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Judging Ourselves Rightly

Judging Ourselves Rightly

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

The Lord continues this thought a little further.

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

Luke 12:57 NIV

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

Jesus warned them about what was coming.

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

Luke 12:58-59 NIV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Question: How do you view the Lordship of Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

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

 

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Work Your Own Field

Work Your Own Field

In my last post, I talked about the demon-possessed man that Jesus set free. The story is found in the Gospel of Luke 8:26-39. The demons left the man and went into some pigs, which drowned themselves. When the people of the area saw what had happened, they were afraid.

Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

Luke 8:36-37

When the power of God starts to bring change; people begin to resist it. That’s been the case throughout all of history.

But there was one person who was glad about the change.

The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return home and tell how much God has done for you.” So the man went away and told all over town how much Jesus had done for him

Luke 8:38-39

This man had been released from his captivity. He wanted to follow Jesus wherever He went. God had a different plan for him. The Lord told him to stay in his home area.

Too often the Lord’s people think that the only way they can do a big work for God is to be a pastor or missionary. Maybe they look down on their abilities because they never attended a Bible college.

That’s never been the prerequisite for doing great things for the Lord. All it takes is a knowledge of what Christ has accomplished in you. If you understand God’s love for you, then you’re qualified to tell others.

It’s amazing how God takes us where we are, and increases our influence by His power. This man was simply told to go to his family and share what Jesus did for him. He was to explain to them the love of God.

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect

1 Peter 3:15

People don’t need a prepared sermon about who Jesus is. Instead, they only need to hear how you received the hope of Jesus Christ in your life. It’s a personal thing. What has the Lord done in your life?

I’m sure that’s where this man started. But the grace of God couldn’t be contained in his little house. He felt the drive to bring the Good News even further.

The word used in Scripture to describe him telling the town is the word for a town crier. He proclaimed Jesus in the public square at the top of his lungs! He wanted everyone to know how the Lord had changed his life.

In all of this, God had a plan that was being accomplished. The people of this area started out being afraid and skeptical of Jesus. They didn’t want him around.

But as this man started sharing his story, the mood began to change. The people realized that the Messiah had come on the scene. Their attitudes turned around.

How do I know this? The Gospel of Mark records Jesus’ return to this area. That visit is found in Mark, chapter 7. Instead of asking Him to leave, they bring the sick to Christ for healing. This man prepared his region to receive Jesus.

So don’t ever think that your efforts for Christ are wasted. Even if you seem to be in a small area, God can do a great work through you. Just remain in His will, doing what He’s called you to do.

Question: What’s God’s current assignment upon your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2022 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Baptism – A Spiritual Work

Baptism – A Spiritual Work

As we continue our walk through Romans, we’re seeing how God deals with sin in our lives. In my last post, I started talking about baptism. It’s the first step in our freedom from sin and its affects.

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Romans 6:3-4

I ended my last post by saying that baptism is a spiritual work. Let me get into more detail.

This passage tells us that not only were we immersed into the death of Christ, but we were buried together with Him. Please understand, this isn’t just a mental identification with Christ.

The verse says that I WAS buried with Him. That has to have been a spiritual work. However, it gets better as we continue in the verse.

The phrase, just as, literally means exactly like. So, the glory that God used in raising Christ Jesus from the dead, was used in exactly the same way at my baptism.

The glory of the Father raised me up from death to enter a new life. I rise up with new life exactly like someone who has been raised from the dead.

This is key in understanding God’s work of salvation in us. It’s more than just reciting a prayer and receiving an initiation rite into church membership. We’re talking about a powerful spiritual work that’s being done in us.

Listen to how Paul describes it elsewhere.

And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

Romans 8:11

In my last post I said that there was a spiritual work being done in our baptism that we needed to attach our faith to. Here it is.

I cannot see my baptism as a one-time occurrence. On the contrary, it was the beginning of an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in me.

By faith I can look back on my baptism and say, “Up until that day, I was living in death. Then, on the day of my baptism, I was raised from the dead. I now have the life of Christ in me by the power of His Holy Spirit.”

Understand what I’m saying. I was saved when I put my faith in Christ and prayed the sinner’s prayer. But, until the day of my baptism, I hadn’t yet placed a faith-demand upon God for victory over my sin nature.

The question is; did I know any of this when I was water baptized so many years ago? No, I didn’t. But I know it now and I can release my faith to receive the benefits of it. You can too.

If you haven’t been water baptized when you were old enough to accept it on your own, let me encourage you to seek it out. You won’t be sorry. Use it, not as a church tradition, but as a springboard to new life by faith.

Question: What was your life-changing experience in baptism?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2021 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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The Final Exam

As we continue to go through our study of First Corinthians, Paul is explaining to the church about the importance of God’s calling.  The Lord’s work is different in each of us.  He deals with us all as individuals.

Our rewards are based upon what we’ve done.  My work isn’t compared to yours.  It’s judged against what God’s plan for my life required.

God desires to continually bring about changes in us to get us to where we need to be.  As I submit to these changes, I fulfill more of my calling.

But what happens if I don’t allow God to continue with His plan to renew my life?  Paul gives us some insight into the question.  In the letter to the Corinthian church, Paul is addressing a group of mostly baby Christians.  According to the Apostle, they’re not babies because they lack experience, but because they chose not to grow up.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it.  But each one should be careful how he builds.  For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.  If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15

When we were initially saved we were placed onto the foundation of Christ.  It’s afterward that the building program begins.  We have the choice to build for ourselves – wood, hay, and straw.

Think about it in the natural.  All over the world wood, hay, and straw are normal building materials.  They’re used because they’re readily available and easy to build with.

It’s a lot more difficult to build with gold, silver or costly stones.  They speak of what’s built by the spirit.  If we submit to the will of God for our lives, then we’ll see a beautiful structure arise.  Not only that, but it will be beyond our expectations for what we could have ever accomplished on our own.

The good news is that we’re told how it will all turn out.  We’re not in the dark.  We know what we’ll be judged on.  The test is fire.

You can build some elaborate and beautiful houses with wood, hay, and straw.  I’ve seen some grandiose mansions around the country.  Here’s the problem, they’re not going to be judged on how high they were built or how ornate they are.  They’re going to be doused with gasoline and lit up.

Think about what’s important to you right now.  The test is not how high you climbed up the corporate ladder.  It’s not how much money you accumulated.  It’s not even about how many good deeds you did or how many friends you have on Facebook.

The judgment will be based upon how close you stuck to the plan of God for your life.  Did you allow the Holy Spirit to work His changes in you?  The final exam is how close your life came to God’s will for you.

That’s what will matter the most to you in the end.

Question: How high on your priority list is knowing and accomplishing God’s will for your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Are You in the Family?

At one point in the Lord’s ministry, His family thought that He was pushing Himself too far.  They decided to have an intervention.

Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
Mark 3:20-21

They obviously had no understanding of the Holy Spirit’s leading.  Sometimes there are assignments that go beyond your normal abilities.  It’s during those times that you receive supernatural strength for the moment.

Look at the Lord’s response.

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived.  Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.  A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Mark 3:31-35

There is a truth here that not a lot of people want to hear.  We’d like to assume that as long as you prayed the sinner’s prayer, all believers are equal.  But that’s not what the Bible teaches.  We achieve certain levels based on the criteria laid out in Scripture.

One of those titles is sons and daughters of God.  We want to believe that this applies to everyone.  It doesn’t.  Jesus makes it clear that whoever does God’s will is family.

This implies something.  It means, first of all, that you seek God’s will for your life.  Then, you spend the time it takes in God’s presence to hear and know the Lord’s will.  Finally, you walk in obedience to what you’ve heard.

Maybe you think that I’m just taking this verse out of context.  On the contrary, this truth is taught throughout the Scripture.  Paul understood this very thing.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Romans 8:13-14

You have to be pursuing this in the spirit.  It’s not a work you can do by simply deciding that it’s true.  It requires us to remain in Christ.  In that way we allow the Holy Spirit to complete His work in us.

Our problem is that we don’t want to remain.  We want the freedom to live for Christ some of the time, and for ourselves at others.  We want to go in and out as we please.

Jesus talked about this in another place.

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.
John 8:34-35

The original language of this verse reads, the servant does not remain in the house forever.  You can’t serve two masters.  When you try to serve both yourself and the Lord, you end up going in and out of the house.  You miss out on God’s best – the blessings of sonship.

Make it your goal to seek, hear, and obey God’s will for your life.

Question: What’s the next step in God’s plan for you right now?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2018 in Prayer, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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