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Category Archives: The Gospel

Rejoice in the Lord!

Rejoice in the Lord!

Over the last couple of posts I’ve been talking about the 72 disciples that Jesus sent out ahead of Him. Having been trained by Christ, they went out and saw the power of God manifest through their lives.

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Luke 10:17 NIV

After having been out for a while, these men started returning. They came back rejoicing in what God was doing.

Obviously they had learned how to operate in the Name of the Lord. They were seeing, first hand, the power of Jesus’ name.

Demons had to submit to that name. This is a great step forward. If you remember, in chapter 9 of Luke’s Gospel, the disciples were unable to free a young man from his demonic oppression. Now they’re learning the joy that comes through setting captives free.

As the Lord was listening to their reports, He wanted to make sure their hearts were right. He didn’t want them to get caught up in pride.

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Luke 10:18-20 NIV

When the disciples had told about the demons submitting to them, Jesus tells them of an even greater victory. There was a day when Satan, himself, was cast out of Heaven. That occurred ages before and is probably what’s recorded in Isaiah 14:12-15.

Literally, Jesus says that He was there, watching, as Satan fell from the sky as a bolt of lightning. Jesus was victorious then, and His power over the enemy’s kingdom is still as great today.

The Lord wants the disciples to always be mindful of where this power and authority comes from. It’s not about their goodness or ability. It only flows from their relationship with Christ.

It was wonderful to see the power of God working through them. But, there was a greater reason for them to rejoice. Because they had submitted their lives to Christ, their names are written – engraved – in Heaven.

We need to realize that same truth. Even though we look for, and praise God for, the abundant blessings we receive from Him, our greatest treasure is the salvation we’ve been given. That’s the foundation for everything else in our lives.

So often we get feeling down because a prayer wasn’t answered when we thought it should. We lose sight of the fact that if God never did another thing for us, we’ve already received more than we could ever hope for or even imagine.

However, even in this teaching, Jesus was not trying to put a damper on the disciple’s joy. He rejoiced with them in what they experienced.

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

Luke 10:21 NIV

Here’s a verse that totally falls short of what it says in the original Greek. This verse literally says that Jesus jumped and danced in the Holy Spirit because of the report He heard.

I’ve been at meetings where people jumped or danced in the spirit. I’ve heard them get criticized by believers who think it’s unspiritual and undignified. Jesus is our great example. If He could jump and dance in the Spirit, then we’re free to do so as well.

We need to rejoice in what the Lord has done for us and in us!

Question: What have you experienced in Christ that you can rejoice over?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Don’t Take it Personally

Don’t Take it Personally

We’re continuing to go through Luke’s Gospel. For the last couple of posts we’ve seen Jesus sending out the 72 disciples. They were to prepare the way as the Lord traveled throughout Israel.

There was more they were called to do than just the logistics. They were to minister as well.

When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’”

Luke 10:8-9 NIV

They were told to preach the kingdom of God. They were preparing the towns for the message that Christ would bring.

However, there’s something greater that I think we miss here. Jesus commanded them to heal the sick. The Lord didn’t simply say to pray over them. They were to bring healing.

That’s important. This command would have been impossible unless the power and authority to heal were given with it.

I believe that this should be a vital part of our ministry today. The power of God to heal and deliver should be present in God’s people. This is what would drive the Gospel message forward.

Unfortunately, much of today’s evangelism consists of trying to convince people to change their thinking. We hope that our words will cause people to turn to Christ.

We need a revival of the power of God in our witnessing.

But, some people are not even moved when they witness the miraculous.

But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.”

Luke 10:10-12 NIV

Jesus warns these disciples that not everyone will receive the Good News. There are some that will reject Christ, no matter what they learn about Him. Even miracles will not convince them to follow the Lord.

That’s because the message of Christ involves giving up control. You have to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There are many who will totally refuse to hand over the reigns of their lives to Christ.

Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.”

Luke 10:13-15 NIV

Please understand what the Lord is saying here. He’s not telling these cities that their punishment will be greater. Theirs will be less tolerable because they didn’t just reject the words of a prophet.

These cities actually saw the Messiah in person. They heard the very words that he spoke. They saw the miracles done from His hands. Yet, in spite of all that, they rejected the Hope of Israel. This knowledge will continually haunt them throughout eternity.

Then the Lord turns to His disciples. He gives them an important piece of knowledge that we need to hold on to as well.

“He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Luke 10:16 NIV

No matter what happens through our ministry, don’t take it personally. If someone accepts Christ as their Savior and Lord, it’s not about us, but the Holy Spirit working in them.

If they reject the message of Christ, they’re not rejecting us. They’re rejecting the One who sent us. Ultimately, they’re rejecting the work of God in their lives.

Our goal should be to walk in such a way before God, that the world sees His power and is drawn to Him. Then we can be a faithful witness to what Christ has done in us. However, the final choice is theirs – for or against Christ. We are simply the messengers.

Question: How do you witness for the Lord?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered

As we go through the Gospel of Luke, we’re now starting chapter 10. Jesus’ ministry is growing as He’s attracting more and more disciples. He now has a large number of followers.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.

Luke 10:1 NIV

The Lord’s ministry team has become so large that He can no longer travel without extensive planning. There are almost a hundred people in His group. With that many people you can’t just stroll into town and find enough food and lodging for everyone.

Jesus now sets up a team of 72 to go out ahead of Him and make preparations. Remember, there’s no reservation desk to call. Everything had to be done in-person.

These men would go into a town and find those who were willing to open their homes for the Lord and His disciples to stay at. They also needed to make sure enough food could be prepared for the group.

As He was getting these men ready, Jesus gave them something else to work on. He encouraged them to pray for the souls they would come in contact with.

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Luke 10:2 NIV

Jesus understood that as one person, He could only do so much. When the Lord put on flesh, He limited Himself to only being in one place at a time. He needed more workers to come alongside Him and carry out His work.

So Jesus tells the 72 that there are more people needing to hear the message than there are workers to preach it. They need to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers into His fields.

This is a very interesting prayer. It’s one of those prayers that God usually answers quickly. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what happened.

Jesus answered this prayer before it ever even left the disciple’s lips.

Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

Luke 10:3 NIV

“Lord, please send more workers into Your fields.”

“Go! I’m sending you.”

This exchange between the Lord and His disciples tells me some things. First of all, Jesus is the Lord of the Harvest. It’s clear because He’s the one who answered the prayer.

Next, I see that you don’t need to be anyone special to answer His call. According to Scripture, these 72 weren’t even trained until after Jesus called them to go.

Also, you don’t have to have an overwhelming drive to win the lost. Jesus said that He was sending them out like lambs among wolves. They had nothing in and of themselves to overcome the obstacles before them. They had to rely on the Holy Spirit going with them.

I believe that this same calling is on all of us. We are all called to reach a world that we’re powerless to change. That is, powerless in our own strength.

The Holy Spirit resides within us. We have all the resources of Heaven available to us. We need to simply step out and see what the Lord will do through us.

We have to pray the prayer and answer the call. “Lord, send workers into your fields. Yes! I’ll go and work for you.” Then, you’ll see the blessings of God flowing through you to the world around you.

Question: How have you answered the call of God upon your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2022 in Ministry, Prayer, The Gospel

 

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Commitment

Commitment

In my last post, I started talking about when Jesus sent His disciples out to preach. This required a great amount of trust on their part.

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Luke 9:1-2

When I think about the way this worked, it amazes me. The verse simply says that He gave them power and authority. I’m sure there was no flash of light or fireworks of any kind.

Jesus spoke a Word to them, and they trusted that it was so. Without any visible confirmation, they believed that they could walk in the same power of the Lord. But, it didn’t end there. Jesus gave more instructions that required faith and obedience.

He told them: “Take nothing for the journey — no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.”

Luke 9:3

The Lord’s command seems very counter-intuitive. They’re being told to go out on a preaching mission, yet they’re exhorted to take nothing with them.

Then, Jesus lists the things they were not to bring with them. As someone who likes to travel, this sounds to me like a list of essential items you would make a point of taking with you. Yet Christ wanted them to trust that they would not be needed on this journey.

They had to simply believe that everything they needed would be supplied along the way. That’s a big ask – to trust God to work through the people they would meet along their journey.

Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.”

Luke 9:4-5

Of course, staying in people’s homes was the normal thing to do in those days. There were no hotels or motels. When you were traveling away from home, you would ask around in a town and find out who was willing to let you stay with them for the night.

That’s how traveling worked in the ancient world. However, the hosts would expect a payment of some kind to let you stay with them for the night. Jesus expected the disciples to trust that they would find people who would allow them to stay in their homes and feed them for free.

Like I said, I like to travel. But I’ve never found a free bed and breakfast anywhere. Yet the disciples followed the Lord’s instructions and saw the hand of God at work in them.

So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.

Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.

Luke 9:6-9

Because of their obedience, the power of God was manifest in a wonderful way through the disciples. It was so great, that word of these things reached the ears of the king.

Herod, who had beheaded John the Baptist, was hearing all these reports. He heard about the miracles and healings being done. It wasn’t accomplished through long dead prophets who came back to life. It was normal people who submitted themselves to Christ.

In our generation, there’s not many believers who are called to the level of commitment these disciples had to follow. But each of us has to follow the commands of Christ in our own way. When we do this in obedience, we’ll see the same outcome. People will want what we have and be attracted to the Gospel of Jesus.

Question: What is God calling you to do at this point?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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Work Your Own Field

Work Your Own Field

In my last post, I talked about the demon-possessed man that Jesus set free. The story is found in the Gospel of Luke 8:26-39. The demons left the man and went into some pigs, which drowned themselves. When the people of the area saw what had happened, they were afraid.

Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

Luke 8:36-37

When the power of God starts to bring change; people begin to resist it. That’s been the case throughout all of history.

But there was one person who was glad about the change.

The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him

Luke 8:38-39

This man had been released from his captivity. He wanted to follow Jesus wherever He went. God had a different plan for him. The Lord told him to stay in his home area.

Too often the Lord’s people think that the only way they can do a big work for God is to be a pastor or missionary. Maybe they look down on their abilities because they never attended a Bible college.

That’s never been the prerequisite for doing great things for the Lord. All it takes is a knowledge of what Christ has accomplished in you. If you understand God’s love for you, then you’re qualified to tell others.

It’s amazing how God takes us where we are, and increases our influence by His power. This man was simply told to go to his family and share what Jesus did for him. He was to explain to them the love of God.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

1 Peter 3:15

People don’t need a prepared sermon about who Jesus is. Instead, they only need to hear how you received the hope of Jesus Christ in your life. It’s a personal thing. What has the Lord done in your life?

I’m sure that’s where this man started. But the grace of God couldn’t be contained in his little house. He felt the drive to bring the Good News even further.

The word used in Scripture to describe him telling the town is the word for a town crier. He proclaimed Jesus in the public square at the top of his lungs! He wanted everyone to know how the Lord had changed his life.

In all of this, God had a plan that was being accomplished. The people of this area started out being afraid and skeptical of Jesus. They didn’t want him around.

But as this man started sharing his story, the mood began to change. The people realized that the Messiah had come on the scene. Their attitudes turned around.

How do I know this? The Gospel of Mark records Jesus’ return to this area. That visit is found in Mark, chapter 7. Instead of asking Him to leave, they bring the sick to Christ for healing. This man prepared his region to receive Jesus.

So don’t ever think that your efforts for Christ are wasted. Even if you seem to be in a small area, God can do a great work through you. Just remain in His will, doing what He’s called you to do.

Question: What’s God’s current assignment upon your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2022 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Freedom Fighters

Freedom Fighters

In my last post, we saw how the disciples exhibited a lack of faith when a huge storm came up while they were crossing the lake. Now, it would seem to them, like they went from the frying pan into the fire.

When they reach the shore, they arrive at a burial ground. Almost immediately a demon possessed man who lived in the tombs came running towards them. Because of the length of the passage, I can’t show it all here. I suggest that you read Luke 8:26-39 before proceeding.

In this section of Scripture, we see a man tormented by the enemy. He had no house of his own but lived in the tombs. On top of that, he wore no clothing.

According to Luke, many times the authorities would try to arrest him. They even bound him with chains. But, because of the strength of the demons, the chains would break in his struggling. At that point, the demon would drive the man away from town.

Listen to what Luke says.

Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

Luke 8:29b

The word, driven, means to be pushed along like wind driving a sailboat forward. He could probably resist a little, but it eventually got the better of him.

It’s interesting to see where the enemy led him. He was driven into places of loneliness and death. He was all by himself, surrounded by the tombs. That’s not a great place to live.

When Jesus began to minister to him, he cried out…

When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man.

Luke 8:28-29a

The enemy was afraid of being tortured. They know that Jesus is going to be their final Judge. But, what the demon sees as torture, this man would see as freedom.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

The goal of the enemy is to destroy lives. Unfortunately, there are many people who think that it’s better than what the Lord offers. They think that God is out to torture them and take away all of their fun. They don’t understand that what Christ is really offering is perfect freedom.

That’s where we come into the picture. We must let them see by our lives, the blessing of serving God. Too often it looks like we want what the world has. That’s not how it should be.

We need to walk as Jesus did. The Lord understood how to handle the work of the devil.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

1 John 3:8b

Our goal should be the same as that of Christ. We should live to set the captives free. All the while we must watch ourselves so that we’re not captivated by the world.

The power of God did more than just tame the demon possessed man. He was set free and his life was totally renewed by the power of God. That’s the type of victory we should be seeking in our generation.

But it will require us to spend time in the Father’s presence just as Jesus did.

Question: What are some areas that you see the need for Christ to set people free?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Sowing Seeds in the Street

Sowing Seeds in the Street

In today’s post, I’m continuing to talk about the parable of the sower found in the Gospel of Luke. The disciples didn’t understand it when Jesus gave it to the crowds. So, when they were alone, they asked Him about it.

This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.”

Luke 8:11-12

In His explanation of the parable, Jesus makes it clear that He’s talking about ministry. Specifically; sowing the Word. The Word He’s talking about here is the Greek word, logos. Logos refers to the Word that is spoken in preaching or teaching. For a detailed post on this truth, click here.

The Lord is giving an in-depth look at what happens when the Word is ministered. There are various groups of people who hear the Word. The effect is different in each group.

The first group Jesus deals with is what He calls those along the path.

Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”

Luke 8:12

The question is; who are these people? The path is a ribbon of hard-packed earth. It has been trampled by generations of traffic. It’s dry, hard, and unyielding.

These are people who have absolutely no interest in hearing from God. They just happen to be in earshot of someone who’s speaking on God’s behalf. The message isn’t directed at them, but they happen to hear it.

Why is this the case? Simply put; there’s not a farmer on earth who would intentionally sow his seed on the road. That should be the case in the spiritual realm as well.

That’s why understanding the different types of people in this parable should be important to ministers of the Gospel. There should be some discernment that goes along with the ministry of the Word.

I know that there are those who feel they need to preach to everyone within earshot. But that’s just the opposite of what Jesus taught. The seed of the Word is precious. It shouldn’t be wasted on unproductive ground.

Listen to how the Lord explained it.

Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”

Matthew 7:6

That being said, what CAN we do about people in this condition? I’m in no way saying that we should write them off as unreachable.

The fact is that a road can be turned into a fruitful field – but it requires a lot of work. The Bible teaches that something needs to happen before they can receive the Word.

This is what the Lord says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem: “Break up your unplowed ground and do not sow among thorns.”

Jeremiah 4:3

The hard packed soil of their hearts needs to be broken up. This calls for a powerful work in the spirit. That means much time spend in the presence of the Lord.

These people need to be prayed for. But I’m not talking about a simple, “God, please open their eyes. Amen.”

In order to make them ready and able to receive a Word that could save them, they require someone to intercede for them. This may include spiritual warfare to break up their hardened heart. Turning a path into good soil requires time and effort.

The church needs willing intercessors who can take on this responsibility. Are you one of them?

Questions: Who do you know that may be a person on the path? How can you pray for them?

© 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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Deserving God’s Best

Deserving God’s Best

We’re continuing our study in the Gospel of Luke. We’re now in Luke, chapter 7.

In my last post I started talking about a Roman centurion who wanted Jesus to come and heal his servant. I wanted to look at this event in detail because it deals with some important principles we need to understand.

Many Christians don’t have a grasp on what makes us worthy of walking in the power of God. The centurion in this chapter said that he wasn’t worthy and used two Greek words, axios and hikanos, to describe how he felt.

In this post, I want to start by looking at the word axiosdeserving.

Think about the prodigal son of the parable I talked about in my last post. He spent a large portion of his life away from the power, yet all that time he was still a son. One of the statements that he made to his Father was, “I am not worthy – axios – to be called your son.” The first concept we must understand is that you can be a son and still feel not deserving.

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.”
Acts 13:46

When Paul and Barnabas first started out on their missionary journeys, they would always preach the Gospel first to the Jewish community. Many times they were met with resistance by this group.

At this point in their journeys they were beginning to get frustrated by this trend among the Jewish people. The literal Greek of what Paul says here is that you have judged yourselves undeserving (axios) of eternal life.

This tells us that, concerning the power of God, if you consider yourself undeserving, you could find yourself rejecting God’s Word. There’s no true power outside the Word of God. Of course, if you reject the Word of Salvation, then you’re lost.

Our salvation experience is the first touch of God’s power which we experience. All believers, therefore, qualify for the power on that requirement.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
Revelation 3:4

This verse brings up an interesting dilemma. How do you keep your clothes white while living in a cesspool? Of course, I’m talking about our spiritual clothes as we live in this society. How do we keep clean with so much sin around us?

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:14

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9

As we live a repentant lifestyle, the Holy Spirit keeps us clean through the blood of Christ. Repentance should be a daily walk before God. These verses tell me that power is for those who can keep themselves clean in Christ. Therefore, your conscience is accusing you of not deserving of the power if you ignore repentance.

This was the lesson that the Prodigal Son had to learn. As soon as he returned home and repented, he was restored to the full rights and privileges of a son. It’s through this same process of repentance that our consciences can be wiped clean. Then it will stop accusing us of being undeserving.

Question: How does your conscience keep you from enjoying God’s best for you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Scope of Love

The Scope of Love

We’re continuing in our study of Luke’s Gospel. Right now we’re looking at the Sermon on the Mount. In this section, Christ is talking about loving others, especially our enemies.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.”

Luke 6:32

This kind of love is all about choices. Most people are very willing to do good things for those who are good to them. But that doesn’t show a difference in us.

There’s more to this question that Jesus asks than is readily apparent. The word, credit, is actually the Greek word for grace.

You don’t need any special anointing of grace to love those who show love to you. If you want to walk in God’s power, then do good to those who hate you.

And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.”

Luke 6:33

In the world there’s a saying, “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” In other words – if you do something nice for me, I’ll do the same for you.

Christ turns this thought on it’s head. He literally says that if you only do favors for people who do favors for you, then what grace do you have. Sinners, with no grace, can do the same thing.

The question is; do you want to show the power of God working through you? That will only happen if you do what other can’t do, or refuse to do.

And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

Luke 6:34-35

Now Jesus starts meddling! It’s one thing to be nice to someone, it’s totally different when it comes to giving away our resources.

Jesus goes as far as to say that if an enemy needs something we have, then we should lend it to them. That’s hard to do, because there’s a good possibility that they won’t return it. As a matter of fact, the Lord tells us not to expect them to return it.

That’s a hard road to walk. Again, it requires the grace of God to be active in you. More than that, God is transforming us into His likeness. He wants the character of Christ to be manifest in us.

The word Jesus uses for reward, means a payment for services. What we have to realize is that when we do good to our enemies, God takes on the debt Himself. He works out the repayment.

I don’t think there’s any possible reason why God should take on a debt that is owed to me by an enemy. And, for sure, I’m not going to demand it from God. But, knowing the Lord the way I do, I can expect an abundant blessing when I follow His leading.

God’s desire is that we take on a family resemblance to Him. He is kind, and the Lord wants us to walk in that same degree of kindness. Obviously, God’s definition of kindness means doing good to people who are ungrateful and evil. That takes a huge amount of grace.

Here’s the bottom line of all this.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Luke 6:36

If you study out the concept of mercy in Scripture, you’ll find that it’s nothing like the how we define it in our modern society. Let me just say that in this context, Jesus wants us to view people as to what they could be in Christ.

Ignore how they’re acting right now – even though they may be hurtful to you. See them through the eyes of God’s love.

Question: How have you shown love to an enemy recently?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2022 in Anointing, Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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