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Tag Archives: Relationships

Unequal Yoking

In my last post, we started looking at the issue of unequal yoking.  The Apostle Paul warned us against marriages or business partnerships between a Christian and a non-Christian.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.  For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?  What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?  What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
2 Corinthians 6:14-15

The reason is based upon the five words he uses to describe this relationship.  In my last post, I looked at what yoked means.  Today, I’ll deal with the others.

In common.  This is a word that means a sharer or participant.  It means that you both share something.

In this situation, if one participant is being disciplined by God or attacked by the enemy, they both share the results.  I don’t want someone else’s problems to dictate what happens to me.

Fellowship.  This is the Greek word, koinoonía.  It speaks of the fellowship we share as believers.

In Christ, we’re better together than separately.  That’s because of the Holy Spirit living in us.  Without the Spirit of God working in your partner, there can be no true fellowship.

Harmony.  This is a word that’s normally translated as agreement.  It comes from a Greek word that means to sound together.

This is an important difference between believers and the world.  A Christian’s speaking should be based in his faith.  When an unbeliever speaks, it’s usually based on fear, greed, desire, or any of a number of other things.

How we talk creates the environment around us.  Unequal yoking causes a very stress filled atmosphere.

I experienced this firsthand.  For a while, I worked for a startup company whose president was a believer.  Unfortunately, the vice-president was actually anti-Christian.  After a year or two, the tension became unbearable and I had to resign.

In common.  Even though this phrase is used twice, they’re actually two different words in the Greek.  This one means a share or a portion.

There are things I’m expecting and believing to receive from the Lord.  An unbeliever is not in a position to receive some of these things.

Those in the world believe that they have to work for everything they get.  They feel that everything they have is a result of their efforts.  Believers, on the other hand, give glory to God for all good things.  These are two very different mindsets.

As I said when I began this subject in my last post, we have to be very careful in our choices of who we attach ourselves to.  We might just be bringing ourselves unneeded baggage and hurt without even realizing it.

Guard your heart against this problem.

Question: How do you guard your relationships?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2020 in Faith, Fellowship, Spiritual Walk

 

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God’s Armor – Using the Breastplate of Righteousness

In my last post, I showed how the Breastplate of Righteousness was given to us to protect our hearts.  That’s the good ground of our life.  It’s where we plant the good seed of the Word of God.

In Scripture, we’re told to put on the full armor of God.  That means it’s a choice I have to make.  The first thing we need to understand is what this righteousness is.

In the Bible, we’re told about two kinds of righteousness and both of them are important.  First, there’s the position of righteousness.  That means I’m declared righteous simply because I’m in Christ and He’s my righteousness.

Because of this position of righteousness, I can go into the presence of God whenever I want.  Whether I need forgiveness, or simply want to praise and worship the Father, I have 24/7 access to God’s throne.

I praise God for the position of righteousness that we’ve been granted in Christ.  However, that’s not the righteousness that protects our ground.  The breastplate speaks of the walk of righteousness.

How does the walk of righteousness protect my heart?  In the natural, Scripture talks about the enemies that invaded Israel and ruined their fields.  Fire, drought, foxes, stones, salt, weeds, locust, and hail were all causes of crop failure.

In our walk with God, we’re warned to be careful not to form intimate relationships with unbelievers.  We’re told that bad companionships corrupt good character (1 Corinthians 15:33).  By becoming intimate with the world you’re opening up yourself for a broken heart – rocky, stony soil.

When your walk is not right before God, you have an open, unprotected heart.  If you remember, a few posts ago I showed that the armor wasn’t Paul’s invention.  There’s a word picture of God wearing His armor in the Old Testament.

Knowing this, Paul described what the breastplate consists of.

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1 Thessalonians 5:8

The first thing Paul talks about here is self-control.  You may not want to hear this, but it takes self-control to put on the breastplate.

The word, self-control, in this verse, is not the same as the fruit of the spirit.  This Greek word means to be sober, not drunk.  We can’t be so intoxicated with the world that we miss God’s best.

Then, Paul gives us a closer look at this breastplate.  He tells us that it’s comprised of a combination of faith and love.  Walking in faith and love is the completion of your righteousness before God.

It should be obvious how this works.  I must choose to trust God.  I must choose to love God.  This is a daily choice, to walk in righteousness.  It’s a faith-love walk.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6

In the New Covenant, circumcision is all about the rules of men.  The reality is that in Christ rules don’t count for anything.  Only a walk of righteousness matters.

This verse talks about being in Christ Jesus.  That’s where you have to be to use the armor.  This passage literally says that in Christ…the only thing that has force is faith, energized and made effective, through love.

How does this protect my heart?  When you walk in the combination of faith and love, you’re placing a “force field” of righteousness around your heart.  Your ground is protected, and you can expect your spiritual seed to grow unhindered by the enemy.

Question: What evidence do you see of faith and love working together in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Friendship with Christ

As Paul closes his first letter to the Corinthian church, he makes a number of concluding remarks.  Most of them are private greetings.

The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings.  Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.  All the brothers here send you greetings.  Greet one another with a holy kiss.
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.
If anyone does not love the Lord — a curse be on him.  Come, O Lord!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.  Amen.
1 Corinthians 16:19-24

As I read through these statements, there’s one that grabs my attention.  Is Paul really pronouncing a curse on someone?  What’s that all about?

It’s important that we understand what the apostle is saying here.  To start with, the love that he’s speaking about is not the normal word, agape, that’s usually translated as such.

Paul uses a word that speaks of the emotional feelings of affection that two friends have toward one another.  He’s talking about being a friend of Christ.

As believers, we should have a deeper level of love for Christ than just a choice to love Him.  There should be an emotional component as well.  Just thinking of all He’s done for us should cause us to desire to be with Jesus.

This goes right along with something that James said.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?  Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

In this verse, James uses the same word that Paul used.  It’s an emotional desire for friendship.

We know that the Lord wants to be your friend.  But what He reveals about Himself is that you can’t be both His friend and the world’s friend.

Understand – you can have friends in the world.  But the Spirit of God doesn’t want you to be a friend of the world system.  We can’t be chasing after the same things that the world does.

What is Paul trying to tell us by cursing someone who befriends the world system?  Actually, he doesn’t use the normal word for a curse.

He uses the Greek word, anathema.  In that society, this word meant a religious ban.  Paul is talking about someone who claims to be a Christian, yet shows no emotional attachment to Christ.  In other words, if you know someone like that, then don’t hang around with them.

You don’t want to have an intimate friendship with someone who doesn’t have an affection for Christ.  A love for the world will rub off on you.  Your walk with the Lord will suffer for it.

We need to be wise in our choice of intimate relationships.  They’ll affect our devotion to Christ – either for good or bad.

Don’t just choose to love Christ.  Cultivate an emotional friendship with Him as well.

Question: What does friendship with Christ look like in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2019 in Fellowship, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Everything Changes

I’ve been posting from First Corinthians, Chapter 7.  Paul is dealing with romantic relationships.  In my last article Paul advised that because of persecution that was starting, they needed to consider carefully if they were looking to marry.

Now Paul explains these principles in a little more detail.

What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.  From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none…
1 Corinthians 7:29

We have to understand that Paul is not saying to leave your wife.  What he means is that whatever happens, keep your walk with the Lord your priority.

At any time your spouse might be arrested, imprisoned, or even martyred for your faith in Christ.  If that’s the case, then you can’t let it affect your service to the Lord.  That’s why God gives a special kind of grace to those undergoing persecution.

Many have come to me and said, “Pastor, I hope persecution never comes to America because I don’t think I could handle it.”  I tell them that if we’re called to that kind of life, then we’ll be given the grace to withstand it victoriously.

Paul goes on to explain the underlying truth.

…those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them.  For this world in its present form is passing away.
1 Corinthians 7:30-31

The thing that Paul is trying to get across to us is that everything is subject to change.  The world doesn’t get it.  They think that a single event brings a permanent change.

If they go through a devastating loss, they think their life is over forever.  On the other hand, they think that if they can just win the lottery, they’ll be happy forever.  Neither of those two statements is true.  Change is constant.

So as believers, we’re told not to look at any phase of life as permanent.  Even if we get a new device that we’ve always wanted – we realize that it’s not ours to keep.  It will wear out, break, or become obsolete.

We’re literally told that we can use the systems of the world, but don’t overuse or misuse them.  The way society works is constantly changing.  The strategies that made people successful 50 years ago, won’t work today.

The present form of the world – the way things work – is fading away.  Society is always changing.  The way people learn, interact and do business is always evolving.  We can’t get engrossed in one way of doing things.

But here’s the good news.  God’s kingdom works the same yesterday, today and forever.

It’s all about spending time in the Lord’s presence hearing from the Holy Spirit.  Then we do what He’s leading us to do.  It’s this obedience that makes us successful.

If somebody had told me as a teen, that one day I would sit in my den and explain Biblical truth to people across the country and around the world, I wouldn’t have believed them.  It’s become a different world now.

The bottom line is that change will be constant and that listening to the voice of God is the only thing that will keep us on course.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit helped you to weather the changes in society?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2019 in Encouragement, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Marriage is Not an Escape

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul gives advice about our romantic relationships.  As we continue looking at these, he now talks about those who have never been married (virgins).

Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy.  Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are.  Are you married?  Do not seek a divorce.  Are you unmarried?  Do not look for a wife.  But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned.  But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
1 Corinthians 7:25-28

You may think, from reading this passage, that Paul was against marriage.  That’s not the case.  This is referencing a certain situation that was happening in his day.

Persecution was beginning to break out against the church in some locations.  That’s what he meant by this present crisis.  He wanted them to weigh their decision carefully because of the uncertain future.

This is a very important concept for us to understand in our generation.  As a pastor, I’ve had the privilege of bringing many couples through the pre-marital counseling process.  It gives a lot of insight into what Paul is talking about here.

Let me explain.  In talking with couples, I ask them to give reasons why this marriage is right for them.  I’ve heard many answers.  There are some that don’t sit well with me.

“I want to get married now because this is the first person that has ever shown any interest in me and I don’t want to lose him.”

That’s not a reason to pledge your life to someone.  God is able to bring the right person along at the right time.  You can’t make a life altering decision, based only on someone’s availability and your desire to be married.

There are other issues as well.  I’ve seen people who are single but are in a bad family situation.  Their parents have an addiction problem or are very abusive.  They see marriage as an easy escape from their home environment.

This can end up making a bad situation even worse.  Marriage is not an escape from your problems.  If anything, it brings you a whole new set of problems.

I say this not at all getting down on marriage.  I’ve been married to my wife for almost 40 years.  I wouldn’t want any other life.  I love everything about our times together.

But I can tell you this – there are problems we faced together that we would never have had as single people.  Marriage comes with its own unique set of challenges.  You have to be prepared for this as a couple.

If you’re single, don’t ever look to marriage as an escape from a bad situation.  You may dream about being married someday.  But being married is never better than being single – UNLESS – you marry the special person that God has chosen for you.

So, to all the singles out there, I’m telling you to put your hope in the Lord.  If you want to stay single, then do so without feeling guilty.  If you want to be married, then trust God to bring you the right person at just the right time.

God wants your life to be abundantly blessed.

Question: How have you trusted God in your relationships?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Husbands and Wives

As we continue to look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we’re about to enter the most controversial section of the entire letter.  Chapter 7 deals with romantic relationships.  I will deal with this section very cautiously!

I have to warn you; Scripture is Scripture.  I can’t change it to agree with social norms.  I can only tell you what the Holy Spirit spoke through the Apostle Paul.  With that in mind, try to proceed with an open heart.

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.  But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.
1 Corinthians 7:1-2

The people of Corinth had an interesting question that was sent to Paul.  Is it best not to have a romantic relationship?  First Corinthians, chapter 7, is Paul’s response to that inquiry.

The first thing Paul does is to lay down the foundation for everything he’s about to say.  The key phrase is because there is so much immorality…

Everything that follows in this chapter hinges upon that issue.  Their society was very immoral.  That means that this chapter is very applicable to us.  I don’t know if you noticed, but our generation is extremely immoral.

As a matter of fact, that’s what makes this section of Scripture so controversial.  The teaching of the Bible is in total opposition to what the world views as acceptable.  Because of this, our human nature would try to justify living like the society around us.

So, I’ve decided to simply tell you what Paul teaches in a very simple, uncomplicated way.  I’m not going to put my spin on it.  If you disagree with the teaching, then don’t get mad at me; I’m only passing on what was written.

Paul starts with his opening statement.  It’s the foundation for the marriage relationship.  His definition of marriage is – one man and one woman for life.  As a Pharisee, he understood that it was this way from the beginning of creation.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

Our society may disagree with this line of thinking, but it’s a consistent theme throughout Scripture.  This foundation is what Paul was building on.

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.  The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.  In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.  Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.  Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.  I say this as a concession, not as a command.
1 Corinthians 7:3-6

Paul is simply saying that if you’re going to marry, then you must maintain a sexual relationship as a married couple.  Any temporary pausing of this must be mutually agreed upon.

Sex is neither a weapon nor is it a way to motivate someone.  It’s a gift to be shared by a married couple.  The word, concession, literally means general knowledge.  In other words, Paul says that this is not a command, it’s just common sense.

We should make every effort to conform all of our relationships, especially our marriage, to what God has planned for us.

Question: Why would God’s advice on relationships be the best for us?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 25, 2019 in Prayer, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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