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Category Archives: Prayer

Understanding the Times

Understanding the Times

We’re continuing our walk through the book of Romans. Having talked about our debt to love one another, Paul now shows us its importance.

He causes us to ask an important question. Do we know where we are in the history of the church? It’s vital that we understand the times we live in.

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Romans 13:11

We need to know where we are on God’s timetable. I think we can all agree that we live in a very treacherous times. There are many things happening that that are difficult to go through.

I don’t like saying it, but the truth is that past generations of believers could “sleep” through their Christian walk. Not us. We live in a dangerous generation.

The Apostle Paul continues talking about this.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Romans 13:12-14

In this generation we need to lay aside the things that are a part of the darkness. In their place, we must put on the armor of God.

We must live carefully and clothe ourselves with Christ. And as I focused on in my last post, we need to show the love of Christ to all those around us. That’s how we keep alert spiritually and fulfill God’s plan.

This requires us to stay spiritually strong.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

This verse literally says that we must keep watch with all persistency. That word persistency means to be strong toward, to be diligent. We must be diligent in the times we find ourselves in.

When we say that we need to be strong toward something, it speaks about a goal, a direction. We sometimes use the term “press in.”

In a battle, there are places that are hard to get to. There are houses you can’t enter until you bind the strong man. It isn’t easy to press into the miraculous. If it was – everyone, every church, would have it.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
Acts 2:42-43

Was it any easier back then, in the early church? Did those believers have all the time in the world to do all these things? I don’t think they were any different from us. It was as hard for them as it is for this generation.

If we want God’s best, it takes diligence. It will cause us to leave our comfort zone. But the spiritual rewards will be worth it.

Question: What do you find to be the most difficult about pressing in to God’s presence?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

Don’t Ignore Your Sword

Don’t Ignore Your Sword

We’ve been looking at the concept of authority in the book of Romans. So far I’ve talked about the chains of authority as seen in our society. However, there’s a spiritual side to this as well.

Last time, we left of in this verse of Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He is talking about the person in the position of authority.

For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Romans 13:4

This verse contains a deep spiritual truth that we often miss because we usually apply this only in the natural. Think about what the apostle is saying here.

He’s talking about those who have been given authority by God. Have you been given authority from God? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!!!”

I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

Luke 10:19

Because of the work of Christ on the cross, we have authority over all of the enemy’s kingdom. We don’t have to fear them.

Another question to ask yourself is; are you God’s servant to do good to those around you? Again, the answer to that one should be a “yes.” We are all God’s servants, if we’re in Christ.

But, now we get to the important phrase; he does not bear the sword for nothing. Do you have a sword? That’s the big question.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:17

We definitely have access to a sword. However, are we using it? Why has God given us the ability to take up this weapon?

God has given us the sword of the spirit. It’s the rhema-word of God. That requires us to be listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit.

The fact is, if you’re in Christ, then you are God’s servant. You’re in a position of authority. You have not been given the sword of the spirit simply for show. There’s a divine purpose for it.

As God’s people we’ve been given the assignment to clean things up spiritually. It’s just like in the old western movies where the Texas Ranger arrives at a lawless frontier town. Everything gets put in order.

We’re supposed to be wreaking havoc on the enemies’ turf. Isn’t that what the Lord told His disciples?

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Matthew 16:18

The gates of hell should not be prevailing against us. Where are the gates of hell? They surround the enemy’s strongholds. This verse is a call for us to walk in the offensive power of the spirit.

Unfortunately, many Christians bear the sword for no reason. Actually, a large number of us don’t ever pick it up.

According to the verse in Romans, we’re literally called punishers. Our goal should be to bring down God’s wrath upon the enemy’s spiritual kingdom right now. We should be putting fear into the hearts of demonic forces around the world.

But, that will require us to spend quality time in the Holy Spirit’s presence. It’s all about prayer in the spirit, meditation on God’s Word, and obedience to His voice. The body of Christ, in our generation, needs to wake up to this truth.

Question: How do you view God’s authority operating through you?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God-Given Authority

God-Given Authority

As we continue through the book of Romans, we’re looking at God’s authority structures. We need to learn godly submission, if we want God’s best for us.

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.

Romans 13:3

Under normal circumstances, those in authority don’t strike fear in the ones doing good. It’s those who are breaking the law that fear.

It’s like the people who are in their cars, speeding down the highway. Then, suddenly, when they see a police cruiser parked on the side, they jam on their brakes.

Paul asks and answers a simple question. Do you want to be free from this fear? Then do what’s right.

At this point, Paul gives us an important spiritual key.

For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.

Romans 13:4

The apostle makes it clear that the one in authority is God’s servant to do you good. That’s an important point.

We understand that all authority in heaven and earth is God’s. Any authority that someone has is ultimately from God. What we have to do is separate the authority, from the individual who’s in authority.

Authority is a place, a position that someone occupies. We have to realize that God has established the position so there will be order.

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:17

This includes kings, presidents, governors, senators, etc. We are to respect the position as a part of God-ordained authority. Who is in that position is immaterial, and that’s the hard part.

In my last post, we looked at this next verse. God was addressing King Saul.

For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

1 Samuel 15:23

Saul was in the position of king, but God had rejected him. Yet, for years he remained in the office.

At one point, David was being hunted down by Saul, for no reason but jealousy. In the wilderness, David had a chance to kill Saul in his sleep, but he didn’t.

This day you have seen with your own eyes how the Lord delivered you into my hands in the cave. Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lift my hand against my master, because he is the Lord’s anointed.’”

1 Samuel 24:10

Here we can see David’s heart. For years the wrong man was in the position of king. The nation was in turmoil. But the position had to be respected.

Our God is a God of order. It’s through God’s order that we can live good and productive lives.

The fact is that no matter who is in the position of authority, there will be those who don’t think he or she should be there. That’s immaterial to the discussion. We respect and pray for our leaders because of the position.

Question: What’s your prayer for our leaders, in both the church and in government?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2021 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Overcoming Evil with Good

Overcoming Evil with Good

We’re continuing our walk through Romans. Paul is exhorting us to walk in maturity. Of course this is impossible without first implementing his teachings in chapters 8-10. He now makes a very important statement that we should consider carefully.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21

Is this verse true? Can evil be overcome with good? The answer is a resounding YES! The principles of God’s Word bring victory over evil. Look at the example of Scripture.

In the early church of Jerusalem thousands of people a month were being saved. Jesus was being preached. Also during this time the apostles were arrested and brought before the religious leaders for questioning.

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Acts 4:18

This was the outcome of their meeting. Does it sound familiar to you? It should. This is the attitude of society in the United States today. They tell us that we can do whatever we want – just don’t mention Jesus.

What was the response of the church in Jerusalem to this kind of attitude? Did they go out and preach some more? Hold a Jesus concert? Put a referendum on the ballot? Absolutely not.

They called a prayer meeting. This is what they brought before the Lord at that time.

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Acts 4:29-30

Considering that they were told not to use the name of Jesus, here’s their request. First, they asked for boldness. Then they asked for healings, miraculous signs and wonders. But the important point was that they wanted all these things to be accomplished in the name of Jesus.

They didn’t just want to preach in His name, they wanted the world to see the power of the name of Jesus. This is the forgiveness principle at work – it’s the power to arrest and destroy sin. It’s all done by the power of the Spirit.

Wait a minute, what does forgiveness have to do with overcoming evil with good? I’m glad you asked. This brings me to a verse that I’ve heard preached many times about our nation. It’s only the power of God – not politics – that will turn our nation around.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

Do we want our land healed? Then sin must be forgiven – removed – arrested and destroyed. The only way this will happen is for the church to get on our knees. There needs to be intercession made for our nation.

Not praying for a better president or leaders. Not praying for new laws. We must cry out for God to give us the boldness to speak His Word. We must intercede for the Lord to send miracles, healings, signs and wonders. All of this so that the name of Jesus can break sin.

After all, it’s so much easier to win the lost if the battle is won first in the heavens. In order for us to overcome evil with good, we need to do what it takes. It will require consistent times in God’s presence.

Questions: Why is it so hard to get people to intercede for our nation? Are you willing to “pray the price” for revival?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 17, 2021 in Ministry, Power of God, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Wrapped in Zeal

Wrapped in Zeal

We’re continuing through the book of Romans. Paul is showing us how to live our best life as part of Christ’s body.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Romans 12:11

In my last post we talked about having sincere love for others. But, right on the heels of that, Paul tells us that we need to be zealous for the Lord.

Zeal itself is a very strong emotion. It’s when you desire to possess some quality or possession of the one you’re zealous for. It’s actually the same as jealousy – only it’s the positive side of that quality.

But, I’m talking about being zealous toward Christ. This is a passionate, consuming zeal that’s focused on the Lord. It drives us toward the accomplishment of His will and the maintaining of His honor.

All of this is done in the face of whatever’s happening in the world around us. It doesn’t matter whether we’re in the middle of good or bad circumstances.

We’ve all heard of the armor of God in Ephesians, chapter 6. Many people talk about the need to put on this holy armor. But do you know that there’s one more piece of clothing available to us that covers it all?

Paul the Apostle was a Bible scholar. He knew the Scripture better than most others of his day. What we fail to realize, is that he didn’t come up with the teaching of the armor of God on his own. It was actually from the book of Isaiah.

In Isaiah, chapter 59, we see God Himself putting on the armor – at least the helmet and breastplate. This is His personal armor – it was made to fit Him. That’s why I need to abide in Christ for it to fit me. But that’s another teaching…

I want to talk about something else that Isaiah saw as the Lord was preparing for the spiritual battle.

He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Isaiah 59:17

The reason that Isaiah could only see the breastplate and helmet was because God put on some clothes over the suit of armor. Did you know that one of these is available to us today?

It’s not the garments of vengeance. We know from Scripture that vengeance is His alone.

I believe that part of our problems stem from the fact that we want the armor but still fail to fully clothe ourselves. It’s the zeal of the Lord that covers it all. That’s one of the things that the church is lacking in this generation.

That’s why zeal is one of the first things that Paul talks about for the mature believer. It’s the cloak that should cover all that we do for Christ. He answers the question; when should we be seen without the cloak? NEVER!!

Zeal is actually our passion for the Lord on display for all to see. Of course, Christ must be the focus of our zeal. We need to get emotional about our God. We need to stir it up.

That’s what warriors do before a battle. They would hold council the night before they met the enemy. They’d tell stories of former victories, sing, chant victory slogans, and raise the war cry. All of this was to stir up the emotion of zeal.

In the spiritual struggles we face, there’s no difference in the way we achieve victory. God wants us to put on His zeal before we enter the heat of battle. We must take up this attitude: “I live for the honor of Christ!”

That’s why we should be running daily into the Lord’s presence. As we sing, worship, read and confess the Scripture, and pray in the spirit, we’re stirring ourselves up. There’s no better preparation for the battles ahead.

Question: How often do you get emotional about the Lord?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Finding God’s Will

Finding God’s Will

As we continue through the book of Romans, Paul is reviewing the walk of the spirit. In my last post, I talked about establishing God’s pattern in our lives. That involves prayer in the spirit – standing beside the burnt offering and becoming a living sacrifice before God.

As I spend time with the Holy Spirit, I begin to hear His voice. My mind is being renewed as God’s Word enters my heart. The next question is; now that I’m hearing God’s Word in my spirit – what do I do with it?

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

There’s still a choice to be made. This is where, according to Christ, the thorns and thistles of distractions could choke it. We need to be careful about what our heart dwells on.

This verse literally says; don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold. Instead, let the Word renew (renovate) your mind.

If you want a life that’s well-pleasing to God, it will require a renewed mind. It’s the renewed mind that will transform your walk. That word transform is the Greek word metamorph. It’s how a caterpillar changes into a butterfly.

It’s only when we’re allowing the Word to renew our mind that we’re able, have the power, to test and approve God’s well pleasing will.

Many people have asked me, “Pastor, how do I know God’s will?” The truth is that you will never know God’s will before you do it. It’s by faith.

I get my faith approved. Then I stand beside body praying in spirit to hear God. I allow God’s Word to renew mind.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16

Through prayer in the spirit, we have access to the mind of Christ – that’s the renovation process that we need. It causes us to think His thoughts. Then, because His mind is working in us, we can test and approve God’s will.

As I live out my faith, opportunities arise. I feel a stirring on the inside of me, “I believe God wants me to do this.”

I now have the power to test and approve God’s will for my life. I step out. By faith, I expect either a miracle to confirm what I’m doing or the intervention of the Holy Spirit to stop me from doing it.

Paul understood this and tells us the bottom line.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.
Romans 14:17-18

To be well pleasing to God, it’s not about the rules you place on yourself. It’s a life lived in the spirit. That’s what God finds well pleasing. Because the flesh can never fulfill God’s perfect will.

Simply put, a well-pleasing life requires a spiritual walk.

Question: What do you believe is the next step in God’s plan for you right now?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Living Sacrifice

The Living Sacrifice

As we go through the book of Romans, we’re beginning chapter 12. This is where Paul starts his concluding remarks.

What we have to realize is that you can’t understand this section properly, without a grasp of what he taught in chapters 4-8. We need to walk by the spirit to receive the power to fulfill what he’s about to bring to us.

The last chapters of Romans can never be accomplished in our own strength. But, first, Paul summarizes what he’s talked about so far.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

This is one of those verses that we wished wasn’t in the Bible. But it is, so we have to follow it. It says that there’s something we can do that’s holy and well pleasing to God.

The word offer means to stand beside your body. Paul is talking about something that can only be done in the spirit.

In the spirit I can stand next to myself and look at my flesh as the enemy – my greatest weakness. Only then can I offer it to God on His altar.

The original Greek says that it’s a burnt offering, living, holy, and to God – well pleasing. Wait a minute; we are to be a living burnt offering? Yes! There’s really no other way to say it.

Pleasing God requires sacrifice. But what exactly does that mean to us? Most people use the word sacrifice to mean they’ll try harder. They think it tells them to fast on holidays, eat according to the Old Testament food laws, dress like the 1940’s, and talk King James English.

That’s not what God is looking for. If you read the epistle to the Romans, you find that Paul writes about the walk of the spirit. If that’s in place, then you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. But how do we get there?

We need the fire of God to consume the sacrifice. In the book of Acts we see tongues of fire on the heads of those praying in the upper room. We’re also told (I Thessalonians 5:19) not to quench the Holy Spirit’s fire. Paul told his spiritual son, Timothy, to fan into flame the gift that was within him (II Timothy 1:6).

Paul was a man who had a rich experience of prayer in the spirit. He assumed that those he was writing to also knew how to pray in the spirit. When you pray in the spirit, you’re standing beside your body as a burnt offering.

The last part of the verse in Romans could be modernized as, logically – this is what you signed up for. We’re living out a spiritual walk. You can try harder, stumbling around in the flesh without Christ. But if I’m to be well pleasing, it will require a spiritual work.

In the first part of Romans, Paul showed us that righteousness could only be achieved by a walk in the spirit. That’s accomplished through a rich prayer life of praying in the spirit. As I pray in the spirit, I stand beside the burnt offering.

Remember, I’m not talking about whether or not you’re saved, or even acceptable to God. You’re all those things, and more, in Christ. I’m talking about going beyond acceptable and into the realm of well-pleasing to God.

This should be our desire if we want to see a move of God in our lifetime.

Question: Why do some believers find this sacrifice so difficult?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Israel Restored

Israel Restored

As we go through the book of Romans, Paul has been talking about the spiritual condition of Israel. He tells us that many had refused the knowledge of salvation through Jesus Christ. Because of that, these persons lost their place in God’s kingdom.

But, there’s a remnant of Jews who have chosen to follow the Messiah. It’s Paul’s desire that Israel as a nation turns to Christ.

And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Romans 11:23-24

According to Paul, Israel’s unbelief is not a permanent condition. If they come to faith in Christ, God can re-graft them into the tree.

As Gentiles, our very nature was wild. Yet, in Christ, God could graft us into His kingdom. How much more could God bring back those who were a part of the “founding family.”

A Jew coming to Christ has a background of knowledge that the Holy Spirit can draw on. Their eyes can be opened to the truth. They start further along than some Gentiles who have to start from scratch.

Paul now gives us a prophetic look at the future of Israel.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

Romans 11:25-27

We need to understand what the apostle is saying here. In Scripture, the word, mystery, means something hidden until the time it happens. It’s just like the start of the church. No one saw it coming until Christ rose from the dead.

Paul doesn’t want us to be ignorant of the mystery concerning Israel. He doesn’t want us to become conceited, thinking the church is just a Gentile thing.

What’s happening in the spirit, is there’s a part of Israel that has experienced a hardening. But, it’s only temporary, until the number Gentiles is complete.

Jesus said the same thing concerning the nation of Israel.

They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Luke 21:24

Paul and Jesus use almost the same words – times of Gentiles filled up vs. Gentiles coming in filled up. The times seem to be fulfilled at this point, since Israel has once again become a nation.

The mystery is that all Israel shall be saved. Then he quotes Isaiah who says that the Deliverer will turn away “worshiplessness” from Jacob. It’s a new covenant when their sins are removed. But we know that can only be done by faith in Christ.

Here’s how Jeremiah puts it.

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

Jeremiah 31:33

This is a great description of righteousness as Paul has been teaching it throughout the book of Romans. This is salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s why we, as believers, must be constantly praying for Israel’s salvation. That their eyes would be opened to the truth of Christ.

Question: How often do you pray for the spiritual restoration of Israel?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2021 in Faith, Israel, Prayer, The Gospel

 

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Christ – The Holy Root

Christ – The Holy Root

In my last post, we looked at Paul’s illustration using bread and the firstfruits. He’s talking about the nation of Israel as a part of God’s plan. In this post we’ll look at his next example.

If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Romans 11:16

Now Paul will use roots and branches to give a more detailed illustration. He tells us that if the root is set apart as holy, then the rest of the plant is holy also.

It’s clear that the most important part of the plant is the root. That’s where the life is. So, Paul is talking about a holy root.

“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

Revelation 22:16

There’s no way around it; Jesus Christ is the holy Root. That’s why we need His life. This is an important concept. The Lord explained it to His disciples in the parable of the farmer planting his seed.

I believe that the NKJV brings this truth out in the best way.

These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. (NKJV)

Mark 4:16-17

This statement of Jesus explains what Paul is talking about in the book of Romans. We can see that Israel is a self-righteous people. The key is that they have no root in themselves.

It’s like building your house on the sand. We need a root to give us life and keep us from falling. So, a holy root makes holy branches.

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.

Romans 11:17-18

Paul tells us that some branches were broken off and wild branches were grafted in. The wild branches speak of the Gentiles who receive Christ. We’re now a co-participants of the root. According to the apostle, we now share in the richness of the olive tree.

This goes right along with what Christ taught His disciples…and us.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”

John 15:5-7

What matters is the life of the root and the richness of the tree. I’m not better than any other branch. There’s nothing I can boast about. It’s the root that sustains my life.

That’s why we have to watch our attitudes. We don’t keep the root alive – the root keeps us alive.

It’s so important that we keep ourselves connected to the root. When we try to go off on our own, we’re headed for failure. We must remain in Christ.

That means maintaining a healthy relationship with the Holy Spirit. Time in prayer allows us to receive the life-giving support of the root. Please don’t lose sight of this fundamental truth.

Question: How have you received strength and support through your time with the Holy Spirit?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Our Unique Callings

Our Unique Callings

We’re continuing in the book of Romans as Paul explains to us the place of Israel in God’s plan. He now looks at the Jew-Gentile relationship. He starts by asking another question.

Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!

Romans 11:11-12

He asks the rhetorical question; did Israel trip to the point where they fell and lost it all? The answer is a resounding “No!” He says that their side-slip opened up salvation for the Gentiles. At this point, God is using this chance at salvation to provoke a rivalry.

So, if their side-slip means riches for the world, and their deterioration means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their completion be? God’s goal through all of this is not Israel’s destruction. The Lord is looking for their total restoration.

Paul now reminds us who he’s talking to.

I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.

Romans 11:13-14

Paul is specifically writing to Gentiles. It’s important that we understand his ministry. That word, apostle, means one who is set apart and sent out on a mission.

According to Paul, his mission is the Gentiles. At one point Paul submitted his Gospel to the Apostles in Jerusalem. He wanted to make sure he was in sync with the rest of Christianity at that time.

As for those who seemed to be important — whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance — those men added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.

Galatians 2:6-7

In their meeting, they clearly saw the hand of God at work. Peter was obviously called to evangelize the Jews. Paul, on the other hand, was uniquely qualified to bring the message of Christ to the Gentile world.

Both Peter and Paul understood this important truth. We’re not called to do everything and reach everybody. Each one of us has a unique and specific area of ministry. We get into trouble when we try to be like someone else.

In Romans 11:13, above, Paul tells us that he glorifies that area of service – it’s of great importance to him. Yet, in the next verse, he tells us that he’s still hoping to win Israel to Christ.

The Apostle Paul has to deal with the same issues in his ministry that we deal with each day. He has a God-ordained ministry, yet he would rather do something different. He would rather be reaching the Jews.

The simple fact is that Paul wasn’t a Peter. What was it about Peter that he could win a thousand Jews to Christ at a time? I don’t know, but God was at work through his gifts and personality.

Paul was a totally different person. It’s clear that reaching the Jewish people was not his strong point. In spite of that, he tried again and again to reach them. And, whenever he did, he ran into trouble – he was stoned, thrown into jail, or had to go into hiding and leave the city.

We need to learn this lesson. We have to go before God and spend time in His presence. That’s how we come to understand our unique calling. We’ll begin to see who we personally are meant to reach and how to accomplish it. Time in the spirit is a great benefit to our ministry.

Questions: Who are you called to reach? How has God qualified you to do it?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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