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Caesar and God

Caesar and God

As we continue to study the Gospel of Luke, it’s getting closer to the time of the cross. The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus in His words. They’re sending delegations of teachers to Him for the purpose of tripping Him up.

Each time they do, the wisdom of Christ proves superior. In His teaching, the Lord highlights the hypocrisy of these religious leaders.

The teachers of the law and the chief priests looked for a way to arrest him immediately, because they knew he had spoken this parable against them. But they were afraid of the people.

Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be honest. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Luke 20:19-22 NIV

This is an interesting group that came to Jesus. Mark tells us that these spies were made up of both Pharisees and Herodians. The Pharisees wanted national independence for Israel. The Herodians were very comfortable under Roman rule. They expected that no matter what Jesus answered, someone would be offended.

He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius.”

Luke 20:23-24a NIV

The key word here is duplicity. It’s really a Greek word for craftiness. Jesus knew that these men were simply saying what they thought He wanted to hear. They figured they could get Him off guard by complimenting Him. The fact is, that if they really believed what they said about Him, they would have been followers of Christ.

If you think about it, it’s actually something we should take seriously in our generation. It seems pretty easy for us to say things like, “Jesus is my Lord.” Every week we sing lyrics that say, “Jesus, you are my whole life. I give my all to you.”

We need to ask ourselves; do we really mean it, or are we just saying what God wants to hear? That’s what it means to be a hypocrite. It means that under certain, public conditions, we say things that are not true in our daily lives.

“No! I’m not trying to deceive anyone. I’m just singing the words that they put on the screen.”

Remember, Jesus said that we would have to give an accounting for every careless word spoken (Matthew 12:36). I believe that includes the careless words we sing too.

He saw through their duplicity and said to them, “Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

He said to them, “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent.

Luke 20:23-26 NIV

This is the truth that we all need to hear. If we live in the world, then there are obligations that come with it – taxes, jobs, expenses, and other things as well. The Lord knows about these.

The problem comes in when we voluntarily obligate ourselves to the world. In our generation, we take on too many things that leave no room in our schedules for the plan of God.

We don’t have time for spiritual things because of that night class, soccer practice, movie night, or the hundred other things clamoring for our attention. We can binge watch twelve episodes of our favorite TV show but have no time for intimate prayer with the Holy Spirit.

According to Jesus, we need to get our priorities straight. The time is now for the people of God to live as though Jesus Christ truly is our whole life. Then we’ll see the hand of God manifesting the power that they had in the early church.

Question: How do you reorder your schedule to make more time for developing your spiritual life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2022 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Ex-Prodigal Son

The Ex-Prodigal Son

In my last post, I started looking at the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke’s Gospel. We saw how a legalistic mindset can drive new believers to give up on their Christian walk.

At some point, we begin to realize that trying to live for the Lord on our own terms doesn’t work. The things of the world lose their appeal. We begin to long for the blessing of God.

When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 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.’ So he got up and went to his father.”

Luke 15:17-20 NIV

I want you to notice something important here. This young man misses the blessings of the father’s house. But, at the same time he still has the slave mentality.

We have to realize that thinking like a slave is a symptom of a childish mindset. Paul makes that clear in his writings.

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate.

Galatians 4:1 NIV

That’s a part of our spiritual growth. We all have to go through the “slave” stage. That’s when we learn the basics of growing in Christ.

Somebody disciples us in the foundational principles. They tell us we need to read the Scriptures and pray daily. We must meet together with other believers for teaching and fellowship. We need to realign our finances through the giving of tithes and offerings.

To a new believer, this seems like a list of rules. As we grow in Christ, however, we find that these disciplines actually free us to serve God at the highest level. We put the childish slave mentality behind us and begin to operate like a mature son or daughter.

Here’s an example. When I was young teen, living with my parents, one of my chores was to put out the trash each week. I did it because I was told to do it and there would be consequences if I didn’t.

I’m 65 years old now. I still put out the trash each week. Why? Because that’s what a mature person does. I want my house clean, even though there will be no punishment if I fail to do it.

That’s how we should progress in our walk with the Lord. Those things that seemed like rules at the start, should become a vital part of our mature Christian experience.

This seems to be the hardest part of our walk with God. For some reason we want to hang on to the rules of childhood.

I’m talking about the “if…then” mentality. “If I tithe, then God will bless my finances.” “If I encourage someone, then I will be encouraged.”

Think about it. That’s how we treat children. “If you clean your room, then I’ll take you out for ice cream.”

Maturity thinks in a whole new way. We understand that under the New Covenant, I receive the blessing of God simply because I’m His child and I trust Him. On the other hand, I do those things that I know to do simply because I love the Father and I want to please Him.

This is a truth that Paul had to forcefully proclaim to the Galatian church. They were very quickly falling into legalism.

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

Galatians 3:2-3 NIV

We must always remember that we’re walking according to the spirit. Serving Christ is not a matter of following a bunch of rules (observing the law). It’s about listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and walking in harmony with that calling.

Question: How do you break the “rules mentality” in following Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2022 in Faith, Legalism, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Good Suffering?

Good Suffering?

As we continue our study through the book of Romans, Paul is about to show us the way to finally overcome the flesh. He’s told us about the work of Christ on the cross. By identifying with Him, we count ourselves as dead to sin.

At that point, I’m a spiritual infant in God’s kingdom. I’m not where I should be yet. How do I deal with that? I want to be an adult son now.

Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:17

Maturity is something that takes time to develop. How do I live with this frustration of wanting to be mature right now? Nobody wants to wait to grow up.

This verse tells us that we’re co-heirs with Christ. It also tells us that if we’re co-sufferers with Him, we’ll be co-sharers of His glory.

This tells me that the suffering is what we go through to become adults. It’s not really what we want to hear. But, Paul goes on to explain it to us.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18

Paul literally says that according to his calculations, our present sufferings cannot even be compared with our future glory. Suffering is one of those topics we don’t want to talk about.

The truth is that we need to co-suffer, but it doesn’t compare to the glory.

What is this suffering that he’s talking about? First off, let me assure you that it’s NOT sickness, poverty, or depression.

The Bible actually lets us know where this suffering comes from.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:24

The word, passion, in this verse is the same word as suffering in the Romans verse. The root of this word is passion, but it’s a passionate suffering. It’s like when something causes you to cry out, “I can’t take this anymore!” It comes from our sin nature. Why is this a good thing?

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.

2 Corinthians 1:5-7

Here’s another important word – comfort. In our modern culture, we think about someone putting their arms around us and saying, “There, there, it will be okay.” On the contrary, this word means to call alongside. It’s what a coach does when he trains his athletes.

The best illustration I’ve ever seen of the Holy Spirit’s comfort, was from a movie a few years ago. It’s called Facing the Giants. I encourage you to watch it. To see the clip I’m talking about, click here.

That perfectly illustrates the suffering and the comfort provided by our Coach, the Holy Spirit. It’s about making our flesh do what it doesn’t want to, under the direction of the Holy Spirit.

We think we can’t go on. We think we can’t do what we’re called to do. We call it suffering. But God knows better than us.

We need to learn to listen to, and obey our Coach. Only then will we see the glory of a victorious life.

Question: What are some times that you had to suffer on the road to maturity?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Our Spiritual Maturity

Our Spiritual Maturity

As we continue through the book of Romans, I’ve been posting about the spiritual growth process. In the last article, I talked about the childhood phase. The Lord wants us to move on from there.

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:16-17

We share in His glory when we walk as mature sons and daughters of God. There are many verses that talk about what this level of maturity looks like. Here are a few.

…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 4:13

Becoming like Christ is the goal. Our desire should be to minister, love, and encourage as He did. Obviously, we need the ministry gifts for this level of maturity.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:4

Maturity doesn’t just happen. It’s something you have to persevere and strive for. The struggle, however, is worth it. Scripture teaches that when you’re mature, you’re complete and don’t lack anything.

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.

James 3:2

The word, perfect in this verse is the Greek word for mature. When I’m walking in maturity, my speaking and doing are in line with God’s Word. That’s a big indicator. We know that our mouth speaks out what’s stored in our hearts. So, clean speech shows a clean heart.

We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

Colossians 1:28

This was Paul’s goal. He wanted everyone under his influence to walk in the maturity of Christ. That should be our goal as well.

Unfortunately, we don’t seem to know what maturity is in this generation. Many of us are like little kids looking up at their teenage brothers and saying, “I want to get there!” We need to go beyond that point.

It’s all wrapped up in the progression of sonship. The Holy Spirit wants to bring us from the initial adoption papers to the glory of revealed sons.

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.

Galatians 4:1-2

We think that just because we have the spiritual position, we can do whatever we want. No, not if you’re a child. We need the walk of maturity to open up a new world of spiritual freedom.

In this section of Romans, Paul is getting us ready to learn adulthood. That’s why this teaching is so important. The next section of Romans is the key to operating on the level of a revealed son or daughter of God.

Question: How mature do you see yourself right now?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2021 in Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Internal War

The Internal War

We’re continuing our walk through Paul’s letter to the Roman church. He’s been explaining the battle with sin experienced by immature believers.

These Christians are at the point where they believe God’s law is right. They’ve determined to live for God habitually, but very often find themselves failing.

As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.

Romans 7:17

This is another important verse to understand. The context gives us the prerequisites for this. The verses just before this one show that I’ve determined to stop doing those things I now hate. This verse gives me hope for my future.

It lets me know that even if I fail, my sin is not going to drag me down. It’s covered by God’s grace. God does not count it as my fault. It’s no longer me that accomplishes it, but the sin that occupies the house in me.

This is actually the basis for Paul’s teaching in chapter 8, which we’ll get to at some point. It’s hard to preach this because people want to turn God’s grace into a doormat. That’s not the case here.

If you determine to continue in sin, this verse doesn’t cover you. But, if all the conditions are met – my desire is to serve God completely – then I don’t blame myself.

Why can I say this? Paul explains it in the next verse.

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

Romans 7:18

The first sentence of this verse literally says I know by experience that nothing good lives in the house of my flesh. Nothing good at all.

The Holy Spirit lives in my spirit. The Word of God lives in my soul (my mind). But in my flesh there’s nothing good, only sin.

The next sentence reads, the intention or desire to do good is present with me, but I cannot find how to fully accomplish it. As a baby Christian, I haven’t figured out yet, how to fully live for Christ.

Now Paul summarizes everything he’s said so far.

For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Romans 7:19-20

Because of the sin living in my flesh, I see myself doing evil again and again. Remember, this is not the norm for a mature believer. Paul is speaking from the perspective of immaturity.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law…

Romans 7:21-22

Paul explains that there’s a law at work here. When I determine to do right, evil is present with me. The determination of my soul is different than the desire of my evil flesh. This is a tension that even the Apostle Peter wrote about.

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.

1 Peter 2:11

Your soul and your flesh want two different things for your life. Your soul rejoices in God’s law, and that’s the foundation for the next step in your growth.

Question: How have you seen this war between your soul and your flesh play out in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2021 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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I’m Not a Victim of Sin

I’m Not a Victim of Sin

In my last post, we looked at Paul’s view of the infancy stage that all believers pass through. The goal is to go through as quickly as possible. It’s not an excuse for a sinful lifestyle.

Let’s look at these verses in detail. Remember, in this section, Paul is not talking about himself, but writing from the perspective of a baby Christian.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.

Romans 7:15-16

It’s interesting to note that every word translated as “do” in this verse is a different Greek word. The literal translation of that first sentence is, I do not comprehend what I am fully accomplishing.

There’s another verse that can help us to understand what Paul’s saying here.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

Philippians 2:12-13

We have to realize that God is working in us. His work includes the changing of our will and our actions. We simply need to submit to the Lord’s process.

So, in Romans, Paul isn’t saying “I don’t know what I’m doing.” He’s expressing to us that as a baby believer, he doesn’t fully comprehend what’s being accomplished in his life.

The simple fact is that I don’t understand how God is working His will in me. He’s getting me to think like He thinks. In that way I’ll begin to act on His plan for my life.

Going back to the original verse in Romans, Paul tells us why he doesn’t comprehend what he’s accomplishing. Again, the literal translation of the next sentence reads, the reason I don’t comprehend it is because what I intend is not what I practice habitually.

It’s not that I don’t do it. The problem is that it’s not a habit yet. Paul is saying that at this point the baby Christian hasn’t reached the level of habitually doing what he knows to do.

Instead, this immature believer finds himself doing things that he hates. But, there’s an important difference. This phrase does not imply a habit, but something that he falls into from time to time.

That brings us to the next verse.

And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.

Romans 7:16

There are times I find myself doing something that I actually don’t want to do. The good thing is that I recognize that it’s wrong. I find myself agreeing with God’s will. This is the first baby step to freedom.

For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do – living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you.

1 Peter 4:3-4

Peter explains it well. He says that when you were in sin, you chose to do it. Now, you’ve determined not to do it, you even hate it. You may still fall into it from time to time, but your heart is changing.

The world thinks it strange that you want to do good. They think that serving God is a bad thing, it’s no fun. But, now you’re agreeing that the law is good. This is the growth you want to see as an infant believer.

Question: How have you seen your attitude toward God’s law change over the years?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2021 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Spiritual Infancy

Spiritual Infancy

In my last post we were talking about the difference between spiritual laws and physical laws. Today I want to review a little bit, so we can see the progression through the book of Romans.

Here’s the verse we left off on.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

Romans 7:14

Remember how Paul brought us to this point. In his letter, he started by talking about ungodly sinners with no knowledge of God. He also talked about those who were actively anti-God.

His next subject was religious people. These are the ones who think rules will get you to God.

He then shared about the principles of salvation. He explained how Christ set us free from death, sin, and the law.

At that point, everything he talked about was theoretical and positional. It was all about the finished work of Christ that He accomplished through His death on the cross and His resurrection.

But now, we’re getting to the important part. How is all of this applied to my life in practice?

Paul starts by talking about how we can offer ourselves as a paid volunteers of sin. We saw that when you offer to work for sin, sin will pay you wages.

In any job you’re selling yourself to the company for your paycheck. We basically say, “I’m yours, I’ll do what you tell me for a price.”

Actually, this wasn’t the normal lifestyle until the industrial age. Until then, most people worked for themselves.

So, we’re now at the point in Romans where Paul is talking about Christians who are working for sin. There’s a Scriptural word for that.

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly – mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

The word translated as worldly in this verse is actually the word, carnal or fleshly. It means that they serve God according to the dictates of their flesh.

The apostle equates this with being a spiritual infant. This tells me that every Christian goes through the carnal phase. But the real question is; for how long? The goal should be to get through this infancy as quickly as possible.

We need to understand that this is who he’s talking about at this point in Romans – infant Christians.

And that brings us to, probably, one of the most misunderstood and most misquoted passages of the New Testament. It’s used as excuse for all kinds of sinful lifestyles.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do — this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Romans 7:15-20

Christians who want to stay in their infant stage pull this out of context and say, “Look at this! Even Paul didn’t do right. So don’t judge me.”

What they don’t understand is that Paul was talking from the perspective of an infant Christian. This is not supposed to be the normal Christian life.

In my next post, we’ll begin looking at this section of Scripture in great detail. We’ll see exactly what Paul was trying to get across to us.

Question: How have you seen your Christian walk progress through the infant stage?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2021 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Encouraged to Grow

As Paul nears the end of his first letter to the Corinthian church, he gives a series of exhortations.  I think that we would do well to live by them.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

These five simple statements are the foundation for a growing walk with the Lord.  If we would make it a point to see these activated in our lives, we’d be a lot better off.

Be on your guard.  This literally means to stay awake.  I think that too many Christians are spiritually asleep in this generation.  What do I mean by this?

When you’re asleep, you’re unaware of what’s happening around you.  Spiritual sleep is the same.  There are Christians who are totally unaware of the spiritual aspects of their life.

They think that everything revolves around what they see in the natural.  It’s all about satisfying their wants and desires.  They never ask, “What’s God’s will for my life?”

I need to seek what God has destined me for.  Then, with His strength, I can start heading in that direction.  I want my spiritual eyes to be open.

Stand firm in the faith.  This simply means that once you know what God’s Word says, you don’t waver or move from believing it.

Believing means taking action.  If I believe something is true, then I’ll act on it.  If I believe that a chair is strong enough to hold me, then I’ll sit on it.  If I believe that God’s my Provider, then I’ll move forward in what He’s called me to do.

Be men of courage.  This is the second step of faith.  If I believe that something’s true, then I won’t be afraid to let people know that I believe it.  I think that all too often, courage is the missing ingredient in many of our lives.

We are a part of a culture that tells us that it’s offensive to believe in Jesus Christ as a Savior.  So in order to accommodate them, we keep silent.  At the same time, every other belief is allowed to take center stage.

We need to be vocal about what we believe, while at the same time being sensitive to walk in love.

Be strong.  This actually means to be strengthened.  We shouldn’t be stagnant in our spiritual growth.  There are things we can be doing to build ourselves up.

Prayer in the spirit, meditation on the Word, and fasting are just a few ways to become stronger.  Just like in the physical, we can’t neglect our spiritual health.  If we do, then the consequences could be devastating.

Do everything in love.  This is the one that ties everything else together.  Our lives should reflect the love of Christ in all that we do.

This is the agape-love.  It’s the non-emotional desire to treat others as if you like them, no matter how you actually feel about them.  And also, whether you know them or not.

This love is a choice that we make to walk like Jesus did.  Our love is what will draw people to the cross.  That should be the goal of all that we do.

Question: How well is each of these characteristics visible in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Our Resting Place

I’ve been posting from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  Specifically, we’ve been looking at the spiritual gifts of prophecy and tongues.  The Corinthians were misusing these gifts and Paul was bringing correction.

Brothers, stop thinking like children.  In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.
1 Corinthians 14:20

Paul is giving them some much-needed encouragement to grow up.  The word for thinking is referring to the thought processes that control our actions.

Children are, by nature, very selfish.  They don’t do things to be evil, but they are simply not thinking about the people around them.  They know what they want and that’s all that they see.

As we mature, we learn to take other people’s needs into account.  Paul wants us to see that our thinking should bring our actions in line with the love of Christ.  When we desire to bless others, we’re becoming more mature.

Maturity comes as we rest in Christ and learn from Him.

In the Law it is written: “Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:21

In telling the church that they need to grow up, Paul refers to an Old Testament Scripture.  It talks about people speaking in a foreign language, yet Israel not listening.  I believe this is something that Paul preached to them while he was at their church, and now he’s reminding them.

What’s this all about?  To understand it, we need to see the whole verse from the book of Isaiah the prophet.

Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose” — but they would not listen.
Isaiah 28:11-12

Within this verse are three words that speak to us about the place of resting in God.  The first means a quiet resting place away from any troubling distractions.  The next means a place where you can settle down and abide in safety.  The third means to rest and be refreshed.

These are the things that Paul was reminding the church through referencing this passage.  They need to grow up in their thinking.  They should be seeking the welfare of others in the gathering of the saints.

But how is it that you grow up in your thinking?  It only comes as you spend quality time resting in Christ.  Jesus told us that we need to abide in Him if we want to live that abundant life.

In previous posts, we saw that prayer in the spirit (tongues) builds us up, personally.  That’s the place of rest and growth.  As I regularly pray in the spirit in my private time, I experience the growth that I need to be a blessing in public.

When I pray in the spirit, I’m resting, abiding, in Christ.  That’s the most powerful tool of self-edification that I could ever access.  God has freely given this to all of His children.  Unfortunately, as the Scripture says, many refuse to hear this Word.

Allow the Holy Spirit to build you up and bring maturity in a powerful way.  Spend time praying in the spirit.

Question: How have you experienced growth and maturity by the power of the Holy Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Adolescent Church

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church sounds like he’s writing to a group of adolescents.  As far as I’m concerned, this is the worse stage of growth whether you’re talking about the spiritual or the physical.  If there was one point in my life I wouldn’t want to go back to, it would be my pre-teen and teenage years.

The problem with life as an adolescent is that you’re coming into the height of your adult strength and intelligence.  Yet, you lack the experience and permission to do things on your own.  You see the freedom and resources that adults enjoy, yet you’re locked into a world where you have to wait for your turn to experience it.

In many ways, this is the place that most of the modern church finds itself in.  We understand what should be ours in Christ, but walking in it seems to elude us.  We need to learn how to overcome and make it successfully through this stage of our Christian development.

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children.  Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.  Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 4:14-16

In this passage, Paul urges his people to follow his example as a mature believer. That’s the toughest assignment for a growing Christian. It’s a very hard thing to move from a childish mindset to that of an adult.

There are behaviors that will work for children that adults will never get away with.  The problem in most of the church is that we want the irresponsibility of childhood with the freedom and resources of adulthood.  This will never happen.

There has to be a giving up of childish ways.  We have to move into our role as mature followers of the risen Lord.  Until this happens, we’ll never attain our true potential in Christ.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

This verse should wake us up.  Paul is writing to believers who are in the adolescent stage of their spiritual growth.  They’re saved and on their way to Heaven, but he tells them something that should get our attention.  His burning desire is that Christ would be formed in them.

This is the Greek word morphoo.  It’s where we get our English word morph.  We hear this word a lot in dealing with computer graphics.  When we see special effects in a movie, where one thing turns into something else, we say that it morphed.  That’s the spiritual change that we’re looking for.

I want to let the world see a change in me.  I want to “morph” into the same life that Christ lived.  This is the point where the change happens that brings me from being a child to living as an adult.

In life, it happens almost unnoticed.  Then one day you see what you’re doing and realize you’re not a child anymore.  As Christians, we need to go through this change on a spiritual level.  The church as a whole needs to walk in adulthood.  This is what Christ is looking for in us.

Question: What would a spiritually adult church look like?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2019 in Leadership, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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