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Grey Areas – The Final Word

We’re continuing our look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He had to deal with a lot of issues.  One of them was how to respond to the grey areas of sin – those things that the Bible doesn’t specifically call out as right or wrong.

Paul talks about this subject in chapters 8-10.  In looking at these principles, we covered a lot of ground.  Since this is the concluding post on that subject, I want to review the principles that Paul talked about.

In chapter 8, we’re told that even though Christ has given us freedom in many areas, we’re not to use that freedom if it will have a negative effect on others.  We have to be sensitive to new believers or weak Christians around us.

Chapter 9, verses 1 through 18, tells us that we need to check our motives.  Why do I want to do this activity?  Is it because I want to imitate the world?  Am I rebelling against authority?  Or is my heart pure in this area?

That same section also deals with the issue of personal rights.  When you’re serving Christ, there are times that the Lord asks you to lay down your rights for the sake of others.  Just because you have the right to do something, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s God’s will for you.

Then, in chapter 9, verses 19 through 23, Paul tells us that the message of the Gospel is the priority.  We can’t lose sight of what’s truly important for the sake of self-gratification.  My life must bear witness to the truth.

After that, Paul deals with the principle of keeping free from distractions in verses 24 through 27.  Even if something is not sinful, it may still keep you from fulfilling God’s call upon your life.  We have to make sure that we don’t spend all of our time pursuing unfruitful distractions.

Then, in the first thirteen verses of chapter 10, the apostle talks about the things that we set our heart on.  Where you set your heart determines your destiny.  Are you after the things of the world or the advancement of God’s kingdom?

In chapter 10, verses 14 through 22, we’re told to flee from idolatry.  For us, this means the modern version of idolatry.  That’s anything that we put in a position where God should be.  Is there something to which we’re devoting our time, money, and strength, that rightly should be going to the Lord?

Finally, in verses 23-30, the principle of caring for others comes into play.  I can’t be doing something that wounds the conscience of a fellow believer.  I have to be careful not to shipwreck the faith of those around me.

These are the important things to think about when deciding if something is right for you to take part in.  Paul sums it up like this…

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way.  For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33

The fact is that it’s not all about me.  There’s a bigger picture that I have to take into account.  We must live our lives in such a way that God gets the glory from all that we do.

Question: How does living for God’s glory make the Gospel message more attractive?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on May 20, 2019 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Navigating the Grey Areas

We’re approaching the conclusion of Paul’s teaching on the grey areas of sin.  These are activities that the Bible doesn’t specifically talk about.

The apostle now gives some advice on how to handle these things.  The specific issue he’s dealing with is the eating of food that had been previously brought as a sacrifice to a pagan temple.

Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
1 Corinthians 10:25-26

God has placed His Holy Spirit within each of us as believers.  If the Bible is silent about it, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t activate our conscience, then don’t over-think it.  If it troubles your conscience, then keep away from it.

That’s for you as an individual.  There’s more advice once others are involved.

If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
1 Corinthians 10:27

If an unbeliever invites you to an activity, and your conscience isn’t troubled, then you’re free to go.  The fact is that we need to be cultivating healthy relationships with the unchurched.  How else will they be affected by the Gospel of Christ?

That was easy, but what about a mixed crowd of both believers and unbelievers?

But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake – the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours.  For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience?  If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
1 Corinthians 10:28-30

This is where it begins to get complicated.  I now have to take my mind off myself and think of the good of others.  I can’t just run rough-shod over another person’s conscience and proclaim, “I’m free in Christ to do what I want.”

We have to be sensitive to the maturity level of those around us.  We don’t want to be the cause of an offense that hinders their walk with God.

“Well, they just need to grow up!”

Try telling that to a three-year-old.  Growth takes time and nurturing.  Take your eyes off yourself, and be a blessing rather than a hindrance.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33a

The bottom line is that it’s not about me, but God receiving the glory from my life.  I should be able to live with a little inconvenience in order for God’s kingdom to advance.  Our goal should be that the name of Christ is exalted.

Question: Why is sensitivity to the needs of others so important to God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Higher Wisdom

We’ve been looking at the message preached by the Apostle Paul.  It was a Gospel of power.  It could totally change the lives of those who heard it.

This message was all based upon the wisdom of God.  He explains it further.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Corinthians 2:6-8

The first thing I see is that the message of God’s wisdom is for the mature.  It’s not a basic instruction.  There are things that you need to be taught when you’re first saved.  These foundational teachings will give you the ability to understand the greater wisdom of God.

That’s because we’ve spent our whole lives before salvation learning and operating in the “wisdom of this age”.  God’s wisdom is on a whole other level.  So much so, that those versed in the world’s wisdom can’t even understand it.

According to Scripture, the greatest wisdom of this age will only bring you to uselessness.  That’s what the phrase means that’s translated coming to nothing.

On the other hand, I like the results of God’s wisdom.  God destined His wisdom for our glory.  That word means that you have respect – that what you say and do has weight and value.

I think that much of this glory is missing from the church these days.  Could it be that we’re trying to use the world’s wisdom instead of God’s?  It’s the difference between uselessness and glory.

Paul uses the crucifixion of Christ as an illustration.  It was a part of God’s wisdom.  The world can’t fathom it…dying on a cross as the road to victory.

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.”
John 10:17-18

When I watch a movie for the first time, I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I’m in suspense when something bad happens to the hero.  Sometimes they’ll do something I don’t understand.

Then, I wonder how the hero could possibly survive.  But as the movie progresses, I find out that everything he did was part of a plan to bring down the villain.

If I liked the movie, I may watch it again.  But this time I know what’s going to happen.  I’m not in suspense.  I’m actually happy when I see the hero going into danger because I know how it’s going to turn out.

That’s what knowing the wisdom of God should do for us.  We’ve seen the movie before.  What Jesus did on the cross was a carefully planned, strategic attack on the enemy.  He wasn’t taken by surprise.

In that one move, Jesus Christ took down the entire kingdom of sin that was holding us captive. We’re now free to serve God without fear or condemnation.  All because of what happened through the wisdom of God.

So when I look back at the events of 2000 or so years ago, I’m not sad.  As a matter of fact, I have a sly smile.  Because I know that even though it looked bad, three days later it all turned around.  And that’s something to rejoice about!

God wants to do that same thing in us.  But first, we must grasp the wisdom of God.  The big question is; how?  In my next post, we’ll see how Paul begins to explain that to us.

Question: What would it look like if the whole church walked in the wisdom of God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2018 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Ignoring the Cross

As I continue my series through First Corinthians, we’re looking at the wisdom of God manifest in the cross.  It’s something that God expects His church to understand.  It’s been revealed to us in His Word.

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 1:21-24

This is a problem we face even in our society today.  There’s a pressure on the church to cater our message to those we’re trying to win.

Religious people want to hear one thing, while the educational community wants to hear something else.  Many times we fall into the trap of trying to please our listeners with the message we think they want to hear.

Paul strips away all of these elements by boiling the message down to its vital component.  He preaches the same essential message to all who will listen.  That message is the Word of the cross – Christ crucified.

The reason is clear.  There’s a supernatural call in that Word.  It contains the power of God to draw men and women to the place of repentance.

We need to see this.  When we water down or ignore the Word of the cross, we lose the bulk of the power needed to win the lost.  Beyond that, those who do come to the Lord with little knowledge of the cross, have no desire to become radical disciples of Christ.

This is what the world desperately needs to see in the church.  It’s also what the church needs in order to be transformed into the victorious kingdom that was set forth by Christ.  We must hunger and thirst for the Word of the cross.

We’ve tried a whole host of other strategies only to be met with little or no results.  Isn’t it time to proclaim Christ the way they did it when the world was “turned upside-down” by the Gospel?  We need to renew our knowledge of what happened in and through the cross of Christ.  This is a message that the Lord can’t wait to reveal to us if we’ll just stop and listen.

This is one of the things that we’re missing in our churches these days.

No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
1 Corinthians 2:7

Paul explains to us that this message was destined for our glory.  That’s why it’s such a mystery.  From the outside, the cross looks like a place of pain, suffering, and weakness.   But in reality, it will bring glory to all who live by it.

It was the same for Christ.  The demonic kingdom had no idea what would be unleashed on the cross.  When the “Lord of Glory” was crucified, there was an explosion of power that rocked the universe.  It’s clear that Satan would never have allowed this to happen if he had known what the results would be.

It’s time for God’s people to once again unleash this power in the world.  We need to walk in the power of the cross.  The message of the cross is vital for our last-days testimony.

Question: What would change if we incorporated the teaching of the cross into our message?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Called to Glory

I’m continuing to look at Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonian church.  After talking to them about the second coming of Christ, he now starts to close with some words of encouragement.

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.  He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-14

This is a very important message which our generation of the church needs to hear.  Even though the Thessalonian church was only recently established, they had grown quickly in their spirituality.

This fact is brought out in how the Apostle describes them.  Paul literally says that God took them for Himself from the firstfruits.  In Paul’s mind, this was a “firstfruits” church.

There was a point in Paul’s ministry when he received a dream from the Lord that sent him into the region of Macedonia.  Thessalonica was the first city in that region where he was able to preach in a synagogue.

Because of that, this church was always the firstfruits of Macedonia in Paul’s mind.  But there was something they needed to do in order to claim that status.  They had to believe the Word that was preached to them and then submit to the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

Their goal was not only to have their sins forgiven but to become what God wanted them to be.  This made them fully aware of the calling that was placed upon their lives.  It’s what we need to understand as well.

There’s more to being a Christian than just getting into Heaven.  We’re all called to a higher walk.  The Good News is that God wants us to share in the glory of Christ.

But please notice the important word in that passage.  It’s the word “might”.

This is not something you receive simply by praying the Sinner’s Prayer.  It’s what you have to move forward to obtain.  Yes, that’s the word translated by, share, in that Scripture.  It means to obtain and surround yourself with.

I believe that this glory is not reserved for the sweet by and by.  It’s something the Lord wants His church to walk in right now.  If the world would see the glory of Christ surrounding us, they would be drawn to His saving grace.

What does that say to us?  Paul is not trying to teach something new here.  We’re called through the Gospel that we might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, we need to stand firm and hold on to the teachings we’ve been given.

Then, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to complete His work in us.  That means spending quality time in His presence.  Time spent in the Spirit will cause us to obtain and surround ourselves in the glory of Christ.

Let that be your spiritual goal.

Question: What’s the next step you need to take to press into your calling?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Walk of Unity and Fellowship

PowerlessI’ve been posting about fellowship and unity lately. It’s all about recognizing those who are serving Christ around me. Understanding their differences, and working with them for God’s glory.

The Apostle Paul describes it this way…

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:5-7

His prayer is that the same God who gives endurance and encouragement will now give them a spirit of unity. But that phrase, spirit of unity, is interesting in the original Greek. It’s literally asking God to give us a mind toward one another.

This goes right along with what we have been saying about unity thus far. I should be thinking about you. You’re on my mind so that I can understand your calling. In that way I can see how we fit together in the body of Christ.

Truly, we’re not called to be an organization, but an organism. We should be functioning seamlessly together because of the Holy Spirit within us. As we hear the voice of the Spirit and watch over each other, we are now equipped to fulfill the next part of this passage.

Only in unity can we glorify God with one heart and one mouth. Especially since the word translated heart is really the word passion. As I spend time in the Spirit, I pick up God’s passion.

It’s not about me convincing you what you need to be passionate about. If we could all be synced to God’s heartbeat, then we’ll operate in one passion. Time with the Spirit brings true unity.

The goal is to function together. It’s not up to you to change in order to please me. That’s not what Christ did. He paid the price for me to go to Him. Sometimes it will cost me something to overlook the faults and differences that you bring with you.

I must receive you just as Christ received me. Just as you are. I’m not the Holy Spirit. I have to leave room for God’s grace to work in you. None of us are perfect yet. The Lord receives us just the way we are and we need to do the same.

Unity is a choice. It’s unfortunate that when some people pray for the unity of the church, what they’re really praying is, “God, please making everyone else think like me.” That’s not true unity. It’s us choosing to work together as the Holy Spirit makes us begin to think like God.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:10

This is what we’re to strive for. To be perfectly united in mind and thought requires more than just good teaching. It means that I’m spending time in the presence of the Holy Spirit. As I allow the mind of Christ to take over my life, I’m setting the stage for the unity of the Spirit.

The more you and I begin to think like Christ, the more unity we will walk in. This is how the fellowship and unity of Christ can be manifest in His people. Make that your goal as we minister together for the Lord.

Question: What must I do to yield to the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2016 in Fellowship, Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Eternal Attitudes

Jet Plane to NowhereAttitudes play an important role in our walk with the Lord. It’s the determining factor in how well you receive from Him.

Abraham understood this fact. Especially as he looked at the promises of God in contrast to his circumstances.

And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
Hebrews 11:12

That phrase; as good as dead, means to deaden. In the natural, Abraham saw himself as becoming deader and deader.

We all must acknowledge that the power of God will change us. Our walk, attitudes, habits, likes & dislikes, friends, etc. are all affected. This is all a part of the deadening process.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5

When we read this verse, the key word is therefore. That word means that the reason we do what’s in this verse is because of what he just wrote. What was that?

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-3

We desire to put to death the things of the flesh because we now have a higher calling. We kill off the desires of the world in order to seek the eternal.

This is a very important truth. We receive from God when we seek the eternal. The writer of the book of Hebrews understood this.

People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.
Hebrews 11:14-15

Eternally minded people search for, crave, demand a home town. That’s why Jesus told us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. We’re not looking for the temporary high that the world offers us.

Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:16

The final result of this attitude is that God is not ashamed to be called their God. That’s interesting. Are there times when God is ashamed to be called someone’s God? I think this verse implies that He could be.

Before we pick up this eternally minded attitude, we’re only accomplishing what a man can do. Is God satisfied with what is merely possible – even without His help? Of course not. He expects us to do a God sized work.

When that happens; the world can see His glory. God’s people need to stop chasing the temporary pleasures of the world, and focus in on the eternal glory of God. Let Him accomplish what He desires in you.

Question: What is a way that the glory of God is seen in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2015 in Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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