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Outside Vs. Inside

Outside Vs. Inside

As we continue through the book of Luke, we come to a meeting between Jesus and a Pharisee. I don’t think that the Pharisee knew what he was getting into as he ate with the Lord.

When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.

Luke 11:37-38 NIV

The first thing we need to realize is that Jesus did not have bad hygiene. The washing this refers to, is a ceremonial washing. It was a tradition that sometimes could take up to an hour to accomplish before a meal, even though everything that was washed was already clean.

When He saw the Pharisee’s surprise, Jesus takes the time to explain things to him. The Lord wants to show this leader that there are more important things than following tradition.

Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?”

Luke 11:39 NIV

Jesus is talking here about the Pharisees themselves. They are very outward conscious. What people thought about them was more important than their inner character. Jesus is now going to bring that to their attention.

He literally tells them that they’re acting mindlessly. They’re not taking into account the fact that God places greater importance on what’s on the inside of a person.

He sees their lives as full of greed and wickedness. They grasp at what they want with no regard to God’s will for them. They have evil motives, but no one can see this part of their lives.

You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside [the dish] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”

Luke 11:40-41 NIV

The Lord makes it clear that they should be following God’s law instead. They should live as givers. They should be trying to be a blessing to those around them who are in need. That would be a “cleaner” lifestyle.

Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”

Luke 11:42 NIV

Jesus makes it clear that these Pharisees were practicing tradition over substance in their walk with God. They were doing some of the things required by the law, but neglecting the heart of it.

Actually, what they were doing amazes me when I think about it. They even tithed (donated ten percent as an offering) from the herbs they grew in their gardens.

I wouldn’t have even thought about doing that. Counting how many basil leaves I picked and then giving ten percent to the temple. It would be a tiny amount. Yet these leaders were doing just that.

The problem was, they were doing it to look good in front of the people. They loved the reaction. “Look! He even tithed from the mint he grew!”

They weren’t doing it out of love for God. They wanted the adoration of the people.

But that brings me to the application of this. Why do we do what we do? Do we have pure motives for how we serve God?

Why do we attend church every week? Is it because we worry about what people would think if we missed? Or, is it because we love being in the presence of the Lord and His people?

This is the same for any “religious” activity. We need to be asking ourselves if we’re doing it because of tradition, or out of love for our God? God looks at the heart. Motives are everything.

Make it a point to cultivate a true love for the Lord. All that we do should proceed from that relationship.

Question: How is your love for God being manifest to those around you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Judgment?

Judgment?

Paul’s letter to the Roman church starts in chapter 1 with a Word about unsaved society at large.  He talks about the results of rejecting the true knowledge of Jesus Christ.

As we enter chapter 2, Paul shifts a little and starts speaking directly to those in the godless world around us.  That’s who the apostle is speaking to in verses 1 through 16.

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.  Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth.

Romans 2:1-2

Let me repeat myself.  This passage was not written to believers.  It is a Word to the unsaved.  He’s explaining the foolishness of ungodly people judging one another.

I know of believers who were living sinful lives.  Then a concerned brother or sister comes to them and tries to help restore them.  The sinning believer immediately quotes this verse and says, “The Bible says not to judge, so stop judging me.”

A quick look at Paul’s other letters will show the fallacy of this remark.

Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present.

1 Corinthians 5:3

This was concerning a believer in the Corinthian church who was involved in an affair with someone else’s wife.  Look at what Paul also said.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?  Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”

1 Corinthians 5:12-13

The fact is, believers are supposed to judge the actions of other believers.  In that way we can lovingly warn them of the result of what they’re doing.

What I’m not supposed to judge is your motives.  I don’t know what you’re thinking.  So I’m not to judge you based upon what I perceive your intentions are.

Also, we’re not to judge the lives of the unsaved people around us.  Sinners are going to sin.  It’s not our job to tell them that what they’re doing is wrong.

For the most part, the unsaved know that there’s something wrong with their lives.  What they need to hear is the love, forgiveness, and salvation that are only found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Too often the church is accused, and rightly so, of preaching a word of condemnation.  On the contrary, my place is to preach the Good News of Christ.  That’s what will draw people to the cross.

Getting back to the verse in Romans above, Paul points out the foolishness of what goes on in the world.  It’s full of people who are condemning one another.  He says that when they pass judgment on someone, they’re actually giving themselves a guilty verdict.

That’s because, in God’s eyes, they’re habitually practicing the same wrong behaviors.

So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?  Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

Romans 2:3-4

It should be obvious now, from this last passage that Paul is speaking to the unsaved.  We need to hear God’s heart.  The goal of all this is repentance.

In dealing with the world, our goal should be the same – introduce them to the love of the Savior.

Question: What is your attitude toward our godless society?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 9, 2020 in Legalism, The Gospel

 

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God Pleaser or Man Pleaser?

Who are you trying to please by your ministry?  That’s a question we all need to answer.  It determines your destiny in Christ.

I’m continuing my look at the book of Galatians.  It’s Paul’s letter combatting legalism.  He starts off by talking about his own walk with the Lord.  What was the Apostle’s motive toward the ministry?

Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10

This verse deals with some key motivational attitudes.  What is it that you’re actively trying to accomplish in your ministry?  If your fulfillment isn’t coming from Christ, then there may be some course correction that’s needed.

The first important word in this verse is approval.  The phrase, trying to win the approval of men, means to convince men.

Are you trying to convince people that they need to serve God?  If you are, that’s the first sign of a man pleaser.  It’s not our job to convince people.

We’re called to hear from the Holy Spirit, then to speak the Word that we’ve heard.  It’s the job of the Holy Spirit to use the Word to convict and convince those listening.  This is something Paul was keenly aware of.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

The next important word is trying.  It means to desire and seek after.

Where are you seeking your validation from?  That may require some soul searching to truly answer the question.  Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re looking to man.

You preach the Word.  Many lives are touched and blessed by the message.  One person comes up to you after the service and tells you they didn’t agree with you.  Suddenly you feel like a failure and want to quit the ministry.  That’s a sign that you’re seeking in the wrong direction.

It’s nice when our ministry has a positive effect on those who receive it.  But that’s not always a requirement of the assignment we’ve been given.  I’m glad that Christ didn’t rely upon the response of the Pharisees to continue His plan to save us.

The final phrase I want to look at is to please men.  That literally means to get an emotional response from people.

Are you trying to stir people’s emotions?  Emotionalism and hype are the mainstays of the entertainment industry.  In case you didn’t already know this, the ministry of the Word is NOT a form of entertainment.

It’s so unfortunate that many churches build their services around the American entertainment model.  Please understand; I know that we have to present the message of Christ in a way that’s relevant to our society.  In that sense, there will always be a measure of professionalism.

We want the music, the flow of the service, and the time investment to be welcoming to those attending.  It’s the motivation that needs to be examined.  What’s the goal?

Am I choreographing the service so that at one point people will stand to their feet and cheer?  Am I out to bring tears to peoples’ eyes?

According to Paul, my ultimate goal is to serve Christ.  I firmly believe that if I do that well; then emotions will be stirred.  But instead of a passing excitement, their lives will be changed by the power of God.

Like the Apostle Paul, we need to have the attitude of a God pleaser.

Question: When have you had to choose between pleasing God or man?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in Legalism, Ministry, The Church

 

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Three Symptoms of a Lack of Power

Compared to the early church, we live in a generation that barely sees the power of God at work. As a result, we need to use other methods to promote God’s kingdom. Do you know what these powerless methods look like?

I believe that if God’s people would spend time with the Holy Spirit, and then obey what they hear, we would see society changed. Instead, we rely on human plans to try and do God’s work. It’s sad, but I think that we’ve simply gotten used to ministry without power.

A few posts ago I talked about how Paul’s view of the Gospel was a demonstration of the power of God. Now he explains what it’s not…

For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.
1 Thessalonians 2:3

Without operating in the power of the Spirit, leaders must find other ways of getting people to serve God. Paul lists three of them here. I think you’ll be surprised at what he says to us.

The first word he uses is error, which means wandering. This word literally means to stray because you’ve left the right way and are now simply roaming around.

It’s very easy to leave the right path if I never seek God’s will to begin with. Ministries with this problem are always trying something new, because they saw it work somewhere else. They wander from new program to new program, hoping for something that works.

For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:25

The goal should be to seek the Lord’s will for my life, then walk in it. That will keep me from wandering around, hoping to someday stumble upon God’s plan for me.

The next issue is that of impure motives. The reason behind the ministry is as important as the ministry itself. There are some ministries that seem like their only goal is to exalt themselves.

We live in a society where many of the advertising and political campaigns are based upon negativity. It’s not about what I’m trying to do, but what you’re doing wrong. Unfortunately we’ve carried this kind of thinking into the church.

I believe that I should be able to do what God has called me to do without having to put down any other ministry. The fact is that making someone else look bad, doesn’t make me look any better.

The final issue Paul talked about was trickery. It’s believed that this Greek word means to set up a decoy or bait in hunting. It’s unfortunate that there are ministries that view believers as prey.

To make things worse, the decoy or bait they use, is the Scripture. Please understand me; I’m not saying that all televangelists are bad. Most of them are trying to do God’s will. But there are some who, I believe, only study the Bible in order to find a Scripture verse that will convince you to take money out of your wallet and put it into theirs.

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 4:2

I truly believe that if I’m doing God’s will, then God will provide my needs. Yes, He will use people to give into my ministry. But I won’t need to make them feel guilty or use any other form of trickery or deceit.

We need to be looking at the fruit of the ministries that we want to support. We should only give into those works that are proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ.

Question: What do you think are the marks of a ministry of integrity?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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8 Keys to Receiving Answers from God #answeredprayer

SONY DSCIt’s hard to believe that the stores are gearing up for Christmas already.  We’re getting close to the time of year where many people are asking for things.  As believers, we understand that it’s not about things, but Christ.

Still, there are things that I’ve asked God for.  One question that many people ask is; how do you receive answers to prayers?  Many look to God like a big Santa Claus in the sky.  We pray for things, and then get upset if we don’t get what we prayed for.

I believe that God wants to give good things to His children.  Over and over in the Bible it says to ask anything and it will be given to you.  Actually, if you read the Scripture, there are 8 requirements to asking anything and receiving what you asked for from God.

1. Your asking requires faith.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mark 11:24

This is the one we all seem to know about.  You need to trust that God is able to perform what you’re asking.  This is not an “I hope so” kind of faith.  It’s knowing that God is big enough to take care of your need.

2. Your asking requires the right motives.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:3

This is an important point.  Why am I asking God for this?  Many times it’s because I want the pleasure it will bring.  Life is not all about me.  I live for God.  It’s about pleasing Him, and fulfilling His call on my life.  Is that my motivation?  To get answers to prayer, I need to check my attitudes and desires.

3. Your asking requires lining up with God’s will.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.
1 John 5:14-15

This one is only met with maturity.  I need to be seeking God’s will.  This will only come by time in the Lord’s presence.  I have to lay my will on the altar and seek His ways.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to work in me is how I have the assurance that I’m asking according to His will.

4. Your asking requires agreement.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
Matthew 18:19

This is an important part.  I’m not talking about getting someone to agree to pray with you.

“You pray with me for a new house and I’ll pray with you for a new car.”

It doesn’t work like that.  It means coming together in unity with others who know the Word of God.  Then, based upon the Word, they agree with you on the above three points.  They see by your witness that you have the faith to trust God for it, your motives are correct, and it’s God’s will for your life.

In my next post I’ll give the final four keys to answered prayer.

Question: Do you have some testimonies of answered prayers?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Prayer

 

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