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Listen to God’s Messenger

Listen to God’s Messenger

I’ve been posting about the Lord’s rebuke of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. This is found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 11. Both of these groups of religious leaders are steeped in tradition. They’ve lost their love for God or the people.

Woe to you, because you build tombs for the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets, and you build their tombs.”

Luke 11:47-48 NIV

Jesus judges these leaders by their actions. He comes to them declaring the pure truth of God. But, these men hate Him for it. They try to silence and discredit the Lord’s message at every turn.

So Christ points out that they decorate elaborate tombs for the prophets merely as a show. They want people to be impressed by them. In actuality, they would have agreed to kill these very prophets because they spoke the same message that Jesus is preaching.

The truth is clear. If they hate the message of Christ, they would have hated the message of these holy prophets. However, the Lord shows them God’s mercy.

Because of this, God in his wisdom said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute.’”

Luke 11:49 NIV

It’s never God’s desire to leave people in their ignorance and sin. In spite of their obstinate behavior, He continues to send those who will speak out on behalf of God’s truth. The door is always open for repentance. But in His foreknowledge, the Lord knows that the message will go largely unheeded.

Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.”

Luke 11:50-51 NIV

The Lord concludes this rebuke with a grim warning. Because the religious leadership rejects Christ and His apostles, a great calamity will come upon Israel. It comes upon the whole nation because, for the most part, all of the Jewish people followed the lead of their rulers.

In saying this, Jesus makes some interesting points. Most people don’t know that Abel was the first prophet. He was actually killed by Cain because Abel was the prophet – the only one designated to bring offerings before God. And, Cain refused to go through his brother in giving the offering.

The other thing you may find surprising, is that Zechariah is listed as the last prophet to be killed. That’s because the Bible that Jesus used was in a different order than our Old Testament.

The last book in the Lord’s Bible was 2 Chronicles. Zechariah was the last martyr in that Book. So Jesus was saying that this generation would be responsible for the first to the last martyr.

After this prophecy, the Lord makes one more point.

“Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering.”

Luke 11:52 NIV

I believe that Jesus is speaking about Himself and His ministry in this verse. Scripture teaches that true knowledge is hidden in Christ (Colossians 2:2-3).

These leaders rejected Christ and the knowledge He preached. On top of that, they tried their best to hinder or stop the people from receiving this gift from the Lord.

We need to learn the lesson these religious leaders failed to grasp. Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you in whatever way He chooses.

Whether you like the vessel or not is immaterial. Look for the truth of God’s Word and allow it to take root in your life. This will bring the growth and maturity you need to live out your faith.

Question: What wisdom and knowledge have you found in Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Commitment

Commitment

In my last post, I started talking about when Jesus sent His disciples out to preach. This required a great amount of trust on their part.

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Luke 9:1-2

When I think about the way this worked, it amazes me. The verse simply says that He gave them power and authority. I’m sure there was no flash of light or fireworks of any kind.

Jesus spoke a Word to them, and they trusted that it was so. Without any visible confirmation, they believed that they could walk in the same power of the Lord. But, it didn’t end there. Jesus gave more instructions that required faith and obedience.

He told them: “Take nothing for the journey — no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra tunic.”

Luke 9:3

The Lord’s command seems very counter-intuitive. They’re being told to go out on a preaching mission, yet they’re exhorted to take nothing with them.

Then, Jesus lists the things they were not to bring with them. As someone who likes to travel, this sounds to me like a list of essential items you would make a point of taking with you. Yet Christ wanted them to trust that they would not be needed on this journey.

They had to simply believe that everything they needed would be supplied along the way. That’s a big ask – to trust God to work through the people they would meet along their journey.

Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town. If people do not welcome you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave their town, as a testimony against them.”

Luke 9:4-5

Of course, staying in people’s homes was the normal thing to do in those days. There were no hotels or motels. When you were traveling away from home, you would ask around in a town and find out who was willing to let you stay with them for the night.

That’s how traveling worked in the ancient world. However, the hosts would expect a payment of some kind to let you stay with them for the night. Jesus expected the disciples to trust that they would find people who would allow them to stay in their homes and feed them for free.

Like I said, I like to travel. But I’ve never found a free bed and breakfast anywhere. Yet the disciples followed the Lord’s instructions and saw the hand of God at work in them.

So they set out and went from village to village, preaching the gospel and healing people everywhere.

Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed, because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life. But Herod said, “I beheaded John. Who, then, is this I hear such things about?” And he tried to see him.

Luke 9:6-9

Because of their obedience, the power of God was manifest in a wonderful way through the disciples. It was so great, that word of these things reached the ears of the king.

Herod, who had beheaded John the Baptist, was hearing all these reports. He heard about the miracles and healings being done. It wasn’t accomplished through long dead prophets who came back to life. It was normal people who submitted themselves to Christ.

In our generation, there’s not many believers who are called to the level of commitment these disciples had to follow. But each of us has to follow the commands of Christ in our own way. When we do this in obedience, we’ll see the same outcome. People will want what we have and be attracted to the Gospel of Jesus.

Question: What is God calling you to do at this point?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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Anyone Can Doubt

Anyone Can Doubt

We’ve been looking at Luke, chapter 7. So far, we’ve seen a miraculous healing where Jesus didn’t even need to go to the person’s home for the healing to manifest. Then, the Lord raised a dead young man to life. Many people were spreading the news about Jesus, throughout Israel.

John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”

When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?'”

Luke 7:18-20

Many believers find this to be a surprising passage of Scripture. How could someone like John the Baptist have any doubts?

He baptized Jesus. He saw heaven open and he heard the voice of the Father confirming that Jesus was the Christ. What was he thinking?

Some people are under the impression that if you get far enough along in your Christian journey, you become immune to doubts. I’m here to tell you that this is just not the case. Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers – none of us have a spiritual “force field” against the temptation to doubt God’s Word.

What we need to learn is how to handle doubt when it comes our way. On the positive side, it’s important to note that John the Baptist went straight to the source. He needed to reinforce his relationship with Christ.

The Lord knew exactly how to deal with this issue. He gave John the weapons he needed to overcome his insecurities.

At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.”

Luke 7:21-23

Many times doubts arise because we don’t see the whole plan of God. We only see bits and pieces. That was john’s problem.

John knew from Scripture who Messiah was supposed to be. However, there are two pictures of Christ given in the Old Testament.

John the Baptist concentrated on Christ the Judge (Luke 3:7-18). He spent much of his ministry exhorting people to “flee the coming wrath”. What he didn’t realize is that this part of the Messiah’s calling was for His second Coming.

At this point in time, Jesus was called to love, heal, and preach the good news of God’s kingdom to all who would listen and believe. As John was being persecuted, he began to wonder why Christ wasn’t bringing wrath down on all of these “sinners”.

Jesus had to remind John to look at the totality of what God was doing. People were being drawn to submit their lives to God. As they saw His power, it became a way for them to hear about the life that was being held out to them.

We need to follow this example. When we’re tempted to doubt, we must stop looking at the problem or what we think God is not doing. Instead, we must concentrate on what the Lord has done or is doing in and around us.

Like Jesus said in His last statement, we can’t let ourselves be tripped up by who He is. That means we can’t focus on only one part of His work in us. There’s a whole plan that God has for us. I need to let the Lord have His way in me.

Don’t get caught up in the problem. Look at everything Christ is accomplishing in you.

Question: How have you been blessed by God so far?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2022 in Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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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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Cutting Corners

Cutting Corners

We’re now back to our study of the Gospel of Luke. Before New Year’s Eve we had begun looking at the temptation of Christ.

In my last post on this subject, I showed that Christ refused to be tempted to claim a promise. This is the opposite of what many believers do today. We’re trusting God to provide things we don’t even need just because we found a convenient Scripture to “stand on.”

Paul talked about this in his letter to Timothy. Paul warned Timothy about people…

who think that godliness is a means to financial gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:5b-6

I believe that there’s something inherently wrong with a message that continually focuses on my happiness, my comfort, and my pleasure. It’s true that God loves us and wants the best for us. I also believe that there is a scriptural prosperity that God desires for His people.

But I also believe that many have taken this too far. As a result, God’s people are spending too much time, prayer, energy and “faith” running after the things of the world that they think will satisfy them. At the same time, they ignore the work of the Kingdom of God. As a result, they never lay hold of what will ultimately fulfill the desires of their souls.

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Luke 4:5-7

The devil continued his assault using the promises of God. This time he used a promise specifically aimed at Christ, the Messiah. He was making a deal with Jesus in which the Lord could obtain the Messiah’s blessing without having to go to the cross.

Jesus was going to become ruler of all creation. The only issue was, according to the Father’s plan, the Lord had to endure all the pain and suffering of the cross. He could now get all of this handed to Him without the struggle.

The only problem was, Jesus would have to bow before Satan. Of course, He didn’t have to mean it. It was tempting because it was a little act with a big reward.

I’m glad to say that as far as the Lord was concerned, this was totally unacceptable to Him.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'”

Luke 4:8

Jesus saw right through the devil’s smokescreen, and rejected the offer without even giving it a second thought. How dumb can we be? So often we fall when the enemy tempts us to do foolish, unscriptural, and even ungodly things…all for spiritual reasons, of course. We sometimes make crazy decisions all under the guise of “God wants me blessed, happy, and wealthy”

I’ve heard things like, “God told me that this is the woman He created for me.” My question is; what about the woman you’re married to right now? What about “God hates divorce”?

We need to see how very differently Jesus lived than we do. He didn’t feel the need to spend His life rehearsing the promises. Neither did the Lord try, in His power, to fulfill the requirements so that He could obtain the blessings in His own strength.

The simple fact is, Satan could only give Jesus the authority and splendor of these earthly kingdoms. The Lord was worthy of so much greater power. Look at what Christ said after the resurrection.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

Matthew 28:18-19

He could have never said this if He took a short-cut around the cross. As God’s people, we need to stop looking for the easy way to serve God. Find the Father’s plan for your life and obey it with all of your heart.

Question: How have you experienced people doing foolish things for “spiritual” reasons?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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What Are You Trusting God For?

What Are You Trusting God For?

We’re continuing our walk through the Gospel of Luke. At this point, I’m posting about how Christ walked in the power of God. In my last one, I started talking about His time in the wilderness as He faced the devil.

It’s now the end of the Lord’s forty day fast. I can only imagine how the Lord was feeling at the end of this time. But at this point it’s over; He could eat now, according to the rules of fasting.

It’s interesting to see how the devil attacks Jesus. This is how most of our temptations are based. It will give us insight into how the enemy works against us as well.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Luke 4:3

Think about Jesus’ teaching. Specifically how He taught on prayer. In what we commonly call “The Lord’s Prayer,” He prayed, Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

This prayer is a Son praying to the Father. If you look closely at this line, it’s not a request. Jesus is assuming that daily bread is the right of a son. He doesn’t say that God promised it to Him. He simply lays claim to what He wants, knowing God’s provision for His sons.

That’s what life in the family is like. My children would ask, “What are we having for supper?” They didn’t ask if I was going to feed them. The assumption was that the food was theirs. I don’t see anything wrong with that type of thinking.

I believe that Satan based his attack upon this prayer. However, the enemy worded it in the form of a promise. He said, “If you are The Son of God…” He challenged Jesus to prove it by claiming the promise for daily provision. The sad thing is that we would have taken the bait, and we do regularly. Then we say that the Holy Spirit told us to do it.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.'”

Luke 4:4

Jesus’ response is clear. The fast was over. It was perfectly in order for Him to eat. But that wasn’t the issue. Jesus wasn’t there in the wilderness for the purpose of eating. He was there to hear from the Father.

In His answer to the enemy, Jesus quotes a verse from Deuteronomy.

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 8:3

There is so much truth to be found here. The reason for fasting was to humble Himself before the Father. Jesus caused Himself to be hungry in order to feed His spirit.

It’s also important to see that in the context of this verse, Israel’s hunger was relieved by a miraculous provision of bread. That’s what the enemy was trying to get Jesus to copy. But the Lord didn’t take the bait.

The reason for His time in the wilderness was to hear a Word from the mouth of the Father. Jesus wasn’t there simply for recreational purposes.

Jesus was telling Satan, “I didn’t come here for bread; I came to hear a Word from the Father.” If the Lord wanted to eat, He could have brought food.

This is a classic strategy that Satan uses over and over again. Sadly, we continue to fall victim to it. We can be tempted to “over-claim” the promises.

In America we already have too much stuff and we’re constantly “believing God” for more. It seems that Christians are always “trusting God” for bigger houses, better cars, and more toys. Then, we get discouraged when our “faith” doesn’t pay off.

I believe that it’s time for God’s people to grow up and act like mature sons and daughters of God – like Jesus.

Question: What should we be trusting God for?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Faith is not Knowledge

Faith is not Knowledge

I’ve started posting through the Gospel of Luke. In my last post we saw how the priest, Zechariah, was praying for a child. As he was ministering in the temple, he had an encounter with an angel from God.

The angel announced that he and his wife would have a child. This child, who would be John the Baptist, was destined to be a blessing to many people.

For today’s post, I’ll be looking at Luke 1:15-22. You may want to read this Scripture before continuing with this article.

Having talked about the blessing that this child would be, the angel goes on to talk about his ministry.

…for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

Luke 1:15-17

Yes, Zechariah was receiving an answer to prayer, but there was a bigger work God wanted to do. Zechariah was looking at his little situation, the need for a child. God was looking at preparing Israel for the Messiah.

We do the same things. We look at what we’re going through. God is looking at preparing His people for the coming of Christ.

Think about it. What can God do through you? NO! – think bigger!…NO! Bigger than that!!! We limit ourselves to what we think we can accomplish, instead of looking at God’s ability. We need to start thinking about the power of God working in us.

Now, having heard the Word of God from this angel, Zechariah does something that totally blows my mind. We sometimes miss it because of the language used in this verse.

Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”

Luke 1:18

When Zechariah asks this, it’s not really about how old he is. The word used for old man, is actually more about life experience than how long you’ve lived. It’s a tense of the word, elder.

He was really asking how he could be sure about this message before he told anyone. He was an elder in Israel. He had a reputation to maintain. It was more about pride than curiosity.

That’s why the angel got so upset with him. Knowing that, it’s easier to understand why Gabriel responded the way he did.

The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”

Luke 1:19-20

The angel basically said, “Hey Mr. Bigshot. You think you’re special because you stand as an elder before Israel? I stand before God Himself. If I lie to you, I’ve got more to lose than a little pride.”

Zechariah wanted to know for sure before he told this to anyone. So, Gabriel gave him a sign. He wouldn’t be able to speak until the child arrived.

We have to learn this lesson. Faith is about believing God’s Word without any proof that it will happen the way God says it will. If we knew for sure, then it wouldn’t be faith.

For the next nine months, Zechariah had to meditate on this truth. When God speaks, no matter how He gets the message to you, you need to believe it and walk in it. Faith is the fundamental attitude that it takes to please God.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

Question: What are you trusting God for right now?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Hope, Patience, and Prayer

Hope, Patience, and Prayer

As we continue through Romans, Paul is giving us a list of things that should be in place in the life of a mature believer. Remember, these are very frustrating to accomplish without first going through the “boot-camp” of chapters 8-10.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12

It’s amazing that there’s so much to learn from such a short verse! There’s a lot of truth contained here.

First, we should be joyful in hope. That literally means that you cheer yourself up by your hope. So, the question is; what is hope?

In our modern culture, we’ve defined hope as a strong desire. “”I want to go to the beach tomorrow. I hope it doesn’t rain.” That has nothing to do with the scriptural concept of hope.

In the Bible, hope is what you expect, based upon God’s Word. God says something, and because we trust Him, we expect that what He said will happen.

So, let me ask you; what do you expect from God? Do you meditate on it and what the Word says about it? Do you use this expectation to build yourself up emotionally?

Next, we should be patient in affliction. I don’t like the sound of that. It literally means that when under pressure, we remain patient while staying under it.

I have to tell you that this is easier to do when you’re rejoicing in your expectation. The fact is that we’ll always have pressure. Furthermore, you can’t do anything about the pressure anyway.

The best way to weather it is to put your expectation in God. Find out what He says about your situation. Then, trust the Lord to bring you through it.

Our human nature is to stop looking to God and to start looking for the way out. In most cases that’s not helpful because we don’t have the ability on our own. The best course is to look for guidance and strength from the Holy Spirit. Trust Him to bring about the victory.

Finally, we are to be faithful in prayer. That phrase literally means to be strong toward prayer. This means that you press into the place of prayer even when you don’t feel like it. We see this exemplified in the life of Moses.

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.

Hebrews 11:27

The word, persevered, in this verse is the same as faithful, above. Moses remained strong toward God. I believe that’s done by staying strong in prayer.

Think about these three exhortations. They all work together. You really can’t separate them if you want a successful Christian walk.

It’s like a great circle of faith. You can’t be patient under pressure unless you’re joyful in your expectation. Then again, you can’t be strong toward prayer unless you have a patience to endure. And, you can’t have a full expectancy from God unless you’re faithful in prayer.

This is why we should be striving toward maturity. It’s like a snowball of grace, rolling down a hill and growing as it goes.

In his letters, Peter talked about a number of things that should be growing in a believer’s life. I believe that what he said about them could also be applied here.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 1:8

Our goal should be daily growth in Christ. I realize that most of the time it’s too slow to even notice. But, it’s taking place just the same, if we follow the Lord’s plan.

Question: How have you seen these three qualities at work in your life?

2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2021 in Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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My Fight with Legalism

My Fight with Legalism

In my last post, I looked at Paul’s teaching on legalism in his letter to the Roman church. It’s actually what separates all other religions and Christianity.

Think about it. In the book of Acts, the early church had no phones, radio, New Testament Scripture, or anything like the resources and knowledge we have today. Yet they walked in the power of God that’s unrivaled in our modern generation.

As I thought about it, I also realized that my grandparents couldn’t read and had no formal education to speak of. Yet there was an incredible manifestation of the power of God in their lives – what happened?

There are some sneaky ways that legalism creeps into our lives. We have to be careful not to fall victim to them.

Here’s where we ended in my last post.

Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.
Romans 7:9-10

This verse is very clear. God saved me apart from the law, when I trusted the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through this finished work I was made alive apart from the law.

Then the commandment came, which the Scripture says is the power of sin (I Corinthians 15:56). When this happens, death begins its work in me.

Let me explain how God used this truth to minister to me. One day, as I was driving, praying, and meditating upon the Word, the Holy Spirit started to speak to me. I had been going through a rough time financially.

I had done everything that I knew to do. I had stood on all I’d been taught about prayers and confessions. I’ve always been a tither. I always remind the Lord what His Word says and that I’m standing on His promises.

At this point in my life I clearly heard God speak to my heart and ask me, “What are you basing your expectation on?” Immediately my thoughts turned to the Scripture. I’m basing my hope in the Word that tells me to tithe.

If I’ll tithe, then You will rebuke the devourer and open the windows of Heaven. I give special offerings when You lead me to, so that I’ll receive the blessings of the seed of faith.

The Lord then asked me a question that floored me. He said, “So you’re basing your expectation upon the law?” I was speechless. I had no response to this.

On the inside I felt like defending and justifying my actions. But deep down I knew that the Lord had hit upon the very root of the problem, even though at that point I had no clue how to get out of it.

I came to the realization that I had placed myself under the commandment. Trying, in your own power, to fulfill the requirements of the promises is a form of legalism. I had to learn how to walk in the Lord’s freedom.

That’s why it’s important to understand how Christ set us free from the law, sin, and death.

Question: Are there Scriptural promises that you find yourself legalistic about?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2021 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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Righteousness in My Account

Righteousness in My Account

We’ve been looking at Paul’s letter to the Roman church.  He’s been using Abraham as the example of how we’re to look to God in faith.  We’re to fully trust in His power to accomplish anything that He speaks to us.

Abraham heard from God and believed what he was told.  We’re shown the result of this type of faith.

This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Romans 4:22

It was because of his faith that God inventoried righteousness into Abraham’s heavenly account.  That was great for Abraham, but what does that mean for us?

The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness — for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.

Romans 4:23-24

So, when Scripture talks about the Lord crediting Abraham with righteousness, it’s for our benefit.  It’s so that we can understand the process.  God wants to put His righteousness in our accounts as well.

The good news is that having this righteousness in my account is not based upon how good I am.  It’s not how well I read the Bible or pray.  It’s solely based upon my trust in the One who raised Christ from the dead.

Anything else is worthless legalism.  There’s nothing I can do to earn this great blessing.  Paul makes this clear by explaining the process to us.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Romans 4:25

Two things are happening in this verse to win our accounting of righteousness.  The first, being that Jesus was delivered over.

That literally means the He was surrendered.  The word, “death”, is not in this verse.  Actually, He surrendered himself to more than just death.

He surrendered himself to being born as one of us.  He lived a life as one of us, feeling the same pains, hunger, frustrations, and everything else that life on this planet throws at you.

Why did the Lord do this?  Paul tells us that it was for our sins that He surrendered himself.  The word Paul uses for sin is not the normal one.  This one means a side-slip – it could be something that’s either intentional or unintentional.

It was my sin that brought Him here.  Because of my mistakes, the Lord lived a human life and died a cruel death on the cross.

But, Praise God, that wasn’t the end of it.  He didn’t stay dead.  He was raised back to life again for our justification.

That’s a big word.  Many people don’t understand all of its implications.  Justification means that because of what Jesus Christ did, I’m now declared “Not Guilty.”  And that’s even before I go to trial!

In God’s eyes, because I’m now found in Christ, I’m innocent of all wrongdoing.  Is that fair?  Absolutely not!  But God found a way to save me (and you) through the surrendering of Jesus Christ to all that He went through.

Don’t let it be in vain.  Trust the Lord for the righteousness that only He can give you.

Question: How has the work of Christ changed your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2021 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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