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One Jesus – Different Calls

Different AnointingI like reading about the disciples in the Bible. They’re recorded as real people. They’re not shown to us like some kind of spiritual superheroes, but people just like us. I want to take some time to talk about a couple of them and their first encounter with Jesus.

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
John 1:43-45

In the past I’ve talked about how Andrew came to Christ. Then he went off and called his brother, Peter.

Today I want to introduce you to some new people. That’s because everyone is different.   Everybody’s story is different.

Why and how they come to Jesus is always unique to that person. So we have to realize that disciples of Christ are all different. Each of us is special in our own way. You cannot be me and I cannot be you.

It’s interesting to see that Jesus sought Philip out – Jesus went to Philip and literally said, “Walk my road.”

It turns out that Philip was from the same town as Andrew and Peter. They were from a place called Bethsaida, which means house of fish or fishing house. Think about what kind of a place would have a name like that? Who comes from there? We know that Peter and Andrew, as well as James and John were all fishermen.

Philip didn’t fit that mold. The name Philip means horse lover. Obviously Philip was his own person. He was different and he didn’t care. Yet, even though he was different, his response to Jesus was the same.

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
John 1:45

“I have to tell someone.”

When it came to Andrew, he went to Peter to tell him what he had found. This is absolutely amazing because Scripture clearly says that in this case, Jesus found Philip. This tells me a truth that we all need to understand.

Christ calls everyone differently. He made us all different, and attracts us to Himself in different ways. The Lord told Peter, “I’ll make you a fisher of men.” How do you fish? Do you use the same technique or bait for everything?

No! Depending upon where you’re fishing, or what you’re trying to catch, there are many different kinds of bait, lures, and techniques.

We have to remember this in our walk with the Lord. Everyone responds differently to the Gospel message. That’s why we need to be led by the Spirit. In that way, each individual can see Christ as their PERSONAL Savior.

Question: What first attracted you to come to Jesus?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

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Posted by on October 24, 2016 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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The Return of Christ – Asking the Right Question

Question MarkIn my last post I started a series on the Return of Christ. I reviewed what the disciples had learned from Jesus up to this point.

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call attention to the buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
Matthew 24:1-2

The disciples are just like many of us – impressed by the massive structures man has built. It’s easy to look at the outside of things. We get the impression that the grander the work, the closer to God the ministry is. This is far from the case sometimes.

This is what Jesus was trying to relate to His disciples. They thought that these impressive structures were a sign of God’s favor. That may have been the case at one time.

At this time, because of the nation of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, they were opening themselves up to destructive forces that would someday level these incredible buildings.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Matthew 24:3

This question shows us incredible insight into the disciples’ thinking process. They liked to get Jesus alone when there were no crowds around to interrupt. That’s when they learned the most. Now, they needed some answers.

Many teachers, when they deal with this verse, explain that the disciples didn’t know what they were saying because they were clearly asking three different questions in one. That statement shows a lack of understanding about what Christ had already taught His disciples. Actually the disciples knew exactly what they were asking.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry He spoke of the end of the age when the righteous would rise to receive their reward. He also talked about the day of His coming, the Day of Christ, when He would reveal Himself to the nations.

The problem the disciples had was that the Lord never related these two events to each other. Were they two different events, or do they happen simultaneously?

To top it all off, now Jesus is talking about the temple being destroyed – something He had never mentioned before – and they wanted to know how it all fit together. They knew exactly what they were asking.

“Lord, You’ve told us about the resurrection. You’ve told us about Your coming, and now You’re telling us about the destruction of Jerusalem. Please, Lord, tie it all together for us. How will we know when these things are about to happen?”

One thing’s for sure – I’m glad they asked. After studying Christ’s teachings, I had the exact same question. I’m even more grateful that Jesus answered the question – in detail.

It’s the Lord’s answers that I will be posting about in this series.

Question: What would you have asked Jesus concerning His return?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Ministry, Return of Christ

 

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The Bread of Life – Breakfast of Champions

BreadAt one point in their time with the Lord, the Disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray.  Here is one line of the prayer Jesus taught them.

“Give us each day our daily bread.”
Luke 11:3

This prayer of Jesus is not only applicable in the physical, but also in the spiritual.  If earthly bread is necessary for life, how much more is the Word of God needed to nourish our inner man?  God is looking for a people who will feed daily upon His spiritual bread – the Word of God.

You should notice that this prayer is not in the form of a question.  Christ is not asking the Father for bread.  Bread, in this context, is something that is already supplied and on hand.

It’s a grocery item that is already in the cupboard.  When my children get up in the morning, they don’t ask my permission to eat.

“I’m going to eat breakfast now.”

That’s the adult attitude.  You’re up.  You’re going to work.  You need a good breakfast before you leave the house.  When you’re ready to eat you go to the pantry, the place of supply, and get what you need for the day.

It’s the same in the spiritual.  God’s Word to us is always available.  He expects us to seek Him daily for a Word from Him.

When Jesus taught this prayer, He also taught the truths that it encompassed.  Different Gospel writers recorded the various teachings.  Matthew and Luke gave us what the Lord taught concerning the bread.

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Matthew 7:9-11

This is the attitude that the Father has toward a child who asks for bread.  In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 11, we see this same teaching, but Luke uses the Holy Spirit as the gift.

There’s no question in the mind of Christ.  If you ask God for a daily Word, you will receive.

This is the desire of God’s heart.  He wants His people derive their nourishment from His hand.  We have the ability to go to the presence of God each day for the Word we need to live victoriously.  That’s what Jesus did.

Questions: Did you go to God for your spiritual breakfast today?  What did you receive from Him?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2014 in Prayer, Word of God

 

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Advancement in the Kingdom

Jet Plane to NowhereAs the disciples listened to Jesus’ teaching, they began to learn a great deal about the day of resurrection.  At one point they started to put two and two together and were making their plans accordingly.  They knew that they would be dead before the Days of the Son of Man, but because of the resurrection, they would see the kingdom.

Now it so happens that two of the disciples, James and John, who were also brothers, set a plan into motion.

“Mama, come here, we have to ask you to do something for us.”

“What is it, my children?”

“We want you to ask Jesus something.”

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him.
“What is it you want?” he asked.
She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.”
Matthew 20:20-21

They had it all thought out.   They knew that they wouldn’t see the days coming up to it, but they would be there for the kingdom.  If they played their cards right, they could get in on the ground floor.  Jesus had said previously that if any two agreed, they could ask what they wanted, and it would be done for them (Matthew 18:19).

But just to make sure, they asked their mom to make the request that one of them be on the right and the other on the left.  Because, of course, their mom had more pull then they did.

“You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them.  “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?”
“We can,” they answered.
Matthew 20:22

They had no idea at all what they were saying.  Jesus was talking about the cup of death.  He was looking at their ability to be martyred for the faith.

Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant.  These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”
Matthew 20:23

Jesus’ reply contains some interesting concepts.  We need to remember that our places in the kingdom are not going to be decided on by us.  We miss the fact that it’s not up to us to say, “I want to be a prophet so I’m going to Bible College and learn all about the Bible.  Then, I’m going to go to prophet school and learn how to be a prophet.  Then, I’m going to do this and do that, and then, finally, I’ll be a prophet.”

I’m sorry.  That might be how it works in the world, but not in the Kingdom of God.  In the Church, we are to be led by the Holy Spirit.  It’s up to Him to show us the plan for our lives.

Question: What are you called to do for God’s kingdom?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Ministry, Return of Christ, The Church

 

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When Fasting Changed #spiritualfast

Fine DiningI’m taking a few posts to talk about fasting.  I believe that fasting is one of the most neglected sources of spiritual power in the Christian walk.

In my last post I said that the New Testament fast is totally different than that of the old.  I base this upon the words of Jesus Himself when He was questioned about fasting by the disciples of John the Baptist.

Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.”
Matthew 9:14-15

When asked why He didn’t make His disciples fast, Jesus replied that they were not going to mourn while He was here with them.  The Old Testament fast was a humbling process before God for the forgiveness of sin.  Jesus Christ, the Messiah, was the fulfillment of this.  Humiliation for sin was finished – God’s provision had arrived.

The Lord then goes on to talk about the “new patch” and the “new wineskins” in the next verses (v16-17).  Most Christians have no idea that Jesus was talking about fasting when He gave these illustrations.

It’s obvious to me that the Lord didn’t want the disciples to get confused.  This would have happened if He made them fast according to Old Testament tradition, and then later on tried to teach them the New Covenant fast.  He must have felt it was better to start them off correctly right from the beginning.

That’s also why I don’t spend a lot of time looking at the Old Testament fast.  Under the law, fasting was a whole different thing than in the New Testament church.  Unfortunately, many Christians have no idea what the fast is all about now.  It’s my prayer that you will by the end of this series.

“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Matthew 6:16-18

The first thing we see here is that Jesus said, “When you fast…”  Preachers are always quick to point out to their people that Jesus said, “When you pray…” They explain that it means Jesus expects prayer to be a regular part of the Christian walk.  They do the same thing with “When you give…”  What happened to fasting?

It seems to me that the Lord wants fasting to be just as much a part of our lives.  Many of us ignore it and think our walk with God will not suffer for it.  Jesus assumed that fasting was to be a regular part of the Christian walk.  I believe that most of us don’t understand it, and that’s why it is not practiced.

Question: How important is fasting in your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Fasting, Spirit of Excellence

 

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Will Christ Return in our Lifetime? #secondcoming

 

BeamIn my last post we saw Jesus answering the Pharisees’ question about the kingdom of God.  When they leave, the Lord turns to His disciples and starts teaching them about the last days.

Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it.”
Luke 17:22

Jesus begins to tell them what the Pharisees were really asking about.  He told them that they would not see one of the days of the Son of Man.  It turns out that there’s a special reason why He gave this teaching to His disciples.  He needed to warn them that none of the disciples would be alive when Jesus Christ was to return.

“Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’  Do not go running off after them.  For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other.”
Luke 17:23-24

The Lord knew that as soon as He died, rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, there were going to be people who claimed to be the Messiah.  There would be those who proclaimed, “Jesus has returned, He’s back again”.

After all, even when Jesus was ministering, the people thought He was the return of Elijah or Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.  He knew that there would always be those who claimed to be a new incarnation of the Christ.  In this teaching, the Lord wanted to nip that heresy in the bud.

He told His disciples clearly that if anybody said that the Lord had returned, they would automatically know it was a lie.  They wouldn’t have to check it out.  They wouldn’t have to verify it.  He was saying, “Know for sure that I will not come back in your lifetime.”

This verse then was specifically for the disciples. As it turned out, they were very glad that the Lord gave them this wisdom.  Following the ascension of Christ, there were plenty of false Messiahs that came along.  The disciples were fortunate in knowing that they didn’t have to worry about whether they were the real thing or not.

Even Paul ran into this problem.  He had to write to the Thessalonian church dealing with this issue.  They were all upset because somebody told them Jesus had already returned and they had missed it.  Paul had to tell them, “No, it hasn’t happened yet.”  He didn’t have to go find out.  He didn’t have to call up anybody or check it out.  He knew with a certainty that Christ had not yet returned.

As a matter of fact, Jesus said, “When I come, it’s not going to be in secret.  It will be like lightning flashing from one end of the heavens to the other.  Everybody is going to see Me.”

I believe that we are the generation that will see His return.

Question: Are you ready and looking forward to the day Christ will appear?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Return of Christ

 

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The Day after the Resurrection

FishingYesterday was Resurrection Sunday.  If you’re like most Christians, you went to church to celebrate this world-changing event.  I hope you had a great time of praise and worship to our God.

My question is this: What happens the next day?  How does the reality of the resurrection of Christ affect the rest of your walk with Him?

Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.  “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
John 21:2-3

This is a very interesting event in the lives of the disciples.  What arrests my attention, is that this happened after the events of the first day of the week.

They decided to go fishing after Mary came running to them with the news that she had seen the risen Lord.  It was also after Jesus came to them in their apartment.  It was after Thomas was told to touch the wounds in Jesus’ hands, feet, and side.

I would understand it if they had not yet know about the resurrection.  But at this point they were well acquainted with the risen Lord.  Why did they go back to the same old routine?  Especially since fishing is what they did before they had even met Jesus.

Where are we today?  Are we stuck in the same old stuff we’ve always been doing?  It’s funny just how like the disciples we seem to be.

It was in this setting that the disciples had another encounter with the risen Lord.  This time He broke into their everyday world and turned it upside down.  They realized that they couldn’t even go fishing without the help of the Lord.

This is the moment when Jesus told Peter, “Feed My sheep.”

Everything changed.  There was no going back.  Because of the resurrection, the very course of their lives was changed.

What about us?  Yesterday, we celebrated the Risen Lord.  How does it affect us today?  How can we live a “normal” life knowing what Christ has accomplished?

Allow the truth of the resurrection to fill your thoughts.  Don’t just consign it to one Sunday a year.  Let it set you on a new course.  A course that will turn the world upside down.

Question: How does the resurrection of Christ affect what you do today?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2013 in Encouragement

 

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