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The Dark Road

The Dark Road

I’m continuing in my study of the Luke’s Gospel. Jesus is walking through Israel, ministering to the people as He goes.

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her.

Luke 7:11-12

In this section of Scripture, two crowds are about to meet. The first was made up of Jesus, His disciples, and a large group of people who simply wanted to see what they were doing. They were probably talking and laughing as most do on a walk.

But then, as they approached Nain, another crowd was coming out of the town. This group was more somber. It was a funeral procession for a young man whose mother was a widow.

What are your thoughts when you see a funeral procession? Maybe you’re stopped at a red light, and you have to wait while all the cars go through. Do you see them as family and friends who have just suffered a loss, or an annoying pause in your daily routine?

In those days, it was the custom to weep and wail loudly at a funeral. I wonder what the disciples and others were thinking as they approached the town and saw this group coming toward them. There was probably an awkward silence that came over them.

But just then, the Lord did something that you’re never supposed to do at a funeral.

When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.” Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still.

Luke 7:13-14a

Jesus had a different response than was expected. Instead of the usual, “I’m sorry for your loss,” He told the mother not to cry. I’m sure it was obvious that she was the mother by the fact that her tears were real.

Then, He actually grabs the coffin, causing the bearers to stop walking. This was totally unthinkable. Touching the coffin would make the Lord religiously “unclean” for days. I’m sure the disciples were asking themselves; why would He do such a thing?

Very soon they got their answer.

He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.

Luke 7:14b-15

All I can say is that Jesus is the Lord of the unexpected. Just when we think it’s the end, and all hope is lost, Christ comes on the scene with resurrection power.

We need to trust the Lord no matter what it looks like around us. I don’t know how dark the road is that you’re traveling on right now. But I know Jesus. I know He has the power to come into any situation and raise your dead dreams back to life.

God can do what no one else can do. That way, He gets the glory.

They were all filled with awe and praised God. “A great prophet has appeared among us,” they said. “God has come to help his people.” This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

Luke 7:16-17

When something like this happens, there’s no room for doubt. God has showed up. He manifests His love and concern for His people.

Our problem is that we don’t seem to have this expectation anymore. We think things are just going to continue this way forever.

It’s time to start trusting God for the miraculous again. Give Him room to show His power. Spend time in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Let Him impart new faith into your heart.

As the church wakes up to this principle, the world will begin to see the glory of God in us. Then, they’ll be drawn to Jesus as their Savior and Lord.

Question: What are you trusting God for right now?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Truth Hurts

Truth Hurts

In this post, we’re continuing to look at the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. It contains some important principles on righteousness.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh…Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.”

Luke 6:21, 25

This is one of those truths that doesn’t sound good, but is actually very important. Remember that Jesus is addressing these statements to His disciples – the future leaders of the church.

He tells them that in the “now”, there should be weeping. What could the Lord possibly mean by saying that?

What we need to realize is that spiritual truth, sometimes, goes completely opposite what we’ve learned in the world. The disciples were hearing from Jesus the principles of the kingdom of God. This means that in many cases they had to make an 180 degree turnaround from what they thought was right.

The fact is that truth brings change. And, more than that, change is uncomfortable. The disciples were being taught that it was better to accept the spiritual principles of Christ and deal with the sorrow of change. Later on, as they experience the results, they’ll walk in the joy of the Lord.

This has always been how embracing God’s truth works. Initially sorrow – then the joy His blessings bring (Psalm 30:5).

This is a real problem for those who only want to see blessings and never want to change. Eventually they’ll experience loss, with the grief and mourning that accompanies it. I find it better to submit to the Lord’s process of change right from the start.

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets.”

Luke 6:22-23

Not only is there pain in receiving the truth, sometimes it hurts when you speak the truth. Not everyone wants to hear the message of Christ.

Here the Lord lists a number of things that will happen when people reject the Gospel of Christ. Many will hate you. That’s a choice to treat you in an abusive way.

Jesus also says that they may not invite you to participate in their events. You’ll be excluded because just seeing you causes them to feel guilty.

The word, insult, in the above verse means to defame you. It’s not just an insult to your face, but they’ll even talk about you when you’re not around. This could even include spreading lies about you.

Jesus doesn’t want to see His disciples hindered by these things. That’s why He’s warning them, and us, in advance. That’s how it’s always been with those who stand their ground for the Lord.

There is, however, another warning that we’re given.

Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.”

Luke 6:26

Jesus tells them that they need to take stock if everyone speaks well of them. The message of Christ will always make somebody upset. As a matter of fact, in this society, I sometimes receive a look of disgust simply by sharing with someone that I’m a minister.

We need to realize that the truth hurts. Sometimes it hurts us, when we need to be changed by it. Sometimes it upsets others who hear it. But the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation must continue to be preached to all who will listen.

Question: How have you dealt with the discomfort of change from hearing God’s Word?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2022 in Encouragement, Ministry, The Gospel, Word of God

 

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Tough Love

As we continue to look at Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we can begin to see his heart for them.  His first letter was very bold and authoritative.  He dealt with many of the sins and failures of the church.

I’m sure that many who read that letter were convicted and sorrowful over their actions.  Paul understood this and now he addresses this issue.

I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.  Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
2 Corinthians 1:23-24

The first thing Paul does is to let the church know that he understands his place in this process of correction and renewal.  It’s something that modern church leaders need to follow after.

He essentially says that “I am not the lord over your faith.  Instead, I’m a fellow worker with you.”  That’s an important concept for all leaders to grasp.  There’s only one Lord in the church – Jesus Christ the Son of God.

It’s not up to me, as a church leader, to make people do what they’re supposed to do.  All I can do is instruct in the way of Christ.  Then, the choice is theirs whether they’ll follow or not.

I can’t make them stand firm in their faith.  Faith is personal.  Everyone needs to stand on their own as they trust in God and His ways.

So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you.  For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved?  I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice.  I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy.
2 Corinthians 2:1-3

Now Paul bares his heart to them.  He’s overflowing with love for them.  After all, it was Paul’s ministry that gave birth to this church (See Acts, chapter 18).  How could anyone ever think that he was out to hurt them?

Usually, Paul is lifted up when he’s with his spiritual children.  But as he was going through that area, he knew that they had just received his letter.  He also knew, by the Spirit, what the effect upon the church would be.

He assumed that there would be much sorrow and guilt.  He also knew that as it ran its course, this sorrow would produce the repentance necessary for the church to get back on track.

Paul was operating in wisdom.  He knew that if he showed up too early, he might short-circuit the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  So Paul made a painful choice to put off his visit until a later time.

For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
2 Corinthians 2:4

This final thought lets us know what Paul was going through as he wrote First Corinthians.  First, he says that he felt under great distress – literally pressure – to write his letter of correction.

Also, he had great anxiety.  This word means that he felt like everything was falling apart.  It was through his great love for the Corinthian people that he forced himself to write a strong word to them.

It took a tough love to help them to get back to their first love for Christ.

Question: How have you experienced someone’s tough love for you?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, Revival

 

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Positioned for Forgiveness

Different AnointingIn my last post I started talking about the process of forgiveness. We sinned against God. In response, He purchased our forgiveness with the blood of Christ on the cross.

The big question is; how do I get in on the forgiveness of God? The Jews asked Peter this same question at Pentecost.

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 2:38

The third step in the process is that there must be repentance. This is has to be done in order to receive forgiveness. It’s is even true for personal relationships.

Of course, we don’t like this word. It has a bad connotation to us. In the Greek, it’s the word metanoia which means to change your mind. It also means to turn around.

“I was wrong. I want to change.”

…yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10

Repentance is usually preceded by distress, sorrow, or sadness. We don’t like these feelings. We would much rather use a word like apologize.

“If you apologize, I’ll forgive you.”

The fact is you don’t really want an apology. The Greek definition of the word apology is to give the reason. In that case, you might hear something like, “I hate you and I want you to be miserable.”

What you want from the other person is repentance.

“I’m sorry over what I did.” (Godly sorrow) “If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t do it.” “I will never do that again.”

But we have to remember that with God, forgiveness is given before repentance. It then takes repentance in order to position yourself to receive forgiveness.

True repentance isn’t easy.

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

Confess means to speak the same as. I must agree with God that I was wrong. That’s the hardest part.

I want to apologize. There’s a reason that I did what I did. But it doesn’t really matter; I must confess and repent.

That leads us to the final step, which is to receive forgiveness. This isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

“All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Acts 10:43

I hear the Word of God. It shows me my sin and my faults. I’m distressed and sorrowful over it. I’m led to repentance. But now I have a problem.

I know how I forgive. I know how others have forgiven in the past. There was not true forgiveness given. I still harbor bad feelings. Sometimes I project that image to God.

“He’s still going to remember my sin and hold it against me.”

That’s the enemy’s lie. God’s forgiveness is for everyone who BELIEVES. Receiving forgiveness requires faith. I must trust the One forgiving me.

1 John, above, tells us that He is FAITHFUL. He’s not a human who harbors evil thoughts. When He forgives, my sin is removed and He forgets.

Strive to always walk in the forgiveness of God. More than that, be quick to share this forgiveness with others.

Question: How have you exemplified God’s forgiveness to others?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2017 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Transformation

Isaiah 55:12-13
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.  This will be for the LORD’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”

We have the power to transform our world.  It would be an amazing thing if we could see this verse happening as we going about our daily tasks.

I have mentioned that I enjoy hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  There is a portion of this trail in Pennsylvania that traverses a barren, polluted wasteland.  It became that way because of the carelessness of man’s industry.  Nothing grows there, and you cannot drink the water.  You just want to get through it as quickly as possible.  It is an ugly scar on the earth.

What a joy it would be to see it blossom with new life before our very eyes.  Unfortunately, the literal fulfillment of this verse will have to wait for the coming of Jesus Christ to establish His kingdom on earth.

The good news is that there is another way to bring this verse to life.  We can fulfill this every day in the area of our attitude.  That is what makes all the difference in our outlook. It can change our whole view of the world around us.

If we are always looking for problems, disappointments, and sorrows, we will see plenty of them in this world.  But, on the other hand, if we are looking to see God’s Spirit at work, opportunities for ministry and things to praise God for – this attitude will transform our world.  We will see it change from thorn bushes and roadblocks to myrtle trees and singing mountains.

Transform your world today.  Renew your attitude in the presence of the Lord.  Let Him realign your focus so that you see His goodness and grace, instead of your problems.

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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