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Caesar and God

Caesar and God

As we continue to study the Gospel of Luke, it’s getting closer to the time of the cross. The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus in His words. They’re sending delegations of teachers to Him for the purpose of tripping Him up.

Each time they do, the wisdom of Christ proves superior. In His teaching, the Lord highlights the hypocrisy of these religious leaders.

The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.

Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Luke 20:19-22 NIV

This is an interesting group that came to Jesus. Mark tells us that these spies were made up of both Pharisees and Herodians. The Pharisees wanted national independence for Israel. The Herodians were very comfortable under Roman rule. They expected that no matter what Jesus answered, someone would be offended.

He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius.”

Luke 20:23-24a NIV

The key word here is duplicity. It’s really a Greek word for craftiness. Jesus knew that these men were simply saying what they thought He wanted to hear. They figured they could get Him off guard by complimenting Him. The fact is, that if they really believed what they said about Him, they would have been followers of Christ.

If you think about it, it’s actually something we should take seriously in our generation. It seems pretty easy for us to say things like, “Jesus is my Lord.” Every week we sing lyrics that say, “Jesus, you are my whole life. I give my all to you.”

We need to ask ourselves; do we really mean it, or are we just saying what God wants to hear? That’s what it means to be a hypocrite. It means that under certain, public conditions, we say things that are not true in our daily lives.

“No! I’m not trying to deceive anyone. I’m just singing the words that they put on the screen.”

Remember, Jesus said that we would have to give an accounting for every careless word spoken (Matthew 12:36). I believe that includes the careless words we sing too.

He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.

Luke 20:23-26 NIV

This is the truth that we all need to hear. If we live in the world, then there are obligations that come with it – taxes, jobs, expenses, and other things as well. The Lord knows about these.

The problem comes in when we voluntarily obligate ourselves to the world. In our generation, we take on too many things that leave no room in our schedules for the plan of God.

We don’t have time for spiritual things because of that night class, soccer practice, movie night, or the hundred other things clamoring for our attention. We can binge watch twelve episodes of our favorite TV show but have no time for intimate prayer with the Holy Spirit.

According to Jesus, we need to get our priorities straight. The time is now for the people of God to live as though Jesus Christ truly is our whole life. Then we’ll see the hand of God manifesting the power that they had in the early church.

Question: How do you reorder your schedule to make more time for developing your spiritual life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2022 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The House of Prayer

The House of Prayer

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we’re approaching the time where Christ submits to the cross. He has now entered and wept over Jerusalem.

Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”

Luke 19:45-46 NIV

I believe this is a very important passage of Scripture. But so many times I’ve heard this used for unimportant issues.

The emphasis of this verse is not about whether the church should host a flea market or Christmas Bazaar. It’s not about book tables or bookstores.

I don’t think these are why the Holy Spirit placed this incident in the Bible. It’s deeper than these surface issues. I’m talking about the spiritual life of the believer.

Think about who we are in Christ. The Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our lives. We have now become His house.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

I am a temple to the Holy Spirit. Think about it like the ancient Greek temples. My temple says Holy Spirit on the front.

What would you expect if you came to that temple? What if you entered it and saw a Star Trek Convention going on inside? You may question the priest about it.

“It’s only for this week.”

What if for the next few weeks, you visited this temple and saw a beauty pageant, a chili cook-off, and a real estate seminar.

You’d ask; is this a temple to the Holy Spirit or is it something else? With that thought in mind, reconsider what happened when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple. I like John’s description.

To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

John 2:16-17 NIV

Notice the righteous anger that Christ displayed. What was it that aroused such an attitude? The disciples realized that Jesus was consumed by a zeal for the house of God.

When Christ told His disciples about the Holy Spirit, He said that He was sending “another counselor just like Me.” (John 14:26 – My paraphrase!) The difference is that the Holy Spirit lives in us. He lives permanently in His temple, our body. And, He has the same attitude as Christ.

Do we really get the point? We’re living in the Last Days. The Holy Spirit is starting to cleanse His temple. We need to submit to His program.

Remember – the Holy Spirit will not hurt His temple. But He will start to ruin that which would try and steal our affection. In my experience, I’d rather willingly give up something, than have the Lord remove it from my life.

What do we do?

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8 NIV

If you really want what the Holy Spirit desires, then sow to please the Spirit. He doesn’t say to summon up all your will power and live right. No! Simply submit to His plan and sow the Word and prayer. Spend time with the Spirit.

Question: What do you need to do to sow to please the Spirit?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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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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Last Days Prayer

Last Days Prayer

Continuing in Luke, Jesus is teaching about the Last Days. He used Noah and Lot as examples of what these times will be like. I also believe that the Lord is commenting on the fact that there will be “Noah Christians” and “Lot Christians” in the Last Days.

In order to encourage believers to be prepared, like Noah was, Jesus gives a parable about prayer.

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

Luke 18:1 NIV

The Lord wants us to see that, especially in these final days before His return, we need to be a people of prayer. His desire is that we continue to pray regularly, and not grow weary in this work.

He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’”

Luke 18:2-3 NIV

In His parable, the Lord starts by introducing all of the characters. We are shown a local judge, who has no fear of God and shows no respect for anyone.

We then have a widow and someone who has done wrong against her. The word used, indicates that this wrong is self-evident. It’s something that anyone would consider to be an evil action.

She keeps coming to the judge for a decision against this adversary. But, the judge keeps putting her off. Undeterred, she keeps bringing her case before him.

Eventually, the judge becomes annoyed by this.

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'”

Luke 18:4-5 NIV

In the parable, this widow won the case because of her persistence. Literally, this says that the judge felt like he was getting beat up by the widow. Now, Jesus tells us the main point of what He’s teaching.

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

Luke 18:6-8 NIV

Look at the facts. The judge didn’t care about God or people. God is extremely watchful over His Word and His character. God has a high regard for His chosen ones. God’s attitude is nothing like this earthly judge.

Yet, even this unjust judge decided in favor of the widow out of annoyance. How much more does God delight in doing good in the lives of His people.

However, it’s the final question that seals it for me. Will the Lord find faith at His return? How do we receive faith? Faith comes as we hear God’s voice – His rhema Word (Romans 10:17).

Because of this, I believe that Jesus is talking about our spiritual battle here. Not between us and the devil. But between our spirit and our flesh.

The widow is an Illustration of our spirit crying out to God for victory over the flesh. The flesh is our adversary against everything God wants to do in our lives. As we cry out to God, it’s His voice that silences the flesh and puts it to death.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Romans 8:13-14 NIV

I believe that the parable of Jesus is a picture of this principle being taught in the book of Romans. As we consistently remain in prayer, we will see victory over our adversary – the flesh.

Question: How consistent is your prayer life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2022 in Faith, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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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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Prayer and Sonship

Prayer and Sonship

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, I’ve been talking about chapter 11. In this chapter, Jesus is teaching His disciples about prayer. He started with what we know as The Lord’s Prayer.

He then began to teach them about prayer for the needs of others. We need to be bold in our acknowledgment of God’s power. We should be allowing the Lord to work through us to meet the needs of others.

That was a big part of the context of our “asking, seeking and knocking” in prayer. I talked about that in my last post. Today, I want to take this verse a little further in its application.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Luke 11:9-10 NIV

I’ve heard many people preach on this verse. For the most part we take it out of context and miss what it’s really saying. Indeed, we’re told that we have the power to receive answered prayers, to find that which is hidden, and to open doors that seem impenetrable.

But the first thing we should ask is; what is this authority based upon? If we would just read the next few verses, we’d see that Jesus gives us the guidelines for this type of power.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:11-13 NIV

It’s obvious that Jesus is talking about the authority of Sonship in this passage. He tells us that we’re asking for the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit that then confers upon us the Spirit of Sonship. Once that’s in place, and I’m walking as a mature son (this includes women as well), then I’m free to ask, seek, and knock as led by the Spirit of God.

In many cases our trouble is that we don’t ask for the Spirit. We want to do it our way. We want what our earthly desires are prompting us to seek for. Then we end up begging God for a snake or a scorpion. It’s no wonder why we don’t get most of what we pray for.

The simple fact is that true authority resides in the correct use of mature sonship. There was another time in Jesus’ ministry when He was talking about being a disciple. He said that if you were truly His disciple, then the truth would set you free.

The religious community – those who continued to rely upon the power of the law – were outraged.

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:33-36 NIV

I’m sure that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law had no clue what the Lord was talking about when He said this. To us, however, it should be rich in meaning. The words of Christ tell me that Sonship is a position of freedom.

We’ve been set free because of the authority of Christ. We’re no longer under the bondage of sin, the world or the devil. What we need is the maturity to walk in it.

That should give us a new freedom in our prayer life. When we realize that we want the same goals as the Lord, it’s a lot easier to stand in faith.

As mature believers, we should be spending quality time with the Holy Spirit. That will bring us the wisdom and knowledge we need to ask, seek, and knock for the desire of God’s heart.

Question: What does it mean to be free in Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2022 in Faith, Power of God, Prayer, Sonship

 

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Asking, Seeking & Knocking…For Others

Asking, Seeking & Knocking…For Others

I’ve been posting from the Gospel of Luke about how we go to God for the needs of others. Let’s continue looking at the parable in Luke, chapter 11. It’s about a man who had a friend visit him in the dead of night. He’s looking for help from a neighbor to feed this guest.

“I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Luke 11:8-10

Listen carefully to the reasoning as to why the man was given bread. It was NOT because of friendship or need. It was because of boldness. It was because the friend was willing to go to the neighbor’s house in the dead of night and pound on his door.

Other people who lived around that area started to wake up when they heard the commotion. They looked out their windows to see how this man would respond. It was only when it became a matter of his reputation in the community, that this man responded by supplying bread.

Our God is not going to be pressured because you’re begging Him for provision. You can’t gain His sympathy by magnifying the need. These things don’t affect God.

What He’s looking for is someone who’s willing to publicly declare the Word of God before men. He’s looking for boldness.

The important part is found in verses 9 and 10. This is the section that tells us that if we ask, it will be given, if we seek, we will find, and if we knock, the door will be opened. Our normal thoughts are that this is all about me getting what I want from God.

In this context, Christ is speaking about going before God on behalf of the needs of others. It’s about meeting the needs of those around us. People we meet everyday – at our jobs, in our schools, and in the stores.

They all have problems they’re facing each day. Most of them have no access to God except through us. We must throw out this idea that the blessings of God are only for me and a chosen few. It’s God’s desire to bless the world through His people.

You don’t have to convince me that God wants to bless believers; that’s beyond question. What I want, is to open our eyes to the world around us that’s in need. They need a Savior, a Healer and a Provider. All of these things are found in Christ.

It’s up to us to take this message to the world. Not just by saying, “God loves you.” But by actually bringing the power of Christ into the lives of the hurting people around us.

It takes boldness to say, “I serve a God who heals. Would you like me to pray for you?” You get people’s attention when you tell them that you’re going to bring their need before God in your prayer times. In those cases, you’re speaking your faith for the world to hear. Then, when God answers, it’s the Lord who receives the glory.

Take the time to go before the throne room of God with the needs of others. Trust God to perform miracles on behalf of those you pray for. If you hear a Word from God for them, then act on it.

We must be God’s hands extended to the world. I believe that answered prayer goes a long way to bringing people to faith in Christ as their Savior and Lord.

Question: What are the specific needs you know about the people around you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 6, 2022 in Faith, God's Provision, Ministry, Prayer

 

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Spiritually Selfish

Spiritually Selfish

We’re continuing our walk through the Gospel of Luke. For the last few posts, I’ve been talking about the Lord’s Prayer.

At one point, I talked about our daily bread, and I related it to receiving God’s Word on a daily basis. As we continue in this chapter, Christ now gives a parable concerning bread. I want to continue that discussion.

We’re going to do that by looking at a parable which few ever teach about. We need to see how the bread of the Word applies to our daily lives.

Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’

Luke 11:5-6 NIV

This parable brings to light an incredible truth. Listen carefully to what the man is asking for. He’s seeking bread. But the important fact is the reason he wants it.

Is he hungry? Does he have no money to buy bread? Absolutely not! These are not the reasons he needs bread so desperately.

According to the man, a friend of his was on a journey and has come near to him. He opened his home to the friend, but has no bread to place before the friend.

According to Scripture, every human is on a journey. We’re all traveling from total spiritual darkness to maturity in Christ. We’re all at different places along this path.

What this man was saying is, “My friend’s path brought him into my sphere of influence. I need to help him become what God wants him to be.”

The man was not seeking the bread of the Word for himself. He was seeking a Word that would meet the need of someone else. This is something the church needs to hear. It seems that much of the time we’re self-absorbed.

Many times we find that we’re seeking things for ourselves. We seem to think it’s all about my healing, my prosperity, and my blessing. What we really need to do is to follow the example of Christ. Most of what He sought the Father for was bread that He could give to others.

Notice the humility. My friend has come to me and I have nothing of my own that could meet his needs. This is an admittance of our total dependency on God.

I’m trusting God to meet someone else’s need. But I want Him to send the supply through me. This requires us to admit our inability apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

I believe this is what James was talking about in his book.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

James 5:16 NIV

James gives us this exhortation in the context of healing. We need to admit the areas for which we need prayer. But then, we also need to be in prayer for one another.

In the context of the above parable, James is saying that we should be constantly seeking bread for others. Praying for other people is a way of asking God the Father to supply us with the Word needed to bring healing into someone else’s life.

If all I ever pray about is my own needs, then I’m being very spiritually selfish. God wants us to be more than just a Christian organization. He wants us to be an organism – the body of Christ. In that way every part can be a help to all the other parts.

When you spend time in the presence of the Lord, remember to think of others. Listen for a Word that could be a help to them as well as yourself.

Question: How have you helped others along their road to maturity in Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2022 in Faith, Healing, Ministry, Prayer, The Church

 

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Power Over Temptation

Power Over Temptation

In this post, I’m continuing with the last line of the Lord’s Prayer as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. This should serve as a guide to our prayer times with the Lord.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”

Luke 11:4 NIV

This line of the prayer is especially important for us to understand. We must first grasp the nature of temptation in the New Testament.

First, we must get rid of the cartoon version of temptation. We don’t have an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other, trying to get us to obey them. When it comes to temptation, we’re sometimes our own worst enemy.

If you were reading this blog years ago, when I was going through the book of James, you may remember what temptation is. In Scripture, the words temptation, testing, and trial are all the exact same Greek word.

It’s a word that literally means a putting to proof by experiment or experience. Usually, the translators will use the word, temptation, in the context of testing by evil. A trial, on the other hand is a testing to do good by faith.

The fact is, the Lord will never try and test us by putting us in a position to possibly choose evil.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

James 1:13-14 NIV

This verse also makes it clear that we blame the devil for too much. It’s the desires of our own flesh that brings us to the point of temptation. Only through fasting and prayer can we turn down the voice of our flesh. But that’s a teaching for another day.

When you look at these two verses, James and Luke, there’s a very interesting contrast. James says that we drag ourselves away toward what our flesh desires. It’s like our flesh is pulling us along to where it wants us to go.

The phrase, deliver us, has a different emphasis. We’re literally asking God to draw us away toward Himself, from the evil. It’s like we’re standing in a fast-flowing river headed toward God’s will for us.

What we have to learn is that praying for God to deliver us from evil is not asking God to stop us. The choice is still ours. We have to decide which “pull” we’ll allow to take us.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV

This verse is clear. God will never stop us from sinning. He will provide the exit strategy, but we have to be willing to take it. By the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we should be able to overcome in all situations.

God’s desire for us is that we live a life free from sin. He wants us to live above the dominion of our fleshly desires. But for that to happen, we need to trust Him to do the work in us. I know for a fact that I’m not strong enough on my own to walk in this victory.

It’s when we have a strong prayer life that we see this work being accomplished in us. That will require time.

This is why I went through this prayer of the Lord in great detail. I wanted to show the foundation for a life grounded in the power of God. Don’t neglect this great gift that we’ve been given. The Lord has purchased for us 24/7 access to the throne room of God.

It’s up to us to avail ourselves to the power and blessing that’s being held out to us. Take the time necessary to form an intimate relationship with your heavenly Father.

Question: What is the condition of your prayer life?

© 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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