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Category Archives: The Church

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

 

God’s Rule and Mustard Trees

God’s Rule and Mustard Trees

We’re studying through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post, we saw Jesus getting into trouble because He healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath day. As a result, the Lord made a point of exposing the hypocrisy of religious thinking.

Now, to reinforce what He said, Jesus gives the crowd a couple of parables to think about. He wants to give them an understanding of the kingdom of God. This should also help us to understand how the kingdom of God should be growing.

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.”

Luke 13:18-19 NIV

First, let me say that unless you know the region, this parable can’t be understood properly. There are a few different species of “mustard” that are common around the world. The one that can grow into a tree is not the one where we get the yellow goop for our hot dogs.

Jesus wants to let us know some attributes of the kingdom – God’s rule on earth. We know that the kingdom of God isn’t visible right now. It’s established in the hearts of God’s people.

The word, compare, in the above verse means to be similar in character and appearance. So, when we look at this parable, we’re getting a pretty good description of God’s kingdom at work in the world.

You need to understand that the seed for the mustard tree is tiny. This speaks of the small origin of the church. Jesus Christ was one man. But He wasn’t just a man. He was God made flesh.

When He was planted; the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection birthed an eternal kingdom. But that’s only one of the keys. For this plant to grow, it has to be planted under just the right conditions. That’s why Jesus had to emphasize over and over that in His ministry, everything had to be fulfilled according to the Father’s plan.

Another thing about this plant – it germinates quickly, but grows very slowly, but steadily. God’s kingdom is unstoppable. Many have tried to put an end to it, without success. That’s because it’s a kingdom born and nourished in the spirit. God is at work in the lives of His people.

As I said earlier, this isn’t the mustard we think of in talking about condiments and seasonings. However, the leaves and fruit of this tree are edible and have a slight, mustardy flavor. So animals and people can derive nourishment from it.

That brings me to my last point. This mustard-tree plant is very hardy. Once it takes root, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Because of this fact, the mustard tree is used throughout the Middle East and Africa for land reclamation.

Because it thrives in hot, arid climates; it can turn deserts into habitable places again. And, isn’t that one of the mandates of God’s plan? We are to bring life to the dead places around us.

Of course, not everybody sees it that way. Because it’s so hard to remove, people either view the mustard plant as a beneficial tree or a troublesome weed. Some people spend a lot of time and resources to remove it.

That’s how the church is described sometimes. Paul had this to say about it.

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 NIV

That’s the kingdom of God – some people hate it, while others couldn’t live without it. There are those who have dedicated their lives to extinguish the work of God on earth. Talk about a wasted life.

As for me, I’m grateful to be found in the kingdom of God. As I continue in the Lord’s way; I look forward to seeing His grace, power, and blessing that he desires to manifest through His people.

Question: How have you experienced the unstoppable growth of God’s kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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A Last Days Mindset 3

A Last Days Mindset 3

We’re continuing to look at Jesus as He teaches His disciples about the End Times. He’s telling them what He’ll be looking for at His return. The Lord will be rewarding those who are found faithfully fulfilling their calling.

However, Christ knows that there will be another group of leaders in the church. He gives this as a warning not to be a part of this.

But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.”

Luke 12:45-46 NIV

The Lord talks about leaders who are only thinking about themselves. They act like the purpose of the church is to fulfill their every want and desire. They have no thought to what will happen at the return of Christ.

Church leaders – shepherds of the flock – should be feeding, guiding, and protecting their people. That’s what their calling is about. There’s no place in the body of Christ for self-serving ministers.

Jesus says that these leaders eat, drink, and get drunk. This reminds me of another End Time teaching that the Lord gave to His disciples. It’s near the end of Luke’s Gospel, so we haven’t looked at it yet. Here’s a preview.

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”

Luke 21:34 NIV

Jesus warns that the Last Days will be marked by these three things. It’s an exact description of our society without Christ.

Dissipation is using up all of our resources – time, money, talent and strength – on things that have no eternal value. Spiritual drunkenness is becoming intoxicated with the things of the world. Anxiety is focusing on all the fearful things around us rather than looking to Christ and His Word.

It’s unfortunate, but there’s a segment of church leadership that falls into this category. They need to heed the Lord’s warning before it’s too late. If not, they run the risk of losing out on their rewards.

The NIV translation, above, makes it seem like they’re unsaved. That’s actually not the case.

The phrase, cut him to pieces, means severely scourged in the Greek. That’s being lashed with a whip with pieces of glass or metal at the ends. It brings deep lacerations. The above verse could also be read that he was assigned a place with the unfaithful.

This goes along with what Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He explained about the works we do for God.

…his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

1 Corinthians 3:13-15 NIV

These self-serving leaders will seem to be living large now, but they’ll have no future rewards. We should be building now, for eternity. We have to be careful that we don’t make our ministry all about us.

I believe that the scourging Jesus talks about, is watching all of our works go up in smoke. They’ll still be saved, but with nothing to show for it.

I want to have an eternal reward to look forward to. That means I need to be faithful to the Lord’s calling right now. Yes, it’s hard sometimes, when I look at what others are doing. But I’m not out to please them or compete with them.

Our calling is to seek God’s face and fulfill His calling in us.

Question: What is God calling you to do in His kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Nothing Hidden

Nothing Hidden

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we find Jesus teaching His disciples. In my last post, I talked generally about not adding any of our own opinions to the Word of God. Today, I want to talk specifically about what the Lord is teaching.

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

Luke 12:1 NIV

The Pharisees were a group of religious leaders who knew the Bible intimately. They had memorized the entire Torah (the first five books) as well as other huge sections. You would think that they, of all people, would agree with the teaching of Christ.

The problem was, they added their “yeast” to the Word. The yeast the Lord talks about is hypocrisy. Jesus saw that many of the Pharisees were hypocrites. That word in the Greek language is very specific. It’s the word they used for an actor in a play.

An actor studies his lines and gets into character. He does this so that he can convincingly portray a different person before an audience as he’s on the stage. That’s how the Pharisees viewed the Jewish religion.

For them, it was all about putting on a convincing performance before the people. They studied the traditions and laws. They practiced their roles, lines and actions. It was all a show with nothing coming from their heart.

The Lord doesn’t want His disciples to fall into this trap. Hypocrites actually get to the point where they’ve convinced themselves that they’re righteous and holy. Unfortunately, they’ve missed the whole foundation of the fear of the Lord.

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”

Luke 12:2-3 NIV

Jesus is giving His disciples an important truth here. We would do well to listen and apply it to ourselves.

The word for hypocrisy literally means to act under an assumed persona. Your real identity is hidden, covered, under the character you’re acting out.

In the above verse, Jesus says that there is nothing covered that will not be uncovered. The truth is that hypocrisy cannot stay hidden forever. No matter how well you act it out, at some point you will be discovered as a hypocrite.

The sad thing is, by that point, you’ve convinced yourself that you’re sincere. You’ll get offended and mad that someone would dare accuse you of this evil. Unless you come to the point of repentance, you’ll sink into bitterness and defeat.

Jesus had better hopes for those under His teaching. The second sentence of the above verse is for them. He wants the apostles to live in such a way that their private conversations can be proclaimed from the rooftops.

That needs to be our desire as well. Because I’m a pastor, I’ve been in meetings with various groups and denominations. There have been times where the discussion sounded more like a political strategy meeting than a ministry.

We have to be careful that we don’t lose sight of the fact that our goal is to serve Jesus Christ – the Head of the church. It’s not about power struggles and who gets the credit for what happens. Our goals and motives should be an open book before all men.

In this way, when a move of God takes place, He gets the glory. We need to reorient our thinking to a ministry mentality. Like Jesus said, “I’m not here to be served, but to serve…” (Mark 10:45). This will keep us from the yeast of the Pharisees.

Question: What are some ways you can keep your life open before God and men?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritually Selfish

Spiritually Selfish

We’re continuing our walk through the Gospel of Luke. For the last few posts, I’ve been talking about the Lord’s Prayer.

At one point, I talked about our daily bread, and I related it to receiving God’s Word on a daily basis. As we continue in this chapter, Christ now gives a parable concerning bread. I want to continue that discussion.

We’re going to do that by looking at a parable which few ever teach about. We need to see how the bread of the Word applies to our daily lives.

Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’

Luke 11:5-6 NIV

This parable brings to light an incredible truth. Listen carefully to what the man is asking for. He’s seeking bread. But the important fact is the reason he wants it.

Is he hungry? Does he have no money to buy bread? Absolutely not! These are not the reasons he needs bread so desperately.

According to the man, a friend of his was on a journey and has come near to him. He opened his home to the friend, but has no bread to place before the friend.

According to Scripture, every human is on a journey. We’re all traveling from total spiritual darkness to maturity in Christ. We’re all at different places along this path.

What this man was saying is, “My friend’s path brought him into my sphere of influence. I need to help him become what God wants him to be.”

The man was not seeking the bread of the Word for himself. He was seeking a Word that would meet the need of someone else. This is something the church needs to hear. It seems that much of the time we’re self-absorbed.

Many times we find that we’re seeking things for ourselves. We seem to think it’s all about my healing, my prosperity, and my blessing. What we really need to do is to follow the example of Christ. Most of what He sought the Father for was bread that He could give to others.

Notice the humility. My friend has come to me and I have nothing of my own that could meet his needs. This is an admittance of our total dependency on God.

I’m trusting God to meet someone else’s need. But I want Him to send the supply through me. This requires us to admit our inability apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

I believe this is what James was talking about in his book.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

James 5:16 NIV

James gives us this exhortation in the context of healing. We need to admit the areas for which we need prayer. But then, we also need to be in prayer for one another.

In the context of the above parable, James is saying that we should be constantly seeking bread for others. Praying for other people is a way of asking God the Father to supply us with the Word needed to bring healing into someone else’s life.

If all I ever pray about is my own needs, then I’m being very spiritually selfish. God wants us to be more than just a Christian organization. He wants us to be an organism – the body of Christ. In that way every part can be a help to all the other parts.

When you spend time in the presence of the Lord, remember to think of others. Listen for a Word that could be a help to them as well as yourself.

Question: How have you helped others along their road to maturity in Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2022 in Faith, Healing, Ministry, Prayer, The Church

 

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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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