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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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Spiritual Adolescence

SkateboardI’m continuing to post about the growth stages of the believer. Today I’m talking about spiritual adolescence.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the worse stage of growth whether you’re talking about the spiritual or the physical. If there was one point in my life I wouldn’t want to go back to, it would be my pre-teen and teenage years.

The problem with life as an adolescent is that you’re coming into the height of your adult strength and intelligence. Yet, you lack the experience and permission to do things on your own. You see the freedom and resources that adults enjoy, yet you’re locked into a world where you have to wait for your turn to experience it.

In many ways, this is the place that most of the modern church finds itself in. We understand what should be ours in Christ, but walking in it seems to elude us. We need to learn how to overcome and make it successfully through this stage of our Christian development.

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 4:14-16

In this passage, Paul urges his people to follow his example as a mature believer. That’s the toughest assignment for a growing Christian. It’s a very hard thing to move from a childish mindset to that of an adult.

There are behaviors that will work for children that adults will never get away with. The problem in most of the church is that we want the irresponsibility of childhood with the freedom and resources of adulthood. This will never happen.

There has to be a giving up of childish ways. We have to move into our role as mature followers of the risen Lord. Until this happens, we will never attain to our true potential in Christ.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

This verse should wake us up. Paul is writing to believers who are in the adolescent stage of their spiritual growth. They are saved and on their way to Heaven, but he tells them something that should get our attention. His burning desire is that Christ would be formed in them.

This is the Greek word morphoo. It’s where we get our English word morph. We hear this word a lot in dealing with computer graphics. When we see special effects in a movie, where one thing turns into something else, we say that it morphed. That’s the spiritual change that we’re looking for.

I want to let the world see a change in me. I want to “morph” into the same life that Christ lived. This is the point where the change happens that brings me from being a child to living as an adult.

In life it happens almost unnoticed. Then one day you see what you’re doing and realize you’re not a child anymore. As Christians, we need to go through this change on a spiritual level. This is what Christ is looking for in us.

Question: What stage of growth do you find yourself in right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Sonship, The Church

 

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Spiritual Childhood

FallenI’m posting about the growth stages in the life of believers. Today I want to talk about spiritual childhood.

There’s a Greek word that is close to the modern word for children. They’re no longer infants, but they still need constant care and supervision. Scripture talks about this group. It’s interesting that Jesus used this word for the disciples at the Last Supper.

“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
John 13:33-35

As He called His disciples children, Jesus was showing that they had not yet reached their full potential. The disciples’ response to Jesus’ command to love one another in the next verse shows exactly this point.

Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?”
John 13:36

If that’s not the response of a child, I don’t know what is! Jesus gives a very important exhortation for the future leaders of Christianity. Yet, the only question Peter comes up with is, “Where are you going?”

This is still the mindset of the spiritual child. They hear and understand what’s being taught, but they seem to zero in on the superficial parts. You can give them an in-depth teaching on the righteousness of God, and all they come away with is – “I can live however I want and God still loves me.”

The Epistle of First John gives us the greatest insight into this stage in the growth of the believer. John uses this word throughout his letter to the church. It’s obvious, because of its frequency that those he was writing to were at this stage in their walk. He dealt with the basics of the spiritual walk.

John had to remind them that their sins were forgiven because of Christ (I John 2:12) and that now they were to endeavor to live a life without sin (2:1). He also went on to show them how and why to live a repentant lifestyle where you immediately brought your failings and sins to Christ.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
1 John 3:7

In this verse we clearly see the Apostle explaining that they need to go beyond mere positional righteousness. They need to walk in the truth. This goes right along with what we saw in talking about infant believers. They are not acquainted with the teaching on righteousness.

At the child stage, you begin to understand about what the manifestation of the Lord’s righteousness should look like in us. In spiritual childhood you start seeing that there’s a difference between the lifestyle of God’s people and the world. We have victory over the world by the Holy Spirit in us (4:4) and we don’t worship the way the world does (5:21).

At this point we start to realize that we need to live differently than the world. We start to feel the Holy Spirit within us calling us to a deeper walk. At this stage we still don’t know how to follow this call, other than to live up to the rules we’ve been taught. We should desire to continue our growth in Christ.

Question: How do you deal with the spiritual children in your circle?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2014 in Sonship, The Church

 

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Infant Sons

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen we are saved, we’re adopted into God’s family as infants. We then need to grow into the full-fledged rights of sonship. I want to take a few posts to go through the growth stages that we find in the Scripture. We start our walk with God as infants.

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:1

One of the main characteristics of an infant in Christ is worldliness. They run after the things that our society says will satisfy them. They have the same mindset as the world and place importance on obtaining things and pleasures.

Unfortunately, because we are unaware of the growth process, many overzealous believers will write these people off. Sometimes in our self-righteous fervor we may even accuse them of being unsaved. That’s as foolish as telling your 5-month old that he’s not a part of the family because he never takes out the trash. Instead of condemning them, we should be there to help guide them through the growth process.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Ephesians 4:14

Spiritual infants are inexperienced in the Word. Because of this, they’re very trusting of anyone quoting a Bible verse. They tend to jump in with any new fad that comes out on Christian radio or TV.

That’s why they need to be firmly grounded in a local church where the basics of the Scripture are taught. That’s the only way they can learn to distinguish truth from flakiness.

The United States has become a hotbed for new doctrines for people to follow. Sometimes I watch Christian cable networks. I see people who use the Scriptures to convince you to take money from your wallet and put it into theirs.

Even though their doctrines and teachings are foolish, out of context from the Scripture, and, many times, illogical, Christians flock to their meetings. They rake in millions of dollars a year. Spiritually speaking, they’re “stealing candy from babies.”

But, more than anything else, the infant stage of our walk with God is characterized by the following…

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.
Hebrews 5:13

The word acquainted in this verse literally means to test, attempt, or experience. This verse says that the infant believer has not yet tested, attempted or experienced the Word of righteousness. Yes, they are righteous by position in Christ. But they haven’t yet learned how to apply it to their daily walk.

So many American believers are living for themselves, yet they feel secure because they only know about positional righteousness.  When they read the Bible, or hear a sermon about the effects and blessings of righteousness, they think it automatically applies to them.   Little do they realize that so much of Scripture deals with the walk of righteousness rather than the position.

Because of the lack of teaching on the Word of Righteousness we have produced a generation of Christians who seem to be perpetual infants. They are continuing in their habits and sins. They follow after whatever the world offers them. Worst of all, they don’t realize their condition – total powerlessness in the spiritual realm.

It’s time for us to grow up in Christ.

Question: How do you treat the infant believers that are in your circle?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Sonship, The Church

 

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Do I Need the Gospel?

News GlassesWho is the Gospel for?  Is it only the unsaved that need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ?  I think that we’ve short changed ourselves by not continuing in the whole truth of the Gospel.

This is my second post in a series about the true, life-changing Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I want to look at what it is and its effect upon our lives.  In this post I want to explain how the Good News is also for believers.

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 4:2

According to this passage of Scripture, without faith, the Gospel is of no value or of no benefit to those who hear it.  It starts there – you must believe the Gospel in order to enter into salvation.  What most Christians don’t realize is that the Good News doesn’t end there.  It’s not something that’s only for those in need of the saving power of God.

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him…
Romans 16:25-26

In the first line of this section of the Word the phrase is able is the Greek word dunamispower.  This literally says that He has the power to establish you.  How can the Lord accomplish this?  It’s through the Gospel that we are established.  Not only does the Good News save you, but it gives you a foundation.  It sets you firmly in place by the power of the Lord.

I think one of our fundamental mistakes is to think of the word salvation as a one-time thing.  It is actually an ongoing process.  According to Scripture, I received salvation when I accepted Christ as my Lord.  Now, for the rest of my life, I am being saved by His work in me.  One day, when He returns, I will receive my final salvation – my resurrected body.  The Gospel is a part of God’s continuing work in my life.

Of course, if you read the above verse carefully you’ll find that it’s not just the Good News.  It’s also the proclamation of Jesus the Anointed One and His anointing that brings about this stability in your life.  That’s why we can’t neglect the gathering together of the church.  We need what happens when we meet together for worship if we’re going to progress in that anointing.

This is Good News, But as great as our lives being established is, the Gospel doesn’t stop there.  In my next post I will talk about another aspect of the Gospel we don’t normally consider.

Question: What is a result of failing to see the Gospel as an ongoing work in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2013 in Faith, The Gospel

 

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