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Holy Spirit – Life and Death

Holy Spirit – Life and Death

I’ve been looking at the principles found in the parable of the Prodigal Son. This is in Luke 15:11-32. Today, I want to talk about one last truth found in this story.

The father is speaking to the older brother, trying to get him to rejoice over the son’s return. He makes a statement that should speak to us as believers.

But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”

Luke 15:32 NIV

According to the father, the younger son’s return was a change from death to life. That’s the same with us when we’re saved.

Your flesh cannot fellowship with God. Your spirit, because you’re now in Christ, can live in relationship with God.

We’ve seen from Paul’s writings in Romans, that the flesh can never please God. The apostle continues with this thought. However, even though I normally use the NIV, for this verse I believe that the NKJV is the more accurate translation.

But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

Romans 8:9 NKJV

This verse simply states that everyone can access the Spirit of Christ if they’re saved. It’s not a special level of achievement only attained by a few highly spiritual people. If you are His, then you have the Spirit of Christ.

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.

Romans 8:10 NIV

Here’s a statement of fact. There are two results of having the Spirit of Christ within you. The first is that if Christ is in you, then your body is dead through sin. Secondly, if Christ is in you, then your spirit is alive through righteousness.

What does Paul mean by saying that your spirit is alive? Furthermore, what does it mean to be spiritually dead? This is a concept that many people have no understanding of.

Remember back to the Garden of Eden. When God created Adam, He said that if you eat of this tree, you will surely die. (Genesis 2:16-17) Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, yet their bodies didn’t stop working at that point.

That’s because in God’s terminology, death is the loss of fellowship with Him. It has nothing to do with the condition of your body.

Because of sin, communication ceases between Adam and the Lord. Humanity lost the relationship that they were created for.

The fact is, I’m going to live eternally somewhere, so death doesn’t mean my body stops working. That’s why the parable of the Prodigal Son is such a good picture of this truth.

The younger of the two sons took his inheritance and left home. Father and son were no longer able to have fellowship. When the son came to his senses, he returned home. We can see the attitude of God in the response of the father.

“This brother of yours was dead and is alive again.”

That’s how it works in our lives when we come to Christ. Even though your spirit existed before salvation, it couldn’t commune with God. That’s why believers now need to learn to communicate with God.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Romans 8:11 NIV

Every Christian has the Spirit of Christ living in them. Because of that fact, communication and fellowship with God is now possible. This means that the Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead in us, and He will give life to our dying flesh.

That’s the bottom line. It’s the Spirit that works on our flesh, not the mind and will-power.

Question: Why is it better to rely on the Holy Spirit rather than will-power?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2022 in Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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The Ex-Prodigal Son

The Ex-Prodigal Son

In my last post, I started looking at the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke’s Gospel. We saw how a legalistic mindset can drive new believers to give up on their Christian walk.

At some point, we begin to realize that trying to live for the Lord on our own terms doesn’t work. The things of the world lose their appeal. We begin to long for the blessing of God.

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 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 15:17-20 NIV

I want you to notice something important here. This young man misses the blessings of the father’s house. But, at the same time he still has the slave mentality.

We have to realize that thinking like a slave is a symptom of a childish mindset. Paul makes that clear in his writings.

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.

Galatians 4:1 NIV

That’s a part of our spiritual growth. We all have to go through the “slave” stage. That’s when we learn the basics of growing in Christ.

Somebody disciples us in the foundational principles. They tell us we need to read the Scriptures and pray daily. We must meet together with other believers for teaching and fellowship. We need to realign our finances through the giving of tithes and offerings.

To a new believer, this seems like a list of rules. As we grow in Christ, however, we find that these disciplines actually free us to serve God at the highest level. We put the childish slave mentality behind us and begin to operate like a mature son or daughter.

Here’s an example. When I was young teen, living with my parents, one of my chores was to put out the trash each week. I did it because I was told to do it and there would be consequences if I didn’t.

I’m 65 years old now. I still put out the trash each week. Why? Because that’s what a mature person does. I want my house clean, even though there will be no punishment if I fail to do it.

That’s how we should progress in our walk with the Lord. Those things that seemed like rules at the start, should become a vital part of our mature Christian experience.

This seems to be the hardest part of our walk with God. For some reason we want to hang on to the rules of childhood.

I’m talking about the “if…then” mentality. “If I tithe, then God will bless my finances.” “If I encourage someone, then I will be encouraged.”

Think about it. That’s how we treat children. “If you clean your room, then I’ll take you out for ice cream.”

Maturity thinks in a whole new way. We understand that under the New Covenant, I receive the blessing of God simply because I’m His child and I trust Him. On the other hand, I do those things that I know to do simply because I love the Father and I want to please Him.

This is a truth that Paul had to forcefully proclaim to the Galatian church. They were very quickly falling into legalism.

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Galatians 3:2-3 NIV

We must always remember that we’re walking according to the spirit. Serving Christ is not a matter of following a bunch of rules (observing the law). It’s about listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and walking in harmony with that calling.

Question: How do you break the “rules mentality” in following Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Humility and Hospitality

Humility and Hospitality

We’re continuing through the book of Luke. Jesus is at a banquet in His honor, but the Pharisees are watching closely to find something with which they can accuse Him. The Lord takes the opportunity to teach them some valuable lessons.

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable:

Luke 14:7 NIV

There’s one thing I’ve noticed about us as human beings. We’re so self-absorbed sometimes. We don’t stop and think about who’s around us. Jesus tells us to step back and use some restraint.

When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests.”

Luke 14:8-10 NIV

When we have a self-important attitude, it blinds us to everything going on around us. I’d like to think that there’s no one more important than me. But, that’s foolishness, plain and simple.

It’s not about what I think of myself. It’s about how God and others see me. I need to take the blinders off, and walk in humility.

Remember, humility is not about putting myself down. It’s exalting others above my own interests. Allowing others to be blessed is walking in true humility.

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Luke 14:11 NIV

This is the guiding principle. Where do you want your praise to come from? Self-exaltation is worthless. But, when God exalts you, then He gets the glory from your life. It puts you in a much better position.

However, pride is not only seen in your struggle for a popular position.

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Luke 14:12-14 NIV

Sometimes our pride can be seen in how we brag about the people we know. Dropping a well-known name here and there might impress some people. It can be seen in who you invite to your get-togethers.

According to Christ, if that’s your motivation, then you’ll have no future reward. Jesus advises us to lay up treasure in Heaven. We do so by showing kindness and humility, inviting those who cannot repay us.

Jesus makes it clear that at the resurrection of the righteous there’s going to be rewards. He’s just as clear that our rewards will be based upon how well we follow His precepts.

Knowing this, we should be constantly aware of our attitudes. Our desire should be to please the King and to be found faithful at His return. Who are you trying to please? Are you trying to become a legend in your own mind?

Maybe you’re trying to impress the world with your greatness. Instead, we should we trying to live like Jesus did. It’s time for us to wake up and become “God-pleasers” instead of “man-pleasers.”

Allow the Holy Spirit to test your attitudes. Go before Him and let Him speak to you and change you, if necessary. We need to be walking in the true humility of the Lord. That’s how we’re exalted in His kingdom.

Question: What’s your attitude toward yourself and others?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2022 in Fellowship, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Safe in God’s Will

Safe in God’s Will

We’re looking at the ministry of Jesus as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. Luke usually shows Jesus’ teaching, then gives an example of how He walks it out. Here, Luke is continuing this pattern.

In the middle of chapter 13, Jesus gives a parable of a mustard seed that grew into a tree. He was showing how unstoppable the kingdom of God is. The Lord now shows it by His ministry.

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

Luke 13:31 NIV

Obviously, not all of the Pharisees were opposing Jesus. We know from the Gospels that some of them were secret believers in Him as the Messiah. They usually kept quiet about it because the ones who opposed Jesus held the most political power.

This group heard, through their channels, that Herod was out to kill the Lord. Concerned about His safety, they warned Christ about it.

I love the Lord’s reaction to this.

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day — for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!”

Luke 13:32-33 NIV

The Lord makes it clear to these Pharisees that He has no intention of changing His plans. Not only that, but He states that they could even go ahead and tell Herod where He would be.

Jesus got His marching orders from the Holy Spirit. He had no fear for His safety. He knew that if He was to minister in these towns, then nothing could stop Him.

Of course, the Lord also knew for a fact that He was going to die in Jerusalem. With that knowledge, He knew that there was nowhere else that He could be attacked. He was safe in the center of God’s will.

That should speak to us as well. Our greatest goal should be to know and walk in God’s plan for our lives. That’s the position of safety and fulfillment.

But that brings me another thought. In my flesh, knowing that I would die in Jerusalem, I would make it a point to never set foot in that city.

However, that didn’t stop the Lord either. He always operated according to the Father’s plans. Knowing what awaited Him, didn’t cause Jesus to shrink back.

But that also didn’t stop Him from grieving over the truth that Jerusalem was the city of godly martyrs.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'”

Luke 13:34-35 NIV

Jesus is saddened because on more than one occasion, He desired to bring all of Israel together under His protection. Yet even though that was His desire, it was not the desire of the Jewish people.

The Lord declares that the point has been reached where they are left desolate. That’s an important word. It means to be solitary, alone and deserted. Throughout Greek literature, it’s used for a flock of sheep deserted by the shepherd, or a wife neglected by her husband.

Israel has chosen a path without their Messiah. Remember, Jesus had warned them about this in the parable of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9). It’s obvious that at this time they’ve reached the point of no return.

Now the Lord’s goal is to accomplish their salvation on the cross. He will be crucified, buried, and in three days He will rise from the dead. At that point they can repent and receive full forgiveness for their sin.

Let this be a lesson to us. We can’t ignore the call of the Holy Spirit forever. We need to spend the time necessary to hear His voice and obey His Word to us. That’s the real place of safety for our souls.

Question: What has the Spirit been speaking to you lately?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Fruit is not Optional

Fruit is not Optional

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, Jesus gives the crowd a parable.

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'”

Luke 13:6-9 NIV

I believe that the direct application of this is that Jesus was giving Israel a time-limit to accept Him as the Messiah. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and temporarily lost their place in the Holy Land.

There is, however, a more important application to the lives of God’s people. Beyond any question, God is looking for fruit in the lives of believers.

When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, He begins to transform us into Christ’s image. He wants us to live like Jesus did. This means that we bear spiritual fruit.

This fruit does not simply mean that we’re being nice people. You can be nice without the Holy Spirit’s help. The fruit that God is looking for is on a whole different level. The list of these characteristics is given in Galatians 5:22-23.

Back in 2017, I did a detailed series on each of these fruits. To read that series of posts, click here.

It should be clear from an understanding of the Fruit of the Spirit, that we need the power of God to fulfill them. The fruit are an outgrowth of a deepening walk with the Lord. The more time we spend with Him, the more we become like Him.

Unfortunately, there are those who read about this fruit, and feel that it would be nice to live like that, but I can’t work on that right now. We need to understand that bearing fruit is not optional. As a matter of fact, they’re not even something we can do by trial and error.

They’re called the fruit OF THE SPIRIT for a reason. They don’t come to us by disciplining our flesh. It’s not even a result of making up our mind to accomplish them. They can only spring from our spirit being led by the Holy Spirit.

You may think that Jesus is being judgmental with Israel in the above passage. You might feel that the Lord will look the other way as you do your own thing. What does the New Testament teach about this?

The writer of the book of Hebrews was speaking to a people who were under persecution. They were thinking about going back to Judaism. Listen to what he tells them.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

Hebrews 6:7-8 NIV

You may think this sounds hash. But, in reality, by rejecting the Fruit of the Spirit, you’re actually rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit in you. In that case, you’re in danger of losing the blessings of God in your life.

Jesus said that if we remain in Him, we will bear much fruit (John 15:1-8). He said that He was the vine, and we are the branches. If that’s the case, then you could say that the Holy Spirit is the life-giving sap running through every part.

If we block the work of the sap, then our branch will begin to wither. There will be no fruit, and it will be worthless as a part of the vineyard. No one want to be in that position.

Spend quality time in your relationship with the Spirit of God. Allow Him to continue His work in you. Then watch as your life produces the fruit that speaks to the glory of God.

Question: How fruitful is your life right now?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2022 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Discerning This Time

Discerning This Time

Continuing through Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus speaking to His disciples with the crowds listening. Now He directly addresses the people following.

He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?

Luke 12:54-56 NIV

It’s interesting to see Jesus talking about the weather. In a society where most of the activity took place outdoors, everyone could predict the weather. Most people could look at the sky, feel the direction of the wind, and could guess pretty accurately what was coming.

We like to know the weather as well. There are whole cable channels dedicated to forecasting the weather.

In this verse, the Lord rebukes the people because they can tell the weather by looking at the signs. On the other hand, they could see everything happening around them in Israel, and not discern that Messiah had come.

They should have been looking to Him as the leader of a new movement. They should have been changing their lifestyles to conform to His Word.

Instead, they treated Christ as if He were a religious entertainer. He was someone they were excited to see come to their town. But when He left, it was back to business as usual.

But that begs the question, are we able to discern the times we’re living in? Do we know what’s coming and how we should prepare ourselves?

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 NIV

This is one of many verses that gives us the “weather report” for the last days. I don’t think you need a seminary degree to understand what it’s saying. I also think that you would have to have your head buried in the sand to not see it as a description of the society we live in, at least in the USA.

Over the last few posts, I’ve been going through Luke, chapter 12. Jesus has been teaching about what it means to have a last day’s mindset. We need to be preparing our hearts and minds for the days ahead.

I don’t know everything that’s ahead of us, but I do know this…Jesus said we need to be spiritually awake and alert. We must have our spiritual lamps burning. We should be building our faith in God’s Word. Along with that, we must be fulfilling our calling in Christ.

That being said, I look around me in the body of Christ. In many areas I see business as usual. I see believers on social media with the same attitudes as the world. I see Christians afraid of the same things the world is afraid of.

I just want to yell out, “Hey people, read God’s weather report! The storm is coming. We need to be building on the rock. It’s time to stop building on the sand.”

A few days ago, in my post, The Last Days Mindset 3, I talked about the need to beware of dissipation, spiritual drunkenness, and anxieties. That’s the trap the world is falling into. We have no business falling victim to the loss these things bring.

We need to be watching and prepared for the Lord’s return. If needed, wake up, turn around, and get back on track with the Lord. Spend time in the Holy Spirit, strengthening your life for the days ahead.

Question: How prepared are you for the living in the Last Days?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Holy Spirit and Fire

The Holy Spirit and Fire

We’re continuing in our study through Luke’s Gospel. The Lord is teaching about the future ministry of His disciples and the church. At that point, the disciples probably didn’t understand most of what Christ was saying. But, looking back, we can take it to heart.

I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!”

Luke 12:49-50 NIV

The Lord begins to talk about the results of His ministry on the earth. There’s a fire He wants to start, but He has to undergo His immersion first. Jesus is talking about His death, burial, and resurrection.

The fire is to be an important part of what He starts at His resurrection. He mentioned it at another place in His ministry.

Everyone will be salted with fire. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Mark 9:49-50 NIV

In this section, the Lord is not talking about us being the salt of the earth. He’s speaking about the salt of fire being placed within us. I believe that He’s talking about the Holy Spirit, who we receive when we become a Christian.

Throughout the Bible, God is referred to as a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Elsewhere, we’re told not to put out the Holy Spirit’s fire (1 Thessalonians 5:19). It’s through this purifying work of the Holy Spirit that we’re made clean before God.

There is a consequence of this, however. Not everybody wants to be changed by the Spirit of God. There are those who will refuse to accept this free gift of salvation.

Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Luke 12:51-53 NIV

Peace is a big subject when you talk about Christ. At Christmas time we sing about “Peace on Earth.” That’s what Christ is talking about here, but that won’t come about until His return. At that time the Lord will reign over the earth and there will be peace.

Until then, the earth will be in turmoil. Part of that will be the tension between darkness and light. The kingdom of God vs the enemy’s rule on earth. Many times this war will erupt right inside our homes. This happens when some family members are Christians and some are not.

We experience this on many occasions. We need to be going to the Lord to receive grace to win over our families. Sometimes that’s the hardest place to minister. I’ve heard so many stories where a family member comes to Christ through a friend, even though they had rejected that same witness from their family.

But there’s another peace that’s available to us, as believers. That’s God’s peace. It’s the peace that should be active in His people. Jesus said that He was going to give it to us (John 14:27).

I believe this is the peace that Jesus was referring to in the verse in Mark, above. If we let God salt us with His purifying fire, then we’ll be clean from all the things that cause conflict. By submitting to the Holy Spirit’s work, the church can be a place that shows forth the peace of God. This should be an example to the world around us.

Of course, we want our loved ones to enter into this peace. We need to be praying for them. And praying for the grace to reach them.

But, if we find that they refuse to listen to our testimony, there’s another prayer that we must use. We should be praying that God would send someone to them that they will listen to. We can’t be so stubborn to think that we’re the only person God will use to reach them. Pray for a Christian friend to bring the Word they need to hear.

Question: Who are you praying for to receive the Gospel of Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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A Last Days Mindset 2

A Last Days Mindset 2

In my last post, I started looking at how Jesus told us to be ready for His return. We need to be always awake and alert in the spirit. This is important because we have no idea when this return will take place.

But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Luke 12:39-40 NIV

Jesus uses the illustration of a thief breaking into a house. The Lord makes it clear that no amount of experience or calculation can pinpoint the day and hour of a break-in. The only thing you can do is to make preparations for that possibility.

In the same way, Jesus will return at an unknown day and hour. It will be when a majority of people don’t expect Him. The Greek word for expect means to be of the opinion or to suppose.

As I said in my last post, there are many believers who are of the opinion that Jesus is going to come sooner than He says He will. The Lord doesn’t operate according to popular opinion. It’s all about His Word and His will.

There are some who think it’s the world that Christ is talking about here. They suppose it’s the world who won’t expect Jesus to return at the proper time. The Scripture has an answer for this.

Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.”

Luke 12:41-44 NIV

Thank you, Peter, for asking that question. The answer is very important to our discussion. The Lord makes it clear that He’s not only talking to believers, but especially to the leadership of the church. If the spiritual leaders are ignorant of the truth, then what chance do the young believers have?

Jesus is talking to the teachers. He wants those who feed the Word of God to the flock to know the truth. After all, those who teach and preach will be judged more strictly.

Because of this, the Lord is directing His comments to the faithful and wise leaders. He’s addressing those who have a great desire to accomplish God’s will.

That word, faithful, means someone who you can fully trust. The word, wise, literally means thoughtful and implies a cautious character.

What does this mean to us? When it comes to the return of the Lord, there are many who teach what they’ve heard others teach. They only echo the voice of others with no thought of seeking the truth for themselves.

We live in the last days. The time is getting shorter. We don’t have the luxury of teaching something because it sounds exciting. By our preaching, believers are either being set-up for heartache and failure or faith and victory.

We need to be prepared to wait for the Lord’s return, no matter how long it takes. I’ve done an in-depth study of the Lord’s teaching on this and put it in a book. It’s called The Third Watch – It’s Later than You Think. For more information about this book, click here.

We need to be a people who are preparing ourselves for the Lord’s coming. That means spending time in the Word and in the Spirit. We need to be praying, hearing from God, and then doing what He speaks.

Then, no matter what the future holds, we’ll be found as faithful and wise servants at His return.

Question: How do you cultivate faithfulness to Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2022 in Faith, Leadership, Return of Christ

 

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Interrupting the Lord?

Interrupting the Lord?

We all know that it’s impolite to interrupt someone when they’re speaking. Have you ever thought about this in relation to Christ and His work in you? He speaks to us in various ways. Are we guilty of interrupting what He’s doing in us?

I want to look at an incident in the life of Jesus that illustrates this. We’re going through the Gospel of Luke, and we’re now in chapter 12. You may want to read Luke 12:13-34, before continuing.

At this point in the Lord’s ministry, He’s publicly teaching some important principles, when all of a sudden, a loud voice interrupts Him.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Luke 12:13 NIV

Can you imagine that? Jesus is walking down the street giving words of instruction and perhaps ministering to the sick, when somebody yells out, “Tell my brother to give me my share of the inheritance.”

It makes you wonder what type of individual would be so self-absorbed, that they would make a public statement like that. Well, that kind of presumption was enough to set Jesus off in a new direction of teaching.

Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Luke 12:14-15 NIV

When Jesus got done, that person probably felt as though he should have kept his mouth shut. Jesus used this interruption to teach the crowd about the foolishness of greed.

The Lord told them a parable about a rich man with no common sense. This man got a big harvest, built bigger barns, and stored it all up. He felt like he had everything he could ever need.

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12:20-21 NIV

Jesus explained that the man ended up dying before he could spend all of his wealth. That foolish man lost the eternal to gain the temporary.

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

Luke 12:22-23 NIV

The Lord’s message to those gathered around Him was that our life does not consist of what can be accumulated. You’re not to worry about what you’re going to wear or what you’re going to eat. God will provide for you.

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Luke 12:31 NIV

Worry about serving God. Worry about doing the Father’s will. In that way you’re laying up treasure in Heaven.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12:34 NIV

This got me thinking. The Lord is attempting to do a particular work in my life. He communicates His plan to me through a series of events. He speaks to my heart, allows circumstances to come my way, and teaches me through the lives and words of others.

How often do I “interrupt” His plan with a totally unrelated request? I get my eyes off His plan and onto my desires. When it comes to the Lord, I need to think before I ask.

We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit at work in us. Make sure that your requests are in line with His plan. Don’t be discourteous and interrupt the Lord.

Question: Have you ever found yourself guilty of interrupting God’s work in you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Hearing and Speaking

Hearing and Speaking

As we go through Luke, chapter 12, we come to one of the greatest parts. Jesus is talking to His disciples about their identification with Him. It’s a blessing because the Holy Spirit is involved.

“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

Luke 12:11-12 NIV

The Holy Spirit should be allowed to take an active role in all that we do. Being aware of His presence is a major part of a powerful ministry.

There are times the Lord wants us to speak on His behalf. Jesus gives us three different venues where this can take place. We need to be prepared for any and all of these.

The synagogue was the meeting place for those who professed to serve God. That should be the most receptive group to hear a Word from God. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out that way.

The Lord also mentions rulers – the highest position in any situation. But, there are also authorities. These people are simply over a group of others.

Jesus makes it clear that there will be times when we have to speak up in these places. It’s especially during these times that our reliance on the Holy Spirit is free and clear.

I think that the key in all of this is the phrase, do not worry. This is a Greek word that means to take no thought. It comes with the implication that you don’t allow your thoughts to run wild in all directions.

I know from experience that this is easy to say. In practice, it’s a lot harder to walk out. Disciplining our mind is not an easy task.

However, that’s one of the results of time spent cultivating our relationship with the Holy Spirit. We’re able to increase our ability to place our mind at rest and hear His voice. That’s the preparation needed to be a true witness before others.

But wait a minute! Some might ask, “Shouldn’t I memorize certain Scriptures and prepare a ‘Witness Testimony’?”

Memorizing Scripture is always good. It gives the Holy Spirit something to work with in your thoughts. But, a prepared speech rarely ever touches the hearts of those listening. What truly transforms people is a Word from the Holy Spirit.

As Jesus says, our desire is usually to defend ourselves or our actions. We want just the right words to say that will get us out of trouble. We want to say something that we think the listener wants to hear and will agree with us about.

That’s not the Lord’s goal in most situations. His agenda is truth expressed in love. That’s what the Holy Spirit will bring through us if we allow Him to.

The Lord says this in a very interesting way. He tells us that the Holy Spirit will teach us right at that moment. Think about that.

Teaching usually requires time to get a point across. It means that we learn to think about something in a new way. It’s about changing our thought patterns to a new conclusion.

The fact that the Holy Spirit can do this in a short amount of time is truly a miracle. This means that two things are required of us.

First, we must have a willingness to trust Him and wait for His teaching BEFORE we start talking and giving our own opinions. Then, we must also be willing to speak out whatever the Lord gives us, no matter how contrary it runs to our own thoughts.

I believe that this is a major part of what the Lord is doing in His church right now. God’s current agenda is to train up a people who are willing to take the time to listen to His voice. Then, once they hear from Him, they immediately go out and do what He has spoken.

That’s the foundation for the coming move of God!

Question: How do you cultivate your time with the Holy Spirit?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, Prayer, The Gospel

 

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