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Category Archives: Fellowship

Humility and Hospitality

Humility and Hospitality

We’re continuing through the book of Luke. Jesus is at a banquet in His honor, but the Pharisees are watching closely to find something with which they can accuse Him. The Lord takes the opportunity to teach them some valuable lessons.

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable:

Luke 14:7 NIV

There’s one thing I’ve noticed about us as human beings. We’re so self-absorbed sometimes. We don’t stop and think about who’s around us. Jesus tells us to step back and use some restraint.

When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests.”

Luke 14:8-10 NIV

When we have a self-important attitude, it blinds us to everything going on around us. I’d like to think that there’s no one more important than me. But, that’s foolishness, plain and simple.

It’s not about what I think of myself. It’s about how God and others see me. I need to take the blinders off, and walk in humility.

Remember, humility is not about putting myself down. It’s exalting others above my own interests. Allowing others to be blessed is walking in true humility.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 14:11 NIV

This is the guiding principle. Where do you want your praise to come from? Self-exaltation is worthless. But, when God exalts you, then He gets the glory from your life. It puts you in a much better position.

However, pride is not only seen in your struggle for a popular position.

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:12-14 NIV

Sometimes our pride can be seen in how we brag about the people we know. Dropping a well-known name here and there might impress some people. It can be seen in who you invite to your get-togethers.

According to Christ, if that’s your motivation, then you’ll have no future reward. Jesus advises us to lay up treasure in Heaven. We do so by showing kindness and humility, inviting those who cannot repay us.

Jesus makes it clear that at the resurrection of the righteous there’s going to be rewards. He’s just as clear that our rewards will be based upon how well we follow His precepts.

Knowing this, we should be constantly aware of our attitudes. Our desire should be to please the King and to be found faithful at His return. Who are you trying to please? Are you trying to become a legend in your own mind?

Maybe you’re trying to impress the world with your greatness. Instead, we should we trying to live like Jesus did. It’s time for us to wake up and become “God-pleasers” instead of “man-pleasers.”

Allow the Holy Spirit to test your attitudes. Go before Him and let Him speak to you and change you, if necessary. We need to be walking in the true humility of the Lord. That’s how we’re exalted in His kingdom.

Question: What’s your attitude toward yourself and others?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2022 in Fellowship, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Looking to 2022

Looking to 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.

Psalm 122:1-2

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

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

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

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

Psalm 122:3-4

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

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

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

Psalm 122:5

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

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

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

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

Question: What do you believe about meeting together?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner

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

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

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

Leviticus 7:15

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

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

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

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

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

Did you know that a meal can be worship?

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

1 Corinthians 10:31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John 10:10

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

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

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

Question: What are you thankful for right now?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

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

 

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Meeting Together

Meeting Together

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

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

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

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

Luke 1:41

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

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

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

Luke 1:42-43

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 1:44

Why did she say this?

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

Luke 1:41

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

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

Would those things have happened without their meeting? No.

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

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

Luke 1:45

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews 10:25

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

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

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

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Paul’s Conclusions

Paul’s Conclusions

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

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

Romans 16:3-5a

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

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

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

Why is that important?

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

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

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

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

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

That’s why Paul gives his next instruction.

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

Romans 16:17-19

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

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

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

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

Romans 16:25-27

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

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

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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One Passion, One Mouth

One Passion, One Mouth

It seems like in this final part of the book of Romans, I’ve been posting a lot about relationships in the body of Christ. It’s all about understanding those who are serving Christ around me. I need to see and accept their differences, and work with them for God’s glory.

In my last post we saw that Paul showed how we can receive endurance and encouragement from the Scripture. He now continues that thought.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:5-7

His prayer is that the same God who gives endurance and encouragement will now give them a spirit of unity. But that phrase, spirit of unity, is interesting in the original Greek. It’s literally asking God to give us a mind toward one another.

This goes right along with what we’ve been saying about our spiritual relationships thus far. I should be thinking about you. You’re on my mind so that I can understand your calling. In that way I can see how we fit together in the body of Christ.

Truly, we’re not called to be an organization, but an organism. We should be functioning seamlessly together because of the Holy Spirit within us. As we hear the voice of the Spirit and watch over each other, we are now equipped to fulfill the next part of this passage.

Only in unity can we glorify God with one heart and one mouth. Especially since the word translated heart is really the word passion. As I spend time in the Spirit, I pick up God’s passion.

It’s not about me convincing you what you need to be passionate about. If we could all be synced to God’s heartbeat, then we’ll operate in one passion. Time with the Spirit brings true unity.

This is an important combination. He’s saying we need one passion and one mouth. That means that we’re operating in agreement and unity. Some churches seem to operate in one or the other, but the power is in both together.

The goal is for us to function together in these qualities. It’s not up to you to change in order to please me. That’s not what Christ did. He paid the price for me to enter His kingdom. Sometimes it will cost me something to overlook the faults and differences that you bring with you.

I must receive you just as Christ received me. Just as you are. I’m not the Holy Spirit. I have to leave room for God’s grace to work in you. None of us are perfect yet. The Lord receives us just the way we are and we need to do the same.

Unity is a choice. It’s unfortunate that when some people pray for the unity of the church, what they’re really praying is, “God, please making everyone else think like me.” That’s not true unity. It’s us choosing to work together as the Holy Spirit makes us begin to think like God.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:10

This is what we’re to strive for. To be perfectly united in mind and thought requires more than just good teaching. It means that I’m spending time in the presence of the Holy Spirit. As I allow the mind of Christ to take over my life, I’m setting the stage for the unity of the Spirit.

The more you and I begin to think like Christ, the more unity we’ll walk in. This is how the fellowship and unity of Christ can be manifest in His people. Make that your goal as we minister together for the Lord.

Question: What must I do to yield to the Holy Spirit?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2021 in Fellowship, Ministry, Relationships, The Church

 

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Building Up the Body of Christ

Building Up the Body of Christ

We’re continuing to go through the book of Romans. Paul is dealing with how we treat one another, especially those who are weaker in the faith. We must be careful not to bring hurt into their lives.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.

Romans 14:19

This should be the goal of all that we do and say. The word, peace, in this verse is one of the Fruit of the Spirit. It comes from a root which means to join. We need to concentrate on things which bring us together.

Paul also tells us to strive for mutual edification. This word speaks of things that build up one-another. Too often we’re guilty of tearing down God’s work over minor, insignificant issues.

Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

Romans 14:20-21

This is the other side of the coin. The verse tells us not to destroy, or literally, don’t loosen the joints, in God’s temple. That’s especially true for the sake of temporary things.

It’s important to note here that Paul makes a very broad statement. “All food is clean.” For a former Pharisee to say this is monumental.

At one point, recorded in the book of Acts, there was a controversy. They were questioning if Gentiles should become Jews in order to be saved. They had a huge meeting in Jerusalem, with all the apostles present, including Paul and Peter.

After hearing all the arguments, James stands up and gives his judgment. It’s important to see what he says and why. Remember, he was surrounded by some apostles and Christian Pharisees who believed you must become a Jew to be saved.

“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

Acts 15:19-21

First, we see that it was his judgment, but, based on what? The fact that Moses has been preached all over the Jewish world. The fact is that James didn’t want to cause a split.

Look at the letter that was sent around after the meeting.

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.

Acts 15:28-29

I think it’s interesting that they blamed the Holy Spirit for this, even though there’s no mention of prayer, prophecy, or the Word of God. They did, however, admit that this decision was a burden to the churches.

By saying that all food is clean, in Romans, Paul is totally rejecting this “judgment” of James. He did that under the actual inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

After all this, we realize that the issue is not whether something is right or wrong. There’s a higher principle involved. It’s about the effect our actions have on fellow believers. There’s also the issue of how we’ll be looked at by the world.

The bottom line – it’s sinful to knowingly cause someone to stumble.

Question: How do you handle questionable things that aren’t specifically mentioned in Scripture?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Who are You Trying to Please?

Who are You Trying to Please?

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, the apostle is teaching about the relationship between weak and strong believers. The weak ones need rules to help them follow Christ. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as they continue their growth.

It’s the stronger ones who need to watch their attitudes in dealing with the weaker ones. Paul continues talking about those things that the Bible does not label as sin, yet some people have a problem with.

If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil.

Romans 14:15-16

The bottom line is, that if what you do in front of your brother is distressing to him, then you’re not acting in love. For instance, there are churches that feel very strongly that women must only wear dresses. If you decide to wear your pantsuit, and cause an uproar, you’re not acting in love.

According to Paul, we’re not to destroy their conscience over things. That’s because in response, they might do something God doesn’t want them to do. And, in areas of addictions, they may get trapped all over again.

There’s also the possibility that they may put up a wall and break fellowship with you. You really don’t want to be tearing down the kingdom of God over side issues.

You might argue that what you’re doing isn’t even wrong. That’s not the issue. Paul says that even though what you’re doing can be considered good, don’t let it be spoken of as evil.

We should seek to be blameless. We don’t want to open the door to the accuser – Satan – in order for him to accuse through a brother or sister.

When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall.

1 Corinthians 8:12-13

This is a very important point and we need to pay careful attention to it. When we sin against a brother or sister, we’re also sinning against Christ. That’s a bad place to be in.

Paul said that if it meant not hurting others, he would actually choose to stop eating meat. The big question is; do we love others to this degree?

“I’ll become a vegetarian before I knowingly cause a brother to sin.”

I praise God that this isn’t a choice I have to make in this generation! But, here’s the bottom line.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.

Romans 14:17-18

The kingdom of God is not about what pleases you. It’s not about what your flesh wants. The kingdom of God was not established for your personal enjoyment.

I need to learn the simple truth that it’s not all about me. Instead, there are three things that should take precedence in my life.

First, there’s righteousness, my standing with God. Then, there’s peace. This Greek word speaks of the peace that’s the opposite of war. That means I cause no division between me and other believers.

Finally, it’s about joy. Joy is in understanding my life in Christ. It’s the result of the knowledge of what it means to be in Christ.

This is what the kingdom is all about. That’s the goal; I want to be pleasing to God, and approved by others. We should want to have both sides of the coin. That’s how the kingdom of God increases.

Question: How do you see the work of righteousness, peace and joy in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Baby Believers

Baby Believers

As we continue looking at the book of Romans, we’re now starting chapter 14. Here, Paul begins talking about how mature Christians should relate with those who are younger, spiritually.

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

Romans 14:1

This is the generation that definitely needs to hear this teaching. Especially in social media forums, we seem to love to be argumentative. People are judgmental, confrontational, and belligerent. This is because they can stay anonymous while they’re online.

The truth is that we need to portray Christ whether others know who we are or not. That’s why this teaching is so important.

So, with that in mind, the first thing I want to do is define what Paul means by a weak believer. There are a few aspects to this. The root of this Greek word means to be without strength. These are Christians whose faith is without strength.

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead — since he was about a hundred years old — and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God…

Romans 4:19-20

This verse is talking about Abraham. He could look at his situation, and still trust God. He didn’t allow his faith to become weak.

This is what we usually think of by “weak faith.” It’s when we start wavering when things look bad. However, that’s only one side of the issue.

At one point the writer of the book of Hebrews talks about natural priests who have to offer sacrifices for themselves first.

He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness.

Hebrews 5:2

This verse tells us that the human priests have to be gentle with those who are ignorant and going astray. The words literally mean unknowing and roaming.

When someone is roaming or wavering in their faith, it’s usually obvious. However, those who are unknowing of the truth, not so much. Many times they’ll be judged and rebuked even though they don’t have the experience to know what the problem is.

We need to be careful in our treatment of those who are younger in the faith. The problem is that chronological age has no relation at all with our spiritual age.

But now that you know God — or rather are known by God — how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!

Galatians 4:9-10

In this verse, Paul is upset because the Galatians do know the truth – yet they’re acting as though they don’t. They were observing rules to serve and please God.

This is sometime one of the most noticeable signs of a baby Christian. They need a set of man-made rules to serve God. Please understand that this is not a bad thing.

Rules help a young believer to become consistent in their walk with Jesus. Later on, they can lay aside the rules when they learn to walk by the spirit.

Unfortunately, there are too many times when some older Christians try to push them to act mature too quickly. It actually hurts their growth, and may even push them away from the Lord.

It’s like telling a two-year-old that if he doesn’t mop the kitchen floor, then he’s no longer part of the family. It’s very detrimental to someone’s growth in the Lord.

We must learn to accept people where they are in their spiritual level.

Question: What do you believe is your spiritual maturity level?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Love Debt

The Love Debt

As we continue through Paul’s letter to the Romans, he now talks about the debt we owe to one another.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Romans 13:8-9

Paul makes it clear that we shouldn’t be in debt. However, there is a debt that will always remain in our lives. That’s the love debt that we owe to each other.

He goes as far as to say that this love actually fulfills the requirements of God’s law. This goes right along with what Jesus taught in His ministry. At one point the Lord was asked which of the commandments was the most important. Listen to His answer.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31

These are the two debts that we will always be living under. Our debt to love God and our debt to love others.

In both verses, we’re told to love others as we love ourselves. That’s an important concept. There are many people who haven’t learned to love themselves, so they find it hard to love others.

This principle of love is hard for many people to grasp. They don’t realize that this love has nothing to do with our emotions. It’s a choice we make to participate positively in someone’s life.

That includes myself. If I’m not making choices to make my life and relationships better, then I don’t really love myself. Many of us live very self-destructive lifestyles. This lack of self-love spills over into our treatment of others.

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:10

I would even say that those who treat others badly, are showing that they actually hate themselves. That’s why we need to understand how God sees us, and take up that same attitude. Even with all of my frailties and imperfections, I’m exactly who God says I am.

Having that attitude helps me to treat others with love and respect. This last verse tells us that love does no evil to his /her neighbor. You can’t say “I love them,” and then treat them badly.

That’s why love fulfills the law. Love for God, self, and others gives me the ability to fulfill God’s will for my life.

But there’s a deeper reason why we must love. The Lord told this to His disciples just before He went to the cross.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

Jesus makes it clear that our love is a part of our witness to the world. When we walk in the love of Christ, those around us see something they don’t understand. It opens the door to hearing our testimony.

Walk in God’s love, and fulfill your destiny in Christ.

Question: How have you showed the love of God recently?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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