RSS

Tag Archives: love

Inconvenient Discipleship

Inconvenient Discipleship

I’ve been posting about Jesus’ experience at a banquet with some Pharisees. The Lord is trying to explain some kingdom principles to them. But, because of their superior attitudes, most of them are not receiving this teaching. You may want to read Luke 14:15-26 before continuing.

Jesus has just talked about not throwing parties simply to get invited to better ones. Suddenly, one of the Pharisees excitedly interrupts.

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

Luke 14:15 NIV

He’s talking about what we know as the Second Coming of Christ. He’s anticipating a good time in the presence of God. Unfortunately, there’s only one way to get there, and these religious leaders are in the process of rejecting Him.

The Lord answers by giving them a parable. He wants to get across to them that just because you’re invited, doesn’t mean you’ll attend. You have to answer the call of the Messiah to be a part of the kingdom.

The parable is about a rich man who invited many people to a great feast. They all replied that they were coming. On the day of the banquet, he sent his servant to call them all to come.

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’”

Luke 14:18-20 NIV

Hmmm. It sounds a lot like God’s people today. Everyone is busy with their own petty concerns. No one has any time to do anything for the Lord.

We have to be very careful not to allow the distractions of life to squeeze out the things of the spirit. How long can we ignore the voice of the Holy Spirit before it starts to negatively affect our life?

In the parable, the rich man made it a point to fill up his house with everyone he could find. He made sure there was no room for the foolish friends who refused his call.

Jesus makes it clear that He has to be the priority in the lives of His disciples. At the end of this parable, the Lord turns to the crowds, and begins to make this point.

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.”
Luke 14:26

Most people get tripped up by this verse because they don’t understand the usage of the word hate in the Scripture. This word has no emotional attachment to it. It’s just like the word agape, used to convey the idea of love. Hate is a choice rather than an emotion.

This word hate means a choice to not participate with. There are times when being a disciple of Christ means that you choose not to participate in every family event or social invitation. Maybe it’s a baby shower or a graduation party that’s held on a Sunday morning.

Christ is saying that if you choose to participate with your family or friends over the Lord, then it shows that you’re not truly a disciple. You might be a believer who loves God. But, you have yet to choose the high road of discipleship.

A disciple is more than just a student. You can miss a few classes and still graduate with an “A”. Discipleship is totally different.

Here’s why. A student wants to learn what the teacher knows. A disciple wants to become what the teacher is. That only happens as you walk the same road as Christ.

Following the Lord can be very inconvenient at times. However, if you want the same results as Christ, you must live as He does.

Question: How would you describe your discipleship toward Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

My Neighbor

My Neighbor

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re coming to a familiar parable of Jesus. You may want to read Luke 10:25-37 before reading this post.

In this section of Scripture, we see an expert in the Law approaching the Lord with some questions. His goal was probably to test Jesus, to find a basis for accusation against Him.

His first question was a simple one. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” At that point, under the Old Covenant, Jesus answered with a question of His own.

“What is written in the Law?” he [Jesus] replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Luke 10:26-27 NIV

This expert in the Law gave the expected answer. This is what was commonly accepted as the summation of all the Law and the prophets. However, this lawyer couldn’t just stop there.

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Luke 10:28-29 NIV

Here’s where it starts to get interesting. You usually don’t feel the need to justify yourself unless you’re feeling guilty about something. In talking with Jesus, there must have been some conviction about how he had treated people in the past. He wanted to clarify that he was okay.

According to Old Testament thinking, a neighbor was a fellow countryman. Any Jewish person would qualify. Someone who was not a Jew would not be treated as a neighbor in terms of the Scripture.

Jesus went on to tell this man a parable. Someone was on a trip and was attacked by bandits along the road. He was robbed, beaten, and left for dead.

Soon, a priest came by that way. But, he ignored the man in need. A Levite also came by, but ignored him as well. These were both men who knew the Law and would have given Jesus the same answer to His question.

Then, a Samaritan came along the same road. These people were considered outsiders by the Jews. They had no dealings with each other and made sure that they kept their distance.

But, when the Samaritan saw the man in need, it didn’t matter to him whether or not the man was a Jew. He stopped and helped. He treated the man’s wounds and carried him on his donkey.

He was then taken to an inn where he could stay for the night. In the morning, the Samaritan prepaid so that the injured man could stay long enough to heal. He also promised that if there were any further expenses, he would come back and cover them.

Now it was time for the most important question.

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

Luke 10:36 NIV

In the literal Greek, Jesus asks, “Which of these three became a neighbor to the man…?” The two who were neighbors according to Jewish tradition, failed to help. The one who was not expected to help, did what was needed even though he was not a fellow countryman.

The answer was clear.

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:37 NIV

Who is my neighbor? It’s anyone that I have opportunity and ability to help. It’s not necessarily someone who lives next door. It could be anyone I meet during my day.

That’s why I need to be sensitive to the Lord’s leading. He can show me who to bring a blessing to. Then, as a result, I’ll reap a blessing from what I’ve planted in someone’s life.

Question: How have you been a neighbor lately?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , ,

The Two Debts – Part 2

The Two Debts – Part 2

In my last post, I started talking about the Pharisee who had a dinner in honor of Jesus. I talked about the background of that event. This Pharisee was healed of leprosy by Jesus, earlier in His ministry. That’s an important point as we look at what happens at the dinner.

As I already said, during the dinner, a “sinful” woman came in, washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, and anointed them with an expensive perfume. The Pharisee became judgmental.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is — that she is a sinner.”

Luke 7:39

This Pharisee is assuming some things. The first is that Jesus thinks the same way he does about people. This is a trap many fall into.

We think that God is like us. We spend so much time trying to get God to agree with us. We want to get God on our side.

This approach never works. Our focus should be to get into agreement with God and to join with Him on His side.

The fact is that Jesus had no problem with this woman worshiping Him. He spent a lot of His time ministering to those that the Pharisees rejected as unworthy people.

I like the way Jesus turned things around. He asked this Pharisee a very leading question.

“Two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Luke 7:41-42

He gives this Pharisee a parable of two people in a hopeless, helpless situation. Knowing the whole story, we understand that this religious leader was healed of an incurable disease. He owed a great debt to the Lord that he could never repay.

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Luke 7:43

Unfortunately, he still doesn’t get the point. The Lord has to tell him plainly what He’s talking about.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven — for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”

Luke 7:44-47

Here’s the bottom line. Jesus explains the real foundation for walking in love. This woman could show love in a real way, because she understood the depth of her condition. She received a forgiveness she could have never earned on her own.

The Pharisee saw himself as a good person. He didn’t need much from God. That’s the pitfall of self-righteousness.

If I see myself as better that anyone else, I don’t show much love. It’s only when I come to realize that no matter how good I am, I could never repay the forgiveness I needed from the Lord. The “filthy rags” of my own righteous works could never bring God’s blessing.

Forgiven much or forgiven a little is all a matter of perspective. No matter how good we think we are, we’re helpless and hopeless without the Lord’s grace. Understanding this allows us to love others the way Christ does.

Question: What is God’s forgiveness worth to you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 16, 2022 in Legalism, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Scope of Love

The Scope of Love

We’re continuing in our study of Luke’s Gospel. Right now we’re looking at the Sermon on the Mount. In this section, Christ is talking about loving others, especially our enemies.

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.”

Luke 6:32

This kind of love is all about choices. Most people are very willing to do good things for those who are good to them. But that doesn’t show a difference in us.

There’s more to this question that Jesus asks than is readily apparent. The word, credit, is actually the Greek word for grace.

You don’t need any special anointing of grace to love those who show love to you. If you want to walk in God’s power, then do good to those who hate you.

And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that.”

Luke 6:33

In the world there’s a saying, “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” In other words – if you do something nice for me, I’ll do the same for you.

Christ turns this thought on it’s head. He literally says that if you only do favors for people who do favors for you, then what grace do you have. Sinners, with no grace, can do the same thing.

The question is; do you want to show the power of God working through you? That will only happen if you do what other can’t do, or refuse to do.

And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.”

Luke 6:34-35

Now Jesus starts meddling! It’s one thing to be nice to someone, it’s totally different when it comes to giving away our resources.

Jesus goes as far as to say that if an enemy needs something we have, then we should lend it to them. That’s hard to do, because there’s a good possibility that they won’t return it. As a matter of fact, the Lord tells us not to expect them to return it.

That’s a hard road to walk. Again, it requires the grace of God to be active in you. More than that, God is transforming us into His likeness. He wants the character of Christ to be manifest in us.

The word Jesus uses for reward, means a payment for services. What we have to realize is that when we do good to our enemies, God takes on the debt Himself. He works out the repayment.

I don’t think there’s any possible reason why God should take on a debt that is owed to me by an enemy. And, for sure, I’m not going to demand it from God. But, knowing the Lord the way I do, I can expect an abundant blessing when I follow His leading.

God’s desire is that we take on a family resemblance to Him. He is kind, and the Lord wants us to walk in that same degree of kindness. Obviously, God’s definition of kindness means doing good to people who are ungrateful and evil. That takes a huge amount of grace.

Here’s the bottom line of all this.

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

Luke 6:36

If you study out the concept of mercy in Scripture, you’ll find that it’s nothing like the how we define it in our modern society. Let me just say that in this context, Jesus wants us to view people as to what they could be in Christ.

Ignore how they’re acting right now – even though they may be hurtful to you. See them through the eyes of God’s love.

Question: How have you shown love to an enemy recently?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 4, 2022 in Anointing, Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Loving Enemies

Loving Enemies

As we keep studying the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus now begins talking to the whole crowd. This message is one of the hardest teachings of Scripture.

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Luke 6:27-28

Believe it or not, this section of the Word is the basis of a supernatural ministry. What the Lord says here, and is about to say, definitely cannot be accomplished in our own strength. We must draw on the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.

Remember that love is a choice. It’s not just words. We’re really good at saying, “I love everybody.” However, saying it and walking in it are two very different things.

Love is a choice to act. That’s the key. Jesus clearly says that this love acts to do good things to those who have made the choice to either ignore you or affect your life negatively.

As a matter of fact, the Lord takes this even further. The word, bless, in this verse means to speak well of. This is one of the hardest things to do. Usually, when it comes to those who hate us, we try to garner support for our side of the issue.

We try to tell others how bad this person is so that we get their support and encouragement. Instead, Christ says to speak well of those who are speaking evil of us. This is impossible without the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Then, to top it off, we bring their needs to the Lord in prayer. This takes a total change of heart. Our human nature wants to see God hurt them. But that’s not the road we’re to walk. Love is a choice to live like Jesus.

If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Luke 6:29-31

This is a very hard teaching to follow. However, we need to understand the context. The Lord is NOT telling us here that we need to stay in an abusive situation. The verses immediately preceding this are talking about being hated for the cause of Christ.

In our testimony of Jesus, we’re not to strike back. However, there’s no Scriptural basis for allowing others to abuse us.

Slaves are told that they are to gain their freedom, if they can (1 Corinthians 7:21). On more than one occasion, Paul demanded his rights as a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37; 22:25). Jesus even told His disciples that if they were persecuting you somewhere, then leave that place and go somewhere else (Matthew 10:23)

There are times, however, when we need to put away our rights for the cause of Christ. That’s why it’s so important to spend time with the Holy Spirit. It’s through His prompting that we know when to fight and when to back off.

Actually, the last line of this passage says it all. We need to treat others the way we want to be treated. That’s one of the best ways to show that you’re different than the rest of the world.

Allow the Holy Spirit to use you to affect the world around you. Be an agent of love and encouragement. Let the life of Christ shine through you.

Question: How have you showed love in unexpected ways lately?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 2, 2022 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Paul’s Conclusions

Paul’s Conclusions

In my last post, I started going through the greetings at the end of the book of Romans. I talked about some issues with women in leadership. There’s another that I’ll hit quickly today.

Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets at their house.

Romans 16:3-5a

You may remember these people if you’ve read through the book of Acts. Priscilla and Aquila were a Jewish couple, who Paul met in Corinth. (Acts 18) They were tent-makers, like Paul, so he stayed with them and joined their business.

They began to minister with Paul, and moved to Ephesus where they planted a church in their home. Now they’ve moved to Rome where they again have a house-church.

In the book of Acts, Luke refers to the woman as Priscilla. That’s the informal, friendly name used for the name, Priska. In this verse in Romans, Paul uses her more formal name, Priska, even though the translators chose to use Priscilla so we’d know who was being talked about.

Why is that important?

The fact that Paul listed her first, along with her husband is significant. On top of that, he used her formal name out of respect. That tells me that she was the senior pastor of their home-church. Like I said in my last post, God can call whoever He desires to do His work.

Then, in verses 5b through 16, Paul sends his greetings to a number of people in the church. That tells me a lot about who the apostle was. He was a man who loved people.

Of those listed in this group, half of them were either women or slaves. In that society, they were treated like property or pets. Yet Paul saw them all as important, and he appreciated them.

We need to learn this lesson. We need to let others know that they’re loved. I recently heard a speaker give us this principal: “People love people who love people.”

We like to be around others who we think can uplift us. We need to learn to appreciate people who can do nothing for us. The church, more than any other group, should be a place where everyone gets love and affirmation.

That’s why Paul gives his next instruction.

I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

Romans 16:17-19

Our human nature wants to constantly feed itself. We look for others who will stroke our egos. We need to constantly guard against this.

Part of winning this mind battle, is to keep away from those who obviously are after their own agendas. We need to choose our friends wisely. Attitudes have a way of rubbing off on those around them.

After sending greetings from his companions, Paul makes a closing statement.

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him – to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Romans 16:25-27

This is the summation for everything he’s written in this letter. I think it’s appropriate that he calls this letter his Gospel. It does contain everything we need to know to establish our lives in Christ Jesus.

Question: How has the book of Romans affected your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Online Christians

Online Christians

We’re continuing our study through the book of Romans. In this section, he’s dealing with the way believers who think differently should relate to each other.

We like to think that our opinion is right about questionable issues. That’s especially true if we grew up in a church where we heard the same thing preached for our whole life. We get pretty ingrained in our ways.

Paul makes it clear in Romans that it’s more about love, and less about what I think is right. Here’s the verses that we looked at over the last couple of posts. It’s a good review.

Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.

Romans 14:19-21

We need to be careful to look out for each other. We can’t trample others down with our opinions. As a matter of fact, Paul makes a bold statement. We really need to take it to heart in this generation. Especially when it comes to what we say on social media.

So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.

Romans 14:22

Wow! If ever anybody needed to hear this, it’s us. The way a lot of believers act on social media is an embarrassment to the body of Christ.

Remember, Paul is speaking here about those gray areas of life. Yes, I know that you think that your way is the best, but love has to be the bottom line.

Do you believe something? That’s wonderful. But in a spiritual setting, keep your politics to yourself. That is, unless you were asked about it.

There are some real “hot button” issues out there today. I know it.

“You should wear a mask.” “You shouldn’t wear a mask.”

“You should get a vaccine.” “Don’t get a vaccine.”

I have seen these issues turn into belligerent shouting matches between Christians. We resort to belittling and name-calling. All for what? Because we think we’re right.

Remember, I’m not saying this, the Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, did. “Whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God.”

It’s time for us to stop attacking each other and focus on the work of the kingdom. Stop preaching your brand of politics, and start preaching Jesus.

Paul literally says, don’t allow yourself to be condemned by what you approve. This is condemnation from an outside source. The world is watching us and thinks that there’s no change when you come to Christ. We act just like them.

But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin.

Romans 14:23

Here’s the other side of the coin. Don’t put yourself in a position to be condemned. If you don’t feel you should be doing something, and you do it because you saw someone else do it, for you it’s sin. This person is condemned because of a lack of faith.

Paul is telling us that everything that does not originate from our faith, misses the mark. Paul concludes this with the following statement.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

Romans 15:1-3

Simply put, it’s not about pleasing ourselves. It’s about edifying, building up, the body of Christ. This verse tells us that Christ took all of our insults. How much worse is it, if I ridicule a brother in Christ and Christ has to bear it?

Question: How should a believer act when they’re online?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 20, 2021 in Faith, Relationships, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Love Debt

The Love Debt

As we continue through Paul’s letter to the Romans, he now talks about the debt we owe to one another.

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Romans 13:8-9

Paul makes it clear that we shouldn’t be in debt. However, there is a debt that will always remain in our lives. That’s the love debt that we owe to each other.

He goes as far as to say that this love actually fulfills the requirements of God’s law. This goes right along with what Jesus taught in His ministry. At one point the Lord was asked which of the commandments was the most important. Listen to His answer.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:29-31

These are the two debts that we will always be living under. Our debt to love God and our debt to love others.

In both verses, we’re told to love others as we love ourselves. That’s an important concept. There are many people who haven’t learned to love themselves, so they find it hard to love others.

This principle of love is hard for many people to grasp. They don’t realize that this love has nothing to do with our emotions. It’s a choice we make to participate positively in someone’s life.

That includes myself. If I’m not making choices to make my life and relationships better, then I don’t really love myself. Many of us live very self-destructive lifestyles. This lack of self-love spills over into our treatment of others.

Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:10

I would even say that those who treat others badly, are showing that they actually hate themselves. That’s why we need to understand how God sees us, and take up that same attitude. Even with all of my frailties and imperfections, I’m exactly who God says I am.

Having that attitude helps me to treat others with love and respect. This last verse tells us that love does no evil to his /her neighbor. You can’t say “I love them,” and then treat them badly.

That’s why love fulfills the law. Love for God, self, and others gives me the ability to fulfill God’s will for my life.

But there’s a deeper reason why we must love. The Lord told this to His disciples just before He went to the cross.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

Jesus makes it clear that our love is a part of our witness to the world. When we walk in the love of Christ, those around us see something they don’t understand. It opens the door to hearing our testimony.

Walk in God’s love, and fulfill your destiny in Christ.

Question: How have you showed the love of God recently?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sincere Love

Sincere Love

As we continue to study through the book of Romans, we’ll begin to see a shift in Paul’s focus. Up until this section, the apostle was writing about our personal growth. Now he begins to show how the church grows as a body.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:9-10

As he begins to talk about life in the body of Christ, it’s no wonder that Paul starts with love. It’s the Greek word, agape. This is the choice to show love to others. It has nothing to do with any emotions.

He tells us that this agape-love must be sincere. It literally means to be given without falsehood or hypocrisy.

This brings up a very important point that needs to be discussed when reading this section of Scripture. Peter does a good job of explaining it.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 1:22

Notice how Peter begins talking about this subject. He makes it clear that he’s writing to mature believers who have purified themselves in the truth. When we’re cleaned up by the Word, brotherly love is born.

Brotherly love is the first word for love that Peter uses in this verse. It involves the emotions of friendship and camaraderie.

Then he goes on to the second word for love, which is agape – just like Paul did. Peter also uses the same word for sincerity. Why is all of this important?

We must understand this because, according to Peter, this type of love is only possible after the purifying process has begun in your life. This is written to those who are pursuing a mature walk in Christ.

What we have to realize is that from Romans, chapter 12 on, Paul is writing to the mature believers. It’s those Christians who can understand and follow these guidelines.

Both Peter and Paul make it clear that our agape-love must be mature and sincere – not faked (like baby agape). That’s because your heart has been changed by your submission to the Holy Spirit’s work in you.

Getting back to the passage in Romans, we’re told to utterly abhor, hate, be disgusted by evil. How do you do this if you haven’t gone through God’s maturing process?

Some people look at the second half of Romans as a rule book to be enforced. That’s not the case. The only way you can fulfill the message from Romans 12 on is to go through the work described in chapters 8-10. Otherwise, you’ll only end up feeling frustrated and guilty.

Paul tells us that you’re not only to hate evil, but to glue yourself to the good. Please remember that this is good by God’s standards, not ours. We have a very low opinion of good compared to God. That’s why we must be transformed to think like God thinks.

Then, Paul talks about the emotional brotherly love. The word, devoted, is interesting. It means to have an emotional affection like that of a natural, immediate family. That’s how we should feel about each other in God’s kingdom.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…

Ephesians 2:19

Of course, if you see others as part of your immediate family, then you’ll honor one another before yourself. In other words, don’t wait to be honored before you give honor.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

Galatians 6:10

Question: What areas of growth have you seen in your personal walk with God?

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 1, 2021 in Fellowship, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

God’s Purpose, God’s Choice

God’s Purpose, God’s Choice

In my last post, I started talking about Israel as God’s chosen people. In looking at Paul’s writings, he said that it was only the children of promise that were Abraham’s true children. Paul continues…

For this was how the promise was stated: “At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son.” Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac.

Romans 9:9-10

Isaac was the son born of a promise. But, the same was true when Isaac went on to have children of his own. Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, had twins. They were born at the same time, in the same bloodline, into the same family.

Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad — in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls — she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Romans 9:11-13

Now there’s a mouthful. What does that phrase, God’s purpose in election mean?

God has a purpose in choosing. Actually this goes along with Romans 8:28. Remember, in Greek that verse says, God works together with all who love Him to bring about good – the purpose to which they were called.

In the above verse from chapter 9, Paul uses a special word for purpose. It means something held out. It’s the Greek word that’s also used for the showbread in the Temple. They are also called the “bread of the presence.”

This showbread was displayed in the holy place of the Temple on a weekly basis. Then, incense would be poured on top of any that was not eaten. So it was eaten and burned each week.

Only those offering service to God may eat this in His presence with their prayers. It was constantly provided for the priests who served at the altar. I believe that it’s also a picture of Christ, since He called himself the Bread of Heaven (John 6:51).

That’s the word Paul used in describing God’s way of choosing. God has a purpose in His calling and choosing.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:11-12

Everything that God does is based upon His preordained plan. His plan was set out from the beginning.

So, God wanted to show that it wasn’t by works that He makes His choice. He didn’t wait to see who gave Him the better offering or service. BEFORE they did anything – God looked ahead and chose the one who would obey His plan for their life.

Getting back to the verse in Romans, in order to see what’s being said, we have to understand love and hate. Contrary to current opinion, when the Bible uses these words, they’re both without emotion.

It’s all about choices. Love is the choice to positively participate in someone’s life. Hate is the choice to negatively participate or not to participate at all.

Knowing that Jacob would participate with His plan, God participated with him. Knowing that Esau would ignore His will, God chose not to work with him.

At first, it may seem unfair that God would say such a thing. But, after the twins progressed, it was obvious that God made the right choice. That’s especially true since it was obvious that Isaac was trying desperately to groom Esau to be the chosen son.

It’s good to know that God has a plan for me. He knows the choices I’ll make, even before I make them. I’m so glad that He works with me to bring about His destiny for my life.

Question: How do you see God’s hand upon your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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