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Tag Archives: Sabbath

Religion on the Attack

In my last post, we looked at how Jesus confronted the attack of religion against His ministry.  Today we’ll see another aspect of that battle.

Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.  Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.
Mark 3:1-2

I always read this account with amazement.  I can’t fathom the thinking process of the Pharisees.

I understand that they were starting to be annoyed by Jesus’ ministry.  I even understand how they were looking for a way to discredit Him.  But to use healing as the vehicle, doesn’t make sense to me.

In my last post, I talked about the traditions that the Pharisees had to bring more detail to the definition of work.  They had a lot of man-made rules concerning healing.  It’s the work of a doctor to heal so no work of healing could be performed on the Sabbath.

For instance, it was illegal to drink wine on the Sabbath, if you had a toothache.  That’s because if the alcohol in the wine deadened the pain in your tooth, it would be considered healing.

That’s all well and good for a doctor.  But there’s a huge flaw in their argument when they apply it to the Messiah.

Jesus didn’t work to bring about a cure in the natural sense.  He was able to flow in the power of the Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ ministry, it was God who healed the sick.

Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”  But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”  He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.  Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
Mark 3:3-6

It’s obvious from the above details that the healing was supernatural.  Jesus did absolutely no work to accomplish it.

That tells me that religion is blind to everything but its own ends.  It claims that it’s trying to serve God.  The actual truth is that religion is bent on proving its own superiority over anyone else.

They claim that by keeping the Sabbath pure from work, they’re following God’s will.  God, on the other hand, healed this man; proving that He had no problem with healing on the Sabbath.  Religion actually has the audacity to say that they’re more holy than God!

Unfortunately, this kind of thinking even creeps into the church.  Paul describes it this way…

…having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.
2 Timothy 3:5

Religion couldn’t care less about the power of God in operation.  It’s the form that’s more important.  How you look and what others think about you.  Powerlessness is okay, as long as people think that we have a more superior walk of “righteousness”.

Unfortunately, it’s merely a form of self-righteousness.  It doesn’t impress God, and it doesn’t help those around us.

Our goal should be a spiritual walk.  Spending time in the spirit, listening for the voice of the Father, then, obeying what we hear.  That’s the example that Jesus leaves us with.

Question: Why do so many choose form over power?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on January 3, 2018 in Healing, Legalism, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Religion – Keeping Up Appearances

I’ve come to the conclusion that God hates religion.  What do I mean by that?  To most people, when they think about the word religion, they mean a set of rules by which you live your spiritual life.

Christianity was never meant to be a religion.  God wants a personal relationship with His people through Jesus Christ.  We see a great example of this in the life of Christ as recorded by Mark.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.  The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
Mark 2:23-24

In order to understand what’s happening in this verse, I first have to explain some Old Testament facts.  The Law of Moses provided for the needs of travelers as they were going from place to place.  It allowed them to pick grain from any nearby field and eat it as they walked along.

So Jesus and the disciples weren’t stealing anybody’s grain.  God’s Word made it clear that the edges of a field were for the travelers, widows, and orphans.  It was a part of God’s provision for those in need.

Then why did the Pharisees have such a problem with what they were doing?  It all revolved around their religious interpretation of the Law.  According to the Ten Commandments, no work was to be done on the Sabbath Day.  It was to be a day of rest and worship.

Here’s where religion becomes an evil tyrant.  The Law of Moses said to not work on the Sabbath, but it never defined what exactly constituted work.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law took it upon themselves to help God out.  Since the Lord obviously forgot to explain it, they went ahead and detailed out what exactly was forbidden on the Sabbath.

The Pharisees had lists of “illegal activities” for the Sabbath.  For instance: you could pick up a chair and move it across the room.  But you couldn’t drag it because that would make a line in the dirt (furrowing) which was work.

The fact that the disciples were picking grain – harvesting – was not allowed on the Sabbath.  That wasn’t God’s law, but man’s religious interpretation of it.

It’s interesting that the word they use, unlawful, is a word that means not right.  However, this word implies that what they were doing was not right by appearance.  It didn’t look right.  With religion, it’s all about appearance.  It’s how you look on the outside.

Jesus had an answer for them.

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?  In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat.  And he also gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Mark 2:25-28

The Lord uses the example of David.  The Law said that the bread in the Holy Place belonged to the priest.  He could do what he wanted with it.  It just didn’t look right for David and his men to eat it.  But the priest was ministering to someone in need.

The underlying principle is that the Sabbath was created for us to enjoy.  It was to give us a time of rest and refreshment in the presence of God.  It wasn’t made so that we could have one more religious rule.

Our God is a God of relationship.  A good relationship can never be based on a list of do’s and don’ts.  Religion is a form of slavery.  A relationship with Jesus Christ brings freedom and abundant life.

Question: How have you experienced the tyranny of religion?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2018 in Encouragement, Legalism, The Gospel

 

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The Sabbath Concept

Cross SunsetThe concept of resting in the Lord is very important. That’s why I’ve been talking about it for a number of posts.

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his.
Hebrews 4:9-10

This is a key verse in our understanding of rest. The term Sabbath-rest is a very interesting one. It’s the Greek word Sabbatismos. This tense of the word Sabbath means the principle behind the Sabbath.

To put it in English terms the writer is talking about the concept of Sabbathism. So what this verse says is that carried over from the Old Covenant, into the New, is the principle if Sabbathism, not necessarily the observance of the Sabbath day itself. This is only referring to the concept behind it.

The reason is that anyone who enters God’s rest must do so exactly like God did. The believer must, by faith, settle down off of his own works. Think about this. God is still resting – but has He stopped acting? Absolutely not! The Lord continues to respond, yet He remains at rest.

This is the same for us. We know that the outcome has already been decided. We don’t know how God will bring it all about, only that He will. Therefore, we are not working to bring about a desired result.

Our only responsibility is to respond to God correctly. It’s this calling that’s the hard part of our walk with God. Israel was never able to attain to this.

So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.
Hebrews 3:19

Believe it or not, we’re actually talking about power. When the Scripture says that they were not able to enter this rest, it uses the Greek word dunamis. This verse literally says that they did not have the power to enter. It takes the power of God to enter this rest.

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
Hebrews 4:11

As I said, our response to God is the hard part. This verse makes that very clear. The Greek word that it uses means to be diligent, prompt, and quick. It’s going to require you to put forth some effort to enter God’s rest; it doesn’t just happen by accident.

Otherwise, as this passage warns, you will fall into the same pattern of apathy that hurt the Israelites. We will lose out because we get apathetic about the Lord’s rest. The writer now makes the reason for this abundantly clear.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

The key to this passage of Scripture is the first word, for. This verse contains the reason why we must make every effort to enter God’s rest that He has so graciously provided for His people. So often this verse is read as a “stand-alone” reference.

This was not written merely to give us some information about the Word of God. It’s the main reason why we must enter into the Lord’s rest.

In my next post I’ll finish this series by showing how the Word of God and resting in the Lord are related.

Question: How does trusting God’s Word cause you to rest in Him?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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God the Chess Player

ChessI’m posting a series about resting in the Lord. Of course you can’t talk about rest without mentioning the Sabbath.

For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.”
Hebrews 4:4

At this point the writer of Hebrews begins talking about the Sabbath – the seventh day. There’s a lot of controversy in the body of Christ over the concept of the seventh day. I believe that if you just read the Scripture with open eyes it will go a long way to clear things up. It’s obvious that in this verse the writer is referring to the creation account in Genesis.

Once everything was in place, God rested from His work. That’s how God rests. God entered His rest knowing that the world had been established such that everything would turn out as He had planned. This is why the principle of God’s rest is so elusive to us.

This is just the opposite of how we view it sometimes. By observation, we get the wrong impression. We think that each time someone or the enemy makes a move; God has to find a way to answer it. That is absolutely NOT the way it is.

Think about a master chess player. When they play chess, they plan 20 or more moves ahead. Then there comes a point in a match when one will declare, “Checkmate in 5 moves.” That means that the board is set in such a way that no matter what the opponent does, the victory is a sure thing.

This is what God did at Creation. As He formed the world, God knew every choice every person could ever possibly decide. He also knew how to bring about the end He desired no matter what choice anyone made. It will all turn out as planned.

He established the world so that He knows all the right moves to make to bring about His victory at the right time. By saying that God rested on the seventh day, we mean that at that point God announced, “Checkmate in 7000 years.” (Or however long it will take!)

God has been resting ever since that day. God was still resting when the children of Israel went into Egypt. That was also the case when they crossed the Red Sea. He was resting when Israel went into Babylonian captivity, and when they returned. God was resting when Jesus Christ walked the earth, died, was buried, and rose from the dead. He was resting on the day of Pentecost. God is resting right now. How can this be?

The Scripture above literally says that God rested off of His work. I believe that this means that His rest is separate from His actions. This brings up the question, can you rest and work at the same time? That and other questions will be answered as we continue to look at this concept of rest. At this point we only need to understand that when everything was prepared and in place, God rested.

God is at rest, not fretting or fussing over the future. If that’s the case, then why should I worry about how things are going to turn out? I can place my confidence securely in the Lord, knowing that He’s already worked out my problem.

Question: Why do believers worry so much about the future?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Is Your Schedule Bleeding Time?

Parking MeterIn my last post I talked about the Sabbath as a tithe of our time. I believe the violation of this principle is causing many Christians to be ineffective for the Lord.

The prophet Haggai had to rebuke Israel for their disregard of the Lord’s work. When they returned from Babylonian captivity, they immediately went about building themselves huge, comfortable homes while ignoring the temple of the Lord. They should have been able to accomplish both.

Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
Haggai 1:3-6

This could be said about our current generation in regards to our time. God’s people are always busy. But their time is never enough. In spite of all this busyness, not much is being accomplished in the Kingdom of God.

I remember when I was younger. Our church met on Sunday. The whole day revolved around going to church.

There was a morning and evening service. After the service, we would spend an hour or so just praying around the altar. We wanted the things that we heard in the message to become a part of our lives. We wanted the Word of God to take root deep in our hearts.

Now, it seems to me, that to many, the Sunday worship service is merely a formality. It’s something that we need to get out of the way in order for us to get on with what we really want to do.

I realize that’s a huge generalization. It’s not true about all churches or believers. But as I look out across what we call “the church” in America, it’s the modern trend. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I heard one leader say that among those who claim that they’re committed to a local church – it means that they attend at least twice a month. That’s the new commitment in our generation.

Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.
1 Peter 1:17

This verse tells us that we are not a part of the world system. It literally says that we should live in holy fear, overturning, turning up-side down, the time. What we do with our time will determine the future of the church.

Here’s the bottom line. Time is the new commodity in the body of Christ. We would ten times rather give God our money than our time. But I believe that time is what we need to spend if we want revival.

I’ve heard people say that America needs revival. We do. Do we really want revival, knowing the cost? We are going to have to purchase revival for our nation with time turned over to God.

Question: How much of your time are you willing to spend on revival?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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Time and Tithe…

Time MoneyI’m continuing my discussion about time, and our use of it in the body of Christ. I’m convinced that there’s something that we’ve lost sight of that’s making many believers ineffective. The longer we ignore it, the greater the problem will become.

It all has to do with the principle of tithing. Please don’t turn me off! I know that over the past 20 years, many great teachers have educated the church on the proper use of the tithe. I’m not going to reteach it here. I just want to remind you of some things as a foundation for what I actually want to show you.

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
NIV

We have been taught that the tithe is the first 10% of our increase. If we are faithful to worship God with this first part, then He will bless the other 90%. I can testify that this principle works.

In the arena of tithes and offerings, if we do our part, then God will throw open the windows of heaven. The only other place in Scripture where the windows of heaven were said to be opened, was during the flood of Noah.

At that time water poured out that the world did not have room enough for. Tithing then, opens up a window into our finances through which God can pour out His blessings into us. That’s the foundational principle that I want you to see.

There’s another term in the Bible that we need to get a handle on. It’s called Sabbath. It’s the principle of finding our rest in God’s presence.

In talking about this truth, the writer of the book of Hebrews states…

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
Hebrews 4:1

Under the Old Covenant, the people were told to set aside one day a week for God’s purposes in them. They were to set this day apart as holy to the Lord (Exodus 20:8).

Think about it. There’s seven days in a week – one was to be set apart. There are 24 hours in a day. Seven days, times 24 hours gives us 168 hours in the week.

Ten percent of those hours is about 17 hours. 17 hours was approximately how long a person was awake during the Sabbath. Do you see it? The Sabbath is the tithe of our time.

Please understand that I’m not trying to put you back under the law. But the realization that God freed up the schedules of the Israelites for worship should speak to us. Are we giving God time during the week? How much are we freeing up for His purposes in our lives?

I’m always hearing people say, “There aren’t enough hours in a day. I don’t have enough time to do everything I need to do.” It sounds like the same things they say about their money, when they don’t tithe.

Questions: How many hours a week do you spend in God’s presence? Is it a tithe of your time?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2014 in Power of God, Prayer, Revival

 

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Jesus and Religion

John 5:17-18
Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”  For this reason the Jews tried all the harder to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus and the Pharisees had a hard time getting along.  They were the “religious bunch” in Israel at that time.  Jesus didn’t seem to tolerate religious people too well.  That gets me thinking about the church today.  When you talk to some people, they think that being religious is a plus.  I wonder how they would feel if they ever met Jesus in person.

In this section of Scripture, persecution is starting to arise because of the things Jesus is saying and doing.  The Pharisees don’t like the way Jesus is ignoring their religious traditions.  Among other things, He’s healing on the Sabbath.  To make matters worse, the Lord makes an announcement that really starts them grumbling.  He actually calls God His Father.

The Pharisees were always having a problem with what the Lord said and did.  They didn’t like the fact that Jesus made himself out to be God in the flesh.  According to Scripture, that’s who the Messiah was meant to be.  He couldn’t lie about who He was.  Of course, this didn’t sit well with the Pharisees, who enjoyed the esteem and praise of the people.  They didn’t want to hear who the Lord was, because it meant that they’d have to submit their will to His.

It seems that religion always gets in the way of a relationship with Christ.  We need to step back and take a good look at how we view our connection with God.  Do we see it as a set of rules that need to be followed.  Or is it about time and intimacy spent with the Lord.  Don’t become like the Pharisees.  Cultivate the living relationship that Christ wants to have with each of His followers.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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