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Trusting God’s Word

Trusting God’s Word

As we continue our study of the book of Romans, we’re seeing Abraham as the father and example of our faith.  It’s because of this faith that we receive blessing and righteousness from the Lord.

In my last post, we saw how he trusted God even though all the facts of his situation pointed in the wrong direction.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Romans 4:20-21

The Scripture says that Abraham did not waver through unbelief.  That word, waver, is important for us to understand.

Taken literally, it’s a word that means judgment.  Abraham didn’t try to judge, based upon all of the facts, whether he should believe God or not.

This is something that we, as believers, need to get a grasp on.  God is beyond our finite judgment.  His Word is true no matter what any other facts look like.  It’s not up to me whether God should be believed or not.

Like Abraham, we need to be fully persuaded that God has the power to do whatever He says He’s going to do.  We need to constantly be checking ourselves with these questions.

Do I believe God has the power to do what He said?  Am I fully persuaded that He will accomplish it?  And what exactly does it mean to be fully persuaded?

That phrase has a double meaning in the Greek language.  Yes, it means to be fully persuaded.  But, it also means to be fully carried out.  This explains a lot about Abraham’s walk with God.

Some say that having Ishmael was a lack of faith on Abraham’s part.  Actually, God didn’t see it that way.

Abraham was fully persuaded that God was going to give him a large family.  So, in his limited ability, he was trying to fully carry out God’s plan.

He had been faithful to his wife, Sarah, for 80 years.  It took what he thought was a Word from God to do otherwise.

The Lord did not see that as a weakening of his faith.  God simply came to him again and said, “That’s not how I want to accomplish it.  I’m going to give you a family through Sarah.”

So often we get worried that we’re going to “miss God” if we make a wrong decision.  I’m so grateful that He’s bigger than that.  God is fully able to work in, around, or through our mistakes.

It’s my job to simply be convinced that He’s well able to do what He says he’ll do.  Then I need to walk in any instructions He gives me.  That’s being fully persuaded and ready to carry out God’s plan.

That’s why the reading of Scripture is so important.  The more we know God’s Word, the more persuaded we become of His ability to fulfill it.

I encourage you to make that a daily habit in this New Year.  Read the Scripture each day.

Let me give you a gift to help you accomplish this.  Recently, the Lord took me on a journey through the New Testament.  As a result, I came up with a daily reading plan that takes you through the New Testament in the order that the Holy Spirit revealed it to the church.

It’s my prayer that you have a blessed, prosperous, and healthy New Year!

Question: How is your life affected by your Bible reading?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2021 in Faith, Power of God, Word of God

 

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Weak vs. Strong Faith

Weak vs. Strong Faith

We’re continuing to look at the example of Abraham.  He’s Paul’s illustration of how we should walk in faith.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Romans 4:18

This is one of those amazing verses in the Scripture.  To fully grasp it, we need to understand what the meaning of hope is in the Bible.

When we use the word, hope, it usually means that we’re wishing for something good to happen.  “I hope I win the lottery.”

That’s not what this word means in the context of Scripture.  It actually means to look forward to with expectation.  “I place my hope in the fact that the sun will come up tomorrow.”

With this knowledge, we can see how Abraham operated.  He was in a situation where, logically, there was nothing to expect.  Yet, by placing his faith in God’s Word, he fully expected to have a multitude of offspring.

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead — since he was about a hundred years old — and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.

Romans 4:19

This is the tough part.  I talked about not walking in denial in my last post.  That’s the key to this kind of faith.

The verse literally says that Abraham fully observed the facts of his situation.  He was almost 100 years old and considered himself already dead.  He understood that under no circumstances could his wife, Sarah, have any children.

As a matter of fact, he had already picked out an heir for his estate.  He chose one of his most trusted servants (Genesis 15:2-3).

What amazes me is that even though he had all of these facts before him, he didn’t weaken his faith.  But that brings up an interesting question.  He already had an heir picked out that was not in his family.  How can you say that he didn’t weaken his faith?

We need to understand exactly what is meant by weak faith.  There’s a clear verse about it.

Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.  One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables.

Romans 14:1-2

What is weak faith?  It means that you don’t trust God to complete His work in you.  You feel that you have to establish rules to follow so that you won’t accidentally sin.  Weak faith has the idea that if I follow these rules, then I’ll please God and receive His blessing.

Abraham picked out an heir without weakening his faith.  That tells me that I do what I need to do as if nothing special will happen.  But, at the same time, I fully expect the Lord to intervene on my behalf.

I can see my doctor, take my pills, and pay my bills.  At the same time I trust God for my health and provision.

Some people think that they’re operating in faith by never seeing a doctor.  It’s actually a sign of weak faith because they can’t trust God to manage what the doctor might tell them.

Weak faith has to set rules and boundaries so that we can deny any problems.  Strong faith can look straight at the problems and trust God for the solution.

Question: What are you facing right now that requires faith in God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2021 in Faith, God's Provision, Healing, Word of God

 

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The Religious Advantage

The Religious Advantage

We’re continuing our study through the book of Romans.  Paul has been talking about religious people without Christ.  He makes the point that there’s a problem of pride involved in this group.

He now moves on to another point.  Is there some advantage to being religious?

What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?  Much in every way!  First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.

Romans 3:1-2

If you remember, the apostle started by saying that there’s no advantage to being a sinner apart from God.  He then started talking about religion and the fact that all of your good works can’t save you.

Now, however, he says that there’s an advantage that religion brings.  According to Paul, the greatest plus is the fact that they have access to the Word of God.  Religious people have the Bible available to them and they’re somewhat familiar with it.

I can see this exemplified in our society.  Right now, people aren’t as religious as they used to be.  A hundred years ago, even many unsaved people would attend a church service.  A lot of them would even read the Bible.

When you would try to evangelize, they knew some of the Scriptures you referred to.  Many of them would even hold the Bible in high esteem.

In our present society, most unchurched people have no clue what the Bible says.  The fact that you quote a Scripture means nothing to them.  Now, the best evangelism is a testimony of how God changed your life.

So the advantage of religion is a basic understanding of who God is.  It at least has a foundation in the fact that there’s a God.

Now the issue is faith.

What if some did not have faith?  Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness?  Not at all!  Let God be true, and every man a liar.  As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge.”

Romans 3:3-4

Paul’s next question is; what if they have access to this Word and don’t believe it?  Does that make it worthless?

The resounding answer is “NO!”.  God doesn’t need me to believe Him for Him to be right.  God’s Word stands whether I believe it or not.

The phrase, prevail when you judge, literally means God is victorious in His decisions.  God is going to perform His Word no matter what the circumstances look like.  He doesn’t need my input to be victorious.  The Lord is perfectly capable in and of Himself.

My agreement with the Word of God simply puts me in position to walk with Him in His victory.  That’s something we all need to learn.

There’s a phrase I used to hear a lot when I was younger.  “God said it…I believe it…that settles it.”

Now that I’m older (and maybe a bit wiser), I’ve grown very uncomfortable with that saying.  I believe that it should be revised.  For it to truly reflect the Scripture it should be, “God said it…that settles it!”

The advantage of religion is that is gives you a basic knowledge of God.  But we need to go beyond that.  We need to know the Word and, by faith, trust it and walk in it.  That’s how we can receive the full blessings of our victory in Christ.

Question: What kind of religious foundation, if any, did you have before receiving Christ as your Lord?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2020 in Faith, The Gospel, Word of God

 

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Romans Begins

In my last post, I finished my look at the book of Second Corinthians.  Most of you know that this blog is a journey through the New Testament in the order the Holy Spirit gave it to the church.  His inspiration shows a definite plan.

We’ve already looked at the foundational books – James, First Thessalonians, Galatians and the Gospel of Mark.  We then started the books that deal with our personal walk with God – Second Thessalonians and the Corinthian Letters.

Now we’ll move on to the book of Romans.  It’s the Apostle Paul’s most ambitious work.

Nobody knows for sure how the church in Rome started.  One thing is clear from the Scriptures, neither Paul nor any other of the apostles ever visited there.

It was probably started by Jews who were saved on day of Pentecost.  Then, as persecution broke out, some of them went to Rome.

In all likelihood, the church was mostly made up of Gentile believers.  This is closely connected with Paul’s calling to preach.

Look at what Paul said about his meeting with the other apostles in Jerusalem.

On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.  For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. Galatians 2:7-8

That’s why he wanted to write to this church.  Paul desired to bring a message of growth and encouragement to this Christian Gentile community.

After writing his letters to the Corinthian church, Paul went there to collect the offering for Jerusalem.  His goal was to travel to Jerusalem and present the gift from the Gentile churches.  From there, he intended to travel to Rome and then go on to Spain.

Paul probably wrote this letter from Corinth where he was living in the home of a man named Gaius, who was a wealthy Christian.

This was the quiet before the storm in Paul’s life.  We know that when he went to Jerusalem, things started to get out of his control.  He was arrested and eventually sent as a prisoner to Rome.

This was not a quick letter to the Roman church.  It was something that was maturing in Paul over time.  It’s the most complete look at the process of living for Christ.

I’ve heard it said that if Galatians is our spiritual Declaration of Independence, then Romans is our spiritual Constitution.  This is all about the life we’re meant to live for Christ.

In my next post, we’ll begin our journey through this important book.

Question: How often do you read through the book of Romans?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2020 in Encouragement, Word of God

 

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Spiritual Demolition

As we continue through Second Corinthians, Paul is beginning to talk about the spiritual warfare we find ourselves in.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
2 Corinthians 10:4

Paul is very clear that we don’t fight on the same level as the rest of the world.  We don’t use fleshly weapons or tactics.  The battle is spiritual.

He says that our weapons are powerful through God.  As believers, all of us should be demolition experts.

The spiritual tools we have can totally demolish any spiritual stronghold or castle that has been erected against the knowledge of Christ.  Nothing can stand against us if we’re walking in the spirit.

What exactly are these strongholds that we should demolish?

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5

The first thing we see is the demolition of arguments.  That word literally means logical computations.  This could be a part of the war that goes on within us – between our flesh and our spirit.

The fact is that we like to figure things out on our own.  While it does work some of the time; it doesn’t always work in the kingdom of God.  The Lord’s will doesn’t always seem logical to us.

We think that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  Sometimes God takes us around the walls a few times before they fall.

The next thing that is demolished is every pretension.  That word means a high place or a barrier.

So our spiritual weapons have the power to pull down anything that rises up as a barrier to the knowledge of God.  This should be one of our most important tools in evangelism.

How could you ever hope to bring people the Gospel?  We must first tear down the barriers stopping them from receiving it.  It’s not accomplished by logic, but by spiritual warfare.

The final thing that our weapons do is very important.  They take thoughts captive at spear point.  That’s the literal translation of this section.

In doing this, they make our thoughts take seriously our obedience to Christ.  It forces our thoughts in line with God’s Word.  It should be very clear by now what this weapon is.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

I believe that the church should be using the spiritual weapons we’ve been given.

Question: How have you seen God’s Word change a life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Heart of Giving

We’re continuing to study Paul’s exhortations concerning the grace of giving.  In my last post, we saw the principle of sowing and reaping.  Now we’ll move on to the next truth.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7

This is another verse I’ve heard people use for their own agendas.  They explain to me that they can decide to give whatever they want…or nothing at all.  Is that what it’s really saying?

First of all, in the original text, the only place the word give appears is at the end of the verse – the word giver.  It’s also important to note that the beginning of this verse is not so easy to translate.

The Greek word translated as decided is only used this once in the entire New Testament.  I realize that all the major translations use words such as decided, purposed, and determined.  But in actuality, this word is pregnant with meaning.

It’s more than a simple decision.  It means to prioritize what you’re deciding to bring forth from your storehouse.  I understand why that phrase is hard to place into this verse and still have it be readable in English.

I think what Paul is trying to get across is that each person should bring forth what is the priority of their heart.  That puts a whole different spin on it.  That’s because what comes out of our heart is in direct relationship to what we’ve put into it.

In telling His disciples about how to recognize people by their fruit, Jesus said the following…

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45

In the context of this verse, Jesus is relating this to how someone speaks.  But I believe, based on how the Lord worded the principle, that this could be applied to any area of life.  It fits right in with what Paul was saying to the Corinthian church.

That’s why the apostle tells us that our giving should not come from grief or distress.  We’re not buying a blessing from God to relieve our problems.  I’m not giving because someone made me feel guilty.

I give because of what’s planted in my heart.  I continually put God’s Word into it.  Then, the Holy Spirit has something to work with when it’s time to give.  I hear from the Lord and I give from the overflow of what’s in my heart.

That’s the best way to be a cheerful giver.  This means that you feel good about what you give.  In that way, you will both be a blessing, and be blessed by this grace of giving.

Question: how you seek God when it’s time to give an offering?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2020 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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A Warning for Teachers (Repost)

Over the next week or so I’m going to be away, visiting family.  So during that time, I’m reposting one of my more popular series.

Do you see yourself as a teacher in the body of Christ?  Did you know that Scripture has a special warning for teachers?

In this post, my last in the series about the teaching ministry, I have to share a hard message.  I don’t like talking about it, but I feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to write about it.

In the last couple of posts, I talked about teachers being the eyes of the body of Christ.  According to Scripture, they bring light to the path ahead.  With that comes a warning that I already talked about.

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James 3:1

In the church, teaching is not an unimportant thing.  We should not lightly say, “I’m a teacher.”  You’re inviting a stricter judgment.

But is that really the case, or was James trying to intimidate those wanted to teach out of wrong motives?  I believe that Jesus gave the same warning to His disciples.  The problem is that the Lord used an allegory that few believers understand.

In Mark, chapter 9, it all starts when the disciples tell Jesus that they saw someone driving out demons in the Lord’s name.  But, because he wasn’t one of the twelve, they told him to stop.

Jesus told the disciples that they were wrong in telling the man to stop driving out demons.  In His explanation, He said…

“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.”
Mark 9:42

The phrase, causes…to sin, in this verse, literally means to trip up or entrap.  Sin always means to miss the mark of God’s perfect will.  Telling them something that trips them up in their Christian walk does cause them to sin.

Teaching something that was not directed by the Holy Spirit can trip people up in their walk with God.  This has to be an important part of the teacher’s mindset.  However, the Lord didn’t stop there.

Immediately after this, He says…

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.  It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell…
Mark 9:47

First of all, no one’s eyes have ever caused them to sin.  I have definitely used my eyes to sin.  But they weren’t the cause.  I believe that Jesus knows this.

Secondly, according to this verse, only one eye is causing sin.  How could your left eye cause you to sin, and not your right eye?  They both operate together.

I believe that Jesus wasn’t talking about our physical bodies.  He was explaining His attitude toward the members of His spiritual body; the church.

No members, especially teachers, can trip up one another without consequence.  This is why teachers must be especially careful to be led by the Holy Spirit in what they teach.

Question: How seriously should teachers be warned before entering this ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Teacher – A Lamp (Repost)

Over the next week or so I’m going to be away, visiting family.  So during that time, I’m reposting one of my more popular series.

For the last couple of posts, I’ve been talking about teachers in the body of Christ.  I showed that true teachers bring light to our Christian walk.  In our generation there’s a lot of teaching from the Bible going forth; but is it directed by the Holy Spirit?

In His ministry, Jesus made some statements that the disciples couldn’t understand.  Many of them pertained to the church.  They would only understand them after the resurrection.

One of them pertained to the body.

“Your eye is the lamp of your body.  When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light.  But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness.”
Luke 11:34

I think you can agree that this is not talking about our internal organs being lit up.  The Lord is dealing with a deeper issue here.

To understand what Jesus is saying, you have to look at the greater context.  He starts this section by talking about the preaching of Jonah.  All of Nineveh repented when they heard his preaching.

The Lord then talks about King Solomon.  The Queen of the South came all the way from Central Africa to hear his wisdom.

Christ was showing the high value that people placed upon hearing a Word from God.  The people who heard Jonah and Solomon didn’t just want to know what the Bible said.  They were looking for something that would change their lives.

Look at the very next thing that Jesus says after explaining about Jonah and Solomon.

“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl.  Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.”
Luke 11:33

The reason that these two men were called to their roles, was not to simply enjoy their times with the Lord.  They were to use their gifts to bring light to those who needed it.

The people of Nineveh needed to understand repentance so that the judgment of God could be averted.  The Queen of the South needed to understand how to rule her people wisely.  They needed someone to light the path ahead of them.

That’s what Jesus is talking about when He says that the eyes are the lamp of the body.  I believe that He’s talking about the need for Holy Spirit directed teaching in the body of Christ.

We need to come back to this truth in our generation.  I believe that this is one of the things that God is trying to restore in us.

We can see it in the church of today.  There are ministries where the people know their place in Christ and are secure in their walk with God.  There are other parts of God’s kingdom where the believers seem to be doing as they please – simply living for themselves.

We need to be praying for the church.  Pray that God would continue to raise up teachers after His own heart.  We need the body of Christ to be full of light.

Question: Why is human-led teaching so accepted in some areas?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Anointed to Teach (Repost)

Over the next week or so I’m going to be away, visiting family.  So during that time, I’m reposting one of my more popular series.

In my last post, I started talking about the teacher’s anointing.  What’s the purpose of a teacher in the body of Christ?  I think the answer will surprise a lot of people.

There are many who think the reason we need teachers is so that we can learn what’s in the Bible.  Actually, it seems to me that this is what most teachers are trying to do.  They believe that it’s all about getting my knowledge of the Scripture into your brain.

I’m here to tell you that this is NOT what God is calling teachers to do in His kingdom.  Yes, we are to use the Scripture, but the purpose has to be according to God’s agenda.

For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life…
Proverbs 6:23

The calling of a teacher is to bring light.  Specifically, godly teaching shines a light on the way of life.  It shows how to get from where you are now, to where God wants you to be.

Scriptural teaching is never about knowledge and always about life.  You know that you’ve sat under an anointed teacher because you leave with an understanding of how to walk on a higher level with Christ.

As a matter of fact, if you look up the word “taught” in the New Testament, you’ll find out that it’s always about how to live.  They were taught how to walk as a new creature in Christ.  They were taught the walk of faith and how to love one another.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
Colossians 1:28

This is the goal.  It’s the perfecting of the saints.  A teacher’s anointing brings with it a passion for the building up of the body of Christ.

As I look around the church of this generation, I see very few who operate in the teacher’s anointing.  That doesn’t mean that there are few called and anointed teachers.  The problem is that if the only examples you’ve seen are those who simply pass on Bible knowledge, then that’s the course you’ll follow.  We need teachers who are willing to spend time listening to the Holy Spirit.

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
1 Corinthians 2:13

I think that we should listen to the Apostle Paul.  After all, he did write most of the New Testament.  Where do you think he got his teaching from?

As for me, I know that I’m called as a teacher.  I also know that I’ll be judged more strictly.  I want to make sure that the message of my teaching is not simply Bible knowledge, but the true light of the Word of God for the hearers.

This should be the heart of every teacher of the Word.

Question: How do you recognize a teacher walking in his or her anointing?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Teachers in the Church (Repost)

Over the next week or so I’m going to be away, visiting family.  So during that time, I’m reposting one of my more popular series.

In my last post, I mentioned that my anointing is that of a teacher in the body of Christ.  That got me thinking about our view of teaching in the church of today.  I want to take a couple of posts to talk about this.

I believe that a lot of problems we face are directly tied to what we’re being taught.  But let’s start at the beginning.  We really need to understand the importance of teaching from God’s perspective.

As I’ve stated many times in this blog, the form of the New Testament that we use now is not in the order it was given to the church.  Over the years it’s been arranged by topics rather than the original order.

While that may make it easier to find certain passages, we sometimes miss out on some important warnings.  For instance, James was the first book to be written, but because it’s placed close to the end, it doesn’t get a lot of priority.

However, when it comes to teaching in the church, James should be the first book we think of.  In its pages, we find the first thing the Holy Spirit revealed about teachers in the body of Christ.  What do you think that is?

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James 3:1

Please pay careful attention to the voice of the Spirit.  The first thing He wants you to know about the ministry of a teacher is…that position comes with a stricter judgment.

That’s because the place of a teacher is much more important than most people realize.  Yet in our present church culture, we’ll let anyone teach.  We need so many for Sunday School, Children’s Church, Teens, and Adult classes.

“Everything you need has already been done.  All you have to do is to study the lesson plan at home, and talk about it in class.”

I’m sorry if I’m stereotyping, but here’s what I observe in our present church ministries.  Most teaching is simply passing on what we’ve read or heard from someone else.  We use books, sermons, online tools, and lessons that give us the messages that we, in turn, pass on to those we’re teaching.

That was actually the state of teaching in Israel when Christ came on the scene.  He had a different method.  The Lord only taught those things that He heard from the Father.  What was the response?

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
Matthew 7:28-29

The difference was obvious.  He wasn’t simply parroting what someone else was teaching.  He was bringing them a Word from the Father.

That’s where we need to get to in the church today.  We must raise up teachers who walk in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

In my next post, I’ll continue with this important truth.

Question: How should the warning of James work in the life of modern teachers?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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