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Last Days – The Day of Christ

Last Days – The Day of Christ

I’ve been posting about how Christ will reveal Himself at His return. We’ve talked about Jesus’ teaching in Luke, chapter 17, on the days of Noah and Lot.

Remember that He already said in verse 24 that when He’s revealed on that day, every eye will see Him. It will not be a private return. He’s coming in all of His glory.

“On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.”
Luke 17:31-36 NIV

Many interpret this verse to mean that the one taken is taken into heaven and the one left is the one that’s going to be judged. How can this be? In both of His examples, the stories of Noah and Lot, the Lord clearly states that the unrighteous are taken in judgment and the righteous ones are left.

The disciples wanted Jesus to clarify what He was teaching them. They asked the obvious question: Where was it that they were taken to?

“Where, Lord?” they asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
Luke 17:37 NIV

Jesus makes it clear that those taken are dead bodies. The Greek word for carcass is what the NIV translates as dead body. Also, the word Jesus used for vulture is a generic term that could be used for any carrion bird that feeds on dead bodies.

So in answer to the question “Where are they taken?” Jesus said, “Do you want to know where the carcasses are taken? Then look for the vultures.” Personally, I don’t want to be taken like that. I want to be one of the ones who are left.

What, then, have we learned in this portion of Scripture? First of all, I see a time of warning leading up to the time when Christ is revealed. We then come to a day – a literal, twenty-four-hour day – during which He will reveal Himself.

Christ uses two examples, Noah and Lot, to explain His point. In both cases the day starts out with some saints. They are then somehow supernaturally protected during the events of that day. In Noah’s case he was put in the ark and in Lot’s case he was taken out of the city.

On the day that they were protected, salvation was then closed, and judgment fell. After judgment had fallen, at the end of the day, the saints were left. That’s the way I read it and that’s the way I believe Christ meant it to be read.

Questions: Are you prepared for that day? How have you prepared?

If you want a more detailed teaching on the Second Coming of Christ, click here to check out my book: The Third Watch – It’s Later Than You Think.

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2022 in Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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Last Days – The Days of Lot

Last Days – The Days of Lot

I’m posting about Christ’s teaching on the Last Days in Luke, chapter 17. After talking about the days of Noah, the Lord goes on to describe the days of Abraham’s nephew, Lot.

“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”

Luke 17:28-29 NIV

This event is recorded in Genesis 19. You can read through that chapter to get the whole story.

Two angels arrived in Sodom to visit Lot. Lot invited them into his home, knowing who they were.

When the men of the city heard that travelers were in Lot’s house, they demanded that Lot turn them over to the crowd. According to the Bible, they wanted to rape these angels. Lot then tried to reason with the men of the city but they wouldn’t listen.

You probably know what happens in the city of Sodom. The two guests, who happen to be angels, come to Lot’s defense. They bar the way into Lot’s house and bring blindness upon all the men of the city who are trying to get in.

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”
When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”
Genesis 19:15-17 NIV

With the coming of the dawn – THE DAY – judgment came upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Once Lot and his family were out of sight of the city it was all over. The day that Lot left the city was the day that judgment fell. Now bear in mind that the inhabitants of those cities had some warning. Lot spent the whole day before trying to convince them.

The angels told Lot that if he had any loved ones in the city he should go and warn them. The Bible says that he went to his sons-in-law and they laughed at him. The city was warned. But because Lot wasn’t as in tune to the Lord as Noah, they didn’t have as much time to prepare. In both Noah’s day and in Lot’s the people ignored the warning.

Now I’ll ask the same questions I asked in my last post. When it was all said and done, who was left? According to Scripture it was Lot. Who was taken? Again, according to Scripture, it was the inhabitants of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Twice in the verses from Genesis 19:15-17 the angels said that the inhabitants would be “swept away.” That concept is very important.

We need to understand what will happen when Christ reveals Himself at His return. In my next post we’ll look at how Christ summarized His teaching on this future event.

Question: How does this knowledge affect how we live for Christ?

If you want a more detailed teaching on the Second Coming of Christ, click here to check out my book: The Third Watch – It’s Later Than You Think.

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2022 in Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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Last Days – The Days of Noah

Last Days – The Days of Noah

We’re going through the Gospel of Luke. At this point, I’ve been posting about the Lord’s teaching on the last days. Last time, we saw the warning He gave to His disciples that He would not return in their lifetime.

Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.”
Luke 17:22-24 NIV

He had to tell them the truth. They weren’t going to see the days of the Son of Man. Now that’s a term we need to understand. He had never yet used that term with His disciples before that day.

Let’s look carefully at the words of the Lord as He explains it to His disciples. He talked about the days of the Son of Man culminating in His day. Notice that He says in verse 24, “For the Son of Man in his day…”singular.

The word day means one literal twenty-four hour day. So what we see are “the days of the Son of Man” leading up to “the day of the Son of Man.” Thankfully He’s not finished with His explanation.

“But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”
Luke 17:25 NIV

Here Jesus explains to them what He’s going to do. He still hadn’t died yet and the disciples needed to prepare themselves for the shock of seeing their Messiah hung upon a cross. Unfortunately, the disciples never really heard what Jesus said, and ultimately were taken by surprise by the death of the Lord.

We’re now going to look at verse 26. Please read it carefully because a lot of people use these comparisons out of context and twist them all around to mean something other than what’s written.

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.”
Luke 17:26-27 NIV

Notice that Jesus again uses the phrase “the days of the Son of Man.” It will be just like in “the days of Noah.” Notice “the days of the Son of Man” culminates in “the day of the Son of Man.” Compare that to “the days of Noah” culminating in “the day Noah entered the ark.” It was on that day that the flood came and destroyed them all.

At that point, when all were safe inside, God shut the door. That was it, there was no turning back. No one could leave, and no one else could enter the ark of salvation. This is an important point in the principle Jesus is trying to get across to His disciples.

When all these things had taken place, the judgment of God fell upon that ancient world.

Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
Genesis 7:22-23 NIV

Now it’s important for me to ask you another question. According to the Scripture above, who was left? The answer is simple yet ignored. It clearly states that Noah and everybody in the ark were left. Who was wiped away from off the face of the earth? Every person and animal not in the ark.

It’s so clearly stated that you might ask why I’m emphasizing this issue. There’s a very important reason. Most of the people, who interpret this section of Scripture, rip it from its context, reverse it, and say that Noah was taken and the rest were left. We’re not going to do that today. I believe this verse as written and refuse to do any scriptural gymnastics to try and make it say something that it doesn’t. Here’s a parallel passage of Scripture.

and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
Matthew 24:39 NIV

Even in His comments concerning the flood Jesus makes it abundantly clear that it was the sinners that were taken and Noah who was left. This is a very important concept to grasp. It goes against most of the teaching in the church today. Yet it’s vital that we agree with what Christ says no matter what anybody else teaches.

Question: Does this challenge or confirm your beliefs about the Second Coming of the Lord? How?

If you want a more detailed teaching on the Second Coming of Christ, click here to check out my book: The Third Watch – It’s Later Than You Think.

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2022 in Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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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

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

 

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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

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

 

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Healing and Rules

Healing and Rules

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. In today’s post, we’ll start chapter 14. Jesus has been invited to a dinner on the Sabbath day.

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.

Luke 14:1 NIV

The Lord had probably spoken at a local synagogue. After the meeting, he was invited to the home of the high-ranking Pharisee of the town. You would think that this was a nice gesture of hospitality. But you’d be wrong.

The Scripture makes it clear that those who attended – a group of religious leaders – were not there to socialize. The phrase, carefully watched, is a term that means to scrutinize. It’s like when you don’t trust someone and you tell them, “I’ll be watching you.”

The one thing about Jesus is that He doesn’t disappoint.

There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.

Luke 14:2-4 NIV

Knowing how they felt about healing on the Sabbath, Jesus sets up a little demonstration. It was time to challenge their small-minded view of God. They thought they could keep God in a little box made up of their ritualistic, religious rules.

There in front of Christ is a man with dropsy. We don’t use that word anymore. We call it edema or swelling of the joints. He probably had a heart condition that would eventually kill him.

The real question is; why was he there? I believe he was brought there by the Pharisees and lawyers for the purpose of setting Jesus up. They wanted a reason to accuse the Lord.

Then it happened. Jesus started by asking them a question. He wants their legal opinion. Is it lawful or right to heal on the Sabbath day.

There’s no mention of healing on the Sabbath in the Law of Moses. However, down through the years, famous Rabbis have penned a tradition of man-made laws surrounding the Sabbath. According to these rules, healing was forbidden.

These rules were very strict. As a matter of fact, you couldn’t drink wine on the Sabbath if you had a toothache. Because, if the alcohol numbed the pain, you were breaking the Sabbath by healing.

Jesus blatantly broke their rules right in front of them. He healed the man immediately. At least in my eyes, that proves to me that these rules were not of God. If they were, God would have never healed this man.

Look at how Jesus explains this principle to the Pharisees.

Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” And they had nothing to say.

Luke 14:5-6 NIV

Here Jesus shows them a truth. Sickness is like falling into a pit. It’s never a good thing. The goal is always to set them free.

The question is; when? The answer should be obvious – immediately! It’s religion that makes things complicated.

“Sorry! You have to stay in the pit until tomorrow. Today is the Sabbath.”

It doesn’t take a high intelligence to see the foolishness of that statement. They need to be rescued right now. That’s why none of these religious leaders had a comeback. They couldn’t refute the truth.

That’s God’s view of healing. We make the rules and the excuses. It’s time for God’s people seek His presence. The church needs to rise to the full maturity of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).

I believe that this is where God is trying to lead His church in our generation.

Question: How strongly do you desire to see God’s power manifest in the church?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2022 in Healing, Legalism, Ministry, Power of God, Revival

 

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Safe in God’s Will

Safe in God’s Will

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

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

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

Luke 13:31 NIV

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

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

I love the Lord’s reaction to this.

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

Luke 13:32-33 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 13:34-35 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Narrow Gate

The Narrow Gate

As we go through Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus teaching the crowds. As they listen to Him, questions arise in their minds. Sometimes they’re the same questions we wrestle with.

You may want to read Luke 13:22-30 before continuing.

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

Luke 13:22-23a NIV

This is an interesting question. Especially so, since we’re talking about ancient Israel.

Right now, we have many words in our religious vocabulary that have changed over the years. The word “saved” is one of them. That word has picked up a lot of spiritual baggage since this verse was written.

When we hear the word “saved”, it has a special meaning to us. We think of someone who’s prayed the sinner’s prayer. They’ve accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They have become a Christian.

When that question was first asked, this word had no such connotation. It was not a religious word in those days. It meant to be rescued from danger or destruction. It also meant to be kept safe and sound. As well as to save someone from suffering, as with a disease.

When this person questioned Jesus, he was speaking about the natural world. Israel was under slavery to the oppressive Roman Empire. There was a lot of fear over how that would turn out.

There were groups known as Zealots. These were anti-Roman terrorists who were making bold attacks against Roman holdings.

The Roman emperors were well know for making rash decisions to wipe out nations that rebelled against their rule. This was one of the very things that caused the religious leaders to put Jesus to death (John 11:47-50).

Throughout the Old Testament, there were prophecies about times of persecution where only a remnant of Israel survived. I believe that this was the thinking behind that question. This man wanted to plan ahead for his survival.

Jesus seems to ignore the question and begins to tell the crowd a more important remnant to be a part of. He starts to talk about the final judgment.

He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’”

Luke 13:23b-25 NIV

Jesus tells the crowd that the way to the abundant life is through a narrow, tight gate. He puts it in a way that our English translations don’t do justice to.

The phrase, make every effort, means to contend. It’s what athletes put themselves through in order to win an Olympic gold medal. It means that there’s a struggle that has to take place.

You might think that in the Olympics, the struggle is against the other athletes. That’s simply not the case. The greatest struggle is having to contend with your own body. It needs to be disciplined in order to win the event.

That’s why Jesus said that many will try to enter. This phrase means to seek or desire. The narrow entrance looks too hard to manage. They’re looking for an easier way in.

There are other places in the Scripture where the word, contend, is used.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:12 NIV

Faith is a battle. It requires us to overcome the desires of our flesh. It means yielding to the Holy Spirit. There’s no easy way. Spend the time necessary to see God’s will accomplished in your life.

Question: What are some of the struggles you contend with in your faith walk?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2022 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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God’s Rule and Mustard Trees

God’s Rule and Mustard Trees

We’re studying through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post, we saw Jesus getting into trouble because He healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath day. As a result, the Lord made a point of exposing the hypocrisy of religious thinking.

Now, to reinforce what He said, Jesus gives the crowd a couple of parables to think about. He wants to give them an understanding of the kingdom of God. This should also help us to understand how the kingdom of God should be growing.

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.”

Luke 13:18-19 NIV

First, let me say that unless you know the region, this parable can’t be understood properly. There are a few different species of “mustard” that are common around the world. The one that can grow into a tree is not the one where we get the yellow goop for our hot dogs.

Jesus wants to let us know some attributes of the kingdom – God’s rule on earth. We know that the kingdom of God isn’t visible right now. It’s established in the hearts of God’s people.

The word, compare, in the above verse means to be similar in character and appearance. So, when we look at this parable, we’re getting a pretty good description of God’s kingdom at work in the world.

You need to understand that the seed for the mustard tree is tiny. This speaks of the small origin of the church. Jesus Christ was one man. But He wasn’t just a man. He was God made flesh.

When He was planted; the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection birthed an eternal kingdom. But that’s only one of the keys. For this plant to grow, it has to be planted under just the right conditions. That’s why Jesus had to emphasize over and over that in His ministry, everything had to be fulfilled according to the Father’s plan.

Another thing about this plant – it germinates quickly, but grows very slowly, but steadily. God’s kingdom is unstoppable. Many have tried to put an end to it, without success. That’s because it’s a kingdom born and nourished in the spirit. God is at work in the lives of His people.

As I said earlier, this isn’t the mustard we think of in talking about condiments and seasonings. However, the leaves and fruit of this tree are edible and have a slight, mustardy flavor. So animals and people can derive nourishment from it.

That brings me to my last point. This mustard-tree plant is very hardy. Once it takes root, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Because of this fact, the mustard tree is used throughout the Middle East and Africa for land reclamation.

Because it thrives in hot, arid climates; it can turn deserts into habitable places again. And, isn’t that one of the mandates of God’s plan? We are to bring life to the dead places around us.

Of course, not everybody sees it that way. Because it’s so hard to remove, people either view the mustard plant as a beneficial tree or a troublesome weed. Some people spend a lot of time and resources to remove it.

That’s how the church is described sometimes. Paul had this to say about it.

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 NIV

That’s the kingdom of God – some people hate it, while others couldn’t live without it. There are those who have dedicated their lives to extinguish the work of God on earth. Talk about a wasted life.

As for me, I’m grateful to be found in the kingdom of God. As I continue in the Lord’s way; I look forward to seeing His grace, power, and blessing that he desires to manifest through His people.

Question: How have you experienced the unstoppable growth of God’s kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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