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Perfect Submission

When we think about Jesus, what words come to mind?  Savior, Lord, God Almighty, and many more.  But do we immediately think of “obedient”?  That’s the first picture we get in the Gospel of Mark.

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Mark 1:9-11

Many people wonder why Jesus felt He needed to be baptized in the Jordan River.  After all, He had no sin that needed to be confessed.  The Lord was perfect in all of His ways.

The fact is that Jesus knew His purpose right from the start.  He came to earth with the cross in mind.  He was fully aware that in order to save us, He would need to die a cruel death, be buried and then rise three days later.

That’s what this baptism was all about.  The Lord was showing, by a visible sign, that He was in full submission to the Father’s will concerning His life.  Christ’s initiation into public ministry was a confession that it would end in death, burial, and resurrection.

That’s why the Father gave His seal of approval to the Lord’s work.  He was well pleased that Jesus was willingly going forward with the plan of salvation.

But there was more to the Lord’s obedience and submission than this act of faith.  There was a step by step, day by day leading that He had to follow.  From this point on, the Holy Spirit would be His guide and leader, giving Him the plan for each new day.

I’d like to think that following the Holy Spirit is easy.  No problems; just do what He says and it’s a clear road ahead.  That wasn’t the case for Jesus.

At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Mark 1:12-13

Immediately after a public submission to the Father’s plan, you would think that there’d be a huge boost in His ministry.  Instead, the Holy Spirit sends the Lord off to the wilderness.  You would think that this was opposite of what He should be doing.

“Go to Jerusalem.  Proclaim yourself the Messiah and Savior of the world.”

No.  That’s not the path that the Spirit had for him.  Jesus needed to be able to listen to the voice of the Father.  The wilderness would be His training ground.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…
Hebrews 5:8-9

We sometimes think that the only time Jesus suffered was on the cross.  I don’t believe that’s the case.  It doesn’t matter who you are, forty days in the wilderness with no food is uncomfortable for anybody’s flesh.

That’s why the Scripture tells us that Christ had to learn obedience.  It wasn’t easy.  It involved some suffering.

The suffering I’m talking about is that of self-discipline.  Jesus didn’t have to go to the desert.  He didn’t have to fast for forty days.  He was being led by the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes I think that’s the hardest temptation there is.  The knowledge that you’re following God’s plan.  It’s not comfortable.  No one will know if you deviate, or even cut a few corners.  Yet, you stay on the path you’re called to, no matter what.

This is the path of submission and obedience that we see exemplified in the life of Christ.

Question: What was the hardest thing the Holy Spirit asked you to do?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Patiently Complaining?

In my last post we saw what James taught about the Second Coming of the Lord. It will require us to be patient. At this point it’s taken about 2000 years for the fulfillment.

But there is still more to learn about patience.

Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
James 5:9

James tells us to wait patiently without grumbling. Now, that word grumbling was a colloquial term that meant to sigh, to murmur or to say something inaudibly.

It’s just like when someone gets you mad and you speak under your breath.

“I don’t know about that person … I don’t want to do it his way … who does he think he is.”

Many of us act that way, but the Word says that we shouldn’t get caught up in that type of attitude. We shouldn’t be grumbling and complaining about one another.

Why not? “Because the Judge is at the door.” We enjoy the ability we have of always judging everybody else and then walking away.   We’ve always got something to say about somebody.

I know that in my own life it’s so much easier to give myself the benefit of the doubt. But when someone else does something I don’t like – they have no excuse. It may be human nature to see things in that way, but it’s not Christ-like.

Be careful, because the Lord sees everything, and He’s the One who’ll make the final, righteous judgment on the case.

Jesus, especially in these Last Days, wants us to walk in unity of spirit. And so He wants us to be careful not to be found grumbling and judging each other because we know that the real Judge is at the door. We’ve got to be found doing the work that He’s called us to do and not mistreating one another.

There’s one more aspect of patience that James deals with.

Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
James 5:10-11

Especially in these last days, we need to be patient in the face of suffering. Please understand, that word suffering literally means suffering evil. It about the patience we need to be salt in our current evil society.

I have to understand that unsaved people are going to do evil. It’s all a part of their human nature passed down through their DNA. It’s not my place to judge them or tell them what they’re doing is wrong.

I must be praying for them. While God is at work, I need to be patient with them. Then, as I live openly for Christ, I expect the Holy Spirit to convict them and open their heart to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t take any character to gripe and complain about everything that people are doing wrong in our society. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit wait patiently for an opportunity to be a true witness for Christ.

The fact is that people don’t get saved because you tell them how bad and sinful they are. They seek salvation when they see how good and loving the Savior is. The key is that the only place they’re going to see Christ’s goodness is in us.

Question: When have you had to be patient in the face of evil?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Legalism, Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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Taking the Easy Way

CrossesThis will be my last post in the series about spiritual warfare. I’m looking at Christ as our example.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Matthew 4:8-9

This was probably the greatest attack the enemy could have aimed at the Lord. Jesus knew that God’s plan called Him to buy the world with His blood on the cross. This would be an easy way out of that suffering. But if He took the deal He would have lost it all.

It’s clear that the final attack is aimed at the world. Why the world? Remember the goal…our goal is not personal comfort or the safety of the church. What we’re fighting for is to set the captives free.

That’s why we pick up the shield and advance forward toward the enemy’s camp. It’s to save souls.

The battle must go from personal to kingdom. What I talked about in my last two posts was just a defensive battle. Now you’re at hell’s gates. Now you’re taking something from the enemy.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'”
Matthew 4:10

Jesus saw through the devil’s deception. It was all about worship. The Lord was being tempted to pay homage to the ruler of the world.

We fall into that trap when we decide that we want to impress the world. You can’t do both; you can’t impress them and free them at the same time.

We are here to impose God’s freedom on the enemy’s kingdom. But we lack understanding if we think it’s like opening up a jail or a prison camp. It’s not like that. It’s more like an opium den. The people we’re trying to set free are all addicts to sin. Just like you and I were. It’s destroying them, but they don’t want freedom.

By the power of God, the church is out to break down the strongholds of the enemy. In the eyes of the world it’s like we’re removing their supply of drugs. It’s the sin they’re addicted to that we’re attacking. That’s why we’re so hated much of the time.

But that’s why we’re in the battle. It’s to save lives. The real question of all this is; are you willing? Are you ready and able to go to spiritual war? This generation of America is at stake.

The Lord is looking for the faithful. He’s calling to assemble His army. You’re needed on the front lines.

Question: What role do you play in this war to set the captives of sin free?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on July 27, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Warfare, Worship

 

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The Inconvenient Truth about Obedience

MeditationIn my last post I talked about the connection between faith and obedience. It’s one of the toughest choices we need to make as believers.

This goes beyond what we usually think about obedience.

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
Romans 1:5

Contrary to popular belief, obedience is by faith, not fear. It’s easier to obey if I trust the one I’m submitted to. This is especially true in my relationship with God.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.
1 Peter 1:14-15

According to Peter, this obedience comes as a result of calling. If that’s the case, then we need to look at the calling of God. Let’s review the verse we first read in my last post.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
Hebrews 11:8

It all starts by being called to go out of where we’re currently living. Then we’re called to move into a place that God expects us to inherit. The callings to go out and to move in are the two sides of God’s work in our lives. Both require our obedience.

It’s as if God is saying to us, “Let’s get you to the inheritance.” We then have to trust God enough to want the destiny that He’s prepared for us.

Bible talks a lot about obedience. Children and parents, employees and bosses, governments, church leaders, etc. This is how God gets you to the place He sees for you.

However, the biggest problem with God’s way of calling is that Abraham did not know where he was going. The verse literally says that he did not stand upon where he was going to.

Jesus understood this in His time on earth.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered
Hebrews 5:8

This verse is talking about Christ but it’s the same for us. The word suffer is talking about a feeling. The truth is that we only learn obedience by what we feel. Unfortunately, it’s usually a painful experience.

If I’m hungry and someone says, “Come to dinner,” that’s not obedience for me to come and eat. Obedience is when I’m watching TV and my parents tell me to put out the trash.

We need to understand that obedience is a learning process. It teaches me that to enjoy the best life, will require some discomfort now, for a greater return later. The inheritance is the fun part. It’s the calling that’s usually inconvenient.

Question: How does faith help us to obey God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Faith, Revival

 

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