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Tag Archives: Christ

Divorce – God’s View

I’m continuing to look at Paul’s teaching on marriage relationships in First Corinthians, chapter 7.  Here’s where some of the controversies start.  He’s going to talk about divorce.

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband.  But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.  And a husband must not divorce his wife.
1 Corinthians 7:10-11

This verse is specifically talking about marriages between two Christians.  Paul is being clear and concise in his description of the Lord’s command.  He states that divorce is never a part of God’s plan.

I know that this teaching doesn’t sit well with many in our generation.  We live in a society where divorce is an acceptable part of our culture.

This is why marriage is not to be entered into on a whim.  The world sees it as simply an agreement to live together.  Scripturally it’s a lot more than that.

Divorce was acceptable in the Jewish culture as well during the time Jesus was ministering.  The Pharisees asked Him His opinion.

Here’s what Jesus told them…

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?  So they are no longer two, but one.  Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”
Matthew 19:4-6

The Pharisees weren’t satisfied with this answer.  They didn’t see anything wrong with divorce.  They rested their case on the fact that the Law of Moses allowed for it – so they had a Scriptural basis.

Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard.  But it was not this way from the beginning.  I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Matthew 19:8-9

His answer was simple.  Divorce is not God’s will, but He knew that mankind was going to do it anyway.  So the Lord set up some ground rules to make it more amicable.

Of course, this opens up another can of worms.  It’s obvious from the above passage that God understands what we, as human beings, are like.  He knows that once we set our hearts on doing something, even against God’s will, we’ll probably go there.

So God made an allowance for the hardness of our hearts.  That tells me that divorce isn’t the unpardonable sin.  I know there are some denominations that totally write you off once you go through a divorce.  That’s not God’s view.

We must always remember that even though God hates divorce, He loves people.  He’s willing to work in and through us no matter what we’ve gone through.  It’s not my place to tell anyone that they’re somehow disqualified for ministry because of a divorce.

It’s really up to the move of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life.  I’ve seen divorced ministers who’ve walked under a powerful anointing from God.  Why would God confirm their ministry if they had disqualified themselves?

I find it best to leave the judgment seat to Christ.

Question: Based on this teaching, what’s the best way to prepare Christian couples for marriage?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on March 29, 2019 in Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Whose Temple Is It?

In my last post, I talked about Paul’s warning to serve God whole-heartedly.  A failure to do so runs the risk of losing some kingdom blessings.  He continues this thought as he uses the illustration of a temple.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I’m a temple to the Holy Spirit.  Think about it like the ancient Greek temples.  My temple says “Holy Spirit” over the front entrance.

What would you expect if you came to that temple?  What if you entered it and saw a Star Trek Convention going on inside?  You may question the priest about it.

“That convention is for this week only.”

What if for the next few weeks you visited this temple and saw a beauty pageant, a chili cook-off, and a real estate seminar?  You’d ask is this a temple to the Holy Spirit or is it something else?

With that thought in mind, consider what happened when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple.

To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here!  How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”  His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
John 2:16-17

Notice the righteous anger that Christ displayed.  What was it that aroused such an attitude?  The disciples realized that Jesus was consumed by a zeal for the house of God.

When Christ told His disciples about the Holy Spirit, He said that He was sending “another counselor just like Me.”  (John 14:26 – My paraphrase!)  The difference is that the Holy Spirit lives in us.  He lives permanently in His temple; our body.

In some of my other posts, I’ve talked about the fact that the Holy Spirit is intensely jealous (James 4:5).  Do we really get the point?  We’re living in the Last Days.  The Holy Spirit is starting to cleanse His temple.  We need to submit to His program or face the loss.

Remember – the Holy Spirit will not hurt His temple.  But He will start to ruin that which would try and steal our affection.  In my experience, I’d rather willingly give up something, than have the Lord remove it from my life.

What do we do?

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8

If you really want what the Holy Spirit’s desire, then sow to please the Spirit.  He doesn’t say to summon up all your will power and live right.  No!  Simply submit to His plan and sow the Word and prayer.  Spend time with the Spirit.

Question: What do you need to do to sow to please the Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2019 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Final Judgment Fun

After my last post, you may not think that the words “judgment” and “fun” go together.  Trust me.  There is one point in the final judgment that I am absolutely looking forward to.

Do you not know that we will judge angels?  How much more the things of this life!
1 Corinthians 6:3

This one question that Paul asks is the basis for a lot of joy in my life.  Whenever a question starts with, do you not know, it means that you have to ask yourself whether you know it or not.

There are many believers who have no idea that we’ll be seated with Christ on His judgment seat.  (For more details on that, read my last post.)  During this time it’s not just humans who’ll be judged.  Angels will be coming before us as well.

It stands to reason that if an angel served God faithfully, then there would be no reason for them to be judged.  This is only referring to those angels who chose to side with Satan in his rebellion.  So we’re talking here about the judgment of the demonic kingdom.

Why does this make me happy?  Simply put, it’s the ultimate payback.

I can just picture that day.  A big old demon comes before the judge’s seat.  His list of offenses is read.  At that point, a realization dawns on me.

“So you’re the one who gave me that flat tire at the worst possible moment.  It was you who tried to hinder the answer to my prayer that God was sending my way.  And it was you who incited my co-worker to lie about me to my boss.”

I can imagine my joy as I shout out, “Guilty!  Take him away.”

There are times that we look back on our lives.  When we do, it usually centers around people and events that gave us tough challenges.  We don’t typically think of it in terms of a military campaign that’s being played out.

That’s why it’s so important to know the truth about this final judgment.  There will be a military tribunal where all the facts will come out.  We’ll see all the war crimes that have been committed against us and the perpetrators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We know that there will be days when the enemy is giving us a hard time.  Take the opportunity to remind him about the judgment that’s coming.  The annoyances of the enemy will be paid for.

You may even find that a little smile will start to spread across your face.  You might even start praising God in the middle of the struggle.

We need to realize that the enemy’s kingdom is already defeated.  We’re not waiting for the victory.  The war has already been won; we’re simply in the clean-up phase, freeing the prisoners, right before the war trials.

Remember, at this point, the enemy is not trying to defeat you.  He simply wants to annoy or distract you to keep you from completing your mission in Christ.  Don’t let that happen.

Don’t let the problems and challenges of this life rob you of your joy in Christ.  Look to the eternal not the temporary.  Our future with the Lord is something to look forward to with great anticipation.  Keep your eyes on what the Lord has already accomplished in you.

Question: How have you seen the victory of Christ at work in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Seat of Judgment

One of the future events that Christians don’t like to talk about is the Judgment Seat of Christ.  I’m referring to the final judgment that will send the enemy’s kingdom, as well as the unsaved, to an eternity in the lake of fire.

This is not something that believers need to worry about.  Our sins have been washed in the blood of Christ.  God has tossed them into the sea of forgetfulness – as far as the east is from the west.  I don’t have to fret over my future in God’s kingdom.

But does this mean that I don’t have to prepare for this judgment?  It turns out that there are a couple of aspects of this trial that most believers are unaware of.  The knowledge of these could spur you on to a deeper walk with the Lord.

Paul talks about them as he continues in his first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s upset with them for taking each other to court.

If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?  Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?
1 Corinthians 6:1-2

This is a huge revelation to most Christians.  We’re going to be on the judge’s bench with Christ while the world is being judged.  This goes right along with Ephesians 2:6, that verse tells us God has seated us with Christ in heavenly places.

But wait; before you get too happy about it – think about the ramifications.  That means that you’ll judge your next door neighbor who never heard the Gospel from you.  You’ll also judge your co-workers that you didn’t want to offend by mentioning your walk with God.

For many believers, this judgment will be one of the most traumatic and sorrowful events of their lives.  There will be untold weeping.  How do I know this?  There’s another section of Scripture that people don’t put together.

The last paragraph of Revelation, chapter 20, describes the final judgment that Paul is referring to in this verse.  It’s immediately after this, in the first paragraph of Revelation, chapter 21, that God wipes all the tears away from our eyes.  I believe that if God didn’t comfort us, we would weep for all eternity over what we just experienced at the judgment.

I can’t even imagine the pain of having a family member or close acquaintance coming before me that day and asking, “Why didn’t you ever warn me about this place?”  It’s not something that any Christian would want to experience.

This will be a sorrowful time for all of us.  However, we should be doing everything in our power to warn those around us.  We should want to keep as many people as possible away from this judgment.

Don’t be taken by surprise at this trial.  Prepare now to judge as few people as possible.  Let everyone in your sphere of influence know about your life in Christ.

Question: How have you given testimony of the work of Christ in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2019 in Ministry, Missions, The Gospel

 

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Keeping Your Distance

The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 5, is dealing with the matter of how carnal Christians are to be treated.  In many cases, we find ourselves off the track of God’s will in our generation.  There are times we either totally ignore sin in the church, or we kick people out of our fellowship.

As we’ve seen through these last few posts, Paul was not endorsing either of these options.  Instead, he tells mature believers to take authority over the situation in the spirit.

Now Paul shows us the way a carnal believer should be treated on a personal level.

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters.  In that case you would have to leave this world.  But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.  With such a man do not even eat.
1 Corinthians 5:9-11

Once someone has been identified as a carnal believer who has no desire for repentance, the work of restoration begins.  There must be intercession in the spirit for this person.  But that alone is not enough.

It’s the love shown to them that will draw them closer to God.  That’s why an understanding of this passage is so vital to church leadership.

The word, associate, in the passage literally means an intimate friendship.  It speaks of a mixing together of two lives.  It’s not referring to a casual acquaintance.

Paul is not telling us to cut all ties with this person.  Instead, we’re to love them back to the cross.  We can treat them in a friendly way without being best friends with them.  The goal is for them to desire a closer walk with God without their lifestyle or attitudes rubbing off on us.

The subject of eating together also needs to be addressed.  In our fast-paced society, meeting someone to discuss business over lunch has no intimate associations at all.  When Paul wrote this, eating together was a long process that usually meant a close, intimate friendship.

The key is that we’re not to develop an intimate friendship with carnal believers.  This goes right along with what Christ taught concerning those in unrepentant sin.  Look at what Christ says to do after repeatedly trying to restore this person.

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Matthew 18:17

I’ve seen people who use this verse to kick members out of their church.  Let’s understand what Jesus is saying here.

I think that I can sum it up in two simple questions.  How did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors?  Did He shun and exclude them or did He spend time with them in order to bring restoration?  I think the answers are obvious.

The Pharisees judged people for their sins and had them expelled from the synagogue.  Jesus loved people and spent time with them to bring them nearer to God.  Would you rather your life imitate Christ or a Pharisee?

It’s time that the church started to deal with sin in a scriptural, Christ-like way.  Our goal should be healing and restoration for the body of Christ.

Question: How have you seen scriptural restoration exemplified?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2019 in Fellowship, Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Godly Imitation

They say that imitation is a form of flattery.  I’ve found that I learn things best when I can watch someone else do it first.  This is just as true in our Christian walk.

In his exhortations to the Corinthian church, Paul tells them their need to follow after his way of life.

Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 4:16

In serving Christ, it’s always beneficial to have a mature, godly example to follow.  In that way, we can see how this walk is lived out.

I praise the Lord for the Scripture.  It’s a blessing that His written Word is so accessible to us as believers.  But there’s so much in the Word that I have a hard time applying.

I need to see an example of how it operates in someone’s life on a continual basis.  I’m talking about someone through whom the love and power of Christ are operating consistently.

Of course, there are those that I look at and by their lives, they teach me what NOT to do.  However, this post isn’t about the negative examples in our lives, but the positive.

Paul saw that over time the Corinthian church had lost sight of the things that he had tried to get across to them.  In their struggle to do things their way, they had missed the clear path of the Gospel that Paul preached to them.  Now they were in need of correction.

For this reason I am sending to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord.  He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.
1 Corinthians 4:17

This verse is very important for us to see and understand.  It should remind us of something that was written in the Gospels.  On different occasions in Jesus’ ministry, a voice was heard from Heaven saying, “This is the Son I love, listen to Him.”

Now we see the Apostle Paul saying the same thing about Timothy.  He adds that Timothy is faithful in the Lord.  That’s an important thing for us to understand.

We know that Christ only did those things that He saw of the Father.  Then, after the Lord’s ascension, the apostles did what they had seen in Jesus.  Now, they’re exhorting the church to follow in they’re footsteps.

Paul knew that Timothy was faithfully living out the Christian walk that Paul had preached to the church.  He was now sending his spiritual son to remind the Corinthians how that walk was to be lived out.

With Paul, he wasn’t just preaching theory on how to follow Christ.  He had experienced the walk of maturity.  He knew what it would take to be faithful to the Lord.

The Corinthian church had heard the message but treated it as a suggestion.  As a result, their church was wallowing in divisions and power struggles.  They weren’t able to fully proclaim the Gospel of Christ.  They needed to get back on track, spiritually speaking.

The only way for the church to course-correct was for each individual believer to submit to Christ’s lordship.  Then, as each person follows God’s plan, the church is back where it should be.

That’s why it’s so important for us to seek out and watch the lives of mature believers.  Even as a pastor, I need to watch the lives of those who are further along in Christ than I am.  In that way, we can see the growth that only comes through godly imitation.

Question: Who do you know that you can follow their example of a mature walk with God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2019 in Leadership, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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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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