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Don’t Lose Your Inheritance

I’ve been posting about Paul’s view of lawsuits between believers in his first letter to the Corinthians.  He sees it as a sign that they’re living in defeat.  They’re bringing public shame upon the church.

As he continues, Paul shows them that this is part of a much larger issue.  It’s something that we should all be mindful of in our generation.

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11

This is a section of Scripture that self-righteous people use to prove that other church members are going to hell.  But what’s Paul really saying here?

First, let’s look at the context.  He’s talking about bringing lawsuits against fellow believers.  There are two sins in this list that directly apply to this issue.  The word, greedy, means to desire more than the share that should be coming to you.  The word, swindler, means to plunder or carry off by force, which is the goal of a lawsuit.

For these reasons Paul is telling them that they’re living in defeat.  Their flesh is clearly in control of the situation.  But have they lost their salvation over this?

I don’t believe that’s the case.  One reason is that Paul clearly states that they were greedy swindlers.  Now, because they were washed, sanctified, and justified, they’re no longer who they were.  They are simply acting in a way that’s inconsistent with their new nature in Christ.

Another reason that I don’t believe they lost their salvation is that Paul is talking about their inheritance.  He warns them that if they continue to act outside of God’s will, they could lose the kingdom blessings God has set aside for them.

Peter says the same thing in his letters.

Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:9

Peter uses some of the same words as Paul.  The word insult is the same word translated as slanderer in 1 Corinthians.  The difference is that Peter makes it clear that the inheritance is a blessing, not your salvation.

We have to understand these kingdom truths.  The fact that I lose my inheritance does not mean that I’ve lost my place in the family.  It only means that I haven’t been living a life that’s consistent with the character of my family.

In Christ, we’ve been set free from our past.  We are made new in Him.  If I fall to sin, I can’t say, “That’s just who I am.  I’m a greedy person.”

I’m not a greedy person anymore.  Now I need to clothe myself in Christ – my new nature.  Yes, I can still follow the desires of my flesh, but that should be the exception – not the rule.  I must submit to the Holy Spirit’s life-changing work in me.

This should be a warning to us.  Kingdom blessings are for those who submit to the spiritual processes of the kingdom.

Question: Why are some people so eager to accuse others of losing their salvation?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2019 in Legalism, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Sowers and Reapers (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

At one time I did a series of posts about Jesus’ view of His ministry.  To see the original series, click here.

It occurred after Jesus had talked with the woman at the well.  The Lord told His disciples that He had food they didn’t know about. He was talking about finishing the Father’s will.

Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
John 4:35-36

In the natural, you can tell when the harvest is coming. You can tell how ripe the wheat is just by looking at it.

In the same way, there should be a spiritual sensitivity to when hearts are ready. It should be just as obvious to us that someone is ready to hear and receive the message of Christ.

One question that needs to be asked when we read this verse is; who is the reaper that’s receiving his wages? The answer should be obvious – it’s Christ!

The Apostle Paul talked about some of the same things.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe — as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
1 Corinthians 3:5-8

Usually, we think of this reward for our labor as future. But we need to remember what Jesus said. The reaper IS RECEIVING His wages. I HAVE food you don’t know about. The sower and the reaper can be happy together.

It sounds to me like there’s a reward in this life for fulfilling the Lord’s will. That’s something we need to think about.

Who was the sower that Jesus referenced? I believe that He was talking about the woman. Listen to what the townspeople said about her.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”
John 4:39

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
John 4:42

What was her reward? I don’t really know. It might have been children or a stable family of her own. We have to wait to find out about her in Heaven.

Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
John 4:37-38

Which is harder – sowing or reaping? I think that it might be the sowing. Especially if we don’t see the fruit of the seed we plant into someone. Sometimes a soul that we spoke the Gospel to is brought into the Kingdom by someone else.

There’s no need to get jealous about it. It’s the Kingdom of God that’s increasing. Everything in our lives is all directly related to the principle of sowing and reaping.

The bottom line is that the Samaritans ultimately believed because they heard Jesus speak. It’s our job to bring people to a personal encounter with Christ. That’s where we receive great rewards.

Question: What are some Gospel seeds you have planted?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2018 in Faith, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Receiving the Blessing

Have you ever thought about what it takes to receive God’s blessing?  Many go forward in meetings wanting to be prayed over for a blessing.  Do you know that how you receive it is the most important part?

Jesus understood this and it was a part of His ministry.

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.
Mark 10:13-14a

To understand this principle we’ll look at an incident in the life of Christ.  There were some parents who wanted Jesus to bless their children by laying His hands on them.

The disciples were going to have none of that.  After all, no one wants a group of rowdy children running around the Messiah.  It’s not dignified!

When He saw what His disciples were doing, the Lord got angry.  The Greek words of this verse imply that He was bent out of shape.  Jesus loved having children around Him.

He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Mark 10:14b-15

The Lord then says some interesting things.  He tells us that there’s something that everyone needs to do like a child.  That is to receive the kingdom of God.  As a matter of fact, Jesus said that if you don’t receive it first, you can’t enter the kingdom.

That’s because, to a child, the word of an adult is absolute truth.  If you tell them that you’re going to take them for Ice cream at 6:00, then they’re waiting by the door at 5:50.  It’s their ability to accept as truth whatever is spoken to them that Christ is commending.

It’s also the basis for receiving anything in God’s kingdom.  It’s the assumption that God’s Word is total truth before we even hear it.

I think this is where we get in trouble sometimes.  We hear God’s Word.  We wonder if it sounds possible or not.  Then we try to work up the faith to believe the Word.  That’s not how it should be.

Paul understood this principle.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

When God’s power is being demonstrated in the church, I begin to see just how powerful He is.  The understanding of that power gives me the assumption that whatever God says, He can perform.  After that, walking in faith isn’t a problem.

These children were ready to receive whatever the Lord had for them.

And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
Mark 10:16

When the Scripture says that Jesus blessed them, it literally means that He spoke a blessing over each one.  I believe that the Lord spoke a personal Word of prophecy over each child.  He was looking forward to what each one was called to accomplish in his or her life.

As children, each one was able to believe the Word spoken to them and they received it in perfect faith.  That’s what we need to do if we want to see the blessing of God active in our lives and ministries.

Question: What blessings have been spoken over your life in the past?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2018 in Faith, Power of God, Prayer, Word of God

 

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Thanksgiving Leftovers

Today is the eve of the Thanksgiving Holiday.  So I’ve been reading and meditating on giving thanks to God.  Then I came across a verse that really struck me.

When you sacrifice a thank offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf.  It must be eaten that same day; leave none of it till morning. I am the Lord.
Leviticus 22:29-30

In the Old Testament, the thanksgiving offering was to be eaten in one day.  There was to be nothing leftover.  I thought that was funny.  That’s because, in our generation, Thanksgiving is known for having the most leftovers.

This spoke to me of how we should thank God.

We thank God for His daily provision.  Think about the Israelites in the desert.  God provided manna for them.  He told them to only gather enough for the day.

Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”  However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.  So Moses was angry with them.
Exodus 16:19-20

It’s amazing how much things stay the same.  God tells us to trust Him.  “Give us this day our daily bread.”  We want all of our provision – today.  God wants to provide step by step – so we must look to Him in faith.

Our walk with God is step by step.  We want to know the whole plan.  I need to thank God for what I know and trust Him for what I don’t know yet.  That’s a lesson of faith.

We may know where He’s bringing us to, but not the exact path.

When it comes to our blessings from God, we like to keep the leftovers.  Think about all of the things we’ve prayed for.  Then think about all the answers to those prayers.  My first thought is, “They belong to me!”

No – they belong to God.

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10

We want to keep everything God gives us for ourselves.  But that’s pretty selfish.

God’s grace to us is for others as well.  We want to keep it all for ourselves.  God wants to bless us AND make us a blessing.  We want to store it all up for our own usage.

That’s the difference between a river and a swamp.  The Israelites learned it when their extra manna got smelly and full of maggots.

Finally, our thankfulness prompts others to thank God.  God desires our thankfulness to overflow into the lives of others.  It’s like a river of blessing flowing into those around us.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:15

This is God’s will for us.  To overflow by the spirit.  We may still have leftovers this year.  But as we thank God remember not to hang on to the blessings that He wants you to move along.

Question: What are some blessings you can pass on to others?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Your Wedding Clothes

DinnerIn my last post I talked about being immersed into Christ as the putting on of the new man. The church would look totally different if this were the case in most believers.

In reality, the world doesn’t need to look for Christ in us. What they truly long for is to see us in Christ. Christ in you is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). But if you’re immersed in Christ, then the world can see His glory.

Jesus told a parable about a banquet. To understand it thoroughly you need to read both the way He set it up and His summary at the end. The reason for this is that many of the Lord’s parables sound similar, but have different purposes.

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.”
Matthew 22:1-2

This parable is about the kingdom of heaven. It centers on how the blessings of the kingdom are bestowed upon those who would enter into it. The riches of God’s kingdom include blessings, provision, healing, fulfillment, and much more.

In the parable, we see the king inviting all of his friends. They agreed to come when they originally heard about the plans. When the day of the wedding arrived, however, they changed their minds and refused to show up. I believe that this refers to the nation of Israel who refused to acknowledge Christ as Messiah.

The king became angry over this and made a decision to fill up his banquet hall by any means necessary. He sent his servants out into the streets and highways to get anyone they could to come in and enjoy the feast. In short order the wedding hall was full of guests. Then something very strange occurs.

“But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how did you get in here without wedding clothes?’ The man was speechless.”
Matthew 22:11-12

From our perspective this sounds strange. Why even ask this question? Isn’t it obvious? “I had no notice. I came in right off the street.”

That’s not the case. The customs of the day dictated that the person throwing the party was to provide the clothes for the guests. This man was given his party clothes the moment he agreed to come to the wedding. That’s why he was speechless. There was no reason for him to not be dressed appropriately.

“Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”
Matthew 22:13

We need to understand the application. In many of Jesus’ parables, people get “thrown out” of places. Sometimes it’s to jail other times it’s into a fiery furnace, or in this case, outer darkness.

I don’t believe that this is referring to someone who is unsaved. He’s not thrown into hell, but merely the dark world outside the kingdom. I base this on the closing statement that Jesus makes to summarize what He’s trying to get across.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14

The issue is not saved versus unsaved, as would be the case if the man was thrown into the fire. Instead, it’s called versus chosen. I think this is an accurate picture of the church today. Many believers are walking around in spiritual darkness, weeping and gnashing their teeth, because they refuse to put on the clothes that the King has provided.

Question: How does walking in the new man bring a life of blessing?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Are You a Messy Eater?

DinnerI’ve been posting about going to God for the needs of others.

Do you remember, in Scripture, when Jesus was approached by a Canaanite woman on behalf of her daughter?  She asked for healing and the Lord seemed to give her a hard time.  He even went as far as calling her a dog – the Hebrew term for a Gentile.

He didn’t do this to be mean, but to prove a point to His disciples.  He wanted them to see how great her faith was regarding Christ.

Because she pressed in, her daughter ended up being healed.  Look at the exchange between Christ and the woman.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Matthew 15:26-28

There are some very important truths contained in this passage.  First note that Jesus called healing the children’s bread.  It’s right for the children to eat.  God does not view healing as a privilege, but a necessity.  I talk about healing in another series of posts.

What I want you to see at this point is that when Jesus walked the earth, Israel had an “all about us” attitude concerning the blessings of God.  They were very selfish concerning the Word and the promises of God.

This is interesting since they wasted most of what they received.  They rejected the ministry of Christ even though He was trying to lift them up to a greater walk with God.

It’s a principle we see played out over and over again.  The simple fact is that children are very selfish with their food.  I see it all the time.

Because of this, whenever we have a church dinner, we tell parents of small children to accompany them to the food table.  Without parental control, a child will load his plate up with the food he likes without thought to whether there’s enough for others, or even if he’s able to finish it all.  He just wants to see it all on his plate.

Many times we’re the same way in our walk with the Lord.  We’re very selfish concerning the Word of God.  We want every blessing of Scripture to be all about us.  Then we’re like selfish children who play with their food and end up wasting most of it.

In the above passage, the world is illustrated as dogs that are hungry, and circling the table where the children are eating.  They’re desperate.  They’re coming from a place where there’s a famine of the Word of God.  Even the crumbs of what we have will be satisfying to them.

It’s time for us to stop looking at everything as revolving around our own needs and wants.  We must begin to see that our ministry is to those around us.  We must start to receive the Word of God as mature saints.

Then be ready to minister this grace to the hungry world.

Question: What spiritual gifts do you possess that could help those around you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in God's Provision, Ministry, Prayer

 

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Are You a Spiritual Explorer?

Grapes“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Luke 11:9-10

This is a verse that we like to quote a lot.  But, I want to know if it’s real to us.  Do we understand the importance of seeking?  And in all of our seeking, are we searching for what’s truly important?

I’m reminded of the children of Israel as they waited on the doorstep of the Promised Land.  They selected 12 “spies” who were instructed to search out the land and come back with a report.

So they went up and explored the land…When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes.  Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.  That place was called the Valley of Eshcol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there.  At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.
Numbers 13:21-25

God had promised this land to Israel.  Now they were seeing it for the first time.  They roamed up and down the whole area.  Needless to say, they were very impressed with what they saw.  The fruit was unmatched anywhere else.  It was truly a blessed land that awaited them.

Their exploration of the land should be an example to us.  We need to search out both the Scripture and the Mind of God to know our inheritance in Christ.  It’s very important that we see what God has in store for us.  Without that knowledge, we can’t go before God in faith to believe for the things that we need.

It’s unfortunate that most Christians have no idea the magnitude of the blessings there are in serving the Lord.  They live their whole lives never knowing that God’s grace is sufficient for them.  I believe it’s time for the church to live the abundant life that we were called to.  This, more than anything else, will be an incredible witness to our generation.

That’s why the time you spend in the presence of the Lord is so important.  Take the time each day to read the Bible, pray, and pray in the Spirit.  That’s how you search out the things God has prepared for you.

As the Holy Spirit speaks to you, be quick to lay claim to the promise, blessing, grace, or strength that He offers.  Walk each day in the faith that only comes through a living relationship with the Life-Giver.

Question: How intensely do you explore your “promised land”?

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Faith, Prayer, Revival

 

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