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Category Archives: Encouragement

To Tell the Truth

We live in an age where we’re told that truth is relative. It’s not the same for everyone. When this is the norm, lies are a regular part of our society.

Think about the internet. Anyone can say whatever they want – about any subject they like. It can be true or untrue with seemingly no consequences.

“Of course it’s true; I read it on the internet.”

I’ve heard people say that; and maybe you have too. We laugh and roll our eyes, because we know that if it’s on the internet, you have to check it out from more than one source.

That makes for a very skeptical society. It makes me wonder how we, as believers, need to handle the truth. James had something to say about it almost 2000 years ago.

Above all, my brothers, do not swear — not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.
James 5:12

It seems that every day we have to sift through lies and half-truths. It’s like the call I get regularly to inform me that my name was selected to receive a free vacation. Even though I know that I didn’t enter any drawing. The good news is that it would have only cost me $600 to claim my “free” vacation. Lucky me!

Even the media is falling into this type of hype. The accusations of “fake news” seem to be a regular occurrence. Personally, I like watching the weather reports. People laugh at me because I’ll keep one of the weather networks on in the background sometimes.

You would think that weather reporting is above this type of accusation. Not anymore. Throughout the evening, the teaser for the nightly news is, “Can we be expecting another big blizzard?” So I watch the news only to find out that the answer is, “No, the storm’s going out to sea.”

Why am I saying all of this? Am I just some old guy complaining about society? Absolutely not! It’s a warning to us that we can’t let these types of lies, half-truths, and hype be a part of our walk with God.

When we speak, it needs to be the truth. So much so, that we don’t feel the need to convince others to trust us. God’s people should have a reputation of speaking the truth.

Jesus said the same thing to His followers.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Matthew 5:33-37

The enemy has to go to great lengths to convince people to believe a lie. When we do the same with the truth, it makes people question whether they should believe us or not.

Don’t make the truth you’re speaking sound like a lie. Testify for Christ honestly, and with integrity. Then allow the Holy Spirit to do the convincing and convicting. I’ve found that this is the best way to present the truth.

Question: How have you seen people present the truth in a form that sounds untrue?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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A Promise for the New Year

ReflectionThere’s a lot of unrest in the world today. Even in the United States there’s more apprehension over the new president than ever before. What should our attitude be, as believers?

Jesus made a statement to His disciples just before going to the cross. I believe that we need to take it to heart in these last days.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
John 14:1-3

There was a very good reason why the disciple’s hearts were troubled. If you read chapter 13 of the book of John, the chapter just before this passage, you’ll see Jesus warning them that He was going to be denied, betrayed, and killed.

At this point Jesus starts to sense their anxiety and tells them, “Don’t let your heart be troubled. You trust in God. Trust in Me.”

In verse two He tells them why they can be free from fear. The King James Version reads, in my Father’s house are many mansions. Well, is it a mansion or is it a room? That makes a big difference to me. I want to know whether I am getting a room or a mansion.

The Greek literally says, “In my Father’s house (or residence) are many places.” The word that Jesus uses is the Greek word for place.

Now, place could be a mansion. Place could be a room. Place could be a chair. There are many different kinds of places. But the one thing I’m sure about is that we’ll not be disappointed with the accommodations given us.

I’ve seen some good accommodations on earth, and I know God outdoes anything that we could have here. I don’t care what you call it. Whatever He gives me, I’m going to be thrilled with it. I am satisfied just knowing that He has a Place prepared for me.

He then tells the disciples in verse three that He’s going to get things ready. And if He goes through all the work needed to prepare a place, then they can rest assured that He will indeed return to take them to that place. That’s the promise that we can hold on to. He’s going to return. No matter what the world looks like. No matter how rotten things get.

We know the truth. The Church is going to come into fruition. But right along with that – as the wheat buds, the weeds are also going to come to fruition as well. The world is going to get worse and worse as it bears the fruit planted by the enemy.

But don’t worry, the Lord Jesus Christ has overcome the world, and He’s going to come back at the right time, at the end of this present age, and receive us to Himself. With a promise like that to hold on to, there’s no need to worry.

What’s going to happen next week or next year? What will the economy do? What about the crime rate? These are all things we need to watch and be mindful of. But the bottom line is that because of Christ, these things shouldn’t trouble us.

We need to keep our eyes fixed upon Christ and His Word. That will take us victoriously through anything that comes our way in the future.

Question: How has God brought you through a big problem in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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Getting Back on Track

FallenFor the past couple of posts I’ve been talking about the purposes of Scripture as recorded in II Timothy 3:16. In it, Paul shows us what the Bible should be used for. These are teaching, rebuking, correction, and training in righteousness. So far, I’ve talked about how the Scripture teaches and rebukes us.

In today’s article, we’ll look at the work of correcting that the Scripture brings into our lives. There are some misunderstandings about correction. So the first thing we need is to know what it means. It sounds a lot like rebuking, at least that’s what many people think.

There is, in fact, a subtle difference between rebuking and correcting. In my walk with God I need both. It’s interesting that the Greek word for correcting, in the verse from Second Timothy, is only used in this one place in the whole Bible. It literally means to straighten up again.

I need to be rebuked so that I’ll stop doing that which is not God’s will for my life. But the process can’t end there. If it did, then I’d be lost, out of God’s plan, and with no way to find my way back to where I should be. Praise the Lord! He doesn’t leave us in that condition.

While rebuking tells you to stop because you’re headed in a wrong direction, it’s correction that shows you the way back to the right path for your life. Correction changes your course so that you’re once again heading in the direction of the destiny God’s called you to.

What we need to realize is that true repentance requires both rebuke and correction. Just one is not enough. There are many believers who respond to the rebuke of Scripture – again and again. Week after week they’re seen weeping at the altar over their sin. Then they go right back to it, only to repeat the cycle over and over. This isn’t God’s way of repenting.

In their song, The Altar and the Door, Casting Crowns sings about this condition.

“O Lord I cry, like so many times before,
But my eyes are dry before I leave the floor,
O Lord I try,
But this time, Jesus, how can I be sure,
I will not lose my follow-through,
Between the altar and the door.”

Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
Revelation 2:5a

There are many times that we see this pattern in Scripture. It’s usually “repent and…” True repentance is not only a turning away from sin, but a turning to God’s best. Feeling sorry for my sin is not real repentance, even if it’s accompanied by great emotional distress.

True repentance takes place when I take the rebuke of Scripture and admit my fault to God. Then I must take the correction of the Word and start doing the right things that will replace the wrong. Only in this way will I have a greater chance for success in my walk with God.

Question: How have the rebuke and correction of the Word been helpful to you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Your Free Life Coach

weightsI’ve been posting about Scripture and the role it has in the lives of God’s people. We should be grateful that the Lord allowed His Word to be written down for our enrichment.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Scripture was given to thoroughly equip us for the good works God has prepared for us. Accordingly, Scripture is useful profitable – for certain things that we need. The first thing Scripture is useful for is teaching.

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Romans 15:4

We need to know who God is and how He operates. The Bible looks at people that the Lord has worked with in the past and how He dealt with them. It also shows us what the Lord likes and dislikes. That’s the place of Scripture. As I study its pages, I come to know who this God is, that I’m serving.

Endurance. The first thing that being teachable brings me is cheerful endurance. God has put certain things in writing so that I’ll know what to expect. I learn that as long as I’m in the world, there will be troubles and trials coming my way.

Because of this Word, I won’t be offended that the path before me isn’t an easy one. But I also know that God is with me, and He has already triumphed over my problems. All I have to do is keep walking forward in faith and trust in Him and I’ll see His deliverance manifest in my life.

Encouragement. The Scripture also encourages me. The closest concept we have to the Greek word for encouragement is coaching. The Bible is my life-coach.

I can see what others have done in my situation. I have the example of those who went their own way and lost out, as well as those who trusted God and were victorious. This gives me the strength to carry on even when I don’t feel like it. That’s what a coach does. It inspires me to a higher walk in the Lord.

Hope. The Scripture brings hope. It’s because of this endurance and encouragement that I can walk in the hope that only comes from knowing what God has promised to those who serve Him.

Please understand that the word hope in the Bible is not like the watered down version that the world uses. They say things like, “I hope it won’t rain tomorrow.” It’s more like wishful thinking. That’s not the hope found in the Scripture.

Our hope is fully expecting things to turn out the way God said it would. It means that I know in my heart that God doesn’t lie. It doesn’t matter what the situation looks like right now. It doesn’t even matter whether I can see a way out or not.

What I rely on is the fact that God said it, so therefore I expect it. That’s the hope that Scripture will equip us with if we let it be our teacher and life-coach.

Question: How has the Scripture helped you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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The God Who Sees Me

I’m looking at Philip’s call to become a disciple of Christ. He went and brought Nathanael to Jesus. When Jesus looked at Nathanael, He spoke out what He saw in the young man.

Nathaniel didn’t know how to respond.

“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
John 1:48

“Where do you know about me from? Who’s been talking about me? Did Philip tell you about me?”

This is the big question. Everybody has it. Does God know me?

The fact is that Christ knows us all personally. He knows who we are and what we want from life, as well as our struggles and triumphs.

But Jesus went even further with Nathanael. He looked at him and told him, “Before Philip called you – while you were under the tree…I knew you.” This is the God we serve.

In the Old Testament book of Genesis, we see a servant named Hagar. She was pregnant and running away from Sarah, her master’s wife. She finds herself in the desert and about to die of thirst. That’s when an angel showed up to rescue her and prophesy about her and her son’s future.

She’s shown where to find water nearby. She was totally overwhelmed by the knowledge that God cared enough to intervene in her situation.

She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”
That is why the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; it is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
Genesis 16:13-14

She called God by a new name – El Roi – literally, the God who sees me. She then named that place the well of the Living One who sees me.

“Yes Nathaniel, I knew you before you knew me.”

His heart was laid bare.

Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
John 1:49

This is why Philip was called to bring the Good News to Nathaniel. He shared that this Rabbi, Jesus, was the Son of God; the King of Israel.

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
John 1:50-51

Nathanael believed simply because of what he heard Jesus say. That’s amazing. There were people in Israel who saw great miracles and still didn’t believe.

We need to be excited about the God who sees us and knows us. We must let those around us know that God sees them, knows them, loves them, and is excited about them.

Be a Philip.

Question: Who can you share the Good News of Jesus with?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2016 in Encouragement, The Church, The Gospel

 

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The Cycle of Blessing

StormSo many of the spiritual principles we know have a mirror image in the natural. If we can understand how these natural processes work, then we will have a better grasp of the spiritual truth. One of these is the cycle of the Word in our lives.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:9-11

We probably all know about the water cycle from our high school science lectures. Rain and snow fall from the sky and soak into the ground giving life to vegetation. Moisture is then evaporated back into the air to form clouds and the whole thing starts all over again.

That’s like the functioning of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He takes the Word of the Lord from God’s own lips and rains it into our hearts. That’s where it must be planted in order to see God’s results on a daily basis. I must remain in God’s Word while allowing it to remain in me.

Now that the Word of God is in the good soil of our hearts, the Holy Spirit waters the spiritual seed we’ve planted causing it to spring up. Then, as we respond in prayer, the Spirit of Christ within us turns around and intercedes to God on our behalf.

The key for us is all about positioning. We must be at the right place, and in the right time to be able to receive the rain of the Spirit. What is that right place and time? It’s whenever we place ourselves before Him in an attitude open and ready to hear from God and to respond.

This requires intimate time in the Lord’s presence. Taking the time to be alone with God gives us a perfect opportunity to participate in this cycle of blessing.

In the stillness of our quiet time we can learn to be open to His call. We are in position to feel the move of the Spirit in our hearts. Be listening for His voice to you today as you spend time in His presence waiting for His rain.

Question: How has God’s cycle of blessing worked in you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2016 in Encouragement, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Faith Installments

ProfitThe phrase “nobody likes a quitter” is true throughout our society. I enjoy watching some reality TV shows such as Survivor and The Amazing Race. I have yet to see someone quit that was praised for what they did.

It’s the same in the Kingdom of God. Quitting and living by faith are never compatible. The Scripture is clear on that point.

For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
Hebrews 10:37-39

That phrase I will not be pleased with him literally means I will not think well or approve of him. We must all be striving for a life that’s approved by God. I want to please Him in all that I do.

You cannot live the abundant life and shrink back. It says that those who hold back themselves will suffer ruin or loss. Whenever you quit, something is lost. That’s no way to live. Moving backwards only leads to failure.

Even though it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, trusting the Lord is moving forward. It’s bringing you to the place where you can receive what God has promised you.

When this translation says that we believe and are saved, the Greek word is not the normal word for salvation. This word is actually a phrase that means we are making an acquisition or purchasing our souls.

When we trust God in spite of the circumstances we’re taking a step forward. We’re actually making installments into our soul. You can look at it this way; each step of faith is an upgrade for our soul.

We’re not where we need to be yet. But we’re making progress, step by step. That’s what the verse means by quoting that the righteous one will live by faith. That’s a quote from the prophet Habakkuk in the following context.

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:3

This verse literally says that God’s revelation waits for its appointment. The good thing about it – the Lord’s promise is never late for its appointment!

The problem is on our end. Will we be at the appointed place, standing in faith, when the promise arrives?

So many times God’s people give up before the fulfillment takes place. We miss out on God’s best because we don’t continue in our faith.

Don’t be a quitter. Don’t give up a couple of steps before the promise arrives. Hold your ground in the spirit. We are not those who shrink back. We are those who obtain the promises by faith.

Question: What was the hardest thing that you’ve had to trust God for?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2016 in Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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