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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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What the Modern Church is Missing

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I’m posting about what I believe is missing from our present Christian experience. In my last article we looked at Elijah’s encounter with the king. According to James, this is the basis of the prayer for divine healing.

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
I Kings 17:1

How does Elijah’s proclamation of no more rain relate to healing the sick? What does this have to do with what James calls, the prayer offered in faith?

The healing prayer of Jesus. How did Jesus “pray for” the sick? I was surprised to find that that the Lord operated the same way. He didn’t ask for God to heal, instead He spoke to the sick.

“Pick up your mat and walk.”

“Go show yourself to the priest.”

“Go rinse your eyes in the pool.”

Jesus prayed healing the same way that Elijah prayed for the rain to stop. I can’t find any instance where Jesus asked God to heal someone.

The prayer of the disciples. It was the same for the disciples. Remember how they prayed healing for the lame man at the temple gate in the book of Acts, chapter 3.

Peter said, “Silver and gold I don’t have. But what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus, walk!” When you think about it, they healed the sick in the same way that Elijah stopped the rain in Israel.

I’ll say it again; I’m not just espousing a new formula for praying. I’m not saying to just go out there and speak healing to the sick. There are plenty who have tried that without 100% success. Instead, I’m talking about the great assumption that’s present in all of these cases.

The missing ingredient. There’s something missing from our Christian experience. It’s the very thing that makes this kind of prayer work.

Think back to the prophet Elijah. What would cause him to speak in such a way to the king? Was he sitting at home reading the newspaper, and suddenly he decided to give the king a piece of his mind? Of course not! There is an assumed chain of events that led to his standoff with the king.

He was at home, in prayer, when suddenly he heard a Word from God. That’s the only explanation for the boldness he had before King Ahab. God spoke to him and said that the rain would stop when he delivered the message to the king.

This is the very example that James uses to illustrate the prayer of faith for healing. The assumption is, that to pray this kind of prayer, you must have heard from heaven. It’s based upon hearing a Word from God.

That, my brothers and sisters, is the missing ingredient in our generation. We’ve lost our ability to hear from God on a regular basis.

Once I realized this, I started to read the Bible through new eyes. I’ve come to see that hearing from God is the great assumption throughout the entirety of Scripture.

What the New Testament authors assumed, was that if you’re mature in Christ, then you’re hearing a Word from God regularly. This was the defining characteristic of Jesus’ ministry. In my next post I’ll show how Christ exemplified this.

Questions: Do you want to hear a Word from God? Do you believe this is what the church of this generation needs?

© 2016 Nicolas Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2016 in Revival, What's Missing?, Word of God

 

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The Foundation for Revival

FireI have said that the United States desperately needs a revival.  What is that?  Is it a church full of weeping, “falling down under the power of God”, or huge crowds on Sunday morning?

Is it something we plan into our schedules?  “Revival Meetings the first week of December.”

The truth is that it’s not something we put on, but a work that God performs in us.  It’s a special presence of Christ revealing Himself to our society.

I believe that revival is birthed out of desperation.  When we reach the end of what we can do, all we can rely on is the work of God in us.

It’s kind of like the condition of Israel as they prepared to leave Mt Sinai in the book of Exodus.  They had already turned from God before Moses had even come down from the mountain with the law.

Now God has cleansed the camp and they are about to move out.  They are headed for the Promised Land.

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?  What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
Exodus 33:15-16

Now there’s a desperate prayer!  What if the modern church prayed like this and meant it?  Most churches would close their doors the first week.

Unfortunately, we just go on with the show.  We’ve learned how to experience growth without the move of God.  A great music team and a charismatic preacher is all you need for success.

We need to learn that growth doesn’t mean that God is in the work.  It grieves me to say it, but if the Holy Spirit left us today, 90% of churches would be unaffected.  Much of the church in America is leaning on the arm of flesh to sustain it.

We need the presence of the Lord.  What else will distinguish the church from any other good social program?

The key is transformed lives.  That’s the proof of the power of God.  When Christ works through His people, we don’t remain the same.

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
Exodus 33:18

This is the prayer of desperation that needs to go up from God’s people.  We must put aside our goals, and seek the glory of God in our lives.  If He does the work, then He gets the glory.

It’s time for revival in our nation.

Question: How desperate are you for a move of God in our nation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Revival

 

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Have You Heard the Good News?

SharingFor the last few posts I’ve been talking about the Good News of Jesus Christ.  What exactly is that Good News?  I think you’ll be surprised at how the modern church has turned the message around, making it empty of its power.

If I were to ask people “What is the Gospel?”, I would probably receive many answers.  There are a host of believers who are actively trying to “win the lost.”  They would most likely give me very Biblical answers.

What I want to know are the perceptions of those who hear the Gospel.  From talking with unbelievers who have been “witnessed to” I could boil it down to the following: “You’re an evil sinner going to hell, but if you repeat a special prayer you can go to Heaven.”

If that’s what they got out of an encounter with a Christian, then something’s wrong with our approach.  There is no way to demonstrate a statement like that.  That’s why so many unbelievers are bitter toward those who have tried and failed to convert them.

We need to return to a true understanding of what the Good News is all about.

Here is an example of Jesus’ ministry.

“The time has come,” he said.  “The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:15

Jesus made two statements.  The kingdom of God is near was the Good News.  The Lord then told the people how to respond to this Good News.

Repent and believe is not the Good News, it’s the response that’s needed.  We must learn that the power is in the Good News, not in the response to the Good News.  In many cases, we have started calling the response, the Gospel.  You cannot go out preaching “repent and believe” and assume you’re bringing the Gospel to the world.

When it comes to the Good News, one size doesn’t fit all.  There are gang members and single moms, Wall St. executives and the homeless.  Is the Good News the same for all of them?

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that the response to the Good News must be the same for all people.  But the message itself will be different depending upon who you’re talking to.  This is how God established it in His Word.

God, Himself, gave us four Gospels.  Matthew was written for the Jews and Mark for the Romans.  Luke was for the Greeks and John contained Good News for the Christian.

It’s a fact that religious people need to hear something different than the unchurched.  The Bible itself describes the Good News in many ways.  It’s called the Gospel of the Kingdom, of God, of Christ, of God’s grace, of your salvation, and the Gospel of peace.

Of course, no matter how the Gospel message is tailored to an audience, Jesus Christ is central.  Furthermore, it all must be demonstrated by the power of the Holy Spirit in order for the world to see the full picture.

Question: How can you bring the Good News to those in you sphere of influence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in The Church, The Gospel

 

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