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Category Archives: Power of God

Last Days Testimony

Last Days Testimony

I’ve been posting from Luke’s Gospel about how we should be living in the last days. In my last article I talked about what not to do. The last exhortation was, not to worry about your testimony. I believe this a vital piece of knowledge that we need in these last days.

Listen to what the Lord tells His disciples and us about standing before those who oppose us.

This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.

Luke 21:13-19 NIV

We live in a culture that is becoming increasingly more hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians look like they’re becoming more low-key in their proclamation of the Word of God.

Many believers are worried. “What do I say? What if someone from the LGBTQ+ community calls me out? I don’t want to be labeled a ‘hater’.”

The problem, as I see it, is two-fold. First of all, many modern believers have become lazy and scripturally illiterate. They go to church to be spoon fed from the Bible.

We have to realize the times we’re living in. Whether you want to accept it or not, living in the United States today as a Christian, is like living on the mission field. We need to know the Scripture and live it in order to survive, spiritually.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 NIV

When we allow the Holy Spirit to take us through God’s approval process, there’s no need for shame. Christians who get embarrassed about their faith show that they’re still in their spiritual childhood. It’s not a bad thing, but they need to get into the Word and grow up.

The second part of the problem is a little deeper. There’s an assumption in the words of Christ. He told His disciples that He would give them words and wisdom that none of their adversaries would be able to resist or contradict.

This assumes that God’s people know how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to them. That’s the number one problem in the church today. We’ve lost the ability to hear from God.

We try in our own intelligence to reason and debate with the world. We try to convince them that our way of thinking is correct. The result is that they resist and contradict us at every turn.

Then, when that doesn’t work, we try to give them a list of quotes from the Bible. We want them to see what God thinks about the subject. But, what we find, is that the last thing they want to hear is the Bible. Please understand – people of the world don’t believe the Bible.

We have to come to the realization that, today, we’re in the same position as the early church. We’re in a society like the Roman Empire. They were mildly religious, but ungodly. They need to hear a Word from God. That’s what will make the difference.

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

Mark 16:20 NIV

You do understand that when this was written there was no New Testament. Christians had no Bibles. The only thing they could do was to pray and receive a Word from the Holy Spirit. They had no choice but to hear God’s voice.

Today, we have Scriptural overload. We’ve replaced time with the Holy Spirit with Bible reading. Please hear me – Bible reading is very important. I read the Word every day. But it’s no replacement for time with the Spirit.

The only hope for our society is a group of believers who hear from the Holy Spirit. This generation needs to hear from God. Only then will they hear a message that they can’t resist or contradict. That alone will draw them to the cross of Christ.

Question: How much time do you spend with the Holy Spirit?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Last Days – “Don’t”

The Last Days – “Don’t”

As we go through Luke’s Gospel, I’m taking a few posts to look at what our attitude should be like in the last days. Specifically, we’re dealing with the principles given to us by Jesus in Luke chapter 21.

First, I want to talk about three things that the Lord told us NOT to do.

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.”

Luke 21:8 NIV

His first command to us is, don’t follow them. We are to ignore those who claim, “I am he.” We should already know that one. Jesus said that at His coming every eye would see Him. It will not be a private return.

In spite of this warning, many have come claiming to be another incarnation of Christ. Over and over again, I hear about people going to hear someone who claims to be a new messiah.

The second statement that the Lord made was a little more subtle. He said not to follow those who come in His name claiming, “The time is near.”

Please understand, I believe that the coming of the Lord is near. The difference is that this is only a small part of my message. Christ is talking about those whose whole focus is on the soon coming of the Lord and the signs surrounding it.

Remember what I told you in my last post. In Scripture, the Second Coming is never the main focus – it’s always the reason for living correctly. You have to be very careful when you see a whole ministry based upon “the time is near.”

Usually these “end-time ministries” like to play on the sensationalism of possible outcomes. Any new astronomical event, international crisis, or natural disaster gives them new ways to bend Scripture to look like the end is upon us.

This type of ministry seems to sell a lot of books. But most of them are only exciting reading for a year or two. Then, it becomes obvious they were on the wrong track with their predictions.

“When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”

Luke 21:9-11 NIV

The next thing Jesus tells us is don’t be frightened. You’re going to hear various bad reports. The world may be full of problems, but one thing remains true through the ages; Christ is still on the throne.

No matter what’s happening around us, Christians should never fear the future. The Holy Spirit is always with us. He leads and guides us. More than that, we know that He gives us the grace to stand strong in spite of the current situations.

Many people are predicting catastrophe for the United States. We don’t know what the future holds for our country. But I know the answer – Jesus Christ is Lord.

“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.”

Luke 21:12-14 NIV

The Lord’s final general statement is; do not worry…how you will defend yourselves.

“What if it becomes illegal to be a Christian?”

It’s happened before and God brought His people through victoriously. In the Book of Acts Paul was headed to Jerusalem. Churches were telling him not to go because of prophecies that spoke of his arrest. He said he was not only willing to be arrested, but to die for Christ.

The key is that if you’re called to go through persecution or martyrdom, then you’ll receive the grace to stand firm. So – don’t worry about it now – the Lord will give you what you need when you need it.

Question: What is the result of following these commands the Lord gave us?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2022 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Return of Christ

 

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Children of the Resurrection

Children of the Resurrection

Continuing through the Gospel of Luke, we see a lot of opposition from the religious leaders. This is especially true from the Sadducees who don’t believe in the resurrection, angels, demons, or miraculous powers. You may want to read Luke 20:27-40 before continuing with this post.

They want to discredit Jesus publicly. So, they come at Him with a question that had stumped the Pharisees (who believe in the resurrection) for many years.

The question is about a woman who had seven husbands in accordance with the Law of Moses. They asked Jesus; at the resurrection, who would receive her as their wife, since she was married to all seven?

The Sadducees felt this proved that the resurrection was illogical. Therefore, it shouldn’t be believed.

Of course, these men had lost the battle before they ever approached Jesus. That’s because Christ is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). There’s no way that these leaders could show the Resurrection that there’s no resurrection.

In looking at the answer the Lord gave them, I see some important truths we need to grasp.

Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage…”

Luke 20:34-35 NIV

The first thing I see is the great transition. The age we live in now, is temporary. Our Resurrection Day is the start of a brand new age. We change from being mortal to immortal (1 Corinthians 15:42).

The way Jesus describes this is absolutely great. The phrase, considered worthy, is, deemed entirely deserving, in the Greek. Because of what Christ did on the cross, you and I can now be considered entirely deserving of immortality.

However, there’s even more to be thankful for in this verse. The phrase, taking part, literally means to hit the mark.

We know that the word, sin, means to miss the mark, in both the Old and New Testaments. But now, because of Jesus, we can actually hit the mark of being worthy of the resurrection. This is something far beyond what any human being is capable of on their own.

…and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.”

Luke 20:36 NIV

We put on immortality because we are now children of the resurrection. But there’s even more to it.

The phrase, they are like the angels, literally means, they have the same power as the angels. Please understand that we DO NOT become angels. (Don’t get your theology from It’s a Wonderful Life)

I think about the power of angels in the Scriptures. They have the ability to appear and disappear at will. One angel could defeat an entire army. We will be clothed in this same power one day.

But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”

Some of the teachers of the law responded, “Well said, teacher!” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Luke 20:37-40 NIV

As believers, we should never fear death. We know that when our body ceases to function, we simply change our residence.

Yes, we go through a grieving process when a loved one passes. But that should be because we know we will miss them for a while. We don’t grieve because we will never see them again. We know there will be a grand reunion one day.

Keep that truth before your eyes. Allow the hope of the resurrection to propel you forward for the Lord.

Question: How does the hope of the resurrection inspire you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2022 in Power of God, Return of Christ, Revival

 

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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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Finding the Kingdom

Finding the Kingdom

In my last post, I talked about the rich, young, ruler who came to Jesus. He wanted a deeper walk with God. The Lord told him his next step – selling everything and becoming a disciple.

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Luke 18:23-25 NIV

Jesus comments to the disciples that it’s very hard for the rich to come under the rulership of God. The word, hard, in this verse, means a picky, finicky eater. It’s someone who’s very hard to please.

Someone with great wealth usually is used to getting their own way. They want to set the terms of their service. In the kingdom, it has to be done God’s way.

Remember, this encounter comes right on the heels of Jesus talking about entering the kingdom as an infant. You have to start over. You can’t come to the Lord thinking that you’re an asset to His kingdom. We have nothing to offer Him, He has everything.

In my last post, I started to talk about the difference between salvation and the kingdom of God. The kingdom is the place of obedience, blessing, and fulfillment. There are many who have received salvation but have yet to walk in the fullness of Christ.

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:20 NIV

This is an important statement for us to hear. No one can deny that the Pharisees and teachers of the Law followed the Law of Moses to the letter. They did everything according to the teaching of Scripture.

By that definition, before the resurrection of Christ, they were saved and on their way to heaven. Yet, Christ clearly said that they didn’t enter the kingdom. That’s because they never submitted themselves to God’s way of doing things.

They were missing out on God’s best for them. Of course, if they continued on this path after the resurrection – rejecting Christ as Messiah – they no longer had a place in God’s family. That’s because they would have rejected salvation under God’s New Covenant.

As Jesus spoke of the kingdom, the disciples didn’t understand these principles.

Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

Luke 18:26-27 NIV

Jesus makes it clear that it’s not impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom. The power of God is able to change a life. But that person must be willing to let the Holy Spirit do His work in them.

At that point Peter interrupts.

Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

Luke 18:28 NIV

As usual with Peter, I think he was looking for some praise from Jesus. Unfortunately, what he said wasn’t that accurate. We know from Scripture that Peter didn’t leave everything to follow Jesus. After the death of Christ, Peter was able to go back to his fishing business (John 21:1-3).

Jesus was very gracious to him. He ignores the untruth.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”

Luke 18:29-30 NIV

The Lord summarizes everything here. If you give up all for the kingdom, you receive the kingdom blessing. On top of that, you get the eternal blessings as well.

It’s a great deal. We give up the temporary to gain the eternal.

Question: How have you placed everything into God’s hands?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2022 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Hard Road of Discipleship

The Hard Road of Discipleship

I’ve started talking about discipleship. Jesus was teaching His followers, in the Gospel of Luke, what it took to truly be a disciple. Especially in our society, we’d much rather be a student of Jesus than to become like Him. Discipleship makes us uncomfortable.

Now Jesus goes on with His description of discipleship.

“And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:27 NIV

What did Jesus mean by that? I’ve heard people use this in a lot of different ways. Sometimes they’ll use this term in talking about an ongoing illness, or even their spouse.

“That’s my cross that I have to bear.”

Is that what it’s all about? I don’t think so. Carrying a cross is a sign that you’re about to die. Very soon you’re going to be laying down your life.

I think that it’s clear from Scripture, discipleship and the cross go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Unfortunately, we have a lack of disciples these days. Maybe it’s because we don’t preach the cross as we should.

Paul had something to say about this.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV

The original Greek of this verse actually reads, the Word of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed… There are many believers whose lives are being destroyed because of our de-emphasis of the cross.

They’re downtrodden, overcome by the world, and bound up by all kinds of sin and addictions. Our lives, homes, and marriages seem to have the same sicknesses as society without Christ. The world no longer looks to the church for answers, because we don’t look much different than they do.

We wonder why we can’t get the victory. These verses make it obvious that without the life changing power of the cross, we’re fighting a losing battle. It’s time to turn this around and bring the victory in this area. We need to get back to the Biblical foundation for our lives.

We need to restore the Word of the cross. But, for some reason, we resist this work. We seem to have come to the conclusion that the cross is only for the unsaved. Why does Paul tell us that it’s foolishness to those who are being destroyed? Because the cross is for those who want to move on to maturity.

Literally, this verse tells us that the word of the cross is a manifestation of God’s power in His people. But it’s not for all. It’s the power of God to those of us who are continuing in the ongoing work of salvation in our lives.

This is why we shrink from it. We don’t like the sound of the cross. When we think of the cross, we think of humility, weakness and pain. Could this really be the road to power?

Jesus’ command to carry the cross is not a call for unbelievers to come to Him. It’s a radical command to follow Christ by giving up all other desires. To pick up the cross means to lay everything else down. To follow Christ means to ignore all other paths. This is a message that gets lost in our generation’s search to experience the best that the world has to offer.

I’m not talking about whether you’re saved or not. You can be saved and on your way to Heaven, yet ignore the call to the cross. It all comes down to discipleship.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:10-11 NIV

We all want to see the resurrection power of Christ active in us. The only road to this is through the cross. The Lord and His disciples all walked this path and testified to it. We need to do the same.

Question: How do you define being a disciple of Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2022 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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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

 

God’s Rule and Mustard Trees

God’s Rule and Mustard Trees

We’re studying through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post, we saw Jesus getting into trouble because He healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath day. As a result, the Lord made a point of exposing the hypocrisy of religious thinking.

Now, to reinforce what He said, Jesus gives the crowd a couple of parables to think about. He wants to give them an understanding of the kingdom of God. This should also help us to understand how the kingdom of God should be growing.

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.”

Luke 13:18-19 NIV

First, let me say that unless you know the region, this parable can’t be understood properly. There are a few different species of “mustard” that are common around the world. The one that can grow into a tree is not the one where we get the yellow goop for our hot dogs.

Jesus wants to let us know some attributes of the kingdom – God’s rule on earth. We know that the kingdom of God isn’t visible right now. It’s established in the hearts of God’s people.

The word, compare, in the above verse means to be similar in character and appearance. So, when we look at this parable, we’re getting a pretty good description of God’s kingdom at work in the world.

You need to understand that the seed for the mustard tree is tiny. This speaks of the small origin of the church. Jesus Christ was one man. But He wasn’t just a man. He was God made flesh.

When He was planted; the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection birthed an eternal kingdom. But that’s only one of the keys. For this plant to grow, it has to be planted under just the right conditions. That’s why Jesus had to emphasize over and over that in His ministry, everything had to be fulfilled according to the Father’s plan.

Another thing about this plant – it germinates quickly, but grows very slowly, but steadily. God’s kingdom is unstoppable. Many have tried to put an end to it, without success. That’s because it’s a kingdom born and nourished in the spirit. God is at work in the lives of His people.

As I said earlier, this isn’t the mustard we think of in talking about condiments and seasonings. However, the leaves and fruit of this tree are edible and have a slight, mustardy flavor. So animals and people can derive nourishment from it.

That brings me to my last point. This mustard-tree plant is very hardy. Once it takes root, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Because of this fact, the mustard tree is used throughout the Middle East and Africa for land reclamation.

Because it thrives in hot, arid climates; it can turn deserts into habitable places again. And, isn’t that one of the mandates of God’s plan? We are to bring life to the dead places around us.

Of course, not everybody sees it that way. Because it’s so hard to remove, people either view the mustard plant as a beneficial tree or a troublesome weed. Some people spend a lot of time and resources to remove it.

That’s how the church is described sometimes. Paul had this to say about it.

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 NIV

That’s the kingdom of God – some people hate it, while others couldn’t live without it. There are those who have dedicated their lives to extinguish the work of God on earth. Talk about a wasted life.

As for me, I’m grateful to be found in the kingdom of God. As I continue in the Lord’s way; I look forward to seeing His grace, power, and blessing that he desires to manifest through His people.

Question: How have you experienced the unstoppable growth of God’s kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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