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Discipleship and God’s Glory

Discipleship and God’s Glory

Continuing through Luke’s Gospel, we’re seeing how Jesus explains what discipleship is all about. It’s not an easy path. It means putting the Lord above all other pursuits in our lives.

He continues with a couple of illustrations.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.”

Luke 14:28-32 NIV

Jesus gives the crowd two examples of what it takes to decide on the path of discipleship. Too many people start out with good intentions, but with false ideas. They think it will be easy for them.

After all, I just have to go to church, pay my tithes, and pray now and then. They have no idea what it costs to put down the flesh, renew the mind, and build up the spirit. True discipleship requires work.

Listen to how Jesus encapsulates these two parables.

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:33 NIV

Giving up everything – that’s an attitude that starts us down the road to discipleship. In the parable of the builder, the phrase, is not able to finish, literally means did not have the force required to complete it. It doesn’t imply that he ran out of money. He just didn’t have the willpower to commit everything to the project.

In the same way, the king in the second parable had to ask himself if he was willing to commit his entire army to the protection of his realm. If not, he better surrender before the attack.

That’s what we must go through before we say we want to be a disciple of Christ. We have to see ourselves laying everything down on His altar.

Remember what I said in my last post. You can be saved and on your way to heaven and not be a disciple. I’m not trying to condemn anyone. I’m just trying to get you to see the high road of the abundant life in Christ.

If you find your Christian walk to be easy, then you’re not yet a disciple. The closer you follow to Christ, the harder your choices will become. But there is a bright side. The longer you serve the Lord, the easier it will be to make those choices.

It’s all about cultivating an attitude – I’m nothing else but a disciple. It may sound like a tough road, but in the end it’s worth it.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Luke 14:34-35 NIV

Back when this was written, salt had a higher percentage of impurities than we have today. If it got wet, the actual salt would wash out and you were left with the dirt. You wouldn’t want to use that on your food.

In the same way, there are believers who want to serve God. But at the same time they want to retain their rights to determine what they want to do or not do. That doesn’t work out too well in the Kingdom of God. It’s like putting dirt on your sandwich.

The way of discipleship leads to a fulfilled life. There’s a manifestation of the power of God working through you. When you live at this level it becomes obvious to all those around you.

It’s apparent that you couldn’t produce the blessings that you’re walking in. God is at work in you. That’s the ultimate goal. Living as a disciple shows God’s glory and draws others to Christ.

Question: How much is the glory of God worth to you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2022 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Inconvenient Discipleship

Inconvenient Discipleship

I’ve been posting about Jesus’ experience at a banquet with some Pharisees. The Lord is trying to explain some kingdom principles to them. But, because of their superior attitudes, most of them are not receiving this teaching. You may want to read Luke 14:15-26 before continuing.

Jesus has just talked about not throwing parties simply to get invited to better ones. Suddenly, one of the Pharisees excitedly interrupts.

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Luke 14:15 NIV

He’s talking about what we know as the Second Coming of Christ. He’s anticipating a good time in the presence of God. Unfortunately, there’s only one way to get there, and these religious leaders are in the process of rejecting Him.

The Lord answers by giving them a parable. He wants to get across to them that just because you’re invited, doesn’t mean you’ll attend. You have to answer the call of the Messiah to be a part of the kingdom.

The parable is about a rich man who invited many people to a great feast. They all replied that they were coming. On the day of the banquet, he sent his servant to call them all to come.

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’”

Luke 14:18-20 NIV

Hmmm. It sounds a lot like God’s people today. Everyone is busy with their own petty concerns. No one has any time to do anything for the Lord.

We have to be very careful not to allow the distractions of life to squeeze out the things of the spirit. How long can we ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit before it starts to negatively affect our life?

In the parable, the rich man made it a point to fill up his house with everyone he could find. He made sure there was no room for the foolish friends who refused his call.

Jesus makes it clear that He has to be the priority in the lives of His disciples. At the end of this parable, the Lord turns to the crowds, and begins to make this point.

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26

Most people get tripped up by this verse because they don’t understand the usage of the word hate in the Scripture. This word has no emotional attachment to it. It’s just like the word agape, used to convey the idea of love. Hate is a choice rather than an emotion.

This word hate means a choice to not participate with. There are times when being a disciple of Christ means that you choose not to participate in every family event or social invitation. Maybe it’s a baby shower or a graduation party that’s held on a Sunday morning.

Christ is saying that if you choose to participate with your family or friends over the Lord, then it shows that you’re not truly a disciple. You might be a believer who loves God. But, you have yet to choose the high road of discipleship.

A disciple is more than just a student. You can miss a few classes and still graduate with an “A”. Discipleship is totally different.

Here’s why. A student wants to learn what the teacher knows. A disciple wants to become what the teacher is. That only happens as you walk the same road as Christ.

Following the Lord can be very inconvenient at times. However, if you want the same results as Christ, you must live as He does.

Question: How would you describe your discipleship toward Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Called to Become

The next encounter we have in Mark’s gospel is the calling of the four fishermen.  I’m referring to Andrew, Peter, James, and John.

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets.  Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Mark 1:16-20

In this narrative, we’re only given the outline of what happened.  It should be obvious from human nature and the accounts in the other gospels that this was not the first time these men had met Jesus.  No one will leave their family business because an unknown man walks by and asks them to follow Him.

On the contrary, there was already a relationship that had formed between these five men.  Jesus had been preaching and healing the sick throughout the area.  At one point, Peter even let Jesus use his boat as a pulpit.  They knew the Lord’s ministry.

We know from John’s gospel, that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist.  He had heard John’s testimony of Jesus being the Messiah.  He had met with Christ in private, and then Andrew introduced his brother Peter to Him.

This was not just a “cold call” on the part of the Lord.  It was the culmination of an ongoing relationship.  They knew who it was that was calling them.  They wanted what Christ was offering.

But what was the Lord promising them?  It’s a very interesting way to invite someone.  There are two important phrases that Jesus says to them.  The first is; I will make you.

He told them that if they’d fall in behind Him, He’d do a work in their lives.  I think that’s the key, even for us.  It’s our job to follow – that’s all.  Too often we get the idea that we need to work on changing ourselves.  Then we get frustrated with the results.

If I’m willing to spend time in the Lord’s presence, through the Holy Spirit, He’ll bring about the changes needed in my life.  That’s where the power is.  It’s clear from Scripture that only the spirit can control the flesh.

The second phrase is not apparent in this English translation.  It’s the phrase; to become.  The original Greek reads; I will make you to become fishers of men.  I believe this means it’s a process, not an instant change.

God has a calling on your life and mine.  He wants us to become something for His glory.  I wish that the transformation was instant, the day I bowed my knee to Him as Lord.  Unfortunately, it didn’t work that way.

There’s a growing process involved.  I follow behind Christ.  I spend time in the spirit.  Over time, the work of God’s grace becomes evident in my life.  Eventually, I become what I was created to be.

It was like that with these disciples.  They had their rough spots.  Sometimes it looked like they’d never get there.  But after the day of Pentecost, they turned their world upside-down for the glory of Christ.

Let this speak to you.  Follow behind Christ.  Be patient.  Don’t get frustrated that the changes in your life aren’t happening as quickly as you’d like them to.  Become a disciple of Christ through the work of His Holy Spirit in you.

Question: What are some changes that are already evident in your life since you started following Christ?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Two Crosses

 

CrossesI’m posting about embracing the cross of Christ. We have to follow the same path Jesus followed. If I work at saving myself, I’ll find myself on the path of ruin and loss. If, instead, I lose my life for the Lord’s pattern, then my destination has changed to that of increase and growth. That’s the path of the cross.

We need to follow Christ to the cross even though it’s offensive to us and against our very nature.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
Matthew 27:39-40

“Save yourself – come down from the cross!”

This is the part of our human nature that we need to contradict. This is being an adversary of the cross of Christ.

Many believers try, by their valiant efforts, to save themselves and bring about God’s plan in their own power. The result is that many in the church today are floundering around in mediocrity.

Paul was having the same problem in his day. There were some who were teaching that you needed to come under the law in order to be saved. What they taught was that Christ forgives your sin, but the law makes you acceptable to God.

Paul had an answer for these people that we need to take to heart in this generation.

Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Galatians 6:12

If our focus is on the outward, then we’ll avoid the cross at all cost. But we still want God’s grace to work in our lives. At that point our mind tells us that there must be something we can do to obtain God’s blessing. So we put ourselves under all kinds of rules and regulations in order to earn the grace of God.

Here’s why that approach doesn’t work. Under the law, you can live for yourself by invoking a string of technicalities. It’s the same thing the Pharisees of Jesus’ day would do. You simply tell yourself, “I’m okay. I go to church, read the Bible, and live a good life.”

In reality, these people want to avoid the fear of the cross. The word persecuted in the above verse comes from a root word that means to run away or retreat. That tells me that that these individuals are cowards who have decided not to embrace the cross. Instead of running from it, we must live in its shadow.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14

Instead of trying to avoid being worldly by our own will power, we must embrace the cross. Think about what Paul is saying here. The world is nailed to a cross. I’m nail to another. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get over to that other cross. Neither can the world get to me.

That’s what we do to our flesh by invoking the power of the cross in our lives. When we nail our flesh to the cross there’s a power that’s released to work God’s righteousness in us. It’s not a struggle to keep pure, but reliance upon the Holy Spirit in us.

This is the path to all that God has for you. I’m talking about healings, increase, miracles and the provision of God. It’s everything you need for life and godliness.

It will only come in its fullness as we embrace the pattern laid down by the Lord. We must follow the path of the cross. Allow the Lord to work His pattern of salvation in us. It’s the way to freedom in Him.

Question: What would the church look like if we all embraced the path of the cross?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2015 in Legalism, Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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Following at a Distance

Jesus was arrested, just before the crucifixion.  Then He was taken to the high priest for questioning.  At this point in the narrative Luke makes an interesting comment about Peter.

Luke 22:54
Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.

This is the same Peter who said he would die with Christ, if necessary.  The one who was always so outspoken about his faith in the Lord.  Yet, here he is seen shrinking back into the shadows.

This begs the question about our walk with Jesus.  We are always so quick to point out that we follow Christ.  What does that mean to you?  The real question is, “How closely are you following?”  Peter was following Him, but far enough away so that it wasn’t obvious that he was with the Lord.

So often we don’t want it to be seen that we are different from the world.  We want to blend in with society.  We don’t want to get too radical in our Christian walk.  Is that the way it’s supposed to be?

I believe that if we’re going to follow Christ, then we must live openly for Him.  Even the most casual observer should be able to recognize that there is a difference in how we go about our daily routines.

People aren’t shy at all about using foul language, or other ungodly activity.  Christians, on the other hand, are so worried about “offending” anyone.  We should not be afraid of praying or talking about Christ in public.  We need to stop following Him at a distance.

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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