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Repentance is Begun

Repentance is Begun

As we near the end of Luke’s Gospel, we see the ministry of Christ after the resurrection. This was an important part of His work on earth.

We sometimes get the impression that the story of Jesus is all about the resurrection. As important as that is, it’s only a part of the whole picture of Christ. The work of the Lord definitely culminated when He rose from the dead. But we need to understand the entire revelation of God’s plan.

He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Luke 24:46-47 NIV

The whole work of Christ on the cross was needed to bring us repentance and the forgiveness of sin. Do we really understand what this means? Or have we watered this down in our desire to get on with what we want to accomplish with our lives? I need to know how the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord affects me.

The first word that catches my attention here is repentance. In the vocabulary of our present society it simply means to say, “I’m sorry.” Many times we throw out this phrase and never even mean it. We only want to placate the one we’re apologizing to.

Biblical repentance is a whole other matter. It’s about desiring a change of direction in your life. I don’t like where I’m at. I have all this baggage that I’m carrying with me – the guilt and regrets of the past. It’s like I’m stuck with a heavy backpack full of junk that I’d just like to shake off.

The problem is that this backpack is locked onto me. I can’t shake it. I’ve tried so many times to remove it in the past but nothing works. I want a new life. This is the spirit of repentance. It’s all about the desire to change.

The next word we have a bit of trouble with is forgiveness. We read into it the definitions given to us by our society. When we talk about repentance and forgiveness the truth gets lost in our preconceived ideas.

We do something wrong and say, “I’m sorry.”

The person we wronged replies, “Don’t worry about it. I’m okay with you now.”

Our misunderstanding comes from the fallacy that sin is only evil. The fact is that sin means that we’ve missed the mark of God’s perfect will. Of course, evil falls into that category. But there are other things that are sin as well. Not doing the good work that the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do is a form of sin. Sin is only evil when it’s done on purpose.

When we talk about forgiveness, we’re not talking about God saying to us, “I’m okay with you now. Try harder next time.”

The word, forgive, in the Bible literally means to pick up and throw away. God’s work of forgiveness is the total removal of the sin from our lives. That’s why a true understanding of repentance is so important. If all you want is to “make God happy with you,” then you’re not really repenting. True repentance is the desire for true forgiveness – the removal of sin and restoration to purity in Christ.

It’s like what the trash man does at our curbside every week. He shows up and removes our trash completely. When he’s done his work, you never see that trash again. Think about what life would be like if he took it back to your house the next week just to remind you what you threw away.

The blessing of serving our God is that the removal of sin is permanent.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalms 103:11-12 NIV

This is what the cross and the resurrection are all about.

Question: How does a repentant heart today change how you live tomorrow?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2023 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Forgiveness Begins

Forgiveness Begins

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re now at the crucifixion of Christ. There’s so much for us to see in this section of Scripture.

Sometimes we need to be reminded about the simplest concepts. Something as common as forgiveness should be reviewed again and again so that it stays fresh in our hearts. Christ is our greatest example of forgiveness, even while hanging on the cross.

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Luke 23:32-34 NIV

In the past I’ve shared about what forgiveness is. It started out as God’s idea. In the Old Testament, God is the only one who ever forgave. Forgiveness is the end of the penalty for our actions. It cancels the demand for retribution. It also frees us from the guilt.

If you want to read the original series in more detail, click here.

Jesus started the process of our forgiveness even while being humiliated and ignored on the cross. But, how does this process work? Let’s start with King David in 2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12.

It all began when he stayed home from battle when he should have been with his army. He ended up on his porch, watching his neighbor’s wife as she bathed. David ended up being involved in adultery, murder, and a cover-up.

God sends the prophet, Nathan, to confront David with these sins. David is convicted, repents, and writes a song about his experience. (Psalm 51)

In the first 4 verses of Psalm 51 he used 5 different words for sin. He wanted to make sure he covered everything. That’s how forgiveness starts.

The first step – Sin is committed. There is a failure, a hurt against someone. But the truth is that no matter who gets hurt, there’s one important truth we need to recognize.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

Psalm 51:4 NIV

Think about all that were hurt by David’s actions. There was Bathsheba, Uriah, Joab, Nathan, David’s family, as well as the whole nation of Israel. In spite of all this hurt, David recognized that the sin was against God only.

This is the key. We have such a high opinion of ourselves. The fact is that we were created to be perfect. Anything less offends God. There is no sin we could possibly commit that’s not against God.

There is good news, however. That’s not the end of the story. The next step is that once sin is committed, forgiveness is purchased.

We know from Scripture that without blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). Under the Old Testament Law there had to be a sacrifice. The Good News is that we live after the cross.

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matthew 26:27-28 NIV

The blood of Christ paid for our forgiveness once and for all. It was the one perfect payment needed.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Ephesians 1:7 NIV

This verse says that we have been loosed off by His blood and our sins are forgiven. Forgiveness is available to all.

But that’s also a problem. It’s available to all, but it’s not yet manifest. That’s what the Good News of Christ is all about. It’s communicating the forgiveness of God to the world.

Each one of us, as believers, should be proclaiming this great Gospel.

Question: How has God’s forgiveness changed your life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2023 in Encouragement, Faith, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Quick Repentance

Quick Repentance

As we go through the Gospel of Luke, we just saw that Jesus was arrested. Then He was taken to the high priest for questioning. At this point in the narrative Luke makes an interesting comment about Peter.

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

Luke 22:54 NIV

This is the same Peter who said he would die with Christ, if necessary. He was the one who was always so outspoken about his faith in the Lord. Yet here he’s 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 as 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.

But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”

But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

Luke 22:55-57 NIV

What a response! This is the same man who vehemently said that he would die before denying Christ. Why would he do this?

I believe that Peter is no different than any of us. As he sat there watching the proceedings, he began to go over all of the possible outcomes in his mind. He saw that it was the Pharisees’ intention to put the Lord to death.

His whole focus now became; how to save himself.

Later on, others asked Peter if he was one of the disciples of Jesus.

A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”

“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Luke 22:58-60a NIV

His mind was dwelling on self preservation. What makes me say this?

If you look at Peter’s answer, you’ll see what I’m talking about. What he gave as a response was actually a legal phrase. It was what a witness would say in a trial if they hadn’t seen what they were being asked about. He gave a well-thought-out answer. He had definitely been rehearsing what he was going to say.

Then, suddenly, the truth of what he had done hits him.

Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Luke 22:60b-62 NIV

I don’t know why this happens. When it comes to sin, we don’t realize the weight of it until after we’ve fallen. Then we feel upset and guilty about it. That’s the time to take care of it.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV

Don’t wallow in guilt and regret. As soon as you realize your sin, repent and be free of it. God doesn’t need time to “cool off”. The Holy Spirit is with you to bring forgiveness and restoration. The quicker you repent, the quicker you can get back on your spiritual feet again.

Question: What has the Lord taught you about quick repentance?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2023 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Watch for Stumbling Blocks

Watch for Stumbling Blocks

We’re continuing to study the Gospel of Luke. We’re now starting chapter 17. Jesus makes a comment that many people think is just a random exhortation.

That’s because of the way our Bibles were put together. Remember, originally there were no chapters and verses. They were added later to make it easier to find things. This is one of those places where they mess things up.

Jesus is continuing His same thought from chapter 16. He has just told the story of the rich man and Lazarus. This comment refers to that story.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.”

Luke 17:1-3a NIV

The phrase, things that cause people to sin, actually means things that cause offense. It means things that could possibly trap you in anger and bitterness.

Going back to the rich man and Lazarus, we can see the connection. Everyday Lazarus was placed at the rich man’s doorstep. Everyday, Lazarus watched the lavish lifestyle that was lived out in that house.

Everyday he longed for the scraps that were carelessly thrown away, but he was denied from getting them. This means that everyday Lazarus was given an opportunity to be offended and become angry and bitter at God.

These offenses are not isolated incidents. By His language, the Lord makes it clear that they will come upon us regularly. Like it or not, you will be given the opportunity to be offended. It’s how you handle that temptation that matters.

Sometimes this word, offense, is translated as a stumbling block. The rich man was probably oblivious to the fact that he was laying down stumbling blocks, everyday, in the path of Lazarus. The implication is that Lazarus had to watch his attitude everyday.

That’s why the Lord said we need to watch ourselves. I don’t think Jesus is talking about us watching out to not offend people. He offended multitudes. His focus is that we don’t pick up bitterness and anger when given the opportunity.

If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

Luke 17:3-6 NIV

The disciples were having a hard time with this. The Lord taught that if someone offends you seven times in one day, you must still forgive them. That means you have to release any bitterness and anger against them.

The disciples tried to sound holy to get around it. “We don’t have enough faith for that yet!” Jesus made it clear that you don’t need faith, you only need obedience to His word.

It’s good to see that the Apostle John grabbed hold of this truth. He wrote about it in one of his letters.

Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.

1 John 2:10 NIV

If you walk in the love of Christ, then you’re walking in the light. This verse literally say that in that case, you have no offense – no stumbling blocks – inside you.

We need to live free of bitterness. Release your offenses to God. Walk in forgiveness, the same forgiveness that was shown to you on the cross. Only then can you walk in the peace and joy of the Lord.

Question: How free are you from offense and bitterness?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2022 in Faith, Relationships, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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The Running God

The Running God

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, I’ve been blogging about the parable of the Prodigal Son. We saw how he left home to get away from the rules. Now he realizes the mistake he’s made, and he wants to return home.

He even has a speech prepared.

“‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.”

Luke 15:18-20a NIV

This is the attitude of humility. We need to approach God wanting to do whatever it takes to live a life pleasing to Him. This prodigal didn’t really understand the heart of his father.

It’s much like us. We don’t fully understand the heart of God. We can’t even come close to grasping the love He has for each one of us.

Have you ever felt like God was mad at you because of some sin? Maybe you’ve been keeping away from the Lord or His people because you’re ashamed of something you’ve done. That’s not the way to go.

In this parable, the son distanced himself from his father. But then, when he hit rock bottom, he decided it was better to go home, no matter what the consequences were.

So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Luke 15:20b

Most people agree that Jesus was telling this parable about His Heavenly Father. To review, the young man in question, took an early inheritance and blew it all on wild living. He ended up in poverty and became a servant who was feeding hogs.

Finally, he came to his senses and thought about what life was like in his father’s house. Even the servants were eating better than he was at that moment.

The young man decided to humble himself and return home. He had spent his inheritance and was now willing to simply be a one of his father’s hired servants.

He then made the long journey home. What would he find there? What would be the response of the father he had so humiliated by his leaving?

How would we write the story? A father standing, arms folded, with a stern “I told you so” written across his face. Would he listen in silence to the young man’s plea, only to say, “We’ll see how you act over the next few months.” Maybe there would be outright rejection.

We always seem to project these natural, human, responses onto our loving Father God. I’m so glad that He doesn’t treat us the way we treat each other. I’m even more thankful that He doesn’t treat me the way I deserve to be treated.

This young man started into his prepared speech.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.

Luke 15:21-23 NIV

Because of the work Christ has done, all I need to do is start heading in His direction. It’s at that point that He runs to be with me. There’s no condemnation, no probation, and no judging. He only brings acceptance and forgiveness with Him.

Maybe you’ve done some things that you think are hard to forgive. Maybe you’ve been a long time away from God. It doesn’t matter. Return to the Lord and He’ll run to you. You can be restored in an instant because of the love of the Father.

Trust Him. He’s the God who runs.

Question: How have you experienced the love and acceptance of God the Father?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2022 in Encouragement, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Identification Principles

Identification Principles

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching the disciples as well as the crowds following Him. Since the Jewish leaders are now trying to discredit Him, the Lord explains some important concerns that they need to deal with.

I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.”

Luke 12:8-9 NIV

The first thing the Lord talks about is agreement. The word, acknowledge, is a Greek word that means to speak the same as. In other words, you agree with Christ, both His claims and His teaching. If we do this, then the Lord acknowledges us before His angels. Why is that so important?

It makes a difference because in many instances God uses His angels to answer our prayers. If we’re not in agreement with Christ, we don’t have that blessing. I imagine it as if we pray for something, and the angels look to Christ for His acknowledgment. But, if we’re not in agreement with Him and His plans for us, the Lord just shrugs His shoulders, and the angels ignore the request.

Acknowledging Jesus is more than just saying, “I’m a Christian. I love Jesus.” It means that I’m getting to know Him personally. I want His will to be accomplished in my life.

And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Luke 12:10 NIV

Now the Lord deals with an even deeper issue. It’s something that the religious leaders of Israel need to consider carefully. Of course, it’s also something that a lot of Christians get worked up about, hoping that they haven’t committed the unpardonable sin.

First, Jesus deals with Himself. By calling Himself the Son of Man, the Lord is speaking of His earthly ministry. The fact is, not many people in Israel knew what to expect in the Messiah’s coming. Some of their misgivings were based upon a lack of knowledge. That can be forgiven.

However, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is another matter. That word, blasphemy, means that you’re speaking evil about someone. You are actively trying to injure someone’s good name.

This brings with it some assumptions. It assumes that you know that you’re talking about a real person. Then, you also know that this person is good, you just want them to look bad in the eyes of others.

In this case, the Pharisees and other leaders knew that the hand of God was at work in Jesus’ ministry. They knew it was the power of the Holy Spirit healing and delivering from demonic forces. Yet, in an effort to discredit the Lord, they said it was the power of the devil. By doing this they were placing themselves on very dangerous ground.

What about us? I’ve been asked many times how to know if someone committed the unpardonable sin.

The answer is simple. Since it’s the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and draws us to Christ – a sin against the Spirit is a dangerous thing.

But, as I said, it’s the Holy Spirit who draws us to Christ. So, I ask, would it be upsetting and troubling to you if you found out you had committed this sin? If the answer is “Yes” then you haven’t committed it.

Anyone who had committed this unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit would have absolutely no remorse about it. They wouldn’t care at all. That’s because the Spirit would no longer be working on their heart.

So, as long as you have a desire to repent, you can be forgiven for your sin. The real question is, are you identifying yourself with Christ? Do you want His will to be accomplished in your life? That should be the top priority of your soul.

Question: How intimate are you with the Holy Spirit?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Prayer for Forgiveness

Prayer for Forgiveness

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, I’ve been posting about the Lord’s Prayer. It should be an example to us of how we should approach God in prayer.

Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.

Luke 11:4 NIV

This is a very simple statement, but it contains a world of truth. Forgiveness is such an important concept in our walk as Christians.

We start by asking the Lord to forgive our sins. In my experience, many believers have no idea what they’re really asking. They think they’re asking God to forget about the evil things that they’ve done. That’s not what’s being said.

The word, forgive, literally means to pick up and remove totally. It’s like when you put your trash out on the street for the sanitation worker to come and take it away. You never want to see it again.

Along with that, the word, sin, doesn’t only mean evil. It means all of the areas where we miss the mark of God’s perfect will for our lives. Even if we’re just a little bit off in some area, that counts as sin in God’s eyes.

So, what we’re really asking the Lord to do is to remove all of those areas where we’re missing God’s best. We want our lives to be brought up to the level where it should be in Christ.

But this begs the question; do we really want this forgiveness? What I think I’m asking is for God to forget that I’ve done wrong. However, I might not want to stop doing wrong in certain areas of my life.

True repentance is the desire for God to totally remove wrongdoing from my life. I want to see myself free of the things that displease the Lord. If I don’t want to repent, then I’m not truly asking for forgiveness.

Now we flip to the other side of the coin. How do we respond to others in the light of God’s forgiveness? You may not like the answer to this question.

That’s because we need to follow the Lord’s example and forgive others the same way. That means we have to remove something. However, the translation of this verse is a little off. It doesn’t really tell me to forgive someone’s sin.

The second word, sin, is actually a Greek word that means debts. This literally means people who we feel they owe us something or are obligated to us in some way. This is way beyond only the evil things that have been done to us.

This is something that we’re called to do, in the same way that the Lord accomplished it. What do I mean by this? To understand this we have to see what Christ did as He was hanging on the cross.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Luke 23:34 NIV

This is the hardest part of forgiveness. Jesus offered forgiveness before He was ever asked to forgive.

In the Lord’s Prayer, we’re saying that we forgive everyone who is indebted to us. It does not say we forgive all those who ask for forgiveness.

We need to release everyone from their debts and obligations to us, whether they ask for it or not. That’s tough to do.

Does that mean we don’t take the money or services that people owe us? Absolutely not! But, in our hearts, we have released them from their debts so that we don’t become annoyed or bitter if they take too long or even refuse to “pay up”.

We need to live our lives with an attitude of forgiveness. This is especially true when it comes to the way people treat us. If we get upset and bitter every time someone treats us poorly, then we’re in for a very miserable life.

Seeking true forgiveness from God, and living a forgiving life, is the best way to go. It’s not easy, but we’ll find that it’s the best way to keep the joy of the Lord within us.

Question: What are the obligations that you need to forgive in your heart right now?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2022 in Prayer, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Don’t Miss God’s Best

Don’t Miss God’s Best

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we now come to one of the more popular sections. It’s when Jesus teaches the parable of the sower and the seed. The parable itself is contained in Luke 8:4-15. You may want to look it up and read it before going on with this post.

There are a lot of important truths in this section. So I’m going to spend a number of posts on it. Apparently the disciples didn’t understand the meaning of the parable. Later, when they were alone with Jesus, they asked Him about it.

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, ‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’”

Luke 8:9-10

To understand what Jesus is saying here, we need to know His role in the lives of the disciples. Christ was to the disciples then, who the Holy Spirit is to the church right now. He was the One leading, training, guiding and teaching them. So how the Lord worked with the disciples is how the Holy Spirit works with us.

The goal of Jesus with His disciples was to bring them into an understanding of the kingdom of God. His words are spirit and life. Jesus tells us that by not accepting His Word, there are three consequences. Unfortunately, I see these very things at work in much of the church today.

Seeing but not seeing. The word used for seeing is the generic word, to look at. I believe the Lord is talking about those who see what’s happening, but never apply it to their own lives. He’s talking about those who learn what God has done for them, but never experience it.

There are many Christians who spend lots of time confessing their position in Christ. But they never do what it takes to cross over into the manifestation of it. It only comes about by hearing and obeying the Lord’s voice.

Hearing but not understanding. Hearing simply means to listen with your ears. That’s the easy part. Plenty of people do that every week in church services.

Understanding is on a higher level. The word literally means to put together. That’s where we usually miss out. I need to know how to apply what I’ve heard to the area of my life that needs it.

Again, that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in. If I’m not listening for His instruction, then I’ll never see the changes take place that will move me forward in my Christian walk.

Mark’s Gospel records Jesus as ending this talk with an important summation.

…otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'”

Mark 4:12b

This is obviously the most important part. But it’s totally dependent upon seeing and understanding. What exactly does this mean?

The word, turn, means to turn around and start walking in the opposite direction. That’s good, but it’s the forgiven part that most of us miss the depth of. Our understanding of forgiveness is very shallow compared to the Scriptural concept.

When we think of being forgiven, it means that we did something wrong and now it’s okay. This is not what the Greek word indicates.

The word, forgive, in the Greek, means to pick up, remove, and throw away. This brings a whole new view of what’s happening in this verse.

When we see, understand, and obey a word from God, it causes us to turn around. Then, at that point, things start dropping off and being removed from our lives. Things like habitual sins, sicknesses, lack, and depression.

Hopefully, as we continue looking at this parable, we’ll learn to walk in this truth and experience God’s best for us. If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, take the opportunity now so that you won’t miss an installment.

Question: What is your current level of experiencing God’s best in your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2022 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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The Two Debts – Part 2

The Two Debts – Part 2

In my last post, I started talking about the Pharisee who had a dinner in honor of Jesus. I talked about the background of that event. This Pharisee was healed of leprosy by Jesus, earlier in His ministry. That’s an important point as we look at what happens at the dinner.

As I already said, during the dinner, a “sinful” woman came in, washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, and anointed them with an expensive perfume. The Pharisee became judgmental.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is — that she is a sinner.”

Luke 7:39

This Pharisee is assuming some things. The first is that Jesus thinks the same way he does about people. This is a trap many fall into.

We think that God is like us. We spend so much time trying to get God to agree with us. We want to get God on our side.

This approach never works. Our focus should be to get into agreement with God and to join with Him on His side.

The fact is that Jesus had no problem with this woman worshiping Him. He spent a lot of His time ministering to those that the Pharisees rejected as unworthy people.

I like the way Jesus turned things around. He asked this Pharisee a very leading question.

“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Luke 7:41-42

He gives this Pharisee a parable of two people in a hopeless, helpless situation. Knowing the whole story, we understand that this religious leader was healed of an incurable disease. He owed a great debt to the Lord that he could never repay.

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Luke 7:43

Unfortunately, he still doesn’t get the point. The Lord has to tell him plainly what He’s talking about.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven — for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Luke 7:44-47

Here’s the bottom line. Jesus explains the real foundation for walking in love. This woman could show love in a real way, because she understood the depth of her condition. She received a forgiveness she could have never earned on her own.

The Pharisee saw himself as a good person. He didn’t need much from God. That’s the pitfall of self-righteousness.

If I see myself as better that anyone else, I don’t show much love. It’s only when I come to realize that no matter how good I am, I could never repay the forgiveness I needed from the Lord. The “filthy rags” of my own righteous works could never bring God’s blessing.

Forgiven much or forgiven a little is all a matter of perspective. No matter how good we think we are, we’re helpless and hopeless without the Lord’s grace. Understanding this allows us to love others the way Christ does.

Question: What is God’s forgiveness worth to you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2022 in Legalism, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Two Debts – Part 1

The Two Debts – Part 1

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we now come to an event that many have preached about. However, few people know the whole story, because it requires a lot of digging to get to.

This is found in Luke 7:36-50. I encourage you to take the time and read through this section of Scripture to see the truth of what I’m describing.

A Pharisee had invited Jesus over to his home for a dinner in the Lord’s honor. When Jesus arrived at the house, the Pharisee neglected a few simple courtesies that were a way of life in that region of the world. He didn’t offer Jesus a kiss, water for His feet, or oil for His hair. This was a slight against the Lord.

During Jesus’ visit, a woman came in and did something unique. She knelt before Him and wept, allowing her tears to fall on His feet. Then she wiped them with her hair. Once His feet were cleaned, she opened an alabaster bottle of expensive perfume and began to anoint His feet.

As this was going on, the Pharisee was thinking that if Jesus were really a prophet, He would know how sinful this woman was. According to the Pharisee’s thinking, Jesus shouldn’t let her touch Him.

Jesus, knowing his thoughts, turned to the Pharisee and told him a parable about two men who had their debts forgiven. One had a large debt, and the other a small one.

Here’s the rest of the story that never gets told. This party was also recorded in Mark 14:1-10 and Matthew 26:6-13.

Luke calls the host of the party, a Pharisee named Simon. Mark, however, calls him Simon the Leper. That’s important because in the entire book of Mark, he only records one leper being healed by the Lord. That’s in Mark 1:40-44. Listen to what Jesus said to the man after he was healed.

Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.”

Mark 1:43-44

I believe this is the same Pharisee who gave Jesus the party in Luke’s Gospel. There are two important reasons. First, Jesus assumes that this man knows what sacrifices were required for the cleansing of leprosy. The normal outcast would probably not know this.

The second is the most obvious to me. The Lord told this man to go to the priests to be a testimony to them. A Pharisee who was diagnosed with leprosy would be well known to them. He would be going to the very priests who banned him from the temple worship.

His healing would definitely testify as to the power of the Lord. Some unknown leper would never have the influence to be a credible testimony to the company of priests in Jerusalem.

You may remember from reading this blog, that Luke also records the healing of this leper in Luke 5:12-14. Look at what happened just a few days later.

One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick.

Luke 5:17-18

I believe that there’s only one reason Pharisees from all over Judea and Jerusalem would come all the way to Galilee, to hear Jesus. That was because one of their own number was miraculously healed of leprosy. That man’s testimony drew quite a crowd of religious leaders.

This gives us new insight. In the account of the Pharisee and the “sinful” woman, both of them owed Jesus a debt of gratitude. This is what the Lord was calling attention to in His parable.

Because of the power of the Messiah, the Pharisee had his leprosy removed while the woman had her sins removed. Now the only question is; who would thank the Lord for what He had done for them?

In my next post, we’ll see the lesson that Jesus tries to get across to the Pharisee.

Question: How do you show your thankfulness to Christ for what He’s done for you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2022 in Healing, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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