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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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Judge for Yourself

Judge for Yourself

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re now looking at the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. That’s the ruling body of elders in Israel.

At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”

Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

Luke 22:66-71 NIV

This is quite an applicable portion of Scripture. It contains what I call the “Jesus Dilemma”. It was faced by the religious leaders of Israel as well as the unbelieving world of today.

The biggest part of the problem is faith. These were a group of men who saw the works of the Lord. They heard His teachings and felt the power of His wisdom. The life of Christ was above reproach – there was no wrong-doing that they could accuse Him of.

However, they had already rejected the Lord before the trial ever started. They were simply looking for a way to put Him to death.

That happens a lot in today’s society. Many times, people say that they want to talk to us about Jesus Christ or the teachings of Scripture. However, the reality is that they’ve already made up their minds to reject it no matter what we say.

It’s almost like the world views Christians the same way they view time-share salesmen. They listen politely, but they already have their “no” ready and waiting for the end of the conversation.

I love how the Lord gets right to the center of the issue. It’s not that clear in this English translation, so I’ll try to explain what was said.

The first thing Jesus told the leadership of Israel was, “If I told you who I am, you wouldn’t believe me.” That’s where faith comes in.

People see the difference in our lives. They see the blessing and favor of God on us. They ask us to explain what makes the difference. But, when we tell them how the Lord Jesus has changed our lives, suddenly the walls go up.

They start getting defensive. They tell us that the blessings of God are merely coincidences that could happen to anyone. They’ve decided from the start, not to believe.

There’s a second issue as well. Literally, Jesus said, “If I asked you, then you not think long and hard about your decision.” That’s because the word for answer, is a word that means to make a decision based upon all of the facts before you.

That’s what I think is a major problem in today’s society. People don’t want discernment and understanding. They simply want explanations that agree with what they already want to believe. They don’t want to make a personal judgment about who Jesus Christ is.

We have a generation that doesn’t want to think deeply about anything. That’s why we enjoy Google and Facebook. These sites record what we view, determine what we like, and spoon feed us more of the same.

Personally, I want to be challenged. Tell me why you think I’m missing it. It strengthens my faith. Or it shows me areas in which I need to change. In either case, I experience growth.

The worst-case scenario is for me to decide what I want to believe, then only listen to those who agree with me. That’s a sure road to failure.

I don’t follow Jesus Christ by blind faith. He has proved Himself faithful to me over and over again. My trust in the Lord is based upon a deep understanding of Him and His ways.

My prayer is that you will know Jesus Christ in the fullness of who He is. Then your life will reflect the glory of God.

Question: Why do you think that many in the world reject the knowledge of Jesus Christ?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2023 in Faith, Israel, The Gospel

 

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Don’t Take it Personally

Don’t Take it Personally

We’re continuing to go through Luke’s Gospel. For the last couple of posts we’ve seen Jesus sending out the 72 disciples. They were to prepare the way as the Lord traveled throughout Israel.

There was more they were called to do than just the logistics. They were to minister as well.

When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’”

Luke 10:8-9 NIV

They were told to preach the kingdom of God. They were preparing the towns for the message that Christ would bring.

However, there’s something greater that I think we miss here. Jesus commanded them to heal the sick. The Lord didn’t simply say to pray over them. They were to bring healing.

That’s important. This command would have been impossible unless the power and authority to heal were given with it.

I believe that this should be a vital part of our ministry today. The power of God to heal and deliver should be present in God’s people. This is what would drive the Gospel message forward.

Unfortunately, much of today’s evangelism consists of trying to convince people to change their thinking. We hope that our words will cause people to turn to Christ.

We need a revival of the power of God in our witnessing.

But, some people are not even moved when they witness the miraculous.

But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.”

Luke 10:10-12 NIV

Jesus warns these disciples that not everyone will receive the Good News. There are some that will reject Christ, no matter what they learn about Him. Even miracles will not convince them to follow the Lord.

That’s because the message of Christ involves giving up control. You have to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There are many who will totally refuse to hand over the reigns of their lives to Christ.

Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.”

Luke 10:13-15 NIV

Please understand what the Lord is saying here. He’s not telling these cities that their punishment will be greater. Theirs will be less tolerable because they didn’t just reject the words of a prophet.

These cities actually saw the Messiah in person. They heard the very words that he spoke. They saw the miracles done from His hands. Yet, in spite of all that, they rejected the Hope of Israel. This knowledge will continually haunt them throughout eternity.

Then the Lord turns to His disciples. He gives them an important piece of knowledge that we need to hold on to as well.

“He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Luke 10:16 NIV

No matter what happens through our ministry, don’t take it personally. If someone accepts Christ as their Savior and Lord, it’s not about us, but the Holy Spirit working in them.

If they reject the message of Christ, they’re not rejecting us. They’re rejecting the One who sent us. Ultimately, they’re rejecting the work of God in their lives.

Our goal should be to walk in such a way before God, that the world sees His power and is drawn to Him. Then we can be a faithful witness to what Christ has done in us. However, the final choice is theirs – for or against Christ. We are simply the messengers.

Question: How do you witness for the Lord?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Asked and Answered

Asked and Answered

As we go through the Gospel of Luke, we’re now starting chapter 10. Jesus’ ministry is growing as He’s attracting more and more disciples. He now has a large number of followers.

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go.

Luke 10:1 NIV

The Lord’s ministry team has become so large that He can no longer travel without extensive planning. There are almost a hundred people in His group. With that many people you can’t just stroll into town and find enough food and lodging for everyone.

Jesus now sets up a team of 72 to go out ahead of Him and make preparations. Remember, there’s no reservation desk to call. Everything had to be done in-person.

These men would go into a town and find those who were willing to open their homes for the Lord and His disciples to stay at. They also needed to make sure enough food could be prepared for the group.

As He was getting these men ready, Jesus gave them something else to work on. He encouraged them to pray for the souls they would come in contact with.

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Luke 10:2 NIV

Jesus understood that as one person, He could only do so much. When the Lord put on flesh, He limited Himself to only being in one place at a time. He needed more workers to come alongside Him and carry out His work.

So Jesus tells the 72 that there are more people needing to hear the message than there are workers to preach it. They need to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send more workers into His fields.

This is a very interesting prayer. It’s one of those prayers that God usually answers quickly. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what happened.

Jesus answered this prayer before it ever even left the disciple’s lips.

Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves.

Luke 10:3 NIV

“Lord, please send more workers into Your fields.”

“Go! I’m sending you.”

This exchange between the Lord and His disciples tells me some things. First of all, Jesus is the Lord of the Harvest. It’s clear because He’s the one who answered the prayer.

Next, I see that you don’t need to be anyone special to answer His call. According to Scripture, these 72 weren’t even trained until after Jesus called them to go.

Also, you don’t have to have an overwhelming drive to win the lost. Jesus said that He was sending them out like lambs among wolves. They had nothing in and of themselves to overcome the obstacles before them. They had to rely on the Holy Spirit going with them.

I believe that this same calling is on all of us. We are all called to reach a world that we’re powerless to change. That is, powerless in our own strength.

The Holy Spirit resides within us. We have all the resources of Heaven available to us. We need to simply step out and see what the Lord will do through us.

We have to pray the prayer and answer the call. “Lord, send workers into your fields. Yes! I’ll go and work for you.” Then, you’ll see the blessings of God flowing through you to the world around you.

Question: How have you answered the call of God upon your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2022 in Ministry, Prayer, The Gospel

 

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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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John the Baptist – The Draw Factor

John the Baptist – The Draw Factor

In my last post, we saw John the Baptist going through a dark time. He sent his disciples to Jesus to ask if He really was the Messiah. The Lord told them to watch what He was doing and report back to John.

After John’s messengers left, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the desert to see? A reed swayed by the wind?

Luke 7:24

When John’s disciples left, He began to ask the crowd some questions. They’re important for us to hear today. They make a point about what draws people to the cross in all generations.

The first thing the Lord asks is, what did you go to see in the desert?

He asks them if they went out to see a reed swayed by the wind? Many people are like that. They go in any direction the wind is blowing. They think it’s important to be “trendy”.

In the spiritual realm, going along with the crowd is actually a sign of immaturity.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.

Ephesians 4:14

The fact is that people are not drawn to compromise. Maturity in Christ means that you’re not tossed back and forth by everything you hear.

“Whatever you believe is right for you.” “I don’t want to offend.”

It seems to me that John the Baptist probably offended half the people who were drawn to see him. That’s because he didn’t back down from what he believed.

The people came out because they wanted to hear an authoritative message. Most people want to hear from someone who knows what they believe. It’s time for us to start living and speaking like people who know the truth.

Then, Jesus asked the crowd another question.

If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear expensive clothes and indulge in luxury are in palaces.

Luke 7:25

Did you go out to hear him because he appeared to have “made it” in the world system? Did he wear the right clothes, have good music, the latest technology, etc.? No, John wore what was available. And, he ate what was available. His calling was to let people know, “Jesus is coming.” Everything else was secondary.

People are not drawn if you only look good outwardly. There needs to be an inner strength. We, as God’s people, are different – or at least we should be. We should have different priorities.

We get into problems when we chase after the things of the world. The phrase, indulge in luxury, in the above verse literally means to become feeble because of indulgence. Chasing after the world makes us soft. You lose your edge, intoxicated by the world system.

But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

Luke 7:26-28

We need to be strong in the Lord. That’s because people are drawn to the prophetic. We are to be a prophetic people. That means spending time with the Holy Spirit and listening to His voice.

I’m not talking about something flaky. Prophecy is merely speaking on behalf of God. To be prophetic means that our focus is on the eternal. Too many are focused on the temporary.

The power of God to change a life is what matters. This is something that affects the eternal course of a life. Eternally minded believers draw others to Christ.

This is what Jesus was trying to get across to that crowd…and us.

Question: In what ways are you eternally minded?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Truth Hurts

Truth Hurts

In this post, we’re continuing to look at the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. It contains some important principles on righteousness.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh…Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.”

Luke 6:21, 25

This is one of those truths that doesn’t sound good, but is actually very important. Remember that Jesus is addressing these statements to His disciples – the future leaders of the church.

He tells them that in the “now”, there should be weeping. What could the Lord possibly mean by saying that?

What we need to realize is that spiritual truth, sometimes, goes completely opposite what we’ve learned in the world. The disciples were hearing from Jesus the principles of the kingdom of God. This means that in many cases they had to make an 180 degree turnaround from what they thought was right.

The fact is that truth brings change. And, more than that, change is uncomfortable. The disciples were being taught that it was better to accept the spiritual principles of Christ and deal with the sorrow of change. Later on, as they experience the results, they’ll walk in the joy of the Lord.

This has always been how embracing God’s truth works. Initially sorrow – then the joy His blessings bring (Psalm 30:5).

This is a real problem for those who only want to see blessings and never want to change. Eventually they’ll experience loss, with the grief and mourning that accompanies it. I find it better to submit to the Lord’s process of change right from the start.

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”

Luke 6:22-23

Not only is there pain in receiving the truth, sometimes it hurts when you speak the truth. Not everyone wants to hear the message of Christ.

Here the Lord lists a number of things that will happen when people reject the Gospel of Christ. Many will hate you. That’s a choice to treat you in an abusive way.

Jesus also says that they may not invite you to participate in their events. You’ll be excluded because just seeing you causes them to feel guilty.

The word, insult, in the above verse means to defame you. It’s not just an insult to your face, but they’ll even talk about you when you’re not around. This could even include spreading lies about you.

Jesus doesn’t want to see His disciples hindered by these things. That’s why He’s warning them, and us, in advance. That’s how it’s always been with those who stand their ground for the Lord.

There is, however, another warning that we’re given.

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.”

Luke 6:26

Jesus tells them that they need to take stock if everyone speaks well of them. The message of Christ will always make somebody upset. As a matter of fact, in this society, I sometimes receive a look of disgust simply by sharing with someone that I’m a minister.

We need to realize that the truth hurts. Sometimes it hurts us, when we need to be changed by it. Sometimes it upsets others who hear it. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation must continue to be preached to all who will listen.

Question: How have you dealt with the discomfort of change from hearing God’s Word?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2022 in Encouragement, Ministry, The Gospel, Word of God

 

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Christ Followers

Christ Followers

I’m continuing through the Gospel of Luke. In the last few posts, I’ve been comparing our ministry to that of John the Baptist. Right now we should be preparing for the second appearing of the Messiah.

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.

Luke 3:15

It’s interesting that as John carried out God’s plan for his life, people began to question if he was the promised Messiah. They saw the testimony of lives that were changed by his ministry.

Throughout this section of Scripture, I’ve been repeating that we’re the “John the Baptist Generation”. What the crowd saw in John is what the world should see in us.

Should they think that we’re the Messiah? Absolutely not! But, they should see Christ in us. That’s what it was like in the early church.

The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

Acts 11:26

That’s where the name Christian came from. The ministry of those early believers was right in line with how the Lord lived and ministered. The crowd came to the conclusion that these people were Christ followers.

That should be the question of the modern church community. Can people see how we live, respond, and minister; then conclude that we’re trying to be like Jesus? In my opinion, there’s a big disconnect in our generation. It’s time to close the gap between how we live and the life of Christ.

It’s when the people around us see a higher standard of living, that they’ll want what we have. Then, we won’t have to preach at them. They will seek out our message.

That’s why the crowds of people flocked to hear John the Baptist in the desert. They wanted to understand a new level of spirituality.

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.

Luke 3:16-18

John had quite a message. The problem he had, was that the Old Testament showed both sides of the Messiah. It showed His salvation, but it also talked about the Day of Judgment. John thought that both of these would occur at the same time when Messiah arrived.

We know now that when Christ appeared then, it was to save us from our sin. The judgment won’t take place until His second appearance.

But, John does clearly place the choice right before our eyes. We can choose to be immersed in the Holy Spirit. Or, we can be immersed in the fire of judgment. We can choose to be wheat or chaff.

Actually, Jesus taught that He would do this exact thing on the Day of Judgment. He told it in a parable found in Matthew 13:24-30.

With John, his message was good news and bad news. The good news is that Messiah is coming. The bad news is that judgment is also coming.

Our message is similar, but of greater importance. The bad news is that Messiah is coming to judge the world. But, the Good News is that Messiah has already come to save, restore, and protect you from the coming wrath.

Why do we find it so hard to bring this wonderful message to those around us? What are we afraid of?

John preached without fear. Luke 3:19-20, tells us that his message actually got him locked up in prison. Yet, that didn’t hinder him from proclaiming what he was given.

We need to walk in the same boldness as John the Baptist. We need to declare the goodness of Jesus Christ to our world.

Question: How are you called to proclaim the message of Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Last Days Ministry

Last Days Ministry

In my last post we saw the prophecy that Zechariah, John the Baptist’s father, had about Christ. Now he begins talking about his son’s ministry. What John the baptist was called to accomplish.

There’s a reason why this is so important for us to hear. John was called to prepare the way for Christ to appear in Israel.

In the same way, we’re called to prepare the way for Christ to appear a second time. In our case, He’s not going to come in a weak fleshly body. He’s going to descend from the sky as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him…”

Luke 1:76

Like it or not, we have a very prophetic ministry in our generation. We’re very close to the return of Christ. With each new day we see the signs of the Last Days being fulfilled in the earth.

The problem is that so many believers are ignorant of the Lord’s coming. They act as if everything is going to continue on like this forever. We need to develop an End-Times mindset.

…to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins…”

Luke 1:77

We need this ministry. We should be making known the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins. Instead, we seem to be majoring on political agendas and the accumulation of the latest technology.

We have the message that the lost world desperately needs to hear. Instead, God’s people seem to be so self-absorbed, that this message is drowned out by everything else we’re involved in. We need a new awakening.

“…because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Luke 1:78-79

Our generation must be a light in the darkness. There has never been a darker time in the modern world. Unless you’re living with your head in the sand, this is an undeniable truth.

We need to understand what being the light entails. It’s obvious that light gets the attention in the dark. There’s no getting around that. We’re not called to just blend into the background.

This is because a light stands in direct opposition to the darkness. There cannot be any two kingdoms that are more opposite than us and the world.

We’re not a part of this society. We live here, work here, and have to interact with those around us. We need to be loving, productive, and contributing to the welfare of our community. But, the fact is we don’t BELONG here.

Darkness speaks of a place – but we are seated with Christ in heavenly places; that’s the kingdom of light. This is not our time and place.

We need to be what we’re called to be. It’s not our destiny to blend in and become part of the whole. It’s our calling to show there’s a different way to live.

John the Baptist is an example to us of how to minister to the world while living in the Kingdom of God. It’s time for us to live up to this calling. The world is desperate to hear the message that’s been entrusted to us. We need to stop chasing their dreams and live for Christ with an urgency that reflects the times we live in.

And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel.

Luke 1:80

This generation of the church must grow up so that we can function as we must at this time in history. Be equipped with the spiritual weaponry. Be listening and hearing a Word from God. Then continue to walk in that word. Finally, if we do these things we will be the light that will draw people to Christ. We are the John the Baptist Generation.

Questions: How much light is the church producing right now? How can that light be increased?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Paul’s Conclusions

Paul’s Conclusions

In my last post, I started going through the greetings at the end of the book of Romans. I talked about some issues with women in leadership. There’s another that I’ll hit quickly today.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house.

Romans 16:3-5a

You may remember these people if you’ve read through the book of Acts. Priscilla and Aquila were a Jewish couple, who Paul met in Corinth. (Acts 18) They were tent-makers, like Paul, so he stayed with them and joined their business.

They began to minister with Paul, and moved to Ephesus where they planted a church in their home. Now they’ve moved to Rome where they again have a house-church.

In the book of Acts, Luke refers to the woman as Priscilla. That’s the informal, friendly name used for the name, Priska. In this verse in Romans, Paul uses her more formal name, Priska, even though the translators chose to use Priscilla so we’d know who was being talked about.

Why is that important?

The fact that Paul listed her first, along with her husband is significant. On top of that, he used her formal name out of respect. That tells me that she was the senior pastor of their home-church. Like I said in my last post, God can call whoever He desires to do His work.

Then, in verses 5b through 16, Paul sends his greetings to a number of people in the church. That tells me a lot about who the apostle was. He was a man who loved people.

Of those listed in this group, half of them were either women or slaves. In that society, they were treated like property or pets. Yet Paul saw them all as important, and he appreciated them.

We need to learn this lesson. We need to let others know that they’re loved. I recently heard a speaker give us this principal: “People love people who love people.”

We like to be around others who we think can uplift us. We need to learn to appreciate people who can do nothing for us. The church, more than any other group, should be a place where everyone gets love and affirmation.

That’s why Paul gives his next instruction.

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

Romans 16:17-19

Our human nature wants to constantly feed itself. We look for others who will stroke our egos. We need to constantly guard against this.

Part of winning this mind battle, is to keep away from those who obviously are after their own agendas. We need to choose our friends wisely. Attitudes have a way of rubbing off on those around them.

After sending greetings from his companions, Paul makes a closing statement.

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him – to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Romans 16:25-27

This is the summation for everything he’s written in this letter. I think it’s appropriate that he calls this letter his Gospel. It does contain everything we need to know to establish our lives in Christ Jesus.

Question: How has the book of Romans affected your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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