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Category Archives: Fellowship

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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Revenge is Mine, Or Not

Revenge is Mine, Or Not

As we continue through Romans, Paul is encouraging us to live peacefully with those around us. This even includes our enemies.

Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Romans 12:19-20

This verse clearly tells us not to take it upon ourselves to punish or retaliate against someone who has wronged us. That’s a hard instruction to live out.

Instead, we’re told to leave an opening for the passion, wrath, of God. This goes against our very human nature. We want to feel like we’ve vindicated ourselves. We have a need to prove that we are right and they are wrong.

Paul brought out an example of this in his dealings with the Corinthian church. If you remember, the people of Corinth had a pastime of going to court. It was great entertainment for them.

This even spilled over into the church. Fellow believers were taking each other to court and suing each other for the smallest of problems.

Paul had some strong words for them.

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.

1 Corinthians 6:7-8

Paul makes it clear that when we pursue our own vindication, in our own power, we’ve completely failed right from the start. We’re defeated before we even start to fight the battle. Instead, we should seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes this may involve legal means. But there are many times that it will be something less confrontational.

But, as I read the verses from Romans, it seems that it’s more about attitude than anything else. It takes a complete change of perspective to do good to those we consider our enemies. Of course there are those who deceive themselves and say, “I don’t have any enemies.” It’s an attempt to get around God’s command.

I get it. You don’t have any “enemies”. You just have people that you avoid being around, or speaking to, because you don’t like them. These are the very people that you need to go out of your way to show the kindness of Christ to.

According to Paul, we don’t do what’s expected. Our good actions will cause a pain in their head. The more our enemies think about it, the more confused they become. The Holy Spirit will use that to draw them to Christ.

We want to be vindicated. The big question for us is; what’s our goal? Are we after our vindication or a soul that’s saved and in the kingdom of Heaven?

We think that if we’re not vindicated, then we’ve lost. Actually, the real victory is a changed life. That’s a sign of the power of God at work through you.

Let God have His way in the lives of those around you. Walk in the love of Christ and don’t seek your own agenda. See the victory that can only come from the power of the Holy Spirit.

Question: How have you seen the power of these principles at work in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2021 in Fellowship, Relationships, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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One With the Body of Christ

One With the Body of Christ

We’re continuing our walk through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. In this section of the epistle, he’s talking about the walk of maturity.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Romans 12:16

This next verse deals with how we see ourselves in God’s kingdom. That first sentence literally says, be the same toward one another. We need to realize that in Christ, none of us are any different from one another.

According to our human way of thinking, little things make big differences to us. However, these petty differences mean nothing to God.

Things like where we’re from, what we look like, money, position, and education are all immaterial to God and should be to us. We’re all the same in His eyes.

This means that bigotry and self-interest have no place in the church. That includes race and gender, as well as political preferences. We’re here to serve one another, no matter what.

Then, Paul tells us not to place our focus on high things. Instead, focus on the humble, and get carried away with them. Humility is an important part of the Christian walk. Paul isn’t the only one who talks about it.

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

1 Peter 5:5-6

I like the way Peter explains this. We’re to put on humility like a piece of clothing. It can cover over all the junk that may be going on inside of us.

But more than that, it comes with a blessing. Humility brings a covering of God’s grace with it. As we humble ourselves, we open our lives up to a release of God’s power. One of the best ways to walk in God’s grace is to live humbly with others.

Getting back to the verse in Romans, Paul’s last statement is very interesting. The original Greek reads, do not become skillful at revolving everything around yourself.

Sometimes it seems that this is how we view the Scripture and our walk with God. “God and the Bible exist simply to bless me.” Absolutely not!! God’s highest goal is to make me a blessing to others. That includes those who do not act kindly toward me.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

Romans 12:17

This is another exhortation that needs the power of God to fulfill. Don’t give back evil for evil.

Instead, we’re told to be careful. That means to consider in advance. In other words, we must prepare ourselves to do what’s good in the sight of all men – even those who hate us.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18

Wow! This is a big “if”. It literally says that if you have the power to bring it out of yourself, have peace around all men.

Remember, this is the fruit of the spirit of peace. It grows in you as you plant the seed of the Word and let it mature in the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

This is the peace we must live in. It’s an attitude that must be cultivated in God’s presence. This is one of the surest ways of judging maturity. It’s about how well we live with those around us.

Question: How well does your life reflect these qualities?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Sincere Love

Sincere Love

As we continue to study through the book of Romans, we’ll begin to see a shift in Paul’s focus. Up until this section, the apostle was writing about our personal growth. Now he begins to show how the church grows as a body.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:9-10

As he begins to talk about life in the body of Christ, it’s no wonder that Paul starts with love. It’s the Greek word, agape. This is the choice to show love to others. It has nothing to do with any emotions.

He tells us that this agape-love must be sincere. It literally means to be given without falsehood or hypocrisy.

This brings up a very important point that needs to be discussed when reading this section of Scripture. Peter does a good job of explaining it.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 1:22

Notice how Peter begins talking about this subject. He makes it clear that he’s writing to mature believers who have purified themselves in the truth. When we’re cleaned up by the Word, brotherly love is born.

Brotherly love is the first word for love that Peter uses in this verse. It involves the emotions of friendship and camaraderie.

Then he goes on to the second word for love, which is agape – just like Paul did. Peter also uses the same word for sincerity. Why is all of this important?

We must understand this because, according to Peter, this type of love is only possible after the purifying process has begun in your life. This is written to those who are pursuing a mature walk in Christ.

What we have to realize is that from Romans, chapter 12 on, Paul is writing to the mature believers. It’s those Christians who can understand and follow these guidelines.

Both Peter and Paul make it clear that our agape-love must be mature and sincere – not faked (like baby agape). That’s because your heart has been changed by your submission to the Holy Spirit’s work in you.

Getting back to the passage in Romans, we’re told to utterly abhor, hate, be disgusted by evil. How do you do this if you haven’t gone through God’s maturing process?

Some people look at the second half of Romans as a rule book to be enforced. That’s not the case. The only way you can fulfill the message from Romans 12 on is to go through the work described in chapters 8-10. Otherwise, you’ll only end up feeling frustrated and guilty.

Paul tells us that you’re not only to hate evil, but to glue yourself to the good. Please remember that this is good by God’s standards, not ours. We have a very low opinion of good compared to God. That’s why we must be transformed to think like God thinks.

Then, Paul talks about the emotional brotherly love. The word, devoted, is interesting. It means to have an emotional affection like that of a natural, immediate family. That’s how we should feel about each other in God’s kingdom.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…

Ephesians 2:19

Of course, if you see others as part of your immediate family, then you’ll honor one another before yourself. In other words, don’t wait to be honored before you give honor.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Galatians 6:10

Question: What areas of growth have you seen in your personal walk with God?

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2021 in Fellowship, The Church

 

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Offering of Thanksgiving

Offering of Thanksgiving

Here in the USA, we’re going to be celebrating our Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow.  Many people are spending today in preparation for it.  I want to take this post to give some inspiration as we look forward to it.

Leviticus 7:11-15 talks about the Jewish Law concerning the sacrifice of thanksgiving.  It was one of the voluntary fellowship offerings that they could bring to the Temple.  You may want to read that passage before continuing with this post.

It turns out that the Thanksgiving offering was a meal shared with the priests.  They brought their sacrifice; it was cooked, and then eaten at the Temple.

So in a way, their Thanksgiving was just like ours.  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

Eating together is a sign of fellowship.  When the Lord is involved, it’s a part of our worship.

This is something that we need to get back to in our present day.  I encourage you to make this a part of your celebration.  Make a point to mention this at your dinner table, “This meal is an act of worship.”

Why is that so important?  Eating involves fellowship.  In the Old Testament reference from Leviticus, the root of “fellowship” is the Hebrew word, Shalom.  It’s what we normally translate as peace.

However, it’s much more than that.  Shalom speaks of fullness of life, wholeness, prosperity, safety, and peace with God.  What we need to realize is that Thanksgiving is the celebration of God’s gift to us of shalom.

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

That’s why Jesus came – so that we could enter into a covenant with Him.  The result is Shalom – fullness of life.  The Thanksgiving meal should celebrate what God has done for you.

Another aspect of the Thanksgiving Offering in the Old Testament was that this offering was not to provide union with God.  It was not used as a guilt offering.

This one simply acknowledged God’s presence.  We need to remember that Thanksgiving is joyfully sharing in God’s presence.

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:20

It should celebrate the gift of joy and fellowship because we’re in the family of God.  The Thanksgiving holiday should be all the more joyful because God is with us.

It’s interesting to note that this sacrifice was always listed last in the Scripture.  Rabbis referred to it as the “concluding sacrifice.”  It’s usually the same with us.  We look back and say God has been faithful.

However, that’s not all there is.

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”

Psalm 50:23

Thanksgiving is not only the final part of a blessing.  It’s also the first part of the next blessing. Make your Thanksgiving meal an act of worship this year.  Not by religious show, but with the attitude of worship.  This is a meal celebrating shalom…in God’s presence…finalizing God’s blessing…and preparing for the next.

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Growing in Christ

As we continue through the epistle of Second Corinthians, we see that Paul is now transitioning to a new subject.

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.
2 Corinthians 7:1

There are some important points to glean from this Scripture.  The first is that there are things we allow into our lives that not only contaminate our body but our spirit as well.

That caught me by surprise.  I thought that my spirit was beyond contamination.  Now I realize that there are things that can hinder my fellowship with the Lord.

That’s because my spirit is the part of my being that communicates with God on His level.  That’s the part of me that the Holy Spirit inhabits.  So I have to be vigilant to keep it clear of anything that would defile it.

The second important issue is that our holiness needs to be perfected.  That word literally means to fulfill further or to bring to completion.

When we bow our knee to Christ, He imparts His holiness into us.  But it doesn’t end there.  This holiness has a work that it needs to accomplish in me.  It is cleaning up my life and setting me apart for God’s exclusive use.

That means that I need to cooperate with God’s plan for me.  This consists of me continually seeking God’s Word and then obeying what I hear.

Most people would agree with this line of thinking.  The challenge comes when we see how Paul then applies this truth.

Make room for us in your hearts.  We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one.  I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you.  I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you.  I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
2 Corinthians 7:2-4

If you remember the flow of this blog, I’m going through the New Testament in the order that the Holy Spirit revealed it to the church.  So far we’ve gone through groups of books that were foundational.  Then we went through the books that were for personal growth.

Now we’re in the books that deal with our corporate walk – our relationship with the church.

Part of cooperating with the Holy Spirit at work in you is found in your relationship to the body of Christ.  We need each other.  We will never reach our full potential in Christ without being a part of a local body of believers.

We also need pastors, teachers, and other leaders to help mentor us.  That’s what Paul is getting at.  We need each other if we’re going to become the church that Christ is returning for.

Question: How has your growth been affected by other Christians?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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