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Monthly Archives: June 2015

True Biblical Faith

Icy RoadThis is the last of six reposts of my most read articles. It was originally posted in 2012. It was the start of a series on faith.

To view the original series click here.

Many people talk about faith. Few live it out to its full potential. It all comes down to how you perceive it. Is faith a single response to Scriptural teaching, or is it more than that?

But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
Hebrews 10:39

Whether we want to admit it or not, faith is an on-going process. In our society we like to “set it and forget it.” That’s not the case with Biblical faith.

Faith is a walk. It’s the path God leads us on from godlessness to perfection. We start out our lives with no knowledge of Christ or His Word. God takes us from where we are to as far as we’re willing to travel with Him.

What we find in this walk is that along the way there are always choices. These choices come at regular intervals – usually when we least expect them. These points are like forks in the road ahead.

It’s then up to us whether we accept or reject truth when we see it. Each new piece of knowledge comes with a choice. Do I trust God and His Word, or do I continue in the old direction I was headed?

It may sound like a “no-brainer” as to which path we take, but based upon my experience, it’s a little more complicated than that. We sometimes tend to stick with what we’re comfortable with, even though it’s wrong.

Choosing to trust God in a new way is a big step. There are those who come to a hard decision and simply stall out. There are others who start out trusting the Lord, but then when the going gets rough, they “shrink back.” Why do we find it so hard to totally surrender to God’s will?

This is the problem – faith is an uphill climb on an icy slope. When we come to a new choice and decide to stop, we begin to slide backwards, whether we intended to or not. In the above verse, the word destroyed means ruin or loss. Just standing still causes us to lose the ground we’ve already gained.

In our Christian walk, you have to put effort into it just to stand still. If you want the power of God’s salvation working in you, then you have to keep moving forward.

Where are you in your walk with Christ? What choices are you wrestling with? If you find yourself at a standstill – where did you stop, and why? Most Christians don’t deal with these questions because think that faith is a one-time event.

Make it your goal to make the tough choices and then keep moving forward in Christ Jesus.

Question: What’s the hardest decision that you’ve ever had to trust God for?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

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Posted by on June 12, 2015 in Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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5 Warning Signs of Legalism (Repost)

WarningThis is the fifth of six reposts of my most read articles. It was from 2012.

Many Christians are bound by legalism. Are you one of them? The trouble is that legalism can be very deceptive. You can be caught up in it and never know it – unless you see the warning signs. I hope this will be both a challenge and a blessing to you.

Elevating works over position. Do you worry about what you can do to please God? The correct answer is – nothing!! It’s the blood of Christ that makes me acceptable to God. Nothing I do can make Him love me any more or any less. While works can affect my rewards and blessings, they’ll never change God’s love and acceptance of me if I’m in Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

 Seeing yourself more of a slave than a son. Yes, we do serve God and are expected to obey Him in all things. But the way we obey is as mature sons and daughters. As spiritual children we learn servanthood. It’s the training ground for our growth in Christ. The purpose of servanthood is so that we can walk in maturity. The Lord desires sons and daughters to represent Him to the world. (Galatians 4:1-7)

Relying more on your confession than God’s grace. I believe in the confession of Scripture. Rehearsing and memorizing it is an important part of the believer’s life. Just as important is the reason we do it. The purpose of confessing God’s Word is to increase our faith in Him. But ultimately, it’s not my confession, but the power of God that will bring about the changes that I need. (II Peter 1:3)

Giving more time to studying Scripture than to intimacy with Christ. Scripture study is very important – it’s one of my passions. I couldn’t live without it. But, spending quality time with the Lord is even more so. Jesus rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees for diligently studying the Scriptures, yet not going to the Messiah that they pointed to. It’s not enough just to know about Christ. I need to have an intimate, personal knowledge of Him that only comes from time spent in His presence. (John 5:39-40)

Being more confident in your comparison with others than abiding in Christ. Comparison is a deadly trap. The problem is that I can always find someone less committed than me. It gives me a false sense of security because I’m no worse than anyone else. On the other hand, I can spend my days feeling worthless, because I look at others who are farther along than me in the faith. I can’t base my self-evaluation on someone else’s life. My goal is not to be better than you, but to be like Christ. (II Corinthians 10:12)

Questions: Have you battled with legalism? How have you overcome it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2015 in Encouragement, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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“No Pain, No Gain” (Repost)

JogThis is the fourth of six reposts of my most read articles. This was originally from a series in 2012. The series was about the uses of Scripture as listed in II Timothy 3:16.

To view the original series, click here.

This post is about training in righteousness.

This word training means to mentor or to train up like a child from infancy to adulthood. The Bible is written for all. It doesn’t matter where you are in your spiritual walk.

If you’re a baby Christian who was just saved, it can be your milk bottle. If you’re mature in the Lord, it has the meat of the deep truths of God. It can satisfy any hunger.

But what exactly does it train us in? Paul is very specific – training in righteousness.

In Scripture, you’ll find that righteousness is the whole package of what Christ paid for on the cross. Throughout the Word righteousness is associated with: Rewards, victory in battle, prosperity, salvation, honor, life, and healing. Scripture truly is the owner’s manual for our walk with the Lord.

When Paul speaks about training in righteousness he’s talking about the whole plan of God for your life. The job of Scripture is to take you from wherever the Lord found you when you were saved to the heights of His perfect plan for your life.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

The word discipline in this verse is the same Greek word as training in Second Timothy. The writer of Hebrews tells us that there is pain associated with this kind of training. Why is that?

The answer is simple. This training is what causes us to grow from infancy to maturity. Growth means change, and change hurts. Think about it – when I was an infant I could throw my toys all over the floor and my parents would joyfully pick everything up.

Then, there came a day when I was told, “It’s time to pick up your toys and put them away.” There must have been a look of pain and distress on my face when I had to clean my room.

Then, there came a day when I couldn’t just do as I pleased all day long. My parents came to me and informed me that I would be starting school next week. Suddenly there was a place I had to be every day, to read, learn, and take tests whether I wanted to or not. It was painful to me.

As a matter of fact, almost every new responsibility throughout our lives causes some degree of discomfort. That’s what this Scripture is talking about. As we are brought to maturity there are going to be painful changes. Things we used to do, that we’re no longer able to do. Thing we’ve never done that we’re now responsible for. We must let the Scripture do its work, so that we can be mature and complete – not lacking anything that the Lord has provided for us.

Question: What did you find most painful, so far, in the maturing process?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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God Confirming His Word

LightningThis is the third of six reposts. It was originally from 2013. It was a part of a series on the Word of God and its relation to Scripture.

To view the original series click here.

In that series I showed that the power of the early church was based upon their hearing from God. God spoke to them, they obeyed, and God confirmed His Word.

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Mark 16:20

Scripture says that the Lord confirms His Word with the signs – healings and miracles – that accompanied it. What’s our problem? Do we serve a different God? Of course not. Is He still on the throne? That’s a dumb question.

We serve a God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Then what’s the problem? It should be clear to us. We’re trying to get God to confirm the Bible verses that we’re preaching, when all along He wants to confirm the Word that He speaks to us.

He never told us to go out and read the Scripture to people for them to be saved – He tells us to proclaim His Word. I submit to you that our society has heard enough Scripture – it’s everywhere.

They’re sick of hearing Scripture. Many unbelievers can quote as much of the Bible as some Christians. What the world is desperate for is a Word from God. That’s what’s going to change their lives. They can argue with the Scripture, but a Word from God will cut straight to their heart.

In our exuberance over the enormous availability of Scripture, we have taken it too far. It doesn’t seem to matter what anyone says. As long as there’s a Scripture verse attached to it, we call it the Word of God.

It doesn’t take much listening to Christian radio or cable channels to see that many preachers are using Scripture to support their own teachings and philosophies. Hear me well. They may be preaching Scripture, but they are NOT proclaiming the Word of God.

In these cases, God is under no obligation to confirm what they’re preaching. God doesn’t have to confirm a quote from the Scripture; He only endorses His Word – what He wants said at that particular time and place.

Please don’t think, based upon what I said, that I have no respect for the Scripture. I cannot live without it. Daily, I read, memorize, study, and meditate on the Scripture. I use it prayerfully. I expect and seek God to speak to me through the pages of my Bible.

The difference is that now I’m also listening for God to use other means as well. I want to hear God’s voice – however He wants to speak to me. I believe that this was the basis for the power in the life of Christ and in the early church. One of my goals in this blog is to share how this works in a practical way.

Question: Is it your desire to hear a Word from God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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God is Excellent!

Cloud2The following is the second of six reposts of my most read articles. It was originally posted in 2013. It was from a series on spiritual excellence.

To view the original series click here.

I believe that the word excellent is overused in our society. In my last post I talked about what excellence is. It doesn’t just mean good, or even great. It means that what’s described is far ahead of all the others. It’s not a word that should be used lightly.

It’s a descriptive word that should probably be reserved for God, and the things associated with Him. We serve a God of excellence. I just want to take a post and show the excellent God that we serve.

The very names that God uses about Himself point to the fact of His Excellency. Here are some examples from the Old Testament:

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
Psalm 91:1

In this verse God is called the Most High. This is a term of comparison. There are many things in the universe that could be considered high. But of all the high things and people that exist, God is the Most High. This fits perfectly into the definition of excellence.

Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.
Psalm 148:13

Exalted and above are also words of comparison. They relate the Lord to His surroundings. They show that He alone is in a position of supreme excellence. There is no other god that can even compare to our God.

My lover is radiant and ruddy, outstanding among ten thousand.
Song of Songs 5:10

In the Song of Songs, written by Solomon, an allegory of the marriage between Christ and His church is put forward. Christ is referred to here as outstanding among ten thousand. This is an obvious comparison showing the excellence of Christ.

In the beginning God…
Genesis 1:1

Before everything, there was God. All of creation sprang from His Word. He’s at the head of all He created. That’s a perfect description of excellence.

When we use the word excellent, we should be careful to understand it. We mustn’t water it down to simply describe something that pleases us. We should always be aware that we serve a God who is the very definition of excellence.

Christ truly is the Excellent One.

Question: How would you describe the Excellency of our Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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God and the Candy Machine

 

CandyThis is the first of six reposts of my most read articles. This one is from 2013. It was originally from a series dealing with how similar our modern attitudes are to the crowd in John Chapter 6. They seem to have their eyes on the temporary, while Christ is trying to point them to the eternal.

Click here to view the original series.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty…And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:35-40

Notice that Jesus repeats Himself here. Two times He said to them, “I will raise them up at the last day.” It’s a very simple statement. It’s so simple, in fact, that most Christians miss it as well.

He told them that if they come to Him and put their trust in Him, He’ll give them eternal life and He’ll raise them up at the last day. The key is that you must have this eternal life in you BEFORE you enter the grave. If you have this eternal life in you, then death will not be able to keep you any more than it could hold on to the Lord.

He said it twice yet they didn’t hear him. Look at their reaction.

At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
John 6:41

It went right over their heads. They missed it. The Lord said you can have eternal life and that He’d raise you up at the last day. All they heard was that He thinks He’s bread that has come down from heaven. “What does He mean He’s bread coming down from heaven?”

They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:42-44

Jesus is desperately trying to get it into their head that He wasn’t emphasizing bread coming down from heaven. He was trying to get them to embrace eternal life. Over and over again He said, “I’ll raise him up at the last day.” They just didn’t get it.

I think, that just like us, they didn’t want to get it. They could tell that what Jesus was talking about meant change. They would have to change their views and attitudes about God. The Lord would no longer be that big “candy machine in the sky,” but a friend with whom you must spend time cultivating a relationship.

Question: How do you deepen your relationship with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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