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Living as Light

I’ve been posting about Paul’s view of the Second Coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians. We understand that the Resurrection Day is the great hope of the church. At this point in history, we can see it approaching very quickly. But our understanding of Christ’s return is not just about the future.

But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-7

The word night speaks of a segment of time – but we’re eternal. Because we live in the eternal realm, we are of the day.

Darkness speaks of a place – but we’re seated with Christ in heavenly places; that’s the kingdom of light. So the night and the darkness is not our time and place.

Paul also tells us the attitude we need in the last days. He says that we’re to be alert and self-controlled. The literal meaning of these words are awake and sober. We can’t be in a spiritual stupor and be victorious as we approach the end of the age.

We need to be what we’re called to be. It’s not our destiny to blend in and become part of the whole. It’s our calling to show that there’s a different way to live.

John the Baptist is an example to us of how to minister to the world while living in the Kingdom of God.

I believe that because of our end-time ministry, we are the “John the Baptist Generation”. There were some interesting prophecies recorded in Scripture about John that I believe can be applied to us.

“…because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Luke 1:78-79

Our generation must be a light in the darkness. There has never been a darker time in the modern world. Unless you’re living with your head in the sand, this is an undeniable truth.

We need to understand what being the light entails. It’s obvious that light gets the attention in the dark. There’s no getting around that. We’re not called to just blend into the background.

This is because a light stands in direct opposition to the darkness. There cannot be any two kingdoms that are more opposite than the Kingdom of God and the world.

We are not a part of this society. We live here, work here, and have to interact with those around us. We need to be loving, productive, and contributing to the welfare of our community. But the fact is we don’t BELONG here.

It’s time for us to live up to this calling. The world is desperate to hear the message that’s been entrusted to us. We need to stop chasing their dreams and live for Christ with an urgency that reflects the times we live in.

This generation of the church needs to grow up so that we can function as we must at this time in history. Be equipped with the spiritual weaponry. Be listening and hearing a Word from God. Then continue to walk in that word.

Finally, if we do these things we will be the light that will draw people to Christ. We are the John the Baptist Generation.

Questions: How much light is the church producing right now? How can that light be increased?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2017 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Revival

 

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Why Scripture?

BibleIn my last article, I began posting about the Scripture. Do you know what it is and what it’s for? Let’s look at what Scripture says about itself.

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:19-21

Peter tells us that Scripture was given to bring light into our hearts. In the pages of the Bible is everything we need to accurately set the course for our lives. We don’t have to live stumbling around in the darkness.

Next, Peter says that there’s an overriding principle that we need to understand above all else. Nothing in Scripture is there all by itself. There’s an eternal purpose for everything that’s written.

It’s the Holy Spirit who gave it. No passage can be interpreted apart from the whole. We cannot take a verse or two and interpret them out of their context. I need to know their place in the chapter or the book that they’re in. Context is everything when I read Scripture.

Finally, we’re told that no Scripture came about by the will – the choice or determination – of man. That would never have worked. No matter how hard I tried, I could never even imagine what God’s plan is, or how to bring it about.

On the contrary, it could only come forth by a moving of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people who were completely sold out to Him. They allowed the Lord to carry them along.

Scripture, therefore, contains the words of those who, moved by the Spirit, were speaking what God wanted to be said, the way God wanted it said. God used their language and personalities to speak what was in His heart.

The Greek word for Scripture is the word graphe, which means writings. Our working definition for what Scripture is would be: The written record of God’s Word to people.

Since the dawn of Creation, God has sent His Word to many different people, in different places, at different times, during different situations and circumstances. I’m glad that God desired these Words to be written down for future generations to read. I’m grateful that I can hold them in my hands and study them.

In my next post, I’ll begin talking about why was it so important to God that this word be written down.

Questions: What does the Scripture mean to you? How has it impacted your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2016 in Scripture Series, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Fear of the Light

BeamI’m talking about how we, as believers should be reflecting the light of Christ to the dark world around us. The Bible says that those in darkness hate the light. What does that mean?

Sometimes if they see the life of Christ clearly in us, it may make them uncomfortable.

Those who have been reading this blog for any length of time know that I’m an avid hiker. I’ll go out for a week at a time.

The first time I went on a solo hike, sleeping alone in the woods, it was a different experience. I set up my tent and when the sun went down I went to sleep. I had no clue that this would be one of the strangest nights of my life.

Around two o’clock in the morning I woke up startled. It was as if I was in the center of a huge spotlight. The full moon was directly over me. I could see right through my thin, nylon tent as if it wasn’t even there.

I could see the trees, rocks, and everything around me as clear as day. I felt exposed and uncomfortable as I looked around. I’m very glad that there were no large animals near the tent!

This is the same effect as what happens in the spiritual when we reflect Christ. When you’re used to living in spiritual darkness, the light makes you uncomfortable. It exposes things that you’d rather not see. It shows you your true condition.

Of course, Satan has a plan as well.

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:4

Please take note of the fact that the enemy is called the god of this age. That means that there’s a time limit on his ability to act.

This verse tells us that unbelievers are given blinders if they want them. The Scripture says that if they persist in their unbelief, the enemy will give them blinders so that the light will not beam out to them.

This light is coming from the Good News of Christ – the Anointed One. The light is the glory of His presence within us.

Unbelievers are blinded to the light if they choose to believe the lies of the enemy. That’s why it’s now our job is to get them to take the blinders off. That’s a big assignment. It can only be accomplished in the power of the Spirit.

In my next post I’ll show how the Word says that this takes place.

Question: How have you experienced unbelievers becoming uncomfortable in the presence of the truth?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Being the Light

MoonThe New Testament speaks a lot about our spiritual light. But do we ever stop to consider the implications of this? I want to take a few posts to talk about it.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

The bottom line is that Jesus Christ is the Light. The world is in darkness. Christ – the Light – came into the world.

We know from history and experience that the world, for the most part, hated the light that He brought. That’s because people who live in darkness, are afraid of the light. It makes them uncomfortable. Many times it reveals things they don’t want to see.

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.
Hebrews 10:32

We’ve learned that salvation comes through embracing that light. Of course, those of us who desire to live in this light have learned that there’s some discomfort to it. But we have to make the decision that I’m going to live in this light, whatever that means.

The Bible says an interesting thing about John the Baptist. It can be applied to us as well.

He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
John 1:7-8

He wasn’t THE light, but merely a witness to the light. In the same way, we are witnesses to the light. But we have to understand what that means.

Jesus testified to the work that took place through John the Baptist.

“John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.”
John 5:35

In His ministry, Jesus said that John was a light that the people enjoyed for a while. It’s the same with us. We are called the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). How can we be the light, yet not be the light?

It’s all a matter of perspective. Like John, we are a witness to the light.

In Psalm 89:37, the Bible says that the moon is the great witness in the sky. The sun is light. The moon is not light, just a big rock. However, it is a witness to the light of the sun.

From the perspective of people on earth the moon is a light. In the same way, we are not the Light, only a witness to it. But from the perspective of people living in darkness we are the light of the world.

This is our job, just like the moon, to faithfully reflect the light of Christ into the world. That’s why it’s so important that we be positioned properly. It’s also why there are “new moon, half-moon, and full moon” type Christians.

Our goal should be to reflect as much of the life of Christ as we possibly can.

Question: How well are you at reflecting Christ to the world?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Do You Understand Where You Are?

TimingThis question isn’t about place, but time. Do you know where you are in the history of the church?

I’m posting about the spiritual battle that’s going on around us. It’s vital that we know the times we live in.

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Romans 13:11

We need to know where we are on God’s timetable. I don’t like saying it, but the truth is that past generations of believers could “sleep” through their Christian walk. Not us. We live in dangerous times.

The Apostle Paul continues talking about this.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Romans 13:12-14

In this generation we need to lay aside the things that are a part of the darkness. In their place, we must put on the armor of God.

We must live carefully and clothe ourselves with Christ. And as I focused on in my last post, we need to watch and pray. That’s how we keep alert spiritually.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

This verse literally says that we must keep watch with all persistency. That word persistency means to be strong toward, to be diligent. We must be diligent in the battle zone.

When we say that we need to be strong toward something, it speaks about a goal, a direction. We sometimes use the term “press in.”

In battle there are places that are hard to get to. There are houses you can’t enter until you bind the strong man. It isn’t easy to press into the miraculous. If it was – everyone, every church would have it.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
Acts 2:42-43

Was it any easier back then, in the early church? Did those believers have all the time in the world to do all these things? I don’t think they were any different from us. It was as hard for them as it is for this generation.

If we want God’s best, it takes diligence. It will cause us to leave our comfort zone. But the spiritual rewards will be worth it.

Question: What do you find to be the most difficult about pressing in to God’s presence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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The American Church – In Our Prison Cell

JailA vast majority of American Christians seem to be ineffective at bringing change to our society. Why is that? Our legacy is that of a people who “turned the world upside-down” with the Gospel of Christ.

As I was meditating on Acts chapter 16, I was struck by a mental picture. Paul and Silas were bringing the Good News of Jesus to the town of Philippi. In the course of their time there, they were arrested.

After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Acts 16:23-24

As they were put into their cell, there’s no sign of a struggle. They quietly submitted to their imprisonment. This surprised me.

The next day, they enforced their rights as Roman citizens.

But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”
Acts 16:37

Where was this boldness the day before? Maybe they were too exhausted from their beatings. Maybe they were waiting for things to calm down. Whatever the reason, they quietly allowed themselves to be placed in prison, and chained up.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Acts 16:25

This is the picture I saw in my heart as I thought on this passage. I see the church, the jailer, and the prisoners. The jailer is totally unaware of anything out of the ordinary that’s going on.

The church – Paul and Silas – were in chains and in the dark. Yet they were having church, business as usual. They were praying, singing, and praising God.

All of the other prisoners were listening to them. That’s all. No one was being saved. No one convicted of their sin, or at least no visible evidence of it.

As I thought about it, I realized that this is the condition of much of the church these days. We’re going along as we always do. We have our services on Sundays. We sing, we pray, and we praise God. But where is our effectiveness in the world?

The Lord started speaking to me through this picture of the church. We need to wake up to our condition. Until we see and understand that we’re chained in the darkness, we’ll never break out into the freedom that has already been made available to us.

I want to take the next few posts to share what the Lord spoke to me concerning this issue. I want to explain how we got into this position as well as what’s needed for us to break free.

Remember, that it wasn’t until the chains fell off of the church – Paul and Silas – that the jailer fell on his face and cried out, “What must I do to be saved?”

Question: What do you see as the greatest factor in “locking up” the American church?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Revival, The Church

 

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Our Culture of Darkness

SunriseA little over a year ago I posted a series about Christianity as a counter-culture. I want to pick up that theme again for a few more posts. Too many believers want to keep their feet in both the church and the world. That’s going to become increasingly difficult as we approach the Lord’s return.

The world hates Christ and His people. Please understand what I mean by this. I’m talking about the world system and not the individual people themselves. It’s the system – the way our culture has established itself – that’s against the knowledge of Christ.

The Lord spoke about it.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.
John 3:19

We live in a society that hates the light – the knowledge of truth. This is because truth is an agent of change. When I begin to know and understand the truth, I’m responsible to do something with it.

Because of this, the default response of the world is, “I don’t want to know the truth.” They have found that ignorance is bliss – at least in the short term.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
John 3:17-18

Here’s what many people don’t understand. Christ didn’t come to condemn the world. And it’s definitely not our job either. We are not here to rebuke sinners for doing what is natural to them.

The problem arises when the light of truth becomes evident. Even though we may not directly condemn anyone, by rejecting the truth they stand condemned. In effect, they’ve condemned themselves.

When you know that there’s a right path, yet you knowingly chose the wrong way, you become self-condemned. At that point the only solution is to cram your life with so many distractions that you never think about this truth.

That’s where our society finds itself today. We have more opportunities to amuse ourselves than ever before. I chose that word on purpose. A-muse – it literally means to not-think.

On the other side of the coin, we as believers should be the ones who don’t fear the truth. We should delight in the presence of the Lord and His Word. We should be welcoming the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

We can’t afford to pick up the attitude of the world. Don’t fall victim to the distractions of this age which will short-circuit your destiny in Christ. Spend time in the light of Christ and His truth.

Question: How does walking in the light differ from walking in the darkness?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Revival, The Church

 

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