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Category Archives: The Church

Calling – What and Where

Calling – What and Where

In my last post, we saw the Lord sending out 72 of His disciples. They were to prepare the arrangements in all of the towns He would be visiting. They were also tasked with preaching and healing the sick.

This group was basically given the same instructions that the 12 apostles were given when they were sent out. However, Luke gives us a little more detail with this group.

I find some very interesting things that Jesus says.

When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.”

Luke 10:5-6 NIV

The first thing I see is about speaking a blessing. There are some who make a big deal out of what they speak. They think that by simply saying something, they will cause it to come into existence.

Jesus makes it clear that this is not the case. You can speak a blessing over someone. But, if they haven’t positioned themselves to receive that blessing, it will have no effect.

That’s also why I’m not worried if people say evil things about me. If I’m under the blessing of God, then nothing you say can change that.

Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

Luke 10:7 NIV

We need to apply what Jesus is saying here, especially in regard to our calling. Many believers misunderstand what calling is all about.

In many instances we know what we’re called to do. What we fail to see is that our calling also includes WHERE we’re called to perform it. We’re not just called to a work, we’re also called to a place.

I’m sorry, but now I’m going to have to start meddling!

I believe that every Christian is called to be a part of a particular local church. In most cases, that’s where a majority of your work for Christ will take place.

Along with that, as a pastor, I can tell you that there are no perfect churches. You will never find the church that you think is doing things exactly right in your eyes.

However, this is the place that the Lord has ordained you to receive your spiritual food and drink. That’s why it’s so important that you find the place that God has called you to be.

We live in a very fussy generation. We find the restaurant, the school, and the gym that do things the way we like. Then we think that the church should be the same way.

I had a missionary friend that brought one of his local workers with him from Africa. It was this young man’s first time coming to the USA. He said that he forgot to pack a toothbrush. So, I brought him to a local drug store.

He said he would run in and buy one while we waited for him in the car. After a long while, we thought something might be wrong so we went to look for him. He was standing in the aisle, staring at a twelve foot wall of toothbrushes. He was overwhelmed by the choices we have in America!

It’s not up to me to decide where I want to connect to the body of Christ, based upon what makes me comfortable. I need to find where the Lord has called me to attend and join in the work. Then, I don’t just leave to find another if something happens that I don’t like.

Yes, I have to find what the Lord wants me to do in my ministry. But, along with that, I need to know where He’s called me to do it. Then, I stay at my assignment until the Holy Spirit tells me it’s time to change.

I believe that we need to take on this attitude of longevity. It will go a long way to give us a greater sense of fulfillment in our Christian walk.

Questions: What are you called to do? Where are you called to do this?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Jesus’ Ministry Team

Jesus’ Ministry Team

As you think of Jesus traveling throughout Israel, preaching and teaching, how do you picture it? Judging by how some preachers describe it, your mental picture is far from the truth. As we begin chapter 8 of Luke’s Gospel, we get a glimpse into the daily operations of the Lord’s ministry.

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him…

Luke 8:1

This is a very simple statement, but by itself there’s no hint of the complexities involved. If we really think about it, there’s more to it than simply walking around Israel.

The first thing we have to understand is that this type of traveling was no different for them than it is for us. Here we have at least 13 people traveling together.

Where do they get their food and water? Where do they spend the night? What about washing their clothing, personal hygiene, and those types of things?

We usually don’t think of these things, reading the Scriptures in the comfort of our homes. I do a lot of overnight hiking, spending days at a time in the woods, so this hits home to me. It causes me to ask; what did it take for them to maintain a ministry like this?

I’m glad to say that the Bible has the answers for these questions. But, many people ignore it, because it goes against what they want to believe about the Lord.

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.

Luke 8:1-3

Many people like to get the idea of a poor Jesus. They like to think that He was barely getting by, living off the land and any scraps that He could scavenge. That picture is so far from the truth.

Jesus had a very organized and efficient ministry team. He had the apostles to minister along side Him. But, and this is important to realize, He had a very organized fundraising team. This is how the Lord was able to travel so extensively throughout Israel.

It was no different for them than it is for us. They needed to buy food and drink. Many times they would have to pay for lodging. Their clothes would need washing and so forth.

Why is the thought of a financially independent Jesus so hard for people to imagine? One reason, is that because many churches don’t want to give their pastors the salary they need to support their families.

I’ve even heard some board members say that they need to keep the pastor poor so that they’ll stay humble. That kind of thinking is totally selfish and foolish.

In John 6:5, just before He fed the 5000, Jesus asked His disciple where they could buy bread for the crowd. The assumption was that they had the money, they only needed someplace that could supply it. How many ministries do you know that could buy food for 5000 people at a moments notice?

Jesus had a very organized and effective ministry team. He wasn’t poor. But there’s another side to this. The Lord wasn’t overly extravagant either.

They walked wherever they went (or took a boat). Jesus didn’t have a team of golden chariots to carry Him and His disciples from place to place. We need to see the whole picture.

When you talk about godly prosperity, you need to see it from a biblical perspective. God does want His people to prosper. But that means having enough to abundantly fulfill your calling. And, having extra to give away as a blessing to others.

That was how the Lord operated. It should be an example to us in our modern generation. We need the blessing of God – finances included – to bring in the harvest of souls in these last days before the Lord’s return.

Question: How do you give control of your finances to God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Complainers

Spiritual Complainers

In my last post, we saw Jesus explaining a little of John the Baptist’s ministry. Luke, the writer of this Gospel, has an interesting comment to make about this.

(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)

Luke 7:29-30

Some people might say that John had a very confrontational ministry. That type of preaching is not for everybody. However, it did have a positive effect.

There are times when pointed preaching is necessary. It caused some hidden things to be revealed. It showed that some of Israel who looked far from God – like tax-collectors and prostitutes – actually were soft-hearted toward God. That was evidenced by their willingness to be baptized.

There was another group of people, who on the outside, looked like they were close to God and wanted His best. But, by their rejection of the ministry of John, it was revealed that they had no desire to fulfill God’s will for their lives.

You may not like confrontational preachers. However, there is a place for them in God’s economy. They bring things to the surface that may have been hidden for years.

As a result of this, Jesus makes an observation of the generation that He’s ministering to.

“To what, then, can I compare the people of this generation? What are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: “‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’

For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”

Luke 7:31-35

This is the heart of the matter. Very few people like change. Both John the Baptist and Jesus were calling for Israel to turn around and come to God. They both met with resistance even though their ministries were vastly different.

John separated himself from the people, and they spoke evil of him. Jesus lived and formed relationships with the people. They complained about that as well.

I find that it’s the same in our generation. It seems that people, especially Christians, love to complain.

If a ministry is not doing much, they complain that they’re being lazy, not reaching the lost. If a ministry is bringing multitudes into the kingdom of God, they complain that they must be compromising.

As He talks about this, Jesus brings it to the bottom line. You know if someone is walking in godly wisdom by what is produced.

It’s all about the fruit of the ministry. Are lives being changed by the power of God? If they are, then that’s proof of a ministry submitted to the Lord.

It really is time for the body of Christ to stop all of its fault-finding with each other. We need to get down to the work Christ has called us to. We need to be making disciples of all nations. We must be proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you don’t like the methods that some ministry or church is using, then stop accusing them and get on your knees to pray for them. More often than not, you’ll find that God changes your heart toward that ministry.

We need to get back to what we’re called to do. Jesus is coming soon, and the church must prepare herself. Be that believer who keeps themselves clean and strong in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Question: What’s your attitude toward other ministries that you observe around you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2022 in Ministry, Prayer, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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The Private Preparing the Public

The Private Preparing the Public

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we see how Christ’s ministry is an example to us. If we live according to His standards, we’ll see the same results. The problem is that, usually, we want some type of shortcut.

You may want to read Luke 6:12-19 before continuing with this post. In this section of Scripture, we see a lot of activity.

Jesus had many followers. But of those, He chose 12 that he called apostles. These were the ones that the Lord would train specifically to take over the ministry when He ascended into heaven.

They were an interesting bunch of characters from all walks of life. The fact that they could function together was a testimony to the work of Christ in their lives.

There were at least four fishermen. They were a rough group of working-class men. If you ever watched the show, Deadliest Catch, then you’ll have a good idea of what they were like.

Jesus also chose people who were very different from each other. One of them, Simon the Zealot, was literally an anti-Roman terrorist. While at the same time he had to live with Matthew, a man who actually collected taxes for the Romans. I can only imagine what their conversations were like!

Yet, in spite of their differences, the love of Christ brought them all together. They were able to form a ministry team that turned the world upside down after the departure of Christ.

But there’s more to the story than just the miracle of bringing people together. The Lord ministered to the crowds in a way nobody ever did before.

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

Luke 6:17-19

This passage literally says that power was flowing out of Him and everyone was healed. This should speak to us today.

So many people teach that you can only get healed “if it’s God’s will.” I’m here to tell you that, according to God’s unchangeable Word, it’s always His will.

Jesus healed all who came to Him. There’s never a time when He told someone, “I’m sorry, it just not my will for you to be healed.” There was never a person He told, “Stay sick, I’m trying to teach you something.”

Of course the next question I always get is; if it’s God’s will for me to be healed, than why am I still sick? I’m sorry to say that there’s an answer not many people want to hear. It has more to do with the maturity level of the church, than the faith of the individual needing healing.

I totally believe that if and when God’s people rise to the level they’ve been called to, we’ll see healings and miracles with the frequency we see in the pages of Scripture.

That brings me to my next point. If you’re observant, you noticed that I left out something that also happened in these verses. It’s actually the first and most important part.

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

Luke 6:12

Here’s where our ministry and that of Christ head in different directions. In many cases we want to operate in the power of Christ without following His lead in prayer.

Jesus told His disciples that He did nothing without first hearing it from the Father. That’s more than just a quick, “Oh Lord please bless my ministry today, amen.” It requires quality time in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Our public ministry will only rise to the level of our private time with the Father. That’s the example of Christ to us. If you want to flow in the same power of Christ, then you need to follow Him in the place of prayer.

Question: How many times have you spent the night praying to God?

2022 © Nick Zaccardi

 

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Looking to 2022

Looking to 2022

As we stand on the brink of a new year, we should take the time to meditate on where we’re headed. I want to take this post 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.

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.

I just 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, 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!

That makes 122 the Psalm of Ascent for 2022. 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 rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem.

Psalm 122:1-2

This verse is a clear call for God’s people to physically meet together. There’s a joy in the Holy Spirit that only comes from the in-person fellowship.

As I listen to the news regularly, I’m struck by the fact that again and again, they’re discovering new strains of the Covid virus. I feel like that’s going to go on indefinitely. It’s time for God’s people to stop fearing what the world fears. Let’s get back to what we’ve been called to do.

Please understand that I realize some people have a compromised immune system. They do need to use wisdom in where they go. But, that’s not the condition of most believers.

Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together. That is where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to praise the name of the Lord according to the statute given to Israel.

Psalm 122:3-4

I believe that Jerusalem is symbol of the church. The word, city, in this verse literally means a place that’s guarded and protected. So, this verse tells us that when we’re closely joined together, we’re in the place of protection.

It also reminds us that our meeting together is commanded by God. That’s even found in the New Testament. Hebrews 10:25 actually makes it sound like the closer we get to the Lord’s return, the harder it will be to meet together.

There the thrones for judgment stand, the thrones of the house of David.

Psalm 122:5

The word for throne, in this verse, means a covered place. When we meet together, we’re covered under the authority of Christ – the final King of the house of David.

The rest of the Psalm speaks of the blessings that are a part of our fellowship. Praise God for Zoom meetings when necessary, but there’s a special anointing when we come together physically.

In verses 6-9, we’re told that we receive peace, security, and prosperity in the place of meeting. It’s time to return to our calling. Make it a goal to return to in-person meetings this coming year.

I believe that you will be abundantly blessed if you do.

Question: What do you believe about meeting together?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Coming of Age

Coming of Age

We’re continuing our study of the Gospel of Luke. In today’s post I’ll be looking at Luke 2:41-52.

This event happens when Jesus is in His pre-teen years.

Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.

Luke 2:41-42

It’s important for us to see that Jesus was raised in a family that steadfastly observed Jewish worship. We also have to realize that He was not an only child. After the birth of Christ, Mary and Joseph had other children.

According to Scripture, Jesus had at least four brothers and two sisters. That must have been quite a feat of coordination to go to Jerusalem faithfully, every year. I’ve seen some families who can’t manage to get themselves and two children to church every week. It’s obvious to me that we can accomplish what’s important to us. Is a godly family important?

I believe that the Holy Spirit put this event in the Bible for a reason. Now that Jesus was twelve, the Passover was an important milestone in His life.

It was a custom in Israel, that when a boy turned twelve, he was to be brought to the temple. While there, he went through some ceremonies where he was taught about fasting and other requirements of the law. This prepares him for full entry into adulthood at thirteen years of age.

The spiritual responsibility was upon the parents until a child was twelve years old. Now that Jesus was twelve, He was responsible for His own walk before God.

That really is an eye-opener. In our society, we usually think of someone being a child until the age of eighteen. Very few churches give these teenagers any important responsibilities. More than once I’ve heard them referred to as “the church of the future.”

I believe that at this age, these young men and women can understand and apply the spiritual principles of what they hear. They can start to walk in the spiritual disciplines they’ve seen demonstrated. It’s unfortunate that so many people write them off as too young to serve God effectively.

Look at the example of Jesus. The feast at Jerusalem lasted for seven days. Now that He was considered a responsible adult, Jesus was allowed to be on His own.

When the feast was over, Mary and Joseph rounded up their children and made the assumption that Jesus knew it was time to leave. At sunset, they went looking to see where He was among the group that they traveled with. But, nobody remembered seeing Him.

So, Joseph and family went back to Jerusalem where they searched for another three days.

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.

Luke 2:46-47

Now that the Lord was considered an adult, He was allowed to spend time with the great teachers of Jerusalem. What we have to realize is, that in Hebrew tradition, the one asking the questions is the one who’s teaching. That’s why everyone was so amazed. Jesus was literally teaching the teachers.

Of course, parents being the worriers they are, Mary was a little upset that Jesus didn’t tell her what He was doing. They were more than a little inconvenienced by His absence. His response is important.

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Luke 2:49-50

Now that the Lord was an adult, He had an understanding of who He was, and the mission He was called to accomplish. At this point, His parents didn’t understand the full scope of His calling, but they would someday.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Luke 2:51-52

Question: Why do we expect so little, spiritually, from our teenagers in this society?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2021 in Ministry, Sonship, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Last Days Ministry

Last Days Ministry

In my last post we saw the prophecy that Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, had about Christ. Now he begins talking about his son’s ministry. What John the baptist was called to accomplish.

There’s a reason why this is so important for us to hear. John was called to prepare the way for Christ to appear in Israel.

In the same way, we’re called to prepare the way for Christ to appear a second time. In our case, He’s not going to come in a weak fleshly body. He’s going to descend from the sky as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him…”

Luke 1:76

Like it or not, we have a very prophetic ministry in our generation. We’re very close to the return of Christ. With each new day we see the signs of the Last Days being fulfilled in the earth.

The problem is that so many believers are ignorant of the Lord’s coming. They act as if everything is going to continue on like this forever. We need to develop an End-Times mindset.

…to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins…”

Luke 1:77

We need this ministry. We should be making known the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins. Instead, we seem to be majoring on political agendas and the accumulation of the latest technology.

We have the message that the lost world desperately needs to hear. Instead, God’s people seem to be so self-absorbed, that this message is drowned out by everything else we’re involved in. We need a new awakening.

“…because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Luke 1:78-79

Our generation must be a light in the darkness. There has never been a darker time in the modern world. Unless you’re living with your head in the sand, this is an undeniable truth.

We need to understand what being the light entails. It’s obvious that light gets the attention in the dark. There’s no getting around that. We’re not called to just blend into the background.

This is because a light stands in direct opposition to the darkness. There cannot be any two kingdoms that are more opposite than us and the world.

We’re not a part of this society. We live here, work here, and have to interact with those around us. We need to be loving, productive, and contributing to the welfare of our community. But, the fact is we don’t BELONG here.

Darkness speaks of a place – but we are seated with Christ in heavenly places; that’s the kingdom of light. This is not our time and place.

We need to be what we’re called to be. It’s not our destiny to blend in and become part of the whole. It’s our calling to show there’s a different way to live.

John the Baptist is an example to us of how to minister to the world while living in the Kingdom of God. It’s time for us to live up to this calling. The world is desperate to hear the message that’s been entrusted to us. We need to stop chasing their dreams and live for Christ with an urgency that reflects the times we live in.

And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.

Luke 1:80

This generation of the church must grow up so that we can function as we must at this time in history. Be equipped with the spiritual weaponry. Be listening and hearing a Word from God. Then continue to walk in that word. Finally, if we do these things we will be the light that will draw people to Christ. We are the John the Baptist Generation.

Questions: How much light is the church producing right now? How can that light be increased?

© 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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Paul’s Conclusions

Paul’s Conclusions

In my last post, I started going through the greetings at the end of the book of Romans. I talked about some issues with women in leadership. There’s another that I’ll hit quickly today.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house.

Romans 16:3-5a

You may remember these people if you’ve read through the book of Acts. Priscilla and Aquila were a Jewish couple, who Paul met in Corinth. (Acts 18) They were tent-makers, like Paul, so he stayed with them and joined their business.

They began to minister with Paul, and moved to Ephesus where they planted a church in their home. Now they’ve moved to Rome where they again have a house-church.

In the book of Acts, Luke refers to the woman as Priscilla. That’s the informal, friendly name used for the name, Priska. In this verse in Romans, Paul uses her more formal name, Priska, even though the translators chose to use Priscilla so we’d know who was being talked about.

Why is that important?

The fact that Paul listed her first, along with her husband is significant. On top of that, he used her formal name out of respect. That tells me that she was the senior pastor of their home-church. Like I said in my last post, God can call whoever He desires to do His work.

Then, in verses 5b through 16, Paul sends his greetings to a number of people in the church. That tells me a lot about who the apostle was. He was a man who loved people.

Of those listed in this group, half of them were either women or slaves. In that society, they were treated like property or pets. Yet Paul saw them all as important, and he appreciated them.

We need to learn this lesson. We need to let others know that they’re loved. I recently heard a speaker give us this principal: “People love people who love people.”

We like to be around others who we think can uplift us. We need to learn to appreciate people who can do nothing for us. The church, more than any other group, should be a place where everyone gets love and affirmation.

That’s why Paul gives his next instruction.

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

Romans 16:17-19

Our human nature wants to constantly feed itself. We look for others who will stroke our egos. We need to constantly guard against this.

Part of winning this mind battle, is to keep away from those who obviously are after their own agendas. We need to choose our friends wisely. Attitudes have a way of rubbing off on those around them.

After sending greetings from his companions, Paul makes a closing statement.

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him – to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Romans 16:25-27

This is the summation for everything he’s written in this letter. I think it’s appropriate that he calls this letter his Gospel. It does contain everything we need to know to establish our lives in Christ Jesus.

Question: How has the book of Romans affected your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Commending Phoebe

Commending Phoebe

In going through the book of Romans, we’re now in the final chapter. Here, Paul gives his greetings to various people he knows in the church.

Don’t ignore these verses. They still contain truth and insight that will benefit us.

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church in Cenchrea. I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many people, including me.

Romans 16:1-2

The first person he talks about is a woman named Phoebe. I need to take some time to talk about her. The English translations don’t do her justice.

I understand that there are churches and denominations who believe that women have no place in leadership. I don’t want to offend any of these people, but truth is truth.

Suffice it to say that there are a few places in Scripture where the translators try to blur the more controversial verses. They want believers to be happy, reading them in church.

Some are happy because the translation doesn’t offend their traditions. Others are happy simply because they don’t know what the verse is actually saying. This is one of those places in Scripture.

One of my pet peeves with translators is their treatment of women in the Scripture. Let me explain with this section. It has a number of examples.

First, the word, servant, is the word, diakonon in the Greek. In reality, it literally means a household servant – so what’s the problem?

Actually, the problem is this…when it refers to a man (1 Timothy 4:6, Colossians 1:7; 4:7) it’s translated as minister or deacon. Yet, when use for Phoebe, they chose the word, servant.

While the words servant, minister, and deacon all have the same original meaning; in our modern terminology, they imply much different functions. We get the idea that women servants are somehow less important than men servants.

In this section, Paul is commending her to the church. That tells me that they are just meeting her for the first time. Phoebe must have been one of the group of travelers who brought this letter to the church in Rome. He asks the church to receive her worthily.

He instructs the church to give her any help she needs. That Greek passage literally reads, stand with her, be at hand, ready to assist her in her work. But what is that work? Here’s where it really gets interesting.

The NIV says that she has been a great help to many people including me. The Greek word that Paul uses for her is a prostatis. This is the only place that word is used in Bible. It’s a word that’s full of meaning.

It’s definition is a woman set over others. According to Thayer’s Lexicon, it describes a female guardian, protectress, or patroness, caring for the affairs of others and aiding them with her resources.

This word basically means that she is the head of a mission’s organization. Phoebe runs an organization that raises money for missions. More than that, according to Paul’s own words, he is one of those missionaries that she supports. That’s why Paul asks them to help her any way they can.

It’s sad that many translations water down these verses that show women in a place of authority. God will use whoever is available to further His kingdom.

I have a problem with people who try to erect a glass ceiling in God’s church. Any person, no matter who they are or where they came from, can rise as far as God calls them in His kingdom.

Question: What is God’s calling on your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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