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Who Am I?

Who Am I?

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re seeing how Jesus interacted with His disciples. He asks them some important questions. In this post, I’m talking about Luke 9:18-27. You may want to read through this before continuing.

Jesus had taken His disciples off to a private place to pray. The Lord did that pretty often, and He wanted His disciples to learn this practice. It would become an important part of their ministry someday.

As He was praying, the Holy Spirit prompted Jesus to ask the men who the crowds thought He was. It turned out to be the same as what Herod had thought.

It’s interesting that most of what people thought revolved around dead prophets who had come back to life. This speaks to the miraculous power that was evident in the Lord’s ministry.

After that discussion, Jesus brought the conversation around to the most important question.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Luke 9:12

More than what the crowds thought about Him, Jesus wanted to hear what the disciples thought. Peter, as usual, was the spokesman for the group. He immediately answers that Jesus is the Christ – the long awaited Messiah of God.

This statement showed that they were finally starting to understand what was happening. They were witnessing the fulfillment of the entire teaching of Scripture.

Once Peter makes this confession, the Lord is able to take them a little deeper into His confidence. He begins to share about what would take place in the future.

Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Luke 9:21-22

The first thing He does is to warn them not to tell anyone this truth. That’s because accepting Jesus as Messiah has to be a personal choice made by faith.

This is in stark contrast to the many individuals who have falsely claimed that title down through the years. Most of them publicly declared this claim in an effort to seduce masses of people to follow them – and give financial support.

Also, at this point, Jesus begins to clearly state the fact that He is to die at the hands of the Jewish leadership, and then rise from the dead three days later. I’m sure the disciples had no idea that He was speaking literally. They probably thought the Lord was speaking in parables again.

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:23-27

But clearly, the most important thing they needed to learn, was now that they knew the truth, they were responsible to live it out. There was no more sitting on the fence. Trusting Christ as Lord is an all or nothing proposition.

The Lord made it clear that this is not a one time thing. It’s a daily decision to follow Christ over and above your own wants and desires. We must identify with Him no matter where that road leads.

That’s the key to seeing the kingdom of God manifest in your life.

Question: Who do you see Jesus Christ as in your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2022 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Meeting Needs

Meeting Needs

What are the priorities of ministry? What can we learn from the way Jesus handled the day to day logistical challenges?

In my last post, we saw the disciples going out and ministering in the power of God. When they returned, the Lord wanted to take them away for a rest break.

When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

Luke 9:10-11

Jesus intended to get away for a time of refreshing away from the crowds. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The people followed Him to this remote location.

Instead of telling them to go away and let Him rest, Jesus ministered to their needs. This speaks volumes about the love of Christ.

Then, as it starts getting late, the disciples talk to Jesus.

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”

He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

Luke 9:12-13a

The first thing that happens is that the disciples see and recognize the need. That’s the easy part. Ask anyone what’s wrong with the church and they’ll tell you what it needs.

But, they didn’t see it as their problem. The people needed to fix it. If they were hungry, then the crowd needed to go out and find something to eat.

That’s the attitude of many people today. “If they would do what they were supposed to do, the church would be better.”

Notice how Jesus turns that whole attitude around.That’s the response of a good leader. Turn the responsibility over to the ones who are sensitive to the need.

“Pastor, this church needs a Men’s Ministry.”

“I totally agree. When do you plan on starting it?”

I don’t think the disciples were prepared for that type of answer from the Lord. It caught them off guard.

They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish — unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.)

Luke 9:13b-14a

Here’s where most ministries lose sight of the true vision. The disciples immediately make it a resource problem. Their first reaction was to throw money at it to make it go away.

But first – here’s an aside for those who think ministers of the Gospel should live in poverty. The disciples DID NOT say, “We don’t have the money to feed them.” They asked if Jesus wanted them to spend that much cash on the crowd.

In our economy, think about how much it would cost to buy 5000 fast food value meals. Jesus had that much money on Him at the time. But I digress.

According to Christ, it wasn’t a money problem, but a Word problem. How did the Father want this need met? Too often we ask for money before we seek the Holy Spirit to provide a miraculous solution.

Verses 14 through 17 of Luke, chapter 9, tell us of the way Jesus heard from heaven, and met the needs of over 5000 hungry people. This is how we should be ministering to those around us. We must spend time in the Spirit, and then walk out what we’ve heard from the Father.

Too many times I hear, “If we don’t get the donations, then we can’t do what God has called us to do.” Personally, I serve a God who’s bigger than the donations. He can make a way with or without the money.

We need to learn to be listening for His voice. That way we keep in step with not only what the Lord is leading us to do, but how exactly He wants it accomplished.

Questions: Has God ever worked His plans through you without money? How did He bring it about?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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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

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

 

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Healing Faith

Healing Faith

For the last couple of posts, we’ve been talking about the Synagogue ruler whose daughter was dying and the woman who needed healing from her bleeding. Jesus agreed to go with the ruler to heal his daughter but was interrupted when the woman touched Him and was healed.

This incident is recorded in Luke 8:40-56. It might be helpful to read through that section of Scripture before proceeding with this post.

This passage is a great example of what it takes to have faith for healing. In times past, people were told that if you just had enough faith, you’d be healed. That made it real simple. As a minister, I could blame you if you’re not healed when I pray for you.

“Come back when you really have faith.”

That kind of thinking does great injustice to those who are seeking to be set free from their sickness. The problem is that healing faith is always Word based. It’s not about me summoning up enough belief to be healed.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17

In order for the sick to be healed, someone has to hear a Word from God. Then, as they move in faith – received from that Word – the healing takes place. Even in the Old Testament this was the case.

He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.

Psalms 107:20

A Word from God will inspire faith for healing. Once it’s acted upon, the healing takes place. That’s one of the reasons I like this section of Scripture. It shows the power of this truth.

The woman in the above passage heard from the Holy Spirit that if she could just touch the edge of Jesus’ clothes, she would be healed. Jesus confirmed this by saying, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.”

The synagogue ruler is the one who heard from God in that part of the story. He knew in his spirit that if he could get Jesus to come to his house, then his daughter would be healed.

Sometimes it’s the faith of the one praying. Remember the leper who came to Jesus and said, “If you are willing you can make me clean.” It was the Lord’s faith that prompted Him to say, “…be healed.” (Luke 5:12-14)

In another part of the Bible, we read about some men who heard from the Spirit that if they could just get their paralyzed friend in front of Jesus, he’d be healed. They ended up cutting a hole through a roof to fulfill this Word. Scripture records that when the Lord saw their faith, He healed the sick person. (Luke 5:17-25)

In all of these cases, and many more, somebody had to hear from the Father and walk in the faith they received. It could be the sick person, the minister, a friend, or a family member. That’s because healing faith is received through a Word from God.

That’s why it’s so important that we spend time in the Spirit. We need to develop our sensitivity to the voice of the Lord. I believe that only then will we see the power that was manifest in the life of Christ and in the church of the book of Acts.

Hearing from God. That’s where the Lord is bringing His church to in our generation. Let’s walk with His plan and cultivate our intimacy with the Holy Spirit.

Question: How many other Scriptures can you find that show this principle of receiving healing faith through a Word from God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2022 in Faith, Healing, Power of God, Word of God

 

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The Word, Faith, and Testing

The Word, Faith, and Testing

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we find that Luke has set his narrative up to be topical. He’s not concerned with a timeline as much as showing what Jesus taught, and how it applied to a personal walk with God.

So far in chapter 8, the Lord has been emphasizing the Word of God. He’s taught the people how to receive it, respond to it, and obey it. Luke now shows how it worked in the Lord’s life.

Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

Luke 8:19-21

I believe that Luke included this incident to give us a summary of what Jesus has been teaching so far. There’s a family-like intimacy with the Father when we hear and obey God’s Word to us.

The Lord was told that His mother and brothers were desiring to meet with Him. That’s important to Jesus’ response. Do you have a desire to meet with the Lord? The solution is to hear God’s Word and do it.

The disciples were listening. How well did they hear and do it?

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out.

Luke 8:22

The disciples seemed to start out correctly. They heard the Word of the Lord and set sail in that direction. So far, so good.

As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger.

Luke 8:23

Now we see an illustration of exactly what Jesus said would happen when the seed falls on the rocks. I’m sure the disciples were joyfully starting out on their journey across the lake.

However, Jesus said that there would be a time of testing whenever you receive a Word from God. He even took a nap so that they would be free to show what they learned.

Then it arrived. The disciples were tested by a squall that suddenly came up. They were in a dangerous situation. Would they continue in faith or “quickly fall away”?

The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!”

He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.

In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Luke 8:24-25

The outcome is that they gave up without even a fight. They went to the Lord totally ignoring His Word to them and announced definitively, “It’s all over, we’re destroyed.”

The first thing Jesus did was to show them the power of His Word. Even the elements of the weather are under His control. He quieted the storm and then dealt with his disciples.

The big question He asked them was, “Where is your faith?” They had heard His voice. They should have trusted His Word. Yet they failed to see the power He had placed in their hands.

Their hearts were still rocky. They didn’t get it. Jesus asked about their faith, yet they asked each other, “Who is this?” They should have been asking, “Why couldn’t we do what He told us to do?”

Obviously, Jesus intended for them to quiet the storm. The problem was that the Word had not yet taken root in their lives.

This is why time with the Holy Spirit is so important. The more time we spend in His presence, the deeper our roots grow. Then, in the times of testing, we’ll find ourselves walking in the power of God.

Question: How deep is your spiritual root system?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2022 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Seed on the Rocks

Seed on the Rocks

We’re continuing in our study of Luke’s Gospel. I’m currently posting about the different “heart soils” in the Parable of the Sower (Luke 8:4-15). Today I’ll deal with the rocky soil. This is about rocks with only a thin layer of dirt to cover them.

The seed germinates and springs up quickly. But just as quick, the sun comes out, scorches the plant because there’s no moisture, and it withers and dies. Jesus explained the spiritual application this way…

Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

Luke 8:13

This verse literally says that these people receive the Word in the middle of joy. It sounds like camp meeting to me. There’s excitement in the air. The whole atmosphere of the meeting is charged with a heavenly joy. It’s easy to believe in a place like that.

Statistically, decisions that we make in the heat of emotion, tend to be short lived. Emotion and excitement can’t sustain us for very long. We need more than that to go the distance in the face of the problems of everyday life.

We’re not talking about people who don’t believe what they hear. Even though the decision was emotional, they believe that the Word they heard is for them. The problem is, that what has sprung up so quickly, also withers just as quick. What is it that withers?

For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.

1 Peter 1:24-25

What withers is the glory of man. This type of person hears the Word and believes that it’s “all about me.” That’s why there’s all the joy and excitement.

They think that the Word is for my blessing, health, and prosperity. Forget about what God’s ultimate purpose is. It’s me that’s important.

The Lord says that in this rocky heart there is some faith exhibited for a while, but it doesn’t last long. Eventually trials and testing will come. When this happens, Jesus literally says that they will stand off or remove themselves. Why does Christ use this description?

When I go through a time of testing, I realize that it’s not all about me. I get offended that I’m not the center of all the attention. I don’t want the spotlight on Christ and what He’s trying to accomplish in me. I want the priority to be my comfort and happiness. The result is that I get offended and remove myself from the Lord and His plan for my life.

If I want my heart prepared for an abundant harvest, I must assume that the Word of God spotlights Jesus Christ. I must desire to know His heart.

I once heard a preacher say that many believers treat the Bible like a photo album. When we look at pictures, we’re always looking for the photos with us in it. We look for where we were and what we were doing.

It’s the same with some believers. There are many who read the Bible and pursue God only for what they can get from Him. The big question on their minds is, “What’s in it for me?”

Instead, we should be focusing on God’s eternal purpose – to draw all humanity into His kingdom. The blessings of God are great, but they’re not an end in and of themselves.

God has promised us prosperity, but it’s to finance the spread of the Gospel. God has promised us health and healing, but it’s so that we can minister the Good News of His love to the best of our ability.

All the promises of God should be viewed through the filter of God’s will and God’s plans. That’s what’s missing in the shallow faith of rocky soil. We need to keep our hearts clear of the rocks of self-centeredness.

Question: How is God working through you to bring about His purpose?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2022 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Anyone Can Doubt

Anyone Can Doubt

We’ve been looking at Luke, chapter 7. So far, we’ve seen a miraculous healing where Jesus didn’t even need to go to the person’s home for the healing to manifest. Then, the Lord raised a dead young man to life. Many people were spreading the news about Jesus, throughout Israel.

John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?'”

Luke 7:18-20

Many believers find this to be a surprising passage of Scripture. How could someone like John the Baptist have any doubts?

He baptized Jesus. He saw heaven open and he heard the voice of the Father confirming that Jesus was the Christ. What was he thinking?

Some people are under the impression that if you get far enough along in your Christian journey, you become immune to doubts. I’m here to tell you that this is just not the case. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers – none of us have a spiritual “force field” against the temptation to doubt God’s Word.

What we need to learn is how to handle doubt when it comes our way. On the positive side, it’s important to note that John the Baptist went straight to the source. He needed to reinforce his relationship with Christ.

The Lord knew exactly how to deal with this issue. He gave John the weapons he needed to overcome his insecurities.

At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

Luke 7:21-23

Many times doubts arise because we don’t see the whole plan of God. We only see bits and pieces. That was john’s problem.

John knew from Scripture who Messiah was supposed to be. However, there are two pictures of Christ given in the Old Testament.

John the Baptist concentrated on Christ the Judge (Luke 3:7-18). He spent much of his ministry exhorting people to “flee the coming wrath”. What he didn’t realize is that this part of the Messiah’s calling was for His second Coming.

At this point in time, Jesus was called to love, heal, and preach the good news of God’s kingdom to all who would listen and believe. As John was being persecuted, he began to wonder why Christ wasn’t bringing wrath down on all of these “sinners”.

Jesus had to remind John to look at the totality of what God was doing. People were being drawn to submit their lives to God. As they saw His power, it became a way for them to hear about the life that was being held out to them.

We need to follow this example. When we’re tempted to doubt, we must stop looking at the problem or what we think God is not doing. Instead, we must concentrate on what the Lord has done or is doing in and around us.

Like Jesus said in His last statement, we can’t let ourselves be tripped up by who He is. That means we can’t focus on only one part of His work in us. There’s a whole plan that God has for us. I need to let the Lord have His way in me.

Don’t get caught up in the problem. Look at everything Christ is accomplishing in you.

Question: How have you been blessed by God so far?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2022 in Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Dark Road

The Dark Road

I’m continuing in my study of the Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is walking through Israel, ministering to the people as He goes.

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.

Luke 7:11-12

In this section of Scripture, two crowds are about to meet. The first was made up of Jesus, His disciples, and a large group of people who simply wanted to see what they were doing. They were probably talking and laughing as most do on a walk.

But then, as they approached Nain, another crowd was coming out of the town. This group was more somber. It was a funeral procession for a young man whose mother was a widow.

What are your thoughts when you see a funeral procession? Maybe you’re stopped at a red light, and you have to wait while all the cars go through. Do you see them as family and friends who have just suffered a loss, or an annoying pause in your daily routine?

In those days, it was the custom to weep and wail loudly at a funeral. I wonder what the disciples and others were thinking as they approached the town and saw this group coming toward them. There was probably an awkward silence that came over them.

But just then, the Lord did something that you’re never supposed to do at a funeral.

When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still.

Luke 7:13-14a

Jesus had a different response than was expected. Instead of the usual, “I’m sorry for your loss,” He told the mother not to cry. I’m sure it was obvious that she was the mother by the fact that her tears were real.

Then, He actually grabs the coffin, causing the bearers to stop walking. This was totally unthinkable. Touching the coffin would make the Lord religiously “unclean” for days. I’m sure the disciples were asking themselves; why would He do such a thing?

Very soon they got their answer.

He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Luke 7:14b-15

All I can say is that Jesus is the Lord of the unexpected. Just when we think it’s the end, and all hope is lost, Christ comes on the scene with resurrection power.

We need to trust the Lord no matter what it looks like around us. I don’t know how dark the road is that you’re traveling on right now. But I know Jesus. I know He has the power to come into any situation and raise your dead dreams back to life.

God can do what no one else can do. That way, He gets the glory.

They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

Luke 7:16-17

When something like this happens, there’s no room for doubt. God has showed up. He manifests His love and concern for His people.

Our problem is that we don’t seem to have this expectation anymore. We think things are just going to continue this way forever.

It’s time to start trusting God for the miraculous again. Give Him room to show His power. Spend time in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Let Him impart new faith into your heart.

As the church wakes up to this principle, the world will begin to see the glory of God in us. Then, they’ll be drawn to Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

Question: What are you trusting God for right now?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Mature Enough?

Mature Enough?

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, I’ve been posting about what makes us worthy of the power of God. I started by looking at what the Roman Centurion said to Jesus in Luke, chapter 7.

“Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you. But say the word, and my servant will be healed.”
Luke 7:6b-7

The last couple of posts I talked about his words I do not deserve – the Greek word axios. Now I want to look at worthy – the Greek word hikanos. It literally means not far enough along.

There are many Christians who believe that they haven’t walked with the Lord long enough to see the manifestation of the power of God in their lives. There’s a big fallacy with this kind of thinking. The very notion that they’re not far enough along implies that there will be a time when they’re mature enough to merit this power.

I am here to tell you that will never happen on this side of eternity. In actuality the centurion had it right – “But say the word…”

Paul understood this concept. He evangelized most of the Roman Empire. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote most of the New Testament.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10

Paul used the Greek word hikanos when he said he did not even deserve to be called an apostle. If Paul was not far enough along to walk in this power, then there’s no chance for us. Yet the important part of this issue is all summed up in the words “but by the grace of God.”

The simple truth is that you’ll never be good enough. It’s only by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that we may stand in His power and authority.

I’ll never be good enough or far enough along to deserve the title of son. I’ll never be worthy of His power based upon my own merits. But by the grace of God I am what I am.

It’s this thinking that drives me to work for the Lord. It’s the foundation for serving Him in the correct way. When I start to think that I can make myself more worthy I miss the whole concept of His grace.

This is what keeps us from experiencing the power of God in the church today. If I think like a child – that if I just work harder to be worthy, then I’ve lost it at the start. If I let sin go unrepentant and refuse intimacy with God then I short circuit the power.

The centurion saw how the power of God worked in the life of Jesus.

For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”

Luke 7:8

This centurion was commended for his concept of this truth.

When Jesus heard this, he was amazed at him, and turning to the crowd following him, he said, “I tell you, I have not found such great faith even in Israel.” Then the men who had been sent returned to the house and found the servant well.

Luke 7:9-10

It’s time for us to understand that it’s not my ability to be good that gets me anything. It’s God’s grace working in me that allows me to manifest the power of God. The Lord works perfectly through imperfect people.

Question: What’s the role of good works in the life of the believer?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Deserving God’s Best

Deserving God’s Best

We’re continuing our study in the Gospel of Luke. We’re now in Luke, chapter 7.

In my last post I started talking about a Roman centurion who wanted Jesus to come and heal his servant. I wanted to look at this event in detail because it deals with some important principles we need to understand.

Many Christians don’t have a grasp on what makes us worthy of walking in the power of God. The centurion in this chapter said that he wasn’t worthy and used two Greek words, axios and hikanos, to describe how he felt.

In this post, I want to start by looking at the word axiosdeserving.

Think about the prodigal son of the parable I talked about in my last post. He spent a large portion of his life away from the power, yet all that time he was still a son. One of the statements that he made to his Father was, “I am not worthy – axios – to be called your son.” The first concept we must understand is that you can be a son and still feel not deserving.

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.”
Acts 13:46

When Paul and Barnabas first started out on their missionary journeys, they would always preach the Gospel first to the Jewish community. Many times they were met with resistance by this group.

At this point in their journeys they were beginning to get frustrated by this trend among the Jewish people. The literal Greek of what Paul says here is that you have judged yourselves undeserving (axios) of eternal life.

This tells us that, concerning the power of God, if you consider yourself undeserving, you could find yourself rejecting God’s Word. There’s no true power outside the Word of God. Of course, if you reject the Word of Salvation, then you’re lost.

Our salvation experience is the first touch of God’s power which we experience. All believers, therefore, qualify for the power on that requirement.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
Revelation 3:4

This verse brings up an interesting dilemma. How do you keep your clothes white while living in a cesspool? Of course, I’m talking about our spiritual clothes as we live in this society. How do we keep clean with so much sin around us?

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:14

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9

As we live a repentant lifestyle, the Holy Spirit keeps us clean through the blood of Christ. Repentance should be a daily walk before God. These verses tell me that power is for those who can keep themselves clean in Christ. Therefore, your conscience is accusing you of not deserving of the power if you ignore repentance.

This was the lesson that the Prodigal Son had to learn. As soon as he returned home and repented, he was restored to the full rights and privileges of a son. It’s through this same process of repentance that our consciences can be wiped clean. Then it will stop accusing us of being undeserving.

Question: How does your conscience keep you from enjoying God’s best for you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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