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Category Archives: Ministry

Profitable in the Kingdom

Profitable in the Kingdom

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is talking about the subject of obedience. Many Christians want to hear Christ say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But do we really know what kind of obedience Jesus looks for in a servant? Listen to what He tells His disciples.

Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?”

Luke 17:7-9 NIV

Christ shows us a servant, working in the fields. He comes home tired and hungry. Just as he sits down to eat with his family, he hears the master arrive.

Does he have the luxury of finishing his meal first? Of course not. He must immediately get up and tend to the needs of his master. That’s the life of a servant.

After he has served, he can go back to his meal. After all he did, does he now expect a bonus? No, he’s only done what’s normally expected of a person in his position.

God expects more from us than we expect from ourselves. In the passage above, the Lord goes on to ask a very fearful question. As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I tremble at the implications.

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

Luke 17:10 NIV

That’s a very deep question. Should you, as a servant, do as you’re told and then expect to be thanked? The word thanked means to be blessed, tipped or given a special reward. Actually, a servant is supposed to do what he or she is told.

If all we do in our ministry is what’s expected or normal for our kind of ministry, then we’re not operating in the excellent. As a matter of fact, Jesus calls us unworthy servants, meaning unprofitable.

There are always things that we must do or that we’re expected to do. The word unworthy is derived from a Greek word that means, not ought.

The thought is that you are not what you ought to be. To break into the realm of the excellent you must break through the “musts” and enter into the “oughts.”

Those who are not only doing what they have to do, but have found a way to do what they ought to do, are considered to be walking in excellence. When a person goes beyond the expected in his or her walk with the Lord we marvel at their spirit of excellence.

What does that mean to me? I must stop saying, “I ought to have…”, “I ought to do…”, or “I ought to be…” then with the next breath say, “But I have so much I need to do; I can’t.” When you develop the spirit of excellence, the Holy Spirit is now free to work in you to accomplish what wasn’t expected.

As excellence starts its work in you, you can tap into God’s excellent power, His excellent grace, and His excellent love. You’ll find out that God has all the resources you need to fulfill the call to excellence that He’s placed inside of you. That will bring glory to His name.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

II Corinthians 4:7

The word all-surpassing is the Greek word hyperballoexcellent. This excellent power does not come from our own strength. Don’t ever take the credit for the excellence in your ministry. The glory belongs to God.

Walking in the spirit of excellence is one of the earmarks of the power of God in your life, showing that you hear from God and are obeying His voice.

Question: What are some of the marks of God’s excellence in your life and ministry?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Prepared?

Prepared?

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. Jesus now tells the crowds about the rich man and Lazarus. You may want to read Luke 16:19-31 before going further in the post.

The Lord has been talking about the difference between living under the Law of Moses and entering the kingdom of God. It’s the difference between following rules and cultivating a relationship with God.

Christ said that those who enter the kingdom have to put forth an effort. It requires conviction and zeal to find that “narrow gate” which leads to the life in the spirit.

He concludes this teaching by talking about the rich man and Lazarus. There are many who believe that this is not a parable. They think it’s an actual event Jesus is talking about. They believe this because Jesus doesn’t give anyone an actual name in His parables.

Whatever the case, we need to hear what the Lord is saying to us. It’s not simply about being saved.

The Lord starts with the two main characters. The first is a rich man, who according to Christ, radiated rejoicing every day.

Then there was a poor beggar who was thrown down at the rich man’s gate every day. He watched the house and wished that he could eat the crumbs that the rich man threw away. This beggar was covered in sores that he allowed the dogs to lick in order to keep them clean.

The Lord then describes what happened after they both died. We need to remember that this description is about death before the resurrection of Christ. At that time everyone went to a “holding area”, waiting for the salvation that Christ would purchase.

In this holding area, there were two sections. One for those who were lost, and one for those were looking forward in faith to the Messiah.

It’s very interesting the way the story unfolds. One thing I see, is that attitudes and perceptions don’t change, even after death. Look at the request that the rich man asked of Abraham.

So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’”

Luke 16:24 NIV

Do you hear the attitude? The rich man still sees himself as superior to Lazarus. He expects Lazarus to tend to his needs. Abraham explains that this will never happen.

When he sees that his condition will not be improved, the rich man begins to think about his family. He asks Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to tell his brothers about this place.

Abraham tells the rich man that his family already knows about this. They have the Scripture warning them about the afterlife.

The rich man says that they need a miracle to convince them. They need to see someone rise from the dead.

Abraham counters with a very important statement.

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Luke 16:31 NIV

That raises an important question we need to ask ourselves. What will it take for us to wholeheartedly follow God’s Word? We all need to come to grips with this.

In this story, I see so many parallels with the generation we’re living in. Yes, I know that we’re now living under grace and not under the Law. I know that in Christ, our sins are covered, and we stand in the righteousness of God.

However, there are still things that please and displease the Lord. There is still going to be a final judgment where we receive, or don’t receive, rewards for our service to Christ.

Many believers live in luxury, with no thought to those who are dying around them. Many powerful ministries are starving for the resources that could multiply their ability to reach the lost. What side of the kingdom are you sitting on?

This story should force us to think about our eternal future. Set aside spiritual riches for the kingdom. Prepare now for your future with Christ.

Question: How prepared are you for your eternal life in the kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Kingdom Evaluation

Kingdom Evaluation

We’re continuing our walk through Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is talking about having an eternal perspective rather than seeking after the temporary. He tells us that we need this view of the future if we’re to grow in our ministry.

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”

Luke 16:10-12 NIV

This is a very important teaching that Christ is giving the disciples, and the crowd who’s listening in. Unfortunately, we don’t always grasp the full meaning of what He’s talking about here.

The Lord is giving us a complete look at how He evaluates us before moving us to the next level. If we ignore this teaching, then we may be stalling out our progress in the Lord.

We all want to move forward in the spirit. However, there are many times when we seem to be “spinning our wheels” without any advancement. This teaching of Christ may explain what’s happening during those times.

Jesus gives us three areas of evaluation. They’re all important to the Lord. Therefore, they should be very important to us.

First, the Lord examines how we handle what we consider the least amounts. That phrase, very little, literally means the smallest amount you can have of something. It may not be important to you, but it’s important to Christ.

We live in a society that throws everything away. Whether it’s last year’s technology, or leftover food. Remember, we serve a God who picked up all the scraps of food after He fed the five thousand. How do you handle the smallest amounts of what you have?

The next thing He looks at is how we handle worldly wealth. This is a part of our financial stewardship. We all have the money we need to pay our bills with. I don’t believe that’s what the Lord is talking about here.

This is referring to the money we can spend with our heart. It’s what we do with the extra in our accounts. Do we seek the Lord’s will in our spending? Or do we simply get everything our flesh desires for it’s comfort?

Finally, we’re evaluated on how we handle other peoples’ property. This is another area that our society has no concept of.

I like to hike on the local trails near my house. It bothers me when I see trash all around, because people know the park maintenance workers will pick it up. In the stores, many times the clothing section is trashed because people look at something, they don’t want it, and throw it on the floor. They know the employees will put it away.

We have to show the same concern for other peoples’ things that we want shown for our stuff. It’s a part of being a blessing to those around us. We should treat people, and their things, the way we want to be treated.

The three of these areas all share a common theme. In order to live correctly, we must give up our selfishness. If we only think about what we want, we’ll fail the spiritual evaluation. That Lord makes it abundantly clear.

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Luke 16:13 NIV

You can’t serve two differing masters. The word translated as money, is actually the word, Mammon. This is a word that is usually talking about wealth that you’ve set up as an idol in your heart. It’s the money you want to spend on yourself.

You can’t serve God correctly and feed your selfishness at the same time. Your whole heart must be devoted to Christ. That’s the only way to progress in His kingdom.

Question: How would you evaluate yourself in these three areas?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Finding What’s Lost

Finding What’s Lost

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. We’re now starting chapter 15. Jesus’ ministry is beginning to attract those who the religious leaders consider unworthy.

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:1-2 NIV

This is a very interesting picture of Jesus. He was very willing to spend time with people who were considered “sinners” by the spiritual elite.

Tax collectors were Jews who were taking money from their own people and giving it to the Roman conquerors. They were viewed much the same way as we view drug dealers in our society.

Not only that, but they had the same type of friends that a drug dealer would have. Prostitutes, loan sharks, and the like. All the people that the upstanding Pharisees would look down on as the dregs of their society.

Because of His spiritual walk, the Lord had the strength of character be around these people without letting them drag Him down. He could be a light in their darkness, and they recognized this.

We need to understand this principle. How can unbelievers ever experience the love and grace of Christ, if no one ever walks with them?

Jesus uses a couple of parables to explain it.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Luke 15:3-7 NIV

At the end of chapter 14, Jesus talked about the need to be salt in the world. If your ministry is to be this seasoning and bring the message of salvation, then what better place to be then among “unsavory” people. Jesus knew that He was sent to save these people. The Pharisees may have written them off, but Jesus saw them as loved by God.

I always find it offensive when I hear a Christian remark that someone deserves hell.

“When they die, they’re gonna get what they have coming.”

That must break the Lord’s heart. He died for everyone. Not just the people we like. We need to watch our attitudes about those without Christ. The fact is that we all deserve hell – but I don’t want anyone to go there.

Even the most perverted, murderous, evil person on earth should be given the chance to hear about the life-changing work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We should be representing Christ and His attitudes in our generation.

Too often what some believers consider “ministry”, is telling sinners to stop sinning. It’s all over the internet. Unbelievers don’t need to stop doing wrong. They need to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

That’s what will turn their lives around. Pointing out what we think is wrong with them will only serve to push them away from the cross. We need to be seeking and saving those who are lost.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:8-10 NIV

There’s rejoicing over a life that’s saved. I also believe there’s weeping over a lost sheep that’s pushed off a cliff, or a coin that’s made to fall through the cracks. We can’t be so self-righteous that we cause unbelievers to reject Christ. Be the Lord’s hand, reaching out in love to those around you.

Question: Why is it so easy to pick up the same attitudes as the Pharisees?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Healing and Rules

Healing and Rules

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. In today’s post, we’ll start chapter 14. Jesus has been invited to a dinner on the Sabbath day.

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.

Luke 14:1 NIV

The Lord had probably spoken at a local synagogue. After the meeting, he was invited to the home of the high-ranking Pharisee of the town. You would think that this was a nice gesture of hospitality. But you’d be wrong.

The Scripture makes it clear that those who attended – a group of religious leaders – were not there to socialize. The phrase, carefully watched, is a term that means to scrutinize. It’s like when you don’t trust someone and you tell them, “I’ll be watching you.”

The one thing about Jesus is that He doesn’t disappoint.

There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.

Luke 14:2-4 NIV

Knowing how they felt about healing on the Sabbath, Jesus sets up a little demonstration. It was time to challenge their small-minded view of God. They thought they could keep God in a little box made up of their ritualistic, religious rules.

There in front of Christ is a man with dropsy. We don’t use that word anymore. We call it edema or swelling of the joints. He probably had a heart condition that would eventually kill him.

The real question is; why was he there? I believe he was brought there by the Pharisees and lawyers for the purpose of setting Jesus up. They wanted a reason to accuse the Lord.

Then it happened. Jesus started by asking them a question. He wants their legal opinion. Is it lawful or right to heal on the Sabbath day.

There’s no mention of healing on the Sabbath in the Law of Moses. However, down through the years, famous Rabbis have penned a tradition of man-made laws surrounding the Sabbath. According to these rules, healing was forbidden.

These rules were very strict. As a matter of fact, you couldn’t drink wine on the Sabbath if you had a toothache. Because, if the alcohol numbed the pain, you were breaking the Sabbath by healing.

Jesus blatantly broke their rules right in front of them. He healed the man immediately. At least in my eyes, that proves to me that these rules were not of God. If they were, God would have never healed this man.

Look at how Jesus explains this principle to the Pharisees.

Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” And they had nothing to say.

Luke 14:5-6 NIV

Here Jesus shows them a truth. Sickness is like falling into a pit. It’s never a good thing. The goal is always to set them free.

The question is; when? The answer should be obvious – immediately! It’s religion that makes things complicated.

“Sorry! You have to stay in the pit until tomorrow. Today is the Sabbath.”

It doesn’t take a high intelligence to see the foolishness of that statement. They need to be rescued right now. That’s why none of these religious leaders had a comeback. They couldn’t refute the truth.

That’s God’s view of healing. We make the rules and the excuses. It’s time for God’s people seek His presence. The church needs to rise to the full maturity of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).

I believe that this is where God is trying to lead His church in our generation.

Question: How strongly do you desire to see God’s power manifest in the church?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2022 in Healing, Legalism, Ministry, Power of God, Revival

 

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Safe in God’s Will

Safe in God’s Will

We’re looking at the ministry of Jesus as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. Luke usually shows Jesus’ teaching, then gives an example of how He walks it out. Here, Luke is continuing this pattern.

In the middle of chapter 13, Jesus gives a parable of a mustard seed that grew into a tree. He was showing how unstoppable the kingdom of God is. The Lord now shows it by His ministry.

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

Luke 13:31 NIV

Obviously, not all of the Pharisees were opposing Jesus. We know from the Gospels that some of them were secret believers in Him as the Messiah. They usually kept quiet about it because the ones who opposed Jesus held the most political power.

This group heard, through their channels, that Herod was out to kill the Lord. Concerned about His safety, they warned Christ about it.

I love the Lord’s reaction to this.

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day — for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!”

Luke 13:32-33 NIV

The Lord makes it clear to these Pharisees that He has no intention of changing His plans. Not only that, but He states that they could even go ahead and tell Herod where He would be.

Jesus got His marching orders from the Holy Spirit. He had no fear for His safety. He knew that if He was to minister in these towns, then nothing could stop Him.

Of course, the Lord also knew for a fact that He was going to die in Jerusalem. With that knowledge, He knew that there was nowhere else that He could be attacked. He was safe in the center of God’s will.

That should speak to us as well. Our greatest goal should be to know and walk in God’s plan for our lives. That’s the position of safety and fulfillment.

But that brings me another thought. In my flesh, knowing that I would die in Jerusalem, I would make it a point to never set foot in that city.

However, that didn’t stop the Lord either. He always operated according to the Father’s plans. Knowing what awaited Him, didn’t cause Jesus to shrink back.

But that also didn’t stop Him from grieving over the truth that Jerusalem was the city of godly martyrs.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

Luke 13:34-35 NIV

Jesus is saddened because on more than one occasion, He desired to bring all of Israel together under His protection. Yet even though that was His desire, it was not the desire of the Jewish people.

The Lord declares that the point has been reached where they are left desolate. That’s an important word. It means to be solitary, alone and deserted. Throughout Greek literature, it’s used for a flock of sheep deserted by the shepherd, or a wife neglected by her husband.

Israel has chosen a path without their Messiah. Remember, Jesus had warned them about this in the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9). It’s obvious that at this time they’ve reached the point of no return.

Now the Lord’s goal is to accomplish their salvation on the cross. He will be crucified, buried, and in three days He will rise from the dead. At that point they can repent and receive full forgiveness for their sin.

Let this be a lesson to us. We can’t ignore the call of the Holy Spirit forever. We need to spend the time necessary to hear His voice and obey His Word to us. That’s the real place of safety for our souls.

Question: What has the Spirit been speaking to you lately?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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God’s Rule and Yeast

God’s Rule and Yeast

In my last post, we saw Jesus teaching the crowd through parables. He talked about the kingdom of God being like a mustard tree. It’s a tree that once it starts growing, it will be impossible to remove.

Now the Lord gives another illustration of the kingdom.

Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Luke 13:20-21 NIV

Here we see that the kingdom of God is like yeast. It was used in making bread.

Personally, I love making my own bread. There’s nothing like the smell of fresh bread while it’s baking. Then, putting butter on it while it’s still hot from the oven. It’s wonderful!

This verse, however, talks about it in a way that’s well beyond my capabilities. According to the words that Jesus used, this woman put yeast into about a half bushel of flour. I’ve never made that much bread at one time.

There are some things that we need to understand if we want to learn from this parable. First of all, yeast is a living organism. Even though it appears dry and lifeless, as soon as it comes into contact with water, it springs to life.

At that point it begins to grow and multiply. As it grows, it consumes sugars and produces carbon dioxide gas. That’s the tiny bubbles that cause the bread to rise. Without yeast, you just get crackers.

This is important because the church is a living organism. We’re the body of Christ on earth. We’re not just some sort of social organization. Because of this, the whole is greater than just the sum of its parts.

But there’s another important aspect of yeast. Once incorporated into the dough, it vanishes. There’s absolutely no way to remove it, once you add it into the flour. Just like the mustard tree, once it starts, there’s no stopping it.

The thing about yeast is that it does its work in secret. You can’t see how it works, but the dough begins to change. It starts to grow and take on that delicious fluffy texture.

We might think that the church operating outside of society. After all, we’re in the world, but not of the world. Although it’s true that we’re not the flour – the world is the flour – we should be having an effect on all those around us.

I know that a lot of the Scripture talks about yeast as if it’s a bad thing. At Passover, the Jews were to clean all of the yeast out of their homes. Then they were only to eat bread made without yeast; those were the matzoh crackers.

However, that’s not the whole story. The next feast after Passover was Pentecost. It happened fifty days after Passover. It was on this feast that the Holy Spirit came upon the church in power (Acts, chapter 2).

Look at God’s command for celebrating the feast of Pentecost.

From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord.

Leviticus 23:17 NIV

Pentecost was celebrated with a yeast bread. In the New Testament, the day of Pentecost was when the church was commissioned to be a witness to the world. You could say that that was the day the yeast was put into the flour and watered by the Holy Spirit.

Now the dough is rising. There’s nothing that can be done to stop the process. Our goal should be to have that positive effect on the world around us.

As we spend time with the Holy Spirit, He can activate us to be what we’re called to be. We will then see the power of God at work in our homes, schools, workplaces, and social environments. That’s who we’re meant to be as the body of Christ.

Question: What kind of effect are you having on those around you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

The Holy Spirit and Fire

The Holy Spirit and Fire

We’re continuing in our study through Luke’s Gospel. The Lord is teaching about the future ministry of His disciples and the church. At that point, the disciples probably didn’t understand most of what Christ was saying. But, looking back, we can take it to heart.

I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!”

Luke 12:49-50 NIV

The Lord begins to talk about the results of His ministry on the earth. There’s a fire He wants to start, but He has to undergo His immersion first. Jesus is talking about His death, burial, and resurrection.

The fire is to be an important part of what He starts at His resurrection. He mentioned it at another place in His ministry.

Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Mark 9:49-50 NIV

In this section, the Lord is not talking about us being the salt of the earth. He’s speaking about the salt of fire being placed within us. I believe that He’s talking about the Holy Spirit, who we receive when we become a Christian.

Throughout the Bible, God is referred to as a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Elsewhere, we’re told not to put out the Holy Spirit’s fire (1 Thessalonians 5:19). It’s through this purifying work of the Holy Spirit that we’re made clean before God.

There is a consequence of this, however. Not everybody wants to be changed by the Spirit of God. There are those who will refuse to accept this free gift of salvation.

Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Luke 12:51-53 NIV

Peace is a big subject when you talk about Christ. At Christmas time we sing about “Peace on Earth.” That’s what Christ is talking about here, but that won’t come about until His return. At that time the Lord will reign over the earth and there will be peace.

Until then, the earth will be in turmoil. Part of that will be the tension between darkness and light. The kingdom of God vs the enemy’s rule on earth. Many times this war will erupt right inside our homes. This happens when some family members are Christians and some are not.

We experience this on many occasions. We need to be going to the Lord to receive grace to win over our families. Sometimes that’s the hardest place to minister. I’ve heard so many stories where a family member comes to Christ through a friend, even though they had rejected that same witness from their family.

But there’s another peace that’s available to us, as believers. That’s God’s peace. It’s the peace that should be active in His people. Jesus said that He was going to give it to us (John 14:27).

I believe this is the peace that Jesus was referring to in the verse in Mark, above. If we let God salt us with His purifying fire, then we’ll be clean from all the things that cause conflict. By submitting to the Holy Spirit’s work, the church can be a place that shows forth the peace of God. This should be an example to the world around us.

Of course, we want our loved ones to enter into this peace. We need to be praying for them. And praying for the grace to reach them.

But, if we find that they refuse to listen to our testimony, there’s another prayer that we must use. We should be praying that God would send someone to them that they will listen to. We can’t be so stubborn to think that we’re the only person God will use to reach them. Pray for a Christian friend to bring the Word they need to hear.

Question: Who are you praying for to receive the Gospel of Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Rewards From God

Rewards From God

In my last few posts, I’ve been looking at a teaching that Jesus gave His disciples about a Last Days mindset. He finishes, by talking about rewards and punishments. Our best bet is to live in such a way as to receive rewards.

Did you know that your eternal rewards are based upon how well you live up to the Lord’s teaching? The Bible does speak over and over again about the different levels of rewards based upon the work we perform throughout our lives.

“That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Luke 12:47-48 NIV

The fact is that we’re responsible for what we’ve received. A young Christian is not responsible for the truths that have not yet been made real to him. Someone who’s been walking with the Lord for years, and ignoring the Lord’s call, will receive less in the kingdom.

It’s clear from Scripture that we’re going to be responsible for the grace that we’ve been given. With a greater anointing and calling comes greater responsibility.

I’ve found that many believers, ministers especially, want the miracles and the big churches without the character it takes to walk uprightly before God in that kind of work. The Lord wants us to grow from the inside out. An increase in power, without a corresponding increase in character, will destroy our spiritual walk.

As a matter of fact, it’s probably too late for you now. You’ve read too much. If you’ve been reading my blogs regularly, then God is going to require excellence from you and your ministry. Now that you know He’s a God of excellence, and that He requires excellence in His followers, you must begin to walk in it. Read on!

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Matthew 7:13-14 NIV

The Lord talked to His disciples about the narrow road. We like to interpret this verse as if it’s merely talking about the road of salvation. Salvation is indeed the first step. When we choose to follow Christ, we choose a better path than that of the world.

I believe, however, that this Scripture has a broader meaning in application to the body of Christ. Very few find the walk of excellence to which we’ve been called. “The few;” that sounds like the definition of excellence to me – “that which goes beyond the expected or the normal.”

The Lord expects us to find the narrow gate of excellence. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. That’s why we need to be living up to the revelation we’ve received.

This is especially true as we live out the last few years before the Lord’s return. The world is not going to get any better. The challenges of society will continue to grow. Our only response should be to deepen our walk with God, if we want to live victoriously.

I know there are those who get upset when I talk about striving to receive a reward from the Lord. They say that we should serve God without any thought of rewards.

That is partly true. If I received nothing from the Lord except for this great salvation, it would be worth it all. I would serve Christ wholeheartedly no matter what.

However, God knows how human beings think. He makes it clear to us that He has rewards in store for those who overcome in life. If the Lord didn’t want this knowledge to motivate us, then He should never have told us about it.

So, since He places the hope of rewards before me, I’ll strive to receive everything that God has prepared for me and wants me to have. I hope you have that same desire.

Question: How well are you living up to your knowledge of God’s Word?

© 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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