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Legalism is a Dead End

Legalism is a Dead End

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is talking to His disciples and the crowds about the kingdom of God.

The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.”

Luke 16:16 NIV

In the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus, a new focus has emerged. The Law and the Prophets were the main points of religious teaching until that time. Now there’s an emphasis on the kingdom of God.

The religious leaders are not too happy about this. They could get around some of the Law of Moses. They were experts in the loopholes allowing them to do as they pleased, all the while keeping the facade of holiness.

The kingdom of God is about relationship with God. It’s not about a set of rules made by men. The Law is a set of unchanging commands.

It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.”

Luke 16:17 NIV

The Law of Moses is unchanging and impersonal. It doesn’t care who you are. It doesn’t make any exceptions because of your situations, weaknesses, or what you happen to be going through at the moment.

The Law doesn’t have the power to help you. It doesn’t give you any support to live an overcoming life. It’s just there to point out the sin that you’re wrestling with on a daily basis.

Jesus gives the Pharisees an example.

Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.”

Luke 16:18 NIV

This seems to be a random verse, stuck in here for no reason. But, there’s a truth that Jesus is trying to get across to the Pharisees. The Law doesn’t care about your situation.

At one point the Pharisees came to Jesus and questioned Him about the issue of divorce. I covered this a while back as we were going through the Gospel of Mark. The details are in Mark 10:1-12.

The religious leaders enjoyed this “divorce loophole”. The Law allowed for a husband to give his wife a certificate of divorce. That was the Law. What was God’s view?

That was clear throughout Scripture.

“I hate divorce,” says the Lord God of Israel, “and I hate a man’s covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,” says the Lord Almighty.

Malachi 2:16 NIV

That’s the difference between serving God by following the rules and life in the kingdom. We all want to know the rules. Rules are easier than maintaining a relationship.

There are Christians who live this way. They’ve boiled Christianity down to a set of man-made rules. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, go to church, give your tithes, etc. They follow the rules, then live for themselves the rest of the time.

A relationship with God is harder to maintain. In any relationship there’s shared responsibility. I have to find out what my partner likes or doesn’t like. My goal is to live in such a way that we grow together.

That’s what the kingdom of God is like. It’s not about rules. I must seek what pleases God and what displeases Him. I need to allow His Holy Spirit to work in me. I must hear Him, trust Him, and obey Him.

This is why many marriages break down. They don’t cultivate relationship. They think that as long as they’re doing what they’re supposed to do (following the rules), then the marriage is strong. They realize too late that when the relationship breaks down, the marriage soon follows.

Don’t turn your Christian walk into a set of rules. Legalism is a dead-end street full of frustration and guilt. Cultivate a strong relationship with Christ through the Holy Spirit. That’s the key to fulfillment.

Question: How strong is your relationship with Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Relationships, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Prodigal Sons

The Prodigal Sons

I’ve been posting about the parable of the Prodigal Son from Luke’s Gospel. What most people don’t realize, is there are actually two prodigals in this story. Both sons disappointed the father. If I can understand the problem, then I can walk in a way that’s pleasing to God.

You’re probably wondering why I said that both of the sons disappointed the father. Most people teach that only the younger son was in the wrong. Actually, they both had the same problem, they just handled it differently.

Luke 15:11-32 shows that the two sons had an incorrect view of their relationship to the father. After spending all of his inheritance, the younger brother made this statement.

‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
Luke 15:18-19 NIV

He had lived his life on the assumption that his father wanted him to be a servant. In his young, formative years, he hated having to be told what to do. As a result, when he felt he was ready, he broke free by demanding his inheritance and leaving home.

But what you don’t often hear, is that the older brother had the same view of his father. But instead of leaving, he lived under it his whole life. It all came out when the younger brother returned.

Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ The older brother became angry and refused to go in.”

Luke 15:25-28a NIV

The older brother was incensed that the father would throw a party in honor of the younger brother’s return. He refused to be a part of the celebration. So, the father went to him. He wanted to know why the older brother didn’t want to rejoice.

“But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.’”
Luke 15:29 NIV

Did you hear him?

“All these years I’ve been your servant.”

Both sons were under the assumption that the father wanted them as slaves. Nothing was further from the truth. The father was looking for faithful sons to whom he could one day entrust all of his possessions.

It’s the same in our walk with the Lord. How do you see yourself? Do you think that God wants you for a slave? If so, then you’re headed down the same road as the prodigal. You’ll get frustrated trying to keep a set of rules you can never hope to live up to.

You might turn out like the older brother and spend your life in frustration thinking that God’s treating you unfairly. Or you may respond like the younger, giving up on serving God altogether.

The truth is that God doesn’t want you to be His slave. He’s looking for mature sons and daughters who will carry out His will on the earth.

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:6-7 NIV

Our goal should be to learn how to mature in Christ. To be a faithful representative of the Lord on earth. The Father is looking for adult sons and daughters who will live according to the leading of His Spirit in us.

Question: How does laying aside the slave mentality help you in your walk with God?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2022 in Legalism, Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Discipleship and God’s Glory

Discipleship and God’s Glory

Continuing through Luke’s Gospel, we’re seeing how Jesus explains what discipleship is all about. It’s not an easy path. It means putting the Lord above all other pursuits in our lives.

He continues with a couple of illustrations.

Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.”

Luke 14:28-32 NIV

Jesus gives the crowd two examples of what it takes to decide on the path of discipleship. Too many people start out with good intentions, but with false ideas. They think it will be easy for them.

After all, I just have to go to church, pay my tithes, and pray now and then. They have no idea what it costs to put down the flesh, renew the mind, and build up the spirit. True discipleship requires work.

Listen to how Jesus encapsulates these two parables.

In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:33 NIV

Giving up everything – that’s an attitude that starts us down the road to discipleship. In the parable of the builder, the phrase, is not able to finish, literally means did not have the force required to complete it. It doesn’t imply that he ran out of money. He just didn’t have the willpower to commit everything to the project.

In the same way, the king in the second parable had to ask himself if he was willing to commit his entire army to the protection of his realm. If not, he better surrender before the attack.

That’s what we must go through before we say we want to be a disciple of Christ. We have to see ourselves laying everything down on His altar.

Remember what I said in my last post. You can be saved and on your way to heaven and not be a disciple. I’m not trying to condemn anyone. I’m just trying to get you to see the high road of the abundant life in Christ.

If you find your Christian walk to be easy, then you’re not yet a disciple. The closer you follow to Christ, the harder your choices will become. But there is a bright side. The longer you serve the Lord, the easier it will be to make those choices.

It’s all about cultivating an attitude – I’m nothing else but a disciple. It may sound like a tough road, but in the end it’s worth it.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Luke 14:34-35 NIV

Back when this was written, salt had a higher percentage of impurities than we have today. If it got wet, the actual salt would wash out and you were left with the dirt. You wouldn’t want to use that on your food.

In the same way, there are believers who want to serve God. But at the same time they want to retain their rights to determine what they want to do or not do. That doesn’t work out too well in the Kingdom of God. It’s like putting dirt on your sandwich.

The way of discipleship leads to a fulfilled life. There’s a manifestation of the power of God working through you. When you live at this level it becomes obvious to all those around you.

It’s apparent that you couldn’t produce the blessings that you’re walking in. God is at work in you. That’s the ultimate goal. Living as a disciple shows God’s glory and draws others to Christ.

Question: How much is the glory of God worth to you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2022 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Who Do You Serve?

Who Do You Serve?

In my last post, I started talking about the fact that even though Christ has set us free from slavery to sin, we can voluntarily submit to it.

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey — whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?

Romans 6:16

Here is another “Don’t you know” in the Scripture. We need to pay attention when we see them. We must make sure we understand what’s being said.

The key word in this verse is offer. It was also used twice in verse 13. It literally means to stand beside and present.

In regards to sin, it means that submission is voluntary. It’s not sin as your king, but you as a volunteer. You’ve presented yourself as a servant.

In the Greek language, there are two main words for servant – deakonos and doulos. Deakonos denotes a slave to the work. You’re told what to do by a master and you have no choice but to obey.

The word doulos is different. In this case you’re a willing servant of a person. You’ve chosen to submit to their lordship. In some places it’s translated as a bond-slave.

The word for servant in the above verse is doulos. You’re offering yourself as a servant into the place of obedience. This applies to a choice in either direction – either serving Christ or sin.

If you choose to serve sin, you need to be aware that it leads you to death. No, you haven’t died yet, it’s just leading you in that direction. You might even still be on the right path, but your aim a little off.

There’s also the potential choice to serve obedience. In that case you’re being lead to righteousness. That’s what this decision is all about. You’re either walking toward righteousness or death.

But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Romans 6:17-18

Notice that this obedience is a choice from the heart. That’s why getting the Word into our heart is so important. When you change your heart, you change the entire direction of your life.

It’s also important to see what they obeyed in this verse. It says that they obeyed the form of teaching they were given.

That word means a die or stamp used as a pattern. They obeyed the pattern of teaching that was committed to them. We need to learn the patterns in the Word. That’s the way things happen and progress.

The pattern that they understood from Paul’s teaching was that if you chase after evil things, you head towards death. The key to all of this is our liberation from the reign of sin as we remain in Christ.

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 8:34-36

The Good News is that we’ve been liberated into the family of God. We should, therefore, show the traits of that family – the pattern. In order to have our best life, we must desire to be slaves of righteousness.

Question: What does it take to choose obedience to God?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2021 in Faith, Sonship, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Who Hired You?

Who Hired You?

We call Satan “the enemy.”  But in many cases, it looks like regular church people have accepted payment from him to ignore the work of God.  Are you one of these individuals?

As he begins his letter to the Romans, Paul talks about who hired him.

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world.  God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.

Romans 1:8-10

The first thing I see is that our faith is visible in our actions.  Everyone knew the faith of the Roman church because they heard about what they were doing.  As a result, they were constantly being prayed for as people thought of them.

In the next verse, the word serve literally means to serve as a hired menial.  So Paul is saying that he considers himself hired by God for a purpose.  He understands that there’s a payment, a reward that he’ll receive from God for a job well done.

How do we handle this?  In our modern American culture there’s not a lot of job loyalty anymore.  People are constantly keeping their resumes tuned up in case a better position opens up in another company.  It’s unfortunate, but this same mindset has spilled over into the church.

Satan tries to capitalize on this thinking.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.

“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Matthew 4:8-10

In this verse we see Satan trying to give Christ a better offer.  It was promised that the Messiah would one day rule over all the kingdoms of the world.  But by God’s way, the Lord would have to suffer and die in agony to receive it.

Satan is giving Christ the chance to bypass all the pain.  By a simple act of devotion, He could receive the reward without the pain of the cross.  I’m so glad that Jesus saw through the deception, and carried out God’s plan as it was meant to be done.

Satan tries to buy us off all the time.  He holds out to us all the pleasures, entertainments, and activities of the world.  He tells us to just play with these toys for a little while.

“They’re not sinful, and nobody will be hurt by them.”

But there’s a price that’s being paid.  The work of the kingdom is being ignored by a large segment of believers.  There are souls not being saved, prisoners not being set free, and lives not being healed.  There’s a calling that only you can fulfill.

If you’re looking for a better offer, Satan will give it to you; he just won’t follow through with it.  It’s time for the church of Christ to rise to its feet.  We must throw off the distractions of the world and complete the assignments that we were called to do.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe…

Hebrews 12:28

Our wages from the Lord are well worth what we’re called to do.  We’re hired by God for a purpose.  Let’s give all and do great things for God!

Questions: How has the enemy tried to buy your time?  How have you answered his offer?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2020 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Transferring Ownership

Transferring Ownership

In this post we start our journey through the book of Romans.  I love the way Paul starts this letter.  It says a lot about how he viewed himself.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God

Romans 1:1

Paul uses some interesting language in this verse.  He calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ – literally a slave.  It’s interesting, because on various occasions Paul made a point of proving his freedom.

Once he was arrested and he asked the guard why he was being denied his right to a trial as a Roman citizen.  The guard explained that he, personally, had to buy his freedom.  Paul, on the other hand, said that he was born a free Roman citizen.  (Acts 22:25-29)

At that time, if you were born a slave, you were expected to be a slave forever – there was no escaping it.  Under Roman law, a slave could find out his “sale price” from his master.

Then, if he saved enough money, he could pay the buying price to his master and have the ownership transferred to one of the many Roman gods.  Then, as a slave to that god, could serve as a free man.

I believe this was in the back of Paul’s mind as he penned these words.  We’re all born under slavery to sin.  That was our unfortunate lot for the rest of our lives.

Jesus Christ paid the “slave price” for us.  Now, just as Paul did, we need to transfer the ownership of our lives over to God.  As God’s slaves we can now serve as free citizens of the kingdom of Heaven.

We have to live under this knowledge if we’re to have a fulfilling life in Christ.  We don’t own our lives.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:5-8

Christ, Himself, set the standard of living that we need to follow.  He said that He came to live a life of service.  That should be our attitude as well.

The Apostle Peter also understood this truth.

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

1 Peter 2:16

In the first verse above, Paul said that as a slave, he was called to be sent forth as an apostle.  Once we’ve transferred the ownership of our lives to God, our callings will open up to us.  We’re now free to serve Him to the best of our ability.

Paul finished off the verse by saying that he was set apart to the Good News.  That literally means that we’re set off by a boundary.  The Good News is our field of service.

This is the attitude that will push you to great things in the body of Christ.

Question: Have you transferred the ownership rights of your life to the Lord?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2020 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Character is Everything

In my last post, we looked at the purpose of God’s grace.  It brings about God’s will in us.  What is that will?  It’s to bring the message of His salvation and favor to the world.

For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”  I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2

This is God’s priority.  Bringing the message of salvation to the world we live in.

But what about us?  Is this our priority?  There are so many other things that we want to do and experience.  To some, God’s will is inconvenient.

Paul is getting to that.

We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited.
2 Corinthians 6:3

This is something that every believer has to come to grips with.  How people view our ministry is based largely on how they view us personally.  Paul is literally saying that he doesn’t want to create an offence that would cause the ministry to be blamed.

That’s why we need to be constantly working on our character.  It’s the character of the minister that determines the perception of the ministry.

Unfortunately, there are those who think it’s just the opposite.  They feel that people should think highly of them because of what their ministry is accomplishing.

We have to understand that how we live is a reflection of Christ.  The world judges the Christian message based upon what they’ve seen in the believers they’ve met.  Sometimes they’re left with a negative opinion.

We need to accurately reflect the love of Christ no matter what we’re going through.  Paul now goes through a list of these qualities.  I think that it’s important for us to hear them.  So I’m going to take a couple of posts to explain what he’s saying to us.

And yes, some of them sound very inconvenient.

Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses;
2 Corinthians 6:4

The key is, Paul wants everyone to know that he’s a servant of God.  He doesn’t serve his own needs or wants.  He doesn’t serve the world or even the churches.  He serves God.

That has to be the foundation of our attitude.  We live and act at the Lord’s good pleasure.  We’re in the service of the King of the universe.  We want His kingdom to be accurately represented.

We serve with that in mind.  We desire the character of Christ to shine through us.  That’s the only way to draw people to the cross.

Question: How does your character reflect your service to Christ?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Warnings from the Past

Many times I’ve been asked, as a Pastor, why the Old Testament is even important to us.  Many believers don’t ever read it.  They say it’s too bloody and violent.  Grace hadn’t been fully accomplished yet, so there are many instances where we see God’s wrath.  Why read that kind of stuff anyway?

In today’s post, I want to continue talking about the example of ancient Israel.  We must let the Bible take its rightful place in our daily lives.

We’ve been looking at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He used ancient Israel as an example of how not to serve God.  In telling the church about how God dealt with the Jews, he mentioned some of their rebellions as well as the judgments they received.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
1 Corinthians 10:11

This verse makes it clear that the things that happened under the Old Covenant, especially the negative things, are a warning to us.  The Greek word for warning in this verse means to place in our minds – in other words, the Lord is trying to grab our attention.

This is because we’re quickly approaching a time in history when all things will be fulfilled.  The goal line is before us.  We’re about to witness the final days of this entire age.

Because of that, we’re at a point in time that requires a different kind of walk from God’s people.  We can’t live the way they did in ages past – that will not work for us.

Israel saw and heard incredible things – yet they fell away.  We need to take this to heart.  Even though we’re under grace, the message of the Old Testament is still important to us.

No, we won’t come under judgment as Israel did.  But the fact remains, God still hates the same lazy attitudes that He hated back then.  He still loves the mindset that’s passionate for His will.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
1 Corinthians 10:12

In this verse, the word, think, means to assume or to have a reputation of.  In other words, don’t believe your own press.  Just because people tell you that you’re standing strong doesn’t necessarily make it true.

We must take inventory of our walk with God and see if it lines up with the truth of God’s Word.  Only then will we be assured of the rewards that Christ has set aside for us.

The Jews thought that they would be rewarded simply on the basis of them being in Abraham’s family.  It didn’t work that way.  The Lord is looking for a combination of faith and faithfulness.  We need to serve God out of a heart of loving gratitude for all that He’s done for us.

Israel didn’t know the great lengths that the Father would go to in order to save us and bring us into His family.  They didn’t know about Christ dying on the cross.  We do.

How much more should we embrace all that God has for us – both the responsibilities and the glories?  The examples of Scripture warn us to be careful.

Even though we’ll not come under the judgment of the world, we may still lose some of our rewards if we live for ourselves.  Salvation is based on grace; rewards are based upon obedience.  Scripture is a warning to us that disobedience will always be dealt with.  If you want all the rewards the Lord has set aside for you, then heed the warnings of Scripture.

Question: How have the warnings of Scripture kept you out of trouble?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2019 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Church Together

How do you feel about church?  There are many believers who’ve written it off.  Their church is on TV.  Either that or they spend an hour on Sunday morning and that’s their investment for the week.

As I see it from Scripture we need the gathering together of real-life flesh and blood believers.

Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Galatians 6:10

As I read the life of King David, I see a lot of parallels with our present generation. In waiting for God to fulfill His promise to make him king, it seemed like everything was going against him. But it was at this time in David’s life that God started to bring people to his aid.

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.
1 Samuel 22:1-2

This is one of the lowest points in David’s life. God had called to be king in place of Saul. He had accomplished victories over giants and armies.

Yet, at this time he was being pursued by King Saul – hunted like an animal. His calling was to restore Israel to greatness, yet he was alone and outcast.

Many in Israel had no clue about the issues that were occurring throughout their nation. It was almost like the church in the USA right now. We are badly in need of an awakening.

So David decided to go to a place called Adullam. It was a cave in the side of a cliff, surrounded by wilderness. It was near a cool, clear spring so there was plenty of water. It had a system of caverns that could hold 1000 men comfortably. Eventually, 400 to 600 would come and join with David here.

In the same way, it’s time for God’s people to rally together. So many believers are “serving God” yet going nowhere. Where do we start?

Maybe where God starts. In David’s life, it was his father’s household, his immediate family. That’s us – the church.

The work God wants to be accomplished in our generation starts with us. God is calling the church family together.

But it also says his brothers. The Hebrew word used is relatives in the most general term. There are many people who are a part of the body of Christ who have distanced themselves from their churches. It has been for various reasons. It might have been the results of hurts, laziness, disappointment, offense, or any number of issues.

For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
1 Peter 4:17

The word judgment in this verse is simply the word decision. It’s time for decisions to begin here, among God’s people. We want the world to decide for Christ. How about if we decide first. It’s time to give up the excuses.

I’ve been in church for my whole life. My deepest hurts have come from church people. Even as a pastor I’ve endured hurts, betrayals, and other problems. Yet on the lowest day of my life, I would choose God’s people over the world.

Just like in David’s day, God is calling His people to do a great work in our generation. But it won’t be accomplished by big names or televangelists. It will be normal, everyday people who have heard and obeyed the call of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

Question: What’s your place in the Body of Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2017 in Fellowship, Revival, The Church

 

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What Are You Known For?

In my last post I talked about the way the Thessalonian believers imitated Paul’s lifestyle. They were commended for it.

But as we read further in Paul’s letter to them, we find out even more. This lifestyle, living for God, wasn’t a private thing. They weren’t just “closet Christians”. Here’s what Paul said about them.

And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia — your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
1 Thessalonians 1:7-10

All over the region, people were talking about how the Thessalonians had received the Gospel. Of course, it was a Gospel that included a demonstration of God’s power. They allowed it to get into their hearts and change their lives.

The first thing that we see is that they were turned around. They had formerly been worshipping idols, but now they are servants of God. It takes the power of God to make that kind of change.

Serving idols is easy. As a matter of fact, our culture is full of idolatry. No, not the carved images, but we serve man-made idols. There are those who worship the gods of education, finance, entertainment, or sports.

The thing about idolatry is that it makes you feel good about what you can do. You can compare yourself to those around you.

“Look at me! I’m smarter than you.” “I’m more athletic than you.” “I’ve got more money than you.”

The reason it’s hard to turn to God from this is because it requires a whole new mindset. Once I turn to Christ, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God. It’s not about what I can do, but what the Lord is doing in me.

When we serve idols, we’re actually serving ourselves. In the kingdom of God we serve Him. God sets the agenda for us.

The secret to their faithfulness was that they kept their eyes on Jesus. Part of Paul’s testimony about them was that they were actively waiting for Jesus. With their focus on Him, they were able to serve with joy.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Romans 12:11

The word zeal means to be very eager to serve the Lord. I think that’s what’s missing in the lives of many believers. They have no eagerness to serve God. Why is that?

According to this verse, it requires spiritual fervor. The word translated as fervor literally means to be boiling over. It requires power to heat water to the boiling point. Left to itself it remains at room temperature – lukewarm.

If we will spend time with the Holy Spirit, then His power will be at work in our spirit. He can give us that spiritual fervor that we need to serve God with true zeal.

Then, just like the Thessalonian believers that Paul commended, our faith will become known to all those around us.

Question: How “hot” is your spiritual life right now? What can you do to increase it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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