opportunity to be offended and become angry and bitter at God.

These offenses are not isolated incidents. By His language, the Lord makes it clear that they will come upon us regularly. Like it or not, you will be given the opportunity to be offended. It’s how you handle that temptation that matters.

Sometimes this word, offense, is translated as a stumbling block. The rich man was probably oblivious to the fact that he was laying down stumbling blocks, everyday, in the path of Lazarus. The implication is that Lazarus had to watch his attitude everyday.

That’s why the Lord said we need to watch ourselves. I don’t think Jesus is talking about us watching out to not offend people. He offended multitudes. His focus is that we don’t pick up bitterness and anger when given the opportunity.

If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

Luke 17:3-6 NIV

The disciples were having a hard time with this. The Lord taught that if someone offends you seven times in one day, you must still forgive them. That means you have to release any bitterness and anger against them.

The disciples tried to sound holy to get around it. “We don’t have enough faith for that yet!” Jesus made it clear that you don’t need faith, you only need obedience to His word.

It’s good to see that the Apostle John grabbed hold of this truth. He wrote about it in one of his letters.

Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.

1 John 2:10 NIV

If you walk in the love of Christ, then you’re walking in the light. This verse literally say that in that case, you have no offense – no stumbling blocks – inside you.

We need to live free of bitterness. Release your offenses to God. Walk in forgiveness, the same forgiveness that was shown to you on the cross. Only then can you walk in the peace and joy of the Lord.

Question: How free are you from offense and bitterness?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2022 in Faith, Relationships, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Legalism is a Dead End

Legalism is a Dead End

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is talking to His disciples and the crowds about the kingdom of God.

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”

Luke 16:16 NIV

In the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus, a new focus has emerged. The Law and the Prophets were the main points of religious teaching until that time. Now there’s an emphasis on the kingdom of God.

The religious leaders are not too happy about this. They could get around some of the Law of Moses. They were experts in the loopholes allowing them to do as they pleased, all the while keeping the facade of holiness.

The kingdom of God is about relationship with God. It’s not about a set of rules made by men. The Law is a set of unchanging commands.

It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.”

Luke 16:17 NIV

The Law of Moses is unchanging and impersonal. It doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t make any exceptions because of your situations, weaknesses, or what you happen to be going through at the moment.

The Law doesn’t have the power to help you. It doesn’t give you any support to live an overcoming life. It’s just there to point out the sin that you’re wrestling with on a daily basis.

Jesus gives the Pharisees an example.

Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Luke 16:18 NIV

This seems to be a random verse, stuck in here for no reason. But, there’s a truth that Jesus is trying to get across to the Pharisees. The Law doesn’t care about your situation.

At one point the Pharisees came to Jesus and questioned Him about the issue of divorce. I covered this a while back as we were going through the Gospel of Mark. The details are in Mark 10:1-12.

The religious leaders enjoyed this “divorce loophole”. The Law allowed for a husband to give his wife a certificate of divorce. That was the Law. What was God’s view?

That was clear throughout Scripture.

“I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty.

Malachi 2:16 NIV

That’s the difference between serving God by following the rules and life in the kingdom. We all want to know the rules. Rules are easier than maintaining a relationship.

There are Christians who live this way. They’ve boiled Christianity down to a set of man-made rules. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, go to church, give your tithes, etc. They follow the rules, then live for themselves the rest of the time.

A relationship with God is harder to maintain. In any relationship there’s shared responsibility. I have to find out what my partner likes or doesn’t like. My goal is to live in such a way that we grow together.

That’s what the kingdom of God is like. It’s not about rules. I must seek what pleases God and what displeases Him. I need to allow His Holy Spirit to work in me. I must hear Him, trust Him, and obey Him.

This is why many marriages break down. They don’t cultivate relationship. They think that as long as they’re doing what they’re supposed to do (following the rules), then the marriage is strong. They realize too late that when the relationship breaks down, the marriage soon follows.

Don’t turn your Christian walk into a set of rules. Legalism is a dead-end street full of frustration and guilt. Cultivate a strong relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit. That’s the key to fulfillment.

Question: How strong is your relationship with Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Relationships, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Spiritual Violence

Spiritual Violence

In my last post, Jesus concluded with a comment about finances. He said that you couldn’t serve both God and a desire for riches. The Pharisees heard it and continued in a state of denial.

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”

Luke 16:14-15 NIV

This section of Scripture shows just how hardhearted the Pharisees had become. By their actions, they clearly loved riches and power. When Jesus talks about the love of money, they openly ridicule Him.

They’ve gotten to the point where they’ve rejected Him and His teaching. Now, their goal is to publicly discredit the Lord.

As usual, Jesus brings their hypocrisy to the surface. He exposes the fact that they’re always justifying themselves before men. They had a great way of twisting Scripture to make them sound holy while doing evil.

What they seem to forget is that God is not like any human judge. He doesn’t give any credence to a fine sounding argument. The Lord looks straight at what’s going on in their hearts. That’s what He bases His verdict on.

We would do well to remember this. Humanity places a high importance on the temporary. That’s especially true when it comes to personal pleasure. In God’s eyes, it’s the unseen – the eternal – which is the most valuable.

Just how bad are these temporary things that we run after? This translation uses the word detestable. This is one of those words that the translators had to be careful with, knowing that the Bible will be read in church with the Sunday morning crowd.

This Greek word comes from a root that means to pass gas silently. That’s why Jesus felt the need to expose where this foul spiritual smell was coming from! That’s what God thinks about us when we chase after the world and try to justify it by Scripture.

Jesus continues.

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”

Luke 16:16 NIV

Jesus warns the Pharisees that they’re out of step with what God is doing. Until John the Baptist came on the scene, the Law and the Prophets were the main emphasis.

The Pharisees enjoyed that. Any good lawyer could get around the teachings of the Law of Moses. They knew all the loopholes.

Now, since the beginning of John’s ministry, it’s the kingdom of God that’s being focused on in anointed preaching. The kingdom doesn’t deal with laws, rules and loopholes. It looks at the hearts and minds of individuals.

You don’t enter the kingdom of God by well thought out arguments. You have to force your way in by overcoming the natural inclinations of the flesh.

A fire has to ignite in your soul. Another way to say this is that you need the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Then, in response to this work, you must accept Christ in total opposition to the desires of your sinful nature.

We need to realize that making a decision to ignore the flesh is an act of spiritual violence. Throughout our whole lives to that point, our body and soul were in complete agreement. Then, suddenly, the Holy Spirit plants a seed of dissension in this relationship.

Now, body and soul don’t totally agree. Eventually you came to the place where your soul made the choice to bow its knee to Christ. The flesh lost its place on the throne of your life. That’s a spiritual rebellion against the established order of your very being.

Praise God for His life changing power in your life. That’s what gave you the strength you needed to see this change through to its completion.

Question: How did the power of God change your life?

©2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Ex-Prodigal Son

The Ex-Prodigal Son

In my last post, I started looking at the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke’s Gospel. We saw how a legalistic mindset can drive new believers to give up on their Christian walk.

At some point, we begin to realize that trying to live for the Lord on our own terms doesn’t work. The things of the world lose their appeal. We begin to long for the blessing of God.

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.”

Luke 15:17-20 NIV

I want you to notice something important here. This young man misses the blessings of the father’s house. But, at the same time he still has the slave mentality.

We have to realize that thinking like a slave is a symptom of a childish mindset. Paul makes that clear in his writings.

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.

Galatians 4:1 NIV

That’s a part of our spiritual growth. We all have to go through the “slave” stage. That’s when we learn the basics of growing in Christ.

Somebody disciples us in the foundational principles. They tell us we need to read the Scriptures and pray daily. We must meet together with other believers for teaching and fellowship. We need to realign our finances through the giving of tithes and offerings.

To a new believer, this seems like a list of rules. As we grow in Christ, however, we find that these disciplines actually free us to serve God at the highest level. We put the childish slave mentality behind us and begin to operate like a mature son or daughter.

Here’s an example. When I was young teen, living with my parents, one of my chores was to put out the trash each week. I did it because I was told to do it and there would be consequences if I didn’t.

I’m 65 years old now. I still put out the trash each week. Why? Because that’s what a mature person does. I want my house clean, even though there will be no punishment if I fail to do it.

That’s how we should progress in our walk with the Lord. Those things that seemed like rules at the start, should become a vital part of our mature Christian experience.

This seems to be the hardest part of our walk with God. For some reason we want to hang on to the rules of childhood.

I’m talking about the “if…then” mentality. “If I tithe, then God will bless my finances.” “If I encourage someone, then I will be encouraged.”

Think about it. That’s how we treat children. “If you clean your room, then I’ll take you out for ice cream.”

Maturity thinks in a whole new way. We understand that under the New Covenant, I receive the blessing of God simply because I’m His child and I trust Him. On the other hand, I do those things that I know to do simply because I love the Father and I want to please Him.

This is a truth that Paul had to forcefully proclaim to the Galatian church. They were very quickly falling into legalism.

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Galatians 3:2-3 NIV

We must always remember that we’re walking according to the spirit. Serving Christ is not a matter of following a bunch of rules (observing the law). It’s about listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and walking in harmony with that calling.

Question: How do you break the “rules mentality” in following Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Discipleship and God’s Glory

Discipleship and God’s Glory

Continuing through Luke’s Gospel, we’re seeing how Jesus explains what discipleship is all about. It’s not an easy path. It means putting the Lord above all other pursuits in our lives.

He continues with a couple of illustrations.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.”

Luke 14:28-32 NIV

Jesus gives the crowd two examples of what it takes to decide on the path of discipleship. Too many people start out with good intentions, but with false ideas. They think it will be easy for them.

After all, I just have to go to church, pay my tithes, and pray now and then. They have no idea what it costs to put down the flesh, renew the mind, and build up the spirit. True discipleship requires work.

Listen to how Jesus encapsulates these two parables.

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:33 NIV

Giving up everything – that’s an attitude that starts us down the road to discipleship. In the parable of the builder, the phrase, is not able to finish, literally means did not have the force required to complete it. It doesn’t imply that he ran out of money. He just didn’t have the willpower to commit everything to the project.

In the same way, the king in the second parable had to ask himself if he was willing to commit his entire army to the protection of his realm. If not, he better surrender before the attack.

That’s what we must go through before we say we want to be a disciple of Christ. We have to see ourselves laying everything down on His altar.

Remember what I said in my last post. You can be saved and on your way to heaven and not be a disciple. I’m not trying to condemn anyone. I’m just trying to get you to see the high road of the abundant life in Christ.

If you find your Christian walk to be easy, then you’re not yet a disciple. The closer you follow to Christ, the harder your choices will become. But there is a bright side. The longer you serve the Lord, the easier it will be to make those choices.

It’s all about cultivating an attitude – I’m nothing else but a disciple. It may sound like a tough road, but in the end it’s worth it.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Luke 14:34-35 NIV

Back when this was written, salt had a higher percentage of impurities than we have today. If it got wet, the actual salt would wash out and you were left with the dirt. You wouldn’t want to use that on your food.

In the same way, there are believers who want to serve God. But at the same time they want to retain their rights to determine what they want to do or not do. That doesn’t work out too well in the Kingdom of God. It’s like putting dirt on your sandwich.

The way of discipleship leads to a fulfilled life. There’s a manifestation of the power of God working through you. When you live at this level it becomes obvious to all those around you.

It’s apparent that you couldn’t produce the blessings that you’re walking in. God is at work in you. That’s the ultimate goal. Living as a disciple shows God’s glory and draws others to Christ.

Question: How much is the glory of God worth to you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2022 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Narrow Gate

The Narrow Gate

As we go through Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus teaching the crowds. As they listen to Him, questions arise in their minds. Sometimes they’re the same questions we wrestle with.

You may want to read Luke 13:22-30 before continuing.

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

Luke 13:22-23a NIV

This is an interesting question. Especially so, since we’re talking about ancient Israel.

Right now, we have many words in our religious vocabulary that have changed over the years. The word “saved” is one of them. That word has picked up a lot of spiritual baggage since this verse was written.

When we hear the word “saved”, it has a special meaning to us. We think of someone who’s prayed the sinner’s prayer. They’ve accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They have become a Christian.

When that question was first asked, this word had no such connotation. It was not a religious word in those days. It meant to be rescued from danger or destruction. It also meant to be kept safe and sound. As well as to save someone from suffering, as with a disease.

When this person questioned Jesus, he was speaking about the natural world. Israel was under slavery to the oppressive Roman Empire. There was a lot of fear over how that would turn out.

There were groups known as Zealots. These were anti-Roman terrorists who were making bold attacks against Roman holdings.

The Roman emperors were well know for making rash decisions to wipe out nations that rebelled against their rule. This was one of the very things that caused the religious leaders to put Jesus to death (John 11:47-50).

Throughout the Old Testament, there were prophecies about times of persecution where only a remnant of Israel survived. I believe that this was the thinking behind that question. This man wanted to plan ahead for his survival.

Jesus seems to ignore the question and begins to tell the crowd a more important remnant to be a part of. He starts to talk about the final judgment.

He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’”

Luke 13:23b-25 NIV

Jesus tells the crowd that the way to the abundant life is through a narrow, tight gate. He puts it in a way that our English translations don’t do justice to.

The phrase, make every effort, means to contend. It’s what athletes put themselves through in order to win an Olympic gold medal. It means that there’s a struggle that has to take place.

You might think that in the Olympics, the struggle is against the other athletes. That’s simply not the case. The greatest struggle is having to contend with your own body. It needs to be disciplined in order to win the event.

That’s why Jesus said that many will try to enter. This phrase means to seek or desire. The narrow entrance looks too hard to manage. They’re looking for an easier way in.

There are other places in the Scripture where the word, contend, is used.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:12 NIV

Faith is a battle. It requires us to overcome the desires of our flesh. It means yielding to the Holy Spirit. There’s no easy way. Spend the time necessary to see God’s will accomplished in your life.

Question: What are some of the struggles you contend with in your faith walk?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2022 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Fruit is not Optional

Fruit is not Optional

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, Jesus gives the crowd a parable.

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'”

Luke 13:6-9 NIV

I believe that the direct application of this is that Jesus was giving Israel a time-limit to accept Him as the Messiah. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and temporarily lost their place in the Holy Land.

There is, however, a more important application to the lives of God’s people. Beyond any question, God is looking for fruit in the lives of believers.

When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, He begins to transform us into Christ’s image. He wants us to live like Jesus did. This means that we bear spiritual fruit.

This fruit does not simply mean that we’re being nice people. You can be nice without the Holy Spirit’s help. The fruit that God is looking for is on a whole different level. The list of these characteristics is given in Galatians 5:22-23.

Back in 2017, I did a detailed series on each of these fruits. To read that series of posts, click here.

It should be clear from an understanding of the Fruit of the Spirit, that we need the power of God to fulfill them. The fruit are an outgrowth of a deepening walk with the Lord. The more time we spend with Him, the more we become like Him.

Unfortunately, there are those who read about this fruit, and feel that it would be nice to live like that, but I can’t work on that right now. We need to understand that bearing fruit is not optional. As a matter of fact, they’re not even something we can do by trial and error.

They’re called the fruit OF THE SPIRIT for a reason. They don’t come to us by disciplining our flesh. It’s not even a result of making up our mind to accomplish them. They can only spring from our spirit being led by the Holy Spirit.

You may think that Jesus is being judgmental with Israel in the above passage. You might feel that the Lord will look the other way as you do your own thing. What does the New Testament teach about this?

The writer of the book of Hebrews was speaking to a people who were under persecution. They were thinking about going back to Judaism. Listen to what he tells them.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

Hebrews 6:7-8 NIV

You may think this sounds hash. But, in reality, by rejecting the Fruit of the Spirit, you’re actually rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit in you. In that case, you’re in danger of losing the blessings of God in your life.

Jesus said that if we remain in Him, we will bear much fruit (John 15:1-8). He said that He was the vine, and we are the branches. If that’s the case, then you could say that the Holy Spirit is the life-giving sap running through every part.

If we block the work of the sap, then our branch will begin to wither. There will be no fruit, and it will be worthless as a part of the vineyard. No one want to be in that position.

Spend quality time in your relationship with the Spirit of God. Allow Him to continue His work in you. Then watch as your life produces the fruit that speaks to the glory of God.

Question: How fruitful is your life right now?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2022 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Why, God?

Why, God?

As we go through the Gospel of Luke, today we start chapter 13. Jesus is ministering to a crowd when He’s asked a question. It’s the type of question still asked today when tragedy strikes.

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Luke 13:1-3 NIV

This is one of those timeless questions. When some kind of catastrophe strikes, we want to know why. Why were all these people killed or injured? Were they bad people? Was God sending His judgment upon them?

I’m glad that Jesus dealt with this the way He did. He makes it clear that they didn’t die because they were bad people. It just happened because Pilate, the governor, was evil.

That’s something that we have a hard time dealing with. There are evil people in power, right now, all over the earth. They cause wars, oppress people groups, and terrorize the innocent. The question many people ask is; why didn’t God stop them?

Here’s the problem in a nutshell. On one hand, God loves all people with an unfathomable Love that we could never understand. On the other side, He created humanity with the ability of self-choice.

When someone in power chooses to start a war that kills thousands of innocent people, that was their choice. For God to stop them from making that choice, would be taking away that choice. In his perfection, God can’t do that.

Let me put it into perspective. Most people would have wanted God to stop Hitler from starting WWII. However, most people involved in adultery would not want God stopping them, even though it could destroy their family. Most people would not want God to stop them from getting drunk on the weekend.

If God took away free choice from Hitler, then He would have to take it away from everybody. We don’t want that. We only want God to intervene on what we think are important matters. There are other wrongs that we want the Lord to keep His hands off.

The fact is that God has given humanity free choice. We have to live with that, even if some of the choices we make cause deep suffering. Our response should be to reach out to Christ for the cure to this dilemma.

There was another question that was on their hearts.

Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Luke 13:4-5 NIV

Another problem we have is the matter of natural disasters. Many people call them “acts of God”. Let me tell you straight up, God has nothing to do with tornadoes, tsunamis, earthquakes, or even COVID.

Yes, I know there are Christians who say that God sent these disasters to a certain region because He was judging them. That’s totally unscriptural. We’re now living in a time of grace. Judgment is being reserved for the end.

We have to realize that we’re in a spiritual war right now. Satan, the enemy, is becoming more and more desperate as he sees the end approaching. In his hatred of humanity, he’s shooting out volleys of his “flaming arrows” (Ephesians 6:16).

During ancient warfare, the archers weren’t aiming at any particular person. They would simply send up a cloud of arrows knowing that most of them would hit somebody. That’s what the enemy is doing now with these natural disasters.

That’s why it’s so important to keep our faith up and healthy in these last days. Remember, faith is a shield against the effects of these attacks. Our faith will allow us to continue to stand in Christ in spite of a direct hit from one of these arrows.

Question: How do you keep your faith strong during these days?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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