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Pure Motives

Pure Motives

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. The end of the Lord’s ministry was quickly approaching.

That being said, there are posts that I really enjoy writing. There are others that I wrestle with God about publishing them. I don’t want to be the one who rocks the boat. Unfortunately, today’s post is one of those that I didn’t want to write.

Jesus was nearing the cross and the battle lines were being drawn between Him and the religious leaders of His day.

While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely.”

Luke 20:45-47 NIV

In Jesus’ day, there were those who taught the Scripture, while at the same time having an element of self-indulgence. There were times that they taught the truth of God’s Word, drawing people closer to the Lord. At the same time, they were feeding their own egos and lining their pockets.

These religious leaders liked the fact that they were highly esteemed among the people. They were able to dress well and were readily recognized.  People wanted to be at the meetings when these leaders were present.

According to Jesus, for all of their training and knowledge, they weren’t scoring any points with God. As a matter of fact, the Lord warned the crowds that they needed to do what these leaders taught, while at the same time rejecting their self-absorbed lifestyle (Matthew 23:1-4).

Jesus also condemns the religious system itself. He points out the fact that their extravagant way of life is paid for by those who could least afford it.

That was the easy part of this post. Now on to the difficult section…

Lately, I’ve been becoming more and more disheartened by the direction of our modern system of Christianity. It seems like in many areas we’re taking on the attitude of corporate America.

What do I mean by this? In most large corporations, the senior executives make more money than they could spend in ten lifetimes. In that same company, the employees who do the bulk of the work can’t make ends meet with the one salary they earn from doing that job.

Now we have huge churches where the pastors have big homes, garages full of cars, private jets and a continual desire for more. Many of their members have to work two or sometimes three jobs to make ends meet. Granted, they’re preaching Jesus Christ, and many are getting saved under their ministry. But at what point is enough, enough?

I’m told that their luxurious lifestyle is the reward for their faithfulness in the ministry. As a pastor who has been serving the same church for over 30 years, I find that kind of thinking offensive. I gave up a career where I was on track for a six-figure engineering salary when God called me.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not jealous of these preachers. If I had it to do all over again, I would gladly make the same choices for the honor of serving my Lord. I just don’t like being told that the car I drive or the house I rent is the indication of how faithful I’ve been to the calling of God.

It’s nothing new. The church has been dealing with this throughout history. I like Paul’s attitude.

But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Philippians 1:18 NIV

That’s the attitude I want to portray. I apologize if I seemed to be ranting. I hold no ill will against any of my brothers or sisters in the ministry. I simply want Christ to be exalted in His church.

Question: What is the true indication of faithfulness to God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Ministry Needs and Faith

Ministry Needs and Faith

As we continue to go through the Gospel of Luke, we’re coming to the culmination of the earthly ministry of Christ. He’s approaching Jerusalem, knowing that the cross awaits Him there. As the Lord is about to enter the city, Luke records an interesting event that takes place.

After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.'”

Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”

They replied, “The Lord needs it.”

Luke 19:28-34 NIV

We need to understand what’s happening here. It has a lot to do with attitudes and faithfulness in the kingdom of God.

The first thing I see is that something is needed to fulfill the ministry of Christ. It was foretold in the Old Testament that Jesus would enter Jerusalem on the back of a colt. It was time for this to be accomplished. In every ministry, there are needs that must be met in order for God’s will to be done.

Next, I see a supernatural revelation as to how this need was going to be filled. Notice that Jesus didn’t say to His disciples, “Guys, I’m going to need to ride in on a colt. You have to go out and find me one quickly.”

That tells me that to accomplish my calling, it will always require faith. After all, there were other ways this could have been done. Jesus could have purchased a colt in Jericho, the last town He visited. Then He would have had it ready to go upon His arrival.

But that’s not how the Father wanted this to happen. He desired the disciples to act in faith toward the instructions of Jesus.

Finally, it comes down to attitudes. The disciples know what the ministry needs and how God intends to provide it. The problem is that it all depends upon another party – those who own the colt. All they heard was, “The Lord needs your colt to accomplish God’s will.”

Think about it. How many times have we been in a meeting listening to a missionary share their excitement over the people-group that God has called them to reach.

“The Lord needs your money to accomplish His will.”

I know what you’re thinking. The disciples told the owners that the colt would be sent back when the Lord was through with it.

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

Luke 6:38

Why do we get the attitude sometimes, “Oh, no! Another special offering.” We need to understand that God looks at these gifts as loans to His kingdom. He always repays with blessings we couldn’t ever get on our own. But it all comes down to attitude.

Get your money or resources involved in kingdom work as the Lord leads you. You won’t regret it.

Question: How have you been blessed by giving something to the Lord’s work?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2022 in Faith, God's Provision, Ministry, Missions

 

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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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Prepared?

Prepared?

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. Jesus now tells the crowds about the rich man and Lazarus. You may want to read Luke 16:19-31 before going further in the post.

The Lord has been talking about the difference between living under the Law of Moses and entering the kingdom of God. It’s the difference between following rules and cultivating a relationship with God.

Christ said that those who enter the kingdom have to put forth an effort. It requires conviction and zeal to find that “narrow gate” which leads to the life in the spirit.

He concludes this teaching by talking about the rich man and Lazarus. There are many who believe that this is not a parable. They think it’s an actual event Jesus is talking about. They believe this because Jesus doesn’t give anyone an actual name in His parables.

Whatever the case, we need to hear what the Lord is saying to us. It’s not simply about being saved.

The Lord starts with the two main characters. The first is a rich man, who according to Christ, radiated rejoicing every day.

Then there was a poor beggar who was thrown down at the rich man’s gate every day. He watched the house and wished that he could eat the crumbs that the rich man threw away. This beggar was covered in sores that he allowed the dogs to lick in order to keep them clean.

The Lord then describes what happened after they both died. We need to remember that this description is about death before the resurrection of Christ. At that time everyone went to a “holding area”, waiting for the salvation that Christ would purchase.

In this holding area, there were two sections. One for those who were lost, and one for those were looking forward in faith to the Messiah.

It’s very interesting the way the story unfolds. One thing I see, is that attitudes and perceptions don’t change, even after death. Look at the request that the rich man asked of Abraham.

So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’”

Luke 16:24 NIV

Do you hear the attitude? The rich man still sees himself as superior to Lazarus. He expects Lazarus to tend to his needs. Abraham explains that this will never happen.

When he sees that his condition will not be improved, the rich man begins to think about his family. He asks Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to tell his brothers about this place.

Abraham tells the rich man that his family already knows about this. They have the Scripture warning them about the afterlife.

The rich man says that they need a miracle to convince them. They need to see someone rise from the dead.

Abraham counters with a very important statement.

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Luke 16:31 NIV

That raises an important question we need to ask ourselves. What will it take for us to wholeheartedly follow God’s Word? We all need to come to grips with this.

In this story, I see so many parallels with the generation we’re living in. Yes, I know that we’re now living under grace and not under the Law. I know that in Christ, our sins are covered, and we stand in the righteousness of God.

However, there are still things that please and displease the Lord. There is still going to be a final judgment where we receive, or don’t receive, rewards for our service to Christ.

Many believers live in luxury, with no thought to those who are dying around them. Many powerful ministries are starving for the resources that could multiply their ability to reach the lost. What side of the kingdom are you sitting on?

This story should force us to think about our eternal future. Set aside spiritual riches for the kingdom. Prepare now for your future with Christ.

Question: How prepared are you for your eternal life in the kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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A Last Days Mindset 3

A Last Days Mindset 3

We’re continuing to look at Jesus as He teaches His disciples about the End Times. He’s telling them what He’ll be looking for at His return. The Lord will be rewarding those who are found faithfully fulfilling their calling.

However, Christ knows that there will be another group of leaders in the church. He gives this as a warning not to be a part of this.

But suppose the servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking a long time in coming,’ and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.”

Luke 12:45-46 NIV

The Lord talks about leaders who are only thinking about themselves. They act like the purpose of the church is to fulfill their every want and desire. They have no thought to what will happen at the return of Christ.

Church leaders – shepherds of the flock – should be feeding, guiding, and protecting their people. That’s what their calling is about. There’s no place in the body of Christ for self-serving ministers.

Jesus says that these leaders eat, drink, and get drunk. This reminds me of another End Time teaching that the Lord gave to His disciples. It’s near the end of Luke’s Gospel, so we haven’t looked at it yet. Here’s a preview.

Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”

Luke 21:34 NIV

Jesus warns that the Last Days will be marked by these three things. It’s an exact description of our society without Christ.

Dissipation is using up all of our resources – time, money, talent and strength – on things that have no eternal value. Spiritual drunkenness is becoming intoxicated with the things of the world. Anxiety is focusing on all the fearful things around us rather than looking to Christ and His Word.

It’s unfortunate, but there’s a segment of church leadership that falls into this category. They need to heed the Lord’s warning before it’s too late. If not, they run the risk of losing out on their rewards.

The NIV translation, above, makes it seem like they’re unsaved. That’s actually not the case.

The phrase, cut him to pieces, means severely scourged in the Greek. That’s being lashed with a whip with pieces of glass or metal at the ends. It brings deep lacerations. The above verse could also be read that he was assigned a place with the unfaithful.

This goes along with what Paul wrote to the Corinthians. He explained about the works we do for God.

…his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

1 Corinthians 3:13-15 NIV

These self-serving leaders will seem to be living large now, but they’ll have no future rewards. We should be building now, for eternity. We have to be careful that we don’t make our ministry all about us.

I believe that the scourging Jesus talks about, is watching all of our works go up in smoke. They’ll still be saved, but with nothing to show for it.

I want to have an eternal reward to look forward to. That means I need to be faithful to the Lord’s calling right now. Yes, it’s hard sometimes, when I look at what others are doing. But I’m not out to please them or compete with them.

Our calling is to seek God’s face and fulfill His calling in us.

Question: What is God calling you to do in His kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Interrupting the Lord?

Interrupting the Lord?

We all know that it’s impolite to interrupt someone when they’re speaking. Have you ever thought about this in relation to Christ and His work in you? He speaks to us in various ways. Are we guilty of interrupting what He’s doing in us?

I want to look at an incident in the life of Jesus that illustrates this. We’re going through the Gospel of Luke, and we’re now in chapter 12. You may want to read Luke 12:13-34, before continuing.

At this point in the Lord’s ministry, He’s publicly teaching some important principles, when all of a sudden, a loud voice interrupts Him.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Luke 12:13 NIV

Can you imagine that? Jesus is walking down the street giving words of instruction and perhaps ministering to the sick, when somebody yells out, “Tell my brother to give me my share of the inheritance.”

It makes you wonder what type of individual would be so self-absorbed, that they would make a public statement like that. Well, that kind of presumption was enough to set Jesus off in a new direction of teaching.

Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Luke 12:14-15 NIV

When Jesus got done, that person probably felt as though he should have kept his mouth shut. Jesus used this interruption to teach the crowd about the foolishness of greed.

The Lord told them a parable about a rich man with no common sense. This man got a big harvest, built bigger barns, and stored it all up. He felt like he had everything he could ever need.

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

Luke 12:20-21 NIV

Jesus explained that the man ended up dying before he could spend all of his wealth. That foolish man lost the eternal to gain the temporary.

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.

Luke 12:22-23 NIV

The Lord’s message to those gathered around Him was that our life does not consist of what can be accumulated. You’re not to worry about what you’re going to wear or what you’re going to eat. God will provide for you.

But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

Luke 12:31 NIV

Worry about serving God. Worry about doing the Father’s will. In that way you’re laying up treasure in Heaven.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Luke 12:34 NIV

This got me thinking. The Lord is attempting to do a particular work in my life. He communicates His plan to me through a series of events. He speaks to my heart, allows circumstances to come my way, and teaches me through the lives and words of others.

How often do I “interrupt” His plan with a totally unrelated request? I get my eyes off His plan and onto my desires. When it comes to the Lord, I need to think before I ask.

We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit at work in us. Make sure that your requests are in line with His plan. Don’t be discourteous and interrupt the Lord.

Question: Have you ever found yourself guilty of interrupting God’s work in you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Nothing Hidden

Nothing Hidden

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we find Jesus teaching His disciples. In my last post, I talked generally about not adding any of our own opinions to the Word of God. Today, I want to talk specifically about what the Lord is teaching.

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”

Luke 12:1 NIV

The Pharisees were a group of religious leaders who knew the Bible intimately. They had memorized the entire Torah (the first five books) as well as other huge sections. You would think that they, of all people, would agree with the teaching of Christ.

The problem was, they added their “yeast” to the Word. The yeast the Lord talks about is hypocrisy. Jesus saw that many of the Pharisees were hypocrites. That word in the Greek language is very specific. It’s the word they used for an actor in a play.

An actor studies his lines and gets into character. He does this so that he can convincingly portray a different person before an audience as he’s on the stage. That’s how the Pharisees viewed the Jewish religion.

For them, it was all about putting on a convincing performance before the people. They studied the traditions and laws. They practiced their roles, lines and actions. It was all a show with nothing coming from their heart.

The Lord doesn’t want His disciples to fall into this trap. Hypocrites actually get to the point where they’ve convinced themselves that they’re righteous and holy. Unfortunately, they’ve missed the whole foundation of the fear of the Lord.

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.”

Luke 12:2-3 NIV

Jesus is giving His disciples an important truth here. We would do well to listen and apply it to ourselves.

The word for hypocrisy literally means to act under an assumed persona. Your real identity is hidden, covered, under the character you’re acting out.

In the above verse, Jesus says that there is nothing covered that will not be uncovered. The truth is that hypocrisy cannot stay hidden forever. No matter how well you act it out, at some point you will be discovered as a hypocrite.

The sad thing is, by that point, you’ve convinced yourself that you’re sincere. You’ll get offended and mad that someone would dare accuse you of this evil. Unless you come to the point of repentance, you’ll sink into bitterness and defeat.

Jesus had better hopes for those under His teaching. The second sentence of the above verse is for them. He wants the apostles to live in such a way that their private conversations can be proclaimed from the rooftops.

That needs to be our desire as well. Because I’m a pastor, I’ve been in meetings with various groups and denominations. There have been times where the discussion sounded more like a political strategy meeting than a ministry.

We have to be careful that we don’t lose sight of the fact that our goal is to serve Jesus Christ – the Head of the church. It’s not about power struggles and who gets the credit for what happens. Our goals and motives should be an open book before all men.

In this way, when a move of God takes place, He gets the glory. We need to reorient our thinking to a ministry mentality. Like Jesus said, “I’m not here to be served, but to serve…” (Mark 10:45). This will keep us from the yeast of the Pharisees.

Question: What are some ways you can keep your life open before God and men?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Calling – What and Where

Calling – What and Where

In my last post, we saw the Lord sending out 72 of His disciples. They were to prepare the arrangements in all of the towns He would be visiting. They were also tasked with preaching and healing the sick.

This group was basically given the same instructions that the 12 apostles were given when they were sent out. However, Luke gives us a little more detail with this group.

I find some very interesting things that Jesus says.

When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you.”

Luke 10:5-6 NIV

The first thing I see is about speaking a blessing. There are some who make a big deal out of what they speak. They think that by simply saying something, they will cause it to come into existence.

Jesus makes it clear that this is not the case. You can speak a blessing over someone. But, if they haven’t positioned themselves to receive that blessing, it will have no effect.

That’s also why I’m not worried if people say evil things about me. If I’m under the blessing of God, then nothing you say can change that.

Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.

Luke 10:7 NIV

We need to apply what Jesus is saying here, especially in regard to our calling. Many believers misunderstand what calling is all about.

In many instances we know what we’re called to do. What we fail to see is that our calling also includes WHERE we’re called to perform it. We’re not just called to a work, we’re also called to a place.

I’m sorry, but now I’m going to have to start meddling!

I believe that every Christian is called to be a part of a particular local church. In most cases, that’s where a majority of your work for Christ will take place.

Along with that, as a pastor, I can tell you that there are no perfect churches. You will never find the church that you think is doing things exactly right in your eyes.

However, this is the place that the Lord has ordained you to receive your spiritual food and drink. That’s why it’s so important that you find the place that God has called you to be.

We live in a very fussy generation. We find the restaurant, the school, and the gym that do things the way we like. Then we think that the church should be the same way.

I had a missionary friend that brought one of his local workers with him from Africa. It was this young man’s first time coming to the USA. He said that he forgot to pack a toothbrush. So, I brought him to a local drug store.

He said he would run in and buy one while we waited for him in the car. After a long while, we thought something might be wrong so we went to look for him. He was standing in the aisle, staring at a twelve foot wall of toothbrushes. He was overwhelmed by the choices we have in America!

It’s not up to me to decide where I want to connect to the body of Christ, based upon what makes me comfortable. I need to find where the Lord has called me to attend and join in the work. Then, I don’t just leave to find another if something happens that I don’t like.

Yes, I have to find what the Lord wants me to do in my ministry. But, along with that, I need to know where He’s called me to do it. Then, I stay at my assignment until the Holy Spirit tells me it’s time to change.

I believe that we need to take on this attitude of longevity. It will go a long way to give us a greater sense of fulfillment in our Christian walk.

Questions: What are you called to do? Where are you called to do this?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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No Place for Competition

No Place for Competition

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, today’s post will deal with something found in Luke 9:37-50. You may want to look at that passage before reading this article.

As Jesus was coming down from the mountain where was transfigured before a few of His disciples, He was met with a very agitated crowd. It seems that a man had brought his son to the disciples. This child was tormented by a demon.

The disciples had tried to cast the demon out of the boy’s life. Unfortunately, even though they had success in the past, they were unable to prevail in this situation. The people were looking for the Lord’s intervention.

When the father approached Jesus and asked for His help, the Lord had an interesting response.

“O unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.”

Luke 9:41 NIV

This took place well into Christ’s ministry in Israel. You would think that by now some of His teachings would have taken root in the people, especially His disciples. But, at this point, the Lord’s followers were very inconsistent in their understanding of spiritual principles.

Needless to say, Jesus was well able to rebuke and remove the evil spirit. The boy was returned to his father healed and whole, with no more problems in that area.

When I talked about this verse as I went through the book of Mark, the emphasis was removing unbelief though prayer and fasting. Luke, however, takes us in a different direction.

When the young man was restored, Jesus had an important statement to make.

“Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.”

Luke 9:44 NIV

Jesus makes it clear that He’s not going to be with them forever. There’s coming a time in the near future, when the disciples will have to stand on their own spiritual feet. They need to be learning and growing with more fervency.

It seems to be the same with us sometimes. We would much rather have someone else do the hard studying, praying, and fasting. We want to live for ourselves, then run to the pastor or spiritual leader when we need serious prayer.

It’s interesting that in the next few verses we see the disciples arguing over which of them was the greatest. The Lord made it clear to them that if they truly wanted to be great, they needed to get back to basics and start with the faith of a little child.

That’s good advice. We get so proud of ourselves sometimes. We need to realize where we actually are in the faith walk. There is no correspondence between physical age and spiritual age. You can be a middle aged adult and yet be an infant, sucking on a bottle, in the spirit.

As Jesus was trying to get this across to them, one of His disciples – John – had a realization dawn on him. The Holy Spirit brought to mind an incident that had recently occurred. Now it was time for him to bring it up.

“Master,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”

Luke 9:49-50 NIV

Here’s a group of men who followed Jesus as closely as anyone could. Yet, when called upon to cast out a demon, failed to accomplish it. They meet another person who probably only heard Jesus speak a few times, but went out and exemplified His teaching.

We need to learn what they failed to realize. It’s not a competition in the body of Christ. We each need to be running our own race. I must concentrate on what the Spirit is trying to teach me. When I do that, then I’ll see the manifestation of God’s Word in me.

Question: Where are you in your spiritual journey?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Meeting Needs

Meeting Needs

What are the priorities of ministry? What can we learn from the way Jesus handled the day to day logistical challenges?

In my last post, we saw the disciples going out and ministering in the power of God. When they returned, the Lord wanted to take them away for a rest break.

When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

Luke 9:10-11

Jesus intended to get away for a time of refreshing away from the crowds. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The people followed Him to this remote location.

Instead of telling them to go away and let Him rest, Jesus ministered to their needs. This speaks volumes about the love of Christ.

Then, as it starts getting late, the disciples talk to Jesus.

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”

He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

Luke 9:12-13a

The first thing that happens is that the disciples see and recognize the need. That’s the easy part. Ask anyone what’s wrong with the church and they’ll tell you what it needs.

But, they didn’t see it as their problem. The people needed to fix it. If they were hungry, then the crowd needed to go out and find something to eat.

That’s the attitude of many people today. “If they would do what they were supposed to do, the church would be better.”

Notice how Jesus turns that whole attitude around.That’s the response of a good leader. Turn the responsibility over to the ones who are sensitive to the need.

“Pastor, this church needs a Men’s Ministry.”

“I totally agree. When do you plan on starting it?”

I don’t think the disciples were prepared for that type of answer from the Lord. It caught them off guard.

They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish — unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.)

Luke 9:13b-14a

Here’s where most ministries lose sight of the true vision. The disciples immediately make it a resource problem. Their first reaction was to throw money at it to make it go away.

But first – here’s an aside for those who think ministers of the Gospel should live in poverty. The disciples DID NOT say, “We don’t have the money to feed them.” They asked if Jesus wanted them to spend that much cash on the crowd.

In our economy, think about how much it would cost to buy 5000 fast food value meals. Jesus had that much money on Him at the time. But I digress.

According to Christ, it wasn’t a money problem, but a Word problem. How did the Father want this need met? Too often we ask for money before we seek the Holy Spirit to provide a miraculous solution.

Verses 14 through 17 of Luke, chapter 9, tell us of the way Jesus heard from heaven, and met the needs of over 5000 hungry people. This is how we should be ministering to those around us. We must spend time in the Spirit, and then walk out what we’ve heard from the Father.

Too many times I hear, “If we don’t get the donations, then we can’t do what God has called us to do.” Personally, I serve a God who’s bigger than the donations. He can make a way with or without the money.

We need to learn to be listening for His voice. That way we keep in step with not only what the Lord is leading us to do, but how exactly He wants it accomplished.

Questions: Has God ever worked His plans through you without money? How did He bring it about?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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