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Category Archives: Spiritual Walk

Hopeless Situations

Hopeless Situations

How do you view God’s will in your life. As for me, there are times when I look at what God has spoken to me and it seems miles away from where I am. I wonder how God will ever bring to pass what He said He would. Actually, this is normal for those who follow God’s plan for their lives.

We’re continuing our walk through the Gospel of Luke. It’s very appropriate, because we’re now entering the holiday season where peoples’ thoughts naturally look to the birth of Christ.

Today’s post will look at Luke 2:1-5. You may want to read this section before continuing with this post.

In chapter one, we saw the angelic announcement of John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ birth. We saw Mary going to Elizabeth’s house for a few months to prepare. Then, we saw the arrival of John. Now we fast-forward to the birth of Christ.

Luke begins chapter two with a history lesson. Caesar Augustus was the emperor of the Roman Empire. As emperors do, he wants to bring in some more revenue for his campaigns. So, he decides to tax the empire.

That means everyone needs to go to their home towns because that’s where the family lists are kept. And, of course, with taxes you don’t want to miss anyone.

We also meet a man named Joseph for the first time. He’s living in a town called Nazareth in the region of Galilee. It turns out, he’s also the man that Mary is engaged to. It seems that he’s come to terms with her pregnancy, and they’re moving forward with their plans to start a family together.

Why is all of this important? I’m glad you asked!

Everyone is waiting for the Messiah to be born. There are many Old Testament Scriptures that point to this great event. The verses even tell us where the Christ child will be born.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Micah 5:2

This is another important Scripture. I’ve heard people try to discredit the Biblical account by pointing out that there was more than one Bethlehem in Israel. But, the Word of God makes it clear that we’re talking about the Bethlehem that’s located in Judea, the tribal land of Judah.

Here’s the problem. Joseph and Mary are living in Nazareth. It’s the tribal land of Zebulun. That’s approximately 120 miles from where God said Messiah would be born.

If Joseph and Mary were normal Israelites, then they probably had no clue as to the location of the prophecy. In the natural, things look almost impossible for the Messiah to be born where God predicted.

But, God can move in ways that we can’t even imagine. That’s why we can trust Him to accomplish in us exactly what He say’s He will do.

The Lord moved upon the heart of Caesar.

And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

Luke 2:3-4

It turns out that God is a perfect strategist. He can work through people and events to bring about His will no matter what the situation looks like. We can always fully trust the Lord to accomplish His plan in us.

120 miles might not sound like much to us, but for a pregnant woman on foot, it’s a huge distance. It had to be something of great importance to make them take this hard journey. Everything worked together for the completion of God’s will.

Question: How well do you trust God when the situation looks impossible?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2021 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our Glorious God

Our Glorious God

In my last post, I started talking about the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth. This occurred when they both became pregnant after hearing a message from God. Elizabeth was carrying John the Baptist, while Mary was pregnant with Jesus.

We saw that when they met together, God showed up. He overshadowed their time together. Elizabeth was given a revelation of who Mary would give birth to – the Messiah. Now Mary is overcome by the presence of the Lord and she begins to prophesy.

This is found in Luke 1:46-56. You may want to read this passage before continuing with this post.

She begins with a revelation of who she is, and the magnitude of what God is doing in her.

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name.”

Luke 1:46-49

It’s important to see her attitude here. She understands that it’s all about God, and has nothing to do with how good she is. She sees God as her Lord and Savior. Her blessing is from Him alone.

We need to learn this lesson. There’s nothing we can do to work for, or earn the Lord’s blessing. It’s all a part of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross. All we can do is accept the blessing of His salvation.

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.”

Luke 1:50-51

God alone is merciful and mighty. It’s important for us to understand what that means. We get a skewed understanding of mercy sometimes.

In our modern generation we use the word, mercy, incorrectly. We think it means to give someone a second chance after they’ve wronged us. We sweep their sin under the carpet. That’s not the Biblical idea.

Notice that God extends mercy to those who fear Him. That’s because God’s mercy is His reward to those who are obedient to His covenant. It’s the added benefit you get for being part of the family.

To fear God means that you humble yourself before Him. These verses reinforce the fact that pride hinders our relationship with the Lord. It’s all about our attitudes.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

Luke 1:52-53

Ruling, humble, hungry, and rich are all attitudes. They’re choices we have to make. Am I in charge of my life (ruler) or is God in charge (humble)? Do I see my need for the Lord’s help (hungry) or do I think I can make it without His help (rich)? How we answer these questions determine the amount of grace we receive.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”

Luke 1:54-55

I especially love this last part. This blessing is forever on the descendants of Abraham. That includes me.

Remember, from the book of Romans, that as Gentile believers we’ve been grafted into the family of Abraham. Genetically, I have no part of this heritage, yet because of Christ I can claim the full rights of a son of Abraham. And, you can too if you’ve bowed your knee to Jesus Christ.

This whole exchange was just the first few minutes of Mary and Elizabeth getting together. I can only imagine what the next few months were like. The mutual encouragement must have been incredible. This is what life in the family of God should be like for all of us.

Question: How is your knowledge of God increased by your meeting with other believers?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Meeting Together

Meeting Together

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. I think it’s interesting that it comes as we’re entering into the holiday season. I didn’t plan it that way, but it worked out great.

Today’s post will deal with Luke 1:39-45. You may want to read that passage before continuing with this article.

Soon after the angel met with her, Mary journeyed to Elizabeth and Zechariah’s house. They were her relatives.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:41

Mary probably felt the need to get away from her village and the questions that would certainly come up about her pregnancy. Elizabeth and Zechariah provided her with a safe place.

When Mary arrived at their home, it’s obvious that God showed up as well.

In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Luke 1:42-43

In the spirit, she recognized the mother of Messiah, even though she had no way of knowing it in the natural. But, it was in this moment that she asked a question. “WHY?” We miss this sometimes.

In our fellowship, the “why” is important. That’s a question we rarely ask. Why do we meet together?

We have a few stock answers: Because Jesus told us to. Because that’s what the early church did.

These are true, but not the right answers. There’s an epidemic of believers who stay away from church these days. The pandemic has become an excuse for many to forsake in-person meetings.

I think that in many cases we get the wrong idea of what church meetings are for. “Because we learn the Bible. Because we need ministry. Because we like each other. Because we agree with everything. Because the church meets my needs.” All of these reasons set you up to stay home.

Look at what happened when Mary arrived at the house. This is how Elizabeth described it.

As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

Luke 1:44

Why did she say this?

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:41

Think about the excuses we use. Could the Holy Spirit fill Elizabeth without Mary being present? Yes.

Could John have leapt for joy in the womb without Mary? Yes.

Would those things have happened without their meeting? No.

That’s what we have to learn. God does unique things in our fellowship. There’s a special move of God that He reserves only for those times that we are together. That’s probably because there’s a greater focus on what God is doing when we meet in-person.

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

Luke 1:45

Mary was blessed because she believed. This verse literally says that there will be a performance of what was told her. We have to see that the private and the public work together.

Mary was told something by the angel in private. Now she gets public encouragement. That’s because we’re encouraged in our fellowship.

Zechariah was told something in private. He shared it with his wife. Now she’s in her sixth month of seeing the “performance.” Elizabeth is in the perfect position to encourage Mary to continue trusting God.

We have to learn that the private can never replace the public. Just like the public can never replace the private.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

God has a work for us to do. We may hear His call to us in private, but we need the public to spur us on. It gives us the boldness we need, to do what God has called us to.

Don’t let the times we live in rob you of the blessings that can only come from our in-person fellowship.

Question: How often do you meet in-person with other believers?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Faith in Humility

Faith in Humility

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, the next section I want to look at is Luke 1:26-38. You may want to read that section of Scripture before continuing with this post.

In the last couple of posts, we saw the angel, Gabriel, bringing a message to Zechariah the priest. The message was that Zechariah and his wife would have a son, John the Baptist, in their old age.

Because of his pride, Zechariah questioned the angel as to the truth of his message. Because of that, he couldn’t speak until the child was born.

Now, this same angel is sent with a message to a young Jewish woman named Mary. She was engaged to a man named Joseph. She was a virgin, yet she was told that she would conceive a child without any sexual relations.

Right from the start, she was caught off guard, not only by the angel’s appearance, but his greeting to her.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

Luke 1:28-30

It’s at this point that we see the difference between Mary and Zechariah. This verse literally says that she was agitated and confused by his words to her. As a result, she was questioning internally and trying to figure out what this angel could possibly mean by this greeting.

Where Zechariah spoke out of his pride, Mary remained humble and kept her thoughts to herself. This makes a big difference. We need to learn this lesson. We don’t always need to say everything that’s passing through our brain.

Because of her silence, the angel could continue with his message to her.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Luke 1:30-33

In this passage, Luke begins to show us some insight into who Jesus is. He is Son of the Most High God. He’s the last king of Israel, because when He reigns, there will be no end of His kingdom. It’s obvious that Mary is being told that she will bear the long awaited Messiah.

Believing the angel’s words, Mary then asks the next logical question.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Luke 1:34

This question is very different than the question asked by Zechariah. He was looking for proof that the angel spoke the truth.

Mary, on the other hand, assumed that the message was true. She simply was curious as to how it was going to take place. Would this Son be a product of her upcoming marriage? Or, would He be the result of a miracle?

Gabriel then responds to her faith. He let’s Mary know that God is doing miraculous things. Not only in her, but in Elizabeth as well. The times were changing. Messiah was about to appear. God’s plan was going to move forward.

Her response at this point is incredible.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Luke 1:38

I can’t even imagine the faith that she showed at his statements. She was in total surrender to God’s will for her.

There was no thought to herself. What would people think of her – pregnant outside of marriage? What would her parents say? What would Joseph, her fiance, think about this?

None of this seemed to even enter her thinking. The only thing that concerned her was to carry out God’s will. We need to walk in that same kind of faith.

Question: How would you have reacted to Gabriel’s message?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2021 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Faith is not Knowledge

Faith is not Knowledge

I’ve started posting through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post we saw how the priest, Zechariah, was praying for a child. As he was ministering in the temple, he had an encounter with an angel from God.

The angel announced that he and his wife would have a child. This child, who would be John the Baptist, was destined to be a blessing to many people.

For today’s post, I’ll be looking at Luke 1:15-22. You may want to read this Scripture before continuing with this article.

Having talked about the blessing that this child would be, the angel goes on to talk about his ministry.

…for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Luke 1:15-17

Yes, Zechariah was receiving an answer to prayer, but there was a bigger work God wanted to do. Zechariah was looking at his little situation, the need for a child. God was looking at preparing Israel for the Messiah.

We do the same things. We look at what we’re going through. God is looking at preparing His people for the coming of Christ.

Think about it. What can God do through you? NO! – think bigger!…NO! Bigger than that!!! We limit ourselves to what we think we can accomplish, instead of looking at God’s ability. We need to start thinking about the power of God working in us.

Now, having heard the Word of God from this angel, Zechariah does something that totally blows my mind. We sometimes miss it because of the language used in this verse.

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

Luke 1:18

When Zechariah asks this, it’s not really about how old he is. The word used for old man, is actually more about life experience than how long you’ve lived. It’s a tense of the word, elder.

He was really asking how he could be sure about this message before he told anyone. He was an elder in Israel. He had a reputation to maintain. It was more about pride than curiosity.

That’s why the angel got so upset with him. Knowing that, it’s easier to understand why Gabriel responded the way he did.

The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”

Luke 1:19-20

The angel basically said, “Hey Mr. Bigshot. You think you’re special because you stand as an elder before Israel? I stand before God Himself. If I lie to you, I’ve got more to lose than a little pride.”

Zechariah wanted to know for sure before he told this to anyone. So, Gabriel gave him a sign. He wouldn’t be able to speak until the child arrived.

We have to learn this lesson. Faith is about believing God’s Word without any proof that it will happen the way God says it will. If we knew for sure, then it wouldn’t be faith.

For the next nine months, Zechariah had to meditate on this truth. When God speaks, no matter how He gets the message to you, you need to believe it and walk in it. Faith is the fundamental attitude that it takes to please God.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

Question: What are you trusting God for right now?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Why We Receive a Blessing

Why We Receive a Blessing

In my last post, I introduced my study into the Gospel of Luke. I’m looking forward to what we’ll learn through this journey.

You may want to read Luke 1:5-14 before starting this post. That’s the passage of Scripture I’ll be dealing with today.

There were meetings that took place before the birth of Christ. They were between heaven and earth; between God and His people. We need to understand how and why God meets with His people. It’s through these divine appointments that we find God at work.

In the above passage, we see a priest, Zechariah, who has been praying for a child. It says that both he and his wife were blameless.

It was the custom of the priesthood to choose a priest for incense duty. It was Zechariah’s turn, it was nothing special. This was a normal prayer time.

The first thing we need to see is that God meets with us during normal times. This is why our prayer times are so important. We don’t know what God has planned for us.

and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior…

Titus 1:3

We need to understand and work within God’s appointed seasons. We pray, not knowing the “when” of the answers. Sometimes we get tired of praying, we lose heart, and we get distracted. How many times have we lost out because we didn’t show up at the divine appointment?

But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John.”

Luke 1:13

This is an interesting thing for the angel to say. “Your prayer has been heard.” As a priest, he was supposed to be interceding for Israel. But instead, he was praying about his personal desire for a child.

The fact is that God meets with us in spite of our selfishness. Studies show that for most Christians, most of what we pray for concerns ourselves. We pray for things that either directly or indirectly affect our comfort.

But, God knew that this child would be a blessing to this couple.

He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth…

Luke 1:14

The angel announced that he’s going to be all you ever wanted in a child. There will be joy and gladness. He could have said, “Zechariah, why have you been praying for yourself?”

The same is true for us. Praise God for the New Covenant!

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Romans 8:26

The truth is that we don’t know everything. We base our prayers on what we want. The book of James tells us we don’t receive answers because we ask incorrectly.

If that’s the case, then why would I neglect prayer in the spirit? I don’t want God’s answers to be in spite of my prayers. I want my prayers to line up with His will.

But notice what God did here. Not only will this child be a joy to you, but also to others. I love the fact that God makes our blessing overflow to others.

We pray for ourselves. But do we ever look at the whole plan of God? I heard a speaker, Ray Mcauley, once say, “God always blesses you with someone else in mind.” There are others who need the same blessing that you need.

We must learn to ask; why is God blessing me? Is there someone I need to overflow into? We must realize that there’s more that God wants to do than just the little we see.

Questions: What have you been trusting God for in prayer? How can it be a blessing to others?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Luke’s Gospel – Christ Our Example

Luke’s Gospel – Christ Our Example

In my last post, I finished our study in the book of Romans. Those who have followed this blog for a while know that my goal is to go through the New Testament in the order it was reveal to the church. That means the next book, based upon my studies, is the Gospel of Luke.

To review, it seems to me that the Holy Spirit had a plan in how He inspired the New Testament to be written. He started with the foundational books of James, 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, and Mark. The next group dealt with what I personally need to know to serve Christ. These books are 2 Thessalonians,1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans, and Luke.

After that, we’ll go on to the books that deal with our corporate walk with Christ. But for now, we will start with Luke’s Gospel. Here’s how he introduces his message.

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

Luke 1:1-4

In this post, I simply want to introduce you to Luke. Who was he, and why did he write this Gospel? Luke was the physician who traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys. He was probably a Gentile who was saved at Antioch about 15 years after Pentecost.

After his salvation, Luke became a friend and associate of Paul. He was highly educated and as a Greek speaking Gentile, he had a high literary ability.

When we read through the Gospel of Luke, it’s obvious that he’s writing to the Gentiles of his day. He rarely references the Old Testament and explains Jewish customs. God was able to use him because as a companion of Paul, his ministry was to the Gentile people.

What we find is that each of the four Gospels has their own purpose and theme. So far, we’ve only looked at Mark, which was basically a short outline of the Life of Christ. Now, Luke comes along and is writing in the style of the Greek culture.

This means that he uses a lot of descriptive language as well as prayers and sermons. His goal was to have a specific order to his book for people who liked to think about what they read.

We also need to realize that when he says that he’s writing an orderly account, that does not mean chronologically. It means that he’s writing with a definite plan. Many times Luke quotes a sermon Jesus gives and then gives us some examples from His life that illustrates what He just taught.

From the above verse, it’s clear that he’s writing to someone who already had a basic knowledge of Christ. He now wants to give that person a more grounded knowledge of who Jesus is.

What does that mean to us? As we go through this Gospel we’ll be looking to Jesus as our example of how to live for God. We know that He was fully God and fully man.

To live in this world, the Lord chose to lay aside the power He had as God. Then, He lived as we have to live. He served God with His humanity, relying on the Holy Spirit to guide Him the same way that we have to.

That’s what we’ll be concentrating on as I move forward with these posts. Yes, Jesus Christ was the Son of God, but He’s also the Son of Man. I can look to Him as the greatest example of the victorious life.

Hopefully you’ll come along with me on this journey. It’s a lengthy book, but the rewards of studying it will be great.

Question: What are you expecting to receive from the Gospel of Luke?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2021 in Encouragement, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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My Plan vs. God’s Plan

My Plan vs. God’s Plan

We’re continuing through the book of Romans. At this point we’re in the final stretch to the end. But, Paul still has some important insights for us.

It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”

This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.

Romans 15:20-22

In this verse we get a glimpse into Paul’s heart for ministry. His great desire is to make Christ know where He was formerly unknown.

Speaking as a pastor, this is my heart as well. I never wanted to take people away from their church. My overwhelming desire is to see believers grow in Christ, and to live out their faith to the fullest.

However, there’s another insight into grace that Paul gives us here. Sometimes we have to put our desires on hold because of the grace we’ve been given.

The apostle very much wanted to go to Rome and fellowship with the believers there. But God had other plans. There were cities where the Gospel of Christ hadn’t reached yet. The Holy Spirit was sending Paul to the places he was most needed.

We need to remember this in our Christian walk. Many times we pray for things that we desire. But, we don’t always get what we want. Sometimes the answer is a resounding “NO!” But, there are other times when God is simply telling us to wait, because it’s not time for that yet.

For the next seven verses (Romans 15:23-29), Paul talks about his plans for the future of his ministry. I suggest that you read this section and compare it to the last eight chapters of the book of Acts. It’s interesting to see what Paul is planning versus what God had already mapped out for him.

His agenda was to go to Jerusalem with an offering from the Gentile churches in Greece and Asia. Little does he know that he will be arrested when he gets to Jerusalem. He will then make it to Rome, but as a prisoner headed to trial.

Most Bible scholars believe that this was his first trial in Rome. He was eventually acquitted, and made his journey to Spain. Then, later in his life, he was tried and executed in Rome.

We need to see that even though Paul knew the outline of his future ministry – Jerusalem, Rome, Spain – he didn’t know all the details that the Holy Spirit had in store for him. We face the same challenges in discovering God’s will for our lives.

We pray and seek God for His wisdom. The Lord then imparts the outline for His plan into our spirits. Then, many times, we run off, thinking that we know how to get to the goal line. It’s only after bumping into a few closed doors that we find the true path God intends for us to follow.

In all of this, Paul understood the key to reaching the finish line.

I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Romans 15:30-33

Paul calls out to the church with an important request. He asks them to join the struggle with him through prayer. We have to realize that most people pray for their own concerns. He wants them to take up a concern for those yet to be reached by Paul’s ministry.

We know from the book of Acts, everything that Paul is about to face. We also know that God took him through it victoriously. A large part of this victory was the churches who stood by him in prayer.

Make sure that you stand in prayer with your leadership, missionaries, and other ministries (like mine!), to see God accomplish his will in our generation.

Question: What is God’s outline for your life right now?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2021 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Gospel and Power

The Gospel and Power

In the concluding chapters of the book of Romans, Paul talks about his ministry. He has yet to go to Rome, but he want to get there someday.

Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.

Romans 15:17

When Paul boasts, it’s about what God is doing through him. We need to remember that. It’s not how much I do for Him, but how much He can do through me. After all, I can’t do any miracle or healings on my own. It’s only by the power of God at work in me.

That being said, I believe that signs and miracles are a part of the true Gospel. Without them, it’s difficult to impact the unbeliever.

The Apostle Paul refers to this truth as he continues.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18-19

Paul tells us how he led the Gentiles to obey God by announcing the Gospel and making disciples. Notice, that he accomplished this by what he said AND did. It was through the power of signs and miracles.

There’s a difference between a sign and a miracle. A sign is a miracle that confirms the Word of God that you’re speaking.

The key issue is that by operating in this way, Paul fully proclaimed the gospel. I believe that just talking about Christ is not the whole Gospel. The Bible is clear that the kingdom of God is “not a matter of talk but of power.” (I Corinthians 4:20)

In one of my posts I asked, what is it about the Gospel that we’re ashamed of? I used some illustrations. If I won a new car I would call you over to look at it. If I got a promotion at work, I would immediately show you my new business cards. How is that different from the spiritual Good News?

I believe it’s because we have reduced the Gospel to cliches. “Jesus loves you.” “Jesus wants to bless you.” “God loves you and I do too.”

The problem is that there’s no demonstration. It’s not like the new car or the promotion at work because I offer you no proof of what I’m saying.

Based upon Scripture, if there’s no demonstration, then there’s no Gospel. Many are ashamed because all they can do is tell about Jesus. Some can’t even see the proof in their own lives because of the lack of power. It makes many believers feel like charlatans when they share the Good News.

It seems we’ve lost the original Good News. We don’t understand the power of God and we don’t understand the Gospel. The two go hand in hand.

Without the Good News, there’s no need for the demonstration of power. Some American Christians want the power without proclaiming the Good News. The fact is, that without the message of the Gospel there’s no need to demonstrate healing, prosperity, joy, freedom from depression, or anything else the Lord has provided for us through the cross. I’m striving to spur the church on to get hungry to experience the full Gospel.

That’s why Paul could say that he had fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ. Not only did he tell about Christ, but he also demonstrated the love and power of the Lord.

Question: How can we return to the true Gospel?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Grace for the Work

Grace for the Work

Continuing through Paul’s letter to the Roman church, he’s making his concluding remarks. A lot of people skip over this section of the epistle, but it still contains some important thoughts.

I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

Romans 15:14-15

Here Paul explains the reasoning behind this letter. He has just given them the complete pattern for the victorious Christian walk. The apostle did this because he’s convinced that they’re full of goodness.

When he uses the word, goodness, he’s talking about God’s definition, not man’s. He believes that their desire is to carry out God’s plan for their lives. That goes for us as well. If we’re not pursuing God’s plan, then the book of Romans will be of no value to us.

Paul also tells them that their knowledge has been completed. That’s because Paul has given them everything they need to grow and overcome in Christ by the Spirit.

The word teach means that they now have the power to put in mind, caution, warn, and train one another. This is something we need to do – if we’ve been trained by the Holy Spirit.

He then gives us an interesting description of this letter.

I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:15-16

In describing this letter, he says that he’s been very bold in some points. I believe these are a few of the things he’s referring to:

If you try to live under the law you’ve lost touch with Christ.

You need to grow up.

You need to walk in the spirit.

The truth is that we need them preached today. We need to be walking in the whole truth of God.

Paul also gives us insight into his ministry. He tells us the reasons behind what he does. He says, “It’s because of the grace God gave me.”

This is the understanding of grace that we need in our generation. It’s the commodity of God’s power and resources flowing in and through His people. God’s grace to me is different than God’s grace to you.

At one point Paul met with the Apostles of Christ in Jerusalem.

James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.

Galatians 2:9

In looking at the outward signs of God’s grace, they saw two different ministries – Jews and Gentiles. In talking about this grace, Paul uses an interesting word picture.

Paul says that God has made him a priest of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He was given the priestly duty to proclaim the Good News. He does this specifically to present the Gentiles as an acceptable, well-received, and approved offering to God. Because of this ministry, the Gentiles are in the process of being sanctified and cleaned up by the Holy Spirit.

That was Paul the Apostle’s grace. The real questions are; what’s my grace, and what’s your grace? It’s our job to find out.

That’s what we’re going to be rewarded for. More importantly, that’s what we’re supplied and equipped for.

Question: What is God’s grace calling you to do?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2021 in Anointing, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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