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Prayers vs Confessions

Prayers vs Confessions

I’ve been posting from the Gospel of Luke about Christ’s teaching on the Last Days. He’s preparing us for what was to come. This next parable, in Luke 18:9-14, is directly applicable to our generation.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

Luke 18:9 NIV

Luke’s introduction to this parable is clear. He’s speaking to those who are self-righteous. We usually call this the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-collector. They were both in the temple praying next to each other. The Lord lets us in on what they were saying.

“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’”
Luke 18:11-12

We read this, but we don’t take it to heart. We know how it ends and who the Lord commends. But do we really listen to the prayer of the Pharisee. If we look closely at it, it sounds like a prayer that a modern Christian would offer up, filled with good confessions.

“I thank you that I’m the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath. I thank you that because I tithe you will rebuke the devourer and open the windows of heaven so that I cannot contain your blessing. Etc., etc.”

His prayer was filled with good confessions, and it was all true. He was different than the tax-collector. He did fast and tithe. The problem was that he had no power.

The issue is found at the start of verse 11. The phrase, prayed about himself could actually be translated as, prayed to himself.

This is a lesson that many believers in our generation need to learn. As good as confessing the Word of God is, confessions are not prayers. Confessions are toward me; they are for renewing my mind by the Word.

Prayers are directed toward God and are about His work.

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’”
Luke 18:13

It’s a wonderful thing to praise God for our position in Christ. I need to know who I am in Him.

However, I want to see a manifestation of these truths. At those points where the reality of my life doesn’t line up with God’s Word, I’m missing the mark. Missing the mark – that’s the definition of sin.

In our modern take on Christianity, we don’t like talking about, or dealing with, sin. We’d rather confess it away. “I’m the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.”

That statement is a truth I can declare about my position in Christ. But I need God’s power to live righteously each day. I want that position to become a reality in my walk before God.

So, which of the above prayers produced life changing power? Christ was clear about it.

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:14

It’s obvious, from the Lord’s perspective, that the person who dealt with relationship tapped into God’s power. The Pharisee was focused on self. The tax-collector was dealing with that which separated him from God.

Is the power of God about what I’ve done or what the Holy Spirit wants to accomplish in and through me? When I go before God, my telling Him what I’ve done or who I am doesn’t impress Him. It will never move Him to work through me.

It’s only as I work on my relationship with Christ that I’ll see the changes necessary. If you want to flow in the power of God, then your relationship with Him is the positioning agent. It’s not about what you’ve done, but what He is able to do in you.

Questions: How well are you positioned for the move of the Holy Spirit?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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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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Healing and Rules

Healing and Rules

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. In today’s post, we’ll start chapter 14. Jesus has been invited to a dinner on the Sabbath day.

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.

Luke 14:1 NIV

The Lord had probably spoken at a local synagogue. After the meeting, he was invited to the home of the high-ranking Pharisee of the town. You would think that this was a nice gesture of hospitality. But you’d be wrong.

The Scripture makes it clear that those who attended – a group of religious leaders – were not there to socialize. The phrase, carefully watched, is a term that means to scrutinize. It’s like when you don’t trust someone and you tell them, “I’ll be watching you.”

The one thing about Jesus is that He doesn’t disappoint.

There in front of him was a man suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in the law, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath or not?” But they remained silent. So taking hold of the man, he healed him and sent him away.

Luke 14:2-4 NIV

Knowing how they felt about healing on the Sabbath, Jesus sets up a little demonstration. It was time to challenge their small-minded view of God. They thought they could keep God in a little box made up of their ritualistic, religious rules.

There in front of Christ is a man with dropsy. We don’t use that word anymore. We call it edema or swelling of the joints. He probably had a heart condition that would eventually kill him.

The real question is; why was he there? I believe he was brought there by the Pharisees and lawyers for the purpose of setting Jesus up. They wanted a reason to accuse the Lord.

Then it happened. Jesus started by asking them a question. He wants their legal opinion. Is it lawful or right to heal on the Sabbath day.

There’s no mention of healing on the Sabbath in the Law of Moses. However, down through the years, famous Rabbis have penned a tradition of man-made laws surrounding the Sabbath. According to these rules, healing was forbidden.

These rules were very strict. As a matter of fact, you couldn’t drink wine on the Sabbath if you had a toothache. Because, if the alcohol numbed the pain, you were breaking the Sabbath by healing.

Jesus blatantly broke their rules right in front of them. He healed the man immediately. At least in my eyes, that proves to me that these rules were not of God. If they were, God would have never healed this man.

Look at how Jesus explains this principle to the Pharisees.

Then he asked them, “If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?” And they had nothing to say.

Luke 14:5-6 NIV

Here Jesus shows them a truth. Sickness is like falling into a pit. It’s never a good thing. The goal is always to set them free.

The question is; when? The answer should be obvious – immediately! It’s religion that makes things complicated.

“Sorry! You have to stay in the pit until tomorrow. Today is the Sabbath.”

It doesn’t take a high intelligence to see the foolishness of that statement. They need to be rescued right now. That’s why none of these religious leaders had a comeback. They couldn’t refute the truth.

That’s God’s view of healing. We make the rules and the excuses. It’s time for God’s people seek His presence. The church needs to rise to the full maturity of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).

I believe that this is where God is trying to lead His church in our generation.

Question: How strongly do you desire to see God’s power manifest in the church?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2022 in Healing, Legalism, Ministry, Power of God, Revival

 

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Healing and Water

Healing and Water

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we see the religious leaders becoming more and more agitated by the Lord’s exposure of their hypocrisy. In today’s post, Jesus steps on their self-righteous view of the Sabbath.

You may want to read Luke 13:10-17 before continuing.

This incident occurred in a local synagogue where Jesus was teaching one Sabbath. He saw a woman in the crowd that was so crippled, she couldn’t stand up straight.

When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Luke 13:12-13 NIV

The leader in charge of the synagogue became angry at this. Not only was she healed on the Sabbath, but she was praising God. After all, women were not allowed to speak in the synagogue.

This leader doesn’t take into account the fact that only God, Himself, could have accomplished this miracle. Instead, he tells the crowd that the Sabbath is not the day for healing. This is another example of worship being reduced to laws made by men.

This flagrant misrepresentation of our Father-God made Jesus upset.

The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water? Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?”

Luke 13:15-16 NIV

These are good questions. They’re the kind that self-righteous hypocrites don’t want answered. They’re also questions that should speak to us even in our generation.

We live in a time when miracles are not everyday occurrences. As a matter of fact, I would venture to say that most Christians have never seen a true miracle. I’m talking about miracles that are clearly something that only God could do.

At this point, we have become very used to praying for people and nothing happens. Because of this experience, we don’t expect anything to happen and make all kinds of excuses for it.

“It’s just not God’s will for you to be healed.”

“Maybe you don’t have enough faith.”

“God is trying to teach me something through this sickness.”

I only have one thing to say about all this…

Let God be true, and every man a liar.

Romans 3:4b NIV

In this passage, Jesus equates healing to giving your animals their daily water. That’s a requirement. Animals need water to survive. This is how God’s provision of healing is talked about throughout the Scriptures.

In Matthew 15:26, Jesus calls healing the children’s bread. Again, it’s a daily requirement. As a parent, I can say without any hesitation, that I never prayed to see if it was God’s will to feed my children that day.

I can also say, I never let them go hungry because I wanted to teach them something. That is known as child abuse. God is not an abusive Father.

If there’s any problem with us receiving that healing, it’s on our part. I believe that it’s our understanding of how healing works that’s faulty. As the church matures, so will our experience in the miraculous.

That’s why I’ve spent so much time trying to teach on this subject. In the Search bar on this site, you should look for the series Healing 101 and Healing 201 if you want more information. I believe that this is something God is trying to restore to the church in our generation.

Press into the Lord and let Him restore His power in the church.

Questions: Have you witnessed the miraculous power of God? How?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 1, 2022 in Healing, Legalism, Power of God, Revival

 

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Fruit is not Optional

Fruit is not Optional

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, Jesus gives the crowd a parable.

Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.'”

Luke 13:6-9 NIV

I believe that the direct application of this is that Jesus was giving Israel a time-limit to accept Him as the Messiah. Unfortunately, they didn’t, and temporarily lost their place in the Holy Land.

There is, however, a more important application to the lives of God’s people. Beyond any question, God is looking for fruit in the lives of believers.

When the Holy Spirit takes up residence in us, He begins to transform us into Christ’s image. He wants us to live like Jesus did. This means that we bear spiritual fruit.

This fruit does not simply mean that we’re being nice people. You can be nice without the Holy Spirit’s help. The fruit that God is looking for is on a whole different level. The list of these characteristics is given in Galatians 5:22-23.

Back in 2017, I did a detailed series on each of these fruits. To read that series of posts, click here.

It should be clear from an understanding of the Fruit of the Spirit, that we need the power of God to fulfill them. The fruit are an outgrowth of a deepening walk with the Lord. The more time we spend with Him, the more we become like Him.

Unfortunately, there are those who read about this fruit, and feel that it would be nice to live like that, but I can’t work on that right now. We need to understand that bearing fruit is not optional. As a matter of fact, they’re not even something we can do by trial and error.

They’re called the fruit OF THE SPIRIT for a reason. They don’t come to us by disciplining our flesh. It’s not even a result of making up our mind to accomplish them. They can only spring from our spirit being led by the Holy Spirit.

You may think that Jesus is being judgmental with Israel in the above passage. You might feel that the Lord will look the other way as you do your own thing. What does the New Testament teach about this?

The writer of the book of Hebrews was speaking to a people who were under persecution. They were thinking about going back to Judaism. Listen to what he tells them.

Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

Hebrews 6:7-8 NIV

You may think this sounds hash. But, in reality, by rejecting the Fruit of the Spirit, you’re actually rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit in you. In that case, you’re in danger of losing the blessings of God in your life.

Jesus said that if we remain in Him, we will bear much fruit (John 15:1-8). He said that He was the vine, and we are the branches. If that’s the case, then you could say that the Holy Spirit is the life-giving sap running through every part.

If we block the work of the sap, then our branch will begin to wither. There will be no fruit, and it will be worthless as a part of the vineyard. No one want to be in that position.

Spend quality time in your relationship with the Spirit of God. Allow Him to continue His work in you. Then watch as your life produces the fruit that speaks to the glory of God.

Question: How fruitful is your life right now?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2022 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Gathered or Scattered

Gathered or Scattered

I’m continuing through Luke’s Gospel. We’re at the point where the Pharisees are starting to get intimidated by Jesus’ ministry.

In my last post, we saw the Lord cast a demon out of a young man’s life. As a result, he could now hear and speak. The crowd watching was touched by this miracle.

The religious leaders, on the other hand, used self-promotion to try and look like they had authority over Jesus. They accused Him of being demon possessed. They said that He cast out demons by the power of Satan.

I showed how Jesus revealed the foolishness of their argument. But, these leaders had placed themselves in a very dangerous spiritual position. They assigned what was clearly an act of God, to the satanic kingdom.

Now Jesus warns them of the possible consequences.

But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.”

Luke 11:20 NIV

It was clear to the crowd and the Pharisees that the hand of God drove out this demon. If that’s the case, then the only conclusion is that the kingdom of God has showed up. Remember, the kingdom of God is the manifestation of God’s authority. This is over and above the authority of the religious leaders.

When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.”

Luke 11:21-22 NIV

What most people don’t realize is that this is a warning to the Pharisees. They felt like they were “strong men”. They were guarding their house – the religious power base of Israel. They had convinced themselves that they were fully in control.

Now Jesus comes on the scene. He proves to be someone with real authority. He obviously walks in the authority and power of God Himself. They are starting to feel threatened. Their hypocrisy was being exposed publicly.

The Lord is warning them that if they continue down this path, they’ll lose everything. Actually, we know from history and the record of Scripture, this is exactly what happened.

We know that Jesus not only did this with the Pharisees, but with the kingdom of Satan as well.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Colossians 2:15 NIV

It’s always unfortunate when people try to fight against God’s will. It’s always a losing battle. That’s why we need to seek to know His will through time spent with the Holy Spirit. In that way we won’t find ourselves fighting against God.

Jesus said it clearly…

He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters.”

Luke 11:23 NIV

Here’s another verse we usually misunderstand. The first part is pretty straight forward. If you’re not on the same path as He is, then your against His plan for you.

The second part is more important. The word, gather, does not mean that we are collecting something. It’s talking about a gathering together of people.

If we’re not a part of the crowd that’s gathered around Jesus, then we’re going to find ourselves scattered everywhere in life. We’ll have no purpose or destiny. It’s like what happened at the tower of Babel when the people were scattered across the earth.

Do your best to find God’s plan for your life. Don’t find yourself scattered, heading against God’s will. Spend time listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Question: What’s the next step in God’s plan for you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Our Father in Heaven

Our Father in Heaven

We’re now beginning Luke, chapter 11. Jesus and His disciples are in a private setting.

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”

Luke 11:1 NIV

The disciples were finally trying to actively grow in maturity. They were seeing what others were learning, and wanted to follow the same path.

They understood that the power of Christ was based upon His prayer life. They wanted to learn how to walk in that kind of intimacy with God. So, they came to Jesus for His word on the matter.

Of course, the Lord was willing to give them what they needed.

He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”

Luke 11:2 NIV

The Lord was more than willing to show the disciples the starting point for a rich relationship with God. Yes, I said starting point. The so called Lord’s Prayer is not the ultimate prayer we can offer. It’s the first baby step that Christ gave to His followers so that they might walk the path of prayer.

This short glimpse into the realm of prayer is the foundation for all of the things we converse with God about. It’s so rich in truth that I’ll have a few posts dedicated to this teaching of Christ. But for now, I want to talk about the focus of this prayer – the One to whom it’s addressed.

Our Father.

These are some of the most amazing words in Scripture. Jesus didn’t say, “My Father.” He called God “Our Father.” This is something that the people of God need a fresh revelation of. The God of Heaven, Creator of the universe, Savior of all mankind, allows me to call Him “Father.”

There’s a lot of blessing tied up in that name. He’s not a god far off and unconcerned with our needs. Our Father cares about us, no matter how great or small the matter we bring before Him. He’s not a god looking for a reason to destroy us for any little fault. Our Father loves us and wants the best for us – leading us with His hand of mercy and grace.

In Heaven.

This is the acknowledgment that His ways are higher than ours. I think there are times we get too familiar with the Lord. Yes, He’s our friend. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that He is also the supreme ruler of the universe.

I need to come to the Lord with the humility and reverence that He deserves. It’s not up to me to tell Him what He needs to do. All I can do is to agree with what He says about me in His Word. Then, I trust that my Heavenly Father will do what He said He would do in response to my faith in Him.

Hallowed be Your Name.

When we say this, we’re literally saying that we set apart His name as holy. That’s an important truth. The name of Jesus Christ is far removed from any other name. No other name holds the power, authority, or importance that’s contained in that name.

There’s no other name that saves, heals, or restores. It’s important that we pray with the knowledge of this always before us.

Like I said, this is merely the starting point. In our prayer times we need to know the focus of our worship. The more we spend time in the Lord’s presence, the deeper our understanding will become.

After all, that’s what we should be majoring on. Prayer should not be about the list of things I want God to give me. The importance should be about getting to know Him on a more intimate level. That’s the key to a productive and fulfilling prayer life.

Over the next few posts, we’ll be going through more important truths contained in this prayer. Hopefully, it will add an increased blessing to your times with the Lord.

Spend some quality time getting to know our Father today. Meditate upon these all encompassing truths. Let them reshape your prayer life so that it’s something you look forward to each day.

Question: How often and for how long do you spend quality time with the Father?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2022 in Faith, Prayer, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Don’t Take it Personally

Don’t Take it Personally

We’re continuing to go through Luke’s Gospel. For the last couple of posts we’ve seen Jesus sending out the 72 disciples. They were to prepare the way as the Lord traveled throughout Israel.

There was more they were called to do than just the logistics. They were to minister as well.

When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’”

Luke 10:8-9 NIV

They were told to preach the kingdom of God. They were preparing the towns for the message that Christ would bring.

However, there’s something greater that I think we miss here. Jesus commanded them to heal the sick. The Lord didn’t simply say to pray over them. They were to bring healing.

That’s important. This command would have been impossible unless the power and authority to heal were given with it.

I believe that this should be a vital part of our ministry today. The power of God to heal and deliver should be present in God’s people. This is what would drive the Gospel message forward.

Unfortunately, much of today’s evangelism consists of trying to convince people to change their thinking. We hope that our words will cause people to turn to Christ.

We need a revival of the power of God in our witnessing.

But, some people are not even moved when they witness the miraculous.

But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God is near.’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.”

Luke 10:10-12 NIV

Jesus warns these disciples that not everyone will receive the Good News. There are some that will reject Christ, no matter what they learn about Him. Even miracles will not convince them to follow the Lord.

That’s because the message of Christ involves giving up control. You have to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. There are many who will totally refuse to hand over the reigns of their lives to Christ.

Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths.”

Luke 10:13-15 NIV

Please understand what the Lord is saying here. He’s not telling these cities that their punishment will be greater. Theirs will be less tolerable because they didn’t just reject the words of a prophet.

These cities actually saw the Messiah in person. They heard the very words that he spoke. They saw the miracles done from His hands. Yet, in spite of all that, they rejected the Hope of Israel. This knowledge will continually haunt them throughout eternity.

Then the Lord turns to His disciples. He gives them an important piece of knowledge that we need to hold on to as well.

“He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”

Luke 10:16 NIV

No matter what happens through our ministry, don’t take it personally. If someone accepts Christ as their Savior and Lord, it’s not about us, but the Holy Spirit working in them.

If they reject the message of Christ, they’re not rejecting us. They’re rejecting the One who sent us. Ultimately, they’re rejecting the work of God in their lives.

Our goal should be to walk in such a way before God, that the world sees His power and is drawn to Him. Then we can be a faithful witness to what Christ has done in us. However, the final choice is theirs – for or against Christ. We are simply the messengers.

Question: How do you witness for the Lord?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Transformed with Jesus

Transformed with Jesus

So many people are hungering to see a manifestation of the power of God. The Jewish people were looking for it in Jesus’ day. That’s the Lord’s will for us as well. It’s something that you have to seek and pursue.

In my last post from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus told His disciples that some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power (Luke 9:27). In today’s post, we’ll see the fulfillment of this.

Three of the disciples were about to witness the power and glory of the kingdom of God. The Lord was taking them on a special trip.

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.

Luke 9:28-31

Many times during His ministry, Jesus would go off by Himself to a remote location and pray. Once there, He would spend time in the Father’s presence, hearing what His next assignment would be.

Now, the Lord takes His three closest disciples with Him up a mountain. They’re going to learn first-hand about the kingdom of God in a mountaintop experience. It should speak to us as well.

The first key to a mountaintop experience is the fact that they were all alone. There were no distractions. They could concentrate on what was happening with Jesus. We need to get to that place of unhindered focus on the Lord and what He’s speaking to us.

It was in that place that they had a revelation of the glory which Christ possessed from eternity past. That’s the defining characteristic of a mountaintop, at least in Scripture. It’s all about clarity of vision. You can suddenly see clearly what God wants you to see.

When you’re on top of a mountain, above the tree line, you have an unobstructed view in all directions. You can see clearly both where you came from, and where you’re going to. And even more than that, you get a fresh revelation of Christ.

In that place you have a greater understanding of who Jesus is and what He wants to accomplish in you. It’s a place of spiritual clarity.

The disciples didn’t know how to handle it.

Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters — one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

Luke 9:32-33

Here we see some of the biggest problems of our flesh in the Lord’s presence. First, they become sleepy. Our flesh finds the presence of God boring.

Then, once they were awake, they had to come up with a “great idea” to help the Lord. Why do we always think that we need to say or do something? Why can’t we just stay quiet, listen for His voice, and drink in His Spirit?

We need to learn to just be still in the Holy Spirit’s presence. It’s what the Father told the disciples.

While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.

Luke 9:34-36

If we will quiet our hearts before God, we could have this type of mountaintop experience. Not with our physical eyes, but in the spirit. The results will be well worth it. We’ll find ourselves with Jesus alone. That’s the change that can only happen in the spirit.

Questions: Have you ever had a mountaintop experience and what did you learn from it?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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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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