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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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The Gospel and Power

The Gospel and Power

In the concluding chapters of the book of Romans, Paul talks about his ministry. He has yet to go to Rome, but he want to get there someday.

Therefore I glory in Christ Jesus in my service to God.

Romans 15:17

When Paul boasts, it’s about what God is doing through him. We need to remember that. It’s not how much I do for Him, but how much He can do through me. After all, I can’t do any miracle or healings on my own. It’s only by the power of God at work in me.

That being said, I believe that signs and miracles are a part of the true Gospel. Without them, it’s difficult to impact the unbeliever.

The Apostle Paul refers to this truth as he continues.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18-19

Paul tells us how he led the Gentiles to obey God by announcing the Gospel and making disciples. Notice, that he accomplished this by what he said AND did. It was through the power of signs and miracles.

There’s a difference between a sign and a miracle. A sign is a miracle that confirms the Word of God that you’re speaking.

The key issue is that by operating in this way, Paul fully proclaimed the gospel. I believe that just talking about Christ is not the whole Gospel. The Bible is clear that the kingdom of God is “not a matter of talk but of power.” (I Corinthians 4:20)

In one of my posts I asked, what is it about the Gospel that we’re ashamed of? I used some illustrations. If I won a new car I would call you over to look at it. If I got a promotion at work, I would immediately show you my new business cards. How is that different from the spiritual Good News?

I believe it’s because we have reduced the Gospel to cliches. “Jesus loves you.” “Jesus wants to bless you.” “God loves you and I do too.”

The problem is that there’s no demonstration. It’s not like the new car or the promotion at work because I offer you no proof of what I’m saying.

Based upon Scripture, if there’s no demonstration, then there’s no Gospel. Many are ashamed because all they can do is tell about Jesus. Some can’t even see the proof in their own lives because of the lack of power. It makes many believers feel like charlatans when they share the Good News.

It seems we’ve lost the original Good News. We don’t understand the power of God and we don’t understand the Gospel. The two go hand in hand.

Without the Good News, there’s no need for the demonstration of power. Some American Christians want the power without proclaiming the Good News. The fact is, that without the message of the Gospel there’s no need to demonstrate healing, prosperity, joy, freedom from depression, or anything else the Lord has provided for us through the cross. I’m striving to spur the church on to get hungry to experience the full Gospel.

That’s why Paul could say that he had fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ. Not only did he tell about Christ, but he also demonstrated the love and power of the Lord.

Question: How can we return to the true Gospel?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Being a Blessing

Being a Blessing

As we go through this last section of Romans, there are some tough exhortations. But remember, this part of Romans assumes that you’ve applied chapters 8-10. This gives you the ability for what’s ahead.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Romans 12:14

The teaching here goes against our very human nature. This is impossible to do apart from the strength of the Holy Spirit.

This is more than just ignoring those who persecute you or putting up with them. The word, bless, means to speak well of them. To do that, requires us to see through God’s eyes. We need to see what they could become in Christ.

In this verse, Paul even repeats himself with emphasis. He tells us to bless them and don’t curse them – literally, don’t speak doom over them.

To accomplish this requires quality time with the Holy Spirit.

Another thing we must learn, according to Paul, is identification.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.

Romans 12:15

We must learn to be happy in the midst of happiness and mournful in the midst of mourning. So often we miss this characteristic of Christ.

Jesus sent out 72 of His followers to do what He was doing. They got amazing results.

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Luke 10:17

They returned full of joy. What was Jesus’ reaction?

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

Luke 10:18-21

The phrase, full of joy, literally means to jump and dance around with joy. I can picture the Lord giving them all high-fives as they arrived.

Then again, when Lazarus died…

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

John 11:33-36

The fact is that Jesus didn’t need to weep. The Lord knew that He was going to call Lazarus back to life. But, He identified with those who were in mourning.

When we identify with others, it shows them that we care about what they’re going through – either good or bad. Many times that will open their hearts to allow us to speak the truth of the Word into their lives.

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

1 Corinthians 9:22-23

We need to follow Paul’s example.

Question: How have you been a blessing to someone else recently?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2021 in Ministry, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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