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Rejoice in the Lord!

Rejoice in the Lord!

Over the last couple of posts I’ve been talking about the 72 disciples that Jesus sent out ahead of Him. Having been trained by Christ, they went out and saw the power of God manifest through their lives.

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Luke 10:17 NIV

After having been out for a while, these men started returning. They came back rejoicing in what God was doing.

Obviously they had learned how to operate in the Name of the Lord. They were seeing, first hand, the power of Jesus’ name.

Demons had to submit to that name. This is a great step forward. If you remember, in chapter 9 of Luke’s Gospel, the disciples were unable to free a young man from his demonic oppression. Now they’re learning the joy that comes through setting captives free.

As the Lord was listening to their reports, He wanted to make sure their hearts were right. He didn’t want them to get caught up in pride.

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Luke 10:18-20 NIV

When the disciples had told about the demons submitting to them, Jesus tells them of an even greater victory. There was a day when Satan, himself, was cast out of Heaven. That occurred ages before and is probably what’s recorded in Isaiah 14:12-15.

Literally, Jesus says that He was there, watching, as Satan fell from the sky as a bolt of lightning. Jesus was victorious then, and His power over the enemy’s kingdom is still as great today.

The Lord wants the disciples to always be mindful of where this power and authority comes from. It’s not about their goodness or ability. It only flows from their relationship with Christ.

It was wonderful to see the power of God working through them. But, there was a greater reason for them to rejoice. Because they had submitted their lives to Christ, their names are written – engraved – in Heaven.

We need to realize that same truth. Even though we look for, and praise God for, the abundant blessings we receive from Him, our greatest treasure is the salvation we’ve been given. That’s the foundation for everything else in our lives.

So often we get feeling down because a prayer wasn’t answered when we thought it should. We lose sight of the fact that if God never did another thing for us, we’ve already received more than we could ever hope for or even imagine.

However, even in this teaching, Jesus was not trying to put a damper on the disciple’s joy. He rejoiced with them in what they experienced.

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

Luke 10:21 NIV

Here’s a verse that totally falls short of what it says in the original Greek. This verse literally says that Jesus jumped and danced in the Holy Spirit because of the report He heard.

I’ve been at meetings where people jumped or danced in the spirit. I’ve heard them get criticized by believers who think it’s unspiritual and undignified. Jesus is our great example. If He could jump and dance in the Spirit, then we’re free to do so as well.

We need to rejoice in what the Lord has done for us and in us!

Question: What have you experienced in Christ that you can rejoice over?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Freedom Fighters

Freedom Fighters

In my last post, we saw how the disciples exhibited a lack of faith when a huge storm came up while they were crossing the lake. Now, it would seem to them, like they went from the frying pan into the fire.

When they reach the shore, they arrive at a burial ground. Almost immediately a demon possessed man who lived in the tombs came running towards them. Because of the length of the passage, I can’t show it all here. I suggest that you read Luke 8:26-39 before proceeding.

In this section of Scripture, we see a man tormented by the enemy. He had no house of his own but lived in the tombs. On top of that, he wore no clothing.

According to Luke, many times the authorities would try to arrest him. They even bound him with chains. But, because of the strength of the demons, the chains would break in his struggling. At that point, the demon would drive the man away from town.

Listen to what Luke says.

Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

Luke 8:29b

The word, driven, means to be pushed along like wind driving a sailboat forward. He could probably resist a little, but it eventually got the better of him.

It’s interesting to see where the enemy led him. He was driven into places of loneliness and death. He was all by himself, surrounded by the tombs. That’s not a great place to live.

When Jesus began to minister to him, he cried out…

When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!” For Jesus had commanded the evil spirit to come out of the man.

Luke 8:28-29a

The enemy was afraid of being tortured. They know that Jesus is going to be their final Judge. But, what the demon sees as torture, this man would see as freedom.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10

The goal of the enemy is to destroy lives. Unfortunately, there are many people who think that it’s better than what the Lord offers. They think that God is out to torture them and take away all of their fun. They don’t understand that what Christ is really offering is perfect freedom.

That’s where we come into the picture. We must let them see by our lives, the blessing of serving God. Too often it looks like we want what the world has. That’s not how it should be.

We need to walk as Jesus did. The Lord understood how to handle the work of the devil.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

1 John 3:8b

Our goal should be the same as that of Christ. We should live to set the captives free. All the while we must watch ourselves so that we’re not captivated by the world.

The power of God did more than just tame the demon possessed man. He was set free and his life was totally renewed by the power of God. That’s the type of victory we should be seeking in our generation.

But it will require us to spend time in the Father’s presence just as Jesus did.

Question: What are some areas that you see the need for Christ to set people free?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Final Judgment Fun

After my last post, you may not think that the words “judgment” and “fun” go together.  Trust me.  There is one point in the final judgment that I am absolutely looking forward to.

Do you not know that we will judge angels?  How much more the things of this life!
1 Corinthians 6:3

This one question that Paul asks is the basis for a lot of joy in my life.  Whenever a question starts with, do you not know, it means that you have to ask yourself whether you know it or not.

There are many believers who have no idea that we’ll be seated with Christ on His judgment seat.  (For more details on that, read my last post.)  During this time it’s not just humans who’ll be judged.  Angels will be coming before us as well.

It stands to reason that if an angel served God faithfully, then there would be no reason for them to be judged.  This is only referring to those angels who chose to side with Satan in his rebellion.  So we’re talking here about the judgment of the demonic kingdom.

Why does this make me happy?  Simply put, it’s the ultimate payback.

I can just picture that day.  A big old demon comes before the judge’s seat.  His list of offenses is read.  At that point, a realization dawns on me.

“So you’re the one who gave me that flat tire at the worst possible moment.  It was you who tried to hinder the answer to my prayer that God was sending my way.  And it was you who incited my co-worker to lie about me to my boss.”

I can imagine my joy as I shout out, “Guilty!  Take him away.”

There are times that we look back on our lives.  When we do, it usually centers around people and events that gave us tough challenges.  We don’t typically think of it in terms of a military campaign that’s being played out.

That’s why it’s so important to know the truth about this final judgment.  There will be a military tribunal where all the facts will come out.  We’ll see all the war crimes that have been committed against us and the perpetrators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We know that there will be days when the enemy is giving us a hard time.  Take the opportunity to remind him about the judgment that’s coming.  The annoyances of the enemy will be paid for.

You may even find that a little smile will start to spread across your face.  You might even start praising God in the middle of the struggle.

We need to realize that the enemy’s kingdom is already defeated.  We’re not waiting for the victory.  The war has already been won; we’re simply in the clean-up phase, freeing the prisoners, right before the war trials.

Remember, at this point, the enemy is not trying to defeat you.  He simply wants to annoy or distract you to keep you from completing your mission in Christ.  Don’t let that happen.

Don’t let the problems and challenges of this life rob you of your joy in Christ.  Look to the eternal not the temporary.  Our future with the Lord is something to look forward to with great anticipation.  Keep your eyes on what the Lord has already accomplished in you.

Question: How have you seen the victory of Christ at work in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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