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Category Archives: Spiritual Walk

What are You Hearing?

What are You Hearing?

We’ve been talking about how the Gospel is sent to the world around us. There have to be Christians submitted to the Lord in order to effectively communicate the message of Christ.

But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:16-17

The problem is that not all submit to, obey, heed carefully the good news. Even though the context here is talking about Israel, I believe it could apply to all who hear the Gospel.

Paul concludes that faith only comes through the power of the spirit. That’s what the second half of this passage is talking about. But it assumes that the believer with the message is hearing from God.

The Lord is trying to get our attention. He wants to speak to a church that’s largely enamored with what the world has to offer. We don’t want to take the time to hear from the Holy Spirit.

The enemy knows this. Never have there been more distractions then there is right now.

We seem to have lost sight of the truth of this verse. It literally says, “Faith comes out of hearing and hearing through the rhema of Christ.” As I’ve said before, rhema is the Greek word that speaks of the word we hear with our spirit.

That’s one of our biggest failings. Not listening, and therefore not hearing God’s voice speaking to us.

We want to just go out and minister with the power of the spirit. We want to go to work, watch TV, play basketball, and then heal the sick. We want formulas – quick, easy ways to walk in the power of the Spirit.

The spiritual authority that we’re looking for starts with hearing from God. Jesus would spend quality time in prayer and didn’t minister until he heard a Word from the Father. People actually flocked to him.

Today, we find it hard getting people to our meetings in the middle of a city. What’s wrong? I believe that the answer is clear…we have no Word from God. If we want to be the end-time church, prepared for Christ’s return, then we need to be listening to the Holy Spirit.

That’s the conclusion that Paul brings us to. Faith originates, springs from hearing a Word originating in the spirit. Not from reading. Not from speaking. But hearing through the rhema-Word of Christ.

This is where we mess up much of the time. We think that reading Scripture produces faith. NO – it’s a Word from God that produces faith. Please don’t get mad at me for speaking this truth.

We need to relearn that it’s revelation from God that produces faith. It’s not a well thought out argument. Faith springs from hearing through rhema.

This is an important point. That’s why you need God’s approval to share Christ. You have to be submitted enough to hear a Word from Christ. If you’re not listening to the Holy Spirit, then you have no business proclaiming Jesus.

The church needs to get back to an intimacy with the Holy Spirit. We can’t fill our days with every kind of distraction the world offers, and expect to see a move of God.

We are living at a crossroads. The restrictions of the pandemic are starting to come to an end. We’re starting to refill our schedules. Don’t go back to business as usual. Set you heart toward quality time with the Lord.

We don’t know what’s coming down the road. But, if you’re in step with the Holy Spirit, then you’re prepared for whatever may come your way.

Question: What are your scheduling priorities as pandemic restrictions loosen?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Who is Sent?

Who is Sent?

I’m continuing through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. In my last post, I ended with some of Paul’s leading questions about the Gospel. The next question is probably the most important of all.

And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

Romans 10:15

How shall the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ be proclaimed unless someone is sent? You might get mad at me for what I’m about to say, but stick with me and see what Scripture says about it.

Many believers have this idea that it’s every Christian’s job to proclaim Christ. Is it? Look at how Paul describes this ministry elsewhere in his writings.

And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle — I am telling the truth, I am not lying — and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.

1 Timothy 2:7

Paul uses a word here that’s translated as appointed in English. It actually means to be set in place. It wasn’t something that he just decided to do in passing.

On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

This is something that most teachers never touch on. Paul says the he had to be approved to be entrusted with the Gospel. That word means to be examined and tested to see if something is genuine or not.

According to the apostle, he had to be proven genuine before God would trust him to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. That’s the same word as in this next verse.

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

I believe that our lack of boldness is directly related to the way we force new Christians to share the Gospel without first being approved by God. We give them canned speeches and Scriptures that they repeat without any passion. It’s no wonder the world ignores that kind of witness.

Look at Paul’s method of evangelism.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5

He tells us that his speaking and proclaiming were based in the power of God. I believe that proclaiming Christ has to be directed by the Holy Spirit. If that were always the case; would it make a difference in how the world sees the church?

We need to be sharing the Gospel effectively. I strongly feel that if you’re not submitted to God, then you shouldn’t proclaim Christ. Rogue Christians do more harm than good in their testimonies.

“Come to Christ, then you can be as flaky as me.”

In the above verse from Romans, Paul quotes a passage from Isaiah 52:7. That Scripture speaks of a proclamation that benefits the hearer. It’s not just something the herald feels like sharing.

The fact is, I don’t know all that you’re going through. That’s why I have to rely on the wisdom and power of the Holy Spirit to guide what I say to you. That will cause you to base your faith on God’s power, and not my intellect.

Question: What did you hear that caused you to put your faith in Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Path of the Gospel

The Path of the Gospel

As we continue on in the book of Romans, Paul is talking about our salvation in Christ. In my last post we looked at the only way to be saved. That is to believe in Christ and confess with your mouth.

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile — the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Romans 10:10-13

He makes it clear that if we follow God’s plan, we’ll never be put to shame. But what if we choose another route? What if I try to be good enough to earn a place in God’s kingdom? Then I’m open to humiliation.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Jew or a Gentile, there’s still only one name that will bring salvation.

then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 4:10-12

It used to be a generic God. There are even some today who only want to use that term. But, Scripture is clear that only the name of Jesus Christ must be called upon in order to enter salvation.

Paul now asks a series of questions based upon this.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

Romans 10:14

We know that if you call upon the name of Jesus Christ, you’ll be saved. But, how can you call on someone you don’t believe in? So, belief – faith – is the key. Where does that come from? Paul brings us to the next question.

How can they believe if they don’t hear? So hearing is the key to obtaining a saving faith. This can’t simply be an exercise of your ears. You need to hear, understand and apply what you’re hearing.

In order to inspire faith, the Holy Spirit needs to be active during this interaction. It takes an act of God. That’s why prayer for the lost is so important.

Paul then asks; where does the hearing come from? There needs to be a preacher. It’s important to understand that Paul does not use the word, evangelist, in this verse. Instead, he uses the word herald. That’s someone who announces what’s coming.

There needs to be an anointed message. It can’t simply be a memorized speech. It must cause the listener to stop looking at the temporary, and focus on the eternal.

That’s the way to a person’s heart. That’s where the decision to follow Christ will be made. Paul doesn’t say that we make a choice in our head, and pray a canned prayer. It’s about faith being born in our hearts and overflowing from our mouth.

The message of Jesus Christ is the most important one that any person will ever hear. It must be heralded with the passion that it deserves. The message must come from a changed life. Only then will the hearer be transformed by the faith growing inside them.

In my next post, Ill talk about the person who should give this message.

Question: Who first brought you the message of Jesus Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2021 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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The Door to Salvation

The Door to Salvation

In my last post, we saw that true righteousness starts by getting our heart right. It has to do with what’s overflowing from your heart.

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:8-9

It’s clear from this verse, that what you believe and what you do work together to bring salvation into your life. You can’t just believe it. Neither can you only confess it. It has to be your faith and actions working together.

It’s also important to understand what it means to be saved. The saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ is so rich and powerful, yet in many Christian circles we’ve reduced it to only a fraction of God’s desire. There’s a tendency in the evangelical church to use this word in the past tense.

“I’ve been saved. Are you saved?”

“When did you get saved?”

Statements like these relegate our salvation to an event that happened sometime in the past. It was a great thing. It changed my life. But now it’s something I can look back on. This is the furthest thing imaginable for the true definition of our salvation.

The Greek word used for saved in this verse, and elsewhere in our English Bibles, is sozo. It’s a huge word that’s crammed full of meaning.

To enter into sozo means that you’re not only saved, but kept safe and sound, and are rescued from danger and destruction. Also included in that word is the fact that you’re saved from disease, healed, and restored to health. It applies to both the physical and spiritual realms.

The word saved includes the entire scope of everything that Christ paid for on the cross. It contains the answers for our past, present and future. To see it as anything less is an affront to the Gospel – the Good News – of Jesus Christ.

This statement that Paul makes is the only way possible to enter into the salvation of God. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to God apart from His work on the cross. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the only door to our salvation.

In this sense we can look back at the initial work of God’s saving power in our lives. It was the day we heard and understood the Good News. We learned that we were incapable of pleasing a Holy God. Yet, because of the work of Christ, His Son, we could be saved.

We believed the message in our hearts. Then, in an outward response to that faith, we confessed with our mouth that Jesus Christ was Lord.

It doesn’t matter the semantics you used. Whether you say that you received Jesus or prayed the sinner’s prayer. If you bowed your knees to Christ in the above manner, you entered into the salvation of the Lord.

It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from. Your good works or your evil past had no bearing on what God did in you. When you called upon Him, you were saved, and the ongoing process of salvation has begun in your life.

Question: What were the events surrounding your initial salvation experience?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2021 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Who’s in Control?

Who’s in Control?

We’re continuing our look at Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He’s showing the differences between a law of righteousness, and that which comes by faith.

Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: “The man who does these things will live by them.”

Romans 10:5

When it comes to trying to live righteously by keeping the law, the Bible is very clear. The person who does these things will live in them. It’s all about living in the law. James told us that if you keep it all, and miss it on one point, you’ve blown the whole thing (James 2:10).

How does the righteousness by faith describe itself?

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming…

Romans 10:6-8

Paul starts with what this righteousness doesn’t say. You really need to understand the Greek to get the full scope of what’s being said here.

The first thing we see is that true righteousness is a matter of the heart. What’s your heart saying? There are two parts. Your heart either wants to bring Christ down, or bring Christ up. What does that mean?

Actually, the two Greek words used for bring down and bring up are technical sailing terms. Bring down literally means to moor a ship in the harbor. Bring up means to launch a ship on its voyage.

The bottom line – It’s all about who’s in control. Too often believers act like they’re in control of the Lord. They tell Him to come or go according to their good pleasure. That’s not the God I serve.

Jesus Christ is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Yes, He calls me His friend. But that doesn’t negate the fact that this is still His universe, His plan, His agenda, and His church. I’m the one who needs to get in line with what the Lord desires.

Too often we try to put God into our own little box. We think we have Him all figured out. We know what the Lord should and shouldn’t do. We know who Christ should love, and who He should pour out judgment on.

When we live like that, we’re headed toward frustration. God breaks out of the box every time. Then, we end up looking foolish.

Instead, Paul talks about what true righteousness actually says. This is what the verse says if you take out all of the “don’ts”.

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “…The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming…

“It” is the righteousness by faith. Scripture makes it clear that the rhema word is near you – in your heart and in your mouth. He also calls it the rhema of faith. Remember that rhema speaks of the Word we hear directly from the Holy Spirit.

We know that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. That’s why we must spend quality time with God – praying in the spirit.

As I do that, He puts His rhema in my heart, and then it overflows from my mouth at the right time. The modern church has yet to learn to use this powerful weapon. The early church used it to turn the world upside down.

The rhema of God is a necessity. We can’t fulfill God’s plan without it.

Question: How has God’s rhema Word changed your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Three Choices of Faith

Three Choices of Faith

We’re continuing our study through the book of Romans. At this point, Paul is explaining the place of Israel in the plan of God.

In my last post, we looked at Paul’s quote of a couple of prophecies from the book of Isaiah. He was dealing with Israel’s failure to obtain righteousness.

Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 9:32-33

I said that this passage gives us three choices. I now want to look at these in more detail. We’re told that this righteousness that pleases God must be pursued by faith.

We know from Romans 10:17, that faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ. That’s where Paul is eventually bringing us to. It’s all about hearing and obeying Christ.

It’s interesting to note that Peter also quoted this verse in his writings.

…and, “A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the message — which is also what they were destined for.

1 Peter 2:8

Peter tells us that Israel stumbled because they disobeyed the Word. It’s all about hearing and obeying. Jesus Christ gave us a perfect word picture of what’s at stake.

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.

But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Luke 6:46-49

I said that the passage from Romans gives us three choices. These choices are actually three responses the Word.

Sometimes the Word seems small and insignificant in our eyes. We ignore it and we end up tripping over it. So it stops us and gets our attention.

Sometimes the Word to us seems huge. It would require too much change in our lives. We don’t want to put forth the effort it would require. So, we try to get around it, and end up stepping in the trap and our lives get stuck.

The third choice is the best. We hear the Word, take it to heart, and obey it. We then use it for the foundation of our lives. Now we’re secure in the center of God’s will.

So, in the context of Scripture, Romans chapter 9, is talking about the Word. It’s about hearing from God, then trusting Him, and obeying what He’s spoken to us. This is what the Christian walk is all about.

That’s why I’m so adamant about spending intimate times with the Holy Spirit. Without His guiding voice in our lives, we’re merely drifting on the winds of chance. I want more than that for my life.

Spend the time that it takes to hear His voice. Then keep a watch over it in your heart. Allow the Word of Christ to take root in you and let it become the foundation for all that you do.

Question: What’s the last thing you heard from the Holy Spirit that you need to obey?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Pursuing By Faith

Pursuing By Faith

Going through Romans, Paul has been talking about the place of Israel in the plan of God. He has been using Old Testament prophecies to explain it.

It is just as Isaiah said previously: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”

Romans 9:29

Here Paul quotes another prophecy from Isaiah (Isaiah 1:9). This verse tells us that Israel is not totally gone. There remains a seed. This seed was protected by God. And, from what I can see through history, they remain protected.

So in talking about the Jewish people, they have a special place in God’s heart and in Paul’s as well.

However, their salvation is the same as ours. It can only be through faith in Christ. Right now, their calling and ours is the same. We are called to salvation in Christ, then, we submit to the Holy Spirit to as He brings us to mature sonship.

What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.

Romans 9:30-31

Now Paul summarizes what he said so far. The Gentiles did not pursue righteousness, yet, when given the chance, they eagerly seized and possessed it. But what kind of righteousness is it? It’s a righteousness that has its origin in faith.

Israel, on the other hand, pursued a law of righteousness, yet never arrived at it. The Gentiles grabbed righteousness as it was springing out of their faith. But, if you chase it by law, you can never catch it.

Here’s the reason…

Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 9:32-33

Their righteousness was not coming from faith. They were pursuing as if it could spring up from their works.

This is also a problem many Christians have. We expect the blessings of God to spring from our works. If I just try harder, then God will notice my efforts and reward them.

That’s what tripped them and it trips us as well. It’s what Paul refers to as the stumbling stone.

In Paul’s quote of Isaiah, he actually uses two verses (Isaiah 8:14; 28:16) The first gives us an interesting word picture. He literally says that it’s a stone of stumbling and a rock of trapping.

The picture of a trap is of a bent tree with a rope trap. The rock holds the tree down until the trap is sprung.

The second verse deals with a perfect foundation stone. I believe that Paul put these two Old Testament verses together by the Holy Spirit. He’s actually giving us three choices.

It could be a little rock that causes you to trip and fall, making you embarrassed. Or, it could be a large rock that traps you and you’re hanging upside down, again embarrassed. Finally, it could be a foundation stone that you stand on, secure, and never put to shame.

The real question before us is; what is he talking about? It’s all about pursuing a righteousness that originates in faith. That’s the only way to please God.

Any other way brings shame and disappointment. When I try to please God with my own efforts, I end up frustrated and without hope. I have to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about change in my life.

Question: How have you tried to serve God in your own strength?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2021 in Faith, Israel, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Call to Everyone

The Call to Everyone

We’re continuing through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He’s talking about Israel’s rejection of the Messiah and the calling of the Gentiles.

As he says in Hosea: “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,” and, “It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.'”

Romans 9:25-26

Here Paul quotes a prophecy from Hosea (Hosea 2:23, 1:10). In context it’s about Israel being called to repentance. At that time, Israel joined with the Gentiles in their unbelief and caused judgment upon themselves.

Now, this same spirit of unbelief opened the call of salvation to us as Gentiles. Because, as Paul said, not all “Israel” is true Israel. The call to “not my people” can apply to everyone, Jew and Gentile alike. We can all go from “not His people” to sons of the living God.

That’s the journey that Romans, chapters 1-8, was all about. It’s the path to mature sonship in Christ.

At this point the path is the same for Jew and Gentile. It must be through faith in Christ. There are no special exemptions for the Jew. Actually, that’s why the book of Hebrews was written.

At that point many Jews were being saved. They came under intense persecution for following Christ. As a result, many wanted to go back to the old way under the law of Moses. Hebrews was written to let them know that there was no going back.

The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: “This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.”

Then he adds: “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.

Hebrews 10:15-18

The call to sonship in Christ is for all, both Jew and Gentile alike. Now we turn to the prophet, Isaiah.

Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved. For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”

Romans 9:27-28

Here the prophet is clearly speaking to Israel. In this quote there are some interesting things. First of all, the Old Testament verse (Isaiah 10:22-23) says they will turn around. Paul quotes the verse by saying they will be saved. (Actually, I’ve found many times where Paul quotes an Old Testament verse with a New Testament twist.)

But the real question before us is; what is true Israel. He said that Israel would be like the sand of the sea, but only a remnant saved. Right now you can find Jews in every part of the world. Yet how many are saved?

Some teach that they go to heaven simply because they’re Jews. That’s not what Paul, or the writer of Hebrews preached.

Verse 28 is the key. It’s not really a part of the Isaiah verse. I believe that it’s Paul’s comment on the subject. It literally says that the Lord will fulfill this word with a short cut.

How did He do that? The short cut is through Jesus Christ. Salvation through the Messiah, Jesus is much easier than the Old Testament law of Moses.

Through Jesus Christ, both Jews and Gentiles have been given a great gift. We have the ability to be saved simply by believing that Jesus is the Christ and accepting Him as Lord and Savior.

Question: How did you hear about the grace of God in Christ Jesus?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2021 in Faith, Israel, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Yackity Yak, Don’t Talk Back

Yackity Yak, Don’t Talk Back

We’re continuing our walk through the book of Romans. In talking about Israel’s place in the plan of God, Paul is explaining about God’s foreknowledge.

It’s a hard concept for us to grasp. The Lord sits outside of time and can view all of eternity at once. Our view is limited to where we are right now.

Because of this, some people get the idea that God makes everything happen. They say that He planned out everyone’s actions and reactions. I don’t believe this. Just because you know what everyone will do, doesn’t mean that you’re making them do it.

One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

Romans 9:19-21

If God already knows what will happen, then why does He blame us when we turn out that way? Paul asks us; who can stand against and oppose His resolve?

What do you think you’re doing when you talk back to God? He’s the Creator, the great Potter. We’re the ones being formed. How can we say to the Potter, “Why are you making me into this type of pot? I don’t want to be this.”

Some of the pottery is for noble purposes, like vases and ornamental pieces. Others are for common uses, like wash basins and bed pans.

Whether we want to admit it or not, it’s really up to the clay to decide what purpose it’s used for.

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

2 Timothy 2:20-21

It takes the right kind of clay to make a delicate vessel. Hard, unyielding clay can only make a common pot. The fact is that God determines the use, based on what He knows of the clay. The pliability of the person determines how God shapes him.

In my last post, I talked about Moses and Pharaoh. God shaped Pharaoh to display His glory, based upon the desire of Pharaoh’s heart. A resistant heart can never become what a soft, yielding heart can be.

Remember, Paul is still talking about Israel in this passage. He said that not all of Israel is Israel. Not all of Israel yields to His will.

What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath — prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory — even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

Romans 9:22-24

God desires to display who He is. Even in His wrath, He is passionate. The Lord shows forth His power and glory in all that He does.

He could, by His foreknowledge, immediately send everyone to hell that He knows will reject Him. He could also immediately translate to Heaven, everyone who accepts Christ. But, that wouldn’t show who He is.

In the Lord’s grace, He shows His patience, even to those who will someday enter His wrath. He does this so that He could show the wealth of His glory to the objects of His mercy, those who yielded to His molding. In Christ, we’re being prepared for His glory.

Question: How is God’s patience a blessing to you?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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A Hardened Heart

A Hardened Heart

In my last post, I started taking a little side trip to discuss mercy, from a biblical perspective. I explained that mercy is one of three foundations of God’s righteous law. The three are faith, judgment, and mercy.

Now we need to understand the important role that mercy should have in our lives.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you,

1 Peter 1:3-4

The mercy of God speaks of new birth and an inheritance. It’s the family blessing of God. As I said in my last post, mercy is the reward for being an obedient child of God.

In essence the walk of sonship is the walk of mercy. It’s a higher way of life than the faith-walk.

But, what we don’t get, is how it ties into the fact that God exists outside of time. That’s why His mercy looks random to us sometimes.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.

1 Timothy 1:12-13

This is Paul’s testimony of the work of Christ in his life. Paul received mercy, not based upon what he had done, but upon what God knew he would become in the future.

God knows who is going to respond to Him. So, He sometimes bases the blessings He gives on that foreknowledge. That’s why many seemingly sinful people receive protection, provision, and grace long before they bow their knee to Christ.

The Lord knew that you were going to choose Him. There are others, however, that He knows will never choose Christ, no matter the circumstances. Mercy is always based on obedience – past, present or future.

Now with an understanding of the mercy of God we can move forward with our study of Romans.

For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

Romans 9:17

We need to understand this verse from the standpoint of God’s mercy. This verse doesn’t say, “I made you king…” It literally says, “I resurrected you…” God got what was on the inside of Pharaoh to come out. These things sometimes only come out in the heat of emotion.

If you read Exodus, chapters 7-9, you’ll see Moses going before Pharaoh again and again. Each time Pharaoh says he’ll let Israel go, but then he goes back on his word. He wants to negotiate, and look kingly, but his heart was actually against Moses and Israel.

Finally, God declared that He had spared Pharaoh to show His power. In that way, God’s mighty name would be proclaimed throughout the earth.

Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

Romans 9:18

According to His will, God grants mercy to His obedient sons and daughters. Others, the Lord will make stubborn, because that’s what they want to happen.

God did not do something with Pharaoh against his will. Just the opposite – God strengthened Pharaoh’s resolve to do what was already in his heart.

God didn’t want Pharaoh to cave in to the pressure from his advisors or magicians. God gave Pharaoh the backbone to do what he actually wanted to do.

That’s why it’s so important for us to pray for God to soften the hearts of those around us. We don’t want anyone hardened against the Gospel of Christ.

Question: In what ways have you seen emotions bring out what’s in a person’s heart?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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