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Finding the Kingdom

Finding the Kingdom

In my last post, I talked about the rich, young, ruler who came to Jesus. He wanted a deeper walk with God. The Lord told him his next step – selling everything and becoming a disciple.

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Luke 18:23-25 NIV

Jesus comments to the disciples that it’s very hard for the rich to come under the rulership of God. The word, hard, in this verse, means a picky, finicky eater. It’s someone who’s very hard to please.

Someone with great wealth usually is used to getting their own way. They want to set the terms of their service. In the kingdom, it has to be done God’s way.

Remember, this encounter comes right on the heels of Jesus talking about entering the kingdom as an infant. You have to start over. You can’t come to the Lord thinking that you’re an asset to His kingdom. We have nothing to offer Him, He has everything.

In my last post, I started to talk about the difference between salvation and the kingdom of God. The kingdom is the place of obedience, blessing, and fulfillment. There are many who have received salvation but have yet to walk in the fullness of Christ.

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:20 NIV

This is an important statement for us to hear. No one can deny that the Pharisees and teachers of the Law followed the Law of Moses to the letter. They did everything according to the teaching of Scripture.

By that definition, before the resurrection of Christ, they were saved and on their way to heaven. Yet, Christ clearly said that they didn’t enter the kingdom. That’s because they never submitted themselves to God’s way of doing things.

They were missing out on God’s best for them. Of course, if they continued on this path after the resurrection – rejecting Christ as Messiah – they no longer had a place in God’s family. That’s because they would have rejected salvation under God’s New Covenant.

As Jesus spoke of the kingdom, the disciples didn’t understand these principles.

Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”

Luke 18:26-27 NIV

Jesus makes it clear that it’s not impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom. The power of God is able to change a life. But that person must be willing to let the Holy Spirit do His work in them.

At that point Peter interrupts.

Peter said to him, “We have left all we had to follow you!”

Luke 18:28 NIV

As usual with Peter, I think he was looking for some praise from Jesus. Unfortunately, what he said wasn’t that accurate. We know from Scripture that Peter didn’t leave everything to follow Jesus. After the death of Christ, Peter was able to go back to his fishing business (John 21:1-3).

Jesus was very gracious to him. He ignores the untruth.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”

Luke 18:29-30 NIV

The Lord summarizes everything here. If you give up all for the kingdom, you receive the kingdom blessing. On top of that, you get the eternal blessings as well.

It’s a great deal. We give up the temporary to gain the eternal.

Question: How have you placed everything into God’s hands?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2022 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Salvation and Rewards

Salvation and Rewards

As we go through Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus teaching the crowds. In my last post, He talked about entering the kingdom of God as a child. Upon hearing that, someone in the group was prompted to ask a question.

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good — except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.'”

Luke 18:18-20 NIV

We have to remember that Jesus lived and ministered under the Old Covenant. This young man wanted to be sure of his salvation. He asked the Lord about it.

Jesus gave him the only way to eternal life at that time. In simple terms, He said to follow the Law of Moses. That was the road to life.

“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

Luke 18:21 NIV

The young man was given what he asked for. According to the words of Jesus, this man already possessed eternal life. He was on his way to heaven.

However, Jesus could see by his response, that this man wanted more than just salvation. He wanted a fulfilled life. His desire was for more than simply life after death.

The Lord saw into his heart and answered the real question that was driving him. He wanted to know how to advance spiritually in his walk with God.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

Luke 18:22 NIV

Jesus was basically telling this man that possessing eternal life is not enough. It was time for him to start accruing eternal rewards. It was time for him to start following the plan of God for his life.

There are a couple of things that we need to realize about this passage. First, the Lord operated, back then, in the same role that the Holy Spirit has for us now. Also, these instructions were a specific Word of God for this man in particular. It’s not a rule for all believers.

Jesus was telling this man that the next step in his spiritual development was to sell all and become His disciple. That would start him down the road to a fulfilled life. His riches were holding him back.

That’s because he had more than just a lot of money. According to the words used in Scripture, he had a large estate. He probably spent all of his time tending to the issues of maintaining and increasing his holdings.

This is where God’s plan for him was leading. Would he take the next step in the journey?

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Luke 18:23-25 NIV

Here’s where a lot of people get mixed up. You have to realize that the kingdom of God is not the same as salvation. The kingdom is the rule of God. It’s the place of blessing based upon obedience.

The truth is, you can be a citizen of a kingdom, yet be living someplace else. You lose out on the blessings of being at home in the kingdom.

You may not want to hear this, but not all believers are walking in the kingdom of God. They’re saved, but they’re missing out on the kingdom blessings. Paul talked about this to the believers in Antioch.

…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.

Acts 14:22 NIV

These are hard words to accept. Paul told the believers to remain steadfast in hardships. That’s what it takes to enter the kingdom. I’ll talk more about this in my next post.

Question: What’s the next step God has for you in your spiritual walk?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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How Far Can You Trust God?

CliffWe’ve been looking at Abraham’s example of what it takes to be in position to receive God’s blessing.  The big question remains.  How far are we willing to walk with God down this road of faith that He chooses for us?

When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.  He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.  Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.
Genesis 22:9-10

In this remote setting it would have been very easy for Abraham to have chosen differently.  He could have taken Isaac with him, and left the area.  Yet, he made the choice to follow God’s instructions no matter how painful they were to him.

It’s easy for us to look back and say, “Of course he trusted God.”  We have the completed Bible to refer to.  We have a knowledge of how the story ended.  We know now that God never asks for human sacrifice.

There’s no way that we could ever fathom what it was like to be Abraham at that moment.  All he knew was that he was about to take the life of the most precious person in the world to him.

When I see how far Abraham trusted God, it begs the question, how far am I willing to let my faith take me?  How much am I willing to give up based solely upon God’s Word?

I think that this generation of believers are more like the rich young man who came to Jesus.  The Lord told him to give up everything and come and follow Him.

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Matthew 19:22

In our society, this call is commonplace.  Athletes are told to “leave it all out on the field.”  In entertainment competitions they are told to hold nothing back.

Why do we get the idea that Christ is asking too much of us by saying that we must lay our lives down to follow Him?  It’s only when I come to the place of total surrender at the feet of the Lord that I’m in the position to receive the strength and blessing that comes from His hand.  Jesus held nothing back for our sakes, and now we must follow in His footsteps.

This may not sound like your typical “Six Steps to Prosperity” message.  It wasn’t meant to.  I’m not looking for the wealth it takes to fulfill my every whim.  I want to see the provision I need to fulfill God’s destiny in me.  I want to see and experience revival in God’s people.

It’s time for us to lay everything down before the Lord.  If you can’t do this, then pray for the strength it takes to get to this point.  Then watch what God will do on your behalf.

Question: What things would be the hardest for you to give up if the Lord asked you to?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2013 in Faith, God's Provision, Revival

 

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