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Category Archives: The Gospel

Power to Witness

Power to Witness

This will be my last post from the Gospel of Luke. He ends his view of the life of Christ with some important words. It’s the great “take away” from his Gospel.

You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Luke 24:48-53 NIV

Here we see the final interaction between the Lord and His disciples. The torch was being passed. It was now up to the apostles to bring the message of repentance and forgiveness to the world.

They were to go out and tell of everything the saw and heard under the Lord’s ministry. That’s a big assignment. They probably felt unprepared for such a task. Just like we do sometimes.

I like the fact that at His departure, Jesus blessed them. But it’s more than that. As He ascended into heaven, Christ continued to bless them. That tells me that the blessing is continual – even to us – as we proclaim the Good News.

However, there’s more that we need to see in this event. Luke gives us more details about it in his second volume – the book of Acts.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 1:4-5 NIV

The Lord makes it clear that something had to be done in their lives BEFORE they could go out and evangelize the world. They needed the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. That is the baptism, or immersion, in the Holy Spirit.

We sometimes get confused by this. The truth is that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is different from the infilling of the Holy Spirit. This is evident in the fact that the disciples were already filled with the Spirit before they were baptized (John 20:22). This took place after the resurrection and before the ascension.

Just before He left this earth, Jesus once again made this clear to the disciples.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

This is a part of receiving God’s power into your life. It’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes up residence within you when you’re saved. But the baptism is the immersion in the Holy Spirit.

I believe that this is one of the most important steps in the Christian walk. It opens us up to the power of God working in us. If we want all that God has for us, then we need to actively seek this baptism.

I know there are some who teach that this is no longer necessary for us as believers. But that doesn’t seem right to me.

The apostles walked with Jesus Christ for over three years. They heard His intimate teachings. They watched His life in public and in private. Yet, even they needed something more than just the teachings of Scripture.

How much more do I need the manifestation of the power of God in my life. Here I am, 2000 years after these things took place. I need the power of God activated in me. That’s what will get the attention of the world. It will draw them to the life changing power of Christ.

Question: How much of God’s power does it take to be a true witness of who Christ is?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Repentance is Begun

Repentance is Begun

As we near the end of Luke’s Gospel, we see the ministry of Christ after the resurrection. This was an important part of His work on earth.

We sometimes get the impression that the story of Jesus is all about the resurrection. As important as that is, it’s only a part of the whole picture of Christ. The work of the Lord definitely culminated when He rose from the dead. But we need to understand the entire revelation of God’s plan.

He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Luke 24:46-47 NIV

The whole work of Christ on the cross was needed to bring us repentance and the forgiveness of sin. Do we really understand what this means? Or have we watered this down in our desire to get on with what we want to accomplish with our lives? I need to know how the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord affects me.

The first word that catches my attention here is repentance. In the vocabulary of our present society it simply means to say, “I’m sorry.” Many times we throw out this phrase and never even mean it. We only want to placate the one we’re apologizing to.

Biblical repentance is a whole other matter. It’s about desiring a change of direction in your life. I don’t like where I’m at. I have all this baggage that I’m carrying with me – the guilt and regrets of the past. It’s like I’m stuck with a heavy backpack full of junk that I’d just like to shake off.

The problem is that this backpack is locked onto me. I can’t shake it. I’ve tried so many times to remove it in the past but nothing works. I want a new life. This is the spirit of repentance. It’s all about the desire to change.

The next word we have a bit of trouble with is forgiveness. We read into it the definitions given to us by our society. When we talk about repentance and forgiveness the truth gets lost in our preconceived ideas.

We do something wrong and say, “I’m sorry.”

The person we wronged replies, “Don’t worry about it. I’m okay with you now.”

Our misunderstanding comes from the fallacy that sin is only evil. The fact is that sin means that we’ve missed the mark of God’s perfect will. Of course, evil falls into that category. But there are other things that are sin as well. Not doing the good work that the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do is a form of sin. Sin is only evil when it’s done on purpose.

When we talk about forgiveness, we’re not talking about God saying to us, “I’m okay with you now. Try harder next time.”

The word, forgive, in the Bible literally means to pick up and throw away. God’s work of forgiveness is the total removal of the sin from our lives. That’s why a true understanding of repentance is so important. If all you want is to “make God happy with you,” then you’re not really repenting. True repentance is the desire for true forgiveness – the removal of sin and restoration to purity in Christ.

It’s like what the trash man does at our curbside every week. He shows up and removes our trash completely. When he’s done his work, you never see that trash again. Think about what life would be like if he took it back to your house the next week just to remind you what you threw away.

The blessing of serving our God is that the removal of sin is permanent.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalms 103:11-12 NIV

This is what the cross and the resurrection are all about.

Question: How does a repentant heart today change how you live tomorrow?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2023 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Is It Really Over?

Is It Really Over?

We’re at the final chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus Christ is on the cross, giving His life for our redemption.

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Luke 23:44-46 NIV

The power that was released because of Christ’s obedience is beyond comprehension. You need to realize that the curtain in the Temple was not a mere piece of cloth. It was made of leather panels stitched together. It was tested by placing it between two teams of oxen. If they couldn’t tear it, then it was ready for the Temple.

In the same way, the power of God is released in us when we walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit. There may be trials along the way. There may even be people who ridicule and tell us we’re wrong to trust God. But, God’s power shines brightest when we’re at our weakest.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Luke 23:47-49 NIV

This wasn’t something that was done in secret. There were many people surrounding the cross. They watched as He gave His life.

Many of these people had placed their hopes in Christ. Now that dream was gone.

Maybe they were all praying for a miracle as they watched everything taking place. They could have hoped that at the last moment, angels would swoop down and take Jesus off the cross. They watched and waited, but the Messiah stayed on the cross.

Now it was over. There was nothing left to do but to take care of the body. A member of the Sanhedrin stepped up and came out of the shadows.

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

Luke 23:50-54 NIV

Joseph was a man who was highly respected. He could have remained as a secret follower of Christ. Instead, he summoned his inner strength, and received the body of Jesus. Joseph did what he could to prepare the body for burial. He even gave the Lord his own tomb that had never been used.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Luke 23:55-56 NIV

Once the body was laid to rest, the tomb was sealed. It was finished.

At least that’s what everybody thought. What went through their minds as they tried to sleep that night? It seemed like God had failed them.

It’s like us sometimes. We give God a time limit. We think He needs to answer us by this time. Then, when nothing happens, we get upset at God.

“Lord, I trusted You. Why didn’t You answer my prayer?”

What we miss, sometimes, is that God isn’t bound by our limits and weaknesses. He can bring about His plan even after we think it’s too late.

The people of Scripture thought the same way as us. Jesus is dead and buried in the ground. There’s no way that He can save Israel now.

Understand this. God always has a bigger plan than we can see. It’s never too late for the Lord to turn things around. Put your trust in Him and never waver in your faith.

We know how the story will finish!

Question: When has God answered your prayer even when you thought it was too late?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Save Yourself?

Save Yourself?

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. We’re now seeing Christ on the cross and all that means to us. Listen as the crowd mocks Him.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Luke 23:35-39 NIV

As emotionally charged as this scene is, there’s something for us to take note of. There’s an overall theme of what’s being said to the Lord. “Save yourself!”

I think that we lose sight of this truth sometimes. The will of God often goes against the natural tendencies of our humanity.

The world and even our own flesh will cry out for us to save ourselves. Surely there must be something we can do to get out of the mess we find ourselves in. However, that’s carnal thinking.

Jesus prepared the disciples for what His attitude would be on the cross.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25 NIV

There was a work that needed to be done. The only possible way was by means of the cross. There was no accomplishing our salvation and at the same time saving Himself. Jesus totally surrendered to the will of the Father.

We are not called to anything less. The road that we walk, many times, requires us to deny ourselves for the sake of others. Our flesh may be insisting that we save ourselves. But that’s not the example that was laid down for us.

Even in His pain and suffering, there was a work that Christ needed to be doing for those around Him. There was one more act of compassion that had to be done before His death.

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:40-43 NIV

I can’t even fathom the love of the Lord at this point. My attitude would have been a lot different.

“Really, Father? I’m dying here. Do you really expect me to minister to this man in my condition?”

I’m so glad that Christ lived above our petty self-centeredness. His life was never about Himself, but always for the betterment of others.

That’s the key to a fulfilled life in Christ. We must accurately portray who He is through our daily lives.

But we’ll never be able to live up to this in our own strength and ability. The only way to accomplish such a lifestyle is through the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

That’s why we need to spend quality time in the Lord’s presence. It’s only as He imparts His love, boldness, and strength, that we can hope to minister as Jesus did. Let the Lord’s example motivate you to seek His face for the days ahead.

Question: How much of the Lord’s compassion do you see in your life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2023 in Faith, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Forgiveness Begins

Forgiveness Begins

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re now at the crucifixion of Christ. There’s so much for us to see in this section of Scripture.

Sometimes we need to be reminded about the simplest concepts. Something as common as forgiveness should be reviewed again and again so that it stays fresh in our hearts. Christ is our greatest example of forgiveness, even while hanging on the cross.

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Luke 23:32-34 NIV

In the past I’ve shared about what forgiveness is. It started out as God’s idea. In the Old Testament, God is the only one who ever forgave. Forgiveness is the end of the penalty for our actions. It cancels the demand for retribution. It also frees us from the guilt.

If you want to read the original series in more detail, click here.

Jesus started the process of our forgiveness even while being humiliated and ignored on the cross. But, how does this process work? Let’s start with King David in 2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12.

It all began when he stayed home from battle when he should have been with his army. He ended up on his porch, watching his neighbor’s wife as she bathed. David ended up being involved in adultery, murder, and a cover-up.

God sends the prophet, Nathan, to confront David with these sins. David is convicted, repents, and writes a song about his experience. (Psalm 51)

In the first 4 verses of Psalm 51 he used 5 different words for sin. He wanted to make sure he covered everything. That’s how forgiveness starts.

The first step – Sin is committed. There is a failure, a hurt against someone. But the truth is that no matter who gets hurt, there’s one important truth we need to recognize.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

Psalm 51:4 NIV

Think about all that were hurt by David’s actions. There was Bathsheba, Uriah, Joab, Nathan, David’s family, as well as the whole nation of Israel. In spite of all this hurt, David recognized that the sin was against God only.

This is the key. We have such a high opinion of ourselves. The fact is that we were created to be perfect. Anything less offends God. There is no sin we could possibly commit that’s not against God.

There is good news, however. That’s not the end of the story. The next step is that once sin is committed, forgiveness is purchased.

We know from Scripture that without blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). Under the Old Testament Law there had to be a sacrifice. The Good News is that we live after the cross.

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matthew 26:27-28 NIV

The blood of Christ paid for our forgiveness once and for all. It was the one perfect payment needed.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Ephesians 1:7 NIV

This verse says that we have been loosed off by His blood and our sins are forgiven. Forgiveness is available to all.

But that’s also a problem. It’s available to all, but it’s not yet manifest. That’s what the Good News of Christ is all about. It’s communicating the forgiveness of God to the world.

Each one of us, as believers, should be proclaiming this great Gospel.

Question: How has God’s forgiveness changed your life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2023 in Encouragement, Faith, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Judge for Yourself

Judge for Yourself

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re now looking at the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. That’s the ruling body of elders in Israel.

At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”

Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

Luke 22:66-71 NIV

This is quite an applicable portion of Scripture. It contains what I call the “Jesus Dilemma”. It was faced by the religious leaders of Israel as well as the unbelieving world of today.

The biggest part of the problem is faith. These were a group of men who saw the works of the Lord. They heard His teachings and felt the power of His wisdom. The life of Christ was above reproach – there was no wrong-doing that they could accuse Him of.

However, they had already rejected the Lord before the trial ever started. They were simply looking for a way to put Him to death.

That happens a lot in today’s society. Many times, people say that they want to talk to us about Jesus Christ or the teachings of Scripture. However, the reality is that they’ve already made up their minds to reject it no matter what we say.

It’s almost like the world views Christians the same way they view time-share salesmen. They listen politely, but they already have their “no” ready and waiting for the end of the conversation.

I love how the Lord gets right to the center of the issue. It’s not that clear in this English translation, so I’ll try to explain what was said.

The first thing Jesus told the leadership of Israel was, “If I told you who I am, you wouldn’t believe me.” That’s where faith comes in.

People see the difference in our lives. They see the blessing and favor of God on us. They ask us to explain what makes the difference. But, when we tell them how the Lord Jesus has changed our lives, suddenly the walls go up.

They start getting defensive. They tell us that the blessings of God are merely coincidences that could happen to anyone. They’ve decided from the start, not to believe.

There’s a second issue as well. Literally, Jesus said, “If I asked you, then you not think long and hard about your decision.” That’s because the word for answer, is a word that means to make a decision based upon all of the facts before you.

That’s what I think is a major problem in today’s society. People don’t want discernment and understanding. They simply want explanations that agree with what they already want to believe. They don’t want to make a personal judgment about who Jesus Christ is.

We have a generation that doesn’t want to think deeply about anything. That’s why we enjoy Google and Facebook. These sites record what we view, determine what we like, and spoon feed us more of the same.

Personally, I want to be challenged. Tell me why you think I’m missing it. It strengthens my faith. Or it shows me areas in which I need to change. In either case, I experience growth.

The worst-case scenario is for me to decide what I want to believe, then only listen to those who agree with me. That’s a sure road to failure.

I don’t follow Jesus Christ by blind faith. He has proved Himself faithful to me over and over again. My trust in the Lord is based upon a deep understanding of Him and His ways.

My prayer is that you will know Jesus Christ in the fullness of who He is. Then your life will reflect the glory of God.

Question: Why do you think that many in the world reject the knowledge of Jesus Christ?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2023 in Faith, Israel, The Gospel

 

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Christ in Our Place

Christ in Our Place

We are now in the Gospel of Luke, looking at the trial, arrest, and death of Jesus Christ. There’s so much that took place here. As believers, we need to understand what the Lord went through for us.

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And they said many other insulting things to him.

Luke 22:63-65 NIV

Whether you know it or not, this is a very important verse to us. It’s the point at which the Lord begins to pay for all the riches of His grace.

There are three things that happen here. They are spiritual battles that Jesus came through victoriously on our behalf. The first is the one that most preachers talk about.

He was wounded for our healing. This verse says that they began beating Him. That word means to strike hard enough to leave a mark. It could cause bleeding or bruising.

In any case, the Lord took that pain for us. Isaiah prophesied that this was for our healing.

…by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5b NIV

So many people don’t want to believe that Christ paid for our physical healing. However, this Hebrew word speak of a physical cure. The fact is that throughout Scripture, we are told that we serve a God who heals our bodies.

It’s at this point in His struggle, that Jesus paid the price for our healing. Now it’s up to us to trust Him as our Healer. But, there was more going on in this verse from Luke.

He was mocked to take away our shame. Many times, our past is a place of shame and disgrace. The Lord took that all upon Himself so that we no longer need to bear it. Isaiah explains this.

I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.

Isaiah 50:6b-7 NIV

Don’t allow the devil to shame you by bringing up your past. It’s all buried under the blood of Christ. We’ve been delivered from the shame and disgrace of our past because of Jesus’ victory.

As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 10:11 NIV

There’s so much more that Jesus Christ accomplished for us. As we look at the verse in Luke, there’s one more thing I want to explain.

He was blasphemed so that we would know the power of His name. Every power in heaven and on earth bows before the name of Jesus Christ. The amazing thing is, that we have been given the authority to use that name.

Again, the prophet Isaiah looked forward to the day when this would happen.

“And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed. Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.”

Isaiah 52:5b-6 NIV

Those of us who are in Christ have been called by that name that is above every other name. Essentially, we’ve been given power of attorney to walk in that name.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17 NIV

This means so much more than simply tacking on “in Jesus’ name” at the end of our prayers. It means that we are to walk and minister just as Jesus did. We are now taking His place on earth through the power of His Holy Spirit. This is a great responsibility.

There’s so much that Jesus accomplished for us. We may never know all the battles that were won from the Lord’s arrest to His crucifixion. But what I do know is that He paid for everything I’ll ever need.

Question: How well have you applied the Lord’s grace to your life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2023 in Faith, God's Provision, Healing, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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Standing with Christ

Standing with Christ

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

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

Luke 22:28-30 NIV

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

Now, Christ turns His attention to Simon Peter.

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

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

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

Luke 22:31-34 NIV

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

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

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

Mark 14:27 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

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

 

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The Blood of the New Covenant

The Blood of the New Covenant

In this post I’m going to continue looking at the Last Supper as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. Last time I talked about the bread, in this article we’ll see the cup of the covenant.

In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Luke 22:20 NIV

It should be clear from this verse that the communion cup causes us to remember the covenant. We’re in covenant with God. Unfortunately, many Christians don’t understand what that means.

In our society, we understand contracts. There’s a big difference between contracts and covenants. Contracts have an ending date, covenants are in effect forever. A contract will usually cover a specific item or job. A covenant covers every area of our lives.

But the biggest difference is that a contract simply requires a signature for it to be valid. A covenant requires the shedding of blood from both parties.

Communion remembers the blood of the covenant between God and us. Hebrews, chapter 12, talks about where we’ve come to by faith.

to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

Hebrews 12:24 NIV

Jesus is the Mediator, or literally the go-between of this covenant. On the cross, the blood of God and man was shed by one person – Jesus Christ. He offered it for us so that we could have a part in the New Covenant.

But, more than that, we need to understand that the blood SPEAKS. Jesus was killed just like Abel. But Abel’s blood spoke of revenge and justice. Jesus’ blood speaks of forgiveness.

This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matthew 26:28 NIV

Now that we’re in covenant with God, there’s a responsibility upon us to remember it and keep it. In a covenant, everything that either person has is available to all parties. In the natural, it would usually be two powerful people who would covenant together.

But, in our case, an all-powerful, holy God cut covenant with us. For our part we were unrighteous, sinful, imperfect, weak, and poor. I don’t have space here to list everything He provides for us. On His part, He simply asks for 10% of our wealth, some time, fellowship, and some of our strength.

This is the part of covenant we fail to think about sometimes.

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

2 Corinthians 3:6 NIV

In our churchy way of speaking, minister means to have a position of authority over someone or something. In Scripture it actually means to be a servant to something. This verse really means that God has qualified us to serve the covenant. The good news is that we don’t serve by the letter, but by the spirit.

When we come to the Lord’s Table, we’re remembering this covenant.

“I’m in covenant with God. It’s my whole life I’m giving over for Him.”

Keep this thought in mind whenever you participate in receiving the Lord’s Supper. This should cause you to worship and praise God for all He has done for you.

Question: What should our attitudes be when receiving the Communion elements?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2022 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel, Worship

 

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Our Body Freed from the Flesh

Our Body Freed from the Flesh

Do you know the difference between your body and your flesh? Scripturally speaking, they’re not the same thing. Knowing what those two Biblical words mean will help you in living for Christ.

We’re looking at the Last Supper as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is revealing a new concept to the disciples as they celebrate the Passover meal.

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

Luke 22:14-19 NIV

First, we have to understand that the cup mentioned here is the drink that started the Passover meal. It’s not the cup of the covenant we share in Communion. I’ll talk about that one in my next post.

In this post, I’ll talk about the bread. This is the foundation for the Communion observances in our churches. It was a small but important part of the Passover meal. The bread, which was a hard, dry, matzo cracker, was broken and passed to each one around the table.

It’s important to know what the Lord was speaking about. In the Greek language there are two different words that we sometimes take for granted. In English, they’re translated as flesh and body.

In the natural, they seem to be speaking about the same thing – our physical body. But when you look at how they’re used in Scripture, you get a new perspective.

The word, body, refers to our outward, physical vessel that holds who we are. It can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. The body is what we use to interact in the natural world.

The flesh, on the other hand, speaks of the old sin nature that’s been passed down to us from our ancestor, Adam. It’s the desire within us to make the experience of our body the center of our life. It wants our body to have everything it needs to feel good.

So usually, when we see the body spoken of in Scripture, we’re referring to the deeds that are being done and the outward appearance. In this verse, Christ is speaking of imparting His body into us. Paul talked about the importance of this.

So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.

Romans 7:4 NIV

This is an incredible truth. By taking on Christ’s body, our physical bodies are now counted as dead to the Law. Not only is that true, but now the resurrection of Christ is credited to my account.

This means that my body is no longer bound to do what my flesh (my sin nature) wants it to do. The control of the flesh is broken. This is the foundation of our freedom in Christ.

Look at what Paul goes on to say.

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Romans 7:6 NIV

Not only have we been released from slavery to our flesh and the Law; now our bodies can come under the direct influence of our spirit. We don’t have to serve God by obeying a list of dos and don’ts. I can follow the lead of the Holy Spirit who’s taken up residence in me.

In the future, when you receive the Communion elements, meditate on this truth. Because you’re receiving His body, you’re receiving the whole work that was done on the cross. All the power that was released for your life and godliness is available to you right now.

Question: How does knowing that we died and rose with Christ affect our daily walk with God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2022 in Faith, Healing, Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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