RSS

Tag Archives: calling

Kingdom Squatters

Kingdom Squatters

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. As Jesus approaches the time of His crucifixion, the opposition of the religious leaders is on the increase. They tried to discredit Him by showing that the Lord had no credentials from any earthly source.

Jesus proved that their attacks were all motivated by the desire for political power. Now He turns to the crowd to teach them, in a parable, the truth of the present situation in Israel.

Of course, there are some things we should get out of this teaching. We need to be thinking about our responses to God.

What’s your purpose for being a part of God’s kingdom? Are you fulfilling that purpose? Jesus gives this parable to explain God’s priorities.

Today I’ll be looking at the Parable of the Vineyard as recorded in Luke 20:9-18. You may want to read it in Scripture before continuing with this post.

In this parable, Jesus tells of a man who owned a vineyard and rented it out to some farmers. According to the terms of the lease, the owner was to get a share of the harvest as payment. This was a normal agreement for property owners in those days.

It’s interesting to see that the owner did all the work to set up the vineyard. All the farmers needed to do was move in and start harvesting.

How does this relate to the kingdom of God? Simply put, the Lord is looking for fruit. It’s not about our church attendance, Bible reading, or even our tithing. He’s looking for the fruit of our relationship with the Holy Spirit that He placed within us.

During His ministry with the disciples, Jesus made this abundantly clear to them.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 NIV

What we have to understand is that this is not our kingdom, but God’s. Everything we have is owned by someone else. Even our very lives belong to the Lord.

Because of this, God is well within His rights to demand anything He wants from us. We know right from the outset that He’s looking for the fruit of the Spirit.

Please understand that the fruit of our relationship with Christ is for the benefit and refreshing of those around us. The fruit of the Spirit are not merely for my personal gain.

The tenants in the parable didn’t understand this. They wanted to keep everything for themselves.

We live in a society where we’ve been taught that in most places – restaurants, stores, etc. – it’s all about what I want or need. Somehow we’ve transferred this mindset into our spiritual life. When it comes to being a part of a local church; I base it on what I can get from it.

What services do you offer me and my family? Do I like the type of music and the length of the worship service? Do I enjoy the way the Pastor delivers his sermons?

Wait a minute!!! Why does God have me in His kingdom? Is it purely for my comfort and enjoyment? No! I serve at the Lord’s good pleasure.

The tenants in this parable made a great mistake. They figured that if they could get rid of the owner’s son, then they could take over the vineyard. After all, squatters have rights.

Too often, I’ve seen this attitude in God’s people. The Bible refers to it as godlessness. Yes, there are many godless Christians.

To be godless simply means that God and His will don’t figure into any of your decisions. You’re living as if there’s no God. These are the squatters in God’s kingdom. They’re living on God’s property as if it belongs to them.

If you’ve been guilty of this attitude, then it’s time to repent. Get back to the purpose you were saved for. We need to be producing the fruit of the kingdom.

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
John 15:8 NIV

Question: What are the fruits of the spirit that you have produced most recently?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 11, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Salvation and Rewards

Salvation and Rewards

As we go through Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus teaching the crowds. In my last post, He talked about entering the kingdom of God as a child. Upon hearing that, someone in the group was prompted to ask a question.

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good — except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'”

Luke 18:18-20 NIV

We have to remember that Jesus lived and ministered under the Old Covenant. This young man wanted to be sure of his salvation. He asked the Lord about it.

Jesus gave him the only way to eternal life at that time. In simple terms, He said to follow the Law of Moses. That was the road to life.

“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

Luke 18:21 NIV

The young man was given what he asked for. According to the words of Jesus, this man already possessed eternal life. He was on his way to heaven.

However, Jesus could see by his response, that this man wanted more than just salvation. He wanted a fulfilled life. His desire was for more than simply life after death.

The Lord saw into his heart and answered the real question that was driving him. He wanted to know how to advance spiritually in his walk with God.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Luke 18:22 NIV

Jesus was basically telling this man that possessing eternal life is not enough. It was time for him to start accruing eternal rewards. It was time for him to start following the plan of God for his life.

There are a couple of things that we need to realize about this passage. First, the Lord operated, back then, in the same role that the Holy Spirit has for us now. Also, these instructions were a specific Word of God for this man in particular. It’s not a rule for all believers.

Jesus was telling this man that the next step in his spiritual development was to sell all and become His disciple. That would start him down the road to a fulfilled life. His riches were holding him back.

That’s because he had more than just a lot of money. According to the words used in Scripture, he had a large estate. He probably spent all of his time tending to the issues of maintaining and increasing his holdings.

This is where God’s plan for him was leading. Would he take the next step in the journey?

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Luke 18:23-25 NIV

Here’s where a lot of people get mixed up. You have to realize that the kingdom of God is not the same as salvation. The kingdom is the rule of God. It’s the place of blessing based upon obedience.

The truth is, you can be a citizen of a kingdom, yet be living someplace else. You lose out on the blessings of being at home in the kingdom.

You may not want to hear this, but not all believers are walking in the kingdom of God. They’re saved, but they’re missing out on the kingdom blessings. Paul talked about this to the believers in Antioch.

…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

Acts 14:22 NIV

These are hard words to accept. Paul told the believers to remain steadfast in hardships. That’s what it takes to enter the kingdom. I’ll talk more about this in my next post.

Question: What’s the next step God has for you in your spiritual walk?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 12, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Rewards From God

Rewards From God

In my last few posts, I’ve been looking at a teaching that Jesus gave His disciples about a Last Days mindset. He finishes, by talking about rewards and punishments. Our best bet is to live in such a way as to receive rewards.

Did you know that your eternal rewards are based upon how well you live up to the Lord’s teaching? The Bible does speak over and over again about the different levels of rewards based upon the work we perform throughout our lives.

“That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

Luke 12:47-48 NIV

The fact is that we’re responsible for what we’ve received. A young Christian is not responsible for the truths that have not yet been made real to him. Someone who’s been walking with the Lord for years, and ignoring the Lord’s call, will receive less in the kingdom.

It’s clear from Scripture that we’re going to be responsible for the grace that we’ve been given. With a greater anointing and calling comes greater responsibility.

I’ve found that many believers, ministers especially, want the miracles and the big churches without the character it takes to walk uprightly before God in that kind of work. The Lord wants us to grow from the inside out. An increase in power, without a corresponding increase in character, will destroy our spiritual walk.

As a matter of fact, it’s probably too late for you now. You’ve read too much. If you’ve been reading my blogs regularly, then God is going to require excellence from you and your ministry. Now that you know He’s a God of excellence, and that He requires excellence in His followers, you must begin to walk in it. Read on!

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Matthew 7:13-14 NIV

The Lord talked to His disciples about the narrow road. We like to interpret this verse as if it’s merely talking about the road of salvation. Salvation is indeed the first step. When we choose to follow Christ, we choose a better path than that of the world.

I believe, however, that this Scripture has a broader meaning in application to the body of Christ. Very few find the walk of excellence to which we’ve been called. “The few;” that sounds like the definition of excellence to me – “that which goes beyond the expected or the normal.”

The Lord expects us to find the narrow gate of excellence. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. That’s why we need to be living up to the revelation we’ve received.

This is especially true as we live out the last few years before the Lord’s return. The world is not going to get any better. The challenges of society will continue to grow. Our only response should be to deepen our walk with God, if we want to live victoriously.

I know there are those who get upset when I talk about striving to receive a reward from the Lord. They say that we should serve God without any thought of rewards.

That is partly true. If I received nothing from the Lord except for this great salvation, it would be worth it all. I would serve Christ wholeheartedly no matter what.

However, God knows how human beings think. He makes it clear to us that He has rewards in store for those who overcome in life. If the Lord didn’t want this knowledge to motivate us, then He should never have told us about it.

So, since He places the hope of rewards before me, I’ll strive to receive everything that God has prepared for me and wants me to have. I hope you have that same desire.

Question: How well are you living up to your knowledge of God’s Word?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Calling – What and Where

Calling – What and Where

In my last post, we saw the Lord sending out 72 of His disciples. They were to prepare the arrangements in all of the towns He would be visiting. They were also tasked with preaching and healing the sick.

This group was basically given the same instructions that the 12 apostles were given when they were sent out. However, Luke gives us a little more detail with this group.

I find some very interesting things that Jesus says.

When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.”

Luke 10:5-6 NIV

The first thing I see is about speaking a blessing. There are some who make a big deal out of what they speak. They think that by simply saying something, they will cause it to come into existence.

Jesus makes it clear that this is not the case. You can speak a blessing over someone. But, if they haven’t positioned themselves to receive that blessing, it will have no effect.

That’s also why I’m not worried if people say evil things about me. If I’m under the blessing of God, then nothing you say can change that.

Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

Luke 10:7 NIV

We need to apply what Jesus is saying here, especially in regard to our calling. Many believers misunderstand what calling is all about.

In many instances we know what we’re called to do. What we fail to see is that our calling also includes WHERE we’re called to perform it. We’re not just called to a work, we’re also called to a place.

I’m sorry, but now I’m going to have to start meddling!

I believe that every Christian is called to be a part of a particular local church. In most cases, that’s where a majority of your work for Christ will take place.

Along with that, as a pastor, I can tell you that there are no perfect churches. You will never find the church that you think is doing things exactly right in your eyes.

However, this is the place that the Lord has ordained you to receive your spiritual food and drink. That’s why it’s so important that you find the place that God has called you to be.

We live in a very fussy generation. We find the restaurant, the school, and the gym that do things the way we like. Then we think that the church should be the same way.

I had a missionary friend that brought one of his local workers with him from Africa. It was this young man’s first time coming to the USA. He said that he forgot to pack a toothbrush. So, I brought him to a local drug store.

He said he would run in and buy one while we waited for him in the car. After a long while, we thought something might be wrong so we went to look for him. He was standing in the aisle, staring at a twelve foot wall of toothbrushes. He was overwhelmed by the choices we have in America!

It’s not up to me to decide where I want to connect to the body of Christ, based upon what makes me comfortable. I need to find where the Lord has called me to attend and join in the work. Then, I don’t just leave to find another if something happens that I don’t like.

Yes, I have to find what the Lord wants me to do in my ministry. But, along with that, I need to know where He’s called me to do it. Then, I stay at my assignment until the Holy Spirit tells me it’s time to change.

I believe that we need to take on this attitude of longevity. It will go a long way to give us a greater sense of fulfillment in our Christian walk.

Questions: What are you called to do? Where are you called to do this?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Jesus on the Road

Jesus on the Road

As we continue to look at the life of Christ through Luke’s eyes, we get a glimpse into journeys that took place in the Lord’s ministry. This post will deal with Luke 9:51-62. You may want to read that before continuing.

In this section of Scripture, we see the Lord attempting to go through the region of the Samaritans on His way to Jerusalem. Many Jews considered them unclean and went miles out of their way to go around this area.

As He was going through, the Lord sent some disciples ahead to make food and sleeping arrangements for the night. They came back with the report that no one in the village wanted Him there.

Some of Jesus’ disciples wanted to call fire down to consume the town. The Lord rebuked their foolishness and they continued to another town where they were welcomed. Along the way, they met some interesting characters.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

Luke 9:57-58 NIV

A young man wanted to travel with Jesus. The problem was, the Lord had no corporate office. He had no house in the big city. He traveled almost the whole time during His ministry.

In some ways it’s very difficult to live your life “on the road.” Jesus did it for three years. He understood the stress of always having to be on the move.

Spiritually speaking, if we serve the Lord, we can expect to be just like Him – to be constantly on the go. He doesn’t want us to stagnate, but to press on toward the prize. To do that we must be always willing to change and to try new things as the Lord continues to call us forward.

This kind of life is forever bringing new challenges across our path. Each step of the way we are being drawn to deeper commitment, greater devotion, and higher callings. With each new opportunity for obedience comes a choice – to be satisfied with the old or to move on in Christ to the new. It’s exciting following Jesus – but you have to keep moving.

When they met another person, Jesus told the young man to follow Him. In response, the man said that he had to wait until his parents died.

He didn’t think that the time was right for him to go off with the Lord. Personally, I don’t believe that Jesus would have asked this person if it would have jeopardized his parent’s safety.

Sometimes we respond the same way to the Lord. We tell Him that we’re not ready to follow His leading. Unfortunately, the time will never look perfect to follow the Lord’s plan for your life.

Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:60 NIV

God knows what we need to do. Immediate obedience to the Spirit is the best response.

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.”

Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:61-62 NIV

It seems that there’s always something else we want to do before we get around to obeying God’s will. I’ll be able to serve Christ whole-heartedly next week, next month, next year.

The time is now to put down the excuses. It’s time to wake up and move forward in Christ.

Jesus is always on the move. He wants to take you from where you are now, to your destiny in Him. You just need to make the choice to begin following His leading.

Question: What’s the next thing on God’s agenda for your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 2, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Commitment

Commitment

In my last post, I started talking about when Jesus sent His disciples out to preach. This required a great amount of trust on their part.

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Luke 9:1-2

When I think about the way this worked, it amazes me. The verse simply says that He gave them power and authority. I’m sure there was no flash of light or fireworks of any kind.

Jesus spoke a Word to them, and they trusted that it was so. Without any visible confirmation, they believed that they could walk in the same power of the Lord. But, it didn’t end there. Jesus gave more instructions that required faith and obedience.

He told them: “Take nothing for the journey — no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.”

Luke 9:3

The Lord’s command seems very counter-intuitive. They’re being told to go out on a preaching mission, yet they’re exhorted to take nothing with them.

Then, Jesus lists the things they were not to bring with them. As someone who likes to travel, this sounds to me like a list of essential items you would make a point of taking with you. Yet Christ wanted them to trust that they would not be needed on this journey.

They had to simply believe that everything they needed would be supplied along the way. That’s a big ask – to trust God to work through the people they would meet along their journey.

Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.”

Luke 9:4-5

Of course, staying in people’s homes was the normal thing to do in those days. There were no hotels or motels. When you were traveling away from home, you would ask around in a town and find out who was willing to let you stay with them for the night.

That’s how traveling worked in the ancient world. However, the hosts would expect a payment of some kind to let you stay with them for the night. Jesus expected the disciples to trust that they would find people who would allow them to stay in their homes and feed them for free.

Like I said, I like to travel. But I’ve never found a free bed and breakfast anywhere. Yet the disciples followed the Lord’s instructions and saw the hand of God at work in them.

So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.

Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.

Luke 9:6-9

Because of their obedience, the power of God was manifest in a wonderful way through the disciples. It was so great, that word of these things reached the ears of the king.

Herod, who had beheaded John the Baptist, was hearing all these reports. He heard about the miracles and healings being done. It wasn’t accomplished through long dead prophets who came back to life. It was normal people who submitted themselves to Christ.

In our generation, there’s not many believers who are called to the level of commitment these disciples had to follow. But each of us has to follow the commands of Christ in our own way. When we do this in obedience, we’ll see the same outcome. People will want what we have and be attracted to the Gospel of Jesus.

Question: What is God calling you to do at this point?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 20, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

John the Baptist – The Draw Factor

John the Baptist – The Draw Factor

In my last post, we saw John the Baptist going through a dark time. He sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if He really was the Messiah. The Lord told them to watch what He was doing and report back to John.

After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?

Luke 7:24

When John’s disciples left, He began to ask the crowd some questions. They’re important for us to hear today. They make a point about what draws people to the cross in all generations.

The first thing the Lord asks is, what did you go to see in the desert?

He asks them if they went out to see a reed swayed by the wind? Many people are like that. They go in any direction the wind is blowing. They think it’s important to be “trendy”.

In the spiritual realm, going along with the crowd is actually a sign of immaturity.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.

Ephesians 4:14

The fact is that people are not drawn to compromise. Maturity in Christ means that you’re not tossed back and forth by everything you hear.

“Whatever you believe is right for you.” “I don’t want to offend.”

It seems to me that John the Baptist probably offended half the people who were drawn to see him. That’s because he didn’t back down from what he believed.

The people came out because they wanted to hear an authoritative message. Most people want to hear from someone who knows what they believe. It’s time for us to start living and speaking like people who know the truth.

Then, Jesus asked the crowd another question.

If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces.

Luke 7:25

Did you go out to hear him because he appeared to have “made it” in the world system? Did he wear the right clothes, have good music, the latest technology, etc.? No, John wore what was available. And, he ate what was available. His calling was to let people know, “Jesus is coming.” Everything else was secondary.

People are not drawn if you only look good outwardly. There needs to be an inner strength. We, as God’s people, are different – or at least we should be. We should have different priorities.

We get into problems when we chase after the things of the world. The phrase, indulge in luxury, in the above verse literally means to become feeble because of indulgence. Chasing after the world makes us soft. You lose your edge, intoxicated by the world system.

But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

Luke 7:26-28

We need to be strong in the Lord. That’s because people are drawn to the prophetic. We are to be a prophetic people. That means spending time with the Holy Spirit and listening to His voice.

I’m not talking about something flaky. Prophecy is merely speaking on behalf of God. To be prophetic means that our focus is on the eternal. Too many are focused on the temporary.

The power of God to change a life is what matters. This is something that affects the eternal course of a life. Eternally minded believers draw others to Christ.

This is what Jesus was trying to get across to that crowd…and us.

Question: In what ways are you eternally minded?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 9, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Private Preparing the Public

The Private Preparing the Public

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we see how Christ’s ministry is an example to us. If we live according to His standards, we’ll see the same results. The problem is that, usually, we want some type of shortcut.

You may want to read Luke 6:12-19 before continuing with this post. In this section of Scripture, we see a lot of activity.

Jesus had many followers. But of those, He chose 12 that he called apostles. These were the ones that the Lord would train specifically to take over the ministry when He ascended into heaven.

They were an interesting bunch of characters from all walks of life. The fact that they could function together was a testimony to the work of Christ in their lives.

There were at least four fishermen. They were a rough group of working-class men. If you ever watched the show, Deadliest Catch, then you’ll have a good idea of what they were like.

Jesus also chose people who were very different from each other. One of them, Simon the Zealot, was literally an anti-Roman terrorist. While at the same time he had to live with Matthew, a man who actually collected taxes for the Romans. I can only imagine what their conversations were like!

Yet, in spite of their differences, the love of Christ brought them all together. They were able to form a ministry team that turned the world upside down after the departure of Christ.

But there’s more to the story than just the miracle of bringing people together. The Lord ministered to the crowds in a way nobody ever did before.

He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coast of Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.

Luke 6:17-19

This passage literally says that power was flowing out of Him and everyone was healed. This should speak to us today.

So many people teach that you can only get healed “if it’s God’s will.” I’m here to tell you that, according to God’s unchangeable Word, it’s always His will.

Jesus healed all who came to Him. There’s never a time when He told someone, “I’m sorry, it just not my will for you to be healed.” There was never a person He told, “Stay sick, I’m trying to teach you something.”

Of course the next question I always get is; if it’s God’s will for me to be healed, than why am I still sick? I’m sorry to say that there’s an answer not many people want to hear. It has more to do with the maturity level of the church, than the faith of the individual needing healing.

I totally believe that if and when God’s people rise to the level they’ve been called to, we’ll see healings and miracles with the frequency we see in the pages of Scripture.

That brings me to my next point. If you’re observant, you noticed that I left out something that also happened in these verses. It’s actually the first and most important part.

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.

Luke 6:12

Here’s where our ministry and that of Christ head in different directions. In many cases we want to operate in the power of Christ without following His lead in prayer.

Jesus told His disciples that He did nothing without first hearing it from the Father. That’s more than just a quick, “Oh Lord please bless my ministry today, amen.” It requires quality time in the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Our public ministry will only rise to the level of our private time with the Father. That’s the example of Christ to us. If you want to flow in the same power of Christ, then you need to follow Him in the place of prayer.

Question: How many times have you spent the night praying to God?

2022 © Nick Zaccardi

 

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

God’s Plan – Starting Strong

God’s Plan – Starting Strong

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we just looked at the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Now, Luke talks about his childhood years in Luke 2:21-40.

It’s obvious that both Mary and Joseph were devout Jews. They did everything according to the Law of Moses. This law is found in Leviticus 12.

According to this law, Jesus had to be circumcised on the eighth day. Then, Mary had to wait 33 days for her purification. At that point, she needed to go to the temple to offer the sacrifice for her purification.

This tells us a lot about the family of Jesus. All this moving around the country had taken a toll on their finances. They went to Jerusalem for their purification…

…and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Luke 2:24

Actually, according to the law, this is the sacrifice if you were too poor to afford a lamb. Mary and Joseph were struggling to get by. Yet, they maintained the spiritual connections the best that they could, in order to raise Jesus correctly.

After all, they could have made the excuse, “We can’t afford to go to Jerusalem yet.” But they went anyway, and God had a great blessing waiting for them there.

There happened to be an elderly man in Jerusalem named Simeon. God had impressed him that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah. As soon as he saw the baby, he knew that the time had come.

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Luke 2:28-32

This prophet of God had some amazing words to say over this child. First, Simeon reveals that Jesus is the salvation of God.

Then, he speaks of the Lord’s ministry. Christ will be a light to the world. This light will be revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Israel.

As parents, I can only imagine what Mary and Joseph were thinking while Simeon was speaking out these words. But, he didn’t end there. He had a special prophecy that he spoke over Mary.

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Luke 2:34-35

He makes it known that the ministry of Jesus will not be a “bed of roses.” The Lord will definitely make a lot of powerful enemies. He will reveal things that those in authority will want to remain hidden. Mary needed to be ready for the outcome of God’s plan – Messiah going to the cross.

After Simeon finished his assignment, another person came to these parents. She was an elderly prayer warrior named Anna. She also recognized the child by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. She spoke more words of encouragement to all who were listening.

Joseph and Mary did everything that was needed to be done in order for God’s plan to be fulfilled in their child. And, God rewarded their efforts. They saw the confirmation of all that God spoke to them.

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:39-40

After they had gone through with their spiritual duties, they left for home. But, they didn’t go to Bethlehem, where the Child was born. Instead, they went back to Nazareth, where they had grown up and were connected with friends and family.

In this environment, Christ grew, and it was obvious that God had a great calling upon Him.

Question: What are the things you need to do to fulfill God’s plan in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 8, 2021 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , ,