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Category Archives: Leadership

Leading by Serving

Leading by Serving

What do you think is the best path to leadership in the kingdom of God? There was a principle of leadership that Jesus had to get across to His disciples. After all, they were going to be leading the church after His ascension.

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. At this point we’re viewing the Last Supper before Jesus goes to the cross.

Christ wants to prepare the Apostles for the challenges ahead. Part of this was to instruct them about the cross. He was going to suffer, die, and then rise from the dead three days later.

The Lord had given them the bread and the cup of the New Covenant. He then told them about how He was going to be betrayed. That’s an interesting place for this conversation to begin.

As they were sitting around the table, the disciples started to debate something among themselves. I’m sure that it got pretty heated.

Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.

Luke 22:24 NIV

This argument probably started with, “It’s obviously not me. I would never betray Him. After all, I’m closer to the Lord than any of you!” I’m sure that Peter, James, and John all thought that they were at the top of the list. That is, until Jesus shared His views with them.

Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”

Luke 22:25-27 NIV

The Lord explains that the true path to leadership is through servanthood. That’s something that we have a hard time grasping in the church these days.

Jesus is our prime example. The disciples were arguing over who was greatest, right after Jesus told them about His body and blood being given up for them.

He is the Lord of all creation. But the path He took involved laying down His life – serving – all of humanity.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:5-8 NIV

I think that it’s funny the way we get into leadership in our generation. If someone wants to be a pastor or teacher, they go to a Bible college and seminary for years. Then they graduate and send their resumes to churches. A lot of them will get voted in and installed as pastors having never served in ministry.

I think that’s why there’s such a high burn-out rate in the ministry. We haven’t learned that the path to knowing your calling is service in the kingdom. Without being a true servant, there’s no way of understanding the needs of those you’re leading.

That was the path that Christ took. It hasn’t changed. The Father is looking for qualified servants to lead His people. Don’t ever look down on that season of your life. Enjoy your call to servanthood.

Question: How are you called to serve in God’s kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Pure Motives

Pure Motives

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. The end of the Lord’s ministry was quickly approaching.

That being said, there are posts that I really enjoy writing. There are others that I wrestle with God about publishing them. I don’t want to be the one who rocks the boat. Unfortunately, today’s post is one of those that I didn’t want to write.

Jesus was nearing the cross and the battle lines were being drawn between Him and the religious leaders of His day.

While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

Luke 20:45-47 NIV

In Jesus’ day, there were those who taught the Scripture, while at the same time having an element of self-indulgence. There were times that they taught the truth of God’s Word, drawing people closer to the Lord. At the same time, they were feeding their own egos and lining their pockets.

These religious leaders liked the fact that they were highly esteemed among the people. They were able to dress well and were readily recognized.  People wanted to be at the meetings when these leaders were present.

According to Jesus, for all of their training and knowledge, they weren’t scoring any points with God. As a matter of fact, the Lord warned the crowds that they needed to do what these leaders taught, while at the same time rejecting their self-absorbed lifestyle (Matthew 23:1-4).

Jesus also condemns the religious system itself. He points out the fact that their extravagant way of life is paid for by those who could least afford it.

That was the easy part of this post. Now on to the difficult section…

Lately, I’ve been becoming more and more disheartened by the direction of our modern system of Christianity. It seems like in many areas we’re taking on the attitude of corporate America.

What do I mean by this? In most large corporations, the senior executives make more money than they could spend in ten lifetimes. In that same company, the employees who do the bulk of the work can’t make ends meet with the one salary they earn from doing that job.

Now we have huge churches where the pastors have big homes, garages full of cars, private jets and a continual desire for more. Many of their members have to work two or sometimes three jobs to make ends meet. Granted, they’re preaching Jesus Christ, and many are getting saved under their ministry. But at what point is enough, enough?

I’m told that their luxurious lifestyle is the reward for their faithfulness in the ministry. As a pastor who has been serving the same church for over 30 years, I find that kind of thinking offensive. I gave up a career where I was on track for a six-figure engineering salary when God called me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not jealous of these preachers. If I had it to do all over again, I would gladly make the same choices for the honor of serving my Lord. I just don’t like being told that the car I drive or the house I rent is the indication of how faithful I’ve been to the calling of God.

It’s nothing new. The church has been dealing with this throughout history. I like Paul’s attitude.

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Philippians 1:18 NIV

That’s the attitude I want to portray. I apologize if I seemed to be ranting. I hold no ill will against any of my brothers or sisters in the ministry. I simply want Christ to be exalted in His church.

Question: What is the true indication of faithfulness to God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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God’s Kingdom is not Political

God’s Kingdom is not Political

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, I’m amazed at how consistent the Lord was, even though His death was imminent. He didn’t go into hiding. He kept on ministering front and center.

Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.

Luke 19:47-48 NIV

At this point, they couldn’t have Jesus arrested because of the people. However, that didn’t stop them from trying to discredit Him.

One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”

Luke 20:1-2 NIV

This verse speaks volumes about the religious leaders of Israel. The people are drawn to the preaching and teaching of Jesus. They’re hearing the Good News of God’s kingdom. Their lives are changing.

Yet, for the leadership, that’s not the issue. It’s not about doctrine or theology. It has nothing to do with spiritual truth or growth and maturity. The main focus of this group is political power.

They knew very well that there was no school of the Pharisees or the Sadducees who certified Jesus to teach. As a matter of fact, there was no earthly group who authorized the Lord’s ministry. These leaders felt confident in the fact that Jesus could produce no proof of His authorization to teach.

The Lord’s authorization came from the Father. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit. It was that very Spirit who confirmed Christ’s message with the power to heal, deliver, and perform many mighty miracles.

The Pharisees thought they had Jesus backed into a corner. He would have to admit that He had no recognized earthly authority. They quickly learned the error of their thinking.

He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, John’s baptism — was it from heaven, or from men?”

Luke 20:3-4 NIV

Jesus immediately brings the question of authority from earthly and temporary to heavenly and eternal. John the Baptist was obviously a highly anointed prophet of God. Everyone recognized it to the point where some people asked John if he was the Messiah.

Now the tables were turned. The leadership knew that how they answered this question would expose the attitudes of their hearts.

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”

Luke 20:5-6 NIV

Notice that there’s no discussion about truth or doctrine here. Was John teaching about the righteousness found in Scripture? Did he have a confirmed anointing from God? These questions were not a part of their thinking.

Instead, it was all politics. What will people think about us if we say, “from heaven”? How will people react if we say, “from men”?

And so, like true politicians, they take the coward’s way out.

So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”

Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

Luke 20:7-8 NIV

I’m so glad that the kingdom of God is not about politics and perceptions. It rests upon the leadership and direction of the Holy Spirit based upon God’s Word. If I submit to God, then He will lift me to the position He has prepared for me. Praise God! – We have perfect freedom.

Question: How can church politics hinder the move of God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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A Last Days Mindset 3

A Last Days Mindset 3

We’re continuing to look at Jesus as He teaches His disciples about the End Times. He’s telling them what He’ll be looking for at His return. The Lord will be rewarding those who are found faithfully fulfilling their calling.

However, Christ knows that there will be another group of leaders in the church. He gives this as a warning not to be a part of this.

But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.”

Luke 12:45-46 NIV

The Lord talks about leaders who are only thinking about themselves. They act like the purpose of the church is to fulfill their every want and desire. They have no thought to what will happen at the return of Christ.

Church leaders – shepherds of the flock – should be feeding, guiding, and protecting their people. That’s what their calling is about. There’s no place in the body of Christ for self-serving ministers.

Jesus says that these leaders eat, drink, and get drunk. This reminds me of another End Time teaching that the Lord gave to His disciples. It’s near the end of Luke’s Gospel, so we haven’t looked at it yet. Here’s a preview.

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”

Luke 21:34 NIV

Jesus warns that the Last Days will be marked by these three things. It’s an exact description of our society without Christ.

Dissipation is using up all of our resources – time, money, talent and strength – on things that have no eternal value. Spiritual drunkenness is becoming intoxicated with the things of the world. Anxiety is focusing on all the fearful things around us rather than looking to Christ and His Word.

It’s unfortunate, but there’s a segment of church leadership that falls into this category. They need to heed the Lord’s warning before it’s too late. If not, they run the risk of losing out on their rewards.

The NIV translation, above, makes it seem like they’re unsaved. That’s actually not the case.

The phrase, cut him to pieces, means severely scourged in the Greek. That’s being lashed with a whip with pieces of glass or metal at the ends. It brings deep lacerations. The above verse could also be read that he was assigned a place with the unfaithful.

This goes along with what Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He explained about the works we do for God.

…his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

1 Corinthians 3:13-15 NIV

These self-serving leaders will seem to be living large now, but they’ll have no future rewards. We should be building now, for eternity. We have to be careful that we don’t make our ministry all about us.

I believe that the scourging Jesus talks about, is watching all of our works go up in smoke. They’ll still be saved, but with nothing to show for it.

I want to have an eternal reward to look forward to. That means I need to be faithful to the Lord’s calling right now. Yes, it’s hard sometimes, when I look at what others are doing. But I’m not out to please them or compete with them.

Our calling is to seek God’s face and fulfill His calling in us.

Question: What is God calling you to do in His kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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A Last Days Mindset 2

A Last Days Mindset 2

In my last post, I started looking at how Jesus told us to be ready for His return. We need to be always awake and alert in the spirit. This is important because we have no idea when this return will take place.

But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Luke 12:39-40 NIV

Jesus uses the illustration of a thief breaking into a house. The Lord makes it clear that no amount of experience or calculation can pinpoint the day and hour of a break-in. The only thing you can do is to make preparations for that possibility.

In the same way, Jesus will return at an unknown day and hour. It will be when a majority of people don’t expect Him. The Greek word for expect means to be of the opinion or to suppose.

As I said in my last post, there are many believers who are of the opinion that Jesus is going to come sooner than He says He will. The Lord doesn’t operate according to popular opinion. It’s all about His Word and His will.

There are some who think it’s the world that Christ is talking about here. They suppose it’s the world who won’t expect Jesus to return at the proper time. The Scripture has an answer for this.

Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.”

Luke 12:41-44 NIV

Thank you, Peter, for asking that question. The answer is very important to our discussion. The Lord makes it clear that He’s not only talking to believers, but especially to the leadership of the church. If the spiritual leaders are ignorant of the truth, then what chance do the young believers have?

Jesus is talking to the teachers. He wants those who feed the Word of God to the flock to know the truth. After all, those who teach and preach will be judged more strictly.

Because of this, the Lord is directing His comments to the faithful and wise leaders. He’s addressing those who have a great desire to accomplish God’s will.

That word, faithful, means someone who you can fully trust. The word, wise, literally means thoughtful and implies a cautious character.

What does this mean to us? When it comes to the return of the Lord, there are many who teach what they’ve heard others teach. They only echo the voice of others with no thought of seeking the truth for themselves.

We live in the last days. The time is getting shorter. We don’t have the luxury of teaching something because it sounds exciting. By our preaching, believers are either being set-up for heartache and failure or faith and victory.

We need to be prepared to wait for the Lord’s return, no matter how long it takes. I’ve done an in-depth study of the Lord’s teaching on this and put it in a book. It’s called The Third Watch – It’s Later than You Think. For more information about this book, click here.

We need to be a people who are preparing ourselves for the Lord’s coming. That means spending time in the Word and in the Spirit. We need to be praying, hearing from God, and then doing what He speaks.

Then, no matter what the future holds, we’ll be found as faithful and wise servants at His return.

Question: How do you cultivate faithfulness to Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2022 in Faith, Leadership, Return of Christ

 

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Nothing Hidden

Nothing Hidden

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

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

Luke 12:1 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 12:2-3 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Listen to God’s Messenger

Listen to God’s Messenger

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

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

Luke 11:47-48 NIV

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

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

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

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

Luke 11:49 NIV

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

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

Luke 11:50-51 NIV

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

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

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

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

After this prophecy, the Lord makes one more point.

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

Luke 11:52 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Are You Leading?

Are You Leading?

We’re continuing to look at the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus now talks about those who lead others.

He also told them this parable: “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?”

Luke 6:39-40

Jesus asks an interesting question. It almost seems foolish, except that it happens all the time in relationships.

He literally asks; can a blind man show the way forward to another blind man? For that to happen, the one leading must be totally unaware of his condition.

This man is under the opinion that he knows where he’s going and how to get there. The truth is, he can’t see where he is or what direction he needs to walk in. Yet, in his foolishness, he wants to bring someone else with him.

The end result is obvious. They both find themselves lost, trapped, with no way out on their own.

I hate to say it, but that’s what church life is like under leaders who ignore time spent in the spirit. It’s in cooperation with the Holy Spirit that we have the spiritual eyes to see where we are. And more than that, what direction we need to be headed in.

A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

Luke 6:40

The fact is that we all need someone to follow. No, I’m not talking about Facebook or TikTok. We need to be following the leading of the Holy Spirit. That comes from time in the spirit or listening to those who are led by the Spirit.

That brings me to an important distinction. There are two English words that we need to understand. They are student and disciple. We sometimes use them interchangeably. But, they have vastly different meanings.

A student wants to learn what his teacher knows. A disciple wants to become what his teacher is. There’s a world of difference between the two. That’s why we’re encouraged to become a disciple of Christ.

Too many believers want to simply learn the teachings of Jesus. That’s not enough. To truly walk in the ministry of the Lord, we need to let the Holy Spirit transform us into the image of Christ. That’s the walk of maturity.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Luke 6:41-42

This parable sums up what Jesus is saying in this section. We all want to be looked up to. We think we have all the answers for what someone else is going through.

The truth is that I have to take care of my own mess first. Step one is seeking God’s wisdom to see my own condition. Once that’s realized, I can allow the Holy Spirit to work on changing me.

As the power of God is working on my life, only then can it overflow into the lives of others. As I receive from God, I become mature, and am now able to help others.

That’s God’s way of moving us forward. If I’m trapped, I’ll never be able to help someone else out of that mess. I need the Lord’s life-changing power to work on me first.

This is the attitude of a disciple that we all need to pick up in the church. If we do that, then we’ll see the power of God at work in us.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit been leading you lately?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Poor and Hungry?

Poor and Hungry?

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we’re now coming to the section known as the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was teaching righteousness principles to His disciples while a crowd of people were around them, listening.

As we go through Luke 6:20-26, we’ll find that Jesus is contrasting some things. Because of that, I’m going to deal with the differences the Lord brings out rather than going through verse by verse. I believe that in this way, it will be more understandable to us.

But first, there are two words that are repeated throughout these verses that we need to look at. The first is the word, blessed. I always pronounce this word as, blest. It means to be supremely fortunate and well-off.

The other word is, woe. If you’ve ever spent any time around Jewish people, then you’ve heard this word. It’s the exclamation, “Oy!” It’s an exclamation of grief and frustration.

Now to the sermon.

Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God…But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.”

Luke 6:20, 24

One of the things we have to remember, is that Jesus is specifically teaching this to His disciples. These are principles for the future leaders of the church.

We have to realize that Christ is not talking about material things in this passage. Nowhere in Scripture are we taught to strive to live in poverty. God wants to bless us with material things so that we can pass on these blessings to others (2 Corinthians 9:6-11).

I believe that the Lord is dealing with attitudes in these verses. We need to come the realization that in ourselves, no matter how great our possessions, we are totally destitute in relation to the kingdom of God.

It’s only when I can see this truth that I’m ready to receive God’s provision. Without Him, I’m not able to accomplish anything He wants me to do. At that point I now have all the resources of the kingdom of God at my disposal.

But, if I have a “rich” mentality, I’m headed for trouble. When I think that I’ve got everything I need and God doesn’t have to help me, I’m in a bad place. God let’s me go off on my own and I soon learn the error of this type of thinking.

The word, comfort, in that verse is a word that means to call alongside. It’s very close to what we mean by coaching in our society. This is the attitude that I already have all the coaching I need. So, I don’t need to seek the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

To this, Jesus simply says, “Oy!”

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied…Woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.”

Luke 6:21a, 25a

Again, these are attitudes that need to be cultivated. The word, hunger, means to crave after something. Matthew tells us that we are to crave righteousness – God’s way of doing things (Matthew 5:6). If we crave righteousness, Jesus tells us that we will be able to gorge ourselves when the Holy Spirit answers our prayer.

Then there are those who Jesus refers to as well fed, literally full or satisfied. These people feel that they’re okay. They’re no worse than anybody else. No need to seek a deeper walk with God.

What they’re going to learn is that they’ll come to a point where they realize something is missing. Even though they feel their walk with God is okay, there’s a hole in their life they just can’t seem to fill.

Our goal should never be to get satisfied in our service to the Lord. We should be always craving more of His Spirit. This is how we keep spiritually strong.

Question: What is your satisfaction level in your walk with God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Commending Phoebe

Commending Phoebe

In going through the book of Romans, we’re now in the final chapter. Here, Paul gives his greetings to various people he knows in the church.

Don’t ignore these verses. They still contain truth and insight that will benefit us.

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.

Romans 16:1-2

The first person he talks about is a woman named Phoebe. I need to take some time to talk about her. The English translations don’t do her justice.

I understand that there are churches and denominations who believe that women have no place in leadership. I don’t want to offend any of these people, but truth is truth.

Suffice it to say that there are a few places in Scripture where the translators try to blur the more controversial verses. They want believers to be happy, reading them in church.

Some are happy because the translation doesn’t offend their traditions. Others are happy simply because they don’t know what the verse is actually saying. This is one of those places in Scripture.

One of my pet peeves with translators is their treatment of women in the Scripture. Let me explain with this section. It has a number of examples.

First, the word, servant, is the word, diakonon in the Greek. In reality, it literally means a household servant – so what’s the problem?

Actually, the problem is this…when it refers to a man (1 Timothy 4:6, Colossians 1:7; 4:7) it’s translated as minister or deacon. Yet, when use for Phoebe, they chose the word, servant.

While the words servant, minister, and deacon all have the same original meaning; in our modern terminology, they imply much different functions. We get the idea that women servants are somehow less important than men servants.

In this section, Paul is commending her to the church. That tells me that they are just meeting her for the first time. Phoebe must have been one of the group of travelers who brought this letter to the church in Rome. He asks the church to receive her worthily.

He instructs the church to give her any help she needs. That Greek passage literally reads, stand with her, be at hand, ready to assist her in her work. But what is that work? Here’s where it really gets interesting.

The NIV says that she has been a great help to many people including me. The Greek word that Paul uses for her is a prostatis. This is the only place that word is used in Bible. It’s a word that’s full of meaning.

It’s definition is a woman set over others. According to Thayer’s Lexicon, it describes a female guardian, protectress, or patroness, caring for the affairs of others and aiding them with her resources.

This word basically means that she is the head of a mission’s organization. Phoebe runs an organization that raises money for missions. More than that, according to Paul’s own words, he is one of those missionaries that she supports. That’s why Paul asks them to help her any way they can.

It’s sad that many translations water down these verses that show women in a place of authority. God will use whoever is available to further His kingdom.

I have a problem with people who try to erect a glass ceiling in God’s church. Any person, no matter who they are or where they came from, can rise as far as God calls them in His kingdom.

Question: What is God’s calling on your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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