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Faith Experiments

As we continue through First Corinthians, Paul is still laying down principles for handling the “grey areas” of sin.  These are the things in society that the Bible doesn’t specifically speak about as being right or wrong.

Paul makes an interesting observation.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

In order to understand what Paul’s saying here, we need to grasp the concept of temptation.  I think that we misunderstand this sometimes.

The Greek word translated as tempt and temptation has a few different English words associated with it.  In other passages of Scripture, it’s translated as test and trial.  It literally means putting to proof by experiment.

This tells me that temptation is simply a faith experiment.  It’s a test designed to see if you really believe what you say that you believe.

James, chapter 1, tells us that it’s these faith experiments that develop godly character in us.  They’re things that we all go through.  God allows things to cross our path that will bring out and expose our faith in Him.

James also tells us that God doesn’t use evil to test us.  It’s the enemy that tries to get us to fall into sin by putting evil across our paths.

You probably don’t look forward to trials and temptations.  I don’t.  But they’re going to be a part of our lives until the Lord returns.

Paul’s statement above is a bright ray of hope.  It’s a promise we can cling to.  God will not allow me to go through anything that He and I can’t handle together.  The key is that I need to be looking for the exit door.

That’s the reason for his next statement.

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
1 Corinthians 10:14

Idolatry is anything that you place above God in your life.  Whatever or whoever you’re willing to rearrange your life or your schedule for is the one you’re serving.  Make sure that it’s Christ.

That’s an important key for testing these grey areas.  It might not specifically be called sin in Scripture.  But if it’s keeping you from serving God wholeheartedly, then you need to flee from it.  Or at least put it in its proper place in subjection to Christ.

We need to take inventory of our lives.  Just because something isn’t evil doesn’t mean that it’s not hindering your walk with the Lord.

Paul tells us that God gives you the ability to put your life into order.  You’re able to overcome the trials and tests in your life.  Allow the work of the Holy Spirit to bring you to your destiny in Christ

Question: What areas of testing and temptation are you going through right now?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on May 13, 2019 in Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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Lawless Man

I’m continuing to look at Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians.  In my last post, he predicted a major falling away of the church.  I believe that this was fulfilled during the Dark Ages.

I now want to look at the other things predicted in this epistle.  Here’s the passage we looked at in the last post.

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.  Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.
II Thessalonians 2:1-3

Paul says, in verse 3, that the man of lawlessness is going to be revealed – the man doomed to destruction.  Most people believe that he’s talking here about a man that we term the “Anti-Christ.”

As I read this section of Scripture, I’m not 100% certain that Paul is talking about a solitary man.  One reason is that the word he uses here for man, is the Greek word, anthropos.

When it says the man of lawlessness, he isn’t using the Greek word, aner which means a male.  The word anthropos is where we get our word anthropology.  It’s a more general word used to mean mankind.

Anthropos is not a word that you usually use to mean a man but a group of men.  If I say something like, “The American man is independent,” it’s obvious that I am not talking about one person, but a group of people.  In the same way, it looks like Paul is talking about lawless man, as lawless mankind.

He writes that in the Last Days lawless man will be uncovered.  I believe that he’s talking about the fact that without Christ, human beings are a lawless people.  In my own desires and wants, I’m lawless.

I don’t want anybody to tell me what to do.  I want to do what I want to do.  But when I came to Jesus, that all changed.  I had to submit to Him as Lord.  My will is not supreme anymore; it’s the Lord’s will.  I had to turn it all over to God and establish Him as King.

What about the rest of humanity?  It’s clear from Scripture that anybody who hasn’t bowed their knee to Christ is lawless.  The problem is that our society does such a great job of covering it up.

We’ve created laws on the outside that hold many of our evil desires in check.  There are laws that tell us not to get drunk and drive a car, or we’ll be punished.

Laws are holding most of us back from doing the things that our natural inclinations would cause us to do.  But, as we approach the Last Days, mankind will be uncovered for what he really is.  Even now it seems that the trend is to enact laws that give us more and more permission to act lawlessly.

Society likes to think that man is basically good.  They teach that it’s the environment or upbringing that creates criminal or abusive behaviors.  If we could only do away with poverty, neglect, and prejudice, then society would be a utopia.

Unfortunately, this is not the answer.  It’s clear from Scripture, experience, and history that man is basically evil.  The more freedom and opportunity we’re given, the more depraved we become.

It’s only the life-changing power of a holy God that can make a person a “new creation.”  Only when God’s laws are written on the tablets of our hearts will we truly live up to the high standard of righteousness we were created for.

Question: What examples have you seen that reinforce the fact that Man is basically evil?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2018 in Return of Christ

 

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Patiently Complaining?

In my last post we saw what James taught about the Second Coming of the Lord. It will require us to be patient. At this point it’s taken about 2000 years for the fulfillment.

But there is still more to learn about patience.

Don’t grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
James 5:9

James tells us to wait patiently without grumbling. Now, that word grumbling was a colloquial term that meant to sigh, to murmur or to say something inaudibly.

It’s just like when someone gets you mad and you speak under your breath.

“I don’t know about that person … I don’t want to do it his way … who does he think he is.”

Many of us act that way, but the Word says that we shouldn’t get caught up in that type of attitude. We shouldn’t be grumbling and complaining about one another.

Why not? “Because the Judge is at the door.” We enjoy the ability we have of always judging everybody else and then walking away.   We’ve always got something to say about somebody.

I know that in my own life it’s so much easier to give myself the benefit of the doubt. But when someone else does something I don’t like – they have no excuse. It may be human nature to see things in that way, but it’s not Christ-like.

Be careful, because the Lord sees everything, and He’s the One who’ll make the final, righteous judgment on the case.

Jesus, especially in these Last Days, wants us to walk in unity of spirit. And so He wants us to be careful not to be found grumbling and judging each other because we know that the real Judge is at the door. We’ve got to be found doing the work that He’s called us to do and not mistreating one another.

There’s one more aspect of patience that James deals with.

Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
James 5:10-11

Especially in these last days, we need to be patient in the face of suffering. Please understand, that word suffering literally means suffering evil. It about the patience we need to be salt in our current evil society.

I have to understand that unsaved people are going to do evil. It’s all a part of their human nature passed down through their DNA. It’s not my place to judge them or tell them what they’re doing is wrong.

I must be praying for them. While God is at work, I need to be patient with them. Then, as I live openly for Christ, I expect the Holy Spirit to convict them and open their heart to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It doesn’t take any character to gripe and complain about everything that people are doing wrong in our society. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit wait patiently for an opportunity to be a true witness for Christ.

The fact is that people don’t get saved because you tell them how bad and sinful they are. They seek salvation when they see how good and loving the Savior is. The key is that the only place they’re going to see Christ’s goodness is in us.

Question: When have you had to be patient in the face of evil?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Legalism, Return of Christ, The Gospel

 

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Becoming Mature in the Word

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEven though the church talks a lot about the Word of God, I wonder sometimes just how mature we really are.  At one point the writer of the Book of Hebrews rebukes his listeners for their lack of maturity.

In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!  Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:12-14

In order to become mature, we must learn the elementary truths of God’s Word.  Then when we’re mature, we are able to discern the good from the evil.  This is especially needed when someone supports their evil with a verse of Scripture.

People try to push the dumbest things, all in the name of God’s Word.  I believe these days of such foolishness are coming to an end.  I believe that God is bringing His people to a new level of maturity in the Holy Spirit.

As we mature, we will be able to discern whether something is of God, or just a clever deception.  That’s one of the reasons I’m posting this blog.  So that the Lord’s people can live for God unashamed and correctly handling the Word of Truth.

In Jesus’ encounter with the devil in the wilderness, He made the following statement.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

Here is why maturity in the Word is so important – The Word is our Life.  Jesus said that food was not enough for man to live on.  If someone truly wants the abundant life, then he needs to grasp the Word of God.

Paul understood this truth as he ministered to his people.  He wrote to them about how to live as examples to the world.

…as you hold out the word of life – in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.
Philippians 2:16

This is such an important aspect that God’s Word is even called the Word of Life.  That’s why Jesus – the Word made flesh – could say that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  The Word of God brings life.  The Word of God is life.  This is a very important point for us to understand.

Question: In what ways have you experienced the abundant life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2013 in Word of God

 

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The Last Days – Are You a Weed?

WeedIn my last post I started talking about a parable found in Matthew 13:24-41.  I believe it’s talking about the times we live in right now.

In it, Jesus explains that through the centuries, the kingdom of God and the world will mature alongside of one another until the end approaches.  Then, as we get close to the return of the Lord, a weeding will take place.  What is the nature of these weeds?  That’s what I want to talk about in today’s post.

According to the parable, both kingdoms begin to sprout.  You could also say they begin coming into fruition.  The church is starting to become what God wants it to become.  The closer we get to the ministry of Christ, the closer we are to harvest time.

The parable also tells us that the weeds are the enemy’s kingdom sown right alongside of us.  The word Jesus uses for weed is a plant called darnel.  It’s a special plant that looks exactly like wheat.

The downside of having it in your field is the fact that it contains a deadly poison.  Not only that, but if it’s planted next to wheat you can’t tell them apart.  As a matter of fact, everything about them looks the same until the harvest.  At harvest time wheat starts turning that beautiful, golden color.  Darnel, however, turns black.

If you were to eat darnel, it would cause sleep, convulsions, nausea, and even death.  It’s a poison.  It’s not good for human consumption.

So what Jesus is saying is that there’s going to be a battle going on until the end of the age.  This is because two different families are going to be on the earth at the same time with two vastly different agendas.  There will be two groups of people that are becoming two different kingdoms.  One of those kingdoms is poison and one is life giving.

“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.”
Matthew 13:41

First, He says that the angels will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin or literally, causes offense and stumbling.  Wow!  That’s probably half the battle right there.  If we can get rid of the things that cause stumbling and that cause offense, living for Christ would get a whole lot easier.

The second type of weed mentioned by the Lord is all who do evil.   Literally it says all without law.  He is speaking here of those who are not submitted to Christ – they are without law.  These people don’t care what the Lord wants them to do – they have their own agenda.  Too many people in this generation are “serving” God on their own terms.  That is unacceptable to Him.

If you find yourself in one of these two categories, take the time right now to repent and become a life-giving member of the body of Christ.

Question: Have you ever experienced the poison of these “weeds” in a church setting?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2013 in Return of Christ, The Church

 

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My Testimony – A Godly Heritage

2 Timothy 1:5
I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.

Sometimes it’s good to look back over your life to see where God has brought you from.  I love to hear a testimony of a changed life.  I have known drug addicts, gang members and people from the “underworld” who have given their lives to Christ and were changed by His power.  I have met people who have been bound by addictions, hurt by abuse and oppressed under the weight of depression all set free by the blood of Jesus.

It is an encouragement to see the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit at work in the world.  I, for one was insulated from most of these issues.  I tend to relate more with Timothy.  My grandparents were saved soon after they came over to America from Italy.  My parents were raised in church, and followed Christ throughout their lives.  When I came along, I had no choice – church was where our family went, whenever the doors were open.

Then, one day, at a children’s camp (Camp Woodhaven in West Boylston, MA) I personally received the salvation offered by Jesus Christ.  I have tried to follow His leading ever since.

Sometimes I used to feel that I missed out on something, when I would hear the testimonies of how God saved people from an evil life.  But when I grew older I realized the blessing of being born into a Christian home.  God kept me from some of the things that could have destroyed me.  I have a testimony of the Lord’s power to keep and protect a life from the darkness of the world.

So, whether you came to Christ from a life of great sin, or you were raised in church, be grateful to the Lord for His presence in your life.  The fact is, we all need a Savior.  No one is too far away from His love.  Equally, no one is good enough to deserve His love.  We all need the power of the cross to set us free.  Praise God for His grace that He freely gives to all who seek Him.

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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