RSS

Spiritual Violence

Spiritual Violence

In my last post, Jesus concluded with a comment about finances. He said that you couldn’t serve both God and a desire for riches. The Pharisees heard it and continued in a state of denial.

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”

Luke 16:14-15 NIV

This section of Scripture shows just how hardhearted the Pharisees had become. By their actions, they clearly loved riches and power. When Jesus talks about the love of money, they openly ridicule Him.

They’ve gotten to the point where they’ve rejected Him and His teaching. Now, their goal is to publicly discredit the Lord.

As usual, Jesus brings their hypocrisy to the surface. He exposes the fact that they’re always justifying themselves before men. They had a great way of twisting Scripture to make them sound holy while doing evil.

What they seem to forget is that God is not like any human judge. He doesn’t give any credence to a fine sounding argument. The Lord looks straight at what’s going on in their hearts. That’s what He bases His verdict on.

We would do well to remember this. Humanity places a high importance on the temporary. That’s especially true when it comes to personal pleasure. In God’s eyes, it’s the unseen – the eternal – which is the most valuable.

Just how bad are these temporary things that we run after? This translation uses the word detestable. This is one of those words that the translators had to be careful with, knowing that the Bible will be read in church with the Sunday morning crowd.

This Greek word comes from a root that means to pass gas silently. That’s why Jesus felt the need to expose where this foul spiritual smell was coming from! That’s what God thinks about us when we chase after the world and try to justify it by Scripture.

Jesus continues.

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”

Luke 16:16 NIV

Jesus warns the Pharisees that they’re out of step with what God is doing. Until John the Baptist came on the scene, the Law and the Prophets were the main emphasis.

The Pharisees enjoyed that. Any good lawyer could get around the teachings of the Law of Moses. They knew all the loopholes.

Now, since the beginning of John’s ministry, it’s the kingdom of God that’s being focused on in anointed preaching. The kingdom doesn’t deal with laws, rules and loopholes. It looks at the hearts and minds of individuals.

You don’t enter the kingdom of God by well thought out arguments. You have to force your way in by overcoming the natural inclinations of the flesh.

A fire has to ignite in your soul. Another way to say this is that you need the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Then, in response to this work, you must accept Christ in total opposition to the desires of your sinful nature.

We need to realize that making a decision to ignore the flesh is an act of spiritual violence. Throughout our whole lives to that point, our body and soul were in complete agreement. Then, suddenly, the Holy Spirit plants a seed of dissension in this relationship.

Now, body and soul don’t totally agree. Eventually you came to the place where your soul made the choice to bow its knee to Christ. The flesh lost its place on the throne of your life. That’s a spiritual rebellion against the established order of your very being.

Praise God for His life changing power in your life. That’s what gave you the strength you needed to see this change through to its completion.

Question: How did the power of God change your life?

©2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 9, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Kingdom Evaluation

Kingdom Evaluation

We’re continuing our walk through Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is talking about having an eternal perspective rather than seeking after the temporary. He tells us that we need this view of the future if we’re to grow in our ministry.

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”

Luke 16:10-12 NIV

This is a very important teaching that Christ is giving the disciples, and the crowd who’s listening in. Unfortunately, we don’t always grasp the full meaning of what He’s talking about here.

The Lord is giving us a complete look at how He evaluates us before moving us to the next level. If we ignore this teaching, then we may be stalling out our progress in the Lord.

We all want to move forward in the spirit. However, there are many times when we seem to be “spinning our wheels” without any advancement. This teaching of Christ may explain what’s happening during those times.

Jesus gives us three areas of evaluation. They’re all important to the Lord. Therefore, they should be very important to us.

First, the Lord examines how we handle what we consider the least amounts. That phrase, very little, literally means the smallest amount you can have of something. It may not be important to you, but it’s important to Christ.

We live in a society that throws everything away. Whether it’s last year’s technology, or leftover food. Remember, we serve a God who picked up all the scraps of food after He fed the five thousand. How do you handle the smallest amounts of what you have?

The next thing He looks at is how we handle worldly wealth. This is a part of our financial stewardship. We all have the money we need to pay our bills with. I don’t believe that’s what the Lord is talking about here.

This is referring to the money we can spend with our heart. It’s what we do with the extra in our accounts. Do we seek the Lord’s will in our spending? Or do we simply get everything our flesh desires for it’s comfort?

Finally, we’re evaluated on how we handle other peoples’ property. This is another area that our society has no concept of.

I like to hike on the local trails near my house. It bothers me when I see trash all around, because people know the park maintenance workers will pick it up. In the stores, many times the clothing section is trashed because people look at something, they don’t want it, and throw it on the floor. They know the employees will put it away.

We have to show the same concern for other peoples’ things that we want shown for our stuff. It’s a part of being a blessing to those around us. We should treat people, and their things, the way we want to be treated.

The three of these areas all share a common theme. In order to live correctly, we must give up our selfishness. If we only think about what we want, we’ll fail the spiritual evaluation. That Lord makes it abundantly clear.

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Luke 16:13 NIV

You can’t serve two differing masters. The word translated as money, is actually the word, Mammon. This is a word that is usually talking about wealth that you’ve set up as an idol in your heart. It’s the money you want to spend on yourself.

You can’t serve God correctly and feed your selfishness at the same time. Your whole heart must be devoted to Christ. That’s the only way to progress in His kingdom.

Question: How would you evaluate yourself in these three areas?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 7, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Eternal Perspective

Eternal Perspective

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. Jesus has been talking to the crowds about entering and remaining in the kingdom of God. We’re now starting chapter 16, where the Lord begins teaching His disciples.

The first principle He illustrates is found in the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. This is Luke 16:1-12. You may want to read that passage before continuing with this post.

The parable is about a manager – more like an accountant – who was accused of wasting his rich employer’s goods. This manager obviously had power of attorney over his master’s property.

This manager knew that he was about to be fired, and all of his privileges revoked.

The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg – I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’”

Luke 16:3-4 NIV

This manager saw trouble coming and wanted to plan accordingly. He started calling in all of his masters clients. Each of them had a sizable debt.

As this manager met with each one, he lowered what they owed by 20 to 50%. That was a huge financial boon to these people. They owed the manager, and he was going to use this influence when he was fired.

The master, of course, found out what was happening. In the end, the employer was impressed with how this manager thought ahead.

The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.”

Luke 16:8a NIV

Jesus used this story to illustrate a spiritual truth. Some people erroneously think that Jesus is commending the bad way these accounts were handled. That’s not the case. Jesus clearly labels this manager as dishonest.

The Lord wants us to see that even though this man was evil and dishonest, he knew that he had to think ahead. Jesus then contrasts this with the foolishness that He sees in the religious people around Him.

For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

Luke 16:8b-9 NIV

Jesus explains exactly what He’s talking about. It’s a very sad commentary on the state of the Jewish nation of His day. Worse than that, it’s a serious rebuke to us in the modern church.

The Lord is explaining that, in the natural, when it comes to their comfort, the world takes thought of their future. They plan and work things out so that they will have what they desire.

Then, there’s God’s people. We’re the children of the light. We have the light of Christ and the Scriptures. We know what’s ahead. We know that we’re eternal beings with a future that goes on with no end.

The problem is, we live like the only importance is the here and now. We go after the temporary with the same fervency as the world.

We should be living now, with eternity in view. We should be asking; what rewards am I laying up for myself in the future kingdom?

I’ve said it many times and my hope is that believers will take it to heart. There’s coming a day when the things we thought were of highest importance, will suddenly become worthless. Then, the things we put on the shelf to do later, will suddenly become vitally important. But it will be too late.

We need to live with an eternal perspective. We’re going to live forever somewhere. What’s going to be important to you one million years from today? Focus on that.

Live for today, with eternity in mind.

Question: How do you live with an eternal perspective?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 5, 2022 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , ,

Holy Spirit – Life and Death

Holy Spirit – Life and Death

I’ve been looking at the principles found in the parable of the Prodigal Son. This is in Luke 15:11-32. Today, I want to talk about one last truth found in this story.

The father is speaking to the older brother, trying to get him to rejoice over the son’s return. He makes a statement that should speak to us as believers.

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

Luke 15:32 NIV

According to the father, the younger son’s return was a change from death to life. That’s the same with us when we’re saved.

Your flesh cannot fellowship with God. Your spirit, because you’re now in Christ, can live in relationship with God.

We’ve seen from Paul’s writings in Romans, that the flesh can never please God. The apostle continues with this thought. However, even though I normally use the NIV, for this verse I believe that the NKJV is the more accurate translation.

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Romans 8:9 NKJV

This verse simply states that everyone can access the Spirit of Christ if they’re saved. It’s not a special level of achievement only attained by a few highly spiritual people. If you are His, then you have the Spirit of Christ.

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Romans 8:10 NIV

Here’s a statement of fact. There are two results of having the Spirit of Christ within you. The first is that if Christ is in you, then your body is dead through sin. Secondly, if Christ is in you, then your spirit is alive through righteousness.

What does Paul mean by saying that your spirit is alive? Furthermore, what does it mean to be spiritually dead? This is a concept that many people have no understanding of.

Remember back to the Garden of Eden. When God created Adam, He said that if you eat of this tree, you will surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17) Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, yet their bodies didn’t stop working at that point.

That’s because in God’s terminology, death is the loss of fellowship with Him. It has nothing to do with the condition of your body.

Because of sin, communication ceases between Adam and the Lord. Humanity lost the relationship that they were created for.

The fact is, I’m going to live eternally somewhere, so death doesn’t mean my body stops working. That’s why the parable of the Prodigal Son is such a good picture of this truth.

The younger of the two sons took his inheritance and left home. Father and son were no longer able to have fellowship. When the son came to his senses, he returned home. We can see the attitude of God in the response of the father.

“This brother of yours was dead and is alive again.”

That’s how it works in our lives when we come to Christ. Even though your spirit existed before salvation, it couldn’t commune with God. That’s why believers now need to learn to communicate with God.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Romans 8:11 NIV

Every Christian has the Spirit of Christ living in them. Because of that fact, communication and fellowship with God is now possible. This means that the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead in us, and He will give life to our dying flesh.

That’s the bottom line. It’s the Spirit that works on our flesh, not the mind and will-power.

Question: Why is it better to rely on the Holy Spirit rather than will-power?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 2, 2022 in Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Prodigal Sons

The Prodigal Sons

I’ve been posting about the parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke’s Gospel. What most people don’t realize, is there are actually two prodigals in this story. Both sons disappointed the father. If I can understand the problem, then I can walk in a way that’s pleasing to God.

You’re probably wondering why I said that both of the sons disappointed the father. Most people teach that only the younger son was in the wrong. Actually, they both had the same problem, they just handled it differently.

Luke 15:11-32 shows that the two sons had an incorrect view of their relationship to the father. After spending all of his inheritance, the younger brother made this statement.

‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
Luke 15:18-19 NIV

He had lived his life on the assumption that his father wanted him to be a servant. In his young, formative years, he hated having to be told what to do. As a result, when he felt he was ready, he broke free by demanding his inheritance and leaving home.

But what you don’t often hear, is that the older brother had the same view of his father. But instead of leaving, he lived under it his whole life. It all came out when the younger brother returned.

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ The older brother became angry and refused to go in.”

Luke 15:25-28a NIV

The older brother was incensed that the father would throw a party in honor of the younger brother’s return. He refused to be a part of the celebration. So, the father went to him. He wanted to know why the older brother didn’t want to rejoice.

“But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.’”
Luke 15:29 NIV

Did you hear him?

“All these years I’ve been your servant.”

Both sons were under the assumption that the father wanted them as slaves. Nothing was further from the truth. The father was looking for faithful sons to whom he could one day entrust all of his possessions.

It’s the same in our walk with the Lord. How do you see yourself? Do you think that God wants you for a slave? If so, then you’re headed down the same road as the prodigal. You’ll get frustrated trying to keep a set of rules you can never hope to live up to.

You might turn out like the older brother and spend your life in frustration thinking that God’s treating you unfairly. Or you may respond like the younger, giving up on serving God altogether.

The truth is that God doesn’t want you to be His slave. He’s looking for mature sons and daughters who will carry out His will on the earth.

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:6-7 NIV

Our goal should be to learn how to mature in Christ. To be a faithful representative of the Lord on earth. The Father is looking for adult sons and daughters who will live according to the leading of His Spirit in us.

Question: How does laying aside the slave mentality help you in your walk with God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 31, 2022 in Legalism, Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Running God

The Running God

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, I’ve been blogging about the parable of the Prodigal Son. We saw how he left home to get away from the rules. Now he realizes the mistake he’s made, and he wants to return home.

He even has a speech prepared.

“‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.”

Luke 15:18-20a NIV

This is the attitude of humility. We need to approach God wanting to do whatever it takes to live a life pleasing to Him. This prodigal didn’t really understand the heart of his father.

It’s much like us. We don’t fully understand the heart of God. We can’t even come close to grasping the love He has for each one of us.

Have you ever felt like God was mad at you because of some sin? Maybe you’ve been keeping away from the Lord or His people because you’re ashamed of something you’ve done. That’s not the way to go.

In this parable, the son distanced himself from his father. But then, when he hit rock bottom, he decided it was better to go home, no matter what the consequences were.

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Luke 15:20b

Most people agree that Jesus was telling this parable about His Heavenly Father. To review, the young man in question, took an early inheritance and blew it all on wild living. He ended up in poverty and became a servant who was feeding hogs.

Finally, he came to his senses and thought about what life was like in his father’s house. Even the servants were eating better than he was at that moment.

The young man decided to humble himself and return home. He had spent his inheritance and was now willing to simply be a one of his father’s hired servants.

He then made the long journey home. What would he find there? What would be the response of the father he had so humiliated by his leaving?

How would we write the story? A father standing, arms folded, with a stern “I told you so” written across his face. Would he listen in silence to the young man’s plea, only to say, “We’ll see how you act over the next few months.” Maybe there would be outright rejection.

We always seem to project these natural, human, responses onto our loving Father God. I’m so glad that He doesn’t treat us the way we treat each other. I’m even more thankful that He doesn’t treat me the way I deserve to be treated.

This young man started into his prepared speech.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.

Luke 15:21-23 NIV

Because of the work Christ has done, all I need to do is start heading in His direction. It’s at that point that He runs to be with me. There’s no condemnation, no probation, and no judging. He only brings acceptance and forgiveness with Him.

Maybe you’ve done some things that you think are hard to forgive. Maybe you’ve been a long time away from God. It doesn’t matter. Return to the Lord and He’ll run to you. You can be restored in an instant because of the love of the Father.

Trust Him. He’s the God who runs.

Question: How have you experienced the love and acceptance of God the Father?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 29, 2022 in Encouragement, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Ex-Prodigal Son

The Ex-Prodigal Son

In my last post, I started looking at the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke’s Gospel. We saw how a legalistic mindset can drive new believers to give up on their Christian walk.

At some point, we begin to realize that trying to live for the Lord on our own terms doesn’t work. The things of the world lose their appeal. We begin to long for the blessing of God.

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.”

Luke 15:17-20 NIV

I want you to notice something important here. This young man misses the blessings of the father’s house. But, at the same time he still has the slave mentality.

We have to realize that thinking like a slave is a symptom of a childish mindset. Paul makes that clear in his writings.

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.

Galatians 4:1 NIV

That’s a part of our spiritual growth. We all have to go through the “slave” stage. That’s when we learn the basics of growing in Christ.

Somebody disciples us in the foundational principles. They tell us we need to read the Scriptures and pray daily. We must meet together with other believers for teaching and fellowship. We need to realign our finances through the giving of tithes and offerings.

To a new believer, this seems like a list of rules. As we grow in Christ, however, we find that these disciplines actually free us to serve God at the highest level. We put the childish slave mentality behind us and begin to operate like a mature son or daughter.

Here’s an example. When I was young teen, living with my parents, one of my chores was to put out the trash each week. I did it because I was told to do it and there would be consequences if I didn’t.

I’m 65 years old now. I still put out the trash each week. Why? Because that’s what a mature person does. I want my house clean, even though there will be no punishment if I fail to do it.

That’s how we should progress in our walk with the Lord. Those things that seemed like rules at the start, should become a vital part of our mature Christian experience.

This seems to be the hardest part of our walk with God. For some reason we want to hang on to the rules of childhood.

I’m talking about the “if…then” mentality. “If I tithe, then God will bless my finances.” “If I encourage someone, then I will be encouraged.”

Think about it. That’s how we treat children. “If you clean your room, then I’ll take you out for ice cream.”

Maturity thinks in a whole new way. We understand that under the New Covenant, I receive the blessing of God simply because I’m His child and I trust Him. On the other hand, I do those things that I know to do simply because I love the Father and I want to please Him.

This is a truth that Paul had to forcefully proclaim to the Galatian church. They were very quickly falling into legalism.

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Galatians 3:2-3 NIV

We must always remember that we’re walking according to the spirit. Serving Christ is not a matter of following a bunch of rules (observing the law). It’s about listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and walking in harmony with that calling.

Question: How do you break the “rules mentality” in following Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 26, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Finding What’s Lost

Finding What’s Lost

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. We’re now starting chapter 15. Jesus’ ministry is beginning to attract those who the religious leaders consider unworthy.

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:1-2 NIV

This is a very interesting picture of Jesus. He was very willing to spend time with people who were considered “sinners” by the spiritual elite.

Tax collectors were Jews who were taking money from their own people and giving it to the Roman conquerors. They were viewed much the same way as we view drug dealers in our society.

Not only that, but they had the same type of friends that a drug dealer would have. Prostitutes, loan sharks, and the like. All the people that the upstanding Pharisees would look down on as the dregs of their society.

Because of His spiritual walk, the Lord had the strength of character be around these people without letting them drag Him down. He could be a light in their darkness, and they recognized this.

We need to understand this principle. How can unbelievers ever experience the love and grace of Christ, if no one ever walks with them?

Jesus uses a couple of parables to explain it.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Luke 15:3-7 NIV

At the end of chapter 14, Jesus talked about the need to be salt in the world. If your ministry is to be this seasoning and bring the message of salvation, then what better place to be then among “unsavory” people. Jesus knew that He was sent to save these people. The Pharisees may have written them off, but Jesus saw them as loved by God.

I always find it offensive when I hear a Christian remark that someone deserves hell.

“When they die, they’re gonna get what they have coming.”

That must break the Lord’s heart. He died for everyone. Not just the people we like. We need to watch our attitudes about those without Christ. The fact is that we all deserve hell – but I don’t want anyone to go there.

Even the most perverted, murderous, evil person on earth should be given the chance to hear about the life-changing work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We should be representing Christ and His attitudes in our generation.

Too often what some believers consider “ministry”, is telling sinners to stop sinning. It’s all over the internet. Unbelievers don’t need to stop doing wrong. They need to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

That’s what will turn their lives around. Pointing out what we think is wrong with them will only serve to push them away from the cross. We need to be seeking and saving those who are lost.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:8-10 NIV

There’s rejoicing over a life that’s saved. I also believe there’s weeping over a lost sheep that’s pushed off a cliff, or a coin that’s made to fall through the cracks. We can’t be so self-righteous that we cause unbelievers to reject Christ. Be the Lord’s hand, reaching out in love to those around you.

Question: Why is it so easy to pick up the same attitudes as the Pharisees?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 24, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Discipleship and God’s Glory

Discipleship and God’s Glory

Continuing through Luke’s Gospel, we’re seeing how Jesus explains what discipleship is all about. It’s not an easy path. It means putting the Lord above all other pursuits in our lives.

He continues with a couple of illustrations.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.”

Luke 14:28-32 NIV

Jesus gives the crowd two examples of what it takes to decide on the path of discipleship. Too many people start out with good intentions, but with false ideas. They think it will be easy for them.

After all, I just have to go to church, pay my tithes, and pray now and then. They have no idea what it costs to put down the flesh, renew the mind, and build up the spirit. True discipleship requires work.

Listen to how Jesus encapsulates these two parables.

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:33 NIV

Giving up everything – that’s an attitude that starts us down the road to discipleship. In the parable of the builder, the phrase, is not able to finish, literally means did not have the force required to complete it. It doesn’t imply that he ran out of money. He just didn’t have the willpower to commit everything to the project.

In the same way, the king in the second parable had to ask himself if he was willing to commit his entire army to the protection of his realm. If not, he better surrender before the attack.

That’s what we must go through before we say we want to be a disciple of Christ. We have to see ourselves laying everything down on His altar.

Remember what I said in my last post. You can be saved and on your way to heaven and not be a disciple. I’m not trying to condemn anyone. I’m just trying to get you to see the high road of the abundant life in Christ.

If you find your Christian walk to be easy, then you’re not yet a disciple. The closer you follow to Christ, the harder your choices will become. But there is a bright side. The longer you serve the Lord, the easier it will be to make those choices.

It’s all about cultivating an attitude – I’m nothing else but a disciple. It may sound like a tough road, but in the end it’s worth it.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Luke 14:34-35 NIV

Back when this was written, salt had a higher percentage of impurities than we have today. If it got wet, the actual salt would wash out and you were left with the dirt. You wouldn’t want to use that on your food.

In the same way, there are believers who want to serve God. But at the same time they want to retain their rights to determine what they want to do or not do. That doesn’t work out too well in the Kingdom of God. It’s like putting dirt on your sandwich.

The way of discipleship leads to a fulfilled life. There’s a manifestation of the power of God working through you. When you live at this level it becomes obvious to all those around you.

It’s apparent that you couldn’t produce the blessings that you’re walking in. God is at work in you. That’s the ultimate goal. Living as a disciple shows God’s glory and draws others to Christ.

Question: How much is the glory of God worth to you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 22, 2022 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Hard Road of Discipleship

The Hard Road of Discipleship

I’ve started talking about discipleship. Jesus was teaching His followers, in the Gospel of Luke, what it took to truly be a disciple. Especially in our society, we’d much rather be a student of Jesus than to become like Him. Discipleship makes us uncomfortable.

Now Jesus goes on with His description of discipleship.

“And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:27 NIV

What did Jesus mean by that? I’ve heard people use this in a lot of different ways. Sometimes they’ll use this term in talking about an ongoing illness, or even their spouse.

“That’s my cross that I have to bear.”

Is that what it’s all about? I don’t think so. Carrying a cross is a sign that you’re about to die. Very soon you’re going to be laying down your life.

I think that it’s clear from Scripture, discipleship and the cross go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. Unfortunately, we have a lack of disciples these days. Maybe it’s because we don’t preach the cross as we should.

Paul had something to say about this.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV

The original Greek of this verse actually reads, the Word of the cross is foolishness to those who are being destroyed… There are many believers whose lives are being destroyed because of our de-emphasis of the cross.

They’re downtrodden, overcome by the world, and bound up by all kinds of sin and addictions. Our lives, homes, and marriages seem to have the same sicknesses as society without Christ. The world no longer looks to the church for answers, because we don’t look much different than they do.

We wonder why we can’t get the victory. These verses make it obvious that without the life changing power of the cross, we’re fighting a losing battle. It’s time to turn this around and bring the victory in this area. We need to get back to the Biblical foundation for our lives.

We need to restore the Word of the cross. But, for some reason, we resist this work. We seem to have come to the conclusion that the cross is only for the unsaved. Why does Paul tell us that it’s foolishness to those who are being destroyed? Because the cross is for those who want to move on to maturity.

Literally, this verse tells us that the word of the cross is a manifestation of God’s power in His people. But it’s not for all. It’s the power of God to those of us who are continuing in the ongoing work of salvation in our lives.

This is why we shrink from it. We don’t like the sound of the cross. When we think of the cross, we think of humility, weakness and pain. Could this really be the road to power?

Jesus’ command to carry the cross is not a call for unbelievers to come to Him. It’s a radical command to follow Christ by giving up all other desires. To pick up the cross means to lay everything else down. To follow Christ means to ignore all other paths. This is a message that gets lost in our generation’s search to experience the best that the world has to offer.

I’m not talking about whether you’re saved or not. You can be saved and on your way to Heaven, yet ignore the call to the cross. It all comes down to discipleship.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Philippians 3:10-11 NIV

We all want to see the resurrection power of Christ active in us. The only road to this is through the cross. The Lord and His disciples all walked this path and testified to it. We need to do the same.

Question: How do you define being a disciple of Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 19, 2022 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,