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An Open Mind

An Open Mind

As we’re nearing the end of our study through the Gospel of Luke, we’re seeing the events surrounding the risen Christ. In my last two posts, I talked about His encounter with some of the disciples along the road.

They returned to Jerusalem to tell the others that Christ had risen. You may want to read Luke 24:33-45 before continuing.

As they talked together, the Lord appeared in the room with them. They were still confused and doubting what was happening. Jesus explained that everything was foretold by Scripture.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Luke 24:45 NIV

The word understand in this verse literally means to put together. The Lord opened up the minds of these disciples to put together all that was happening. This included the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ, as well as the Scripture that foretold it. They had to walk in a supernatural understanding in order to grasp what was happening.

We need this ability of the Holy Spirit in us to put together – understand and apply – all that’s in the Scripture. If I don’t cultivate my spiritual prayer life, then where will all of this understanding come from? We can receive these blessing nowhere else but from the Spirit.

Paul understood this and tried to make it clear to his readers. In the following verse, the apostle is taking an Old Testament verse and revamping it for a spiritual people.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV

What this verse actually says in the Greek is, “Who has known the mind of the Lord well enough to be knit together with Him.” But we hold, possess the mind of Christ.

What an incredible truth! In the spirit we have access to the mind of the eternal God. The big question is; will we lay claim to this gift by the Spirit?

It’s clear that the Holy Spirit is needed in order to renew our minds. But this renewal is more than just accessing God’s knowledge. It’s much deeper than that.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…

Philippians 2:5 NIV

This means that the direction of our minds should be the same as Christ. This is evident in our current church experience. So many of our prayers seem to go unanswered. We think we’re praying “in the will of God.” But we don’t see anything happening.

Many times, we don’t receive when we pray because we’re headed in a different direction than Christ. We want the blessings of God. We just want them for a different reason than He does.

We need to direct our mind like Christ. When the Lord walked the earth, His mind was directed by the Spirit. That’s what renewal is all about. It’s not just changing what we think about, but how we think.

This is a difficult thing to do in the natural. Actually, it’s pretty close to impossible. Trying to get the mind to renew itself is a losing proposition. Instead, the best way is to activate our spirit in order to keep our mind Christ-centered.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:2 NIV

This would be quite a challenge for us to do in our own power. I know I can accomplish this temporarily. I wanted to see how long during the day I could make myself think about the things of God. I found it to be a lost cause. The littlest things would distract me and refocus my attention on the things of earth.

Prayer in the spirit, however, allows you to zero in on things above for an increasingly longer time. Your mind will begin to follow the lead of your spirit. You will begin to understand the things of the spirit like never before.

In this way your mind will start to become reset and refreshed. When this is taking place, it goes a long way to changing how the outward man reacts to life. If we’re going to win the battle of the mind, then we must pray in the spirit regularly.

Question: How have you noticed your prayer life affecting your thought life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Last Days – “Don’t”

The Last Days – “Don’t”

As we go through Luke’s Gospel, I’m taking a few posts to look at what our attitude should be like in the last days. Specifically, we’re dealing with the principles given to us by Jesus in Luke chapter 21.

First, I want to talk about three things that the Lord told us NOT to do.

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.”

Luke 21:8 NIV

His first command to us is, don’t follow them. We are to ignore those who claim, “I am he.” We should already know that one. Jesus said that at His coming every eye would see Him. It will not be a private return.

In spite of this warning, many have come claiming to be another incarnation of Christ. Over and over again, I hear about people going to hear someone who claims to be a new messiah.

The second statement that the Lord made was a little more subtle. He said not to follow those who come in His name claiming, “The time is near.”

Please understand, I believe that the coming of the Lord is near. The difference is that this is only a small part of my message. Christ is talking about those whose whole focus is on the soon coming of the Lord and the signs surrounding it.

Remember what I told you in my last post. In Scripture, the Second Coming is never the main focus – it’s always the reason for living correctly. You have to be very careful when you see a whole ministry based upon “the time is near.”

Usually these “end-time ministries” like to play on the sensationalism of possible outcomes. Any new astronomical event, international crisis, or natural disaster gives them new ways to bend Scripture to look like the end is upon us.

This type of ministry seems to sell a lot of books. But most of them are only exciting reading for a year or two. Then, it becomes obvious they were on the wrong track with their predictions.

“When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”

Luke 21:9-11 NIV

The next thing Jesus tells us is don’t be frightened. You’re going to hear various bad reports. The world may be full of problems, but one thing remains true through the ages; Christ is still on the throne.

No matter what’s happening around us, Christians should never fear the future. The Holy Spirit is always with us. He leads and guides us. More than that, we know that He gives us the grace to stand strong in spite of the current situations.

Many people are predicting catastrophe for the United States. We don’t know what the future holds for our country. But I know the answer – Jesus Christ is Lord.

“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.”

Luke 21:12-14 NIV

The Lord’s final general statement is; do not worry…how you will defend yourselves.

“What if it becomes illegal to be a Christian?”

It’s happened before and God brought His people through victoriously. In the Book of Acts Paul was headed to Jerusalem. Churches were telling him not to go because of prophecies that spoke of his arrest. He said he was not only willing to be arrested, but to die for Christ.

The key is that if you’re called to go through persecution or martyrdom, then you’ll receive the grace to stand firm. So – don’t worry about it now – the Lord will give you what you need when you need it.

Question: What is the result of following these commands the Lord gave us?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2022 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Return of Christ

 

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Ready for the Last Days

Ready for the Last Days

We are continuing our study of Luke’s Gospel. As Jesus prepares to go to the cross, He begins to tell His disciples about His return.

The Second Coming of Christ seems to be an exciting topic among believers. Pre-COVID, the rise of ISIS and the talk of Blood Moons had many people fearful about what was coming. Now, it seems we’re even closer to the Lord’s return.

We need to get back to the teachings of Christ if we’re going to navigate these times that we live in. It’s all about our attitudes.

Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
Luke 21:5-7 NIV

Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. As they were looking around, impressed by the great structures, a question arose over the last days.

What a lot of believers don’t realize is that at this point in Jesus’ ministry, the disciples already had a good amount of teaching on the last days; they just didn’t know when it would occur. Jesus answered their questions with a pretty detailed talk.

I’ve been studying the Second Coming of the Lord since the early 1970’s. I believe that we’re living in the last days. The real question is; what should our attitudes be like? I’m going to take a few posts to talk about this section of Scripture.

We have to be careful when studying the Second Coming. Many people get off track because when it comes to the last days, they forget one simple rule about Scripture. KEEP IT IN CONTEXT!

In this chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus deals with general and specific concepts. Verses 20-24 are the dividing point.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city…They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Luke 21:20-24 NIV

This passage talks about Jerusalem being surrounded resulting in the Jews being dispersed among the nations. Then, after many generations, they’ll be returned to their homeland. It’s obvious from the pages of history that this prophecy is fulfilled.

Before that prophecy are some general principles. After it are some statements that are specifically for our generation, living after the fulfillment. So, we need to be careful that we make the correct applications of these verses.

There’s one more thing I want to talk about in this introductory post. Many people miss it. In Scripture, most of the time the Second Coming is not the main subject, even though it’s talked about. It’s only the jumping off point for the principle being taught. It’s more about how we should live. “Jesus is coming soon, therefore…”

In my next post I’ll start talking about how Jesus said we should live as we see His return approaching.

Question: What are your thoughts on the soon coming of the Lord?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2022 in Israel, Return of Christ

 

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Ministry Needs and Faith

Ministry Needs and Faith

As we continue to go through the Gospel of Luke, we’re coming to the culmination of the earthly ministry of Christ. He’s approaching Jerusalem, knowing that the cross awaits Him there. As the Lord is about to enter the city, Luke records an interesting event that takes place.

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.'”

Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

Luke 19:28-34 NIV

We need to understand what’s happening here. It has a lot to do with attitudes and faithfulness in the kingdom of God.

The first thing I see is that something is needed to fulfill the ministry of Christ. It was foretold in the Old Testament that Jesus would enter Jerusalem on the back of a colt. It was time for this to be accomplished. In every ministry, there are needs that must be met in order for God’s will to be done.

Next, I see a supernatural revelation as to how this need was going to be filled. Notice that Jesus didn’t say to His disciples, “Guys, I’m going to need to ride in on a colt. You have to go out and find me one quickly.”

That tells me that to accomplish my calling, it will always require faith. After all, there were other ways this could have been done. Jesus could have purchased a colt in Jericho, the last town He visited. Then He would have had it ready to go upon His arrival.

But that’s not how the Father wanted this to happen. He desired the disciples to act in faith toward the instructions of Jesus.

Finally, it comes down to attitudes. The disciples know what the ministry needs and how God intends to provide it. The problem is that it all depends upon another party – those who own the colt. All they heard was, “The Lord needs your colt to accomplish God’s will.”

Think about it. How many times have we been in a meeting listening to a missionary share their excitement over the people-group that God has called them to reach.

“The Lord needs your money to accomplish His will.”

I know what you’re thinking. The disciples told the owners that the colt would be sent back when the Lord was through with it.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Luke 6:38

Why do we get the attitude sometimes, “Oh, no! Another special offering.” We need to understand that God looks at these gifts as loans to His kingdom. He always repays with blessings we couldn’t ever get on our own. But it all comes down to attitude.

Get your money or resources involved in kingdom work as the Lord leads you. You won’t regret it.

Question: How have you been blessed by giving something to the Lord’s work?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2022 in Faith, God's Provision, Ministry, Missions

 

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Are You Prepared for the Lord’s Return?

Are You Prepared for the Lord’s Return?

In my last post, I started talking about the parable where a nobleman gave some money to his servants. This is found in Luke 19:11-27.

The nobleman was going on a journey, and he wanted the servants to invest the money for him while he was gone. He gave them each 1 mina, about $2,500, for this investment. Then, he checked their progress when he returned.

Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.

The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’

‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’

The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’

His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’”

Luke 19:15b-19 NIV

Everything seemed to be going well. There was increase. Both of the servants ended up with a nice profit. One had a 1000% return, the other made 500%. I wish I could find that kind of investment!

They had used the money they were entrusted with wisely. Their Lord commended them. Now they could expect the reward that they earned.

Finally, the last servant showed up.

“Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’”

Luke 19:20-21 NIV

This servant took what was given to him and instead of using it and putting it to work, he just wraps it up and hides it. The worst part of this whole scenario is that he knows his master is expecting him to increase it.

He has no excuse. The servant even said, “I know you expected me to work with it and to make more because that’s the kind of person you are.”

Listen to the attitude. It’s heard throughout the church today. It’s the cry of those who have bought into the lie of the enemy concerning their lives.

This servant has the audacity to accuse the master of harvesting where he hasn’t planted. It was the master’s money he was entrusted with. The master was planting his own money into the lives of his servants.

I’ve seen this exact attitude in the church. “What has God ever done for me? I’m going to take care of myself first. If I have any leftover time, then I’ll worry about serving Him.”

The Lord gave them the very life in their body. They belong to Him. He has sown so much into their lives, yet they act like they’ve been given nothing and now have to make their way on their own.

There are Christians whose attitude suggests to me that they’re actually annoyed by the presence of God in their lives. They see the Lord who died for them as a hard man to work for.

We need to realize that saint and sinner alike will all give an account before the Lord someday. The Scripture is clear on that. What are you going to answer on that day when you go before the Lord and He says, “Here’s what I’ve given you. I shed My blood for you. I took the crown of thorns on My brow for you. I took the stripes on My back for you. This is what I invested in you. What did you do with it?”

Don’t expect to receive a reward when your response is, “I tried to ignore You the best I could.” That’s not going to earn you any points.

In the end, this wicked, lazy servant lost his money. I believe this corresponds to those who are saved, yet ignore the plan of God for their lives. Paul had something to say about the Lord inspecting our work someday. It sounds a lot like what Jesus said.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 3:10-11

We’ve been given the best foundation. But we’re expected to build our ministry upon it. We must allow growth to come into our life. We must add the Word of God. Then comes obedience to the Word. This must happen if we want to see the increase that God’s looking for.

Growth means change. Do you want to see the changes that God wants? There must be growth if we’re going to reach out to the people God has given to us. If we are walking in a growing relationship with Christ, then we’re building on the foundation that’s been laid in our life.

Question: What have you added to the foundation of your life so far?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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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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Humility and Hospitality

Humility and Hospitality

We’re continuing through the book of Luke. Jesus is at a banquet in His honor, but the Pharisees are watching closely to find something with which they can accuse Him. The Lord takes the opportunity to teach them some valuable lessons.

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable:

Luke 14:7 NIV

There’s one thing I’ve noticed about us as human beings. We’re so self-absorbed sometimes. We don’t stop and think about who’s around us. Jesus tells us to step back and use some restraint.

When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests.”

Luke 14:8-10 NIV

When we have a self-important attitude, it blinds us to everything going on around us. I’d like to think that there’s no one more important than me. But, that’s foolishness, plain and simple.

It’s not about what I think of myself. It’s about how God and others see me. I need to take the blinders off, and walk in humility.

Remember, humility is not about putting myself down. It’s exalting others above my own interests. Allowing others to be blessed is walking in true humility.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 14:11 NIV

This is the guiding principle. Where do you want your praise to come from? Self-exaltation is worthless. But, when God exalts you, then He gets the glory from your life. It puts you in a much better position.

However, pride is not only seen in your struggle for a popular position.

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:12-14 NIV

Sometimes our pride can be seen in how we brag about the people we know. Dropping a well-known name here and there might impress some people. It can be seen in who you invite to your get-togethers.

According to Christ, if that’s your motivation, then you’ll have no future reward. Jesus advises us to lay up treasure in Heaven. We do so by showing kindness and humility, inviting those who cannot repay us.

Jesus makes it clear that at the resurrection of the righteous there’s going to be rewards. He’s just as clear that our rewards will be based upon how well we follow His precepts.

Knowing this, we should be constantly aware of our attitudes. Our desire should be to please the King and to be found faithful at His return. Who are you trying to please? Are you trying to become a legend in your own mind?

Maybe you’re trying to impress the world with your greatness. Instead, we should we trying to live like Jesus did. It’s time for us to wake up and become “God-pleasers” instead of “man-pleasers.”

Allow the Holy Spirit to test your attitudes. Go before Him and let Him speak to you and change you, if necessary. We need to be walking in the true humility of the Lord. That’s how we’re exalted in His kingdom.

Question: What’s your attitude toward yourself and others?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2022 in Fellowship, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Looking for Convenience?

Looking for Convenience?

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, today’s post finds us starting chapter 5. You may want to review Luke 5:1-11 before reading this post.

Jesus has now started His public ministry. He’s traveling around Israel, teaching as He goes. This section of Scripture finds Him at the Sea of Galilee.

As the Lord begins speaking, a large crowd forms around Him to listen to the Word of God. Seeing some fishermen nearby, Jesus asks them if they could take Him out on the water a little way. This is because the lake acts like a natural sound amplifier, so the people could hear Him better.

There’s some background that you need to understand about this encounter. This is not the first time Simon (Peter) has met with Jesus.

Andrew, Simon’s brother, was a disciple of John the Baptist. After hearing the testimony of John, Andrew met with Jesus. Realizing that He was the Messiah, Andrew took his brother, Simon, to meet with the Lord. It was at that meeting that Jesus began calling Simon by the name Peter. (John 1:35-41)

Now, getting back to the present events, we find Peter and his business partners washing their nets. They had just spent the whole night fishing, with no results. Peter were tired, frustrated, and probably not in the best mood when Jesus came to him with this request.

One more thing. Here’s a spiritual nugget for you. When you read the Gospels, you have to realize that Jesus had the same ministry to the disciples that the Holy Spirit has to the church right now. We can gain a lot of insight as we read it this way.

Sometimes, the Holy Spirit is instructing us to do something when we don’t feel like it. We need to learn to get over our attitudes and simply obey Him. We must think like Peter and agree with the Spirit.

I don’t know how long Jesus taught the people. The Scripture doesn’t say. However long it was, I’m sure Peter was anxious to get home to rest.

Finally, Jesus finishes His teaching to the crowds. Peter is ready to return home. But that doesn’t happen.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Luke 5:4

Jesus has another request. Isn’t that just like the Holy Spirit. There are times the Spirit wants you to do things when it seems most inconvenient.

There have been times I was tired, frustrated, or just in a bad mood. It seems like that’s the time the Lord picks for me to minister to someone to help meet their needs. I have to pick up Peter’s attitude in these instances.

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

Luke 5:5

“Lord, I really don’t feel like helping anyone right now. But, because You say so…I’ll do it.”

The results of obedience are amazing. In Peter’s case, they got a haul of fishes beyond anything they could have imagined.

It cut Peter to the heart. He saw that Jesus was operating in the power of Almighty God. As he reflected on all of his bad attitudes and internal complaints, he fell to his knees. He realized his need for a life-change.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”

Luke 5:10b

It always strikes me that true repentance brings a confirmation of God’s love. Peter was truly changed that day. And not just him, but his whole fishing company.

Peter, Andrew, James, and John all laid down their nets that day. They left all to follow Christ and obey His words. We need to walk that same road, and we’ll see the same results.

Question: How have you obeyed the Holy Spirit’s call when it was inconvenient?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our Glorious God

Our Glorious God

In my last post, I started talking about the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth. This occurred when they both became pregnant after hearing a message from God. Elizabeth was carrying John the Baptist, while Mary was pregnant with Jesus.

We saw that when they met together, God showed up. He overshadowed their time together. Elizabeth was given a revelation of who Mary would give birth to – the Messiah. Now Mary is overcome by the presence of the Lord and she begins to prophesy.

This is found in Luke 1:46-56. You may want to read this passage before continuing with this post.

She begins with a revelation of who she is, and the magnitude of what God is doing in her.

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name.”

Luke 1:46-49

It’s important to see her attitude here. She understands that it’s all about God, and has nothing to do with how good she is. She sees God as her Lord and Savior. Her blessing is from Him alone.

We need to learn this lesson. There’s nothing we can do to work for, or earn the Lord’s blessing. It’s all a part of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross. All we can do is accept the blessing of His salvation.

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.”

Luke 1:50-51

God alone is merciful and mighty. It’s important for us to understand what that means. We get a skewed understanding of mercy sometimes.

In our modern generation we use the word, mercy, incorrectly. We think it means to give someone a second chance after they’ve wronged us. We sweep their sin under the carpet. That’s not the Biblical idea.

Notice that God extends mercy to those who fear Him. That’s because God’s mercy is His reward to those who are obedient to His covenant. It’s the added benefit you get for being part of the family.

To fear God means that you humble yourself before Him. These verses reinforce the fact that pride hinders our relationship with the Lord. It’s all about our attitudes.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

Luke 1:52-53

Ruling, humble, hungry, and rich are all attitudes. They’re choices we have to make. Am I in charge of my life (ruler) or is God in charge (humble)? Do I see my need for the Lord’s help (hungry) or do I think I can make it without His help (rich)? How we answer these questions determine the amount of grace we receive.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”

Luke 1:54-55

I especially love this last part. This blessing is forever on the descendants of Abraham. That includes me.

Remember, from the book of Romans, that as Gentile believers we’ve been grafted into the family of Abraham. Genetically, I have no part of this heritage, yet because of Christ I can claim the full rights of a son of Abraham. And, you can too if you’ve bowed your knee to Jesus Christ.

This whole exchange was just the first few minutes of Mary and Elizabeth getting together. I can only imagine what the next few months were like. The mutual encouragement must have been incredible. This is what life in the family of God should be like for all of us.

Question: How is your knowledge of God increased by your meeting with other believers?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Love Debt

The Love Debt

As we continue through Paul’s letter to the Romans, he now talks about the debt we owe to one another.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Romans 13:8-9

Paul makes it clear that we shouldn’t be in debt. However, there is a debt that will always remain in our lives. That’s the love debt that we owe to each other.

He goes as far as to say that this love actually fulfills the requirements of God’s law. This goes right along with what Jesus taught in His ministry. At one point the Lord was asked which of the commandments was the most important. Listen to His answer.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31

These are the two debts that we will always be living under. Our debt to love God and our debt to love others.

In both verses, we’re told to love others as we love ourselves. That’s an important concept. There are many people who haven’t learned to love themselves, so they find it hard to love others.

This principle of love is hard for many people to grasp. They don’t realize that this love has nothing to do with our emotions. It’s a choice we make to participate positively in someone’s life.

That includes myself. If I’m not making choices to make my life and relationships better, then I don’t really love myself. Many of us live very self-destructive lifestyles. This lack of self-love spills over into our treatment of others.

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:10

I would even say that those who treat others badly, are showing that they actually hate themselves. That’s why we need to understand how God sees us, and take up that same attitude. Even with all of my frailties and imperfections, I’m exactly who God says I am.

Having that attitude helps me to treat others with love and respect. This last verse tells us that love does no evil to his /her neighbor. You can’t say “I love them,” and then treat them badly.

That’s why love fulfills the law. Love for God, self, and others gives me the ability to fulfill God’s will for my life.

But there’s a deeper reason why we must love. The Lord told this to His disciples just before He went to the cross.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

Jesus makes it clear that our love is a part of our witness to the world. When we walk in the love of Christ, those around us see something they don’t understand. It opens the door to hearing our testimony.

Walk in God’s love, and fulfill your destiny in Christ.

Question: How have you showed the love of God recently?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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