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Paul’s Praise

Paul’s Praise

We’re continuing through the book of Romans. Paul has been looking forward, prophetically, to the salvation and restoration of Israel. At the end of chapter 11, he bursts out in praise to God, quoting Isaiah and Job.

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

Romans 11:33

He loosely bases his praise from Isaiah 40:13-14. Paul starts by expressing his awe at the wealth of God’s wisdom and knowledge. Of course, God is omniscient – He knows all things. But because He exists outside of time, the Lord knows all things past, present, and future.

The word, judgment, speaks of God’s decision making ability. It’s far beyond anything that we could imagine. And, His ways are beyond our ability to figure out.

“Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?”

Romans 11:34

We will never fully understand how the Lord thinks. His goals and ways are so complex that they’re unsearchable to us.

The fact is that the Lord doesn’t need our advice. But, that doesn’t stop me from trying to convince Him that I know what I’m talking about. Then, He kindly lets me know who’s in charge of the universe. Eventually, I have to admit that his way is the best.

Now Paul gives us a quote from the book of Job.

“Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?”

Romans 11:35

God doesn’t owe anyone anything, no matter what we give to Him, or give up for Him. He created it all, so it all belongs to Him already.

This truth should keep us all from becoming greedy. Nothing is actually mine, even my own life. Everything belongs to the Lord and I’m just a caretaker of what He’s allowed me to have.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Romans 11:36

Paul concludes this section by exclaiming that everything in all creation is from Him, through Him, and for Him. And that’s a comforting thought. Because of this, I have nothing to fear or be anxious about. It’s all in His very capable hands.

But, remember this. Even though God’s wisdom, knowledge, ways, and decisions are far beyond our limited understanding; we still have access to them. We can walk in the glory of God.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

1 Corinthians 2:9-10

It’s all accessible in the realm of the spirit. As I pray in the spirit, my spirit and the Holy Spirit interact together to endow me with all that I need for life and godliness.

That’s the power of a walk in the spirit. It’s a life led and directed by the Holy Spirit. That should be the goal of every believer.

Please don’t get me wrong. I haven’t arrived there yet. Even as I write this, I pray to God for a greater intimacy with Him. I want to see the church, and myself, walking in the power they had in the book of Acts.

Hopefully, you want to come along with me on this journey. To that end, I’m going to be adding to this website. My goal is that very soon I’ll be starting a podcast that will deal with how God is waking the church in these Last Days.

Pray for me and this ministry to complete what God has for us.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit been leading you forward lately?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2021 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Revival

 

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It’s All About Mercy

It’s All About Mercy

We are now looking at Romans, chapter 9. In my last post we saw that God chose Jacob before he was born. That was because God already knew the choices that Jacob would make.

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

Romans 9:14-16

The only conclusion we can make is that there’s no unrighteousness in God. Paul then quotes a passage from Exodus 33:19.

The words, compassion and mercy in Exodus, mean to bend and stoop in kindness to an inferior…and thento hold them lovingly. This is used throughout the Old Testament.

As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him…

Psalms 103:13

Mercy, however, has a different connotation in the New Testament. We need to understand this concept.

A thorough study of mercy in the New Testament will show that mercy is God’s reward for His obedient children. I did a detailed series of posts about mercy. To see this series, click here.

This verse in Romans tells us that much of God’s grace comes to us, not because of our will, desire, or actions. Instead, it’s by God who shows mercy. It’s all about mercy. So, we have to understand mercy, to understand God.

Our will doesn’t figure into the equation. That was true in the life of Christ.

Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Mark 14:35-36

Jesus knew this truth. It’s not about our will, but God’s desire for us.

It’s the same for running.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

1 Corinthians 9:24

You don’t get the prize just for running. All of the athletes run.

In our Christian walk, it’s all about the mercy of God. Contrary to popular thinking – mercy is not some random act that God does. It’s a part of God’s righteous law. Jesus tried to explain this to the Pharisees.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.”

Matthew 23:23

God’s righteous law is based upon three things: The original Greek says that they are faith, judgment, and mercy. Faith is the basis – without it you can never please God. Judgment is God’s final decision – guilty or not guilty. But mercy is the reward for obeying God’s Word to you.

This is a part of the Christian walk that most believers don’t understand. So, I want to take a post or two in order to explain its importance

Question: What’s your view of God’s mercy?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Two Gifts

The Two Gifts

We’re continuing our walk through the book of Romans. Paul has been explaining to us, the reign of death that has taken the earth because of Adam’s sin.

Now he wants us to understand what Christ has done to overcome this.

But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.

Romans 5:15-16

This is an amazing passage of Scripture. However, if we’re going to fully understand it, we need to know a little Greek.

The reason for this, is that there are two different Greek words for gift used in this section. They are charisma and dorema. While they both mean a gift or a present, they have slightly different uses.

The word, dorema, is a gift that I give you with no strings attached. It’s given free and clear. Charisma, on the other hand, is a gift that the giver retains the right to tell you how you’ll use it.

For example, if I give you a fifty dollar bill for your birthday, that’s a dorema. You can do whatever you want with it. If I give you a fifty dollar gift card to Starbucks, that a charisma, because you can only use it where I want you to use it.

Usually in Scripture, when someone gives an offering, it’s dorema because we’re giving with no strings attached. But, when talking about the gifts of God, it’s usually charisma because God is very clear how He wants us to operate in these giftings.

So, this passage is saying that the gift God gives (charisma) is not like what happened because of Adams sin. Now through Christ we can receive God’s grace. It also literally says that the gift (dorema) that overflows to many people is in the grace.

The way the original Greek puts it in the second half is that the one sin gave us the gift (dorema) of judgment. But now, after many sins have been done on the earth, Christ came, and through His obedience, brings us the gift (charisma) of spiritual life.

This is a wonderful truth. Death and judgment was given to the entire world through Adam. But now, as a result of the cross, we can receive everlasting life through the Lord Jesus Christ.

This opens the door to a whole new way for us to live.

For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:17

This is Good News! When I come to Christ I receive God’s grace and the gift (dorema) of righteousness with no strings attached. This gives me a new outlook on life.

Formerly death reigned over everything because of sin. Now, because I’m in Christ, I can reign in life. I don’t have to walk in fear of anything that’s happening around me. I can walk in the authority of Christ as I submit to Him.

Too many believers walk around with bad attitudes. You would think that serving God was the hardest thing they could ever imagine. Their faces usually reflect fear and frustration. That’s not how the Lord wants us to live.

We have to realize that Christ places us over all the situations in our lives. We may not know exactly how things will turn out, but we know that it will be for our best and for God’s glory. What more could we ask for?

Question: How have you experienced the grace of God at work in you?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2021 in Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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Those Who Never Heard

Those Who Never Heard

As the Apostle Paul continues to speak concerning the world without Christ, he now brings up a topic that many ask about.  What happens to people who have never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Throughout the centuries, thousands of native people lived and died in North and South America.  They never got a chance to hear the Good News.  Do they automatically go to hell because they were outside the reach of the Gospel?

I believe that both Paul and Jesus speak to this issue.

All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.

Romans 2:12

I believe that this verse is the foundation for an answer to the questions above.  God is just.  We are only responsible for what we’ve heard.  Those without God’s law will not be judged by that law.

So far in Paul’s letter to the Romans, he’s talked about people who reject, suppress, and deny the truth.  Now he’s talking about a different group.  He’s speaking about those who have not yet heard God’s law.

For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.  (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)  This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Romans 2:13-16

Paul makes it clear that righteousness has nothing to do with the law.  It’s all about obedience.  Those who have never heard about the Gospel still have the knowledge of right and wrong within themselves. That’s the basis of God’s judgment in this case.

I previously said that Jesus taught this same thing.  I believe that this is found in Matthew 25:31-46.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the space to quote the whole passage here, but I encourage you to read it on your own.

Many people get confused by that section of Scripture.  That’s because in those verses we see a judgment that’s based upon works and not faith.  These people are declared righteous because they did what was required without having heard any of God’s laws.

Another point we see in the Matthew passage is that these righteous people seem to have never met the Lord.  The fact that they ask, “When did we ever do anything for you?” shows that they haven’t heard the Gospel.

As I’ve said before, God is perfectly just.  All of creation will see it, even on the Day of Judgment.  At that time all will agree and declare that God’s determination of a person’s eternal future is absolutely right.

That’s why it’s so important now, that we prepare for that day.  We need to lay aside the distractions and bring the message of salvation to all who will listen.

Question: What events helped you to receive the Gospel message?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2020 in Missions, Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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Judgment?

Judgment?

Paul’s letter to the Roman church starts in chapter 1 with a Word about unsaved society at large.  He talks about the results of rejecting the true knowledge of Jesus Christ.

As we enter chapter 2, Paul shifts a little and starts speaking directly to those in the godless world around us.  That’s who the apostle is speaking to in verses 1 through 16.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.  Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.

Romans 2:1-2

Let me repeat myself.  This passage was not written to believers.  It is a Word to the unsaved.  He’s explaining the foolishness of ungodly people judging one another.

I know of believers who were living sinful lives.  Then a concerned brother or sister comes to them and tries to help restore them.  The sinning believer immediately quotes this verse and says, “The Bible says not to judge, so stop judging me.”

A quick look at Paul’s other letters will show the fallacy of this remark.

Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.

1 Corinthians 5:3

This was concerning a believer in the Corinthian church who was involved in an affair with someone else’s wife.  Look at what Paul also said.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?  Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

The fact is, believers are supposed to judge the actions of other believers.  In that way we can lovingly warn them of the result of what they’re doing.

What I’m not supposed to judge is your motives.  I don’t know what you’re thinking.  So I’m not to judge you based upon what I perceive your intentions are.

Also, we’re not to judge the lives of the unsaved people around us.  Sinners are going to sin.  It’s not our job to tell them that what they’re doing is wrong.

For the most part, the unsaved know that there’s something wrong with their lives.  What they need to hear is the love, forgiveness, and salvation that are only found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Too often the church is accused, and rightly so, of preaching a word of condemnation.  On the contrary, my place is to preach the Good News of Christ.  That’s what will draw people to the cross.

Getting back to the verse in Romans above, Paul points out the foolishness of what goes on in the world.  It’s full of people who are condemning one another.  He says that when they pass judgment on someone, they’re actually giving themselves a guilty verdict.

That’s because, in God’s eyes, they’re habitually practicing the same wrong behaviors.

So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

Romans 2:3-4

It should be obvious now, from this last passage that Paul is speaking to the unsaved.  We need to hear God’s heart.  The goal of all this is repentance.

In dealing with the world, our goal should be the same – introduce them to the love of the Savior.

Question: What is your attitude toward our godless society?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2020 in Legalism, The Gospel

 

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God’s View of a Sinful World

God’s View of a Sinful World

I’m continuing to go through Paul’s letter to the Roman church.  We’re now about to enter one of the most controversial sections.  I have to be careful in how I explain it.

This passage of Scripture is not controversial because we argue over what it means.  On the contrary, the meaning of the words is very clear.  We argue over whether or not to believe it as God’s Word.

Personally, I choose to believe everything in the Bible as written.  That being said, I also believe that there’s no place in the Christian life for self-righteous hatred, bigotry, or condemnation.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Romans 1:26-27

The first thing to note is what this passage is and is not saying.  Too many Christians grab this verse and run with it to attack others. That’s not the purpose.

We have to remember that everything in Scripture is based in God’s unfailing love.  There’s no one outside of God’s love.

Even in this section I see the grace and patience of the Lord.  There’s a phrase that’s repeated three times – here, in verse 24 (which we looked at in the last post), and in verse 28.  It reads, God gave them over.

That literally means that God surrendered or yielded to their desires.  In other words, God allows us to do what we want to do.  He doesn’t stop us, even if we head in a wrong direction.  He gives us the freedom to choose our own path.

Another issue we need to understand is that sin is about actions and not desire.  In my flesh, I may want to do wrong, but the spiritual battle isn’t over until a final decision is made.

Of course, that brings me to an important point…what exactly is sin?  When people hear that word they immediately think, “Evil”.  But the truth is that sin isn’t always evil or bad.

The literal definition of sin in both the Old and New Testaments is to miss the mark.  God holds up the ideal of the perfect life.  We strive to reach it.  But, when we miss God’s best, even by a little, that’s sin.

The Bible is clear that all sin is the same in God’s eyes.  It all comes with the spiritual death penalty.  There’s no grading on a curve.  A white lie and murder are equal before the Lord.  That’s why we need a Savior who carried all of our sin to the cross.

As human beings we like to assign different values of severity to sin.  We think some are worse than others.  Because of this, we’ll vocally attack some lifestyle choices, while we nurture others.

Case in point – before the pandemic you would have to stand in line to get in a buffet restaurant on a Sunday after church services conclude.  We would happily join someone with a gluttonous lifestyle, as they satisfy that craving.  (I can say that because this is one of my personal battles I’m trying to overcome in my life.)

Finally, we have to realize that we’re all under God’s grace.  There’s no condemnation until the final judgment when Christ returns.

STD’s are not God’s judgment on alternate lifestyles.  Just as heart disease and cancer aren’t God’s judgments on overeaters and smokers.

Yes, as Christians we need to know what actions the Bible labels as sin.  But we also need to walk in the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s what our dark society needs right now.

Question: How do you show Christ’s love to those who are not living by God’s standards?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2020 in Spiritual Walk

 

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A Warning for Teachers (Repost)

Over the next week or so I’m going to be away, visiting family.  So during that time, I’m reposting one of my more popular series.

Do you see yourself as a teacher in the body of Christ?  Did you know that Scripture has a special warning for teachers?

In this post, my last in the series about the teaching ministry, I have to share a hard message.  I don’t like talking about it, but I feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to write about it.

In the last couple of posts, I talked about teachers being the eyes of the body of Christ.  According to Scripture, they bring light to the path ahead.  With that comes a warning that I already talked about.

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James 3:1

In the church, teaching is not an unimportant thing.  We should not lightly say, “I’m a teacher.”  You’re inviting a stricter judgment.

But is that really the case, or was James trying to intimidate those wanted to teach out of wrong motives?  I believe that Jesus gave the same warning to His disciples.  The problem is that the Lord used an allegory that few believers understand.

In Mark, chapter 9, it all starts when the disciples tell Jesus that they saw someone driving out demons in the Lord’s name.  But, because he wasn’t one of the twelve, they told him to stop.

Jesus told the disciples that they were wrong in telling the man to stop driving out demons.  In His explanation, He said…

“And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.”
Mark 9:42

The phrase, causes…to sin, in this verse, literally means to trip up or entrap.  Sin always means to miss the mark of God’s perfect will.  Telling them something that trips them up in their Christian walk does cause them to sin.

Teaching something that was not directed by the Holy Spirit can trip people up in their walk with God.  This has to be an important part of the teacher’s mindset.  However, the Lord didn’t stop there.

Immediately after this, He says…

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out.  It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell…
Mark 9:47

First of all, no one’s eyes have ever caused them to sin.  I have definitely used my eyes to sin.  But they weren’t the cause.  I believe that Jesus knows this.

Secondly, according to this verse, only one eye is causing sin.  How could your left eye cause you to sin, and not your right eye?  They both operate together.

I believe that Jesus wasn’t talking about our physical bodies.  He was explaining His attitude toward the members of His spiritual body; the church.

No members, especially teachers, can trip up one another without consequence.  This is why teachers must be especially careful to be led by the Holy Spirit in what they teach.

Question: How seriously should teachers be warned before entering this ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Judgment and Fear

In my last post I talked about feeling at home in God’s presence.  We look forward to our permanent home with Him.  However, we know that when Christ returns there will be a performance review.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
2 Corinthians 5:10

I believe that, in this verse, Paul is describing the judgment of believers.  That’s why I called it a performance review.

It’s not a judgment that decides whether I go to Heaven or hell.  That choice was already settled when I received Christ’s offer of salvation through His shed blood.  Now the issue is how well I follow His leading.

The words that Paul uses in this verse are very important in order for us to understand all that he’s saying here.  It’s necessary for us to be prepared for that day.  We don’t want any surprises.

He starts by saying that all of us must appear before Christ.  There are no exceptions.  Every believer must come before the Lord.

The apostle then tells us the reason for this meeting.  The word, receive, literally means to carry away.  So the reason for this judgment is for us to carry away from it all that’s due to us based upon our service to Christ.

This determination is for our benefit.  This is where we receive our rewards, if any, for our faithfulness.  Paul says that it’s for the things done through our body.

The word he uses for done is also important.  It’s a Greek word that means to practice.  It doesn’t refer to a one-time event.  It’s about things that we did repeatedly or habitually.

What kind of things is he talking about?  Paul describes them as good and bad.  Good things don’t need any explanation.  He uses the normal word for good.

Bad things are important for us to understand.  Paul used a word that was not the common word for something bad or evil.  It actually means something easy, ordinary, worthless, or of no account.  It’s only sometimes used figuratively for evil.

In my walk with God, how do I choose to serve Him?  When I choose the easy or ordinary road, I’m losing my rewards.  When I decide to take part in worthless or no-account activities, I’ll have to answer for it before the Lord’s review.

This should be my focus in all that I do.

Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men.  What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
2 Corinthians 5:11

This gives us the foundation for what the fear of the Lord actually involves.  It’s not about me being afraid of God.  I’m not worried that He’s going to “smite” me if I do something wrong.

The true fear of the Lord is living under the knowledge that my life will be reviewed in His presence someday.  My eternal rewards will be based on this.  Therefore, I live my life intentionally, knowing that I want to do my best for Christ.

Question: How well are you preparing for your future performance review?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Self-Judgment

As we go through First Corinthians we’re continuing our look at the Lord’s Supper.  We’ve seen that it’s meant to be a powerful part of our worship.  It’s a time where we can attach our faith to what Christ has done for us on the cross.

In my last post, I talked about the need to examine ourselves before taking the Communion elements.  We need to check up on our faith.  Are we really trusting the Lord for our life?

This is a very important part of the Communion experience.

For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.  That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 11:29-30

We need to understand what Paul is saying here.  Unfortunately, the word, judgment, has some strong implications in our modern “Christianese” vocabulary.  We sometimes get the idea that God is going to curse us with problems if we do something wrong in how we receive Communion.

That’s not what’s being said.  The word judgment simply means a judicial decision.  Your attitude at the Lord’s Table determines the decision you receive.

If you understand who you are in Christ, and see yourself as receiving His provision, then you get the decision in your favor.  You will receive healing, resources, strength, or whatever it is that you’re trusting God for.

If, on the other hand, you don’t understand the payment that Christ made for you, there’s another decision.  If you don’t see Christ as Healer, then you miss out on His healing.  How we approach the Communion table determines the decisions we receive.

But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.  When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32

This is another passage where we need to understand the “judging” words being used.  The first sentence tells us that we need to take a step back and look at our lives objectively.  Where’s my faith at? How far am I really trusting God?

I have to be willing to do that and take the appropriate measures to fix any problems.  If I do this, then I won’t get that negative decision.  I’ll begin placing myself in a position to receive from the Lord.

If not, then it will be the Lord’s decision to train me up as a child.  This requires His discipline.  This could include hearing teachings from those over me.  It could also be situations that God allows into my life to get my attention.  Please understand that these situations are only temporary challenges that are designed to focus my attention on Christ and His ability.

So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.  And when I come I will give further directions.
1 Corinthians 11:33-34

This closing statement from Paul is to further reinforce the fact that this meal is more than just about the food.  It’s about coming together in unity of faith, to receive our life from Christ.

Question: What’s your level of faith in who Christ is in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Believer’s Court

Judging by what’s on TV, court cases are very entertaining.  Each side tries to prove its claims.  Who’s doing the best job at convincing the judge or jury?  You never know until the final verdict.

But how does this play out when a believer takes another believer to court?  In Paul’s day, society found it just as entertaining as we do.  In Corinth, there was an epidemic of Christians suing Christians.  The Apostle had some things to say about it.

Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church!  I say this to shame you.  Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?  But instead, one brother goes to law against another — and this in front of unbelievers!
1 Corinthians 6:4-6

The problem is that many view the church as an organization rather than an organism.  We are a body.  We’re to function as a unit.

There have been times when I’ve accidentally stuck my own finger into my eye.  In that instance, should my eye take my hand to court to sue for damages?  It may sound foolish to even ask that question.  Taking a fellow believer to court is just as foolish in God’s eyes.

According to Paul, even the least esteemed person in the church is probably qualified to act as an arbitrator between two parties.  In that way, internal differences can stay within the church.

But I believe that there’s a deeper issue here.  It’s about taking into account the fact that the world is watching us.  They’re always looking for a reason to accuse the church of hypocrisy.  We shouldn’t be giving ammunition to the enemy.

I have a deep problem when I feel the need to publically and decisively prove that I’m right.  I need to check my motives.  Is it stemming from bitterness, revenge, low self-esteem, or any of a hundred other faults in my sin nature?

Paul clearly gets to the heart of the matter.

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already.  Why not rather be wronged?  Why not rather be cheated?  Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.
1 Corinthians 6:7-8

Paul says that a public lawsuit between believers is proof that you’ve been defeated by the enemy.  The actual word he used implies that you’re acting like a failure in your Christian walk.

He tells us that it’s better to be wronged or cheated rather than to bring public shame upon the body of Christ.  But if the hurt was great enough, he suggests private, Christian arbitration.

The problem is that we don’t want a Christian to arbitrate between us.  There’s too great a chance that they might use Biblical principles to judge the case.  In our greed, we want to exact revenge for the hurt we suffered.

Instead, we should always look for the restoration and healing of relationships.  I know that might sound idealistic, but in Christ, the Holy Spirit can do great things through those who submit to Him.  As far as it depends on us – whenever possible – we should take the high road of forgiveness and unity.

Question: When have you chosen to forgive instead of seeking retribution?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2019 in Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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