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Birth Pains Ahead

I’m continuing to look at Jesus’ discussion of the Last Days with His disciples.  He’s giving them a general outline of future events.

When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed.  Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
Mark 13:7

The Lord warns us that peace will not occur in this age.  Wars and rumors of wars will be going on around the world.  In Luke 21:9, the Lord is recorded as adding revolutions, or literally unrest to the list.

As Christians, we’re not to be alarmed.  That word alarmed in the above verse means to cry out in fright.  We should not be afraid or surprised at these events.

The Lord doesn’t give us the illusion of a world getting better and better.  Instead, He shows us the reality of what living on this earth will be like.

Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines.  These are the beginning of birth pains.
Mark 13:8

The Lord goes on to list more signs that He calls birth pangs.  He mentions famines.  This is a lack of food usually caused by greed.  In many places around the world, people starve while ships full of food are docked in the harbor and cannot be unloaded because the repressive government won’t allow it.

The number of earthquakes has been rising steadily over the last hundred years.  They cause a lot of devastation.   Many times they’re accompanied by volcanic eruptions or tsunamis.  It seems like every week we hear of new disasters.

When I was a child, we heard of natural disasters happening very infrequently.  Now it seems like every day we’re hearing about a new “worst”.  They are always reporting the worst flood, worst tornado outbreak, worst drought, or other such calamities in the news.

Jesus calls all these things the beginnings of birth pangs.  I believe the Lord is referring to the time at the end of this age where He will begin to make a distinction between the church and the world.

We’re told in the Word what our attitude should be.  We’re expecting our Lord to appear.

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.  “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.”
1 Peter 3:14

The Lord doesn’t warn us of these events so that we’ll fear the future.  As we see these things happening, our faith in the Lord and in His Word should grow.  It should give us a greater urgency for winning souls into His kingdom.  We must let this knowledge transform us into the end-time church Christ will be looking for when He returns.

Question: How should believers keep from fearing the future?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2018 in Encouragement, Return of Christ

 

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Religion is Slavery

Slavery is evil.  But when someone chooses to be a slave to an unworthy master, that’s just plain foolish.  It’s so unfortunate that this is the position many Christians find themselves in.

As we continue our look at Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he begins to talk about this problem.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.
Galatians 4:8

Paul tells us here that before we experienced the true God, we were under the yoke of slavery.  Now, having come to Christ, we’ve learned the freedom that’s only available in Him.  Paul is perplexed about why anyone would ever want to go back to the old ways.

But now that you know God — or rather are known by God — how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?  Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
Galatians 4:9

Paul makes it clear that this slavery is not to a person.  We choose to be enslaved by certain principles.  And his description of these principles – this way of ordering our lives – makes it sound like it’s not worth serving under them.

He says that they’re weak, without any power.  I want my life to change, but trying to serve a set of rules doesn’t bring about that change.  I’m the same person I always was, but now I’m struggling to act differently than my natural desires.

He also calls these principles miserable.  The word he uses means a fearful, beggarly existence.  In other words, you want God’s blessing, but you’re so afraid that at any step you’ll do something wrong and lose it all.  You’re hoping that by your good works you’ll convince God that you’re worthy of His blessings.

I can tell you from experience that this is a miserable way to live.  And yet there are many who only serve God in this way.  They’re in constant fear of making God mad at them.  They’re in slavery to a no-win lifestyle.

You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!  I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
Galatians 4:10-11

The bottom line is that God isn’t pleased with us because of our rituals and observances.  He loves us because we’re in Christ.  He sees us under the blood – washed clean and delivered from our past.  It’s not about ritual but relationship that brings us closer to the Lord.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

Please understand what Paul is saying here.  It’s not that he wants to know about, read about, or learn about Christ.  He wants to know Christ deeper and deeper on a personal level.  The more he knows Christ, the more like Him Paul will become.

Instead of fearing that we’ll get God mad at us, we should be drawing on our relationship with Him.  Spend time in His presence.  Let the Holy Spirit work in you as He wills.  Don’t waste time by putting yourself back under a yoke of slavery.

Question: Why is relationship better than slavery?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2017 in Encouragement, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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Pride – Know the Symptoms

Are you walking in pride? Do you know what to look for? Many are self-deceived and don’t even know they’re headed for problems in this area.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6

By understanding pride, we can make sure that we haven’t put ourselves in a position of opposing God. That’s a no-win situation. We need to steer clear of that trap.

Scripture records some events that surrounded Christ’s birth. The following principals are gleaned from Luke’s Gospel and the birth announcements of both John the Baptist and Jesus. These are found in Luke 1:5-38. You may want to read this passage before continuing with this article.

By comparing the responses of Zechariah and Mary, we can see how to recognize pride. It’s clear in Luke’s Gospel that Zechariah was rebuked, while Mary was commended. How you answer the following questions will show your spiritual attitude in relation to pride.

Are you walking in fear? Right from the start, Zechariah was terrified, while Mary was troubled. Even though it may sound the same on the surface, there’s a world of difference.

The word troubled literally means to be mixed up or uncomfortable. This is a normal reaction to a spiritual encounter.

When new opportunities arise to serve God, there’s always a level of discomfort and uncertainty. On the other hand, if the thought of doing something new for Christ is terrifying to you, that’s a sign that pride is at work in your life.

Do you need proof of the outcome before you do something for God? Zechariah’s first question was, “How can I be sure of this?” Mary simply asked for a clarification of how it would happen. When given a new assignment from the Lord, do you insist that you know how it will turn out BEFORE you act on it?

Praying for wisdom and direction to complete your service to Christ is the right way to go. Needing proof that it will turn out the way you want it to, is a sign of pride in your heart.

Do you see your title as important to God? Two different people stood before the angel Gabriel – God’s designated messenger. Mary’s response was, “I am the Lord’s servant.” That’s the best way of viewing ourselves. What God wants accomplished in me is my priority.

Zechariah’s response was a little different. Many translations quote him as saying, “I’m an old man.” What he actually said, in the original Greek, was, “I am an elder”.

It was as if he was somehow superior and needed the assurance that his position would not be compromised by this announcement. After all, he had a reputation to maintain.

If you can’t do what the Lord wants because it’s “beneath you” – that’s a symptom that pride has taken over. You have to realize that if God doesn’t do what He says He’ll do, He has more to lose than you do.

Don’t let pride mess up your walk with the Lord. If you find these symptoms in your life, then simply repent and move on in the grace of God.

Question: How have you found yourself wrestling with pride?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2017 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Giant Killers

stonesI’m posting about spiritual warfare and using David’s mighty men as our examples. Today I want to talk about someone named Benaiah.

Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, who performed great exploits. He struck down two of Moab’s best men. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.
2 Samuel 23:20

Benaiah was special. He wasn’t like the others. He was at his best when the fight was one on one.

But when I read about his encounter with the lion, I don’t think that was planned. I think that it was simply a snowy day. He hit a patch of slippery ground and slid into the pit.

Did you ever have a day like that? It’s snowy, it’s cold, and just when you think it couldn’t get any worse you slide into pit. Then you look around only to find a mad lion at the bottom. It’s a day that just keeps going from bad to worse.

In our situation we know that the enemy roams around like a roaring lion. You need to understand what that means. When a pride of lions are hunting their prey, they have a system. The young, strong ones silently circle around in front of the intended victim.

But it’s the oldest one – not as strong and maybe missing some teeth – who stays in the rear. There’s one thing he can do, and that’s to let out a huge roar. That scares the prey so that they run straight to the waiting pack.

In Abishai’s case, if he had tried to run away he would have been dead. The only course open to him was to fight the lion.

In our struggles, it’s the same thing. Never run scared from the enemy’s roar. The name of Jesus is more than enough to bring about the victory.

This is how we’re to behave. The mighty never run from the enemy. They go on the offensive in a battle.

And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.
2 Samuel 23:21

Abishai was a giant killer just like David. We need to pick up that same spirit. One of the enemy’s most frequently used tactics is to make the problem look overwhelmingly large.

We look at the challenge ahead and compare it to our abilities and resources. We start to fear and get anxious over how we’re going to get through. That’s a certain recipe for disaster.

We have to come to the realization that Jesus Christ is bigger that any situation we’ll ever face. We must keep our eyes fixed on Him, knowing that all the resources of Heaven are there to back Him up.

Question: What are some giants that the Lord has helped you overcome?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2017 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Warfare

 

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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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The Last Days – Don’t Do These Things

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI’m taking a few posts to look at what our attitude should be like in the last days. Specifically, we’re dealing with the principles given to us by Jesus in Luke chapter 21.

First, I want to talk about three things that the Lord told us NOT to do.

He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them.”
Luke 21:8

His first command to us is, don’t follow them. We are to ignore those who claim, “I am he.” We should already know that one. Jesus said that at His coming every eye would see Him. It will not be a private return. In spite of this warning, many have come claiming to be another incarnation of Christ.

The second statement that the Lord made was a little more subtle. He said not to follow those who come in His name claiming, “The time is near.”

Please understand, I believe that the coming of the Lord is near. The difference is that this is only a small part of my message. Christ is talking about those whose whole focus is on the soon coming of the Lord and the signs surrounding it.

Remember what I told you in my last post. In Scripture, the Second Coming is never the main focus – it’s always the reason for living correctly. You have to be very careful when you see a whole ministry based upon “the time is near.”

“When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
Luke 21:9

The next thing Jesus tells us is don’t be frightened. You’re going to hear various bad reports. The world may be full of problems, but one thing remains true through the ages; Christ is still on the throne.

No matter what’s happening around us, Christians should never fear the future. The Holy Spirit is always with us. He leads and guides us. More than that, we know that He gives us the grace to stand strong in spite of the current situations.

Many people are predicting catastrophe for the United States. We don’t know what the future holds for our country. But I know the answer – Jesus Christ is Lord.

“But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves.”
Luke 21:12-14

The Lord’s final general statement is; do not worry…how you will defend yourselves.

“What if it becomes illegal to be a Christian?”

It’s happened before and God brought His people through victoriously. In the Book of Acts Paul was headed to Jerusalem. Churches were telling him not to go because of prophecies that spoke of his arrest. He said he was not only willing to be arrested, but to die for Christ.

The key is that if you’re called to go through persecution or martyrdom, then you’ll receive the grace to stand firm. So – don’t worry about it now – the Lord will give you what you need when you need it.

Question: What is the result of following these commands the Lord gave us?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Return of Christ

 

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The End-Time Birth Pangs

Lightning 3I’m continuing a series of posts about what Christ taught concerning the Last Days. Specifically, I’m dealing with His teachings in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13. I believe that we are close to His return.

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”
Matthew 24:6-7a

The Lord warns us that peace will not occur in this age. Wars and rumors of wars will be going on around the world. In Luke 21:9, He is recorded as adding revolutions, or literally unrest to the list.

As Christians, we are not to be alarmed. That word alarmed in the above verse means to cry out in fright. We should not be afraid or surprised at these events.

The Lord doesn’t give us the illusion of a world getting better and better. Instead, He shows us the reality of what living on this earth will be like.

“There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pangs.”
Matthew 24:7b-8

“There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
Luke 21:11

The Lord goes on to list more signs that He calls birth pangs. He mentions famines. This is a lack of food usually caused by greed. In many places around the world, people starve while ships full of food are docked in the harbor and cannot be unloaded because the repressive government won’t allow it.

The number of earthquakes has been rising steadily over the last hundred years. Luke adds his testimony that Jesus also spoke of a rise in pestilences. New and deadlier diseases are found almost weekly.

From those diseases that are sexually transmitted to the Ebola virus to those created for chemical and biological warfare, there are now many diseases that were unheard of a hundred years ago.

The Lord also mentions fearful events – literally things that cause terror – and great signs from heaven. The word heaven in this verse means in the sky or in space. Whether it’s the fear of collision with an asteroid, a nuclear missile platform, or ultraviolet radiation, at this point in history people are more worried about the sky than ever before.

Jesus calls all these things the beginnings of birth pangs. I believe that Jesus is referring to the time at the end of this age where He will begin to make a distinction between the church and the world.

The Lord doesn’t warn us of these events so that we’ll fear the future. As we see these things happening, our faith in the Lord and in His Word should grow. It should give us a greater urgency for winning souls into His kingdom. We must let this knowledge transform us into the end-time church Christ will be looking for when He returns.

Question: How should believers keep from fearing the future?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Power of God, Return of Christ

 

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