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Profitable in the Kingdom

Profitable in the Kingdom

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is talking about the subject of obedience. Many Christians want to hear Christ say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But do we really know what kind of obedience Jesus looks for in a servant? Listen to what He tells His disciples.

Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?”

Luke 17:7-9 NIV

Christ shows us a servant, working in the fields. He comes home tired and hungry. Just as he sits down to eat with his family, he hears the master arrive.

Does he have the luxury of finishing his meal first? Of course not. He must immediately get up and tend to the needs of his master. That’s the life of a servant.

After he has served, he can go back to his meal. After all he did, does he now expect a bonus? No, he’s only done what’s normally expected of a person in his position.

God expects more from us than we expect from ourselves. In the passage above, the Lord goes on to ask a very fearful question. As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I tremble at the implications.

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”

Luke 17:10 NIV

That’s a very deep question. Should you, as a servant, do as you’re told and then expect to be thanked? The word thanked means to be blessed, tipped or given a special reward. Actually, a servant is supposed to do what he or she is told.

If all we do in our ministry is what’s expected or normal for our kind of ministry, then we’re not operating in the excellent. As a matter of fact, Jesus calls us unworthy servants, meaning unprofitable.

There are always things that we must do or that we’re expected to do. The word unworthy is derived from a Greek word that means, not ought.

The thought is that you are not what you ought to be. To break into the realm of the excellent you must break through the “musts” and enter into the “oughts.”

Those who are not only doing what they have to do, but have found a way to do what they ought to do, are considered to be walking in excellence. When a person goes beyond the expected in his or her walk with the Lord we marvel at their spirit of excellence.

What does that mean to me? I must stop saying, “I ought to have…”, “I ought to do…”, or “I ought to be…” then with the next breath say, “But I have so much I need to do; I can’t.” When you develop the spirit of excellence, the Holy Spirit is now free to work in you to accomplish what wasn’t expected.

As excellence starts its work in you, you can tap into God’s excellent power, His excellent grace, and His excellent love. You’ll find out that God has all the resources you need to fulfill the call to excellence that He’s placed inside of you. That will bring glory to His name.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

II Corinthians 4:7

The word all-surpassing is the Greek word hyperballoexcellent. This excellent power does not come from our own strength. Don’t ever take the credit for the excellence in your ministry. The glory belongs to God.

Walking in the spirit of excellence is one of the earmarks of the power of God in your life, showing that you hear from God and are obeying His voice.

Question: What are some of the marks of God’s excellence in your life and ministry?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Legalism is a Dead End

Legalism is a Dead End

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is talking to His disciples and the crowds about the kingdom of God.

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”

Luke 16:16 NIV

In the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus, a new focus has emerged. The Law and the Prophets were the main points of religious teaching until that time. Now there’s an emphasis on the kingdom of God.

The religious leaders are not too happy about this. They could get around some of the Law of Moses. They were experts in the loopholes allowing them to do as they pleased, all the while keeping the facade of holiness.

The kingdom of God is about relationship with God. It’s not about a set of rules made by men. The Law is a set of unchanging commands.

It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.”

Luke 16:17 NIV

The Law of Moses is unchanging and impersonal. It doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t make any exceptions because of your situations, weaknesses, or what you happen to be going through at the moment.

The Law doesn’t have the power to help you. It doesn’t give you any support to live an overcoming life. It’s just there to point out the sin that you’re wrestling with on a daily basis.

Jesus gives the Pharisees an example.

Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Luke 16:18 NIV

This seems to be a random verse, stuck in here for no reason. But, there’s a truth that Jesus is trying to get across to the Pharisees. The Law doesn’t care about your situation.

At one point the Pharisees came to Jesus and questioned Him about the issue of divorce. I covered this a while back as we were going through the Gospel of Mark. The details are in Mark 10:1-12.

The religious leaders enjoyed this “divorce loophole”. The Law allowed for a husband to give his wife a certificate of divorce. That was the Law. What was God’s view?

That was clear throughout Scripture.

“I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty.

Malachi 2:16 NIV

That’s the difference between serving God by following the rules and life in the kingdom. We all want to know the rules. Rules are easier than maintaining a relationship.

There are Christians who live this way. They’ve boiled Christianity down to a set of man-made rules. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, go to church, give your tithes, etc. They follow the rules, then live for themselves the rest of the time.

A relationship with God is harder to maintain. In any relationship there’s shared responsibility. I have to find out what my partner likes or doesn’t like. My goal is to live in such a way that we grow together.

That’s what the kingdom of God is like. It’s not about rules. I must seek what pleases God and what displeases Him. I need to allow His Holy Spirit to work in me. I must hear Him, trust Him, and obey Him.

This is why many marriages break down. They don’t cultivate relationship. They think that as long as they’re doing what they’re supposed to do (following the rules), then the marriage is strong. They realize too late that when the relationship breaks down, the marriage soon follows.

Don’t turn your Christian walk into a set of rules. Legalism is a dead-end street full of frustration and guilt. Cultivate a strong relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit. That’s the key to fulfillment.

Question: How strong is your relationship with Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Relationships, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Spiritual Violence

Spiritual Violence

In my last post, Jesus concluded with a comment about finances. He said that you couldn’t serve both God and a desire for riches. The Pharisees heard it and continued in a state of denial.

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.”

Luke 16:14-15 NIV

This section of Scripture shows just how hardhearted the Pharisees had become. By their actions, they clearly loved riches and power. When Jesus talks about the love of money, they openly ridicule Him.

They’ve gotten to the point where they’ve rejected Him and His teaching. Now, their goal is to publicly discredit the Lord.

As usual, Jesus brings their hypocrisy to the surface. He exposes the fact that they’re always justifying themselves before men. They had a great way of twisting Scripture to make them sound holy while doing evil.

What they seem to forget is that God is not like any human judge. He doesn’t give any credence to a fine sounding argument. The Lord looks straight at what’s going on in their hearts. That’s what He bases His verdict on.

We would do well to remember this. Humanity places a high importance on the temporary. That’s especially true when it comes to personal pleasure. In God’s eyes, it’s the unseen – the eternal – which is the most valuable.

Just how bad are these temporary things that we run after? This translation uses the word detestable. This is one of those words that the translators had to be careful with, knowing that the Bible will be read in church with the Sunday morning crowd.

This Greek word comes from a root that means to pass gas silently. That’s why Jesus felt the need to expose where this foul spiritual smell was coming from! That’s what God thinks about us when we chase after the world and try to justify it by Scripture.

Jesus continues.

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”

Luke 16:16 NIV

Jesus warns the Pharisees that they’re out of step with what God is doing. Until John the Baptist came on the scene, the Law and the Prophets were the main emphasis.

The Pharisees enjoyed that. Any good lawyer could get around the teachings of the Law of Moses. They knew all the loopholes.

Now, since the beginning of John’s ministry, it’s the kingdom of God that’s being focused on in anointed preaching. The kingdom doesn’t deal with laws, rules and loopholes. It looks at the hearts and minds of individuals.

You don’t enter the kingdom of God by well thought out arguments. You have to force your way in by overcoming the natural inclinations of the flesh.

A fire has to ignite in your soul. Another way to say this is that you need the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Then, in response to this work, you must accept Christ in total opposition to the desires of your sinful nature.

We need to realize that making a decision to ignore the flesh is an act of spiritual violence. Throughout our whole lives to that point, our body and soul were in complete agreement. Then, suddenly, the Holy Spirit plants a seed of dissension in this relationship.

Now, body and soul don’t totally agree. Eventually you came to the place where your soul made the choice to bow its knee to Christ. The flesh lost its place on the throne of your life. That’s a spiritual rebellion against the established order of your very being.

Praise God for His life changing power in your life. That’s what gave you the strength you needed to see this change through to its completion.

Question: How did the power of God change your life?

©2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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God’s Rule and Mustard Trees

God’s Rule and Mustard Trees

We’re studying through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post, we saw Jesus getting into trouble because He healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath day. As a result, the Lord made a point of exposing the hypocrisy of religious thinking.

Now, to reinforce what He said, Jesus gives the crowd a couple of parables to think about. He wants to give them an understanding of the kingdom of God. This should also help us to understand how the kingdom of God should be growing.

Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds of the air perched in its branches.”

Luke 13:18-19 NIV

First, let me say that unless you know the region, this parable can’t be understood properly. There are a few different species of “mustard” that are common around the world. The one that can grow into a tree is not the one where we get the yellow goop for our hot dogs.

Jesus wants to let us know some attributes of the kingdom – God’s rule on earth. We know that the kingdom of God isn’t visible right now. It’s established in the hearts of God’s people.

The word, compare, in the above verse means to be similar in character and appearance. So, when we look at this parable, we’re getting a pretty good description of God’s kingdom at work in the world.

You need to understand that the seed for the mustard tree is tiny. This speaks of the small origin of the church. Jesus Christ was one man. But He wasn’t just a man. He was God made flesh.

When He was planted; the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection birthed an eternal kingdom. But that’s only one of the keys. For this plant to grow, it has to be planted under just the right conditions. That’s why Jesus had to emphasize over and over that in His ministry, everything had to be fulfilled according to the Father’s plan.

Another thing about this plant – it germinates quickly, but grows very slowly, but steadily. God’s kingdom is unstoppable. Many have tried to put an end to it, without success. That’s because it’s a kingdom born and nourished in the spirit. God is at work in the lives of His people.

As I said earlier, this isn’t the mustard we think of in talking about condiments and seasonings. However, the leaves and fruit of this tree are edible and have a slight, mustardy flavor. So animals and people can derive nourishment from it.

That brings me to my last point. This mustard-tree plant is very hardy. Once it takes root, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Because of this fact, the mustard tree is used throughout the Middle East and Africa for land reclamation.

Because it thrives in hot, arid climates; it can turn deserts into habitable places again. And, isn’t that one of the mandates of God’s plan? We are to bring life to the dead places around us.

Of course, not everybody sees it that way. Because it’s so hard to remove, people either view the mustard plant as a beneficial tree or a troublesome weed. Some people spend a lot of time and resources to remove it.

That’s how the church is described sometimes. Paul had this to say about it.

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 NIV

That’s the kingdom of God – some people hate it, while others couldn’t live without it. There are those who have dedicated their lives to extinguish the work of God on earth. Talk about a wasted life.

As for me, I’m grateful to be found in the kingdom of God. As I continue in the Lord’s way; I look forward to seeing His grace, power, and blessing that he desires to manifest through His people.

Question: How have you experienced the unstoppable growth of God’s kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God’s Kingdom and God’s Will

God’s Kingdom and God’s Will

In my last post I began talking about the Lord’s Prayer as found in the Gospel of Luke. We saw that the foundation was addressed to the Father in Heaven. Now we turn to what should be our greatest desire.

“‘…your kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”

Luke 11:2b NIV

Our highest aim should be the furtherance of God’s kingdom on earth. This is not something to be taken lightly.

That’s because this verb, “come”, is in the imperative. When we pray like this, we’re literally calling for the kingdom of God to manifest on earth. But that begs the question; do we actually want this?

We need to understand this word, kingdom – king-dom. We’re talking about the domain of the king. That means the region in which his rulership and authority is supreme.

Jesus Christ is King of kings. That’s beyond question. But, have I allowed that kingdom to manifest its reign over my entire life?

So often we retain little sections that we want to keep control over. We allow the Lord to rule over most of our life, but not all of it. That creates a big problem in our walk with Him.

The Bible refers to Christ with words such as, Lord, Master, King, and Sovereign. These titles allow no room for our will to take the spotlight.

“No, Lord” is an impossible statement. If He is Lord, then you can’t say “no”. If you can say “no”, then He’s not really your Lord.

That’s why we need to be constantly assessing ourselves. We must desire that the rule and reign of God has first place in us.

Along with this, we must also seek to walk in the will of God. This takes the kingdom of God to a higher level in our lives. That’s because the Lord’s will for my life is something specific.

Here’s our problem…in order for God’s will to be done, I need to first know what that will is. I have to be a person who hears the voice of the Holy Spirit. This requires seeking, and seeking requires time.

Many believers want to know how to find God’s will for their lives. The fact is that it’s not hidden. The Lord wants you to know it, but there is a process.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2 NIV

The key is time. We need to spend quality time in the presence of God, laying down our own agenda for the priorities of the kingdom. Along with that, we spend time in the Word, allowing it to change the way we think – renewing our mind.

As that happens, God’s will becomes second nature. When things come up in my life, I’ll be able to judge what God’s will is in that situation. Then, I can find myself walking in that will.

When it comes to the will of God, the pattern may not seem logical to our human way of thinking. We need to commit to walk in the Lord’s will BEFORE He’ll tell us what that will is. That’s what faith is about. I trust that His way is right before I know which way He’s leading.

That’s how the heavenly beings operate. God speaks and they move. My goal should be that I’ll obey in the same way while I live on the earth.

That’s what it will take to see the blessings of the kingdom of God manifest in my life.

Question: What is God’s will for your life today?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2022 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Don’t Take it Personally

Don’t Take it Personally

We’re continuing to go through Luke’s Gospel. For the last couple of posts we’ve seen Jesus sending out the 72 disciples. They were to prepare the way as the Lord traveled throughout Israel.

There was more they were called to do than just the logistics. They were to minister as well.

When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’”

Luke 10:8-9 NIV

They were told to preach the kingdom of God. They were preparing the towns for the message that Christ would bring.

However, there’s something greater that I think we miss here. Jesus commanded them to heal the sick. The Lord didn’t simply say to pray over them. They were to bring healing.

That’s important. This command would have been impossible unless the power and authority to heal were given with it.

I believe that this should be a vital part of our ministry today. The power of God to heal and deliver should be present in God’s people. This is what would drive the Gospel message forward.

Unfortunately, much of today’s evangelism consists of trying to convince people to change their thinking. We hope that our words will cause people to turn to Christ.

We need a revival of the power of God in our witnessing.

But, some people are not even moved when they witness the miraculous.

But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.”

Luke 10:10-12 NIV

Jesus warns these disciples that not everyone will receive the Good News. There are some that will reject Christ, no matter what they learn about Him. Even miracles will not convince them to follow the Lord.

That’s because the message of Christ involves giving up control. You have to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There are many who will totally refuse to hand over the reigns of their lives to Christ.

Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.”

Luke 10:13-15 NIV

Please understand what the Lord is saying here. He’s not telling these cities that their punishment will be greater. Theirs will be less tolerable because they didn’t just reject the words of a prophet.

These cities actually saw the Messiah in person. They heard the very words that he spoke. They saw the miracles done from His hands. Yet, in spite of all that, they rejected the Hope of Israel. This knowledge will continually haunt them throughout eternity.

Then the Lord turns to His disciples. He gives them an important piece of knowledge that we need to hold on to as well.

“He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Luke 10:16 NIV

No matter what happens through our ministry, don’t take it personally. If someone accepts Christ as their Savior and Lord, it’s not about us, but the Holy Spirit working in them.

If they reject the message of Christ, they’re not rejecting us. They’re rejecting the One who sent us. Ultimately, they’re rejecting the work of God in their lives.

Our goal should be to walk in such a way before God, that the world sees His power and is drawn to Him. Then we can be a faithful witness to what Christ has done in us. However, the final choice is theirs – for or against Christ. We are simply the messengers.

Question: How do you witness for the Lord?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Who Am I?

Who Am I?

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re seeing how Jesus interacted with His disciples. He asks them some important questions. In this post, I’m talking about Luke 9:18-27. You may want to read through this before continuing.

Jesus had taken His disciples off to a private place to pray. The Lord did that pretty often, and He wanted His disciples to learn this practice. It would become an important part of their ministry someday.

As He was praying, the Holy Spirit prompted Jesus to ask the men who the crowds thought He was. It turned out to be the same as what Herod had thought.

It’s interesting that most of what people thought revolved around dead prophets who had come back to life. This speaks to the miraculous power that was evident in the Lord’s ministry.

After that discussion, Jesus brought the conversation around to the most important question.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”

Luke 9:12

More than what the crowds thought about Him, Jesus wanted to hear what the disciples thought. Peter, as usual, was the spokesman for the group. He immediately answers that Jesus is the Christ – the long awaited Messiah of God.

This statement showed that they were finally starting to understand what was happening. They were witnessing the fulfillment of the entire teaching of Scripture.

Once Peter makes this confession, the Lord is able to take them a little deeper into His confidence. He begins to share about what would take place in the future.

Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”

Luke 9:21-22

The first thing He does is to warn them not to tell anyone this truth. That’s because accepting Jesus as Messiah has to be a personal choice made by faith.

This is in stark contrast to the many individuals who have falsely claimed that title down through the years. Most of them publicly declared this claim in an effort to seduce masses of people to follow them – and give financial support.

Also, at this point, Jesus begins to clearly state the fact that He is to die at the hands of the Jewish leadership, and then rise from the dead three days later. I’m sure the disciples had no idea that He was speaking literally. They probably thought the Lord was speaking in parables again.

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:23-27

But clearly, the most important thing they needed to learn, was now that they knew the truth, they were responsible to live it out. There was no more sitting on the fence. Trusting Christ as Lord is an all or nothing proposition.

The Lord made it clear that this is not a one time thing. It’s a daily decision to follow Christ over and above your own wants and desires. We must identify with Him no matter where that road leads.

That’s the key to seeing the kingdom of God manifest in your life.

Question: Who do you see Jesus Christ as in your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2022 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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A Serious Warning

A Serious Warning

We’re continuing to look at God’s dealings with the Jews as talked about by Paul in the book of Romans. He’s applying it to the church.

For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.

Romans 11:21-22

In my last post, I talked a little about this aspect of God’s character. He’s able to make hard decisions very quickly. It’s important for us to understand how this applies to us.

Too many believers are under the impression that God is supremely soft-hearted. They treat His grace like a welcome mat and live the way they want. But, that’s not who God is.

That’s especially true in the time that we’re living in. We’re getting close to the return of Christ. That means God is starting to clean up His church to be the spotless bride spoken of in Scripture.

Jesus, Himself, talked about this. At one point he gave a parable about the end-times. Listen to how the Lord explains it.

As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.”

Matthew 13:40-41

Did you hear what the Lord said? He’s not talking about the sinful world. At the end of the age He’ll be weeding His kingdom.

The good news is that the Lord warns us exactly what or who He’ll be weeding out. First, everything that causes sin. This is a Greek word that means to set a trap. That’s those who teach or do things that would cause others to fall and miss God’s best for them.

He will also weed out all those who do evil. Or, literally all those who live without any law – specifically God’s law. I believe He’s talking about godless believers. They believe in God and may even love Him. But, they live as if they don’t.

For hundreds of years, carnal Christians have been mostly allowed to continue as they pleased. But, as we near the end of the age, the Holy Spirit is going to make it impossible to straddle the fence. People are going to have to choose all or nothing when it comes to spiritual matters.

Jesus had more to say about those who cause others to go astray.

But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!”

Matthew 18:6-7

Again, He’s talking about people in this verse. That’s an important point. I say this because the very next verse in this context is usually misinterpreted and ripped out of its context. As you read it, remember that Jesus is talking about people who cause others to sin.

If your hand or your foot causes you to sin cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.

Matthew 18:8-9

The context is people who offend. I believe that Jesus is letting us know His attitude toward the members of His own body.

Think about it. I have caused my eyes to sin on many occasions, but my eye has never caused me to sin. In the body of Christ, however, a single member can cause others to miss the mark.

The Lord want you to know that it doesn’t matter how indispensable you think you are to the kingdom. If you’re offending the body, Jesus Christ is severe and decisive. If that’s you, then take the time to repent and change your direction.

Question: How do people cause others to sin?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Early Church – Holy Dough

The Early Church – Holy Dough

We’re continuing to look at the relationship of Israel to the church. Paul is explaining it in the book of Romans. He gives us his perspective.

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?

Romans 11:15

He literally tells us that their rejection caused the world system to be restored. Since that was the case, then their readmission into God’s kingdom will be life from the dead. So it’s obvious that Paul considers the nation of Israel, without Christ, spiritually dead.

The apostle now give us an illustration.

If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Romans 11:16

He uses a lump of dough as an example. He tells us that because the firstfruits are holy, set apart to God, everything else you make from the crop is holy. In talking about firstfruits, it’s possible that he’s referring back to James.

James wrote his book long before Paul wrote Romans. James wrote his epistle to the saved Jews all over the world.

He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

James 1:18

At the birth of Christianity, James calls them the firstfruits of God’s created systems of order. He wrote this without even knowing that Gentiles would someday enter the mix. But the salvation of the Gentiles had its beginnings in saved Israel.

Originally, Israel was set apart as holy to God. After the resurrection of Christ, a remnant remained true to the Lord. These original Jewish believers accepted the Good News by faith in Christ.

I believe that these are the firstfruits both James and Paul are referring to. Then the Gentiles are mixed into the batch of holy dough. However, there’s more to this example.

When giving bread as an offering, leaven was allowed in firstfruits and tithes. Then they would hold back a little to leaven the next batch. It wasn’t like now where yeast is its own thing.

In those days it was fermented dough that was added to the new batch. We must ask then; what is the Kingdom of God about?

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit,

Romans 14:17

Look at what Paul said earlier about firstfruits.

Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:23

Jesus also said something along those lines.

Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to? It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough.”

Luke 13:20-21

Yeast, in this context, is the old dough from the firstfruits that’s now fermented. We can look at the large amount of flour as the Gentiles. Now the Holy Spirit has penetrated all peoples. Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit can flow to all races, generations, and peoples.

The fact is that there would be no chance at salvation for the Gentiles without the Jewish nation. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their part in keeping the Word of God pure.

Question: What’s our part in the plan of God towards Israel?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2021 in Israel, The Church, The Gospel

 

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