RSS

Tag Archives: humble

Our Glorious God

Our Glorious God

In my last post, I started talking about the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth. This occurred when they both became pregnant after hearing a message from God. Elizabeth was carrying John the Baptist, while Mary was pregnant with Jesus.

We saw that when they met together, God showed up. He overshadowed their time together. Elizabeth was given a revelation of who Mary would give birth to – the Messiah. Now Mary is overcome by the presence of the Lord and she begins to prophesy.

This is found in Luke 1:46-56. You may want to read this passage before continuing with this post.

She begins with a revelation of who she is, and the magnitude of what God is doing in her.

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me — holy is his name.”

Luke 1:46-49

It’s important to see her attitude here. She understands that it’s all about God, and has nothing to do with how good she is. She sees God as her Lord and Savior. Her blessing is from Him alone.

We need to learn this lesson. There’s nothing we can do to work for, or earn the Lord’s blessing. It’s all a part of what Christ accomplished for us on the cross. All we can do is accept the blessing of His salvation.

His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.”

Luke 1:50-51

God alone is merciful and mighty. It’s important for us to understand what that means. We get a skewed understanding of mercy sometimes.

In our modern generation we use the word, mercy, incorrectly. We think it means to give someone a second chance after they’ve wronged us. We sweep their sin under the carpet. That’s not the Biblical idea.

Notice that God extends mercy to those who fear Him. That’s because God’s mercy is His reward to those who are obedient to His covenant. It’s the added benefit you get for being part of the family.

To fear God means that you humble yourself before Him. These verses reinforce the fact that pride hinders our relationship with the Lord. It’s all about our attitudes.

He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.”

Luke 1:52-53

Ruling, humble, hungry, and rich are all attitudes. They’re choices we have to make. Am I in charge of my life (ruler) or is God in charge (humble)? Do I see my need for the Lord’s help (hungry) or do I think I can make it without His help (rich)? How we answer these questions determine the amount of grace we receive.

He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”

Luke 1:54-55

I especially love this last part. This blessing is forever on the descendants of Abraham. That includes me.

Remember, from the book of Romans, that as Gentile believers we’ve been grafted into the family of Abraham. Genetically, I have no part of this heritage, yet because of Christ I can claim the full rights of a son of Abraham. And, you can too if you’ve bowed your knee to Jesus Christ.

This whole exchange was just the first few minutes of Mary and Elizabeth getting together. I can only imagine what the next few months were like. The mutual encouragement must have been incredible. This is what life in the family of God should be like for all of us.

Question: How is your knowledge of God increased by your meeting with other believers?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Faith in Humility

Faith in Humility

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, the next section I want to look at is Luke 1:26-38. You may want to read that section of Scripture before continuing with this post.

In the last couple of posts, we saw the angel, Gabriel, bringing a message to Zechariah the priest. The message was that Zechariah and his wife would have a son, John the Baptist, in their old age.

Because of his pride, Zechariah questioned the angel as to the truth of his message. Because of that, he couldn’t speak until the child was born.

Now, this same angel is sent with a message to a young Jewish woman named Mary. She was engaged to a man named Joseph. She was a virgin, yet she was told that she would conceive a child without any sexual relations.

Right from the start, she was caught off guard, not only by the angel’s appearance, but his greeting to her.

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

Luke 1:28-30

It’s at this point that we see the difference between Mary and Zechariah. This verse literally says that she was agitated and confused by his words to her. As a result, she was questioning internally and trying to figure out what this angel could possibly mean by this greeting.

Where Zechariah spoke out of his pride, Mary remained humble and kept her thoughts to herself. This makes a big difference. We need to learn this lesson. We don’t always need to say everything that’s passing through our brain.

Because of her silence, the angel could continue with his message to her.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

Luke 1:30-33

In this passage, Luke begins to show us some insight into who Jesus is. He is Son of the Most High God. He’s the last king of Israel, because when He reigns, there will be no end of His kingdom. It’s obvious that Mary is being told that she will bear the long awaited Messiah.

Believing the angel’s words, Mary then asks the next logical question.

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

Luke 1:34

This question is very different than the question asked by Zechariah. He was looking for proof that the angel spoke the truth.

Mary, on the other hand, assumed that the message was true. She simply was curious as to how it was going to take place. Would this Son be a product of her upcoming marriage? Or, would He be the result of a miracle?

Gabriel then responds to her faith. He let’s Mary know that God is doing miraculous things. Not only in her, but in Elizabeth as well. The times were changing. Messiah was about to appear. God’s plan was going to move forward.

Her response at this point is incredible.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Luke 1:38

I can’t even imagine the faith that she showed at his statements. She was in total surrender to God’s will for her.

There was no thought to herself. What would people think of her – pregnant outside of marriage? What would her parents say? What would Joseph, her fiance, think about this?

None of this seemed to even enter her thinking. The only thing that concerned her was to carry out God’s will. We need to walk in that same kind of faith.

Question: How would you have reacted to Gabriel’s message?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 17, 2021 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

One With the Body of Christ

One With the Body of Christ

We’re continuing our walk through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. In this section of the epistle, he’s talking about the walk of maturity.

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Romans 12:16

This next verse deals with how we see ourselves in God’s kingdom. That first sentence literally says, be the same toward one another. We need to realize that in Christ, none of us are any different from one another.

According to our human way of thinking, little things make big differences to us. However, these petty differences mean nothing to God.

Things like where we’re from, what we look like, money, position, and education are all immaterial to God and should be to us. We’re all the same in His eyes.

This means that bigotry and self-interest have no place in the church. That includes race and gender, as well as political preferences. We’re here to serve one another, no matter what.

Then, Paul tells us not to place our focus on high things. Instead, focus on the humble, and get carried away with them. Humility is an important part of the Christian walk. Paul isn’t the only one who talks about it.

Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

1 Peter 5:5-6

I like the way Peter explains this. We’re to put on humility like a piece of clothing. It can cover over all the junk that may be going on inside of us.

But more than that, it comes with a blessing. Humility brings a covering of God’s grace with it. As we humble ourselves, we open our lives up to a release of God’s power. One of the best ways to walk in God’s grace is to live humbly with others.

Getting back to the verse in Romans, Paul’s last statement is very interesting. The original Greek reads, do not become skillful at revolving everything around yourself.

Sometimes it seems that this is how we view the Scripture and our walk with God. “God and the Bible exist simply to bless me.” Absolutely not!! God’s highest goal is to make me a blessing to others. That includes those who do not act kindly toward me.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.

Romans 12:17

This is another exhortation that needs the power of God to fulfill. Don’t give back evil for evil.

Instead, we’re told to be careful. That means to consider in advance. In other words, we must prepare ourselves to do what’s good in the sight of all men – even those who hate us.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Romans 12:18

Wow! This is a big “if”. It literally says that if you have the power to bring it out of yourself, have peace around all men.

Remember, this is the fruit of the spirit of peace. It grows in you as you plant the seed of the Word and let it mature in the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

This is the peace we must live in. It’s an attitude that must be cultivated in God’s presence. This is one of the surest ways of judging maturity. It’s about how well we live with those around us.

Question: How well does your life reflect these qualities?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Disciples and Fasting

As we continue to look at the ministry of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel, one thing we have to realize is that the Lord lived under the Old Covenant.  So there were times He had to make it clear that something new was coming.

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting.  Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”
Mark 2:18

That was an interesting question for the Lord.  It’s clear from Scripture that Jesus fasted.  In Jesus’ ministry, He taught what to do “when you fast.”  Jesus assumed that fasting would be a normal part of our lives.  Why didn’t He make His disciples practice this discipline?

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?  They cannot, so long as they have him with them.  But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.”
Mark 2:19-20

The Lord was basically telling them that fasting would change from Old Testament to New Testament.  He wanted them to start the New Covenant fast after the resurrection.

Under the Old Covenant, fasting was a way to humble yourself in repentance.  Now, in Christ, we fast in order to put down the flesh so that we can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more clearly.  For a more detailed teaching on this subject…click here.

At this point, Jesus gives a description of the differences in parable form.  Those listening to His explanation probably didn’t understand what the Lord was talking about, but looking back, we can.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment.  If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.”
Mark 2:21

The first thing He talks about is the outside – a garment.  In the ancient world, the way to repair your clothing was to take an old piece of cloth and use it to patch an old garment.

Under the Old Covenant, fasting was only a patch.  It was all about doing something to get God to listen to me.  I needed to patch things up.  So I humbled myself by fasting, wearing sackcloth, and covering my head with ashes.  I had to show how sorrowful I was for my sin.

There were times that people fasted just for show.  They wanted to look “holy”.  That’s when God would say things like, “Will I listen to you if you fast like that?”

According to Jesus, we don’t fast like the Pharisees or other Old Testament people.  Much of what they did was to impress people with their outward displays of religion.

If I try to patch things up with God under the New Covenant, I only make things worse.  It’s all about me being able to hear God’s voice clearly.

How, then, do I get God to hear me?  The truth is that I don’t.  In Christ, we have 24/7 access to the throne room of God.  There’s no condemnation; we can enter boldly into His presence.

Now, under grace, we’re a new garment and don’t need a patch.  But a new garment (back then) would always shrink with use.  Fasting under the New Covenant shrinks the outer garment.

That’s what we look for – the flesh to decrease.  As I fast, the voice of my flesh gets quieter.  So fasting forcefully puts down the flesh.

This is because under the New Covenant it’s about me hearing from God.  God hears me in Christ.  But I need to hear Him with my spirit when He speaks.

I don’t think it’s as much God not speaking, as me not listening.  Fasting helps drown out the noise of my flesh.  That’s why I believe that fasting should be a regular part of a Christian’s life.

Questions:  Do you fast?  How often?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 27, 2017 in Fasting, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Pride – Know the Symptoms

Are you walking in pride? Do you know what to look for? Many are self-deceived and don’t even know they’re headed for problems in this area.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6

By understanding pride, we can make sure that we haven’t put ourselves in a position of opposing God. That’s a no-win situation. We need to steer clear of that trap.

Scripture records some events that surrounded Christ’s birth. The following principals are gleaned from Luke’s Gospel and the birth announcements of both John the Baptist and Jesus. These are found in Luke 1:5-38. You may want to read this passage before continuing with this article.

By comparing the responses of Zechariah and Mary, we can see how to recognize pride. It’s clear in Luke’s Gospel that Zechariah was rebuked, while Mary was commended. How you answer the following questions will show your spiritual attitude in relation to pride.

Are you walking in fear? Right from the start, Zechariah was terrified, while Mary was troubled. Even though it may sound the same on the surface, there’s a world of difference.

The word troubled literally means to be mixed up or uncomfortable. This is a normal reaction to a spiritual encounter.

When new opportunities arise to serve God, there’s always a level of discomfort and uncertainty. On the other hand, if the thought of doing something new for Christ is terrifying to you, that’s a sign that pride is at work in your life.

Do you need proof of the outcome before you do something for God? Zechariah’s first question was, “How can I be sure of this?” Mary simply asked for a clarification of how it would happen. When given a new assignment from the Lord, do you insist that you know how it will turn out BEFORE you act on it?

Praying for wisdom and direction to complete your service to Christ is the right way to go. Needing proof that it will turn out the way you want it to, is a sign of pride in your heart.

Do you see your title as important to God? Two different people stood before the angel Gabriel – God’s designated messenger. Mary’s response was, “I am the Lord’s servant.” That’s the best way of viewing ourselves. What God wants accomplished in me is my priority.

Zechariah’s response was a little different. Many translations quote him as saying, “I’m an old man.” What he actually said, in the original Greek, was, “I am an elder”.

It was as if he was somehow superior and needed the assurance that his position would not be compromised by this announcement. After all, he had a reputation to maintain.

If you can’t do what the Lord wants because it’s “beneath you” – that’s a symptom that pride has taken over. You have to realize that if God doesn’t do what He says He’ll do, He has more to lose than you do.

Don’t let pride mess up your walk with the Lord. If you find these symptoms in your life, then simply repent and move on in the grace of God.

Question: How have you found yourself wrestling with pride?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 12, 2017 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Money and Humility

Fake MoneyThey say that the grass is always greener in the next yard. But is that the truth? What should our attitude be towards wealth?

If we want to do our best work for the Lord, then we need to deal with the issue of money. In our society you can’t function real well without it. So, we need to understand the Scriptural view. James had something to say about it.

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower.
James 1:9-10

The first thing that we understand from this verse is that James is not saying that we all need to be poor. He doesn’t contrast poor vs. rich, which references how much money you have. Instead, he’s dealing with humble vs. rich, which tells me that he’s talking about our attitudes.

I believe that God wants to provide abundantly for His children. But what I’ve learned is that He works with us individually. What I mean is this; abundant provision in the United States will look differently than abundance in Indonesia. Yet, in both places, the Lord blesses His people in order for them to be a blessing to others.

The problem is not about how much money you have, it’s your attitude towards it that makes the difference. I’ve seen people who have no real money – everything they own is on credit. Yet they act arrogantly as if they own the world and are better than everyone else.

I’ve also seen people who don’t have a lot, but they’re constantly blessing others. As a result, God is always continuing to provide for them.

We need to learn the lesson of attitudes. It’s never about how much money you have. There needs to be a walk of humility.

But what is humility? Some think that it means you have to see yourself as a nobody. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

At one point Paul told Titus to show true humility toward all men (Titus 3:2). The fact is that true humility is always directed at others and never at us. It’s how I need to view those around me.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3

Humility never puts itself down. Instead, it lifts others up. Okay, but what does that have to do with money?

If you think that your money makes you great and important, then you need an attitude adjustment. Money is a tool that we use to provide for our needs and to bless others. Having it doesn’t make you any better than you were without it.

James makes it clear in his next statement.

For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
James 1:11

One way or another we’re going to learn that the external is not what life’s all about. Either you develop the spiritual strengths that bring a mature walk or you find out that the material things you’re relying on are never enough.

If you put your hope in a big bank account, then it will fail you. Your willingness to trust God and bless others is what will see you through the challenges of life.

Question: How have you experienced that trusting God is better than a big bank account?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 22, 2017 in Faith, God's Provision, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Abel – Acceptable Offerings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I look at Cain and his unacceptable offering, it’s not really complete unless we understand why Abel’s offering was accepted. After all, why would Cain kill Abel if he was really mad at God?

The truth is that there’s an offering that’s acceptable to God. The question is; what makes it acceptable?

But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering…
Genesis 4:4

Some say that God accepted Abel because he brought a blood offering, but that’s not the real reason. We must also remember that God called for many offering of firstfruits from the Israelites. So there’s no law that says God only accepts blood offerings.

You need to understand the times that Cain and Able lived in to see the issue. In talking about Abel’s birth, the Bible says…

Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
Genesis 4:2

Why was Abel a shepherd of flocks? I ask that because God did not give mankind permission to eat meat until after the flood.

When Adam and Eve sinned and were removed from the garden, God did something interesting.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
Genesis 3:21

In order to cover their sin and nakedness, God slaughtered an innocent animal before them. He showed them the way to sacrifice a sin offering.

Abel was the shepherd of the flock. That means that Abel was the priest designated by God to offer sacrifices and offerings. Even the Lord Jesus referred to Abel as the first prophet (Luke 11:50-51).

Because Abel was God’s chosen priest, he was the only one who could offer sacrifices before God acceptably. Protocol dictated that Cain bring his offering to Abel in order for God to accept it.

Remember in my last post we saw that God told Cain, “If you do what is right, you will be accepted.” It wasn’t what Cain offered that was wrong; it was how he offered it.

This was going to require humility on Cain’s part. That’s always the catch, even for us. We offer a lot of things to God – Worship, praise, tithes, offerings, prayers, etc. In all of this we must humble ourselves before God.

I must realize that what I give isn’t acceptable simply because I’m bringing it. I’m only accepted because I’m in Christ. He’s our great High Priest.

We can’t boast in what we offer. It’s not about us. It’s about the One who makes us acceptable to God.

Question: How do you show your humility before God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 18, 2016 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

America at the Crossroads

FlagcrossToday is Memorial Day. It’s a day to remember the sacrifices that so many men and women have made so that we can live in freedom. It’s sad to see how far we’ve fallen from the original plan of the founding fathers.

How did this happen? First of all, we have to understand that God treats nations differently than He deals with individuals.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
Psalm 33:12

God will bless a nation that follows His ways.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
Proverbs 14:34

To the extent that America followed God’s ways – we were blessed and exalted. We saw the abundance of God, and then thanked Him for it. Our people had wisdom to create wealth, inventions, and many other great achievements.

But there came a time when we started to leave the path.

Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?
Psalm 94:10

The truth is that God disciplines nations. Of course, this requires understanding God’s ways. The world is the Lord’s, and all of the land that exists is His. Nations, themselves, cannot be saved or unsaved. As such, nations are under law, not grace.

We know from Scripture that the power of sin is the law (I Cor. 15:56). That means that the enemy’s kingdom is powered by the law.

This principle was the basis of the law given to Moses.

…for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
Leviticus 18:27-28

In effect, the law gives the devil permission to attack a nation that defiles God’s land. It’s not God cursing a nation. It’s a nation cursing itself by inviting the enemies’ attack.

How is the land polluted? A few things listed in the Bible are: Bloodshed (Numbers 35:33-34); Corruption (Ezra 9:11); Sexual Sin (Leviticus 18:25); Prostitution (Jeremiah 3:2); and Idolatry (Jeremiah 16:18). The devil has permission to attack polluted lands.

It grieves me to admit that America is a defiled land. I’m sorry for sounding so down about the USA. The truth is that there’s nowhere else on earth that I’d rather live. I love this nation. But without a proper diagnosis, there can be no healing.

There is a remedy for the problems we face in our culture.

…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

I have heard this verse emphasized in America since the sixties. But rather than humble themselves, pray, seek, & turn – God’s people have either protested the moral landslide or joined right in with them.

It’s time for us to take God’s holy prescription for this nation. It’s time for the church to remember where we came from, and fervently seek revival.

Question: What would a national revival of the church look like?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Prayer, Revival

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Revival Forgiveness Connection

Heart CellAmerica needs a spiritual revival.  That’s beyond question.  I believe that it’s coming.  But we as God’s people need to prepare ourselves for it.  I want to take a few posts to deal with an issue that I think is important for us to understand in this generation.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

The outcome of this verse is to forgive their sin and heal their land.  Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that these two concepts are linked with each other.  If we want to be positioned for revival, then we must grasp how the forgiveness of God figures into it.  In this post I want to talk about some principles of forgiveness.

Forgiveness was God’s idea.  Human beings would have never come up with this concept.  It was God who first approached us and told us that forgiveness was possible.  Only after seeing His example, could we try and forgive others in the same way He forgave us.

True forgiveness is freedom.  When we sin against God or another person, we place ourselves under the curse of divine judgment.  My sin has a penalty that must be paid.

We have watered down the scope of forgiveness.  Forgiveness ends the demand for the penalty.  Then it goes even further and frees us from the payment of that penalty.  Then, because of what Christ did on the cross, that sin is totally and permanently removed from my record!  Now that’s freedom!

Forgiveness is a process.  There’s a definite flow of events in order for forgiveness to take place.  First there is the sin that brings the need for forgiveness.  Then, forgiveness itself must be purchased.  In our case God purchased it by the precious blood of Christ.

The next steps are on my part.  First, I have to humble myself, admit what I have done, and turn from my sin.  That’s what true repentance it.

Next, I have to receive the forgiveness that was purchased for me.  This is probably the most overlooked step of the whole process.  Only when all of these things are accomplished can I step into the freedom of forgiveness.

There’s a link between revival and forgiveness.  Sometimes we miss the blessing because we don’t see the big picture.  America is in need of a great change.  We need revival.

We think the problem is that when we tell others about Christ, they don’t want to listen.  We need to see the scope of revival.  In the verse above we’re told that it comes when God’s people pray.

Revival comes when the church humbles itself.  Literally this Scripture says we need to search out, seek, and strive after the presence of God.  Only then will forgiveness and revival break out.

In the next posts I’ll deal with how and why forgiveness and revival work together.

Question: How often do you specifically pray for revival in our nation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 25, 2013 in Prayer, Revival

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,