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Tag Archives: death

Giving Ourselves to God

I’ve been posting about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  Paul goes into great detail explaining the importance of His rising from the grave.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:57-58

In the context of this verse, Paul has just told us of the defeat of death and sin.  By rising from the dead, the Lord proved once and for all that they had no hold over Him.

Paul concludes this section by talking about our victory in Christ.  The resurrection is the foundation for our victory in this life.  We know that the victory is ours in Christ, no matter what the situation may look like right at the present moment.

So in this passage, Paul uses the word, therefore.  It’s because we know that Christ is victorious – past, present, and future – that we can give ourselves fully to God.  We already know the outcome, so we can give ourselves willingly.

The problem is that willingly and fully are two very different things.  I can willingly serve God with only part of my life, time, and resources.  The real victory comes when I willingly give all to Christ.

Jesus Christ is returning soon.  The clock is ticking.  God wants to do great things in our generation.  The question is; do I want to be a part of it, or simply watch what happens in the lives of others?

Please understand that this has nothing to do with your abilities.  It has everything to do with your willingness to fully commit your life to God.  The Macedonian churches are a great example of this in the Scripture.

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability.  Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.  And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.
2 Corinthians 8:3-5

This is one of the most miraculous verses in the Bible.  How can you ever give beyond your ability?  I don’t know, but that’s Paul’s testimony of what they did.

I believe that the key to all this is found in verse 5.  Paul said that they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us.

Your first calling is not to a church or a ministry.  It’s to God Himself.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t commit yourself to a church.  What I am saying is that committing yourself to a church without first giving yourself to God is counter-productive.

It’s only when you first give yourself to God, that you can accomplish something beyond your ability.  That’s when people notice that it’s God working in you.  Only then will God get the glory from your life, and people will be attracted to the Gospel.

Question: How fully committed is your life to God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 2, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Great Change – Earthly to Heavenly

In my last post, we saw the two different perspectives that we can have as believers.  You can live for the world with the dirt mentality.  You can live for Christ with an eternal focus.  That’s an important choice because the material things of this earth are not transferrable to the heavenly kingdom.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1 Corinthians 15:50

As we exist right now, with our body made of dirt, we cannot inherit God’s kingdom.  That’s a problem.  But if you’re in Christ, there’s no need to worry about it.  God has the solution.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52

There’s coming a day when everything changes.  When the passage says that we will not all sleep, he’s talking about the sleep of death.  We’re not all going to die.

There are some of us who will be alive at the Second Coming of Christ.  At that moment, we will be changed.  Our soulish bodies will be immediately converted into new, spiritual bodies.

If you remember what Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, the dead are not left out.  As a matter of fact, those who die in Christ are the first to receive their new bodies.  Then, we get ours.

That’s good news.  I can’t enter into my eternal life in God’s kingdom with my present fleshly body.  So God arranged to have it changed into a heavenly body.  It’s something I could have never hoped for apart from the work of Christ on the cross.

I love Paul’s description of this change.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:53

The word perishable means that right now we are subject to decay.  The older we get, the more things don’t work the way they used to.

For instance, in high school, I was a powerlifter.  Now that I’m over 60, I can’t lift what I could back then.  It’s a part of the decay process.

But this verse tells us that there’s a day when we will be clothed with an inability to decay.  Even better than that, we’ll be given an inability to die.  That’s a day to look forward to!

It’s all because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross.  He won a great victory that day.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55

The Lord Jesus Christ defeated death.  The Good News is that now, in Him, we reap the benefits of this victory.

As believers, we know that there’s nothing to fear in death.  Even more than that, we don’t need to fear the aging process.  In Christ, it’s 100% reversible.  When Christ returns I’ll be young again – forever!

Question: How do you keep the Return of Christ in focus?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2019 in Encouragement, Power of God, Return of Christ

 

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Planting for the Resurrection

As a pastor, I’ve been asked many questions about death and the resurrection.  The Apostle Paul had to deal with these issues as well.

But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised?  With what kind of body will they come?”  How foolish!  What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
1 Corinthians 15:35-36

This is our great hope in a nutshell.  We’re not just looking for the end of life.  In Christ, there is death and rebirth.

Even knowing this, people have questions about how this all works.  What about believers whose bodies were burned at the stake?  Or those who died in shipwrecks and were eaten by fish.  Then there are those who choose to be cremated.

This section of Scripture deals with these issues.  The bottom line is that we don’t need to worry about what happens to our bodies after we die.

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
1 Corinthians 15:37-41

Paul starts by saying that every type of body is different.  We serve a very creative God.  He loves variety.  So the natural universe is a grand display of His power and artistry.

But one thing is clear…the body that’s placed in the ground is not the body that will rise at the resurrection.  That’s just like the fact that a tomato plant looks nothing like the tomato seed that was planted.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44a

This is the foundation for our expectation of the future.  When we attend a believer’s funeral, it’s not the body in the casket that will rise.  On Resurrection Day we will receive a brand new body.

It doesn’t matter if your dead body is burned, eaten by fish, or turned into powder by the passing of time.  The body that was “planted” does not contain the material of the new body that will rise at the coming of the Lord.

According to this verse, the old body is subject to decay, disgrace, and weakness.  Our new body will have none of those characteristics.  Instead, it will be a body that has immortality, glory, and power.  That’s something to look forward to.

The last part of this verse gives us a little more insight.  Right now, our body is natural, or literally, soulish.  That means that our flesh is under the authority of our mind.  Whatever we think about, our body performs.

After the resurrection, our body will be a spiritual body.  That means it’s under the control of our spirit.  It will function like Jesus did after His resurrection.  It will even be able to transport wherever it needs to be – even going through walls if needed.

As I said in the last post, this thought should give us the perseverance to live for Christ to our fullest potential.  We know that our future, in Him, will be glorious!

Question: How focused are you on eternal life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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Salvation – The Whole Truth

Cross SunsetPraise God for our salvation in Christ Jesus! But have you ever stopped to think about exactly what happened when you were saved?

There are many believers who don’t really understand what happened to them when they bowed their knees to Christ. I want to take a few posts to look at our salvation in detail.

What is our salvation all about? To some it simply means that they decided to be good. To others it means that they’re going to try and follow the teachings of Jesus. That is NOT Christianity.

It all starts with an understanding of our condition without Christ.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
Romans 3:23

Our problem is sin. You probably already know that the word sin, in both the Greek and Hebrew, means to miss the mark. That means that we’re all deficient, inferior to, God’s glory. Even though we were created in the image of God, in Adam we’ve fallen from that high position.

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you were born, or how good you are. In Adam, the whole human race is guilty of sin – missing the mark. But as bad as that is, it gets worse.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…
Romans 5:12

It turns out that sin brought a friend with him – death – separation from God. Who is under the penalty of death? EVERYONE! Death is the penalty for not living up to the glory of God.

You can look at it this way; every human being ever born was born onto the path that leads to death. There’s no reversing it, no exits, do not pass go, and it leads straight to hell. But, praise God, that’s not the end of the story.

Christ came to the earth as a man, God made flesh. He took on humanity, but lived a life totally without sin.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin.
Hebrews 4:15

Because it was He who created us, we came from Him, only He had the power to take our place. That’s the concept of substitution. He took our place on the cross in the penalty for our sin.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

Jesus Christ took our sin to the cross and paid the price for it. Then He sealed it by rising from the dead.

Now we come along, thousands of years later, on this path that leads to death. We can’t leave it or even turn around. We hear the Gospel of Christ. We decide to accept what Christ did for us by faith.

That’s when everything changed. In my next post I’ll talk about exactly what happened in the spirit on the day you trusted Christ.

Question: What were the events that led to your salvation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2016 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Forgiveness – God’s Greatest Idea

heart CrossForgiven – I keep coming back to this word. Each time I do; I realize I know less and less about it. Forgiveness is tied to so many things in the Scripture. Debts, healing, relationships, redemption, blessings, etc.

I’m convinced that as believers, we need an understanding of the forgiveness of God. Not only that, but we also need to understand how He calls us to forgive others – and ourselves.

Even defining forgiveness is a hard thing to do. It seems that this generation has lost the understanding. Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary has 4 definitions. What I found is that the first two, and last, line up with the Scripture. The third is how we define it in practice. I want to take a few posts to talk about the concept of forgiveness.

The third definition says, “To cease to blame or feel resentment against.” I think that this is the way our modern society looks at it. It’s kind of like a get out of jail free card. When someone reminds us of the past, we say, “I thought you forgave me for that?”

Remember, as Christians we’re not a part of this world system. We shouldn’t act or think the way the world does. Our understanding of things should be higher than the way society thinks.

Forgiveness is one of those areas. Of all people, Christians should understand forgiveness more than anyone else. The big question is; what exactly is forgiveness?

When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Luke 5:20-21

Let’s be fair with the Pharisees and teachers of the law. If you study the Old Testament, you make a very important discovery. The word forgive is only used by God. That can only lead to one conclusion.

Forgiveness is God’s idea.

So if that’s true, then the only definition that matters is God’s definition.

Please understand, the command to forgive is a New Covenant truth. But nowhere in the Old Testament is there a command for people to forgive each other. Why? Because forgiveness is more than just feeling better about someone.

That brings me to the first definition that I found in Webster’s Dictionary.

“To cease to demand the penalty for, to pardon.”

The simple fact is that we all sin. We all miss the mark of who God wants us to be. With that comes a penalty.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

The penalty for sin is death. How can a human being have the ability to forgive? It would be absolutely impossible. That’s because forgiveness of sin requires a penalty to be paid.

That’s why the only time we see forgiveness in the Old Testament is in relation to the sacrifices.

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Hebrews 9:22

Forgiveness only comes when the penalty is removed. That’s the only time God can “cease to demand the penalty for” what we’ve done wrong.

It’s a spiritual truth that forgiveness is only purchased by blood. There had to be a substitute to pay the penalty. Under the Old Covenant it was an animal.

Praise God for what Jesus Christ did on the cross. I can now walk confidently in the forgiveness of God. Christ could forgive us, because He was took the penalty of all our sins on Himself.

Question: How does God’s forgiveness change your outlook on life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2016 in Encouragement, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Resurrection – Our Great Hope

GravesI believe in the soon return of Jesus Christ. As I see what’s happening all around us, it looks like we should be working to bring in the end-time harvest of souls. I want to take a couple of posts to talk about what Paul wrote concerning the Second Coming in his first epistle to the Thessalonians.

First Thessalonians was written because Paul went there, evangelized that area, and then had to leave quickly. We learn in the Book of Acts that persecution broke out, and the people of that region threatened to kill Paul. The church sent him out of the city very quickly.

Because of this, he didn’t have time to really establish their church the way he usually did. When things started to calm down, he began to worry about them. He was afraid that they were not grounded well enough and that they were in danger of quickly falling away.

Paul sent his spiritual son, Timothy to check in with them and see how they were doing. When Timothy came back, his report was better than Paul could have hoped for.

The church was doing great. They were established in the Lord. They weathered the persecution and they were growing in grace and in the power of the Spirit. Paul then wrote this letter to thank God and encourage their church to continue on in the faith.

When Timothy got back to Paul, he also brought some questions that the church had asked during his visit. Paul sent the answer to these in his letter as well.

One of the questions they asked was this: When Christians die, does that mean they’re going to miss out on the Second Coming of Christ? That’s a good question. Another thing they asked was; when are all of these things going to happen? When is the END OF THE AGE going to take place?

The first question he answers is about those who die in the Lord, and whether or not they miss out on the coming of Christ.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.
I Thessalonians 4:13

Please realize that the term ignorant was not being used in a bad sense. Paul means that he did not want them to be without knowledge. He did not want them to be lacking in their teaching on the Lord.

He also uses the term fall asleep. The early church used this to signify that someone was dead. They realized that when a believer dies, they don’t cease to exist but rather enter the presence of the Lord. Their body, however, looks like it’s sleeping.

They would say, “Brother John fell asleep” as a nice way of saying that he died. So in effect, Paul is giving them more godly information on those who die in Christ.

His first instruction to them is that they’re not to grieve as the world does. We are not to act as people who don’t have any hope. We have an eternal hope.

We know about the resurrection of the dead on the Last Day. Because of this knowledge, funerals don’t hold the same fear over us that the rest of the world has. We shouldn’t act like we’re never going to see the departed Christian again.

Yes, I realize that there’s a parting process. You’re not going to see that person for a long time – so there’s going to be that kind of grief. But don’t grieve as if you’ve lost them forever. Don’t mourn like somebody who has no hope.

Question: How should our future hope affect the believer’s view of death?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Have You Been Taken By God?

PowerlessThere are some important truths that we can learn from the life of the patriarch, Enoch.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.
Hebrews 11:5

This verse says that it was by faith that Enoch was taken. Faith is always a choice. It’s the decision to accept and believe something that I have come to understand about God.

We must choose to be taken by God. This is the first and most important choice of the any believer. As Christians, we have accepted the sacrifice of Christ. But very quickly after salvation it becomes obvious that God wants more than just a prayer and an offering.

This is what it means to be a living sacrifice. The Lord says to each one of us, “I want you. I have a purpose and a plan for your life.”

The Scripture says that Enoch was transported so that he did not see death. It’s clear that God doesn’t want us to see death at work in our lives.

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
Romans 6:13

Jesus Christ has brought us over from death to life. The problem is that sometimes, because of our flesh, we’re more comfortable with death. We allow things into our lives that are killing us.

There was a prerequisite to what Enoch experienced. Before he was taken, he was well-pleasing to God. This is one of our greatest blessings in Christ – the fact that today we can be pleasing to God. That’s why the writer talks about it in the next verse.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

This verse literally says that apart from faith you are powerless to please God. You can try to work to please God – but you’re powerless to accomplish it. The only thing to do is to choose to believe He exists, and then earnestly seek Him as the Rewarder of your life.

It is only because of these two choices that the Lord of the universe is well pleased with you. It’s because of your faith that He wants to take you as His own – if you’ll let Him. His desire is to transport you from death to life.

Just like with Enoch, God takes you out of your old life and brings you to a new place of blessing. In my next post I’ll talk about exactly where the Lord transports you to.

Question: Why is it important to know that my works have nothing to do with being pleasing to God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Faith, Power of God

 

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