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Repentance is Begun

Repentance is Begun

As we near the end of Luke’s Gospel, we see the ministry of Christ after the resurrection. This was an important part of His work on earth.

We sometimes get the impression that the story of Jesus is all about the resurrection. As important as that is, it’s only a part of the whole picture of Christ. The work of the Lord definitely culminated when He rose from the dead. But we need to understand the entire revelation of God’s plan.

He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Luke 24:46-47 NIV

The whole work of Christ on the cross was needed to bring us repentance and the forgiveness of sin. Do we really understand what this means? Or have we watered this down in our desire to get on with what we want to accomplish with our lives? I need to know how the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord affects me.

The first word that catches my attention here is repentance. In the vocabulary of our present society it simply means to say, “I’m sorry.” Many times we throw out this phrase and never even mean it. We only want to placate the one we’re apologizing to.

Biblical repentance is a whole other matter. It’s about desiring a change of direction in your life. I don’t like where I’m at. I have all this baggage that I’m carrying with me – the guilt and regrets of the past. It’s like I’m stuck with a heavy backpack full of junk that I’d just like to shake off.

The problem is that this backpack is locked onto me. I can’t shake it. I’ve tried so many times to remove it in the past but nothing works. I want a new life. This is the spirit of repentance. It’s all about the desire to change.

The next word we have a bit of trouble with is forgiveness. We read into it the definitions given to us by our society. When we talk about repentance and forgiveness the truth gets lost in our preconceived ideas.

We do something wrong and say, “I’m sorry.”

The person we wronged replies, “Don’t worry about it. I’m okay with you now.”

Our misunderstanding comes from the fallacy that sin is only evil. The fact is that sin means that we’ve missed the mark of God’s perfect will. Of course, evil falls into that category. But there are other things that are sin as well. Not doing the good work that the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do is a form of sin. Sin is only evil when it’s done on purpose.

When we talk about forgiveness, we’re not talking about God saying to us, “I’m okay with you now. Try harder next time.”

The word, forgive, in the Bible literally means to pick up and throw away. God’s work of forgiveness is the total removal of the sin from our lives. That’s why a true understanding of repentance is so important. If all you want is to “make God happy with you,” then you’re not really repenting. True repentance is the desire for true forgiveness – the removal of sin and restoration to purity in Christ.

It’s like what the trash man does at our curbside every week. He shows up and removes our trash completely. When he’s done his work, you never see that trash again. Think about what life would be like if he took it back to your house the next week just to remind you what you threw away.

The blessing of serving our God is that the removal of sin is permanent.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalms 103:11-12 NIV

This is what the cross and the resurrection are all about.

Question: How does a repentant heart today change how you live tomorrow?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2023 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Forgiveness Begins

Forgiveness Begins

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re now at the crucifixion of Christ. There’s so much for us to see in this section of Scripture.

Sometimes we need to be reminded about the simplest concepts. Something as common as forgiveness should be reviewed again and again so that it stays fresh in our hearts. Christ is our greatest example of forgiveness, even while hanging on the cross.

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

Luke 23:32-34 NIV

In the past I’ve shared about what forgiveness is. It started out as God’s idea. In the Old Testament, God is the only one who ever forgave. Forgiveness is the end of the penalty for our actions. It cancels the demand for retribution. It also frees us from the guilt.

If you want to read the original series in more detail, click here.

Jesus started the process of our forgiveness even while being humiliated and ignored on the cross. But, how does this process work? Let’s start with King David in 2 Samuel, chapters 11 and 12.

It all began when he stayed home from battle when he should have been with his army. He ended up on his porch, watching his neighbor’s wife as she bathed. David ended up being involved in adultery, murder, and a cover-up.

God sends the prophet, Nathan, to confront David with these sins. David is convicted, repents, and writes a song about his experience. (Psalm 51)

In the first 4 verses of Psalm 51 he used 5 different words for sin. He wanted to make sure he covered everything. That’s how forgiveness starts.

The first step – Sin is committed. There is a failure, a hurt against someone. But the truth is that no matter who gets hurt, there’s one important truth we need to recognize.

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.

Psalm 51:4 NIV

Think about all that were hurt by David’s actions. There was Bathsheba, Uriah, Joab, Nathan, David’s family, as well as the whole nation of Israel. In spite of all this hurt, David recognized that the sin was against God only.

This is the key. We have such a high opinion of ourselves. The fact is that we were created to be perfect. Anything less offends God. There is no sin we could possibly commit that’s not against God.

There is good news, however. That’s not the end of the story. The next step is that once sin is committed, forgiveness is purchased.

We know from Scripture that without blood there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). Under the Old Testament Law there had to be a sacrifice. The Good News is that we live after the cross.

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matthew 26:27-28 NIV

The blood of Christ paid for our forgiveness once and for all. It was the one perfect payment needed.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.

Ephesians 1:7 NIV

This verse says that we have been loosed off by His blood and our sins are forgiven. Forgiveness is available to all.

But that’s also a problem. It’s available to all, but it’s not yet manifest. That’s what the Good News of Christ is all about. It’s communicating the forgiveness of God to the world.

Each one of us, as believers, should be proclaiming this great Gospel.

Question: How has God’s forgiveness changed your life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 20, 2023 in Encouragement, Faith, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Quick Repentance

Quick Repentance

As we go through the Gospel of Luke, we just saw that Jesus was arrested. Then He was taken to the high priest for questioning. At this point in the narrative Luke makes an interesting comment about Peter.

Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.

Luke 22:54 NIV

This is the same Peter who said he would die with Christ, if necessary. He was the one who was always so outspoken about his faith in the Lord. Yet here he’s seen shrinking back into the shadows.

This begs the question about our walk with Jesus. We are always so quick to point out that we follow Christ. What does that mean to you? The real question is, “How closely are you following?” Peter was following Him, but far enough away so that it wasn’t obvious that he was with the Lord.

So often we don’t want it to be seen as different from the world. We want to blend in with society. We don’t want to get too radical in our Christian walk. Is that the way it’s supposed to be?

I believe that if we’re going to follow Christ, then we must live openly for Him. Even the most casual observer should be able to recognize that there is a difference in how we go about our daily routines.

People aren’t shy at all about using foul language, or other ungodly activity. Christians, on the other hand, are so worried about “offending” anyone. We should not be afraid of praying or talking about Christ in public. We need to stop following Him at a distance.

But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”

But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

Luke 22:55-57 NIV

What a response! This is the same man who vehemently said that he would die before denying Christ. Why would he do this?

I believe that Peter is no different than any of us. As he sat there watching the proceedings, he began to go over all of the possible outcomes in his mind. He saw that it was the Pharisees’ intention to put the Lord to death.

His whole focus now became; how to save himself.

Later on, others asked Peter if he was one of the disciples of Jesus.

A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”

“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!”

Luke 22:58-60a NIV

His mind was dwelling on self preservation. What makes me say this?

If you look at Peter’s answer, you’ll see what I’m talking about. What he gave as a response was actually a legal phrase. It was what a witness would say in a trial if they hadn’t seen what they were being asked about. He gave a well-thought-out answer. He had definitely been rehearsing what he was going to say.

Then, suddenly, the truth of what he had done hits him.

Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Luke 22:60b-62 NIV

I don’t know why this happens. When it comes to sin, we don’t realize the weight of it until after we’ve fallen. Then we feel upset and guilty about it. That’s the time to take care of it.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV

Don’t wallow in guilt and regret. As soon as you realize your sin, repent and be free of it. God doesn’t need time to “cool off”. The Holy Spirit is with you to bring forgiveness and restoration. The quicker you repent, the quicker you can get back on your spiritual feet again.

Question: What has the Lord taught you about quick repentance?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2023 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Finding What’s Lost

Finding What’s Lost

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. We’re now starting chapter 15. Jesus’ ministry is beginning to attract those who the religious leaders consider unworthy.

Now the tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Luke 15:1-2 NIV

This is a very interesting picture of Jesus. He was very willing to spend time with people who were considered “sinners” by the spiritual elite.

Tax collectors were Jews who were taking money from their own people and giving it to the Roman conquerors. They were viewed much the same way as we view drug dealers in our society.

Not only that, but they had the same type of friends that a drug dealer would have. Prostitutes, loan sharks, and the like. All the people that the upstanding Pharisees would look down on as the dregs of their society.

Because of His spiritual walk, the Lord had the strength of character be around these people without letting them drag Him down. He could be a light in their darkness, and they recognized this.

We need to understand this principle. How can unbelievers ever experience the love and grace of Christ, if no one ever walks with them?

Jesus uses a couple of parables to explain it.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Luke 15:3-7 NIV

At the end of chapter 14, Jesus talked about the need to be salt in the world. If your ministry is to be this seasoning and bring the message of salvation, then what better place to be then among “unsavory” people. Jesus knew that He was sent to save these people. The Pharisees may have written them off, but Jesus saw them as loved by God.

I always find it offensive when I hear a Christian remark that someone deserves hell.

“When they die, they’re gonna get what they have coming.”

That must break the Lord’s heart. He died for everyone. Not just the people we like. We need to watch our attitudes about those without Christ. The fact is that we all deserve hell – but I don’t want anyone to go there.

Even the most perverted, murderous, evil person on earth should be given the chance to hear about the life-changing work of Jesus Christ on the cross. We should be representing Christ and His attitudes in our generation.

Too often what some believers consider “ministry”, is telling sinners to stop sinning. It’s all over the internet. Unbelievers don’t need to stop doing wrong. They need to have a personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

That’s what will turn their lives around. Pointing out what we think is wrong with them will only serve to push them away from the cross. We need to be seeking and saving those who are lost.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Luke 15:8-10 NIV

There’s rejoicing over a life that’s saved. I also believe there’s weeping over a lost sheep that’s pushed off a cliff, or a coin that’s made to fall through the cracks. We can’t be so self-righteous that we cause unbelievers to reject Christ. Be the Lord’s hand, reaching out in love to those around you.

Question: Why is it so easy to pick up the same attitudes as the Pharisees?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Judging Ourselves Rightly

Judging Ourselves Rightly

In my last post, I talked about discerning the times we live in. Jesus rebuked the people of His day for not seeing that it was the time for Messiah to arrive. Then, by knowing this, they would see that He was the long-expected Christ.

The Lord continues this thought a little further.

Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?”

Luke 12:57 NIV

This is an important principle for us to understand. We need to be able to look at our situation in relationship to God’s Word – and decide what’s right. The Jewish people failed the test and paid the price for it.

Jesus warned them about what was coming.

As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

Luke 12:58-59 NIV

Jesus talks here, about someone you’re in disagreement with. You think that you’re right and he’s wrong. That’s how the leadership of Israel was viewing their Messiah.

They didn’t like what He was teaching them. They were upset over the fact that the Lord pointed out their inconsistencies. They were at odds with Him on many levels.

Jesus tells them that it will take hard work, but they need to be reconciled with Him. This involves changing the way they think about their lives and ministries.

Now was the time for them to repent and change. There will come a day when it’s too late. Jesus Christ, Himself, will change from being their Advocate and will become their Judge.

I don’t believe that the Lord is talking about the final judgment here. That’s because there will be a payment the person in prison can make in order to be released.

There are those who have a point of contention with Christ and His ways. They like the fact that Jesus is Savior, but they don’t want to acknowledge Him as Lord.

That was the problem in ancient Israel. They wanted a Messiah who would free them from bondage to the Roman Empire. They weren’t looking for a spiritual leader to free them from the bondage of sin.

We’re much the same in our generation. We want to be freed from sickness, depression, fear, and poverty. At the same time, we don’t want the Lord to mess with our internet time, TV binge-watching, or social calendar.

In the above verse, the phrase, try hard literally means to work at it. This means that changing our attitudes to the Lordship of Christ is hard work. In our humanity, we want to set the agenda for our lives.

The Lord warns us that there’s a price to pay for doing it our own way. We find ourselves “locked up.” We can’t seem to enter the abundant life spoken of in the Scripture. Many times, there are hard decisions and actions we have to take to get back on track with God’s will for our lives.

Many times, people have asked me why they keep having to deal with the same problems over and over again. Sometimes, it’s because God is trying to get your attention. He wants you to see that you’re heading in a wrong direction.

James tells us that problems are trials of our faith (James 1:2-3). If you fail a trial, you may have to go through it again. Your best solution is to learn the lesson and pass the test. That’s why we’re told to test ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Learn the lesson of Israel. Follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Wholeheartedly listen to and obey the voice of the Holy Spirit working in you. That’s the best route to a fulfilled life.

Question: How do you view the Lordship of Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2022 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Identification Principles

Identification Principles

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is teaching the disciples as well as the crowds following Him. Since the Jewish leaders are now trying to discredit Him, the Lord explains some important concerns that they need to deal with.

I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels of God. But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.”

Luke 12:8-9 NIV

The first thing the Lord talks about is agreement. The word, acknowledge, is a Greek word that means to speak the same as. In other words, you agree with Christ, both His claims and His teaching. If we do this, then the Lord acknowledges us before His angels. Why is that so important?

It makes a difference because in many instances God uses His angels to answer our prayers. If we’re not in agreement with Christ, we don’t have that blessing. I imagine it as if we pray for something, and the angels look to Christ for His acknowledgment. But, if we’re not in agreement with Him and His plans for us, the Lord just shrugs His shoulders, and the angels ignore the request.

Acknowledging Jesus is more than just saying, “I’m a Christian. I love Jesus.” It means that I’m getting to know Him personally. I want His will to be accomplished in my life.

And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Luke 12:10 NIV

Now the Lord deals with an even deeper issue. It’s something that the religious leaders of Israel need to consider carefully. Of course, it’s also something that a lot of Christians get worked up about, hoping that they haven’t committed the unpardonable sin.

First, Jesus deals with Himself. By calling Himself the Son of Man, the Lord is speaking of His earthly ministry. The fact is, not many people in Israel knew what to expect in the Messiah’s coming. Some of their misgivings were based upon a lack of knowledge. That can be forgiven.

However, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is another matter. That word, blasphemy, means that you’re speaking evil about someone. You are actively trying to injure someone’s good name.

This brings with it some assumptions. It assumes that you know that you’re talking about a real person. Then, you also know that this person is good, you just want them to look bad in the eyes of others.

In this case, the Pharisees and other leaders knew that the hand of God was at work in Jesus’ ministry. They knew it was the power of the Holy Spirit healing and delivering from demonic forces. Yet, in an effort to discredit the Lord, they said it was the power of the devil. By doing this they were placing themselves on very dangerous ground.

What about us? I’ve been asked many times how to know if someone committed the unpardonable sin.

The answer is simple. Since it’s the Holy Spirit who convicts us of sin and draws us to Christ – a sin against the Spirit is a dangerous thing.

But, as I said, it’s the Holy Spirit who draws us to Christ. So, I ask, would it be upsetting and troubling to you if you found out you had committed this sin? If the answer is “Yes” then you haven’t committed it.

Anyone who had committed this unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit would have absolutely no remorse about it. They wouldn’t care at all. That’s because the Spirit would no longer be working on their heart.

So, as long as you have a desire to repent, you can be forgiven for your sin. The real question is, are you identifying yourself with Christ? Do you want His will to be accomplished in your life? That should be the top priority of your soul.

Question: How intimate are you with the Holy Spirit?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Seed in the Weeds

Seed in the Weeds

As we go through the book of Luke, we’re continuing to look at the Parable of the Sower. I’m posting about the different kinds of soil that Jesus said was contained in our hearts.

Today’s post is about someone with very good soil. It produced bountifully. The problem was that it wasn’t producing fruit.

Instead, it raised a great crop of thorns and thistles. Then the few good plants that sprung up were choked out before they produced anything.

The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

Luke 8:14

These believers get further along than the other groups. They believe the Word and actually let it take root in their lives. Their problem is that they let other things grow right along next to it.

The first weed Jesus mentions is distractions, in the original Greek. What a description of the modern Christian – DISTRACTED! We get so distracted by what the world has to offer.

It’s not that we’ve turned our backs on God. On the contrary, we want God’s best – His Word and His grace. The trouble is that we want the world’s best as well. We’re getting distracted by the things of the world. Many of these things aren’t bad in and of themselves, they just take our focus off of Christ and His work in us.

Another weed the Lord talks about is wealth. In Mark’s Gospel, the Lord calls it the delusion of wealth. When we think of wealth, it tricks us into believing that it can supply all of our needs. The truth is that wealth can only obtain material possessions.

Wealth can never satisfy the longing of our souls. If it could, you’d never hear of a wealthy person committing suicide. The thing we need to put into perspective is, only the things that come from the Word of God are truly able to fulfill our lives.

The third weed that grows next to the Word is simply pleasures of this life. What the verse implies is that this is a desire for the things that were given up in order to follow after God.

These are the things that used to make us feel good, temporarily. When we start looking back at these things with longing in our hearts, it’s a sure road to failure.

Please understand that it’s not doing the former things that causes the trouble, it’s the desire to do it.

The biggest thing that the Christians of this generation need to realize is that you can’t have it all, no matter what any televangelist will tell you. You can’t have the power of God manifest in you, as well as everything your flesh desires.

It’s a well-known principle of farming. When weeds and valuable crops are allowed to grow in the same space, it’s the weeds that will win out every time.

But when our life is unfruitful, we’re so quick to blame God.

“Oh God, I planted the Word. Why is there no harvest? Why have you failed me?”

I’m here to inform you, it wasn’t God who failed. Everything grew as God ordained it to. It was the weeds in your life that choked out the Word before it was able to produce fruit in you. That’s why there was no harvest.

Part of the farming process is to keep the ground free of weeds. Intimate time spent in the Spirit is what’s required. That means a repentant lifestyle.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 1:9

As I spend time in the presence of the Lord, He can show me places in my life that need change. As I repent of these things, the Holy Spirit is able to clean up my heart. Then the ground will be free and clear. At that point you can expect an abundant harvest from the Word planted in you.

Question: How are you keeping your heart free from the weeds?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Deserving God’s Best

Deserving God’s Best

We’re continuing our study in the Gospel of Luke. We’re now in Luke, chapter 7.

In my last post I started talking about a Roman centurion who wanted Jesus to come and heal his servant. I wanted to look at this event in detail because it deals with some important principles we need to understand.

Many Christians don’t have a grasp on what makes us worthy of walking in the power of God. The centurion in this chapter said that he wasn’t worthy and used two Greek words, axios and hikanos, to describe how he felt.

In this post, I want to start by looking at the word axiosdeserving.

Think about the prodigal son of the parable I talked about in my last post. He spent a large portion of his life away from the power, yet all that time he was still a son. One of the statements that he made to his Father was, “I am not worthy – axios – to be called your son.” The first concept we must understand is that you can be a son and still feel not deserving.

Then Paul and Barnabas answered them boldly: “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles.”
Acts 13:46

When Paul and Barnabas first started out on their missionary journeys, they would always preach the Gospel first to the Jewish community. Many times they were met with resistance by this group.

At this point in their journeys they were beginning to get frustrated by this trend among the Jewish people. The literal Greek of what Paul says here is that you have judged yourselves undeserving (axios) of eternal life.

This tells us that, concerning the power of God, if you consider yourself undeserving, you could find yourself rejecting God’s Word. There’s no true power outside the Word of God. Of course, if you reject the Word of Salvation, then you’re lost.

Our salvation experience is the first touch of God’s power which we experience. All believers, therefore, qualify for the power on that requirement.

Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.
Revelation 3:4

This verse brings up an interesting dilemma. How do you keep your clothes white while living in a cesspool? Of course, I’m talking about our spiritual clothes as we live in this society. How do we keep clean with so much sin around us?

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:14

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I John 1:9

As we live a repentant lifestyle, the Holy Spirit keeps us clean through the blood of Christ. Repentance should be a daily walk before God. These verses tell me that power is for those who can keep themselves clean in Christ. Therefore, your conscience is accusing you of not deserving of the power if you ignore repentance.

This was the lesson that the Prodigal Son had to learn. As soon as he returned home and repented, he was restored to the full rights and privileges of a son. It’s through this same process of repentance that our consciences can be wiped clean. Then it will stop accusing us of being undeserving.

Question: How does your conscience keep you from enjoying God’s best for you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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A Call for Repentance

A Call for Repentance

We’ve been looking at Paul’s “open letter” to the unsaved society around us.  That’s how he starts his letter to the Roman church.

He warns that without Christ, judging each other is pointless.  Of course he gets to the heart of the matter.

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

Romans 2:4

That’s the real question that those in the world need to be asked.  It’s our job as believers to show them the kindness, tolerance, and patience of the Lord.  All the while we should be leading them towards repentance.

The problem is that many times we do the first part while ignoring the second half of this verse.  We love and accept the unsaved just as they are.  However, if we never show them the way of salvation, they’ll be lost for eternity.

Too often we stay silent because we fear rejection.  But they’re refusal of the Gospel is not on us.  It’s a choice that they might make.

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.  God “will give to each person according to what he has done.”

Romans 2:5-6

Remember, Paul is speaking as if to the unsaved.  As believers, we don’t need to worry about God’s wrath.  There’s no wrath in Christ.  (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)

Most of us don’t like to think about this truth.  Yet, I believe it’s something we need to ponder.  If I, as a Christian, don’t understand what’s at stake, I’ll be very uncaring about the lives within my sphere of influence.

We have a responsibility to warn the ones we love about this future event that everyone needs to prepare for.  The apostle shows us the clear choice.  It all hinges on what a person is seeking in life.

To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.  But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.  There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.  For God does not show favoritism.

Romans 2:7-11

This passage is actually a great guideline for checking someone’s readiness to receive the Gospel.  You can tell by their works what they’re seeking in life.  The words, glory, honor, and immortality, have more than just a religious meaning.

It’s talking about an unsaved person who consistently shows certain qualities.  They try to do things that raise dignity, add value to life, and produce long-lasting effects.  These are the ones who are ripe for the Gospel message.

Those who are self-serving and only accept what they want to believe need to be interceded for.  They need a change of heart by the work of the Holy Spirit first.  Then they’ll be ready for that saving Word.

But the bottom line is, no one is outside of God’s love or His grace.  Everyone has the potential to receive the forgiveness and salvation of Christ.

Question: Who needs to hear the Gospel in your sphere of influence?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2020 in Faith, Ministry, Prayer, The Gospel

 

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Looking Below the Surface

As we continue through Second Corinthians, Paul is talking about the authority we have in Christ.  We’ve been given powerful spiritual weapons that everyone needs to know how to use.

He now talks about why this is the case.

And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
2 Corinthians 10:6

The way this verse is written in English makes it sound like we get spanked for our wrongdoings after we’ve already started obeying.  That’s not really what it says.

In Greek, both the words disobedience and obedience have the root word of hearing.  There is no word, act, in the original.  This is about hearing and doing God’s will.

The disobedience that Paul is talking about could be either a misunderstanding or a willful ignoring of God’s will.  Now that the church has received correction from the apostle in his first letter, this has been resolved.

So, in essence, Paul is telling them that there is vindication because they’re now walking in obedience to God’s plan for them.  They listened to, and are now following Paul’s correction.

The key is, how well are they listening?  It goes toward motive.  When we know what God wants us to do, are we willing to obey?

This goes right along with something Paul wrote earlier in this epistle.  He referred to the sorrow and repentance that his first letter caused.

See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.
2 Corinthians 7:11

They had done some things that looked like they were ignoring God’s desire for them.  It might have been done innocently or willfully.  The point is that when Paul brought it to their attention, they repented and turned back to obedience.

That is what vindicated them.  Now they need to examine their inner man.

You are looking only on the surface of things. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as he.
2 Corinthians 10:7

In this verse, Paul is simply talking about drawing logical conclusions.  Looking on the surface it’s clear that the Corinthian people belonged to Christ.  By that same line of reasoning, Paul and his ministry team belong to Christ as well.

We need to see through the eyes of Christ.  Sometimes what believers do, doesn’t exactly line up with what the Lord wants them to do.  However, that doesn’t make them any less a follower of Christ.

We need to give people the opportunity to grow and mature without judging and accusing them.  Allow the Holy Spirit to work in His own way.

Question: What are some things that you’ve changed as you’ve matured in Christ?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2020 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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