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Judge for Yourself

Judge for Yourself

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re now looking at the trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin. That’s the ruling body of elders in Israel.

At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. “If you are the Christ,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

He replied, “You are right in saying I am.”

Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

Luke 22:66-71 NIV

This is quite an applicable portion of Scripture. It contains what I call the “Jesus Dilemma”. It was faced by the religious leaders of Israel as well as the unbelieving world of today.

The biggest part of the problem is faith. These were a group of men who saw the works of the Lord. They heard His teachings and felt the power of His wisdom. The life of Christ was above reproach – there was no wrong-doing that they could accuse Him of.

However, they had already rejected the Lord before the trial ever started. They were simply looking for a way to put Him to death.

That happens a lot in today’s society. Many times, people say that they want to talk to us about Jesus Christ or the teachings of Scripture. However, the reality is that they’ve already made up their minds to reject it no matter what we say.

It’s almost like the world views Christians the same way they view time-share salesmen. They listen politely, but they already have their “no” ready and waiting for the end of the conversation.

I love how the Lord gets right to the center of the issue. It’s not that clear in this English translation, so I’ll try to explain what was said.

The first thing Jesus told the leadership of Israel was, “If I told you who I am, you wouldn’t believe me.” That’s where faith comes in.

People see the difference in our lives. They see the blessing and favor of God on us. They ask us to explain what makes the difference. But, when we tell them how the Lord Jesus has changed our lives, suddenly the walls go up.

They start getting defensive. They tell us that the blessings of God are merely coincidences that could happen to anyone. They’ve decided from the start, not to believe.

There’s a second issue as well. Literally, Jesus said, “If I asked you, then you not think long and hard about your decision.” That’s because the word for answer, is a word that means to make a decision based upon all of the facts before you.

That’s what I think is a major problem in today’s society. People don’t want discernment and understanding. They simply want explanations that agree with what they already want to believe. They don’t want to make a personal judgment about who Jesus Christ is.

We have a generation that doesn’t want to think deeply about anything. That’s why we enjoy Google and Facebook. These sites record what we view, determine what we like, and spoon feed us more of the same.

Personally, I want to be challenged. Tell me why you think I’m missing it. It strengthens my faith. Or it shows me areas in which I need to change. In either case, I experience growth.

The worst-case scenario is for me to decide what I want to believe, then only listen to those who agree with me. That’s a sure road to failure.

I don’t follow Jesus Christ by blind faith. He has proved Himself faithful to me over and over again. My trust in the Lord is based upon a deep understanding of Him and His ways.

My prayer is that you will know Jesus Christ in the fullness of who He is. Then your life will reflect the glory of God.

Question: Why do you think that many in the world reject the knowledge of Jesus Christ?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2023 in Faith, Israel, The Gospel

 

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Our Performance Review

Our Performance Review

Continuing through Luke’s Gospel, we now come to a well-known parable. It deals with how well we work in God’s kingdom. You may want to read Luke 19:11-27 before reading this post.

We need to remember that we’ll be judged someday. We are already found to be “not guilty” in Christ. So, there’s no fear of the future for us.

However, the judgment of believers will be more of a performance evaluation. So, we better prepare now. That’s what this parable is about.

He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘

Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’

Luke 19:12-13 NIV

The nobleman makes it clear that he wants his money invested while he’s gone. He leaves it up to the servants’ discretion as to how it will be used. But he’s going to be looking for a return.

If you know anything about the money systems mentioned in Scripture, then you realize that this was a lot of money. In New Testament times a mina was roughly equivalent to three months of wages.

If it were today’s economy, it would be as if the servants received about $2,500 each. So, all in all, the nobleman gave out a fair amount of money for this investment.

The problem the servants were faced with is that there were some strings attached to this money. The man gave it to the servants with a purpose in mind.

He said, “Put this money to work until I come back.” It’s still my money – but I want you to turn a profit with it. He made it clear that he was giving them oversight concerning this money so that it would be invested for him while he was away.

I believe that the Lord is talking here about the resources that God has given us. He’s entrusted certain things to the Church. And depending on our position in the Body of Christ, we’re entrusted with more or less.

Obviously, the Bible says that those who teach are going to be held more responsible than those who don’t (James 3:1). All of us are given responsibilities, and we’re going to be judged according to the handling of those responsibilities.

That’s why it’s so important for me to seek out my gifts and callings in the Lord. As He reveals them to me, I become responsible to carry them out. Ignorance is not an excuse.

There are many believers who refuse to seek God concerning their calling so that they will not have to work for God. They’re too busy seeking their own pleasures. This is the same as hiding the mina in the ground.

God has a work for each of us to do. Whether we ask Him about it or not, we’ll be judged on how well we complete it.

Knowing that these servants were given this responsibility, we should be very interested to see the outcome. It will help us to prepare for the day when we’ll be called to give account for our actions. This is what I’ll be posting about in my next article.

Question: What are the gifts and talents that you’ve been given by God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2022 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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Last Days – The Day of Christ

Last Days – The Day of Christ

I’ve been posting about how Christ will reveal Himself at His return. We’ve talked about Jesus’ teaching in Luke, chapter 17, on the days of Noah and Lot.

Remember that He already said in verse 24 that when He’s revealed on that day, every eye will see Him. It will not be a private return. He’s coming in all of His glory.

“On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot’s wife! Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.”
Luke 17:31-36 NIV

Many interpret this verse to mean that the one taken is taken into heaven and the one left is the one that’s going to be judged. How can this be? In both of His examples, the stories of Noah and Lot, the Lord clearly states that the unrighteous are taken in judgment and the righteous ones are left.

The disciples wanted Jesus to clarify what He was teaching them. They asked the obvious question: Where was it that they were taken to?

“Where, Lord?” they asked.
He replied, “Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather.”
Luke 17:37 NIV

Jesus makes it clear that those taken are dead bodies. The Greek word for carcass is what the NIV translates as dead body. Also, the word Jesus used for vulture is a generic term that could be used for any carrion bird that feeds on dead bodies.

So in answer to the question “Where are they taken?” Jesus said, “Do you want to know where the carcasses are taken? Then look for the vultures.” Personally, I don’t want to be taken like that. I want to be one of the ones who are left.

What, then, have we learned in this portion of Scripture? First of all, I see a time of warning leading up to the time when Christ is revealed. We then come to a day – a literal, twenty-four-hour day – during which He will reveal Himself.

Christ uses two examples, Noah and Lot, to explain His point. In both cases the day starts out with some saints. They are then somehow supernaturally protected during the events of that day. In Noah’s case he was put in the ark and in Lot’s case he was taken out of the city.

On the day that they were protected, salvation was then closed, and judgment fell. After judgment had fallen, at the end of the day, the saints were left. That’s the way I read it and that’s the way I believe Christ meant it to be read.

Questions: Are you prepared for that day? How have you prepared?

If you want a more detailed teaching on the Second Coming of Christ, click here to check out my book: The Third Watch – It’s Later Than You Think.

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2022 in Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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Last Days – The Days of Lot

Last Days – The Days of Lot

I’m posting about Christ’s teaching on the Last Days in Luke, chapter 17. After talking about the days of Noah, the Lord goes on to describe the days of Abraham’s nephew, Lot.

“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.
“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.”

Luke 17:28-29 NIV

This event is recorded in Genesis 19. You can read through that chapter to get the whole story.

Two angels arrived in Sodom to visit Lot. Lot invited them into his home, knowing who they were.

When the men of the city heard that travelers were in Lot’s house, they demanded that Lot turn them over to the crowd. According to the Bible, they wanted to rape these angels. Lot then tried to reason with the men of the city but they wouldn’t listen.

You probably know what happens in the city of Sodom. The two guests, who happen to be angels, come to Lot’s defense. They bar the way into Lot’s house and bring blindness upon all the men of the city who are trying to get in.

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”
When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”
Genesis 19:15-17 NIV

With the coming of the dawn – THE DAY – judgment came upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Once Lot and his family were out of sight of the city it was all over. The day that Lot left the city was the day that judgment fell. Now bear in mind that the inhabitants of those cities had some warning. Lot spent the whole day before trying to convince them.

The angels told Lot that if he had any loved ones in the city he should go and warn them. The Bible says that he went to his sons-in-law and they laughed at him. The city was warned. But because Lot wasn’t as in tune to the Lord as Noah, they didn’t have as much time to prepare. In both Noah’s day and in Lot’s the people ignored the warning.

Now I’ll ask the same questions I asked in my last post. When it was all said and done, who was left? According to Scripture it was Lot. Who was taken? Again, according to Scripture, it was the inhabitants of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Twice in the verses from Genesis 19:15-17 the angels said that the inhabitants would be “swept away.” That concept is very important.

We need to understand what will happen when Christ reveals Himself at His return. In my next post we’ll look at how Christ summarized His teaching on this future event.

Question: How does this knowledge affect how we live for Christ?

If you want a more detailed teaching on the Second Coming of Christ, click here to check out my book: The Third Watch – It’s Later Than You Think.

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2022 in Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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Last Days – The Days of Noah

Last Days – The Days of Noah

We’re going through the Gospel of Luke. At this point, I’ve been posting about the Lord’s teaching on the last days. Last time, we saw the warning He gave to His disciples that He would not return in their lifetime.

Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.”
Luke 17:22-24 NIV

He had to tell them the truth. They weren’t going to see the days of the Son of Man. Now that’s a term we need to understand. He had never yet used that term with His disciples before that day.

Let’s look carefully at the words of the Lord as He explains it to His disciples. He talked about the days of the Son of Man culminating in His day. Notice that He says in verse 24, “For the Son of Man in his day…”singular.

The word day means one literal twenty-four hour day. So what we see are “the days of the Son of Man” leading up to “the day of the Son of Man.” Thankfully He’s not finished with His explanation.

“But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”
Luke 17:25 NIV

Here Jesus explains to them what He’s going to do. He still hadn’t died yet and the disciples needed to prepare themselves for the shock of seeing their Messiah hung upon a cross. Unfortunately, the disciples never really heard what Jesus said, and ultimately were taken by surprise by the death of the Lord.

We’re now going to look at verse 26. Please read it carefully because a lot of people use these comparisons out of context and twist them all around to mean something other than what’s written.

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all.”
Luke 17:26-27 NIV

Notice that Jesus again uses the phrase “the days of the Son of Man.” It will be just like in “the days of Noah.” Notice “the days of the Son of Man” culminates in “the day of the Son of Man.” Compare that to “the days of Noah” culminating in “the day Noah entered the ark.” It was on that day that the flood came and destroyed them all.

At that point, when all were safe inside, God shut the door. That was it, there was no turning back. No one could leave, and no one else could enter the ark of salvation. This is an important point in the principle Jesus is trying to get across to His disciples.

When all these things had taken place, the judgment of God fell upon that ancient world.

Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.
Genesis 7:22-23 NIV

Now it’s important for me to ask you another question. According to the Scripture above, who was left? The answer is simple yet ignored. It clearly states that Noah and everybody in the ark were left. Who was wiped away from off the face of the earth? Every person and animal not in the ark.

It’s so clearly stated that you might ask why I’m emphasizing this issue. There’s a very important reason. Most of the people, who interpret this section of Scripture, rip it from its context, reverse it, and say that Noah was taken and the rest were left. We’re not going to do that today. I believe this verse as written and refuse to do any scriptural gymnastics to try and make it say something that it doesn’t. Here’s a parallel passage of Scripture.

and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.”
Matthew 24:39 NIV

Even in His comments concerning the flood Jesus makes it abundantly clear that it was the sinners that were taken and Noah who was left. This is a very important concept to grasp. It goes against most of the teaching in the church today. Yet it’s vital that we agree with what Christ says no matter what anybody else teaches.

Question: Does this challenge or confirm your beliefs about the Second Coming of the Lord? How?

If you want a more detailed teaching on the Second Coming of Christ, click here to check out my book: The Third Watch – It’s Later Than You Think.

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2022 in Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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Kingdom Evaluation

Kingdom Evaluation

We’re continuing our walk through Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is talking about having an eternal perspective rather than seeking after the temporary. He tells us that we need this view of the future if we’re to grow in our ministry.

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”

Luke 16:10-12 NIV

This is a very important teaching that Christ is giving the disciples, and the crowd who’s listening in. Unfortunately, we don’t always grasp the full meaning of what He’s talking about here.

The Lord is giving us a complete look at how He evaluates us before moving us to the next level. If we ignore this teaching, then we may be stalling out our progress in the Lord.

We all want to move forward in the spirit. However, there are many times when we seem to be “spinning our wheels” without any advancement. This teaching of Christ may explain what’s happening during those times.

Jesus gives us three areas of evaluation. They’re all important to the Lord. Therefore, they should be very important to us.

First, the Lord examines how we handle what we consider the least amounts. That phrase, very little, literally means the smallest amount you can have of something. It may not be important to you, but it’s important to Christ.

We live in a society that throws everything away. Whether it’s last year’s technology, or leftover food. Remember, we serve a God who picked up all the scraps of food after He fed the five thousand. How do you handle the smallest amounts of what you have?

The next thing He looks at is how we handle worldly wealth. This is a part of our financial stewardship. We all have the money we need to pay our bills with. I don’t believe that’s what the Lord is talking about here.

This is referring to the money we can spend with our heart. It’s what we do with the extra in our accounts. Do we seek the Lord’s will in our spending? Or do we simply get everything our flesh desires for it’s comfort?

Finally, we’re evaluated on how we handle other peoples’ property. This is another area that our society has no concept of.

I like to hike on the local trails near my house. It bothers me when I see trash all around, because people know the park maintenance workers will pick it up. In the stores, many times the clothing section is trashed because people look at something, they don’t want it, and throw it on the floor. They know the employees will put it away.

We have to show the same concern for other peoples’ things that we want shown for our stuff. It’s a part of being a blessing to those around us. We should treat people, and their things, the way we want to be treated.

The three of these areas all share a common theme. In order to live correctly, we must give up our selfishness. If we only think about what we want, we’ll fail the spiritual evaluation. That Lord makes it abundantly clear.

“No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”

Luke 16:13 NIV

You can’t serve two differing masters. The word translated as money, is actually the word, Mammon. This is a word that is usually talking about wealth that you’ve set up as an idol in your heart. It’s the money you want to spend on yourself.

You can’t serve God correctly and feed your selfishness at the same time. Your whole heart must be devoted to Christ. That’s the only way to progress in His kingdom.

Question: How would you evaluate yourself in these three areas?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Fear Without Fear

Fear Without Fear

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is teaching His disciples in chapter 12. We now come to a very interesting portion of Scripture. In this section we’re going to see two important aspects of fear.

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

Luke 12:4-5 NIV

The first thing we need to understand is the fear of the Lord. This is the foundation of a mature walk with God. We know from Scripture that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10) and the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).

I’ve heard people teach about the fear of the Lord in the past. Sometimes they’re a little off base when they say that this kind of fear is only a healthy respect. I choose to differ.

The word for fear in this verse is the Greek word from which we get the word phobia. It’s talking about actual fear, but you need to understand how it works.

This kind means a fear that changes your actions. Because you know the possible outcomes, you change what you’re doing. That’s the fear of the Lord.

I know that there will be a final Judgment Seat. There’s a lot at stake. Jesus says that if found guilty, I could be thrown into hell – literally, the lake of fire.

But, I know how I’ll be judged, and I know how to come through with an innocent verdict. The only way to freedom is through the payment made by Jesus Christ on the cross.

Since I know this, it changes what I do. I accept His Lordship over my life. I strive to please Him. This is the fear of the Lord. It’s more than respect; it’s a change of lifestyle.

Having said that, there’s another part to this fear. Look at what Jesus says immediately following this thought.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Luke 12:6-7 NIV

Having talked about judgment and hell, Jesus wants to make things clear to His disciples. Knowing all of this, should I constantly be living under the fear of hell? Absolutely not!

I’ve come to Christ and declared Him as Lord of my life. Now my future is secure in Him. My fear of the future should be gone.

Now I need to concentrate on the grace, goodness, and love of the Lord. His knowledge of me and my situations are deeper than I could ever imagine. Even though I may feel neglected at times, I’m never out of His thoughts. God is always working on my behalf.

Along with this, I need to cultivate a healthy fear of the Lord. But, I’m not talking about fear of judgment and hell. It has a different focus.

I saw a documentary once about diamond cutters. One in particular paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for a huge uncut diamond. He believed that if he cut it just right, the cut diamonds would be worth millions of dollars.

What he did surprised me. He didn’t just start cutting. He spent the next year studying the diamond and making notes. He didn’t want to ruin the diamond with a wrong cut.

That’s a great view of the fear of the Lord. I don’t fear judgment and hell. But, my relationship with God is so valuable to me, I don’t want to mess it up. I want it to become more valuable each day.

My relationship with Christ is like an uncut diamond. I don’t see the final outcome yet. God knows what I can become. So, I want to follow His plan as closely as possible each step of the way.

This is what the fear of the Lord is all about. It can be the greatest blessing of your life. Cultivate it more and more each day.

Question: How do you see the fear of the Lord changing your actions?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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It All Comes Back Around

It All Comes Back Around

I’m continuing, now, with my study of the Gospel of Luke. We’re looking at the Sermon on the Mount. The Lord now gives us four things that return to us as we give them out.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Luke 6:37-38

The first is judgment. That speaks of a decision between right and wrong. It seems that we’re always so quick to judge the words and actions of others.

Of course, we don’t like it when others give us their verdict. Judging is something that hurts when it’s used improperly.

It always amazes me how our judgment differs depending on the object. From my perspective, when you do something I think is wrong, you have no excuse. When I do something wrong, however, I have a good reason why I did it!

We need to learn to stop being so judgmental. Or, at least we need to keep our judgments to ourselves. In this way we’ll not be judged as much.

The next thing the Lord talks about is condemnation. This is the actual punishment for what we think is a self-evident wrong.

This punishment can take on many forms. Sometimes it’s avoiding someone we think has wronged us. Other times it may take the form of gossip and slander. We want others to know the damage that was caused to us.

This type of behavior has no place in the body of Christ. If you’re quick to pass out condemnation, then it will come back upon you. Others will scrutinize your life more closely. This is a position I wouldn’t want to find myself in.

These are two negatives that we need to avoid. Now the Lord gets to the positive things to give out.

The first is forgiveness. This is a very important concept in the Scripture. It literally means to release and free fully.

It’s the opposite of judgment and condemnation. When we judge and condemn someone, it’s as if we’ve locked them away in our mind. We attach them to what they’ve done and constantly remember it.

Forgiveness, on the other hand, releases them from this internal prison cell. We no longer associate them with what they may have done.

Forgiveness is more than simply saying the words, “I forgive you.” It’s a choice to forget, or act like you forget, what they’ve done in the past. It’s giving someone a fresh start. After all, isn’t that what Christ has done for us?

Then, Jesus uses the generic word, give. This applies to all of our giving. It doesn’t matter if it’s money, resources, encouragement, or any other thing. When we give, it opens the door for us to receive.

The thing we have to realize is that the blessing comes in many forms. Just because I give someone money, doesn’t mean I’m going to get money in return. There are many times that God blessed me with things that are worth much more than simply cash.

The important thing is that we understand, the return is always more than the initial giving. That’s true in all of these areas. When we give judgment, condemnation, forgiveness, and resources, the return is “a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”

We must make sure that we’re careful in what we give out. All of us want good things flowing into our lives. If that’s the case, then we should strive to be a conduit of God’s blessings flowing out to those around us.

Question: How have you seen this principle at work in your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2022 in Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Christ Followers

Christ Followers

I’m continuing through the Gospel of Luke. In the last few posts, I’ve been comparing our ministry to that of John the Baptist. Right now we should be preparing for the second appearing of the Messiah.

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ.

Luke 3:15

It’s interesting that as John carried out God’s plan for his life, people began to question if he was the promised Messiah. They saw the testimony of lives that were changed by his ministry.

Throughout this section of Scripture, I’ve been repeating that we’re the “John the Baptist Generation”. What the crowd saw in John is what the world should see in us.

Should they think that we’re the Messiah? Absolutely not! But, they should see Christ in us. That’s what it was like in the early church.

The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

Acts 11:26

That’s where the name Christian came from. The ministry of those early believers was right in line with how the Lord lived and ministered. The crowd came to the conclusion that these people were Christ followers.

That should be the question of the modern church community. Can people see how we live, respond, and minister; then conclude that we’re trying to be like Jesus? In my opinion, there’s a big disconnect in our generation. It’s time to close the gap between how we live and the life of Christ.

It’s when the people around us see a higher standard of living, that they’ll want what we have. Then, we won’t have to preach at them. They will seek out our message.

That’s why the crowds of people flocked to hear John the Baptist in the desert. They wanted to understand a new level of spirituality.

John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.

Luke 3:16-18

John had quite a message. The problem he had, was that the Old Testament showed both sides of the Messiah. It showed His salvation, but it also talked about the Day of Judgment. John thought that both of these would occur at the same time when Messiah arrived.

We know now that when Christ appeared then, it was to save us from our sin. The judgment won’t take place until His second appearance.

But, John does clearly place the choice right before our eyes. We can choose to be immersed in the Holy Spirit. Or, we can be immersed in the fire of judgment. We can choose to be wheat or chaff.

Actually, Jesus taught that He would do this exact thing on the Day of Judgment. He told it in a parable found in Matthew 13:24-30.

With John, his message was good news and bad news. The good news is that Messiah is coming. The bad news is that judgment is also coming.

Our message is similar, but of greater importance. The bad news is that Messiah is coming to judge the world. But, the Good News is that Messiah has already come to save, restore, and protect you from the coming wrath.

Why do we find it so hard to bring this wonderful message to those around us? What are we afraid of?

John preached without fear. Luke 3:19-20, tells us that his message actually got him locked up in prison. Yet, that didn’t hinder him from proclaiming what he was given.

We need to walk in the same boldness as John the Baptist. We need to declare the goodness of Jesus Christ to our world.

Question: How are you called to proclaim the message of Christ?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Only One Judge

Only One Judge

As we continue through the book of Romans, we’re talking about the relationship between weak and strong believers.

You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

Romans 14:10

This is a review of what Paul was saying. The weak one, who needs a set of rules to follow God, cannot judge others for not using those rules. Then again, the strong ones should not look down on the weaker ones because of their need for these rules.

The bottom line is that Christ is the Judge. We will all stand at the judgment seat of Christ. This is made clear throughout the Scripture.

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

We will all stand before God for His judgment. But, here’s the good news…it’s God who makes us stand in Christ, if we belong to Him.

This judgment is not to decide whether we’re going to heaven or hell. That was already decided when we bowed our knees to Christ as Lord and Savior.

This particular judgment is for our rewards – or lack thereof. It’s based upon what we did by faith. It’s about how we acted upon the Word we received. Did we listen and obey?

It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'”

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Romans 14:11-12

This is an Old Testament quote (Isaiah 45:23-25). But, if you look this verse up, you’ll find an assumption that Paul was making concerning the judgment seat of God.

But in the Lord all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult.

Isaiah 45:25

“In the Lord” are the key words in this passage. Praise God! Those of us who are Gentile believers are now grafted into the descendants of Israel.

However, there’s more to the passage in Romans, above, that we need to take note of. It literally says that every one of us will confess the word around ourselves to God. There’s another confession you need to be aware of.

Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Hebrews 13:17

This verse tells us that those in authority must give an account as well. As a pastor, I have to give testimony as to what I’ve seen in the lives of those under my ministry.

You may be surprised at what your authority sees. As a pastor, I can tell you that there are those who I can’t wait to brag about before the Lord. Then, there are others that I hope I’m not asked about.

So, we all have to understand, that part of our rewards are based upon how we related to those God placed in authority over us. To some, that will be a real eye-opener at the judgment seat.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.

Romans 14:13

Paul brings us to a conclusion. So, now that we know all this, see to it that no one puts one of these two things in his brother’s way. No stumbling block, and no obstacles. In my next post, I’ll look at these two things in more detail.

Question: What do you expect to happen when you stand before the judgment seat?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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