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Category Archives: The Church

A Psalm for 2023

A Psalm for 2023

As we begin this new year, we should take the time to meditate on where we’re headed. I want to use this post to give you some thoughts to pray on.

For many years, I’ve had a tradition when it comes to the New Year. I’ve only posted about it a few times, but I want to start making it a yearly thing.

A long time ago, I noticed that since 1901, the Psalms have pretty much lined up with what was happening in world events. For at least 20 years, I’ve been using them to prepare me, and those under my ministry, for the year ahead.

Last year, I noticed something that I find very interesting. With the global pandemic that started in 2019, a majority of Christians stopped attending church in-person. Coinciding with that, from Psalm 120 on, are what’s known as the Psalms of ascent. That means they are Psalms calling God’s people to meet together. Hmmmm!

In last year’s post, I showed a call to return to in-person meetings. Unfortunately, there are large groups of believers who still don’t meet together for whatever reasons. To read last year’s post, click here.

Psalm 123 is the Psalm of Ascent for 2023. That’s what I want to talk about in this post. It’s up to you whether or not you see it as a prep for the coming year.

I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.

Psalm 123:1-2 NIV

This Psalm begins with an acknowledgment that God is higher than we are. We need to start looking up – seeking His face. This has to be done in the humility of a servant’s heart.

That in itself is an important concept. We look to the Lord’s hand. The Hebrew language distinguishes between an open hand and a closed hand. In the above verse, we look to the open hand of our Lord.

We need to understand this because an open hand is significant in Scripture. An open hand speaks of power, means, and direction. All of these things are to be sought from the hand of God.

This is where the Holy Spirit is leading us in the coming year. That is, if we’re willing to seek His face. That’s the place where we obtain mercy.

In this verse, the Hebrew word for mercy literally means that a superior being is bending or stooping in kindness to an inferior, in order to bestow favor on them. This is where the Lord wants us to be positioned.

However, the question this brings up is; why – why do we need this divine impartation at this time? The Psalm gives us the answer, although you may not want to hear it.

Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt. We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant.

Psalm 123:3-4 NIV

This cry for mercy is because of the attitude of the world around us. These verses say that our lives will be abundantly filled with disrespect, contempt, and ridicule.

Our society has already begun this type of assault against true, Bible believing Christians. I believe that it will ramp up this year. Some of it is deserved for our timid service to Christ.

I believe that God is allowing this in order to get our attention. We need to get back to a lifestyle of seeking God’s face. We must let 2023 be a year of pressing into the Holy Spirit.

Question: How deep is your walk with the Lord?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Standing with Christ

Standing with Christ

We’re looking at the events leading up to the crucifixion of Christ as recorded by Luke’s Gospel. They have just finished the Passover meal. Jesus gave them some sobering words about His betrayal. Now, He gives them some encouragement.

You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Luke 22:28-30 NIV

The Lord lets them know that their faithfulness will be rewarded. They have been given a place of honor in the kingdom of God. They are qualified to judge, because they have seen the response of the nation of Israel.

Now, Christ turns His attention to Simon Peter.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

Luke 22:31-34 NIV

The Lord predicts that none will stand with Him in His final hours. That thought shocked them, especially Peter. He couldn’t imagine that he would ever deny knowing Christ. But very soon he would find out how far off his self-assessment was.

I think that we focus on Peter too much when we read this passage. After all, we would know better than to deny knowing the Lord. Or would we? Let’s think about what’s happening here. Mark gives us a few more details.

You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’”

Mark 14:27 NIV

Jesus quotes a Scriptural truth to His disciples. He tells them that when the Shepherd it struck, the sheep are scattered. He was referring to the disciples as the sheep.

However, Jesus was using this verse to prove His first statement that they would all fall away. That literally means that they would all be offended or tripped up. It was being offended that caused the sheep to leave the side of the Shepherd.

This didn’t mean that they stopped loving or following Christ, they just didn’t want to stand too close to Him. They didn’t want the hatred of the leaders to be against themselves.

In our society, right now, there’s a definite hatred against the name of Jesus Christ. Any mention of Christ or the teaching of Scripture and they begin to shut down and stop listening. So, what’s our response?

I’ve found that in many cases we start to distance ourselves from Christ. For instance, there are many singers and entertainers who profess Christ – privately. I’m frequently told of one or another who are Christians.

The problem is that by watching the movies they’re in or hearing the songs they record; I would never have known. Even in their interviews, they may only make a slight reference to God.

Of course, it’s not just those in the media. What about “regular” Christians? What happens when people ask us about our views on evolution, homosexuality, abortion, or other controversial topics? Do we simply shrug our shoulders and stay silent?

Please understand that I’m not talking about being offensive and attacking others with Scripture. The world has a very good idea of what Christ, and the Bible, teaches. As believers, we need to be willing to stand with Christ and take any heat the world may bring on account of this.

We need to pray for boldness in our generation. In that way, when the world strikes at our Shepherd, we will stand with Him.

Question: How have you been hurt for standing with Christ and His Word?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2022 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Leading by Serving

Leading by Serving

What do you think is the best path to leadership in the kingdom of God? There was a principle of leadership that Jesus had to get across to His disciples. After all, they were going to be leading the church after His ascension.

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. At this point we’re viewing the Last Supper before Jesus goes to the cross.

Christ wants to prepare the Apostles for the challenges ahead. Part of this was to instruct them about the cross. He was going to suffer, die, and then rise from the dead three days later.

The Lord had given them the bread and the cup of the New Covenant. He then told them about how He was going to be betrayed. That’s an interesting place for this conversation to begin.

As they were sitting around the table, the disciples started to debate something among themselves. I’m sure that it got pretty heated.

Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.

Luke 22:24 NIV

This argument probably started with, “It’s obviously not me. I would never betray Him. After all, I’m closer to the Lord than any of you!” I’m sure that Peter, James, and John all thought that they were at the top of the list. That is, until Jesus shared His views with them.

Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”

Luke 22:25-27 NIV

The Lord explains that the true path to leadership is through servanthood. That’s something that we have a hard time grasping in the church these days.

Jesus is our prime example. The disciples were arguing over who was greatest, right after Jesus told them about His body and blood being given up for them.

He is the Lord of all creation. But the path He took involved laying down His life – serving – all of humanity.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:5-8 NIV

I think that it’s funny the way we get into leadership in our generation. If someone wants to be a pastor or teacher, they go to a Bible college and seminary for years. Then they graduate and send their resumes to churches. A lot of them will get voted in and installed as pastors having never served in ministry.

I think that’s why there’s such a high burn-out rate in the ministry. We haven’t learned that the path to knowing your calling is service in the kingdom. Without being a true servant, there’s no way of understanding the needs of those you’re leading.

That was the path that Christ took. It hasn’t changed. The Father is looking for qualified servants to lead His people. Don’t ever look down on that season of your life. Enjoy your call to servanthood.

Question: How are you called to serve in God’s kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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True Treasure

True Treasure

We’re studying through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is nearing the time for His sacrifice on the cross. As He sits for a while at the Temple of Jerusalem, it brings up some questions we need to answer in today’s church.

What’s your attitude toward offerings at church? Do you consider it a necessary evil? Do you look forward to the chance of investing in God’s kingdom? It turns out that the Lord takes an interest in how we give.

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.

Luke 21:1-2 NIV

There are some things about Jesus that you need to know, especially in regard to your giving. As the pastor of a church, I know that where people choose to sit tells a lot about them. Jesus chose to sit right in line with the offering boxes so that He could watch people as they gave.

It’s interesting that the literal Greek of this verse says that the Lord watched knowingly, how the people put their money in the box. Whether you know it or not, how you give is as important to God as what you give.

That’s because true giving is an act of the heart. Jesus explained the underlying principle.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:21 NIV

This statement brings it all into focus. At offering time, do you feel like you’re giving your treasure to God? Or do you feel like you’re giving money to the One that you treasure? In other words, is Christ your treasure, or is money your treasure?

As Jesus watched the rich give money, they weren’t affected by it. They gave out of their overflow. What they put in the treasury wouldn’t change their standard of living.

The widow, on the other hand, gave everything. Money that could have been used for food or other necessities was now gone. That made an impression on Jesus, and He called it to the disciples’ attention.

“I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Luke 21:3-4 NIV

The Lord’s commentary is important for us to hear. There’s a “break-even point” in our finances where our expenses equal our income. He explained that the rich gave from above that point. The widow gave all that she had, even though she had less than breaking even.

But there’s more Jesus said that we miss because of the translation. In the original, the Lord said that the widow put in all that she had, her whole life.

She wasn’t just giving her money to God. She was placing her very life in His hands. That’s the attitude that’s needed in our giving.

It’s not just my money that belongs to God. It’s everything that I have, even my very life. All that I am – my time, goals, dreams, possessions – I must place it all in His hands.

Offerings are not simply a tradition of the church that we have to do each week. It’s not something I do to get God off my back for another week. It’s an opportunity to once again confirm to myself and the Lord that all of my life is His.

This widow may have thought that her giving had gone unnoticed. But the truth is that God saw it, and it moved His heart. I know without a doubt that God met her need and sustained her because of her faith. That’s the true attitude of giving.

Question: What goes through your mind as you give your offerings?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2022 in Encouragement, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Pure Motives

Pure Motives

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. The end of the Lord’s ministry was quickly approaching.

That being said, there are posts that I really enjoy writing. There are others that I wrestle with God about publishing them. I don’t want to be the one who rocks the boat. Unfortunately, today’s post is one of those that I didn’t want to write.

Jesus was nearing the cross and the battle lines were being drawn between Him and the religious leaders of His day.

While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

Luke 20:45-47 NIV

In Jesus’ day, there were those who taught the Scripture, while at the same time having an element of self-indulgence. There were times that they taught the truth of God’s Word, drawing people closer to the Lord. At the same time, they were feeding their own egos and lining their pockets.

These religious leaders liked the fact that they were highly esteemed among the people. They were able to dress well and were readily recognized.  People wanted to be at the meetings when these leaders were present.

According to Jesus, for all of their training and knowledge, they weren’t scoring any points with God. As a matter of fact, the Lord warned the crowds that they needed to do what these leaders taught, while at the same time rejecting their self-absorbed lifestyle (Matthew 23:1-4).

Jesus also condemns the religious system itself. He points out the fact that their extravagant way of life is paid for by those who could least afford it.

That was the easy part of this post. Now on to the difficult section…

Lately, I’ve been becoming more and more disheartened by the direction of our modern system of Christianity. It seems like in many areas we’re taking on the attitude of corporate America.

What do I mean by this? In most large corporations, the senior executives make more money than they could spend in ten lifetimes. In that same company, the employees who do the bulk of the work can’t make ends meet with the one salary they earn from doing that job.

Now we have huge churches where the pastors have big homes, garages full of cars, private jets and a continual desire for more. Many of their members have to work two or sometimes three jobs to make ends meet. Granted, they’re preaching Jesus Christ, and many are getting saved under their ministry. But at what point is enough, enough?

I’m told that their luxurious lifestyle is the reward for their faithfulness in the ministry. As a pastor who has been serving the same church for over 30 years, I find that kind of thinking offensive. I gave up a career where I was on track for a six-figure engineering salary when God called me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not jealous of these preachers. If I had it to do all over again, I would gladly make the same choices for the honor of serving my Lord. I just don’t like being told that the car I drive or the house I rent is the indication of how faithful I’ve been to the calling of God.

It’s nothing new. The church has been dealing with this throughout history. I like Paul’s attitude.

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Philippians 1:18 NIV

That’s the attitude I want to portray. I apologize if I seemed to be ranting. I hold no ill will against any of my brothers or sisters in the ministry. I simply want Christ to be exalted in His church.

Question: What is the true indication of faithfulness to God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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God’s Kingdom is not Political

God’s Kingdom is not Political

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, I’m amazed at how consistent the Lord was, even though His death was imminent. He didn’t go into hiding. He kept on ministering front and center.

Every day he was teaching at the temple. But the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders among the people were trying to kill him. Yet they could not find any way to do it, because all the people hung on his words.

Luke 19:47-48 NIV

At this point, they couldn’t have Jesus arrested because of the people. However, that didn’t stop them from trying to discredit Him.

One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. “Tell us by what authority you are doing these things,” they said. “Who gave you this authority?”

Luke 20:1-2 NIV

This verse speaks volumes about the religious leaders of Israel. The people are drawn to the preaching and teaching of Jesus. They’re hearing the Good News of God’s kingdom. Their lives are changing.

Yet, for the leadership, that’s not the issue. It’s not about doctrine or theology. It has nothing to do with spiritual truth or growth and maturity. The main focus of this group is political power.

They knew very well that there was no school of the Pharisees or the Sadducees who certified Jesus to teach. As a matter of fact, there was no earthly group who authorized the Lord’s ministry. These leaders felt confident in the fact that Jesus could produce no proof of His authorization to teach.

The Lord’s authorization came from the Father. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit. It was that very Spirit who confirmed Christ’s message with the power to heal, deliver, and perform many mighty miracles.

The Pharisees thought they had Jesus backed into a corner. He would have to admit that He had no recognized earthly authority. They quickly learned the error of their thinking.

He replied, “I will also ask you a question. Tell me, John’s baptism — was it from heaven, or from men?”

Luke 20:3-4 NIV

Jesus immediately brings the question of authority from earthly and temporary to heavenly and eternal. John the Baptist was obviously a highly anointed prophet of God. Everyone recognized it to the point where some people asked John if he was the Messiah.

Now the tables were turned. The leadership knew that how they answered this question would expose the attitudes of their hearts.

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, because they are persuaded that John was a prophet.”

Luke 20:5-6 NIV

Notice that there’s no discussion about truth or doctrine here. Was John teaching about the righteousness found in Scripture? Did he have a confirmed anointing from God? These questions were not a part of their thinking.

Instead, it was all politics. What will people think about us if we say, “from heaven”? How will people react if we say, “from men”?

And so, like true politicians, they take the coward’s way out.

So they answered, “We don’t know where it was from.”

Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”

Luke 20:7-8 NIV

I’m so glad that the kingdom of God is not about politics and perceptions. It rests upon the leadership and direction of the Holy Spirit based upon God’s Word. If I submit to God, then He will lift me to the position He has prepared for me. Praise God! – We have perfect freedom.

Question: How can church politics hinder the move of God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Grieving the Lord

Grieving the Lord

We’re now in the section of Luke’s Gospel that’s commonly known as the Triumphal Entry of Christ into Jerusalem. The disciples got a colt and a donkey for the Lord to ride as He entered the city. You may want to read Luke 19:36-41 before continuing with this post.

I believe that in this whole passage of Scripture, one of the most important verses is found close to the end.

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it

Luke 19:41 NIV

This verse always amazed me. Here Jesus is entering Jerusalem like a triumphant king. Why would He weep and sob? That’s what I want to talk about in this post. It has a lot to do with where we are at this point in history.

When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen…

Luke 19:37 NIV

I always thought that it was the whole crowd in Jerusalem who were cheering Him on. But that’s simply not the case. It was only the Lord’s disciples who were cheering for Him. Remember, Jesus had over a hundred disciples at this point.

Look at what the priests said about this.

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

Luke 19:39-40 NIV

Notice that the priests didn’t say, “Tell the crowd to be quiet.” They only wanted the disciples to stop their ruckus. Still, it was a joyful procession marching into Jerusalem. So, why would Jesus be weeping? I see four things that answers this question.

First of all, looks can be deceiving. Our first thought might be that there’s a crowd with you, cheering you on. However, Jesus looked at the hearts of those around Him.

Today, around the country, Christians will be praising God in all of the churches. But how many believers are there who truly want God’s will in their lives? I’m not just talking about healing, prosperity, joy, and peace. I mean for us to have God set the course for our lives.

Many Christians have no problem with God as co-pilot. The hard part is handing Him the wheel. We want to serve Christ while still having control over some of the aspects of our lives.

For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

Philippians 3:18 NIV

Choosing to be a friend of the world puts you in the same position as an enemy of the cross (James 4:4). Please realize that we don’t make a conscious choice to be an enemy of the cross. Actually, it’s making no choice at all.

Paul says that many “live LIKE enemies of the cross”. Sometimes we’re living like we want God’s will. At other times we live like we want the world. It’s the result of being uncommitted, you want to leave your options open.

That was the greater crowd, they were content to watch and see what would happen. We have to be careful not to simply go along with popular opinion. We need to base our lives on what’s written in God’s Word.

In my next post, I’ll deal with the other three things that caused the Lord to grieve over Jerusalem. I’m hoping they speak to us in this generation.

Question: How can we keep ourselves from becoming captivated by the world’s attraction?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2022 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church, Word of God

 

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Watch for Stumbling Blocks

Watch for Stumbling Blocks

We’re continuing to study the Gospel of Luke. We’re now starting chapter 17. Jesus makes a comment that many people think is just a random exhortation.

That’s because of the way our Bibles were put together. Remember, originally there were no chapters and verses. They were added later to make it easier to find things. This is one of those places where they mess things up.

Jesus is continuing His same thought from chapter 16. He has just told the story of the rich man and Lazarus. This comment refers to that story.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.”

Luke 17:1-3a NIV

The phrase, things that cause people to sin, actually means things that cause offense. It means things that could possibly trap you in anger and bitterness.

Going back to the rich man and Lazarus, we can see the connection. Everyday Lazarus was placed at the rich man’s doorstep. Everyday, Lazarus watched the lavish lifestyle that was lived out in that house.

Everyday he longed for the scraps that were carelessly thrown away, but he was denied from getting them. This means that everyday Lazarus was given an opportunity to be offended and become angry and bitter at God.

These offenses are not isolated incidents. By His language, the Lord makes it clear that they will come upon us regularly. Like it or not, you will be given the opportunity to be offended. It’s how you handle that temptation that matters.

Sometimes this word, offense, is translated as a stumbling block. The rich man was probably oblivious to the fact that he was laying down stumbling blocks, everyday, in the path of Lazarus. The implication is that Lazarus had to watch his attitude everyday.

That’s why the Lord said we need to watch ourselves. I don’t think Jesus is talking about us watching out to not offend people. He offended multitudes. His focus is that we don’t pick up bitterness and anger when given the opportunity.

If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

Luke 17:3-6 NIV

The disciples were having a hard time with this. The Lord taught that if someone offends you seven times in one day, you must still forgive them. That means you have to release any bitterness and anger against them.

The disciples tried to sound holy to get around it. “We don’t have enough faith for that yet!” Jesus made it clear that you don’t need faith, you only need obedience to His word.

It’s good to see that the Apostle John grabbed hold of this truth. He wrote about it in one of his letters.

Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.

1 John 2:10 NIV

If you walk in the love of Christ, then you’re walking in the light. This verse literally say that in that case, you have no offense – no stumbling blocks – inside you.

We need to live free of bitterness. Release your offenses to God. Walk in forgiveness, the same forgiveness that was shown to you on the cross. Only then can you walk in the peace and joy of the Lord.

Question: How free are you from offense and bitterness?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2022 in Faith, Relationships, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Finding What’s Lost

Finding What’s Lost

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

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

Luke 15:1-2 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus uses a couple of parables to explain it.

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

Luke 15:3-7 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 15:8-10 NIV

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

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

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

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

 

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God’s Rule and Yeast

God’s Rule and Yeast

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

Now the Lord gives another illustration of the kingdom.

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

Luke 13:20-21 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leviticus 23:17 NIV

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

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

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

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

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi