RSS

Monthly Archives: November 2015

Do You Understand Where You Are?

TimingThis question isn’t about place, but time. Do you know where you are in the history of the church?

I’m posting about the spiritual battle that’s going on around us. It’s vital that we know the times we live in.

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Romans 13:11

We need to know where we are on God’s timetable. I don’t like saying it, but the truth is that past generations of believers could “sleep” through their Christian walk. Not us. We live in dangerous times.

The Apostle Paul continues talking about this.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Romans 13:12-14

In this generation we need to lay aside the things that are a part of the darkness. In their place, we must put on the armor of God.

We must live carefully and clothe ourselves with Christ. And as I focused on in my last post, we need to watch and pray. That’s how we keep alert spiritually.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

This verse literally says that we must keep watch with all persistency. That word persistency means to be strong toward, to be diligent. We must be diligent in the battle zone.

When we say that we need to be strong toward something, it speaks about a goal, a direction. We sometimes use the term “press in.”

In battle there are places that are hard to get to. There are houses you can’t enter until you bind the strong man. It isn’t easy to press into the miraculous. If it was – everyone, every church would have it.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
Acts 2:42-43

Was it any easier back then, in the early church? Did those believers have all the time in the world to do all these things? I don’t think they were any different from us. It was as hard for them as it is for this generation.

If we want God’s best, it takes diligence. It will cause us to leave our comfort zone. But the spiritual rewards will be worth it.

Question: What do you find to be the most difficult about pressing in to God’s presence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

Advertisements
 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

You’re in the Battle Zone – Stay Alert

mhXQFuIWhether you know it or not, the world is a spiritual battle zone right now. Unless you have the right mentality, you could become a casualty of this war. That’s why it’s so important to know how the Bible says for us to live.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:17-18

As I’ve posted in the past, this verse is talking about the authority and power of God. The Lord wants to work this through us. To read the series where I talked about this – click here.

In this new series of posts my question is; if we know we’re in the battle zone, then how should we live? The last sentence of this passage literally reads attend to this with all persistency and petition. The fact of the matter is that there’s a battle zone mentality.

The first thing we’re told is that it requires us to be alert. The Greek word there means to be sleepless. We must be awake and alert in the battle zone.

We’re told in this same chapter of Ephesians that our enemy isn’t flesh and blood. They don’t take a day off. Does that mean we don’t need rest or take a vacation? No, but we have to stay spiritually vigilant no matter what’s happening in our lives.

“There’s not much going on in my life right now. I don’t need to pray today.”

That kind of thinking can destroy you in this battle. Look at how Jesus put it to His disciples.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
Matthew 26:41

Watching – staying spiritually alert – and prayer go together. According to Jesus, it’s so that you will not enter into a test, a proving.

In the battle zone there are traps and ambushes. You must be alert. Like someone who’s walking in the middle of minefield. At that point you’re in the test.

Did you know that many of the tests and temptations of life can be avoided? I wonder sometimes how many of these battles are of our own making. Or maybe we’ve just walked blindly into them.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

This is how the enemy works. In the natural, it’s the oldest, weakest lion that does the roaring. The strong, young lions wait on the other side of the prey. When the prey hears the roar and runs away from it, they run right to the lions waiting for their dinner to arrive.

It’s the same with our spiritual enemy. He’s trying to get you to head into a trap. We have to keep spiritually alert at all times. That only happens as we watch and pray. It will help us to avoid many of the problems that are before us.

Stay alert!

Question: Can you think of a time that you were tested or tempted because you weren’t spiritually alert?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 27, 2015 in Power of God, Prayer, Spiritual Warfare

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thanksgiving and God’s Plan for You

ThanksgivingMany people are preparing their homes for Thanksgiving. I think that the average American has lost sight of the true meaning. It’s become “Turkey Day” or a day for watching great football games. But many have erased God from the picture.

The world we live in is so uncertain. Finances, healthcare, government, crime, terrorists…society is on the edge of their seat. How can we be thankful in a time like this? The fact is, if we want to live victoriously, then it’s all about thankfulness. Here are some things to think about as we head into this holiday.

…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

First of all, giving thanks is God’s will. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through – good times or bad. Notice that He doesn’t say for all things, but in all things. We shouldn’t be moved by the visible. We must keep our eyes on the eternal.

The ups and downs of society and the weather are all temporary. In any situation I find myself in, I can give thanks and I’m in the will of God for me.

…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20

This is a poor translation. The verse literally says always giving thanks OVER everything.

Giving thanks raises you over the situation. In the name of Christ we’re above our circumstances.

We see the problems and they look so big. Like the Israelites who spied out the Promised Land. They saw the giants. But Joshua and Caleb were looking through eyes of thankfulness because God was giving them the land.

It doesn’t matter how big the mountain is thankfulness puts you over it.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Giving thanks results in the peace of God. The literal Greek of this verse says that when you offer up thanksgiving in a worrisome situation then the peace of God will hold you above all understanding.

Then it will guard you; like having sentries all around you. It’s the peace OF GOD that will hold you above the circumstance.

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.
Psalms 50:23

Giving thanks prepares you for victory. You need to be prepared to receive God’s blessing. That’s the rule in the kingdom of God.

Somewhere along the way we’ve missed it. We’ve let the selfishness of society mold our thinking.

“When somebody does something nice, you thank them.”

Thankfulness after the fact is based upon doubt. The kingdom of God is based on faith. When do you thank God for your food – after you receive it? No – we see the food, thank God, and receive it.

By faith we see the answer to our need, thank God, and THEN receive it. This holiday, be thankful – future tense.

Question: What are the future blessings that you’re thanking God for right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Faith, God's Provision, Power of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Last Days – Finishing Strong

JogToday’s post will conclude my series about last-days attitudes. I’ve talked about the things that cause the world to worry and fret about the future. God’s people are not to act like this.

The promises of God don’t go null and void simply because we’re living near the end of the age. We’re still under our covenant with Christ – a better covenant. That’s why we can look to what’s ahead with hope and anticipation.

He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”
Luke 21:29-31

This should be an exciting time for the Church of Jesus Christ. The Kingdom is near! That thought should push us forward to greater effectiveness in the Kingdom.

Jesus does give us a warning, however. That’s the key reason for this series. I think that we’ve somehow lost sight of His Word to us.

“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.”
Luke 21:34-35

The Lord tells us that there are three things that we should be especially careful about in the last-days. The first of these is dissipation. Think about something like fog, when it dissipates. It seems to vanish right before our eyes.

That’s the distractions of the world. They dissipate your time, money, and strength. Then you find that you have nothing left to put into the Lord’s work.

Then there’s drunkenness. I don’t believe that Jesus is only talking about alcohol here. It could be anything that intoxicates God’s people. We end up chasing things when we should be pursuing the Lord.

The third is the anxieties of life. This is when you’re worried about things you can’t control. Put them in God’s hands. If you trust the Lord and follow His plan for your life, then the rest will fall into place.

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:36

This is the bottom line of how to live in the last days. We must be a people who watch and pray. We must spend quality time in the presence of the Lord. This includes praying in the Spirit and listening to hear God’s voice.

In this way, the Holy Spirit will give you insight on how to live. We’re told that living like this will allow us to escape. Escape what? The anguish, perplexity, fainting from terror, and the apprehension that’s coming upon the world.

Isn’t that our ultimate goal; to stand boldly before the Son of Man at His return? If we heed His exhortation to us, then we’ll be unashamed by our life on earth. I’ll know that I lived by His power operating in me.

We’ll finish the race strong, knowing there’s a reward waiting for us. Not in fear, but the faith that Christ is with us.

Question: What do find most exciting about living in the last-days?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 23, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Return of Christ, Revival

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Last Days – The Fear Factor

MoonI’ve been posting about how we should be living in the last days. In my last article I talked about what not to do.

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Luke 21:25-28

Jesus makes it very clear. In the last days before His return the world will be in anguish and perplexity. People will faint from terror; apprehensive at what they think is coming. If that’s you, then STOP IT! You’re not of the world.

The fact is that there will be different signs in the natural world. Right now we just went through a sequence of “Blood Moons” that had many believers in panic mode.

What is a blood moon? Most people – even preachers – don’t know what it is. Simply put, a blood moon is a lunar eclipse. Then why call it a blood moon? For effect – it sounds more exciting and ominous that way; and it sells more books.

Please forgive me if I sound a little critical about this. I really do love my brothers and sisters in the Lord who major on current events and try to fit them into end-time Scriptures.

Like I said in a previous post; I’ve studied the Second Coming since the 70’s. That means that I’ve seen a lot of these predictions over the years. All of them had a bunch of Scripture backing them up. It’s a very dangerous thing to try and take the predictions of the Bible and definitively link them to current events.

I remember one prominent preacher who said, based upon Scripture and current events, that the Communist flag would be raised in Washington, DC on July 4, 1976. Then there was the comet Kehotek and the lining up of the planets. Both of which launched a number of predictions that Christ would return at that time.

Of course, 40 years after the return of Israel to their homeland in 1948 we read the book 88 Reasons why Jesus is Returning in 1988. Soon to be followed by 89 reasons…

Many of you may remember the posters that were everywhere proclaiming that the rapture would occur in 1990. Then, there was Harold Camping’s prediction that it would happen in 1994. After that, there was Y2K and Saddam Hussein supposedly rebuilding Babylon. Then Harold Camping was back claiming the rapture would occur in 2011. Then even Hollywood picked up on the Mayan and Hebrew calendars ending in 2012. Now we’ve heard about all the blood moons that took place through September of this year.

What bothers me about all this is that there are people in the body of Christ running scared. They’re spending their money buying survival supplies; fearful and confused about the future. That’s not what we should be doing.

As a believer, you will not survive because you prepared for the apocalypse. You’ll survive because God promised “I will supply all of your need according to My riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

If you keep focused on Jesus, you won’t need to fear what’s coming on the earth.

Question: How have you been affected by predictions of future events?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 20, 2015 in Faith, Return of Christ, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Last Days – Don’t Do These Things

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI’m taking a few posts to look at what our attitude should be like in the last days. Specifically, we’re dealing with the principles given to us by Jesus in Luke chapter 21.

First, I want to talk about three things that the Lord told us NOT to do.

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.”
Luke 21:8

His first command to us is, don’t follow them. We are to ignore those who claim, “I am he.” We should already know that one. Jesus said that at His coming every eye would see Him. It will not be a private return. In spite of this warning, many have come claiming to be another incarnation of Christ.

The second statement that the Lord made was a little more subtle. He said not to follow those who come in His name claiming, “The time is near.”

Please understand, I believe that the coming of the Lord is near. The difference is that this is only a small part of my message. Christ is talking about those whose whole focus is on the soon coming of the Lord and the signs surrounding it.

Remember what I told you in my last post. In Scripture, the Second Coming is never the main focus – it’s always the reason for living correctly. You have to be very careful when you see a whole ministry based upon “the time is near.”

“When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
Luke 21:9

The next thing Jesus tells us is don’t be frightened. You’re going to hear various bad reports. The world may be full of problems, but one thing remains true through the ages; Christ is still on the throne.

No matter what’s happening around us, Christians should never fear the future. The Holy Spirit is always with us. He leads and guides us. More than that, we know that He gives us the grace to stand strong in spite of the current situations.

Many people are predicting catastrophe for the United States. We don’t know what the future holds for our country. But I know the answer – Jesus Christ is Lord.

“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.”
Luke 21:12-14

The Lord’s final general statement is; do not worry…how you will defend yourselves.

“What if it becomes illegal to be a Christian?”

It’s happened before and God brought His people through victoriously. In the Book of Acts Paul was headed to Jerusalem. Churches were telling him not to go because of prophecies that spoke of his arrest. He said he was not only willing to be arrested, but to die for Christ.

The key is that if you’re called to go through persecution or martyrdom, then you’ll receive the grace to stand firm. So – don’t worry about it now – the Lord will give you what you need when you need it.

Question: What is the result of following these commands the Lord gave us?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
1 Comment

Posted by on November 18, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Return of Christ

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

End Time Attitudes

Clouds ReturnThe Second Coming of Christ seems to have been on everybody’s mind lately. With the rise of ISIS and the Blood Moons many are fearful of what’s coming. We need to get back to the teachings of Christ if we’re going to navigate these times that we live in.

Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
Luke 21:5-7

Jesus and His disciples were in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. As they were looking around, impressed by the great structures, a question arose over the last days.

What a lot of believers don’t realize is that at this point in Jesus’ ministry, the disciples already had a good amount of teaching on the last days; they just didn’t know when it would occur. Jesus answered their questions with a pretty detailed talk.

I’ve been studying the Second Coming of the Lord since the early 1970’s. I believe that we’re living in the last days. The real question is; what should our attitudes be like? I want to take a few posts to talk about this important topic.

We have to be careful when studying the Second Coming. Many people get off track because when it comes to the last days, they forget one simple rule about Scripture. KEEP IT IN CONTEXT!

In this chapter of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus deals with general and specific concepts. Verses 20-24 are the dividing point.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city…They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Luke 21:20-24

This passage talks about Jerusalem being surrounded resulting in the Jews being dispersed among the nations. Then, after many generations, they’ll be returned to their homeland. It’s obvious from the pages of history that this prophecy is fulfilled.

Before that prophecy are some general principles. After it are some statements that are specifically for our generation, living after the fulfillment.

There’s one more thing I want to talk about in this introductory post. Many people miss it. In Scripture, most of the time the Second Coming is not the main subject, even though it’s talked about. It’s only the jumping off point for the principle being taught. It’s more about how we should live. “Jesus is coming soon, therefore…”

In my next post I’ll start talking about how Jesus said we should live as we see His return approaching.

Question: What are your feelings on the soon coming of the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 16, 2015 in Return of Christ, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , ,