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Spiritual Violence

Spiritual Violence

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

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

Luke 16:14-15 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus continues.

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

Luke 16:16 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©2022 Nick Zaccardi

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

 

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Eternal Perspective

Eternal Perspective

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 16:3-4 NIV

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

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

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

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

Luke 16:8a NIV

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

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

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

Luke 16:8b-9 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live for today, with eternity in mind.

Question: How do you live with an eternal perspective?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

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

 

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An Inheritance of Dirt

As we continue going through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we can see that he’s trying to give them an eternal perspective.  Paul wants them, and us, to be looking forward to the return of Christ on Resurrection Day.

Our inheritance is going to be glorious in Christ.  That means we need to be focused on what is ahead of us.

To do that, we need to understand the difference between us and the world.

As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.  And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:48-49

We know from Scripture that we were created from the dirt.  Even the name, Adam means red, because of the color of the clay God used to form him.

That’s important because the word, earthly in the above verse literally means dirt-like.  Just like Adam was dirt-like, we have the same makeup.

I’m glad that the story doesn’t end there.  There’s a higher calling that we can share.  This verse also talks about the Man from heaven – literally, the one from beyond the sky.

So now we have a choice.  This passage tells us that we can wear like a garment, the likeness of dirt or the likeness from beyond the sky.

That’s the two different perspectives before us.  You can have your eyes on the dirt, or on heaven.  What do you focus most of your attention on?

But you might ask me why that’s so important.  I’ll let Paul explain it.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1 Corinthians 15:50

To put it simply, dirt can’t inherit that which is beyond the sky.  Unfortunately, too many of us want the inheritance of dirt.

What do I mean by that?  Every material thing that we have in this world is either dug out of the dirt or grows from the dirt.  Yes, even your computer chips are made of silicone which is simply refined dirt.

Why are we so mesmerized by the things from dirt, that we ignore the things from heaven – beyond the sky?  We need to retool our priorities.

Scripture teaches us that this is how we do our best for Christ.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

We need to be eternity minded.  That’s where our treasure resides.  Allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse you from the “dirt mentality”.  God’s kingdom offers us so much more.

Question: How do you know the difference between being earthly-minded vs. heavenly-minded?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2019 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our Glorious Future

I’m continuing with Paul’s view of the resurrection in his first letter to the Corinthian church.  There were some in that church who looked at the resurrection as an optional belief.  In my last post, Paul showed that it was actually the foundation of our faith.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22

This is the basis of our hope.  Christ is the firstfruits of the resurrection.  Because He was raised to life, I know that I will also be raised up in Him.

As a part of the human race, we all inherited death from Adam.  But now, because of the obedience of Christ on the cross, we can inherit the life of Christ displayed when He rose from the dead.  Death couldn’t hold Him.

But, we have to wait for our turn.  That only happens when Christ returns to the earth at some point in the future.

But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.  Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:23-26

There’s an order to the resurrection.  Christ was the first to experience it.  He opened up the way for all of us.

When He returns, it will be our Resurrection Day.  All who belong to Christ will rise to meet Him in the air.  First, those who have died as believers will rise from the dead.  Then, those who are still alive at His coming will simply be transformed into their new resurrected bodies without going through the death process.

That’s not the end of the story.  When Christ returns, He’ll set everything straight.  Right now, the earth is under the temporary government of the enemy.  The devil and his kingdom have dominion, authority and power over mankind.  (Of course, in Christ we have the power to overrule that authority!)

When Jesus returns, He’ll end Satan’s reign of terror.  All of the authority structures of earth will be made right once again.  It will be what God had intended when He first created Adam.

However, even now Christ is reigning.  From the day the Lord rose from the dead He has become the Ruler of the earth.  He just didn’t exercise that authority yet.

The battle for planet earth is over.  Christ is already victorious.  In Him, we’re on the winning side.  That’s why we have nothing to fear.

Our job now is to free the captives from under the tyranny of the devil’s kingdom.  We’re a part of the victorious invading army.  Don’t let the enemy intimidate you.  He can only stop you if you believe his lies.

It’s time for God’s people to live like we own the place.  We do, in Christ.  It’s time for us to stop being distracted by the world’s activities, and set our hands to the task of preparing for the Lord’s return.

Live like it’s forever…because in Christ it is!

Question: How do you live in the now, with eternity in view?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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