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Planting for the Resurrection

As a pastor, I’ve been asked many questions about death and the resurrection.  The Apostle Paul had to deal with these issues as well.

But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised?  With what kind of body will they come?”  How foolish!  What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
1 Corinthians 15:35-36

This is our great hope in a nutshell.  We’re not just looking for the end of life.  In Christ, there is death and rebirth.

Even knowing this, people have questions about how this all works.  What about believers whose bodies were burned at the stake?  Or those who died in shipwrecks and were eaten by fish.  Then there are those who choose to be cremated.

This section of Scripture deals with these issues.  The bottom line is that we don’t need to worry about what happens to our bodies after we die.

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
1 Corinthians 15:37-41

Paul starts by saying that every type of body is different.  We serve a very creative God.  He loves variety.  So the natural universe is a grand display of His power and artistry.

But one thing is clear…the body that’s placed in the ground is not the body that will rise at the resurrection.  That’s just like the fact that a tomato plant looks nothing like the tomato seed that was planted.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44a

This is the foundation for our expectation of the future.  When we attend a believer’s funeral, it’s not the body in the casket that will rise.  On Resurrection Day we will receive a brand new body.

It doesn’t matter if your dead body is burned, eaten by fish, or turned into powder by the passing of time.  The body that was “planted” does not contain the material of the new body that will rise at the coming of the Lord.

According to this verse, the old body is subject to decay, disgrace, and weakness.  Our new body will have none of those characteristics.  Instead, it will be a body that has immortality, glory, and power.  That’s something to look forward to.

The last part of this verse gives us a little more insight.  Right now, our body is natural, or literally, soulish.  That means that our flesh is under the authority of our mind.  Whatever we think about, our body performs.

After the resurrection, our body will be a spiritual body.  That means it’s under the control of our spirit.  It will function like Jesus did after His resurrection.  It will even be able to transport wherever it needs to be – even going through walls if needed.

As I said in the last post, this thought should give us the perseverance to live for Christ to our fullest potential.  We know that our future, in Him, will be glorious!

Question: How focused are you on eternal life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Reason for Perseverance

Sometimes it seems difficult to serve Christ.  That’s especially true in the parts of the world where Christians are persecuted.  Why do we persevere through the trials?

We’re continuing to look at First Corinthians. Paul is teaching about the truth of the resurrection.  He’s writing to some believers who think that the concept of resurrection is only a suggested teaching.

Paul rebukes them and explained that belief in our future resurrection is non-optional.  Without the resurrection, there’s no salvation.

He now talks about how it relates to us.

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?  If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?
1 Corinthians 15:29

This probably refers to a local tradition they had in the early church.  If someone was saved in prison and was martyred before they could be baptized, someone would be baptized for them.  In this way, they could publically proclaim that this person was saved before they died.

But how does looking forward to the resurrection affect us?

And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?  I die every day — I mean that, brothers — just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.  If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained?  If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
1 Corinthians 15:30-32

Paul walked a very difficult road in his service to Christ.  It involved persecution again and again.  It was his view of the resurrection that kept him going.

That’s why he asks the important question.  Why go through this type of suffering if there’s no resurrection?

No resurrection means that there’s no eternal life.  That would mean this life is the only thing we’d experience.  If that was the case, there would be no reason to endure hardship for the Lord.  Without eternal life to look forward to, our goal should be to go for everything the world has to offer.

The fact is that eternal life is real.  We will rise again when Christ returns to the earth.  This present world is not all that there is.  We can give all for Jesus, knowing that our future glory is something to look forward to.

The apostle gives those who don’t believe in the resurrection a final rebuke.

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God — I say this to your shame.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34

It all comes down to who you’re trying to impress.  If you spend all of your free time with unbelievers and you want to please them, then your character will suffer.  Their attitudes will start to affect you.

The ones that Paul was writing to actually got to the point where they felt that the Resurrection Day was unimportant.  Their walk with the Lord suffered because they were living for the world.  We can’t allow that to happen to us.

You need to take stock of your friendships.  What effect are they having on you?  Are you in fellowship with other believers, or do you mostly want friendship with the world?

Keep your focus on the eternal.  That’s what will give you the foundation for perseverance in Christ.

Question: How important is the future resurrection to you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2019 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Trinity – Divine Order

One of the most difficult concepts for most people to understand is the triune nature of God.  We have come up with the word, trinity to describe it.  But you have to realize that “trinity” is not in the Bible.

As we go through Paul’s explanation of the resurrection, he touches on this subject in passing.

For he “has put everything under his feet.”  Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.  When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
1 Corinthians 15:27-28

The first and most important thing you need to understand is that we serve one God.  Sometimes the way we use the word trinity, and the way we talk about “God in three persons”, makes it sound like we have three Gods.  That is absolutely NOT the case.

The next piece of the puzzle is the realization that this one God, throughout history, has manifested Himself in four ways.  There are times that we see God the Father, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit.  Then there are those times when we refer to all of these together simply as God.

Are you confused yet?  I hope not.  But hopefully, I’ll clear some things up for you as we go along.

The Bible is clear that we were created in God’s image.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…”
Genesis 1:26a

It turns out that because of this, we are also triune beings.  We each have a body, a soul, and a spirit even though we’re one person.  Unfortunately for us, these three don’t always agree with each other.

You can think about God in the same way.  Our spirit exists, functions, and interacts in the spiritual realm.  That corresponds to God, the Holy Spirit.

Our body exists, functions, and interacts in the material realm.  That part of us corresponds to God, the Son.

Our soul is the center of who we are.  It houses our personality, memories, and the seat of our decision-making ability.  That part corresponds with God, the Father.

I am one person.  But I have three parts that make me whole.  They are always working together whether I realize it or not.

In my person, my soul is the part with the highest authority right now.  Some people teach that our spirit is highest, but Scripture says otherwise (1 Corinthians 14:32).  After the resurrection, however, our spirits will be in charge (1 Corinthians 15:44).

Now that I’ve explained all of this, let’s look at the above verse from First Corinthians.

Let’s say that I want a new smartphone.  But who really wants it?  It’s the real me – the person inside my being – my soul is wanting it.

How does my soul get it?  My body goes to work and makes a salary.  The money goes into the bank account of my whole person.  My body goes to the store and buys a new smartphone.  Now, my body places the new phone under the authority of my soul.

My body carries out the will of my soul.  It’s under the authority of my soul.  But even though this is true, my body is no less “me” than my soul.

In the same way, God the Son carries out the will of God the Father.  But, that doesn’t make the Son any less God than the Father.  Father, Son, and Spirit are all God.  One God.  They work together in the same way that my body, soul, and spirit work together.

We serve a great God.  He desires to reveal Himself to His people if we would spend time getting to know Him better.

Question: How do you describe the relationship of God – Father, Son, and Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2019 in Creation, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Dissipation, Drunkenness, Anxiety – Signs of the Times (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to be involved in some ministry events.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

“Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you will be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:34-36

Jesus tells us that because of our knowledge of future events, our lives should be different from the world. We have a mission before us that’s time-sensitive. Those things that hinder us from effectively sharing the Gospel of Christ must be put away.

The Lord spoke of dissipation. The Greek word literally means tossing-head. It was the common term for a hangover. We associate this term with drinking, but Jesus wasn’t limiting it to the use of alcohol.

Whenever we leave our calling to chase after the world, there’s a wasted period of time while we get back on track again. This is the period of our spiritual “hangover”. Too many Christians are living most of their lives in dissipation.

They’re either giving in to the desire for the things of the world or they’re trying to regain what they’ve lost. Don’t waste most of your life in dissipation.

Drunkenness, then, is the actual pursuit of worldly pleasures. You can become intoxicated on more than just alcohol. Power, money, sports, and a host of other distractions can rob you of your effectiveness in God.

Does that mean that all these things are sins? Absolutely not! But if you find yourself more involved in these temporary things than in your walk with God, then your priorities are messed up.

The third warning the Lord gives us is to beware of the anxieties of life. We’re not to be so overwhelmed by our cares that it hinders our walk with God.

When we spend most of our time worrying about finances, health, and relationships, we lose our desire to serve God faithfully. Jesus said that if you seek His kingdom and His righteousness first, then your needs would be taken care of.

Jesus said that the temptation to fall into these traps would come on all people – no exceptions. There will be no free rides. He’s warning us about the future so that we’ll be ready.

That’s why He said that if you’re watchful, awake, and alert, you could pray to escape some of these things. Literally, it means to run away from. I believe that if we seek God’s wisdom, we’ll be protected from much of the pain that will come to the earth. Of course, that means we need to listen for God’s voice of instruction, and then obey Him when He speaks.

I believe that the last days of this age are going to be the most exciting time period that any Christian could be a part of.

Question: What emotions does the thought of Christ’s return stir up in you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2019 in Return of Christ, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Revival Starts with Me (and You!) (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to be involved in some ministry events.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

Revival – a lot of people talk about it, but few understand it.  For the most part, we like the idea of revival, but lack the drive to see it through.  Like it or not, if we want to see revival in the church, then it needs to start in the individual.

A number of years ago I went through David’s experience with revival as recorded in Psalm 51.  To see the original series, click here.  I believe that it will give us the understanding we need to head in that direction.  The desire is up to you.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.  Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Psalm 51:1-5

The conditions surrounding the writing of this Psalm are very important.  David was the king of Israel.  His word was law.  One day, from the rooftop of his palace, he saw the wife of one of his generals taking a bath.  He was infatuated with her and eventually they had an affair that got her pregnant.

Since the general was away at the front lines, this would be an awkward situation unless it was taken care of quickly.  After a few failed attempts at a cover-up, David had the general assassinated.  He then took the “grieving widow” as one of his wives.  Now everything was fine and they could live happily ever after…or could they?

The prophet, Nathan, was given a Word from God about the situation.  He confronted David with the truth.  Psalm 51 is David’s response.  I’m glad to say that David was able to turn around and renew his walk with God.  By writing it in a Psalm, we can see the principles of personal revival.

In order for us to experience the joy of a personal revival, it always starts in the same place.  We must see the condition of our lives from God’s perspective.

Please understand me.  I realize that we’re righteous, by position, in Jesus Christ.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m looking at the day to day condition of our physical walk with God.  Are we where we should be?  Am I living up to the high calling of God?

It seems that one of the most dreaded exercises for most Christians is to take a long, hard, look at themselves.  We must be brutally honest in our assessment – comparing ourselves with the example of Christ.  No whitewashing, no excuses, and no justifications.  I can’t compare myself with anybody else – after all, I can always find someone doing worse than me.

This then is the first step toward personal revival.  Taking inventory of your spiritual walk as a believer.  Finding and admitting those areas in which you fall short of your calling to walk as Christ did.

Only then you can truly seek God’s power to change you.  Let this be your prayer.  “God, help me to see myself as I really am before you.”  Then take the steps necessary to bring the revival of God into your life.

Question: Why do we hesitate to take a spiritual inventory of our lives?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2019 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Squatters in God’s Kingdom (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to be involved in some ministry events.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

What’s your purpose for being a part of God’s kingdom?  Are you fulfilling that purpose?  Jesus gives some parables to explain God’s priorities.

Today I’ll be looking at the Parable of the Vineyard as recorded in Mark chapter 12, verses 1 through 12.  You may want to read it in Scripture before continuing with this post.

In this parable, Jesus tells of a man who owned a vineyard and rented it out to some farmers.  According to the terms of the lease, the owner was to get a share of the harvest as payment.  This was a normal agreement for property owners in those days.

It’s interesting to see that the owner did all the work to set up the vineyard.  All the farmers needed to do was move in and start harvesting.

How does this relate to the kingdom of God?  Simply put, the Lord is looking for fruit.  It’s not about our church attendance, Bible reading, or even our tithing.  He’s looking for the fruit of our relationship with the Holy Spirit that He placed within us.

During His ministry with the disciples, Jesus made this abundantly clear to them.

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5

What we have to understand is that this is not our kingdom, but God’s.  Everything we have is owned by someone else.  Even our very lives belong to the Lord.

Because of this, God is well within His rights to demand anything He wants from us.  We know right from the outset that He’s looking for the fruit of the Spirit.

Please understand that the fruit of our relationship with Christ is for the benefit and refreshing of those around us.  The fruit of the Spirit are not merely for my personal gain.

The tenants in the parable didn’t understand this.  They wanted to keep everything for themselves.

We live in a society where we’ve been taught that in most places – restaurants, stores, etc. – it’s all about what I want or need.  Somehow we’ve transferred this mindset into our spiritual life.  When it comes to being a part of a local church; I base it on what I can get from it.

What services do you offer me and my family?  Do I like the type of music and the length of the worship service?  Do I enjoy the way the Pastor delivers his sermons?

Wait a minute!!!  Why does God have me in His kingdom?  Is it purely for my comfort and enjoyment?  No!  I serve at the Lord’s good pleasure.

The tenants in this parable made a great mistake.  They figured that if they could get rid of the owner’s son, then they could take over the vineyard.  After all, squatters have rights.

Too often, I’ve seen this attitude in God’s people.  The Bible refers to it as godlessness.  Yes, there are many godless Christians.

To be godless simply means that God and His will don’t figure into any of your decisions.  You’re living as if there’s no God.  These are the squatters in God’s kingdom.  They’re living on God’s property as if it belongs to them.

If you’ve been guilty of this attitude, then it’s time to repent.  Get back to the purpose you were saved for.  We need to be producing the fruit of the kingdom.

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:8

Question: What are the fruits of the spirit that you have produced most recently?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Spiritual Investigations (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to be involved in some ministry events.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

A few years ago, I posted about the spiritual Christian. For the original series click here.  I looked at a verse that the apostle Paul wrote.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

My last statement was that the things that are received from God are spiritually investigated. You may wonder why I used the word, investigate when the verse said discerned.

The Greek word that Paul used is a legal term that applies to what a judge does when he’s hearing the facts of the case. It’s the investigation stage of the trial. Paul tells us that there are things that can only be investigated in the spirit.

Paul goes further with this point.

The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
1 Corinthians 2:15

We’re told here that the spiritual man is able to use his spirit to investigate all things. On the other hand, he cannot be investigated or figured out. It’s funny when soulish Christians hear the teaching of a spiritual believer. They have a hard time figuring the teacher out.

There have been many times that I have taught on things that I’ve received from the Spirit of God. Frequently someone will come to me and tell me how it blessed them. Then they’ll ask, “Where did you get that from. I’ve read that verse a hundred times and never saw it. What study books do you use?”

The soulish Christian just cannot wrap their brain around the fact that you can be taught directly by the Holy Spirit. They think the only place to get good teaching is from the bookstore or a good commentary.

The fact is, there’s a higher lifestyle in the Lord. A spiritual walk with God simply uses more of the power that He has made available to us by His Spirit.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16

This verse sounds kind of disjointed in English. The reason is that the translators couldn’t figure out why Paul was using the words that he used. What he literally said was who knows the mind of the Lord that we might unite or be knit together with Him?

That is a very powerful question. He then answers it by saying that we hold the mind of Christ. The Holy Spirit who lives in us has access to the very mind of the Lord. All the answers that we need are right within our grasp if we know the language of the Spirit.

One spiritual word from God could change the whole course of our life. This is why we need to live daily in the spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives intimate access to the mind of God.

It’s time for the body of believers to start walking in this great gift. Only then will the church live up to its calling in Christ.

Question: How often do you access the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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