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Hopeless Situations

Hopeless Situations

How do you view God’s will in your life. As for me, there are times when I look at what God has spoken to me and it seems miles away from where I am. I wonder how God will ever bring to pass what He said He would. Actually, this is normal for those who follow God’s plan for their lives.

We’re continuing our walk through the Gospel of Luke. It’s very appropriate, because we’re now entering the holiday season where peoples’ thoughts naturally look to the birth of Christ.

Today’s post will look at Luke 2:1-5. You may want to read this section before continuing with this post.

In chapter one, we saw the angelic announcement of John the Baptist’s and Jesus’ birth. We saw Mary going to Elizabeth’s house for a few months to prepare. Then, we saw the arrival of John. Now we fast-forward to the birth of Christ.

Luke begins chapter two with a history lesson. Caesar Augustus was the emperor of the Roman Empire. As emperors do, he wants to bring in some more revenue for his campaigns. So, he decides to tax the empire.

That means everyone needs to go to their home towns because that’s where the family lists are kept. And, of course, with taxes you don’t want to miss anyone.

We also meet a man named Joseph for the first time. He’s living in a town called Nazareth in the region of Galilee. It turns out, he’s also the man that Mary is engaged to. It seems that he’s come to terms with her pregnancy, and they’re moving forward with their plans to start a family together.

Why is all of this important? I’m glad you asked!

Everyone is waiting for the Messiah to be born. There are many Old Testament Scriptures that point to this great event. The verses even tell us where the Christ child will be born.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Micah 5:2

This is another important Scripture. I’ve heard people try to discredit the Biblical account by pointing out that there was more than one Bethlehem in Israel. But, the Word of God makes it clear that we’re talking about the Bethlehem that’s located in Judea, the tribal land of Judah.

Here’s the problem. Joseph and Mary are living in Nazareth. It’s the tribal land of Zebulun. That’s approximately 120 miles from where God said Messiah would be born.

If Joseph and Mary were normal Israelites, then they probably had no clue as to the location of the prophecy. In the natural, things look almost impossible for the Messiah to be born where God predicted.

But, God can move in ways that we can’t even imagine. That’s why we can trust Him to accomplish in us exactly what He say’s He will do.

The Lord moved upon the heart of Caesar.

And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.

Luke 2:3-4

It turns out that God is a perfect strategist. He can work through people and events to bring about His will no matter what the situation looks like. We can always fully trust the Lord to accomplish His plan in us.

120 miles might not sound like much to us, but for a pregnant woman on foot, it’s a huge distance. It had to be something of great importance to make them take this hard journey. Everything worked together for the completion of God’s will.

Question: How well do you trust God when the situation looks impossible?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2021 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Messiah is Coming!

Messiah is Coming!

Continuing through the Gospel of Luke, today’s post will talk about Luke 1:61-75. You may want to read this passage before going forward in this article.

We’ve seen the angel, Gabriel, bringing a message to Zechariah and Mary. Zechariah was to be the father of John the Baptist, while Mary was to give birth to Jesus Christ. After nine months of waiting, Elizabeth was about to give birth to John.

When the child arrived, everyone wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. But, both Elizabeth and Zechariah were adamant that his name was John. They were determined to walk in obedience to God’s Word to them.

You may remember that Zechariah was told by the angel that he would not be able to talk until the child was born. On the day that the baby was named, he was able to talk again. He immediately started praising God and began to prophesy.

He beautifully proclaimed what was about to take place in Israel. He foretold the ministries of both John the Baptist and Jesus. In today’s post we’ll look at what he said about Christ. It will give us incite into what they were expecting.

Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.”

Luke 1:68

The first thing he talks about is the fact that God is showing up. It has been many years since the Old Testament was closed. There’s been no prophetic ministry since Ezra and Nehemiah’s time. Now God is doing a new thing in Israel.

This verse literally says that God has come and is now doing redemption. He has started the process of paying the price to loose His people from their slavery to sin and death.

He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago)…”

Luke 1:69-70

The culmination of Old Testament prophecy was about to come to pass. The picture of a horn was a symbol of strength to these ancient people. So, this talks of the power of God’s salvation.

This word, salvation, is a huge word. It not only means to be saved from sin, but from everything that would hurt us. This includes sickness, poverty, depression, confusion, and a whole host of other things that hinder God’s will for us.

…salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us — to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham:”

Luke 1:71-73

This salvation not only includes the things that come against us. It also protects us from people and spiritual forces of evil that would try to stop us from carrying out God’s plan.

At this point in Israel’s history it may have looked like God’s covenant had failed. The nation had been conquered by the Roman Empire. There was no supernatural ministry. It was a dark time in their lives.

But now, a light was about to break through into their darkness. God was raising up the answer to centuries of prayer and intercession. The Messiah was on His way!

…to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Luke 1:74-75

This is probably the most important part of the prophecy. It reveals the purpose of all that God is doing. There’s a reason He’s redeeming, saving, and protecting us. The Lord’s desire is to have a people who can now serve Him without any fear.

We can now walk in holiness and righteousness. We don’t have to fear death. We don’t have to fear God’s wrath. We can look forward to the glory that will be revealed in us.

I can’t imagine what those who heard this message were thinking. Maybe they heard things like this before. Hopefully, faith was being raised up in their hearts. They were given the hope they needed to await the ministry of the Messiah.

Question: How does this apply to us as we await the return of the Messiah?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2021 in Encouragement, Faith, Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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Meeting Together

Meeting Together

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. I think it’s interesting that it comes as we’re entering into the holiday season. I didn’t plan it that way, but it worked out great.

Today’s post will deal with Luke 1:39-45. You may want to read that passage before continuing with this article.

Soon after the angel met with her, Mary journeyed to Elizabeth and Zechariah’s house. They were her relatives.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:41

Mary probably felt the need to get away from her village and the questions that would certainly come up about her pregnancy. Elizabeth and Zechariah provided her with a safe place.

When Mary arrived at their home, it’s obvious that God showed up as well.

In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Luke 1:42-43

In the spirit, she recognized the mother of Messiah, even though she had no way of knowing it in the natural. But, it was in this moment that she asked a question. “WHY?” We miss this sometimes.

In our fellowship, the “why” is important. That’s a question we rarely ask. Why do we meet together?

We have a few stock answers: Because Jesus told us to. Because that’s what the early church did.

These are true, but not the right answers. There’s an epidemic of believers who stay away from church these days. The pandemic has become an excuse for many to forsake in-person meetings.

I think that in many cases we get the wrong idea of what church meetings are for. “Because we learn the Bible. Because we need ministry. Because we like each other. Because we agree with everything. Because the church meets my needs.” All of these reasons set you up to stay home.

Look at what happened when Mary arrived at the house. This is how Elizabeth described it.

As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”

Luke 1:44

Why did she say this?

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:41

Think about the excuses we use. Could the Holy Spirit fill Elizabeth without Mary being present? Yes.

Could John have leapt for joy in the womb without Mary? Yes.

Would those things have happened without their meeting? No.

That’s what we have to learn. God does unique things in our fellowship. There’s a special move of God that He reserves only for those times that we are together. That’s probably because there’s a greater focus on what God is doing when we meet in-person.

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

Luke 1:45

Mary was blessed because she believed. This verse literally says that there will be a performance of what was told her. We have to see that the private and the public work together.

Mary was told something by the angel in private. Now she gets public encouragement. That’s because we’re encouraged in our fellowship.

Zechariah was told something in private. He shared it with his wife. Now she’s in her sixth month of seeing the “performance.” Elizabeth is in the perfect position to encourage Mary to continue trusting God.

We have to learn that the private can never replace the public. Just like the public can never replace the private.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

God has a work for us to do. We may hear His call to us in private, but we need the public to spur us on. It gives us the boldness we need, to do what God has called us to.

Don’t let the times we live in rob you of the blessings that can only come from our in-person fellowship.

Question: How often do you meet in-person with other believers?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Faith in Humility

Faith in Humility

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, the next section I want to look at is Luke 1:26-38. You may want to read that section of Scripture before continuing with this post.

In the last couple of posts, we saw the angel, Gabriel, bringing a message to Zechariah the priest. The message was that Zechariah and his wife would have a son, John the Baptist, in their old age.

Because of his pride, Zechariah questioned the angel as to the truth of his message. Because of that, he couldn’t speak until the child was born.

Now, this same angel is sent with a message to a young Jewish woman named Mary. She was engaged to a man named Joseph. She was a virgin, yet she was told that she would conceive a child without any sexual relations.

Right from the start, she was caught off guard, not only by the angel’s appearance, but his greeting to her.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

Luke 1:28-30

It’s at this point that we see the difference between Mary and Zechariah. This verse literally says that she was agitated and confused by his words to her. As a result, she was questioning internally and trying to figure out what this angel could possibly mean by this greeting.

Where Zechariah spoke out of his pride, Mary remained humble and kept her thoughts to herself. This makes a big difference. We need to learn this lesson. We don’t always need to say everything that’s passing through our brain.

Because of her silence, the angel could continue with his message to her.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Luke 1:30-33

In this passage, Luke begins to show us some insight into who Jesus is. He is Son of the Most High God. He’s the last king of Israel, because when He reigns, there will be no end of His kingdom. It’s obvious that Mary is being told that she will bear the long awaited Messiah.

Believing the angel’s words, Mary then asks the next logical question.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Luke 1:34

This question is very different than the question asked by Zechariah. He was looking for proof that the angel spoke the truth.

Mary, on the other hand, assumed that the message was true. She simply was curious as to how it was going to take place. Would this Son be a product of her upcoming marriage? Or, would He be the result of a miracle?

Gabriel then responds to her faith. He let’s Mary know that God is doing miraculous things. Not only in her, but in Elizabeth as well. The times were changing. Messiah was about to appear. God’s plan was going to move forward.

Her response at this point is incredible.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Luke 1:38

I can’t even imagine the faith that she showed at his statements. She was in total surrender to God’s will for her.

There was no thought to herself. What would people think of her – pregnant outside of marriage? What would her parents say? What would Joseph, her fiance, think about this?

None of this seemed to even enter her thinking. The only thing that concerned her was to carry out God’s will. We need to walk in that same kind of faith.

Question: How would you have reacted to Gabriel’s message?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 17, 2021 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Faith is not Knowledge

Faith is not Knowledge

I’ve started posting through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post we saw how the priest, Zechariah, was praying for a child. As he was ministering in the temple, he had an encounter with an angel from God.

The angel announced that he and his wife would have a child. This child, who would be John the Baptist, was destined to be a blessing to many people.

For today’s post, I’ll be looking at Luke 1:15-22. You may want to read this Scripture before continuing with this article.

Having talked about the blessing that this child would be, the angel goes on to talk about his ministry.

…for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Luke 1:15-17

Yes, Zechariah was receiving an answer to prayer, but there was a bigger work God wanted to do. Zechariah was looking at his little situation, the need for a child. God was looking at preparing Israel for the Messiah.

We do the same things. We look at what we’re going through. God is looking at preparing His people for the coming of Christ.

Think about it. What can God do through you? NO! – think bigger!…NO! Bigger than that!!! We limit ourselves to what we think we can accomplish, instead of looking at God’s ability. We need to start thinking about the power of God working in us.

Now, having heard the Word of God from this angel, Zechariah does something that totally blows my mind. We sometimes miss it because of the language used in this verse.

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

Luke 1:18

When Zechariah asks this, it’s not really about how old he is. The word used for old man, is actually more about life experience than how long you’ve lived. It’s a tense of the word, elder.

He was really asking how he could be sure about this message before he told anyone. He was an elder in Israel. He had a reputation to maintain. It was more about pride than curiosity.

That’s why the angel got so upset with him. Knowing that, it’s easier to understand why Gabriel responded the way he did.

The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”

Luke 1:19-20

The angel basically said, “Hey Mr. Bigshot. You think you’re special because you stand as an elder before Israel? I stand before God Himself. If I lie to you, I’ve got more to lose than a little pride.”

Zechariah wanted to know for sure before he told this to anyone. So, Gabriel gave him a sign. He wouldn’t be able to speak until the child arrived.

We have to learn this lesson. Faith is about believing God’s Word without any proof that it will happen the way God says it will. If we knew for sure, then it wouldn’t be faith.

For the next nine months, Zechariah had to meditate on this truth. When God speaks, no matter how He gets the message to you, you need to believe it and walk in it. Faith is the fundamental attitude that it takes to please God.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

Question: What are you trusting God for right now?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Online Christians

Online Christians

We’re continuing our study through the book of Romans. In this section, he’s dealing with the way believers who think differently should relate to each other.

We like to think that our opinion is right about questionable issues. That’s especially true if we grew up in a church where we heard the same thing preached for our whole life. We get pretty ingrained in our ways.

Paul makes it clear in Romans that it’s more about love, and less about what I think is right. Here’s the verses that we looked at over the last couple of posts. It’s a good review.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

Romans 14:19-21

We need to be careful to look out for each other. We can’t trample others down with our opinions. As a matter of fact, Paul makes a bold statement. We really need to take it to heart in this generation. Especially when it comes to what we say on social media.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

Romans 14:22

Wow! If ever anybody needed to hear this, it’s us. The way a lot of believers act on social media is an embarrassment to the body of Christ.

Remember, Paul is speaking here about those gray areas of life. Yes, I know that you think that your way is the best, but love has to be the bottom line.

Do you believe something? That’s wonderful. But in a spiritual setting, keep your politics to yourself. That is, unless you were asked about it.

There are some real “hot button” issues out there today. I know it.

“You should wear a mask.” “You shouldn’t wear a mask.”

“You should get a vaccine.” “Don’t get a vaccine.”

I have seen these issues turn into belligerent shouting matches between Christians. We resort to belittling and name-calling. All for what? Because we think we’re right.

Remember, I’m not saying this, the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, did. “Whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.”

It’s time for us to stop attacking each other and focus on the work of the kingdom. Stop preaching your brand of politics, and start preaching Jesus.

Paul literally says, don’t allow yourself to be condemned by what you approve. This is condemnation from an outside source. The world is watching us and thinks that there’s no change when you come to Christ. We act just like them.

But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Romans 14:23

Here’s the other side of the coin. Don’t put yourself in a position to be condemned. If you don’t feel you should be doing something, and you do it because you saw someone else do it, for you it’s sin. This person is condemned because of a lack of faith.

Paul is telling us that everything that does not originate from our faith, misses the mark. Paul concludes this with the following statement.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

Romans 15:1-3

Simply put, it’s not about pleasing ourselves. It’s about edifying, building up, the body of Christ. This verse tells us that Christ took all of our insults. How much worse is it, if I ridicule a brother in Christ and Christ has to bear it?

Question: How should a believer act when they’re online?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2021 in Faith, Relationships, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Faith and Conscience

Faith and Conscience

We’re continuing through the book of Romans. In this section, Paul is talking about how we should treat those of weaker faith than ourselves. It’s important that we don’t cause them to fall away by our actions.

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Romans 14:5-6

This is a very important concept for us to understand. That’s because this type of difference will always be the case in the body of Christ.

Someone believes that he cannot please God and buy a scratch ticket. Someone else believes that it’s okay. The fact is that neither of these conditions matter to God.

The key is that what you do is because in your mind you are fully persuaded by faith. Based upon your knowledge of the Word, you believe that what you’re doing is right before God. It cannot be simply because someone else told you to do it or not do it.

I looked at this next verse in my last post.

But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled.

1 Corinthians 8:7

The catch is that when you were involved in something questionable before you came to Christ, it weakened your conscience in that area. Now that you’re in Christ, there’s a pain in your conscience until it heals. However, in some people it never heals.

For us to look down on someone in this condition, is wrong. I’ve also seen some militant believers try to push these weaker ones to do what their hurting conscience is telling them not to do. This is equally wrong, and maybe even worse.

If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

Romans 14:8

If you’re fully persuaded by your faith, then what you do, you do for your love of God. You do what you do in thankfulness and under submission to God. We don’t live for ourselves – our lives belong to the Lord.

If, on the other hand, I’m doing things for selfish reasons, or because someone told me to do it, that’s wrong. I need to live under the attitude that I belong to God. I need to be fully persuaded that what I’m doing brings glory to God.

For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

Romans 14:9

This is why Christ died and rose from the dead. It was so that He’s Lord over the living and the dead. We need to get a handle on this.

When a person dies, they don’t cease to exist. We mourn because we lose the ability to fellowship with them for a little while. The fact is that when I die all that happens is I change my address.

That’s what we need to see. Jesus Christ is Lord over all. It’s His world. We don’t make the rules, He does.

I can’t judge you by my own definition of right and wrong. Neither can you judge me. That’s not our assignment. We all submit to the One, true God.

Question: How have you experienced the judgment of others in the past?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Hope, Patience, and Prayer

Hope, Patience, and Prayer

As we continue through Romans, Paul is giving us a list of things that should be in place in the life of a mature believer. Remember, these are very frustrating to accomplish without first going through the “boot-camp” of chapters 8-10.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12

It’s amazing that there’s so much to learn from such a short verse! There’s a lot of truth contained here.

First, we should be joyful in hope. That literally means that you cheer yourself up by your hope. So, the question is; what is hope?

In our modern culture, we’ve defined hope as a strong desire. “”I want to go to the beach tomorrow. I hope it doesn’t rain.” That has nothing to do with the scriptural concept of hope.

In the Bible, hope is what you expect, based upon God’s Word. God says something, and because we trust Him, we expect that what He said will happen.

So, let me ask you; what do you expect from God? Do you meditate on it and what the Word says about it? Do you use this expectation to build yourself up emotionally?

Next, we should be patient in affliction. I don’t like the sound of that. It literally means that when under pressure, we remain patient while staying under it.

I have to tell you that this is easier to do when you’re rejoicing in your expectation. The fact is that we’ll always have pressure. Furthermore, you can’t do anything about the pressure anyway.

The best way to weather it is to put your expectation in God. Find out what He says about your situation. Then, trust the Lord to bring you through it.

Our human nature is to stop looking to God and to start looking for the way out. In most cases that’s not helpful because we don’t have the ability on our own. The best course is to look for guidance and strength from the Holy Spirit. Trust Him to bring about the victory.

Finally, we are to be faithful in prayer. That phrase literally means to be strong toward prayer. This means that you press into the place of prayer even when you don’t feel like it. We see this exemplified in the life of Moses.

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

Hebrews 11:27

The word, persevered, in this verse is the same as faithful, above. Moses remained strong toward God. I believe that’s done by staying strong in prayer.

Think about these three exhortations. They all work together. You really can’t separate them if you want a successful Christian walk.

It’s like a great circle of faith. You can’t be patient under pressure unless you’re joyful in your expectation. Then again, you can’t be strong toward prayer unless you have a patience to endure. And, you can’t have a full expectancy from God unless you’re faithful in prayer.

This is why we should be striving toward maturity. It’s like a snowball of grace, rolling down a hill and growing as it goes.

In his letters, Peter talked about a number of things that should be growing in a believer’s life. I believe that what he said about them could also be applied here.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:8

Our goal should be daily growth in Christ. I realize that most of the time it’s too slow to even notice. But, it’s taking place just the same, if we follow the Lord’s plan.

Question: How have you seen these three qualities at work in your life?

2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2021 in Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Do You Have a Heart of Mercy?

Do You Have a Heart of Mercy?

In today’s post, I’m talking about the last of the Motivational Gifts found in Romans, chapter 12. It’s the heart of mercy.

…if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Romans 12:8c

This is probably the most misunderstood of the gifts. That’s because, in our generation, we have no concept of the biblical meaning of this word, mercy. It’s actually a very involved concept.

Let me try to explain it briefly.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites…you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness.”

Matthew 23:23

This is actually a poor translation of what Jesus said. In the Greek, this literally says judgment, mercy, and faith. According to Jesus, these are the most important aspects of the law.

We understand faith and judgment. Faith is the basis for pleasing God – we need to trust Him. Judgment is what you get if you displease Him by breaking His law. In a nutshell, mercy is God’s reward for your faithfulness.

A few years back I wrote a series on mercy. If you want a more detailed explanation of mercy, click here.

Getting back to the heart of mercy, someone with this gift finds their joy in rewarding faithfulness in others. They want to see that people who put forth an effort receive a blessing.

Like I said, they’re sometimes misunderstood, and they’re accused of being too compassionate and forgiving. Sometimes it seems like they’re blessing those who don’t deserve it.

But, this is because of their unique perspective. They have a God-given ability to see the potential in a person who others reject. As they do this, someone with a merciful heart will sometimes bless this person based upon what they see as future faithfulness in Christ.

The Apostle Paul saw this aspect of God’s mercy in his own life. God looked ahead to what Paul would become in Christ.

Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief.

1 Timothy 1:13

Someone with a heart of mercy will see what people could become and reward that. However, this could lead to problems. That’s why Paul exhorts a person with this gift to exercise it with cheerfulness.

The challenge is that unlike God, we can’t see the future. Sometimes a merciful heart is wrong about where the other person is headed. They’re told to be cheerful, because many times they can be disappointed by the outcome.

We need this perspective in the body of Christ. We need to be reminded that what people look and act like now doesn’t always reflect what they could become in Christ.

As a matter of fact, all of these gifts that I’ve talked about over the last few posts, are important in God’s kingdom. All of them are necessary to fulfill God’s calling on the church.

We are all created unique and different. That’s a good thing. Yes, sometimes our differences bring challenges. Sometimes we don’t understand the thinking of those with a different heart-gift.

Some find others gifts annoying. Sometimes we’ll envy the gifts of others. But, simply put, we need each other. And, we need to be what God created us to be.

I believe that’s why Paul opened this section by explaining that we are all the parts of a body (Romans 12:4-5). We were made to work together as a unit.

Be the blessing to others that you were meant to be.

Questions: Do you have a heart of mercy? Who do you know with this gift?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Do You have a Prophet’s Heart?

Do You have a Prophet’s Heart?

In my last post, I started to look at the grace gifts that each of has. These speak of the different motivations we use to distribute God’s grace to those around us.

I personally believe, based upon my observation of God’s people, that each of us has only been given one of these gifts. It’s the filter through which we see the world and our ministry.

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.

Romans 12:6

The first gift Paul mentions is prophesying. Remember, this is not the ministry of a prophet, but a “prophet’s heart.” This motivation is a heart that desires to speak for God.

This is probably the motivation that’s the easiest to spot in someone. A person with a prophet’s heart will manifest a very dogmatic personality. There are no gray areas with them. Everything is either right or wrong, black or white; there’s no middle ground.

What we need to realize is that each of these motivations can be mishandled. None of us are perfect. If we’re not careful, we can get carried away by the directions of our heart and cause conflict with others of a different heart.

Many times you’ll find someone with a prophet’s heart getting in trouble for what they say. People can easily misunderstand them and think that they’re too legalistic.

The fact is, this grace gift is motivated by a desire to see people reach their fullest potential in Christ. When they see someone missing the mark, they feel the need to warn them. Not to be mean, but to help them live their best life.
The fact is that we need dogmatic people in the body of Christ. They help keep us straight when we’re tempted to leave the path.

I know this from experience. My wife, Cheryl, has the motivation of a prophet’s heart. I find it a blessing to my spiritual walk. However, there have been those who’ve accused her of being mean because they don’t understand what she’s really trying to accomplish.

A great example of this in the Scripture is the apostle, Peter. He definitely walked in this grace gift. Look at his response to Jesus when the Lord tried to wash his feet.

“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”

“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

John 13:8-9

Peter was that person with no middle ground. His first response, thinking that this act was beneath the Messiah, was that it would never happen. Then, once Christ explained what He was doing, Peter jumps in “whole hog”, and tells Jesus to give him a bath. These are the responses of a prophet’s heart.

That’s why Paul exhorts this person to use this heart in proportion to your faith. Having already told us that faith comes by hearing through a Word from God, it gives us the foundation for this grace gift.

Someone with this gift needs to be careful to only be adamant about what they know they received from God. We have to rely on what God says as truth. That’s the only true foundation for our faith.

If not, we become dogmatic about the laws of men. Being hard-headed about the doctrines of man can cause a lot of unneeded drama in the body of Christ. This causes many to be accused of being self-righteous Pharisees.

Used correctly, this motivation is very much needed in the church. If it’s your gift, cultivate it as the Lord leads you to speak and act on His behalf. It brings God’s grace to keep His people on track with His will.

Questions: Do you have a prophet’s heart? Who do you know with a prophet’s heart?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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