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Are You a Prodigal Son?

DonkeyIn Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-52) there are actually two prodigals. Both sons disappointed the father. If I can understand the problem, then I can walk in a way that’s pleasing to God.

You’re probably wondering why I said that both of the sons disappointed the father. Most people teach that only the younger son was in the wrong. Actually, they both had the same problem, they just handled it differently.

The Scripture shows that the two sons had an incorrect view of their relationship to the father. After spending all of his inheritance, the younger brother made this statement.

‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’
Luke 15:18-19

He had lived his life on the assumption that his father wanted him to be a servant. As a result, he broke free by demanding his inheritance and leaving home.

The older brother had the same view of his father. But instead of leaving, he lived under it his whole life. It all came out when the younger brother returned and the father wanted to know why the older brother didn’t want to celebrate.

But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.’
Luke 15:29

Did you hear him?

“All these years I’ve been your servant.”

Both sons were under the assumption that the father wanted them as slaves. Nothing was further from the truth. The father was looking for faithful sons who he could entrust all of his possessions to.

It’s the same in our walk with the Lord. How do you see yourself? Do you think that God wants you for a slave? If so, then you’re headed down the same road as the prodigal.

You might turn out like the older brother and spend your life in frustration thinking that God’s treating you unfairly. Or you may respond like the younger, giving up on serving God altogether.

The truth is that God doesn’t want you to be His slave. He’s looking for mature sons and daughters who will carry out His will on the earth.

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:6-7

Our goal should be to learn how to mature in Christ. To be a faithful representative of the Lord on earth. The Father is looking for adult sons and daughters who will live according to the leading of His Spirit in us.

Question: How does laying aside the slave mentality help you in your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on November 3, 2014 in Legalism, Sonship

 

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Spiritual Frustration

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been posting about the stages of spiritual growth. In my last post I talked about spiritual maturity. I showed the blessings that come with it.

Here’s the problem. We know what it should look like. But many are trying to do it within the confines of a childish spiritual walk.

We’re always on the lookout for some new teaching or “move of God” that will give us our breakthrough. We want the Six Steps to Prosperity or the Ten Confessions that bring Healing. We’re trying to get the freedom and resources of maturity while desperately hanging on to our childhood. This is never going to happen. It’s only when we attain to the goal of spiritual adulthood that we’ll see these things accomplished in us.

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
James 3:2

There’s more to the mature walk than simply getting our needs met. This word perfect is the same word for mature that we have been talking about. When you reach this level in your Christian experience sin is the exception rather than the rule. It’s not about trying harder. It’s the Holy Spirit working in you to perfect you.

So much of our energy is spent on trying to “be good.” Many preachers are wasting their time using guilt and scare tactics to try and get their people to live a righteous life. That’s not the scriptural way to get there.

It’s the work of the Holy Spirit in us that overcomes the sin nature. We have watered down this good news by making it all based on what I can do. Then we get frustrated that we can’t live up to the lifestyle put forth in the Word of God.

I believe that we’re at the point, in this generation, where we don’t understand what maturity is. We read the Bible and see how far we are from the abundant life described by the Lord. We’re like little children looking up to their older siblings and saying, “Why can’t I do that?”

We need to break out of our childhood. We must enter into the adult world, spiritually speaking. That’s why it’s so important to understand the progression of sonship. We have to go from the initial paperwork of adoption to full-fledged, mature, revealed sons of God. I am convinced by all that I see happening in the church today, that this is the next step on God’s agenda for us.

The frustration comes in when we want to walk in the blessings of the mature without going through the stages of growth. We need to focus on becoming mature, instead of merely seeking God for things.

In order for us to get where we need to be, we must first acknowledge where we are. Then submit to the work of the Holy Spirit in us. There’s no quick solution.

It’s all about time in the presence of the Lord. That’s where true change takes place. As the life of Christ is birthed on the inside of us, the outside will become more like Him.

Question: What are you doing to submit to the Holy Spirit’s work in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Revival, Sonship, The Church

 

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My Righteousness Doesn’t Work #powerofGod

TreeI have been posting about the relationship between righteousness and the power of God manifest in us.  It should be clear that our own self-righteousness is not enough.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.
Romans 3:21

This verse makes it clear that it cannot be by my works.  It’s apart, separate from the law.  This means that I have to access the power of God in order to live righteously.  Anything else is trying to put the cart before the horse.  If my goal is to live righteously in order to walk in the power of God, then I have chosen a path of weakness and frustration.

And yet, so many people are trying to walk this very way.  The Bible is clear on the outcome.  So let me ask, what if I try to obtain righteousness through obedience to the law?  What if I try my hardest to live up to what I’m told is right?

I can read my Bible daily, go to church on time every week, pray every day, and tithe.  On top of that, I can make sure that I don’t lie, cheat, steal, walk in anger, gossip, or envy.  What’s wrong with trying to live up to a godly standard with my own strength?

In the Gospel of John chapter 9 we’re told of a healing that took place in Jesus’ ministry.  There was a man who was born blind.  He came to the Lord for healing.  Jesus did something very interesting.  He spit on ground, made mud, and put it in the eyes of this blind man.

He then said for the man to go and wash in a nearby pool.  The blind man obeyed the Lord and was healed.  The trouble was that this occurred on the Sabbath – the Jewish holy day when no work was supposed to be done.

According to how the Pharisees interpreted the law of Moses, healing was a form of work that could not be done on the Sabbath.  Because of this, Jesus almost started a riot because of this healing.  For some reason, the Pharisees decided to make an example of this case.

They began an investigation into every aspect of it.  They talked to the man who was blind and now can see.  Because of their exposure to the truth involved in this healing, after talking to this man they are divided.

Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”  But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?”  So they were divided.
John 9:16

What was so divisive about this event?  It all centered on their understanding (or lack of understanding) of the power of God.  They had to ask themselves; where does the power to heal come from?

If the power to heal is from God, then Jesus is a man of God.  On the other side, some were saying that there are rules to how you can heal.  If you break these rules, then you’re a sinner no matter what happens.

This is where we seem to be in the body of Christ today.  Divided over how the miraculous takes place.  Is it my righteousness that sets the stage, or is there something else at work?

In my next post I will share how this investigation turned out.

Question: Why is operating in the gifts of the Spirit so controversial?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God

 

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The Two Kinds of Righteousness

BeamIn my last post I started talking about the relationship between the power of God and righteousness.  There are so many believers bound in the notion that if we can just be righteous enough, we can walk in the power of the Spirit.

They spend their lives frustrated trying to live up to the righteous rules set out by their teachers.  Many give up on ever obtaining a walk in the power of the Spirit.  Little do they know that their quest is in vain.

And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
2 Corinthians 3:11

It’s the power of the law which, like batteries, eventually fades away.  Not so the power of the Spirit.  This verse literally says that it lasts, remains, stays perpetually.  What kind of power are you looking for?  A temporary boost that fades as your strength declines?  Or do you seek a power that comes from the Spirit of the living God?

The righteous life can only come from a walk of power.  Jesus not only walked in power, but also in the righteousness of the Father.  This means it’s possible for me as well.  I just need apply the truth of Scripture to my life.

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 1:17

Righteousness is not a function of my strength or my will power.  It comes from God through His Holy Spirit.  The key is that this truth is revealed in the Gospel – the Good News.  Truly, to many believers righteousness from God is Good News.

As I’ve said before, so many live their lives constantly failing to live up to the standards set by Christ in the Word.  The Good News is that you don’t have to.  But wait a minute!  Maybe you think I’m talking about the imparted righteousness that God gives to us when we’re saved.  I’m not.

The Bible teaches about two different kinds of righteousness under the New Covenant.  First, there’s imparted righteousness.  This is the righteousness that Christ places within you when you’re saved.

This means that when God the Father looks at you, He sees you in Christ.  This gives you access to God at all times so that your sin will not keep you from approaching the throne for forgiveness, praise, worship, or any other purpose.  We need this righteousness to establish a relationship with the Lord as we grow in our faith.

There is also another kind of righteousness that the New Testament talks about.  That’s the walk of righteousness.

This is the application of the righteousness of God to our daily lives.  This means that I live correctly before God.  This one is harder to see manifest in my life.  That’s especially true if I try to accomplish it in my own power, as so many Christians endeavor to do.

I believe that in the above verse, Paul is talking about the walk of righteousness.  It’s this righteousness from God that allows us to live righteously.  We can never hope to walk rightly before God in our own strength.  It’s going to require us to walk in the ability of the Lord in order to please Him.

Question: Why is it so tempting to please God in our own strength?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God

 

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Comparing

Galatians 6:4-5
Each one should test his own actions.  Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

It is the great destroyer of life.

“Why can’t you be like…”

“Why can’t I be like…”

It will rob you of your joy.  It will make your life miserable.

I love to hike, but when I first started, it was a very frustrating experience.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the hiking part.  But I would be zooming along as fast as my little Italian legs could carry me.  Then these other hikers who were all legs (and seemed to be only strolling along) passed me like I was standing still.

The envy that I felt robbed me of the pleasure I should have been experiencing.  It was only when I learned to enjoy MY hike that the pleasure returned.

It is the same in our daily lives.  We are all different.  Don’t compare what someone else is doing to what you are doing.  You can always find somebody doing better than you, just as you can always find someone doing worse.  Comparing only serves to make you frustrated.

Take some time today to thank God for who you are.  Thank Him for your gifts, callings, strengths and weaknesses.  They all combine to make you a unique and precious gift in the Body of Christ.

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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