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Our Glorious Future

I’m continuing with Paul’s view of the resurrection in his first letter to the Corinthian church.  There were some in that church who looked at the resurrection as an optional belief.  In my last post, Paul showed that it was actually the foundation of our faith.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:20-22

This is the basis of our hope.  Christ is the firstfruits of the resurrection.  Because He was raised to life, I know that I will also be raised up in Him.

As a part of the human race, we all inherited death from Adam.  But now, because of the obedience of Christ on the cross, we can inherit the life of Christ displayed when He rose from the dead.  Death couldn’t hold Him.

But, we have to wait for our turn.  That only happens when Christ returns to the earth at some point in the future.

But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.  Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:23-26

There’s an order to the resurrection.  Christ was the first to experience it.  He opened up the way for all of us.

When He returns, it will be our Resurrection Day.  All who belong to Christ will rise to meet Him in the air.  First, those who have died as believers will rise from the dead.  Then, those who are still alive at His coming will simply be transformed into their new resurrected bodies without going through the death process.

That’s not the end of the story.  When Christ returns, He’ll set everything straight.  Right now, the earth is under the temporary government of the enemy.  The devil and his kingdom have dominion, authority and power over mankind.  (Of course, in Christ we have the power to overrule that authority!)

When Jesus returns, He’ll end Satan’s reign of terror.  All of the authority structures of earth will be made right once again.  It will be what God had intended when He first created Adam.

However, even now Christ is reigning.  From the day the Lord rose from the dead He has become the Ruler of the earth.  He just didn’t exercise that authority yet.

The battle for planet earth is over.  Christ is already victorious.  In Him, we’re on the winning side.  That’s why we have nothing to fear.

Our job now is to free the captives from under the tyranny of the devil’s kingdom.  We’re a part of the victorious invading army.  Don’t let the enemy intimidate you.  He can only stop you if you believe his lies.

It’s time for God’s people to live like we own the place.  We do, in Christ.  It’s time for us to stop being distracted by the world’s activities, and set our hands to the task of preparing for the Lord’s return.

Live like it’s forever…because in Christ it is!

Question: How do you live in the now, with eternity in view?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Interdependent Body

We’ve been looking at Paul’s description of the body of Christ in his first letter to the Corinthian church.  In my last post, we saw how we were all uniquely made for God’s purpose.  But we need to see that being unique doesn’t mean we’re independent.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”  And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”
1 Corinthians 12:21-22

We were all created for a different purpose.  Therefore, we all need each other.  This is true whether you know it or not.

That’s one of the tough facts of being part of a body.  Each part has an effect on all the others.  Sometimes you don’t even know what that effect is on the surface.

You can’t just look at what someone is doing for God and say, “That’s not needed.”  It all works together to bring about God’s plan.

On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.  And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.
1 Corinthians 12:22-24a

Even those who are weak in the Lord have a role to play.  This was brought home to me a couple of years ago when I had an accident.

While walking in the woods, I had climbed a rock and coming down from it I landed awkwardly.  I felt a sharp pain in my knee.  It turns out that I tore my ACL and bruised my meniscus.  I didn’t even know those parts existed until I heard the doctor’s diagnosis.

Part of the healing process was occupational therapy.  I was told to stand on one leg.  To my surprise, I couldn’t balance on one leg.  That’s because one of the jobs of these parts is to provide balance.  So, these two weak, unknown parts were actually doing something that I considered very important.

It’s like that in the body of Christ as well.  You may think that this weak Christian is just a nuisance.  Instead, they may be providing an opportunity for the growth and strengthening of others in the body.

Of course, there’s always the unpresentable parts – the ones that need to be covered.  I may be judgmental, but there are believers that shouldn’t let anyone know that they’re a Christian.  They’re actions do more harm than good for the Gospel.

But does that mean that they’re unneeded in the body of Christ?  Absolutely not!  Every believer is required for the church to function as God desires.  There’s a place for everyone; even if it’s not always front and center.

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
1 Corinthians 12:24b-26

The simple fact is that we’re all in this together.  We’re interdependent upon each other.  Even though it may not be obvious on the surface – I need you and you need me.

It takes the whole body, functioning as a unit, to complete God’s plan for the church.  That’s why prayer for each other is so important.

We wonder why we don’t see the miraculous like we feel we should.  I believe it’s because God wants to work through the body and not simply through individuals.  As we all grow in our callings together, we will see the hand of God more and more working through us.

Question: What are some unseen functions of believers that have a great effect on the church?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2019 in Encouragement, Ministry, Prayer, The Church

 

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Different but Effective

I don’t know about you, but in some circles, I’ve found Christianity to be very judgmental.  No, not about sin, but about other Christians.  I’ve heard so many believers commenting about a ministry they saw on TV.

“I don’t know if they’re really saved.  I’d never preach like that.”

As we go through Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we see that the apostles understood the Gospel.  The message will always be Jesus Christ – crucified, buried, risen, and ascended.  The methods we use to bring out the message will always change.

Here’s what Paul found when he met with the apostles in Jerusalem.

As for those who seemed to be important — whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance — those men added nothing to my message.  On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.
Galatians 2:6-7

I think that it’s interesting to note what Paul had to overcome.  When he met with Peter, James, and John, he knew that formerly they were fishermen.  None of them had any Temple training like Paul did.  Yet he humbled himself and submitted his ministry to their scrutiny.

This is a sermon in itself.  There are times that God has us serving under people who aren’t as smart, trained, or experienced as us.  We have to watch our attitudes, stay humble, and be committed to our calling in Christ.

But what I really want to bring out is that in this meeting, the apostles understood that there was a Gentile method of preaching and a Jewish method of preaching.  They didn’t try to change one another.  They realized that there’s no cookie cutter for the ministry.

The methods may change depending on who you’re trying to reach with the Gospel.  I find that this alone causes a lot of strife in the body of Christ.

“I just visited a church where they let their people take coffee with them into the sanctuary.  I think that’s sacrilegious.”

“That pastor preaches in jeans and a t-shirt, how can he be a real minister?”

The simple fact is that my methods and personality will never speak to everyone.  If we want the world evangelized; different cultures, generations, and education levels; then we need to embrace the different ministries that are speaking to these people.

For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.  James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me.  They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.  All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Galatians 2:8-10

The bottom line is that in all of these methods, the Holy Spirit is at work.  People are being saved.  Lives are being changed by the power of God.

Yes, there may be some churches that I wouldn’t feel comfortable attending.  But that simply means that their method doesn’t speak to who I am.  It in no way invalidates that ministry.  I’m glad that the work of the Gospel is not limited to my comfort zone.

Question: How often do you pray for ministries that are very different from yours?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2017 in Ministry, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Election Thoughts

FlagcrossHere in the USA it’s getting close to Election Day, when we choose a new president. It has me thinking about where we are as a nation and as the church.

I’ve noticed that, more than ever before, people are asking me how they should vote. It’s as though they’re asking me to tell them who to vote for. Of course, that’s not my place, especially in this election.

The more I think and pray about it, the more I realize that we’ve come to a unique place in our history. Unfortunately, it seems that very few believers actually understand where we are.

Scripture talks about the men who came to support David and make him king of Israel. It lists the strengths that each group had to offer.

…men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do – 200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;
1 Chronicles 12:32

Obviously, knowing the times that you live in and then applying that knowledge goes a long way. It’s what we need in the church right now. Contrast that to the leadership of Israel when Christ came on the scene.

He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
Matthew 16:2-3

I’m worried that so many in the church are in this condition – not seeing the signs of the times. It will be a crucial strength if we’re to navigate the uncertain waters ahead.

This is because of what I see happening all around us. For the first time, a large percentage of people don’t particularly like any of the candidates we’ve been given. To go even further, no matter who’s elected, we will not have a leader with a strong Christian worldview.

I believe that we’re living in an age a lot like what Israel faced in their Babylonian captivity. They were removed from their land and placed in a totally new environment where those who ruled had no knowledge of Biblical truth.

“But we haven’t been taken into captivity,” you may say. Think about it. The nation we live in right now is not the same nation that our grandparents were born into. We may not have been taken to another country, but this is definitely not the same nation that was founded in 1776.

Please realize, I’m not talking about technology and education. I’m talking about attitudes toward Christ. What’s accepted as a devoted believer today is miles from where it had been.

I don’t say any of this to frighten anyone. That’s not the point. As a matter of fact, this could actually bring an increase in the manifestation of the power of God. It could even trigger a national revival. (Read the book of Daniel)

I want to take a few posts to talk about the times that we live in; and how we should act. You might not agree, but it may get you thinking about it.

Question: In your opinion, what is the spiritual condition of the USA right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Memorial Day – Our Assignments from God

FlagcrossWe’re living in troubled times; that’s beyond question. In spite of this, I still believe that the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth in which to live. I’m very grateful to God for the privilege I have to live here.

Memorial Day is the day all Americans should reflect upon the price that so many men and women have paid for our freedom. As I think about this, I can see what our role as believers should be.

There are so many complainers who gripe about what’s going on around us. There are Christians pointing fingers and blaming various groups for the problems we face. That’s not the Biblical response that we should take.

When Israel was defeated because for her sin, and went into captivity, Godly Jews were affected. What were they told to do?

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Jeremiah 29:7

First and foremost, we must pray for our nation. Complaining doesn’t solve anything. All it does is to bring division and more problems.

As a matter of fact, I can’t think of anything that will work effectively in the natural. There has never been a vote that brought about lasting change. There’s no candidate that will turn our nation back to God.

The only solution is for God’s people to get on their knees and pray. Then we’ll see the results that only the Holy Spirit can orchestrate. As believers, we need to be found doing what only we can do – interceding for our country.

As we do our part, God will see that we’re taken care of, no matter what’s happening around us. When these things came upon Israel, they were in the same position. Listen to what God spoke to the faithful.

Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.
Isaiah 3:10

There is also a second assignment that we’ve been given from the Lord. It’s an outgrowth of the first. As we spend time in prayer, the Lord will show us His heart. We’ll hear from heaven concerning what we need to do and say.

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.”
Ezekiel 3:17

As we spend time in the spirit, we must warn our nation of what lies ahead. I believe that God informs His people about things that will happen in the future. He wants us to be prepared for what’s coming – good or bad.

It’s not the time to sleep or party, spiritually speaking. We must become the laborers in the fields that He’s called us to be.

These are important days in America. We’re placed here by God for this time in history. Don’t let it be said of us that we let the enemy have our nation without a fight.

This Memorial Day, thank God for the service men and women who help protect our freedom. But more than that, take some time to pray for our nation. Seek the Lord’s spiritual healing for America

Question: What can you do to fight the spiritual battle for America’s heart?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Encouragement, Prayer, Revival

 

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Salt or Sand

In my last post I looked at a verse from Peter’s first letter. He talked about the fact that we’re to live as aliens in the world. He goes on to speak more about it.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:1-2

The next thing Peter says is that we are scattered all over the world. Literally, he said that we are dispersed. In the context of this letter, he was talking to a people who had moved because of persecution.

But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.
Acts 8:3-4

The enemy brought persecution on the early church thinking that he could extinguish it before it caught on. Unfortunately for him it was like putting water on a grease fire. They scattered everywhere, but they told the Good News of Jesus Christ wherever they went.

This should apply to us in our generation. Right now we’re scattered everywhere. There are Christians in schools, hospitals, offices, sports, and entertainment. If only we would “preach the word wherever we go,” we would see the same results that they had.

Our trouble is that we want to blend in. Jesus wants us scattered, but to keep our identity in Him.

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.”
Matthew 5:13

We are salt – a seasoning with a distinct taste. I know there are those who are on a low salt diet. I’ve tasted some of the salt replacement spices on the market. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no true replacement for salt.

Most people can’t eat anything without some salt on it. When you scatter salt on something, it changes and enhances the flavor of it.

How can salt lose its saltiness? Back in the ancient world, salt was not as pure as it is today. There was always a small amount of sand in it. If that salt got wet, the true salt would dissolve away leaving only the sand. Anyone who’s tried to have a picnic at the beach on a windy day can tell you that sand does not make your food taste better.

When we compromise with the world in order to blend in, we’re trading sand for salt. We think that we’re doing so good for God. What does the world think?

According to Christ, we’re good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled. That’s kind of where the church finds itself today – on the fringes of society. We’re mostly ignored by the world. I guess we blended in too well.

It’s time for the church to rise up and be the church. Not just during your weekly service, but all week long. We need to show Christ to the world wherever we’ve been scattered. That’s what will change the flavor of the world around us.

Question: How have you portrayed Christ to your world lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2015 in Ministry, Revival, The Church

 

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You’re Not Home Yet

Jet Plane to NowhereIn my last post I talked about some of our attitudes toward our faith in God. There was a word that we looked at that stood out to me. I want to take it a step further today. The Apostle Peter mentioned it as well.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.
1 Peter 1:1-2

Peter wrote to the churches that he was in relationship with. His desire was that they experience God’s grace and peace in abundance. This is something that every believer should seek after.

The question is; how do we receive this? In this verse Peter shows us the foundation. It’s how we view our walk with God. The first thing he mentions is that we are strangers in this world. The word strangers literally means aliens alongside, resident foreigners. In my last post we looked at a verse from Hebrews that said almost the same thing.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:13

These saints confessed that they were aliens in this world. We need to pick up this same mindset. I do not belong to this world. I live by a different set of rules. I live on a different level.

You may not know this about me, but I’m a Sci-Fi geek. I love TV shows and movies with a Science Fiction theme. One of the major types of shows revolves around aliens.

There are two kinds. The first involves aliens that try to take over by force. That’s not what I’m talking about. The second is the group of aliens that infiltrate society and look just like the humans around them. They hold down a job, go to school, and act like all the humans they come in contact with.

But there’s more to their story. They have a different agenda. They have a goal that’s bigger than society around them. Their goals were set by a government that’s not of our world. Why am I talking about all this Science Fiction stuff?

The answer is simple. As Christians we’re supposed to be living it. We belong to a government – a kingdom – that’s not a part of this world. We have an agenda that’s so much bigger than just getting the highest paying job that we can. It’s more than getting degrees and fame.

We’re to be preparing society for the biggest takeover that could ever be imagined. Jesus Christ is returning to establish His kingdom. It’s up to us to get everything ready for that day.

Our priorities should be different than the rest of the world. Who’s in power, the economy, the weather; all these things interest me and I need to understand them, but they don’t determine what I do. It’s the Holy Spirit that I ultimately answer to.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

Scripture makes it clear that our loyalties are above. We are to live as aliens and strangers to this world system. Only then will we see the grace and peace of God working abundantly in our lives.

Question: In what ways have you experienced an “alien lifestyle”?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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