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Striking the Shepherd

We’re looking at the events leading up to the crucifixion of Christ as recorded by Mark’s Gospel.  Jesus and His disciples have just finished the Last Supper and were heading out to the Mount of Olives.

As they walked along, Jesus had some sobering words for them.

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
“You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’  But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today — yes, tonight — before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.”
But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”  And all the others said the same.
Mark 14:26-31

The Lord predicts that none will stand with Him in His final hours.  That thought shocked them, especially Peter.  He couldn’t imagine that he would ever deny knowing Christ.  But very soon he would find out how far off his self-assessment was.

I think that we focus on Peter too much when we read this passage.  After all, we would know better than to deny knowing the Lord.  Or, would we?  Let’s think about what’s happening here.

Jesus quotes a Scriptural truth to His disciples.  He tells them that when the Shepherd it struck, the sheep are scattered.  He was referring to the disciples as the sheep.

However, Jesus was using this verse to prove His first statement that they would all fall away.  That literally means that they would all be offended, or tripped up.  It was being offended that caused the sheep to leave the side of the Shepherd.

This didn’t mean that they stopped loving or following Christ, they just didn’t want to stand too close to Him.  They didn’t want the hatred of the leaders to be against themselves.

In our society, right now, there’s a definite hatred against the name of Jesus Christ.  Any mention of Christ or the teaching of Scripture and they begin to shut down and stop listening.  So, what’s our response?

I’ve found that in many cases we start to distance ourselves from Christ.  For instance, there are many singers and entertainers who profess Christ – privately.  I’m frequently told of one or another who are Christians.

The problem is that by watching the movies they’re in or hearing the songs they record, I would never have known.  Even in their interviews, they may only make a slight reference to God.

Of course, it’s not just those in the media.  What about “regular” Christians?  What happens when people ask us about our views on evolution, homosexuality, abortion, or other controversial topics?  Do we simply shrug our shoulders and stay silent?

Please understand that I’m not talking about being offensive and attacking others with Scripture.  The world has a very good idea of what Christ and the Bible teaches.  As believers, we need to be willing to stand with Christ and take any heat the world may bring on account of this.

We need to pray for boldness in our generation.  In that way, when the world strikes at our Shepherd, we will stand with Him.

Question: How have you been hurt for standing with Christ and His Word?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Are You Setting Yourself Up for Offense? #wordofGod

RockyI’m posting about the different “heart soils” in Luke 8.  Today I’ll deal with the rocky soil.  This is about rocks with only a thin layer of dirt to cover them.  The seed germinates and springs up quickly.  But just as quick, the sun comes out, scorches the plant, and it withers and dies.

Jesus explained the spiritual application this way.

“Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.”
Luke 8:13

This verse literally says is that these people receive the Word in the middle of joy.  It sounds like camp meeting to me.  There’s excitement in the air.  The whole atmosphere of the meeting is charged with a heavenly joy.  It’s easy to believe in a place like that.

We’re not talking about people who don’t believe what they hear.  They believe it’s for them.  The problem is that what has sprung up so quickly, also withers just as quick.  What is it that withers?

For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:24-25

What withers is the glory of man.  This type of person hears the Word and believes that it’s “all about me.”  That’s why there’s all the joy and excitement.  They think that the Word is for my blessing, health, and prosperity.  Forget about what God’s ultimate purpose is.  It’s me that’s important.

The Lord says that in this rocky heart there is some faith exhibited for a while, but it doesn’t last long.  Eventually trials and testings will come.  When this happens, Jesus literally says that they will become offended.  Why does Christ use this word?

When I go through a time of testing, I realize that it’s not all about me.  I get offended that I’m not the center of all the attention.  I don’t want the spotlight on Christ and what He’s trying to accomplish in me.  I want the priority to be my comfort and happiness.  The result is that I get offended and walk away from the Lord and His plan for my life.

If I want my heart prepared for an abundant harvest, I must assume that the Word of God spotlights Jesus Christ.  I must desire to know His heart.  There are many who read the Bible and pursue God only for what they can get from Him.  The big question on their minds is, “What’s in it for me?”

Instead, we should be focusing on God’s eternal purpose – to draw all humanity into His kingdom.  The blessings of God are great, but they’re not an end in and of themselves.

God has promised us prosperity, but it’s to finance the spread of the Gospel.  God has promised us health and healing, but it’s so that we can minister the Good News of His love to the best of our ability.

All the promises of God should be viewed through the filter of God’s will and plans.  That’s what’s missing in the shallow faith of rocky soil.  We need to keep our hearts clear of the rocks of self-centeredness.

Question: How is God working through you to bring about His purpose?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2013 in Word of God

 

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The Last Days – Are You a Weed?

WeedIn my last post I started talking about a parable found in Matthew 13:24-41.  I believe it’s talking about the times we live in right now.

In it, Jesus explains that through the centuries, the kingdom of God and the world will mature alongside of one another until the end approaches.  Then, as we get close to the return of the Lord, a weeding will take place.  What is the nature of these weeds?  That’s what I want to talk about in today’s post.

According to the parable, both kingdoms begin to sprout.  You could also say they begin coming into fruition.  The church is starting to become what God wants it to become.  The closer we get to the ministry of Christ, the closer we are to harvest time.

The parable also tells us that the weeds are the enemy’s kingdom sown right alongside of us.  The word Jesus uses for weed is a plant called darnel.  It’s a special plant that looks exactly like wheat.

The downside of having it in your field is the fact that it contains a deadly poison.  Not only that, but if it’s planted next to wheat you can’t tell them apart.  As a matter of fact, everything about them looks the same until the harvest.  At harvest time wheat starts turning that beautiful, golden color.  Darnel, however, turns black.

If you were to eat darnel, it would cause sleep, convulsions, nausea, and even death.  It’s a poison.  It’s not good for human consumption.

So what Jesus is saying is that there’s going to be a battle going on until the end of the age.  This is because two different families are going to be on the earth at the same time with two vastly different agendas.  There will be two groups of people that are becoming two different kingdoms.  One of those kingdoms is poison and one is life giving.

“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.”
Matthew 13:41

First, He says that the angels will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin or literally, causes offense and stumbling.  Wow!  That’s probably half the battle right there.  If we can get rid of the things that cause stumbling and that cause offense, living for Christ would get a whole lot easier.

The second type of weed mentioned by the Lord is all who do evil.   Literally it says all without law.  He is speaking here of those who are not submitted to Christ – they are without law.  These people don’t care what the Lord wants them to do – they have their own agenda.  Too many people in this generation are “serving” God on their own terms.  That is unacceptable to Him.

If you find yourself in one of these two categories, take the time right now to repent and become a life-giving member of the body of Christ.

Question: Have you ever experienced the poison of these “weeds” in a church setting?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Return of Christ, The Church

 

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