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Category Archives: Encouragement

Guess Who’s Coming to Town

Today is Christmas around the world.  I want to take a post to give you something to think about this holiday.  I’ll get back to the anointing in my next post.

The countdown started well before Thanksgiving and with each passing day, the excitement and preparations for its arrival have been accelerating.  Lights and decorations have been put up, stores are full, and music is filling the air.

A lot of people, especially children, were eagerly anticipating a very special event that takes place today! Truly, it’s a very busy time of the year!

And it’s all in preparation for what?  Well, any child can tell you – “A visit from Santa Claus, of course!”

And remember, “He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake! You better not pout, you better not cry – you better watch out, I’m telling you why – Santa Claus is coming to town!”

Well, maybe for some, but not for me.

The One I’m waiting for won’t be coming from the North Pole and riding in a sleigh.  Instead, He’s coming from Heaven, and arriving on the clouds of the sky!  Millions all over the world are waiting.  And He’s got gifts based not on how good I’ve been, but His grace.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

Take the time today to consider Jesus…to get excited about His coming.  Children are excited about the coming of a round man in a red suit with toys tucked under his arm.  You and I can be excited about the coming of our King dressed in all His radiance and riding the clouds of heaven.

In 2 Peter 3:11-12 we’re told to look forward to the Lord’s return.  The Apostle also asks; what kind of people should we be?  We should have a childlike enthusiasm and excitement.

I’m excited for you this Christmas because many of you will get what you want.  But I can assure you of one thing, whatever you get is going to wear out.  It may wear out because you use it a lot.  It may wear out because you get bored with it and never pick it up.  But I assure you that everything you get this Christmas is going to wear out.

When Jesus gives gifts they never wear out.  He has come to give us eternal life, the privilege of sharing eternity before His glorious throne for all time.

I don’t know about you, but I’m excited that He is coming to town.  I don’t know the hour or the day.  But there’s one thing I know – He’s coming to town!

He’s coming back for those who’ve received Him as King and Lord of their life.  When He comes back there’ll be no mistaking Him.  He won’t be riding on a sleigh with eight tiny reindeer, He’ll be riding the clouds of Heaven and His radiance will flood the universe.

Where is your excitement level this Christmas?  Are you overburdened by your list of things “to do” which seems twice as long as your children’s “wish list?”  Are you excited about seeing what you’ll find under the tree on Christmas morning?  Are you excited to see family & friends that you haven’t seen in some time?

Question: Are you excited because the Lord is coming to town?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2019 in Encouragement, Return of Christ

 

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Thanksgiving Victory

Today in the USA, it’s the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday.  So, I’m writing this post to talk about thankfulness.  In my next post, I’ll continue talking about our spiritual armor.

As believers, we need to live a life of thankfulness to God.  What most people don’t realize is that walking in thankfulness actually places you in a position of spiritual power.

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

This is actually a poor translation of what the Apostle was saying.  Paul literally said we should be always giving thanks…OVER everything.  We need to understand that in the name of Christ we are over the situation.

This verse tells me that giving thanks raises me over any situation that I happen to be in right now.  We see the problems and they look so big.

It’s just like the Israelites who spied out the land.  Most of the spies only saw that there were giants living there.  They announced to Israel, “We were grasshoppers in our eyes.”

But Joshua and Caleb, on the other hand, were looking through eyes of thankfulness.  They were thanking God for giving them the land.  Their attitude was, “Thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory.”

It doesn’t matter how big the mountain is.  Thankfulness puts you over it.  How does that work?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

You’re told not to worry about the situation you see before you.  Listen to the response of God’s will.  We are to go before God’s presence, then we bare our hearts before Him, and finally, we lay our needs at His feet.

Look at the outcome that’s promised to us.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

When you offer up thanksgiving in a worrisome situation, then the peace of God will begin its work in you.  This verse says that it transcends your understanding.  Do you know what that means?

The actual Greek word is Huperecho.  It literally means to hold oneself above.  So, when you present these challenging situations to God, with thanksgiving, God’s peace will hold you above all your human understanding.

This same peace of God will also be a guard, like sentries, around you.  We need to see that it’s the peace OF GOD that will hold you above the circumstance.

But it’s the giving of thanks which results in the peace of God.  Then, that peace is activated to hold you above the circumstance.

This holiday season, allow the peace of God to work in you.  Yes, thank God for all that He’s done in your life.  But don’t stop there.  If there’s anything that you’re facing that’s challenging or causing you to worry, thank God for the victory over it.

In faith, take the high ground this Thanksgiving.

Question: What future victories do you need to thank God for right now?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2019 in Encouragement, Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Encouraged to Grow

As Paul nears the end of his first letter to the Corinthian church, he gives a series of exhortations.  I think that we would do well to live by them.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

These five simple statements are the foundation for a growing walk with the Lord.  If we would make it a point to see these activated in our lives, we’d be a lot better off.

Be on your guard.  This literally means to stay awake.  I think that too many Christians are spiritually asleep in this generation.  What do I mean by this?

When you’re asleep, you’re unaware of what’s happening around you.  Spiritual sleep is the same.  There are Christians who are totally unaware of the spiritual aspects of their life.

They think that everything revolves around what they see in the natural.  It’s all about satisfying their wants and desires.  They never ask, “What’s God’s will for my life?”

I need to seek what God has destined me for.  Then, with His strength, I can start heading in that direction.  I want my spiritual eyes to be open.

Stand firm in the faith.  This simply means that once you know what God’s Word says, you don’t waver or move from believing it.

Believing means taking action.  If I believe something is true, then I’ll act on it.  If I believe that a chair is strong enough to hold me, then I’ll sit on it.  If I believe that God’s my Provider, then I’ll move forward in what He’s called me to do.

Be men of courage.  This is the second step of faith.  If I believe that something’s true, then I won’t be afraid to let people know that I believe it.  I think that all too often, courage is the missing ingredient in many of our lives.

We are a part of a culture that tells us that it’s offensive to believe in Jesus Christ as a Savior.  So in order to accommodate them, we keep silent.  At the same time, every other belief is allowed to take center stage.

We need to be vocal about what we believe, while at the same time being sensitive to walk in love.

Be strong.  This actually means to be strengthened.  We shouldn’t be stagnant in our spiritual growth.  There are things we can be doing to build ourselves up.

Prayer in the spirit, meditation on the Word, and fasting are just a few ways to become stronger.  Just like in the physical, we can’t neglect our spiritual health.  If we do, then the consequences could be devastating.

Do everything in love.  This is the one that ties everything else together.  Our lives should reflect the love of Christ in all that we do.

This is the agape-love.  It’s the non-emotional desire to treat others as if you like them, no matter how you actually feel about them.  And also, whether you know them or not.

This love is a choice that we make to walk like Jesus did.  Our love is what will draw people to the cross.  That should be the goal of all that we do.

Question: How well is each of these characteristics visible in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Grace of Undetached Missions Giving

As Paul writes to the Corinthian church, he encourages them to give to the starving saints in Jerusalem.  Israel was experiencing famine at this time.  Paul was calling on the Greek churches to help them.

His words to the church should inspire us to adopt a whole new mindset concerning our missions giving.

Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.  On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.  If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
1 Corinthians 16:1-4

The first thing that I see is that Paul’s exhortation was not something special for the Corinthian church.  He had prescribed this manner of giving for all the churches under his ministry.  In his command, I see four major truths associated with missions giving.

Missions giving is for everyone.  At least with these gentile churches, they met the first day of every week.  It was during this meeting that EVERYONE was to seek God and give according to how they were prospering.

Please note that this collection was not the tithe that went to the upkeep of the local church.  This was a special collection to be stored up for when it would be released to the specified missions project.

This is not just an exhortation for the well to do.  It’s for everyone, rich and poor alike.  God doesn’t look at the size of the gift, but the condition of the heart.  We give because we want to be a blessing to someone else.

How much you give is based upon how thankful you are.  This goes right along with what I have been saying.  It’s not about the quantity of the gift.

I have to look at my life and take inventory.  How has the Lord been blessing me?  Am I thankful for His blessing?  Do I want to be a blessing to others?

The fact is that when you pass on a blessing to others, you’re making room for a blessing in your life.  There are those who say that it’s wrong for me to teach this.  “We should give with no thought of receiving a blessing.”  If that’s the case, then Jesus is wrong, because He was the first one to tell us this truth (Luke 6:38).

Don’t simply send your missions giving, take it personally.  This is one of those areas where I think that the modern church has missed it.  We collect money for missions and then send out a check every month.  It’s neat, clean, and detached.

According to Paul, there should be a missions team in each church that goes to visit the missionaries.  They are the representatives of the church on the mission field.  American Christians would gain a whole new perspective if they could see what was required to serve God in other parts of the world.

Missions giving is an act of grace.  When we give to missions, we’re an extension of the arms of Christ.  We’re giving more than just money, especially if we bring it personally.

We’re giving love, encouragement, and fellowship to those who are in need of it the most.  In many cases, those in the field are away from family and friends for years at a time.  You may be that taste of home that gives them the strength to continue victoriously.

Please take Paul’s message to heart.  Be an active part of missions.  Give what you can.  Then, don’t let it end there, but trust God to bring you an opportunity to travel and visit a missionary.  It will be one of the best experiences of your life.

Question: How have you involved yourself in missions?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2019 in Encouragement, Missions, The Church

 

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The Great Change – Earthly to Heavenly

In my last post, we saw the two different perspectives that we can have as believers.  You can live for the world with the dirt mentality.  You can live for Christ with an eternal focus.  That’s an important choice because the material things of this earth are not transferrable to the heavenly kingdom.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1 Corinthians 15:50

As we exist right now, with our body made of dirt, we cannot inherit God’s kingdom.  That’s a problem.  But if you’re in Christ, there’s no need to worry about it.  God has the solution.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52

There’s coming a day when everything changes.  When the passage says that we will not all sleep, he’s talking about the sleep of death.  We’re not all going to die.

There are some of us who will be alive at the Second Coming of Christ.  At that moment, we will be changed.  Our soulish bodies will be immediately converted into new, spiritual bodies.

If you remember what Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, the dead are not left out.  As a matter of fact, those who die in Christ are the first to receive their new bodies.  Then, we get ours.

That’s good news.  I can’t enter into my eternal life in God’s kingdom with my present fleshly body.  So God arranged to have it changed into a heavenly body.  It’s something I could have never hoped for apart from the work of Christ on the cross.

I love Paul’s description of this change.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:53

The word perishable means that right now we are subject to decay.  The older we get, the more things don’t work the way they used to.

For instance, in high school, I was a powerlifter.  Now that I’m over 60, I can’t lift what I could back then.  It’s a part of the decay process.

But this verse tells us that there’s a day when we will be clothed with an inability to decay.  Even better than that, we’ll be given an inability to die.  That’s a day to look forward to!

It’s all because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross.  He won a great victory that day.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55

The Lord Jesus Christ defeated death.  The Good News is that now, in Him, we reap the benefits of this victory.

As believers, we know that there’s nothing to fear in death.  Even more than that, we don’t need to fear the aging process.  In Christ, it’s 100% reversible.  When Christ returns I’ll be young again – forever!

Question: How do you keep the Return of Christ in focus?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2019 in Encouragement, Power of God, Return of Christ

 

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I Am what I Am

When you take inventory of your life, how do you see yourself?  Do you feel like you have nothing to offer God?  Do you feel unworthy of His calling?

The Apostle Paul had to deal with these feelings because of his past.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10

If Paul wasn’t far enough along to walk in this power, then there’s no chance for us.  Yet the important part of this issue is all summed up in the words but by the grace of God.

There are many in Scripture who’ve felt like this.  Another example is the Centurion who wanted Jesus to heal his servant.  He sent messengers to the Lord asking His help.

So Jesus went with them.  He was not far from the house when the centurion sent friends to say to him: “Lord, don’t trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  That is why I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you.  But say the word, and my servant will be healed.
Luke 7:6-7

Paul used the Greek word, hikanos when he said he didn’t even deserve to be called an apostle.  When the centurion said he was not worthy, he used that same Greek word.  It literally means not far enough along.

There are many Christians who believe that they haven’t walked with the Lord long enough to see the manifestation of the power of God in their lives.  There’s a big fallacy with this kind of thinking.  The very notion that they’re not far enough along implies that there will be a time when they’re mature enough to merit this power.

I’m here to tell you that will never happen on this side of eternity.  In actuality, the centurion had it right.  “…but just say the word.”

Paul understood this concept.  He evangelized most of the Roman Empire.  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote most of the New Testament.

The simple truth is that you’ll never be good enough.  It’s only by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that we may stand in His power and authority.

I’ll never be good enough or far enough along to deserve the title of son.  I’ll never be worthy of His power based upon my own merits.  But by the grace of God, I am what I am.

It’s this thinking that drives me to work for the Lord.  It’s the foundation for serving Him in the correct way.  When I start to think that I can make myself more worthy I miss the whole concept of His grace.

Many times this is what keeps us from experiencing the power of God in the church today.  If I think like a child – that if I just work harder to be worthy, then I’ve lost it at the start.  If I let sin go unrepentant and refuse intimacy with God then I short circuit the power.

It’s time for us to understand that it’s not my ability to be good that gets me anything.  It’s God’s grace working in me that allows me to manifest the power of God.

Question: What’s the role of good works in the life of the believer?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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How to Build Yourself Up

Many people ask why prayer in the spirit is so important.  Very often, it’s used as a spiritual toy that we only take out to play with on Sunday mornings.  Scripture lets us know that it’s much more than that.

But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
1 Corinthians 14:3-4

I’ve heard others talk about this passage of Scripture.  As I’ve said before, some think it means, “Prophecy good, tongues bad.”  The truth of the matter is that these are two totally different gifts that are to be used for two totally different purposes.

The reason God gives you the gift of this spiritual language is to edify you!  The word, edify, literally means to build up.  I can’t serve God without constantly being built up on the inside.  One of the most important reasons that God has given us this gift is so that we can regularly strengthen ourselves by the spirit.

Look at what Paul says further down in this chapter.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
1 Corinthians 14:14

This verse tells us that it’s our spirit, not our mouth that’s doing the praying.  My mind doesn’t understand what’s taking place.  This is because the communication that’s going on is spiritual.  At one point the Lord gave me an excellent illustration to emphasize this truth.

During a sermon when I was speaking on this topic, I asked my Assistant Pastor to come up front to help me demonstrate.  I gave him no prior warning as to what would be happening.  I then gave him a CD player and told him to place the earphones on.

I told him and the congregation, that when I press the play button, my assistant would hear a pastor preaching a salvation message.  What I wanted my assistant to do was to speak out loud exactly what the pastor on the CD was saying, word for word.  The result got quite a reaction.  This was because the pastor on the CD was preaching in the Korean language!

This is a beautiful picture of what happens when we pray in the spirit.  Your mind hears your spirit praying in a language it doesn’t recognize – the language of the spirit.  It tries to mimic it with your mouth but only ends up sounding unintelligible.

This is why what we hear coming out of someone’s mouth doesn’t always parallel what’s said by the gift of interpretation.  Your spirit might be interceding for a need, while your mouth is merely saying “Praise the Lord” over and over again in Russian.

It’s interesting to note here exactly what the gift of interpretation is as mentioned in the Bible.  The word the Apostle used means to put into words.  Basically, this means that the message we hear by the gift of interpretation was not in words until it was interpreted.  This goes right along with the truth that it’s our spirit praying and not our mouth.

This is also why the gift of tongues will cease after the resurrection.  The only reason that we speak this way during the use of the gift is that our minds don’t grasp what’s taking place in our spirit.  After the resurrection, we’ll still communicate with God in the spirit, but because our mind and body will be perfected, it will not have this outward effect anymore.

Question: How have you been built up by praying in the spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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