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Jesus and Fasting

Jesus and Fasting

We’re continuing our walk through the Gospel of Luke. Today’s post will talk about Luke 5:27-38. You may want to read that passage before continuing with this article.

The Pharisees were starting to get annoyed by Jesus’ style of teaching. He was reaching out to the members of society that they felt were not worth their time. These self-righteous leaders didn’t want to associate with tax-collectors, prostitutes, or drunks.

Jesus, on the other hand, saw them as people who God loved and wanted to restore. In trying to find fault with this, the Pharisees questioned Jesus about fasting. They asked why the Lord’s disciples didn’t fast on the religious fasting days.

In His answer, Jesus basically told them that there was going to be a transition from Old Testament fasting to that which would take place in the New Testament. Jesus gives a description of the differences in parable form.

He told them this parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.”

Luke 5:36

First, the Lord talks about the outside – a garment. The old way was to take an old cloth and patch an old garment. Fasting in the Old Testament was only a patch. At that time, fasting was all about getting God to listen to me. I needed to patch things up between God and me.

If I try to patch the garment in the New Testament it only makes things worse. Then how do I get God to hear me? I DON’T!!! In Christ we now have access to God 24/7.

Now we are a new garment and we don’t need a patch. But a new garment (back then) would shrink with usage. Fasting under the New Covenant shrinks the outer garment. That’s what we look for – the flesh to decrease. We want the voice of the flesh to get quieter.

Fasting forcefully puts down the flesh. This is because now it’s about me hearing from God. God hears me in Christ. But I need to hear Him when He speaks. And that’s where fasting comes in. Fasting helps me drown out the noise of my flesh.

But Jesus gave another parable…

“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.”

Luke 5:37-38

In this parable the old wineskins stand for those who walk in legalism. Once wineskins were used, they became empty, used up, dry, and unyielding. That’s a good description of many of the Pharisees. They had nothing on the inside to give that would bless others.

In the natural, new wine is unfermented grape juice. As it becomes wine, it produces gasses that pressurize the skins. Old, dry and unyielding wineskins would burst under that internal pressure.

A New wineskin – one that’s unstretched, oiled, soft, and pliable – is ready to be used in this process.

As we get that new wine of the Holy Spirit in us, it starts to ferment. There’s a spiritual pressure that builds up. That’s what brings growth.

Now you’re hearing from God and something is being poured into you. The pressure is building. You have something to give and pour out into someone else.

Listen to Jesus’ next statement.

And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
Luke 5:39

Once you get a taste for legalism, you don’t want the new work of the Spirit. Why is that? Simply put, legalism is intoxicating and addictive.

Legalism strokes my ego. “Look at what I’m doing for God. I read my Bible and pray every day. I go to church every week. I’m better than most.”

This “intoxication” with self-righteousness will put us to sleep, spiritually speaking. We don’t feel the need to hear from God. We can live the way we want as we perform our minimal church obligations.

Basically, we can live for God without being changed by the Spirit. That’s the deception of legalism.

I want to be prepared to hear His voice. This requires that I allow the Holy Spirit to work His change in me – to sometimes shrink my flesh, and stretch my inner man at other times. It may feel uncomfortable, but it’s worth it to see the Lord working through me.

Question: How often, and for how, long do you fast?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2022 in Revival, Legalism, Prayer, Fasting, Spiritual Walk

 

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Looking for Convenience?

Looking for Convenience?

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, today’s post finds us starting chapter 5. You may want to review Luke 5:1-11 before reading this post.

Jesus has now started His public ministry. He’s traveling around Israel, teaching as He goes. This section of Scripture finds Him at the Sea of Galilee.

As the Lord begins speaking, a large crowd forms around Him to listen to the Word of God. Seeing some fishermen nearby, Jesus asks them if they could take Him out on the water a little way. This is because the lake acts like a natural sound amplifier, so the people could hear Him better.

There’s some background that you need to understand about this encounter. This is not the first time Simon (Peter) has met with Jesus.

Andrew, Simon’s brother, was a disciple of John the Baptist. After hearing the testimony of John, Andrew met with Jesus. Realizing that He was the Messiah, Andrew took his brother, Simon, to meet with the Lord. It was at that meeting that Jesus began calling Simon by the name Peter. (John 1:35-41)

Now, getting back to the present events, we find Peter and his business partners washing their nets. They had just spent the whole night fishing, with no results. Peter were tired, frustrated, and probably not in the best mood when Jesus came to him with this request.

One more thing. Here’s a spiritual nugget for you. When you read the Gospels, you have to realize that Jesus had the same ministry to the disciples that the Holy Spirit has to the church right now. We can gain a lot of insight as we read it this way.

Sometimes, the Holy Spirit is instructing us to do something when we don’t feel like it. We need to learn to get over our attitudes and simply obey Him. We must think like Peter and agree with the Spirit.

I don’t know how long Jesus taught the people. The Scripture doesn’t say. However long it was, I’m sure Peter was anxious to get home to rest.

Finally, Jesus finishes His teaching to the crowds. Peter is ready to return home. But that doesn’t happen.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”

Luke 5:4

Jesus has another request. Isn’t that just like the Holy Spirit. There are times the Spirit wants you to do things when it seems most inconvenient.

There have been times I was tired, frustrated, or just in a bad mood. It seems like that’s the time the Lord picks for me to minister to someone to help meet their needs. I have to pick up Peter’s attitude in these instances.

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

Luke 5:5

“Lord, I really don’t feel like helping anyone right now. But, because You say so…I’ll do it.”

The results of obedience are amazing. In Peter’s case, they got a haul of fishes beyond anything they could have imagined.

It cut Peter to the heart. He saw that Jesus was operating in the power of Almighty God. As he reflected on all of his bad attitudes and internal complaints, he fell to his knees. He realized his need for a life-change.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”

Luke 5:10b

It always strikes me that true repentance brings a confirmation of God’s love. Peter was truly changed that day. And not just him, but his whole fishing company.

Peter, Andrew, James, and John all laid down their nets that day. They left all to follow Christ and obey His words. We need to walk that same road, and we’ll see the same results.

Question: How have you obeyed the Holy Spirit’s call when it was inconvenient?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Solitary Prayer

Solitary Prayer

We’re continuing our walk through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post, we saw how Jesus began His public ministry. People’s attitudes were an important part in how they received His ministry. It was a ministry of power by the Holy Spirit.

How was He able to operate on this level? Is it something that I can tap into?

I believe that Jesus is the example for how we should approach the ministry. We need to see how He prepared Himself for the days ahead of Him.

The Lord Jesus was God in the flesh; yes, but He limited Himself to operating as a man led by the Holy Spirit. Christ didn’t operate in a vacuum. He didn’t do anything that the Holy Spirit hadn’t shown Him. The next question that arises in my heart is this; how did He hear from the Spirit?

Obviously, the Lord didn’t just decide “on the fly” what He was going to do. He had to go to the Father first, and then see what was coming up in His ministry.

Only then was the Lord prepared for the work He was about to do that day or that week. If I can get a handle on this aspect of His ministry, then it can revolutionize mine. The fact is, the Scripture is clear as to how He saw the Holy Spirit working.

At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Luke 4:42-44

Many times Jesus would leave a house to find a solitary place to pray. Most of the time, He would leave while it was still dark. I’m sure that He didn’t even tell anyone He was leaving. It must have been much later when the disciples and others started their search.

He was there alone in the presence of the Father – away from the crowds and the demands of the ministry. This is what Jesus felt He needed to do to clearly hear the voice of the Spirit.

How do I know this? It’s clear from the passage. When the searchers arrived, I’m sure that they were upset they had to go looking for Him.

They made it clear that they wanted the Lord to continue working in their area. People were being healed and set free from demonic oppression. They wanted to keep their revival going.

Notice that He ignored their statements. Instead, He simply said, in effect, “I know where we’re going next and what we’re going to do when we get there.”

How did He suddenly know this? How could He ignore the pressure placed upon Him to stay where He was? He had heard from the Spirit.

Jesus went on to accomplish incredible things throughout Israel. What made the difference? Jesus had, by the Spirit, seen the Father accomplish these things already.

Most people don’t understand the power of solitude. When you’re alone you can see the way ahead more clearly. Walking in the Spirit is a lot more efficient than the trial and error method most Christians use. “I’ll try going forward, if the door closes I’ll try another direction.” You usually only end up with a sore nose!

When you spend quality time with the Lord, seeking His will for your life, you don’t have to waste your time on all these dead-end paths that lead nowhere. Jesus knew where He was going before He was surrounded by the crowds of people. They couldn’t sway Him from His path by their persuasive arguments. It’s that level of guidance you should be seeking from God.

Do you need to know the next step in your life? If Jesus needed to seek God in this way, I assume the same has to be true for us. We desperately need a Word from the Father to complete our task.

Find that solitary place today. Go before the Lord in the stillness that surrounds you and open up your soul to Him. Spend some time just listening for His still, small voice to your heart. Then, answer the call in obedience to His will.

Question: Where is your solitary place?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2022 in Revival, Prayer, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Misunderstanding the Anointing

Misunderstanding the Anointing

Christ’s ability to walk in the power of God was brought about in three major events. These were His baptism, temptation, and His announcement of ministry. As we go through the Gospel of Luke, we’re about to see the Lord’s entrance into His ministry.

I believe that God is about to pour out a revival upon His church. Right now, we’re in the preparation stage. Our concern should be, with positioning ourselves to receive it.

Jesus is our example in ministry. If we see how He positioned Himself, then we can follow His lead.

He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

Luke 4:15-18

After reading the portion of Isaiah, the Lord announced that it was being fulfilled in their presence. I believe that this holds the key to positioning ourselves. It’s all about the anointing.

We’ve heard a lot of teaching on the anointing over the years. Unfortunately, some of it has been a little off base.

First, let’s look at where we were right. The anointing removes burdens and destroys yokes. That’s a true statement based upon Isaiah 10:27. That was Jesus’ whole ministry in a nutshell.

Another part is that the word Christ encompasses the Anointed One and His anointing. Since that’s true, it’s also the case that as Christians, we are little anointed ones. That’s the meaning of the name.

The final truth that we must embrace is that we all have an anointing from God. Scripture is clear on that point.

With all of this truth, then where are we off? My question is this; with this entire teaching being proclaimed, why are burdens NOT being removed and yokes NOT being destroyed in much of the church?

I’ve also heard it taught that the Holy Spirit is our anointing. That’s where we’ve misunderstood the Scripture. Look at the above passage carefully.

Jesus clearly said, “The Spirit…is on me BECAUSE he has anointed me.” What we’ve missed is that the Spirit follows the anointing.

This is a different work than salvation. Yes, the Holy Spirit lives in me when I receive Christ as Lord. But the anointing for the power of the Holy Spirit is a different thing. That’s why there are so many believers in the body of Christ that live powerless in this generation.

We need to understand exactly what the anointing is and how to receive it. Then, like Christ, we can walk in the power of the Holy Spirit that this anointing opens up.

What we need to understand is that, in Scripture, the anointing was something experienced by prophets, priests, and kings. When we look at how it works, we find an important fact. They were only anointed when they were prepared and chosen to fulfill their place of service.

We’ve missed that important point. We quote the phrase, many are called, few are chosen (Matthew 22:14). What we don’t realize is that though we’re all called to fulfill an anointing, we’re not all chosen to walk in it.

The anointing was mostly a Jewish experience. Paul, in writing to the Gentiles, used a different word for the same concept.

…we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.

1 Thessalonians 2:4b

He used the word, approved, to convey the same thought. You may want to do a word study of this in the New Testament to see it in detail. I think it will increase your understanding.

We’re all called to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. But, only as we spend time with the Holy Spirit, do we receive the approval – the anointing – to fulfill that calling. That’s how we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Question: How much of the power of God is evidenced in the church today?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Continuing in the Power of God

Continuing in the Power of God

I’ve been posting through the Gospel of Luke. In the last few posts, I’ve been talking about how Christ was tempted in the wilderness. He is the perfect example of victorious living.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, He overcame all the assaults of the enemy. But there’s more to the story than just the devil’s defeat.

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
Luke 4:13-14

The story goes on. After the devil had done everything he knew to do, he was finished. The enemy’s battery was totally drained. He had to leave for a while to recharge.

Jesus, on the other hand, didn’t miss a beat. He’d been fasting in the wilderness for 40 days. Then the Lord experienced a spiritual battle the likes of which we’ve never seen in our lives.

Was He drained? Did he have to recuperate? Absolutely not! Jesus Christ came out of the wilderness experience just as powerful as when He entered 40 days before.

We need to walk in this kind of power. But in order to do this we must let go of our reliance upon the promises and start acting like spiritual adults. We need to truly tap into the full potential of the power of the Holy Spirit who is at work within us.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
Ephesians 3:16

Without a doubt, this is the key – the Holy Spirit living within us. Being led by the Spirit is the earmark of a son or daughter of God. We must remain in Christ if we are to access this potential. Christ is our example.

I don’t know why we’ve turned it around and made it all about us. As if we have the power to change anything. We think that if we find the right promise or confess the right Scripture verse, then a miracle will happen. Maybe if we put together the correct formula of words in a prayer, the power will manifest.

What’s the secret of how Christ consistently walked in the power of the Spirit? It wasn’t confessions or formulas. It was the time He spend remaining in the Father’s presence. He prayed, He listened, and He obeyed.

So often we think that if we say the right words in the right order, we’ll see a miracle. That’s not how life in the kingdom of God works. The Scripture makes it abundantly clear.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

1 Corinthians 4:20

For too many of God’s people, It’s all talk and no power. They talk about faith, they mindlessly recite Bible verses, but they walk in defeat. The only way to break this cycle is to spend quality time listening for God’s voice.

It’s time for us to learn this lesson. We need to stop looking for an easy way to tap into the Spirit while continuing to live for ourselves. We need to submit to the Lord’s agenda for our lives. Time in the presence of God is the only thing that will bring about this transformation.

But, hearing from God is only half of the equation. Once I hear from the Holy Spirit, I need to obey what He’s told me. That’s the key to an abundant, victorious, life.

Question: What would have to change in order for you to spend more time in the Lord’s presence?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Cutting Corners

Cutting Corners

We’re now back to our study of the Gospel of Luke. Before New Year’s Eve we had begun looking at the temptation of Christ.

In my last post on this subject, I showed that Christ refused to be tempted to claim a promise. This is the opposite of what many believers do today. We’re trusting God to provide things we don’t even need just because we found a convenient Scripture to “stand on.”

Paul talked about this in his letter to Timothy. Paul warned Timothy about people…

who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:5b-6

I believe that there’s something inherently wrong with a message that continually focuses on my happiness, my comfort, and my pleasure. It’s true that God loves us and wants the best for us. I also believe that there is a scriptural prosperity that God desires for His people.

But I also believe that many have taken this too far. As a result, God’s people are spending too much time, prayer, energy and “faith” running after the things of the world that they think will satisfy them. At the same time, they ignore the work of the Kingdom of God. As a result, they never lay hold of what will ultimately fulfill the desires of their souls.

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Luke 4:5-7

The devil continued his assault using the promises of God. This time he used a promise specifically aimed at Christ, the Messiah. He was making a deal with Jesus in which the Lord could obtain the Messiah’s blessing without having to go to the cross.

Jesus was going to become ruler of all creation. The only issue was, according to the Father’s plan, the Lord had to endure all the pain and suffering of the cross. He could now get all of this handed to Him without the struggle.

The only problem was, Jesus would have to bow before Satan. Of course, He didn’t have to mean it. It was tempting because it was a little act with a big reward.

I’m glad to say that as far as the Lord was concerned, this was totally unacceptable to Him.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'”

Luke 4:8

Jesus saw right through the devil’s smokescreen, and rejected the offer without even giving it a second thought. How dumb can we be? So often we fall when the enemy tempts us to do foolish, unscriptural, and even ungodly things…all for spiritual reasons, of course. We sometimes make crazy decisions all under the guise of “God wants me blessed, happy, and wealthy”

I’ve heard things like, “God told me that this is the woman He created for me.” My question is; what about the woman you’re married to right now? What about “God hates divorce”?

We need to see how very differently Jesus lived than we do. He didn’t feel the need to spend His life rehearsing the promises. Neither did the Lord try, in His power, to fulfill the requirements so that He could obtain the blessings in His own strength.

The simple fact is, Satan could only give Jesus the authority and splendor of these earthly kingdoms. The Lord was worthy of so much greater power. Look at what Christ said after the resurrection.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

Matthew 28:18-19

He could have never said this if He took a short-cut around the cross. As God’s people, we need to stop looking for the easy way to serve God. Find the Father’s plan for your life and obey it with all of your heart.

Question: How have you experienced people doing foolish things for “spiritual” reasons?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Following Christ – But How Far?

Following Christ – But How Far?

I’ve been taking us through a study of the Gospel of Luke. In my last post we saw how Jesus Christ was driven to fulfill His calling before the Father. Now we’ll see the start of His earthly ministry.

In Luke 3:23-38, we see that Jesus has just turned thirty and was beginning His ministry. Luke then goes on to record the earthly ancestry of Christ all the way back to Adam.

Then, we’re shown the very start of all He accomplished.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert…
Luke 4:1

The first thing that we see is that the Lord Jesus allowed Himself to be led by the Spirit. He was brought to the wilderness where He was about to encounter His greatest enemy. That means that this meeting wasn’t an accident. This event was part of the strategy for victory over sin.

The victory that started here, in the wilderness, was carried on throughout the Lord’s lifetime.

You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Acts 10:37-38

This was the theme throughout the ministry of Christ. Whoever sought help to escape the enemy’s grasp was set free by the Lord. The reason He could accomplish this is because His anointing was based upon the power of the Holy Spirit. By the way, this is the same Holy Spirit who now resides in us.

So, the big question is; why was He able to heal? Was it because of the Old Testament promises that spoke of healing? No, it was because God, the Holy Spirit, was with Him.

What we need to come to grips with is the fact that God wants to heal. He doesn’t want anyone bound by the power of the enemy.

So we can see clearly that Jesus’ power was from the Spirit, not from the law. It’s vitally important that we understand this truth. This is the key.

To aid in our realization of this we’ll look at the best example that the Gospel record gives us. We will go to the section of Scripture where the devil and Jesus have their first battle – in the wilderness.

I’m going to take my time in going through this section of Luke’s Gospel. It’s very important to us as it’s the foundation for living on the level that Jesus walked.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

Luke 4:1-2

When Jesus went into the wilderness His intention was to meet with the Father. His desire was to fast and pray for the ministry He was about to begin. In order to do this, Jesus fasted for forty days.

This brings up an interesting question. How important to us is walking in God’s power? How far are we willing to go to obtain it? Are we willing to do a long term fast? Spend time in the wilderness, away from all distractions, seeking God? In most cases I see believers who live for themselves and are simply “trusting God for a breakthrough.”

If we want to see the results of Christ, we need to walk His walk.

Question: How far are you willing to go to walk in the power of God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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A Christmas Eve Post

A Christmas Eve Post

Since today is Christmas Eve, I want to take a post to give a brief meditation. I believe that we need to go into these holidays with the right mindset.

Over the past few weeks, people have been frantically preparing for the “holidays”. Buying, cooking, cleaning, traveling, and a whole host of other activities. It’s no wonder that during this time of year see the most cases of depression.

In this season, we need to focus on what’s the most important. We need to be reminded of the events that took place over 2000 years ago.

To start, I want to take you back to the early 1800’s in Austria. It’s Christmas Eve, in the village of Oberndorf. A young priest named Joseph Mohr had a big problem.

Christmas Eve services always include singing. But, because of some recent flooding in the area, the church organ was broken and unable to be used.

Joseph decided that he needed a song that could be sung without an organ. He had a poem that he’d written a year before. Now he shows it to a friend named Franz Gruber.

Franz is able to put the poem to music for guitars.

That night, it was introduced to the church, sung by a male duet accompanied by guitars. Everyone loved it and was touched by the music. But, the story doesn’t end there.

The church was finally able to get their organ fixed. An organ specialist, named Karl Mauracher repaired the instrument. In the process, Joseph played the new song for him.

Needless to say, Karl loved it. As he went around repairing organs, he would share it with his customers. At one point it was heard by the Strasser family. They were traveling glove-makers, and singers.

They started singing it at fairs and it caught on with all who heard it. It has become one of the most beloved carols in the church. We know it as Silent Night. That just goes to show you that God doesn’t need Facebook, I-tunes, or YouTube for His things to go viral.

It was the same with the birth of Christ. Joseph and Mary had to travel many miles from home to arrive at the town of Bethlehem.

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:6-7

Our Lord was born in a place with no luxuries. The King of the universe was brought into the world with no pomp or splendor.

Yet, His message of salvation, forgiveness and hope, has spread around the world.

As you go through this Christmas season, keep the true meaning of the holiday before you. Christ should be the center of all that we do.

Have a very blessed Christmas!

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2021 in Encouragement, Music, The Gospel

 

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Driven

Driven

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. In the last few posts, we’ve talked about the ministry of John the Baptist. It’s at this point that Jesus Christ came on the scene.

When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Luke 3:21-22

In the past, I’ve posted about the anointing of God on our lives. We receive God’s anointing when we’re chosen by God for a specific task. We’re then anointed to complete it.

What we see from Scripture is that the Spirit follows the anointing. At Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit came upon Him in power. That was His anointing for ministry.

At the same time there was a voice from heaven (The Father) confirming this calling. My question is; how did He get to this point? The answer will help me in my walk with God.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Luke 2:52

Wisdom is the application of what you’ve learned. Stature speaks of physical growth. The word favor is the grace of God. These are very important points for us to understand.

Have you ever thought about it in these terms before? Jesus had to grow in grace. But the key word is grew. That Greek word literally means to drive forward as if by beating.

Jesus was driven to grow in grace and wisdom. Of course He did have an advantage over us. He was perfect and He had a photographic memory. The Lord only had to hear the Scripture once and He remembered it.

The key is that when He heard Scripture He was driven to enter into the grace of it. This should be the same for us.

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.
1 Timothy 4:14-15

Paul tells Timothy, a young pastor, to be diligent and give himself totally the callings that were placed upon his life. Paul literally says, so that your driving forward may be a light to all.

We must drive ourselves to secure the anointing. To walk in our callings will take drive and determination. It will not just happen by accident. It’s a spiritual battle. But, through the power of God, we will be victorious.

In the above verse from Luke, there’s a second important phrase. Jesus was well pleasing to God. That’s an important principle.

Do you make an effort to please God? Do you know what that means? I’m not talking about God loving you – He loves everyone.

I’m not even talking about God accepting you. We’re made righteous and acceptable to God in Christ. Pleasing is on a different level. It means that God actually enjoys what you’re doing. The Bible talks about it.

Just like Christ, we must be driven to set our hearts on what is well pleasing to God. Only then will He release His power in us to secure our anointing. It should be important to us to find out what well pleases the Lord.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

This is the starting line. Pleasing the Lord requires faith. That should come as no surprise. But let’s seek the understanding of what this means.

Many say, “I’m a faith person.” Is that enough? It’s not just about believing He exists. We must also have faith in the knowledge that He rewards those who seek Him.

“I will earnestly seek Him…tomorrow.”

If I’m going to please God, then I need to be diligent and press in immediately. It’s not something that I keep putting off for a more convenient time. In all likelihood, there will never be an easy time to press in to God’s will.

The time is now to diligently seek a faith that goes beyond just being acceptable to the Lord. Go for the “well pleasing” kind of faith.

Questions: How are you driven to be well-pleasing to God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2021 in Anointing, Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Coming of Age

Coming of Age

We’re continuing our study of the Gospel of Luke. In today’s post I’ll be looking at Luke 2:41-52.

This event happens when Jesus is in His pre-teen years.

Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.

Luke 2:41-42

It’s important for us to see that Jesus was raised in a family that steadfastly observed Jewish worship. We also have to realize that He was not an only child. After the birth of Christ, Mary and Joseph had other children.

According to Scripture, Jesus had at least four brothers and two sisters. That must have been quite a feat of coordination to go to Jerusalem faithfully, every year. I’ve seen some families who can’t manage to get themselves and two children to church every week. It’s obvious to me that we can accomplish what’s important to us. Is a godly family important?

I believe that the Holy Spirit put this event in the Bible for a reason. Now that Jesus was twelve, the Passover was an important milestone in His life.

It was a custom in Israel, that when a boy turned twelve, he was to be brought to the temple. While there, he went through some ceremonies where he was taught about fasting and other requirements of the law. This prepares him for full entry into adulthood at thirteen years of age.

The spiritual responsibility was upon the parents until a child was twelve years old. Now that Jesus was twelve, He was responsible for His own walk before God.

That really is an eye-opener. In our society, we usually think of someone being a child until the age of eighteen. Very few churches give these teenagers any important responsibilities. More than once I’ve heard them referred to as “the church of the future.”

I believe that at this age, these young men and women can understand and apply the spiritual principles of what they hear. They can start to walk in the spiritual disciplines they’ve seen demonstrated. It’s unfortunate that so many people write them off as too young to serve God effectively.

Look at the example of Jesus. The feast at Jerusalem lasted for seven days. Now that He was considered a responsible adult, Jesus was allowed to be on His own.

When the feast was over, Mary and Joseph rounded up their children and made the assumption that Jesus knew it was time to leave. At sunset, they went looking to see where He was among the group that they traveled with. But, nobody remembered seeing Him.

So, Joseph and family went back to Jerusalem where they searched for another three days.

After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.

Luke 2:46-47

Now that the Lord was considered an adult, He was allowed to spend time with the great teachers of Jerusalem. What we have to realize is, that in Hebrew tradition, the one asking the questions is the one who’s teaching. That’s why everyone was so amazed. Jesus was literally teaching the teachers.

Of course, parents being the worriers they are, Mary was a little upset that Jesus didn’t tell her what He was doing. They were more than a little inconvenienced by His absence. His response is important.

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

Luke 2:49-50

Now that the Lord was an adult, He had an understanding of who He was, and the mission He was called to accomplish. At this point, His parents didn’t understand the full scope of His calling, but they would someday.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Luke 2:51-52

Question: Why do we expect so little, spiritually, from our teenagers in this society?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2021 in Ministry, Sonship, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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