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Faith + Love = Growth

I recently finished my series on the Gospel of Mark.  I had been systematically going through the New Testament in the order that the Holy Spirit revealed it to the church.

I started with the four foundational books – James, First Thessalonians, Galatians, and Mark.  It’s interesting to note that the next thing on the Holy Spirit’s agenda was to inspire books that dealt with our personal walk with the Lord.

These books include Second Thessalonians, First and Second Corinthians, Romans, and Luke.  In this post, I want to start on Second Thessalonians.

This letter was written to a church in confusion.  They were a young congregation facing much persecution.  They were looking forward to the return of Christ.

The turmoil started when someone pretended they were Paul and wrote them a letter saying that Christ had already returned.  They were upset that they had missed it.

Paul had to write this epistle to bring them back to order with the truth.  The main theme of this book is how to live for Christ with His return in view.

Paul, Silas and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 1:1-2

Even the way Paul starts the letter shows the apostle’s care for them.  He wants the grace and peace of the Lord to overshadow them.  He wants them to walk in assurance, knowing that they’re secure in Christ.

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3

Even though this is a young church, Paul commends them because their faith is growing.  We know that the only way for faith to increase is by time spent with the Spirit – hearing God’s Word.  This was a church with a rich spiritual prayer life.

But they didn’t just keep it on the inside.  They lived it out.  Individually, each one of them showed a true love for all of the others in their body of believers.

Faith and love are the two non-optional commodities that the Lord looks for in His people.  They are the true measure of spiritual growth in the kingdom of God.  These people showed by their lives that they were growing in maturity.

Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
2 Thessalonians 1:4

Scripture makes it clear that the trying of our faith develops perseverance.  All three are mentioned in this verse.  This church is headed in the right direction.

Now they just need the truth to dispel their confusion about the return of Christ.  In my next post, we’ll start to see how the Apostle Paul deals with this subject.

Question: If faith and love are the measure of maturity, where are you in your spiritual development?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2018 in Encouragement, Faith

 

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Worship Calms the Storm

ReflectionIn my last post I talked about being transported before God’s throne as we worship Him. That’s a wonderful place to be. That’s why we should all be worshippers. Look at where the Spirit brings us to.

Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
Revelation 4:6

In the book of Revelation and throughout the Bible, the symbolism of the sea speaks of nations. These are the saints of all nationalities worshipping Christ before His throne. But this sea is as calm as glass.

That’s because the place of worship is a place of peace. James talked about the negative reality of this truth.

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
James 1:6

Doubt and unbelief puts us in a troubled sea of confusion. That’s not God’s will for us. The Lord wants to calm our sea. How does that happen?

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

The word prayer in this verse literally means to draw near. When anxiety, worry, and confusion try to stir up our “ocean”; there’s only one remedy. We must take the time to draw near to God. The next verse tells us that the results are supernatural.

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

This peace is ABOVE your understanding. When we come near to God in worship the things that should be causing anxiety melt away in God’s presence. I’m reminded of a chorus we used to sing many years ago.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full on His wonderful face,
And the things on earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

That’s the place of worship. But we have to set aside the time for this. That’s usually our problem. We have plenty of time to wallow in confusion and doubt. But the very thing that will calm the storm just doesn’t fit into our schedule.

We need to get our priorities straight. I find that I’m much more productive when I’m operating in the peace of God. I think you will too.

Draw near to God with the things you’re anxious about. Let the place of worship bring peace to your storm.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit brought peace into your life in the past?

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©Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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The Second Coming – Are You Confused

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI believe that we’re quickly approaching the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. I also believe that just before His arrival, there will be a great, end-time harvest of souls into His kingdom. In that light, I want to do a few posts concerning the Second Coming.

For my first couple of posts, I’ll explain some things about how I teach the Second Coming of the Lord. I’m a little different than most people.

Many times the teachings I’ve heard tend to do a lot of jumping around in the Scriptures. They go from here to there, sometimes in the Old Testament and sometimes in the New. First a Scripture that looks like it’s talking about cars driving on the street and then one that might be about an atomic bomb.

I get confused just listening to them. My mind quickly turns to mush, especially when they get into their mathematical calculations. You know what I’m talking about.

Sometimes they try to calculate the actual day or month when Jesus is coming back. I’ve yet to find one that was correct; but people seem to enjoy making and listening to these calculations. If you’re looking for that, then this blog is definitely NOT for you.

I teach about the Last Days the way Jesus taught it, line upon line, and precept upon precept. First I try to build the foundation, then the walls, and finally the roof. I believe we’ll get more out of it that way.

I’ve found that when dealing with the return of the Lord, we need to emphasize the rules for studying the Word of God. In Bible schools and seminaries across America, students are required to take a course called Hermeneutics.

Hermeneutics is defined as a careful method of Bible study. It tries to ensure that the message God intended to communicate is accurately understood by man.

Usually there are five rules of hermeneutics that are taught. For our purposes, I’ll only deal with two of them. These are the two that are violated the most often in current teachings on the Coming of Christ.

1. Take the Bible literally unless you cannot. Unless it’s absolutely clear from the verse that something is not to be taken literally (like when Jesus tells a parable, for instance) we need to assume that the writer means what he says and says what he means.

2. Keep it in context. We must never interpret a part of Scripture without taking into account the verses, and even chapters, surrounding it. This is a very important concept, because many times in formulating the thought, a single verse, by itself, may sound just the opposite of what the entire passage was trying to get across to us.

If we’re willing to listen to what Jesus teaches about His return, then we’ll have a good foundation for our faith.

Question: Have you ever been confused by teachings about the Second Coming?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2016 in Return of Christ

 

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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

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

 

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Remember God

Psalm 42:5-8
Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you…Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
By day the LORD directs his love, at night his song is with me – a prayer to the God of my life.

We all have times during which we get downcast.  Confusion, weariness, and depression all come knocking at our door from time to time.  If we give in, we lose without a fight.

There is one bright hope through it all – that is if we can remember to place God into the equation.  When we merely focus in on the problem, it is easy to forget what God is able to do on our behalf.

It seems that whenever I meditate upon what the Lord has done for me in the past, I once again realize how good God really is.  In this mindset I am aware of His presence to a greater degree than at any other time.  It is very easy, then, to put God back in control of my situation.

Don’t waste the opportunity that your time with the Lord offers for the refreshing of your spirit.  Use this time to strengthen your fellowship with Christ.  Remember the victories He has brought you through in the past.  He is still on the throne.  He is well able to meet your need today.

Take those things that are burdening you down and turn them over to the One who can truly meet all your needs.  Then you will be able to leave that downcast spirit at the foot of the cross and come away with a fresh and healthy new attitude.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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