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Monthly Archives: October 2015

The New Testament Sabbath

churchesI’m posting about how to rest in the Lord and in His finished work. We can see the negative example of Israel from Scripture.

It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.
Hebrews 4:6

These are sobering words. I notice that he writes that some, and not all will enter this rest. The verse says that those who didn’t, missed out because of disobedience. The actual Greek word there is apeitheia. This is where we get the English word apathy from.

This means that they did not enter in because of obstinate and rebellious disbelief. It’s made sadder by the fact that these very people had the Good News preached to them. This means that we have to be all the more careful to not miss this rest.

Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”
Hebrews 4:7

I believe that this is the key to the whole issue. If you hear His voice, don’t become hard hearted. Here we are 2000 years later and He’s still calling to His people. “Enter My rest.” If you hear this call, don’t get stubborn about it.

That’s why I think that it’s foolish to argue about what day of the week is the “day of rest.” The Scripture clearly calls it today – whatever day today is.

The Word of God plainly tells us that a cease from work is not the same as resting in God. For that matter, attending church is not the same as resting in God. I can’t say it any clearer than to tell you point blank that Israel observed the Sabbath but still DID NOT ENTER GOD’S REST.

In the Old Testament the Sabbath looks forward to what Jesus was going to accomplish for us. Any concept or truth from the Old Covenant must pass through the filter of the cross. Only then can you understand the true implications for the New Covenant believer.

The Sabbath is now applied to everyday under grace. The simple fact is that if you believe that Sunday (or Saturday) is the only day when you can have a church service, and that all believers need to worship together, you have a problem. If those two statements are true, then it’s not God’s will for firefighters, police, EMT’s, nurses, or others who have to work those days, to be saved.

We argue and fight about the most foolish things in the body of Christ. Israel obeyed the law of the Sabbath. Yet the Scripture clearly says that Israel never entered into God’s rest. Yet, we hold them up as the example for keeping the Sabbath.

The important thing we need to ask ourselves is not what day of the week we worship God, but are we entering into His rest? Will you enter into God’s rest TODAY?

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.
Hebrews 4:8

The problem Israel faced is that Joshua only brought about a military victory. He was not able to bring the nation into true rest. That’s why God is so serious about our entering in.

More than anyone else, Christians should be entering the rest that God has provided for them. Not just on weekends, but 24/7. Anything less and you’re missing a big part of the blessing that was given us at the cross.

Question: How often are you intentional about entering God’s rest?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

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Posted by on October 30, 2015 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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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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God’s Place of Rest

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been posting about resting in the Lord. I’ve talked about what life is like with and without that rest. God desires for His people to find that place in His presence.

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.
Hebrews 4:3

The only way to enter that rest is by faith, there’s no other way. God calls it, My rest. That means it’s the very same rest that He has entered. What a privilege to know that we may enter God’s rest. It should be obvious that since it’s His we cannot enter on our own.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
Psalm 23:2

It’s interesting to note that the phrase quiet waters literally means the waters of rest. Just like sheep, we can’t find this place without Him. That’s because it’s only found in Him. According to the writer of Hebrews it’s for we who have believed. It must be by faith that we enter this rest.

Jesus said the same things during His earthly ministry.

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
John 7:38-39

Jesus was speaking here about the Holy Spirit. That’s where we access the streams of God. If they are the waters of rest, then that means that I must rest in the Holy Spirit. Of course the Israelites we read about in the Old Testament rejected this provision of God. Jeremiah talked about it in his prophetic writings.

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
Jeremiah 2:13

The children of Israel rejected God’s rest. They ended up trying to find a rest on their own. It didn’t work. It’s sad to say, but we’re guilty of the same type of wandering sometimes. We would much rather do it ourselves than to take part in what God has freely provided.

He makes it clear in Hebrews 4:3 above that everything that was needed for our rest was accomplished in God’s Creation. Now that’s interesting to learn. The cross wasn’t needed to enter into His rest. The only thing required was faith. Of course there’s more available to us now through the cross, but the access is still the same – faith.

It requires us to trust God in all things. It doesn’t matter what the situation I’m in right now looks like. God has it all under control. I can rest confidently in Him, knowing that He will work all things out for my good.

Question: How does resting in God affect your outlook on life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Results of Resting in Christ

GrapesI’ve been posting about resting in Christ. In my last article we saw the symptoms of not resting in Him. Now I want to see what the Word says about what we can expect if we live in Christ.

The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest. Though hail flattens the forest and the city is leveled completely, how blessed you will be, sowing your seed by every stream, and letting your cattle and donkeys range free.
Isaiah 32:17-20

Here are the symptoms of a heart that is at rest in the power of the Lord:

A quiet life. This is not talking about the level of noise that’s around you. Living a quiet life means that there’s nothing that comes your way that disturbs your peace of mind. Do you have a peace that surpasses understanding? This is what the Lord wants for His people.

Confidence.   This is the opposite of fear. It’s an assurance that you’re protected no matter what comes your way. It’s the knowledge that God is out for your best, and He knows the way to bring it about. Are you walking in the assurance that God has your life in complete control?

Safety. This is the word shalom. It’s the peace of God. It’s the knowledge that there is nothing that can rob from you. This word is full of meaning. It encompasses every area of your life – nothing missing and nothing broken. Are you able to look at yourself as safe in the arms of the Almighty?

A refuge. This is speaking about a hiding place from the enemy. We can rest in the knowledge that the Lord will not let anything into my life, except that which will bring about His plan for me. Do you know that the enemy can’t touch you, except for what the Lord allows? And if the Lord allows it; that means that it will be for your benefit?

An undisturbed place of rest. This means that you can rest and sleep without disturbing thoughts. Many people can’t sleep because of racing thoughts. Regrets about the day behind them. Anxious thoughts about tomorrow. Do you have a peaceful rest in spite of all that’s going on in your life? This is how the Holy Spirit wants to work in you if you rest in Him.

Sowing is a joy. When you rest in Christ, giving is not a chore to you, but a blessing. You can easily devote yourself to lifting others up because your needs are not front and center. If I know that God’s got me covered, then I can be a blessing to those around me. Do you find it easy to give to others? Are you a cheerful giver?

Freedom of ministry. This is the last section of the verse. You do what you know to do no matter what it looks like around you. Do you perform your ministries even when it looks like it will have no effect?

When it seems like the world is crashing down around you, you’re able to keep moving forward in Christ.

If these phrases describe you, then you’ve entered the rest that God has provided. It’s unfortunate that many believers miss out on the blessing of resting in Christ. We must not be like Israel. They never saw the complete rest God had for them because they didn’t walk in faith toward it. Let us strive to understand and enter what the Lord has for us.

In my next post I’ll begin looking at how to enter this resting place in the Lord.

Question: How does the world view someone who’s resting in Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on October 23, 2015 in Encouragement, Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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6 Signs of Missing God’s Rest

WomanIn my last post, I started talking about resting in the Lord. That’s God’s provision for His people. He desires us to enter into that place of peace.

But what happens if we ignore this invitation? Let’s look at the symptoms of a life lived outside of God’s rest. The Lord explained it to Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land.

Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!” – because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see.
Deuteronomy 28:65-67

This passage plainly tells us the symptoms of a life lived outside of God’s resting place. These symptoms include:

An anxious mind. The words he uses here are literally a trembling and fearful heart. The future should never cause anxiety in the hearts of God’s people. Do you have fear in your heart about the future? Are you constantly worried about what you see coming at you? Then you need to enter God’s rest.

Weary eyes. These are eyes that fail to see what God has for you. The Word of God is clear about the many things that were purchased for us on the cross. We need to constantly remind ourselves of these things. Weary eyes means that you have no vision for your life based upon the Word. You seem to be longing for something more. Do you have a lack of vision?

A despairing soul. This literally means a soul that’s in mourning. Mourning takes place as a result of experiencing loss. When something or someone dear to us is taken away, we enter a state of mourning. Do you always feel as if you lost something along the way? God’s answer is to enter His rest.

Constant suspense. This actually means that you are always doubting. Is God’s purpose hidden from you? Do you doubt that He can bring about His desire for you?

Dread day and night. This is talking about constant fear over the future, with no assurance in sight. Do you fear that your life will have no impact or meaning?

Depression. That’s the final step in this process. You can’t wait for evening to go to bed. Then, sleep eludes you and you can’t wait for morning. Do you battle with depression? Does it rob you of your will to go on?

If you have these symptoms at work in you, then you need to understand and enter God’s rest. The Word is clear. God has so much He wants to shower upon you.

That’s why I felt the need to start this series. Many believers, either through a lack of understanding or disobedience, fail to see God’s blessing in their lives. They miss out on resting in the Lord.

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

In my next post I’ll show the results of a life resting in Christ.

Question: How has resting in Christ helped you to overcome these problems?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Encouragement, Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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God’s Resting Place

CrossRest. It’s something every believer needs, but few ever enjoy to the extent that God has provided it for us. How well you can rest is dependent upon your understanding of the Lord and His power. It should be one of the greatest testimonies of a godly lifestyle.

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. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Hebrews 4:1-2

The writer was talking about Israel in this passage of Scripture. It’s clear that they missed out on God’s best for them. I don’t want that to be the case for God’s people today. We need to understand the Good News of entering His rest.

This is especially true in the high paced society where we find ourselves today. The world doesn’t understand this rest. We’ll never find it if we try to live like all those around us. It will only come through Christ.

This verse has some stern warnings for us as believers. First of all, the promise of the Lord’s rest still stands. It wasn’t just an Old Testament concept. But the most important key here is the phrase, be careful.

In the Greek, it literally means to be afraid. We’re told to be afraid that none of us comes up short or arrives too late to enter into His rest. We know that when we die we’ll enter into the rest that’s in the Lord’s presence. This verse is an exhortation for us not to wait until we’re dead to experience this rest. This rest is for us, and it’s for us to enjoy right now.

According to this verse, it can only be entered into by faith. That’s where the Israelites missed it. We’ve heard the same Good News that they have. We must not follow their example of unbelief.

Please realize that the writer is not talking about the salvation experience here. He’s talking to believers. The fact is that many Christians live their entire lives and never enter into the rest that God has provided for them. That’s because this rest is established upon the power of God.

It’s not going to be by my own striving that I enter in. To experience it, I must have faith in the finished work that Christ accomplished on the cross. That’s the key where many of us miss it.

What is this rest all about? How do I know if I’m resting in Christ? These are important questions that we need to answer from the Scripture.

I want to take a few posts to talk about this rest. God has called us to enter this realm where we cease our working, and rely upon Him. That’s the faith-rest life that I’m referring to.

In my next post I’ll talk about the symptoms of a life that is lived outside of God’s resting place.

Question: How much of God’s peace does your life exhibit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Facts About Missing Church

meLyRzsI’m not going to try and make you feel guilty for missing church. As a pastor I’ve found that guilt never accomplishes anything lasting in the lives of people. But, where missing church is concerned, there are some principles at work that most believers don’t know about.

The principle of positioning yourself. We all need God’s blessing, provision, and wisdom. Maybe there are things you’re trusting Him for right now. God has a specific way that He provides for us. In order for us to receive, we need to fulfill the conditions that He sets forth. The Lord already has the supply; it’s up to us to be in the position to receive it.

God has an appointed a time and place for you to receive those things that you’re trusting him to accomplish in you. If the Lord has called you to be a part of a certain local church, then many times that will be the place He expects to meet with you. If God shows up at the appointed time and place with your answer, and you’re not there, you’ve just missed out on your blessing.

How many “unanswered prayers” are simply the result of us deciding to miss church for the wrong reasons? We need to compare the way we show up to church with the other activities of our lives. How does our church attendance compare to work, school, sports, or the other things we’re involved in? That’s how you can usually tell if the reason for missing is justified.

The principle of fellowship. The word fellowship, in the Greek, is the word koinonia. It’s a word that speaks of placement. It means that I have a share in what’s taking place. It’s like being a shareholder in a corporation. I share in the profit or the loss.

In the body of Christ I have a role to play. There’s somebody who needs the blessing that I have. If I “take a day off”, there will be something missing in our fellowship. Conversely, how many times have you missed a blessing because the person who had it just didn’t feel like showing up?

The principle of the church as an organism. We’re not just an organization. We rely on each other. Until we get a vision of this truth, we’ll never rise to our true potential in Christ. The writer of Hebrews understood this fact.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:25

We need each other. Our blessings and provisions in Christ are all interdependent upon each other. What I do affects you and your actions affect me. If we want to see revival and a renewed power in our churches, then we must stand together in our fellowship.

Questions: Where do you fit into the body of Christ? How do you actively participate in the Kingdom of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2015 in Encouragement, Fellowship, The Church

 

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