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Looking for Convenience?

Looking for Convenience?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 5:4

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

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

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

Luke 5:5

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

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

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

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

Luke 5:10b

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

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

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

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

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

 

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Solitary Prayer

Solitary Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 4:42-44

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question: Where is your solitary place?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

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

 

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Asking the Right Questions

Asking the Right Questions

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. The following will be taken from the Scriptural passage found in Luke 4:16-40. You’ll want to read that first to understand what I share in this post.

We live in an age of hero worship. It seems that people are more inclined to follow those with the most glitz and showmanship. In many areas, unfortunately, it’s carried over into the body of Christ.

How do you choose a church to attend or a ministry to follow? Some people look for the latest technology. They want great music with smoke and lights. But, is that always an indicator of a solid church in the Biblical sense?

When it comes to the teachings we accept, how do we decide who to listen to? We need to be asking the right questions. This was something that was clearly portrayed in the ministry of Christ.

In the section of Scripture I referenced above, Jesus preaches at two different synagogues. One was in His hometown of Nazareth, and the other in a nearby town called Capernaum. In both cases He preached the same message. Knowing that it was the Lord, I’m assuming that both messages had the same level of anointing.

In spite of these similarities, only one of the towns, Capernaum, received a blessing from the Lord’s visit. It’s clear to see from the narrative, that the reason was found in the questions that they asked themselves as Jesus was ministering.

This is important to us because, many times, we’re guilty of the same type of attitudes that these people had. I believe that we may have missed out on countless blessings because our attitudes got in the way. What makes the difference?

All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

Luke 4:22

This verse shows what they were focused on in Nazareth. It says that they spoke well of Him. They were amazed at the words from His lips. But, they asked, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

The problem was, they were concentrating on who was speaking – was He all that they were expecting? What was His background? Their focus was on the person.

Capernaum was a different case altogether.

They were amazed at his teaching, because his message had authority…

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching? With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!”

Luke 4:32, 36

These verses make it clear that they were amazed at His teaching. It was about what the Lord said and did. They recognized that His Word had power and authority. Who He was and what He looked like didn’t figure into their acceptance of the Word.

As a result, revival fell in Capernaum that day. Demons were cast out and all the sick that lived in that area were healed (Verse 33-40).

We need to learn this lesson. Sometimes the biggest, most impressive looking show has the least anointing. On the other hand – there are times God wants to perform great miracles through His “unknown servants”.

I believe that in these last days before the return of Christ, God is going to be moving in “grass roots” ways. We will see Him working outside of the churches – in homes, schools, workplaces, and anywhere people look for Him.

We need to be asking, “What is the anointing, authority, and power upon this Word.” How big a following someone has shouldn’t figure into it. It’s all about the spirit behind the message, not the person God is using.

If we keep this in mind, then we’ll find the blessing of God in some of the most unlikely places. We’ll also open ourselves up to the miraculous.

Question: Have you ever received a blessing from God’s unknown servants?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Misunderstanding the Anointing

Misunderstanding the Anointing

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

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

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

He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

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

Luke 4:15-18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1 Thessalonians 2:4b

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

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

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

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2022 in Anointing, Ministry, Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Following Christ – But How Far?

Following Christ – But How Far?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 4:1-2

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

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

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

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

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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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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God’s Plan – Starting Strong

God’s Plan – Starting Strong

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we just looked at the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. Now, Luke talks about his childhood years in Luke 2:21-40.

It’s obvious that both Mary and Joseph were devout Jews. They did everything according to the Law of Moses. This law is found in Leviticus 12.

According to this law, Jesus had to be circumcised on the eighth day. Then, Mary had to wait 33 days for her purification. At that point, she needed to go to the temple to offer the sacrifice for her purification.

This tells us a lot about the family of Jesus. All this moving around the country had taken a toll on their finances. They went to Jerusalem for their purification…

…and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Luke 2:24

Actually, according to the law, this is the sacrifice if you were too poor to afford a lamb. Mary and Joseph were struggling to get by. Yet, they maintained the spiritual connections the best that they could, in order to raise Jesus correctly.

After all, they could have made the excuse, “We can’t afford to go to Jerusalem yet.” But they went anyway, and God had a great blessing waiting for them there.

There happened to be an elderly man in Jerusalem named Simeon. God had impressed him that he wouldn’t die until he saw the Messiah. As soon as he saw the baby, he knew that the time had come.

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”

Luke 2:28-32

This prophet of God had some amazing words to say over this child. First, Simeon reveals that Jesus is the salvation of God.

Then, he speaks of the Lord’s ministry. Christ will be a light to the world. This light will be revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Israel.

As parents, I can only imagine what Mary and Joseph were thinking while Simeon was speaking out these words. But, he didn’t end there. He had a special prophecy that he spoke over Mary.

Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Luke 2:34-35

He makes it known that the ministry of Jesus will not be a “bed of roses.” The Lord will definitely make a lot of powerful enemies. He will reveal things that those in authority will want to remain hidden. Mary needed to be ready for the outcome of God’s plan – Messiah going to the cross.

After Simeon finished his assignment, another person came to these parents. She was an elderly prayer warrior named Anna. She also recognized the child by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. She spoke more words of encouragement to all who were listening.

Joseph and Mary did everything that was needed to be done in order for God’s plan to be fulfilled in their child. And, God rewarded their efforts. They saw the confirmation of all that God spoke to them.

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:39-40

After they had gone through with their spiritual duties, they left for home. But, they didn’t go to Bethlehem, where the Child was born. Instead, they went back to Nazareth, where they had grown up and were connected with friends and family.

In this environment, Christ grew, and it was obvious that God had a great calling upon Him.

Question: What are the things you need to do to fulfill God’s plan in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2021 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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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

 

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My Plan vs. God’s Plan

My Plan vs. God’s Plan

We’re continuing through the book of Romans. At this point we’re in the final stretch to the end. But, Paul still has some important insights for us.

It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”

This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you.

Romans 15:20-22

In this verse we get a glimpse into Paul’s heart for ministry. His great desire is to make Christ know where He was formerly unknown.

Speaking as a pastor, this is my heart as well. I never wanted to take people away from their church. My overwhelming desire is to see believers grow in Christ, and to live out their faith to the fullest.

However, there’s another insight into grace that Paul gives us here. Sometimes we have to put our desires on hold because of the grace we’ve been given.

The apostle very much wanted to go to Rome and fellowship with the believers there. But God had other plans. There were cities where the Gospel of Christ hadn’t reached yet. The Holy Spirit was sending Paul to the places he was most needed.

We need to remember this in our Christian walk. Many times we pray for things that we desire. But, we don’t always get what we want. Sometimes the answer is a resounding “NO!” But, there are other times when God is simply telling us to wait, because it’s not time for that yet.

For the next seven verses (Romans 15:23-29), Paul talks about his plans for the future of his ministry. I suggest that you read this section and compare it to the last eight chapters of the book of Acts. It’s interesting to see what Paul is planning versus what God had already mapped out for him.

His agenda was to go to Jerusalem with an offering from the Gentile churches in Greece and Asia. Little does he know that he will be arrested when he gets to Jerusalem. He will then make it to Rome, but as a prisoner headed to trial.

Most Bible scholars believe that this was his first trial in Rome. He was eventually acquitted, and made his journey to Spain. Then, later in his life, he was tried and executed in Rome.

We need to see that even though Paul knew the outline of his future ministry – Jerusalem, Rome, Spain – he didn’t know all the details that the Holy Spirit had in store for him. We face the same challenges in discovering God’s will for our lives.

We pray and seek God for His wisdom. The Lord then imparts the outline for His plan into our spirits. Then, many times, we run off, thinking that we know how to get to the goal line. It’s only after bumping into a few closed doors that we find the true path God intends for us to follow.

In all of this, Paul understood the key to reaching the finish line.

I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there, so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen.

Romans 15:30-33

Paul calls out to the church with an important request. He asks them to join the struggle with him through prayer. We have to realize that most people pray for their own concerns. He wants them to take up a concern for those yet to be reached by Paul’s ministry.

We know from the book of Acts, everything that Paul is about to face. We also know that God took him through it victoriously. A large part of this victory was the churches who stood by him in prayer.

Make sure that you stand in prayer with your leadership, missionaries, and other ministries (like mine!), to see God accomplish his will in our generation.

Question: What is God’s outline for your life right now?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2021 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Grace for the Work

Grace for the Work

Continuing through Paul’s letter to the Roman church, he’s making his concluding remarks. A lot of people skip over this section of the epistle, but it still contains some important thoughts.

I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

Romans 15:14-15

Here Paul explains the reasoning behind this letter. He has just given them the complete pattern for the victorious Christian walk. The apostle did this because he’s convinced that they’re full of goodness.

When he uses the word, goodness, he’s talking about God’s definition, not man’s. He believes that their desire is to carry out God’s plan for their lives. That goes for us as well. If we’re not pursuing God’s plan, then the book of Romans will be of no value to us.

Paul also tells them that their knowledge has been completed. That’s because Paul has given them everything they need to grow and overcome in Christ by the Spirit.

The word teach means that they now have the power to put in mind, caution, warn, and train one another. This is something we need to do – if we’ve been trained by the Holy Spirit.

He then gives us an interesting description of this letter.

I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:15-16

In describing this letter, he says that he’s been very bold in some points. I believe these are a few of the things he’s referring to:

If you try to live under the law you’ve lost touch with Christ.

You need to grow up.

You need to walk in the spirit.

The truth is that we need them preached today. We need to be walking in the whole truth of God.

Paul also gives us insight into his ministry. He tells us the reasons behind what he does. He says, “It’s because of the grace God gave me.”

This is the understanding of grace that we need in our generation. It’s the commodity of God’s power and resources flowing in and through His people. God’s grace to me is different than God’s grace to you.

At one point Paul met with the Apostles of Christ in Jerusalem.

James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.

Galatians 2:9

In looking at the outward signs of God’s grace, they saw two different ministries – Jews and Gentiles. In talking about this grace, Paul uses an interesting word picture.

Paul says that God has made him a priest of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. He was given the priestly duty to proclaim the Good News. He does this specifically to present the Gentiles as an acceptable, well-received, and approved offering to God. Because of this ministry, the Gentiles are in the process of being sanctified and cleaned up by the Holy Spirit.

That was Paul the Apostle’s grace. The real questions are; what’s my grace, and what’s your grace? It’s our job to find out.

That’s what we’re going to be rewarded for. More importantly, that’s what we’re supplied and equipped for.

Question: What is God’s grace calling you to do?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2021 in Anointing, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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