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Prepared?

Prepared?

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. Jesus now tells the crowds about the rich man and Lazarus. You may want to read Luke 16:19-31 before going further in the post.

The Lord has been talking about the difference between living under the Law of Moses and entering the kingdom of God. It’s the difference between following rules and cultivating a relationship with God.

Christ said that those who enter the kingdom have to put forth an effort. It requires conviction and zeal to find that “narrow gate” which leads to the life in the spirit.

He concludes this teaching by talking about the rich man and Lazarus. There are many who believe that this is not a parable. They think it’s an actual event Jesus is talking about. They believe this because Jesus doesn’t give anyone an actual name in His parables.

Whatever the case, we need to hear what the Lord is saying to us. It’s not simply about being saved.

The Lord starts with the two main characters. The first is a rich man, who according to Christ, radiated rejoicing every day.

Then there was a poor beggar who was thrown down at the rich man’s gate every day. He watched the house and wished that he could eat the crumbs that the rich man threw away. This beggar was covered in sores that he allowed the dogs to lick in order to keep them clean.

The Lord then describes what happened after they both died. We need to remember that this description is about death before the resurrection of Christ. At that time everyone went to a “holding area”, waiting for the salvation that Christ would purchase.

In this holding area, there were two sections. One for those who were lost, and one for those were looking forward in faith to the Messiah.

It’s very interesting the way the story unfolds. One thing I see, is that attitudes and perceptions don’t change, even after death. Look at the request that the rich man asked of Abraham.

So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’”

Luke 16:24 NIV

Do you hear the attitude? The rich man still sees himself as superior to Lazarus. He expects Lazarus to tend to his needs. Abraham explains that this will never happen.

When he sees that his condition will not be improved, the rich man begins to think about his family. He asks Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to tell his brothers about this place.

Abraham tells the rich man that his family already knows about this. They have the Scripture warning them about the afterlife.

The rich man says that they need a miracle to convince them. They need to see someone rise from the dead.

Abraham counters with a very important statement.

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Luke 16:31 NIV

That raises an important question we need to ask ourselves. What will it take for us to wholeheartedly follow God’s Word? We all need to come to grips with this.

In this story, I see so many parallels with the generation we’re living in. Yes, I know that we’re now living under grace and not under the Law. I know that in Christ, our sins are covered, and we stand in the righteousness of God.

However, there are still things that please and displease the Lord. There is still going to be a final judgment where we receive, or don’t receive, rewards for our service to Christ.

Many believers live in luxury, with no thought to those who are dying around them. Many powerful ministries are starving for the resources that could multiply their ability to reach the lost. What side of the kingdom are you sitting on?

This story should force us to think about our eternal future. Set aside spiritual riches for the kingdom. Prepare now for your future with Christ.

Question: How prepared are you for your eternal life in the kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Safe in God’s Will

Safe in God’s Will

We’re looking at the ministry of Jesus as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. Luke usually shows Jesus’ teaching, then gives an example of how He walks it out. Here, Luke is continuing this pattern.

In the middle of chapter 13, Jesus gives a parable of a mustard seed that grew into a tree. He was showing how unstoppable the kingdom of God is. The Lord now shows it by His ministry.

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

Luke 13:31 NIV

Obviously, not all of the Pharisees were opposing Jesus. We know from the Gospels that some of them were secret believers in Him as the Messiah. They usually kept quiet about it because the ones who opposed Jesus held the most political power.

This group heard, through their channels, that Herod was out to kill the Lord. Concerned about His safety, they warned Christ about it.

I love the Lord’s reaction to this.

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day — for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!”

Luke 13:32-33 NIV

The Lord makes it clear to these Pharisees that He has no intention of changing His plans. Not only that, but He states that they could even go ahead and tell Herod where He would be.

Jesus got His marching orders from the Holy Spirit. He had no fear for His safety. He knew that if He was to minister in these towns, then nothing could stop Him.

Of course, the Lord also knew for a fact that He was going to die in Jerusalem. With that knowledge, He knew that there was nowhere else that He could be attacked. He was safe in the center of God’s will.

That should speak to us as well. Our greatest goal should be to know and walk in God’s plan for our lives. That’s the position of safety and fulfillment.

But that brings me another thought. In my flesh, knowing that I would die in Jerusalem, I would make it a point to never set foot in that city.

However, that didn’t stop the Lord either. He always operated according to the Father’s plans. Knowing what awaited Him, didn’t cause Jesus to shrink back.

But that also didn’t stop Him from grieving over the truth that Jerusalem was the city of godly martyrs.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

Luke 13:34-35 NIV

Jesus is saddened because on more than one occasion, He desired to bring all of Israel together under His protection. Yet even though that was His desire, it was not the desire of the Jewish people.

The Lord declares that the point has been reached where they are left desolate. That’s an important word. It means to be solitary, alone and deserted. Throughout Greek literature, it’s used for a flock of sheep deserted by the shepherd, or a wife neglected by her husband.

Israel has chosen a path without their Messiah. Remember, Jesus had warned them about this in the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9). It’s obvious that at this time they’ve reached the point of no return.

Now the Lord’s goal is to accomplish their salvation on the cross. He will be crucified, buried, and in three days He will rise from the dead. At that point they can repent and receive full forgiveness for their sin.

Let this be a lesson to us. We can’t ignore the call of the Holy Spirit forever. We need to spend the time necessary to hear His voice and obey His Word to us. That’s the real place of safety for our souls.

Question: What has the Spirit been speaking to you lately?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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God’s Word Without Yeast

God’s Word Without Yeast

I’m continuing to post through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus has just finished rebuking the Pharisees and teachers of the Law for their blatant opposition to His teaching. They simply refuse to listen to the Word of God.

On top of that they’re doing everything in their power to stop the Lord from continuing His ministry.

When Jesus left there, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law began to oppose him fiercely and to besiege him with questions, waiting to catch him in something he might say.

Luke 11:53-54 NIV

In spite of this opposition from the religious leaders, the people continued to listen to the Lord’s teaching.

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
Luke 12:1 NIV

On different occasions Jesus told His disciples to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. At that time they didn’t understand what He was saying to them. Later on they realized that the Lord was speaking about their hypocrisy.

This was not a warning that only applied to the disciples. We need to take care not to add our own baggage into the mix. If so, then we’ll corrupt the pure Word of God with our own pet doctrines. What we mix into the Word determines the spiritual climate of our churches.

For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Hebrews 4:2

This verse speaks to us about the similarity between us and Israel. It warns us about how we receive the Word. It literally says that the logos of their hearing did not benefit them. The only way it will is if we combine it with faith in the process of receiving it. The Word of God must be combined with your faith in order for it to be of benefit to you.

So, here we are. I’m doing my best to present you with the pure, clear, logos of God in this article. I want to give you life and nourishment through the Word of God. This is the logos of your hearing. There’s only one way that it will accomplish what was intended. That’s for you, the reader, to combine it with faith. But wait a minute! Where do you get this faith which you’re to combine with the Word?

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

Most of us have this verse memorized. Faith comes by hearing the Word. What it says in the Greek is that this faith comes by hearing the rhema of Christ. What is this? Is it a “catch 22”?

I present the logos to you, but the only way it will benefit you is if you combine it with the faith that only comes through rhema. What kind of circular logic is this? Actually, it’s a picture of the infinite wisdom of God. It’s better than anything you could ever imagine.

In actuality God wants to give you both logos and rhema at the same time. BUT, you have to be expecting Him to do this. God won’t just hit you over the head with His Word.

That’s why when you go to a meeting, or hear a godly speaker on TV or the internet, you need to be ready to receive from God as the message is coming to you. There actually can be times when God speaks to you something totally unrelated to what’s being preached.

You just need to be open to the Lord’s voice. But remember, don’t mix your “yeast” with the message. Too many people add their opinions, ideas, and prejudices into the word that they hear. That will water down God’s Word and make it unprofitable to you.

Spending time in the presence of the Lord helps you to develop a listening ear in the spirit. Then you can hear and guard the pure Word of God in your heart.

Question: When have you heard a Word from God while listening to a human speaker?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2022 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Full of Light

Full of Light

We’re continuing in our study of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is teaching on the importance of hearing and obeying God’s Word.

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 NIV

I believe that the Lord is speaking about Himself in this verse. Many times He referred to Himself as the Light of the world (John 8:12).

The religious leaders were making an effort to subdue this light. They wanted to silence Jesus to keep His Word from going forth.

Jesus explains to them that His purpose is for all to see His light. God has sent Him into the world to give spiritual sight to those who will listen.

Then, the Lord makes a very interesting statement.

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. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness.”

Luke 11:34-35 NIV

What He says really catches my attention. Recently, I felt the Holy Spirit directing me to do a study of light and darkness in the Scripture. Along with that, since my background is in science, I did a study of light in the physical world.

Light is actually made up of sub-atomic particles called photons. Biblically speaking, these were the very first things God created when He said, “Let there be light!”

I was recently reading about some cutting edge research. They wrote that it has been discovered that every cell in our body contains structures that harness and direct the flow of photons.

It’s very possible that our cells communicate through a type of fiber-optics rather than simple electrical impulses. However, this research is still in its infancy. Be that as it may, we know that our brains are full of photons – these particles of light.

We also know that in the natural, our bodies need light to function properly. That’s why there are seasonal disorders. We get depressed in the winter if we don’t get enough sunlight.

You may be asking what does all of this have to do with what Jesus said. I believe that many times things in the spiritual work like they do in the natural.

Just like our physical bodies need sunlight, our spiritual beings need the light of God’s Word. Many Christians have a “seasonal disorder” because of a lack of exposure to the Word.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Psalms 119:105 NIV

If we want our spiritual man to be full of light, then we need to be walking in the light of God’s Word. Take this to heart. We don’t want to be walking with inner darkness.

See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be completely lighted, as when the light of a lamp shines on you.”

Luke 11:35-36 NIV

This verse literally say that we need to make it our aim, our focus, not to let the light in us become dark. Keep the light intense. Focus on the Word of God.

In that way we’ll be able to clearly see the path before us. Don’t be like the foolish leaders who didn’t like what they saw when the light shined on them. Allow it to change you into who God desires you to become.

Spend time in the Word. Let it fully light up your life.

Question: How has God’s Word brought you spiritual light?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2022 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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God’s Word – Listen and Obey

God’s Word – Listen and Obey

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. In this section, Jesus is explaining some things about demonic activity. It started when the Pharisees accused the Lord of casting out demons by the power of Satan.

“When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first.”

Luke 11:24-26 NIV

Christ gives the Pharisees a stern warning. His ministry was cleaning up Israel. Many of the demonic forces were being expelled as He traveled throughout the land.

But the religious leaders, because of their petty jealousy, were attempting to block what the Lord was doing. He warns them that if they allow the enemy’s kingdom back in, it will be seven times worse.

As Jesus says this, something happens that totally annoys me. Mainly because it’s happened to me while I was teaching. Someone interrupts Him.

As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”

Luke 11:27 NIV

It’s one thing if someone interrupts with a pertinent question. But, this woman makes a statement that’s simply irrelevant.

Has she not been listening? Is everything that Jesus is saying going straight over her head? I believe that Satan was using her to try and sidetrack Jesus from what He was trying to get across.

I’m glad that Jesus is our example of how to be constantly led by the Holy Spirit. This interruption didn’t even slow Him down. It just gave the Lord an opportunity to make a very important point.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

Luke 11:28 NIV

This is the basis of the Lord’s ministry to Israel. The blessing doesn’t come from simply attending a meeting, no matter how wonderful the speaker is. Many people in Israel were in the crowds that heard the Messiah speak.

Unfortunately, many of them were only excited just to say they saw and heard Jesus. “Yes, I heard Jesus speak when He came through our town. I saw Him heal my friend of blindness. It was so amazing!” They were there, but they didn’t let it affect their lives.

Jesus is telling this crowd that the blessing comes from truly listening to the Word of God that He’s speaking. Then, don’t just let it end there. It needs to be put into practice.

It’s the same with us. Hearing the Word of God in church, on TV, or on the internet isn’t enough. You must allow that Word to change you. It needs to be applied and made a part of your life.

As the crowds increased, Jesus said, “This is a wicked generation. It asks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah was a sign to the Ninevites, so also will the Son of Man be to this generation. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.

Luke 11:29-32 NIV

Jesus goes on to give a couple of examples. He uses Jonah and Solomon. In both of these cases they were dealing with unspiritual, Gentile, people. Yet, at both times these unbelievers were changed by the Word that they heard.

Don’t miss this great truth. Right now, in the United States, we have access to more of the Word of God than at any other time or place. Yet, much of the church seems oblivious to how they should be living for the Lord.

Allow God’s Word to make a transformation in your life!

Question: How has God’s Word transformed you so far?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2022 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Gathered or Scattered

Gathered or Scattered

I’m continuing through Luke’s Gospel. We’re at the point where the Pharisees are starting to get intimidated by Jesus’ ministry.

In my last post, we saw the Lord cast a demon out of a young man’s life. As a result, he could now hear and speak. The crowd watching was touched by this miracle.

The religious leaders, on the other hand, used self-promotion to try and look like they had authority over Jesus. They accused Him of being demon possessed. They said that He cast out demons by the power of Satan.

I showed how Jesus revealed the foolishness of their argument. But, these leaders had placed themselves in a very dangerous spiritual position. They assigned what was clearly an act of God, to the satanic kingdom.

Now Jesus warns them of the possible consequences.

But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

Luke 11:20 NIV

It was clear to the crowd and the Pharisees that the hand of God drove out this demon. If that’s the case, then the only conclusion is that the kingdom of God has showed up. Remember, the kingdom of God is the manifestation of God’s authority. This is over and above the authority of the religious leaders.

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.”

Luke 11:21-22 NIV

What most people don’t realize is that this is a warning to the Pharisees. They felt like they were “strong men”. They were guarding their house – the religious power base of Israel. They had convinced themselves that they were fully in control.

Now Jesus comes on the scene. He proves to be someone with real authority. He obviously walks in the authority and power of God Himself. They are starting to feel threatened. Their hypocrisy was being exposed publicly.

The Lord is warning them that if they continue down this path, they’ll lose everything. Actually, we know from history and the record of Scripture, this is exactly what happened.

We know that Jesus not only did this with the Pharisees, but with the kingdom of Satan as well.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Colossians 2:15 NIV

It’s always unfortunate when people try to fight against God’s will. It’s always a losing battle. That’s why we need to seek to know His will through time spent with the Holy Spirit. In that way we won’t find ourselves fighting against God.

Jesus said it clearly…

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.”

Luke 11:23 NIV

Here’s another verse we usually misunderstand. The first part is pretty straight forward. If you’re not on the same path as He is, then your against His plan for you.

The second part is more important. The word, gather, does not mean that we are collecting something. It’s talking about a gathering together of people.

If we’re not a part of the crowd that’s gathered around Jesus, then we’re going to find ourselves scattered everywhere in life. We’ll have no purpose or destiny. It’s like what happened at the tower of Babel when the people were scattered across the earth.

Do your best to find God’s plan for your life. Don’t find yourself scattered, heading against God’s will. Spend time listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Question: What’s the next step in God’s plan for you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Bread of Life

The Bread of Life

At one point in their time with the Lord, the Disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. So, Jesus gave them a foundation, a framework, around which to build their prayers. We call this the Lord’s Prayer.

For the past couple of posts, I’ve been going through this prayer. It should help us to understand how we should approach God in our times with Him.

“Give us each day our daily bread.”
Luke 11:3 NIV

It’s clear that God is concerned about our everyday needs. He actually knows what we need before we ever ask Him. What we must see, is that asking is a form of humility before the Lord.

Too often, especially in the United States where we feel entitled to these necessities, we look to our bank account or the government. What we need to realize is that no matter how these things come to us, they ultimately come from the hand of God, our Provider.

This should inspire gratefulness in us as His children. We serve a good God who loves and cares for His children.

However, this prayer of Jesus is not only applicable in the physical, but also in the spiritual. If earthly bread is necessary for life, how much more is the Word of God needed to nourish our inner man? God is looking for a people who will feed daily upon His spiritual bread – the Word of God.

You should notice that this prayer is not in the form of a question. Christ is not asking the Father for bread. Bread, in this context, is something that’s already supplied and on hand.

It’s a grocery item that’s already in the cupboard. When my children get up in the morning, they don’t ask my permission to eat.

“I’m going to eat breakfast now.”

That’s the adult attitude. You’re up. You’re going to work. You need a good breakfast before you leave the house. When you’re ready to eat you go to the pantry, the place of supply, and get what you need for the day.

It’s the same in the spiritual. God’s Word to us is always available. He expects us to seek Him daily for a Word from Him.

When Jesus taught this prayer, He also taught the truths that it encompassed. Different Gospel writers recorded the various teachings. Matthew and Luke gave us what the Lord taught concerning the bread.

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Matthew 7:9-11

This is the attitude that the Father has toward a child who asks for bread. Further on, in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 11, we’ll see this same teaching, but Luke uses the Holy Spirit as the gift.

There’s no question in the mind of Christ. If you ask God for a daily Word, you’ll receive.

This is the desire of God’s heart. He wants His people derive their nourishment from His hand. We have the ability to go to the presence of God each day for the Word we need to live victoriously. That’s what Jesus did.

Questions: Did you go to God for your spiritual breakfast today? What did you receive from Him?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God’s Kingdom and God’s Will

God’s Kingdom and God’s Will

In my last post I began talking about the Lord’s Prayer as found in the Gospel of Luke. We saw that the foundation was addressed to the Father in Heaven. Now we turn to what should be our greatest desire.

“‘…your kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”

Luke 11:2b NIV

Our highest aim should be the furtherance of God’s kingdom on earth. This is not something to be taken lightly.

That’s because this verb, “come”, is in the imperative. When we pray like this, we’re literally calling for the kingdom of God to manifest on earth. But that begs the question; do we actually want this?

We need to understand this word, kingdom – king-dom. We’re talking about the domain of the king. That means the region in which his rulership and authority is supreme.

Jesus Christ is King of kings. That’s beyond question. But, have I allowed that kingdom to manifest its reign over my entire life?

So often we retain little sections that we want to keep control over. We allow the Lord to rule over most of our life, but not all of it. That creates a big problem in our walk with Him.

The Bible refers to Christ with words such as, Lord, Master, King, and Sovereign. These titles allow no room for our will to take the spotlight.

“No, Lord” is an impossible statement. If He is Lord, then you can’t say “no”. If you can say “no”, then He’s not really your Lord.

That’s why we need to be constantly assessing ourselves. We must desire that the rule and reign of God has first place in us.

Along with this, we must also seek to walk in the will of God. This takes the kingdom of God to a higher level in our lives. That’s because the Lord’s will for my life is something specific.

Here’s our problem…in order for God’s will to be done, I need to first know what that will is. I have to be a person who hears the voice of the Holy Spirit. This requires seeking, and seeking requires time.

Many believers want to know how to find God’s will for their lives. The fact is that it’s not hidden. The Lord wants you to know it, but there is a process.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV

The key is time. We need to spend quality time in the presence of God, laying down our own agenda for the priorities of the kingdom. Along with that, we spend time in the Word, allowing it to change the way we think – renewing our mind.

As that happens, God’s will becomes second nature. When things come up in my life, I’ll be able to judge what God’s will is in that situation. Then, I can find myself walking in that will.

When it comes to the will of God, the pattern may not seem logical to our human way of thinking. We need to commit to walk in the Lord’s will BEFORE He’ll tell us what that will is. That’s what faith is about. I trust that His way is right before I know which way He’s leading.

That’s how the heavenly beings operate. God speaks and they move. My goal should be that I’ll obey in the same way while I live on the earth.

That’s what it will take to see the blessings of the kingdom of God manifest in my life.

Question: What is God’s will for your life today?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2022 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Who Am I?

Who Am I?

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re seeing how Jesus interacted with His disciples. He asks them some important questions. In this post, I’m talking about Luke 9:18-27. You may want to read through this before continuing.

Jesus had taken His disciples off to a private place to pray. The Lord did that pretty often, and He wanted His disciples to learn this practice. It would become an important part of their ministry someday.

As He was praying, the Holy Spirit prompted Jesus to ask the men who the crowds thought He was. It turned out to be the same as what Herod had thought.

It’s interesting that most of what people thought revolved around dead prophets who had come back to life. This speaks to the miraculous power that was evident in the Lord’s ministry.

After that discussion, Jesus brought the conversation around to the most important question.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Luke 9:12

More than what the crowds thought about Him, Jesus wanted to hear what the disciples thought. Peter, as usual, was the spokesman for the group. He immediately answers that Jesus is the Christ – the long awaited Messiah of God.

This statement showed that they were finally starting to understand what was happening. They were witnessing the fulfillment of the entire teaching of Scripture.

Once Peter makes this confession, the Lord is able to take them a little deeper into His confidence. He begins to share about what would take place in the future.

Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Luke 9:21-22

The first thing He does is to warn them not to tell anyone this truth. That’s because accepting Jesus as Messiah has to be a personal choice made by faith.

This is in stark contrast to the many individuals who have falsely claimed that title down through the years. Most of them publicly declared this claim in an effort to seduce masses of people to follow them – and give financial support.

Also, at this point, Jesus begins to clearly state the fact that He is to die at the hands of the Jewish leadership, and then rise from the dead three days later. I’m sure the disciples had no idea that He was speaking literally. They probably thought the Lord was speaking in parables again.

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:23-27

But clearly, the most important thing they needed to learn, was now that they knew the truth, they were responsible to live it out. There was no more sitting on the fence. Trusting Christ as Lord is an all or nothing proposition.

The Lord made it clear that this is not a one time thing. It’s a daily decision to follow Christ over and above your own wants and desires. We must identify with Him no matter where that road leads.

That’s the key to seeing the kingdom of God manifest in your life.

Question: Who do you see Jesus Christ as in your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2022 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Meeting Needs

Meeting Needs

What are the priorities of ministry? What can we learn from the way Jesus handled the day to day logistical challenges?

In my last post, we saw the disciples going out and ministering in the power of God. When they returned, the Lord wanted to take them away for a rest break.

When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

Luke 9:10-11

Jesus intended to get away for a time of refreshing away from the crowds. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The people followed Him to this remote location.

Instead of telling them to go away and let Him rest, Jesus ministered to their needs. This speaks volumes about the love of Christ.

Then, as it starts getting late, the disciples talk to Jesus.

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”

He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

Luke 9:12-13a

The first thing that happens is that the disciples see and recognize the need. That’s the easy part. Ask anyone what’s wrong with the church and they’ll tell you what it needs.

But, they didn’t see it as their problem. The people needed to fix it. If they were hungry, then the crowd needed to go out and find something to eat.

That’s the attitude of many people today. “If they would do what they were supposed to do, the church would be better.”

Notice how Jesus turns that whole attitude around.That’s the response of a good leader. Turn the responsibility over to the ones who are sensitive to the need.

“Pastor, this church needs a Men’s Ministry.”

“I totally agree. When do you plan on starting it?”

I don’t think the disciples were prepared for that type of answer from the Lord. It caught them off guard.

They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish — unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.)

Luke 9:13b-14a

Here’s where most ministries lose sight of the true vision. The disciples immediately make it a resource problem. Their first reaction was to throw money at it to make it go away.

But first – here’s an aside for those who think ministers of the Gospel should live in poverty. The disciples DID NOT say, “We don’t have the money to feed them.” They asked if Jesus wanted them to spend that much cash on the crowd.

In our economy, think about how much it would cost to buy 5000 fast food value meals. Jesus had that much money on Him at the time. But I digress.

According to Christ, it wasn’t a money problem, but a Word problem. How did the Father want this need met? Too often we ask for money before we seek the Holy Spirit to provide a miraculous solution.

Verses 14 through 17 of Luke, chapter 9, tell us of the way Jesus heard from heaven, and met the needs of over 5000 hungry people. This is how we should be ministering to those around us. We must spend time in the Spirit, and then walk out what we’ve heard from the Father.

Too many times I hear, “If we don’t get the donations, then we can’t do what God has called us to do.” Personally, I serve a God who’s bigger than the donations. He can make a way with or without the money.

We need to learn to be listening for His voice. That way we keep in step with not only what the Lord is leading us to do, but how exactly He wants it accomplished.

Questions: Has God ever worked His plans through you without money? How did He bring it about?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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