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Faith Experiments

As we continue through First Corinthians, Paul is still laying down principles for handling the “grey areas” of sin.  These are the things in society that the Bible doesn’t specifically speak about as being right or wrong.

Paul makes an interesting observation.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

In order to understand what Paul’s saying here, we need to grasp the concept of temptation.  I think that we misunderstand this sometimes.

The Greek word translated as tempt and temptation has a few different English words associated with it.  In other passages of Scripture, it’s translated as test and trial.  It literally means putting to proof by experiment.

This tells me that temptation is simply a faith experiment.  It’s a test designed to see if you really believe what you say that you believe.

James, chapter 1, tells us that it’s these faith experiments that develop godly character in us.  They’re things that we all go through.  God allows things to cross our path that will bring out and expose our faith in Him.

James also tells us that God doesn’t use evil to test us.  It’s the enemy that tries to get us to fall into sin by putting evil across our paths.

You probably don’t look forward to trials and temptations.  I don’t.  But they’re going to be a part of our lives until the Lord returns.

Paul’s statement above is a bright ray of hope.  It’s a promise we can cling to.  God will not allow me to go through anything that He and I can’t handle together.  The key is that I need to be looking for the exit door.

That’s the reason for his next statement.

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
1 Corinthians 10:14

Idolatry is anything that you place above God in your life.  Whatever or whoever you’re willing to rearrange your life or your schedule for is the one you’re serving.  Make sure that it’s Christ.

That’s an important key for testing these grey areas.  It might not specifically be called sin in Scripture.  But if it’s keeping you from serving God wholeheartedly, then you need to flee from it.  Or at least put it in its proper place in subjection to Christ.

We need to take inventory of our lives.  Just because something isn’t evil doesn’t mean that it’s not hindering your walk with the Lord.

Paul tells us that God gives you the ability to put your life into order.  You’re able to overcome the trials and tests in your life.  Allow the work of the Holy Spirit to bring you to your destiny in Christ

Question: What areas of testing and temptation are you going through right now?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on May 13, 2019 in Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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Attitudes are Contagious

As we continue in the Gospel of Mark, we’re now a few days before the cross.  The Lord was invited to a party in His honor.  Many people came to see Him.

I suggest that you read Mark chapter 14, verses 1 through 11 before proceeding in this post.

During this meal, a woman shows up and makes her way to the feet of Jesus.  She opens a bottle of expensive perfume (approximately $40,000 in our economy) and pours it on the Lord’s feet.  This caused quite a stir among the crowd.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?  It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.”  And they rebuked her harshly.
Mark 14:4-5

But wait a minute!  How did it get to this stage?  I think that the answer may surprise you.

According to John 12:4-5, Judas was the first person to mention the price of the perfume.  He objected to its being poured out on Jesus’ feet.  Then, in Matthew 26:8-9, we see the rest of the disciples picking up this attitude.

I believe that it wasn’t until Judas and the disciples started their fuss, that the crowd heard it and ran with it.  I’m sure that it took some time for this attitude to build up.  Then the crowd got angry and eventually said something to the woman.

This should be a lesson to us.  We need to watch what we say and the attitude that comes across.  Too often we’re guilty of giving the world ammunition to aim at the church.

I find it interesting that people who’ve never set foot inside a church will say that all the church wants is your money.  Where did they hear that from?  Was it from a believer who was upset that the pastor actually taught about tithing?  We need to be careful.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus.  “Why are you bothering her?  She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.  But you will not always have me.  She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”
Mark 14:6-8

Jesus makes some interesting statements to the crowd.  If you put it into modern terms, He said, “Let it go!” and “Get off her back!”  The Lord made it clear that they had placed a heavy burden on her.

When the woman heard the crowd, she probably started to second-guess herself.  She might have thought, “I’ll never do something like that again.”  Many times, because they’re misunderstood, people are hurt and then they don’t do anything else for God.

It’s clear that she had done something prompted by the Holy Spirit.  She was anointing Christ to prepare Him for burial.  This was something she had no way of knowing in the natural.  This woman was operating in the wisdom of God.

“I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”  Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.
Mark 14:9-10

This story has a sad ending.  In the original Greek, these two sentences are connected by the word “and”.  I believe that Judas was upset at being called out for his bad attitude.  It was the final act that made him seek to betray Jesus for money.

Don’t let your attitude mess up your walk with God.  Keep it in check by the Holy Spirit and don’t let it affect others around you.

Question: How has the attitude of others caused your attitude to change?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2018 in Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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The First Step to Excellence #excellenceinministry

MountainI’ve been posting about the walk of excellence for a few days now.  Hopefully, as a child of God, you desire to walk in excellence before Him.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

Where do you start on this road to excellence?  As is the case with many things in Christ, it’s going to start with a choice.

It’s sad to say, but many believers will not be willing to make that choice.  The cost is great.  This is that small gate that leads to the narrow road that Jesus said few would find.

The reason is not that it’s difficult to see or understand, but because it involves sacrifice.  I have to sacrifice my plans, dreams, and hopes to make room for His.

Basically, I have to learn to see myself as lying dead upon the altar of the Lord in order for His resurrection power to raise me to new levels in Him.  That’s why, generally speaking, the body of Christ in this generation is in its present state.

There is a transformation process that I need to undergo in order for His Word, His will, and His Way to become a part of my being.  I must allow the Living Word and the Holy Spirit to renew my heart and mind.  My thought processes and desires must be transformed into that which conforms to His plans.

It’s only when I’m willing to see it through to completion, in God’s way, that He will entrust me with His excellent plan for my life.  So many people have come to me as pastor down through the years asking me how to “find” God’s will for their lives.

The above verse doesn’t say that I need to struggle or search for God’s will.  It says that if I’m willing to lay my life down on His altar and begin the renewal process of my mind, then I will just know it.  When I see His will for my life, I will approve it.  I think you can agree that if something is good, pleasing and perfect – it can also be described as excellent.

It’s only after the decision of excellence is made that God will entrust you with His will.  Too often our attitude is that we want to know His will first so that we can decide whether we want to do it or not.  The Lord requires faith if we’re to please Him.  We must come to Him with the decision to see it through before He’ll give us the glimpse of the road ahead.  If you will not trust God with your future, then He will not trust you with His vision.

Question: Have you chosen the road of excellence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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Becoming Mature in the Word

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven though the church talks a lot about the Word of God, I wonder sometimes just how mature we really are.  At one point the writer of the Book of Hebrews rebukes his listeners for their lack of maturity.

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:12-14

In order to become mature, we must learn the elementary truths of God’s Word.  Then when we’re mature, we are able to discern the good from the evil.  This is especially needed when someone supports their evil with a verse of Scripture.

People try to push the dumbest things, all in the name of God’s Word.  I believe these days of such foolishness are coming to an end.  I believe that God is bringing His people to a new level of maturity in the Holy Spirit.

As we mature, we will be able to discern whether something is of God, or just a clever deception.  That’s one of the reasons I’m posting this blog.  So that the Lord’s people can live for God unashamed and correctly handling the Word of Truth.

In Jesus’ encounter with the devil in the wilderness, He made the following statement.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

Here is why maturity in the Word is so important – The Word is our Life.  Jesus said that food was not enough for man to live on.  If someone truly wants the abundant life, then he needs to grasp the Word of God.

Paul understood this truth as he ministered to his people.  He wrote to them about how to live as examples to the world.

…as you hold out the word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
Philippians 2:16

This is such an important aspect that God’s Word is even called the Word of Life.  That’s why Jesus – the Word made flesh – could say that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  The Word of God brings life.  The Word of God is life.  This is a very important point for us to understand.

Question: In what ways have you experienced the abundant life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Word of God

 

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The Right Path

Proverbs 2:20
Thus you will walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous.
(NIV)

Righteousness is a word we don’t like to use too often.  It’s real religious sounding.  All it really means is to be right from God’s perspective.  Unfortunately, the religious definition is not always in line with the Scripture.

Having grown up in church, I sometimes got the impression that I was righteous as long as I followed a set of rules.  If I was “being good” then I was righteous.

At this point I have come to the conclusion that righteousness is all about trusting God enough to live my life on His terms instead of mine.  It is a path I have to walk.  The reality is that when we walk, every step is a choice.  Even a slight change in our stride can send us off into a totally different direction.

Each day I have a choice.  I can walk the way of the world, or trust the Lord that He will bring about His plan in my life.  By watching the lives of godly men and women in the pages of the Bible, or in the history of the church, I can see where this path is leading me.

Make the best choice today.  Follow the advise of wisdom. “Walk in the ways of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous.”

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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