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The Importance of the Unseen

Over the last few posts, we can see that the disciples following Jesus seemed to be pretty slow in their trust of the Lord.  They have a hard time applying what He did in the past, to their present challenges.  Of course, that’s our problem sometimes as well.

I’ve found that the questions Jesus asks are just as important as His teachings.  It draws out what’s really going on inside of us.  He wants to activate the faith that may be lying dormant within us.

For this reason, He asks the disciples some questions.

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi.  On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
Mark 8:27-28

This is an interesting conversation between the Lord and His followers.  Jesus asks them who the crowds think He is.  In reading the original Greek, it sounds like their initial answer is, “John the Baptist.”  Then they added that some say Elijah or another lesser known prophet.

That’s funny when you think about it because Jesus was baptized by John.  They were seen together on a few occasions.

This actually shows us how society works.  When someone becomes famous, and people start to recognize their name, it’s as if they had never existed before that moment.

When Jesus was baptized by John, He probably stood in line like everyone else.  Even though John recognized who the Lord was, to the casual observer, Jesus was simply one of many being baptized that day.

They didn’t see Jesus studying and meditating on the Scripture for His first 30 years.  They didn’t see the hours of fasting and prayer over His future ministry to Israel.  They never knew about the 40 days He spent in the wilderness being tested.

The foundation of the house is the most important part, yet it’s the part rarely seen in the completed structure.  That’s why there can be no shortcuts in the preparation seasons of our ministry.  It’s frustrating to realize it, but most will never know the hard work that went into what people eventually see in public.

The disciples knew the reality.

“But what about you?” he asked.  “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”
Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
Mark 8:29-30

They were finally able to voice what they had been thinking inside.  It was no longer a question; could this be the Messiah?  Now it was a definitive statement.

We need to follow the example of Christ.  Are you believing for God to accomplish something extraordinary through you?  Then don’t look for the shortcuts.

Don’t become so frustrated that you drop out during your season of preparation.  Continue to do what you know to do.  Allow the Lord to bring you to the place you need to be in Him.  Then, at the appointed time, you’ll see the manifestation of God’s Word to you.

Question: What are you believing God to bring about in your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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What Kind of Builder are You?

FoundationThis is the last post in my series about the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25. In my last article I talked about how we must give an account of how we build on Christ’s foundation in our lives.

We started to look at how the Apostle Paul described it.

If any man builds on this foundation, using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
I Corinthians 3:12-15

Paul writes that there are those Christians who are listening to the Lord and obeying Him. Because of this, they’re building with gold, silver, and gems on that foundation. When the Lord brings us up for review, it’s a work that will last through eternity.

There are, however, other Christians who are doing what they want. They might even be doing good things, but they’re not doing the works that God wants them to do.

It could be that they’re doing wonderful acts of service or giving lots of money. But if they’re not doing what God has prepared for them to do, then it will turn out to be wood, hay, and straw.

When they go before God and God puts His checklist next to what they did, all their hard work is going to be burned up. Now the Word of God does say that they’ll be saved, but only like one passing through the fire.

Everything they did was wasted. That’s not the legacy I want for my life. But even that’s not the end of the matter. Paul has some more insight into how we are to prepare.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
I Corinthians 3:16-17

You can build with the right stuff – gold, silver, costly stones. You can also build with the wrong stuff – wood, hay, straw. But there’s also a third thing that can be done. You can also tear down the godly work someone else is doing.

You can actually be working against the Kingdom of God. This corresponds to those who are lost – doing the exact opposite of what God wants done in their lives.

We can see, then, in Paul’s writings the very same thoughts that we’ve found in the gospels. In the parable that Matthew records, the servant was lost – cast out of the presence of the Lord. Luke, however, says that he lost everything he had, but he didn’t lose his soul.

So Paul shows us the same concept. Great returns, little returns, and no returns on the investment God has entrusted to us.

Make very sure that you’re in the group that’s building with gold, silver, and precious stones. Be a servant who takes the investment that God has placed in you and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading to bring about a great harvest for the Kingdom. Then you can march into Heaven victorious with works that will last.

Question: How have you brought increase into the Kingdom of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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The Boat that Faith Built

 

CostillajeI love reading Hebrews, chapter 11; the “Faith Chapter”. It brings out many aspects of our faith. Some are rarely mentioned in church. Here’s one that I particularly enjoy.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
Hebrews 11:7

This is a long, complicated sentence. But if we boil down all the extra words, it simply says that “By faith Noah built an ark.” Our faith always brings us to some sort of decision. There’s always a “faith choice” to be made as our walk with the Lord matures.

Noah chose to build by faith. This word build literally means to prepare thoroughly. If you’re truly trusting God, then you should be building something.

But let’s put first things first. We know from Scripture that you can’t build anything without the proper foundation.

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:11

I have turned my life over to the Lordship of Christ. I’m in His hands. He is my foundation. Without that groundwork, nothing I build will succeed. It has to be based upon the work of Christ in me.

But how many Christians are actually building? And what exactly is it that we’re supposed to build?

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8

Wow! That sounds like a daunting task. But remember, we’re building. It doesn’t come together in an instant. It’s worked on over time.

I’ve seen many impressive buildings in some of the cities that I’ve visited. Some of them took years of planning and construction to complete their structures. Don’t get upset that you aren’t perfect yet.

The Greek word add in the above Scripture means to choreograph over. I think that’s a pretty interesting way to put it. How do we build? By choreographing or lives in deeper and deeper patterns.

It’s like a dancer learning all the moves needed for their recital. Faith – goodness – knowledge – self-control – perseverance – godliness – brotherly kindness – love.

We have to transform our lifestyle into a more intricate choreography. This takes the wisdom and strength of God. That’s why we needed the proper foundation.

The work of this building process is beyond our limited capabilities. We need to yield to the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit within us. That’s how we can begin building by faith, just as Noah did.

In my next post I’ll continue talking about this spiritual building process. If you haven’t yet done so, I encourage you to subscribe to this blog so you won’t miss any of the articles.

Question: How far along in the building process are you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Faith

 

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4 Traits of a Godly Woman

Pray1This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day. As it approaches, I’m thankful for the godly women in my life. I’m thankful for my wife who stands beside me, and works with me in ministry.

Then there’s my grandmother – the first in her family to come to Christ and my mother, who faithfully made us attend church whenever the doors were open. Lastly, my daughters, who have now picked up the torch of Christ and continue our legacy of faith.

What is it that qualifies a woman as “godly?”

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.
Titus 2:3

I believe that by using the word older here, Paul is talking about older in the faith. It’s someone who has experience in serving God.

1. Godly women seek maturity.

This should come naturally in our walk with the Lord. It should always be our goal to grow up in Christ. It’s normal for a child to want adulthood.

The word reverent is interesting in the above verse. In the Greek it’s a compound word. The first part of it means to be outwardly consecrated to God, sacred. In a way, it’s one step down from holiness. The word emphasizes the outward look.

2. Godly women live for Christ outwardly.

There’s an outward display of godliness. Can people tell that you’re dedicated to God by your actions, your words, or the way you work? Is there an outward show of Christ? The faith of a godly woman should be obvious to those around her.

The second part of the compound word means to tower up.

It’s one thing to be dedicated to God. It’s another to “tower up” for God. A tower assumes that you’re higher than the surrounding landscape. A tower is conspicuous.

3. Godly women live for Christ unhidden.

Jesus talked about us living for Him like a city on a hill.

“If I live like that I’ll be noticed.”

That’s how we are to live. This requires us to be careful in what we say and do. You have to count the cost of this type of lifestyle. I’m talking about living radically for Christ.

The last thing I see in the above verse is the phrase, in the way they live. It literally says the position or condition of their life. The grace you receive from God is always based on position. You need to be in the position of building up a tower of outward consecration to God.

4. Godly women are positioned to build.

She is building a life sold out to the Lord. But she is also building up the faith of those around her. The foundation is Christ. The rest of the materials come from her obedience to the call of God that’s upon her.

Praise the Lord for the example and faithfulness of godly women in the body of Christ.

Questions: Who are the godly women in your life? How will you honor them this Mother’s Day?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Encouragement, The Church

 

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Our Final Exam – What’s On It?

ClassI’m posting about God’s ongoing work of salvation in us. God desires to continually bring about changes in us.

But what happens if I don’t allow God to continue with His plan to renew my life? Paul gives us some insight into the question. In the letter to the Corinthian church, Paul is addressing a group of mostly baby Christians. According to the Apostle, they’re not babies because they lack experience, but because they chose not to grow up.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15

When we are initially saved we’re placed onto the foundation of Christ. It’s afterwards that the building program begins. We have the choice to build for ourselves – wood, hay, and straw. Think about it in the natural. All over the world wood, hay, and straw are normal building materials. They’re used because they’re readily available and easy to build with.

It’s a lot more difficult to build with gold, silver or costly stones. They speak of what’s built by the spirit. If we submit to the will of God for our lives, then we’ll see a beautiful structure arise. Not only that, but it will be beyond our expectations for what we could have ever accomplished on our own.

The good news is that we’re told how it will all turn out. We’re not in the dark. We know what we’ll be judged on. The test is fire.

You can build some elaborate and beautiful houses with wood, hay and straw. I’ve seen some grandiose mansions around the country. Here’s the problem, they’re not going to be judged on how high they were built or how ornate they are. They’re going to be doused with gasoline and lit up.

Think about what’s important to you right now. The test is not how high you climbed up the corporate ladder. It’s not how much money you accumulated. It’s not even about how many good deeds you did or how many friends you have on Facebook.

The judgment will be based upon how close you stuck to the Plan. Did you allow the Holy Spirit to work His changes in your life? The final exam is how close your life came to God’s will for you.

That’s what will matter the most to you in the end.

Question: How high on you priority list is knowing and accomplishing God’s will for your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Faith, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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The Foundation for Fasting #spiritualfast

BibleI am posting about the New Testament fast.  I believe that it can revolutionize your walk with the Lord.

Did you ever feel like your spiritual breakthrough was right there?  You could almost taste it.  You have the faith, but you just couldn’t cross over to the promise before you.

Hopefully, that will no longer be the case.  No, you don’t have to fast to be saved.  However, if your desire is to walk in the fullness of the salvation that the Lord has provided for you, then fasting is one of the tools available to propel you forward.

Fasting is something that should be a normal part of your walk with the Lord.  As a matter of fact, no one should even be aware of your doing it.

When the Lord spoke of washing your face and putting oil on your head he was referring to the normal grooming that most people of His culture did each day.  In other words, go through your day in the normal routine, only without eating.  That is the impact of what Jesus was teaching in the verses we looked at in my last post (Matthew 6:16-18).

On the other hand, I have seen people get religious about this point.  They lock themselves in their room for the day.  It’s not a sin for people to know that you’re fasting.

My regular fasting day is Tuesday.  It would be impossible for me to hide this from my wife and children.  What I’m not to do is use fasting as a way to make myself look good in the eyes of others.  I simply go through the day normally – only without eating.

The big question is – why does the Lord want us to fast?

To understand fasting, we must look at an incident that occurred in Jesus’ ministry.  This happened immediately after the Lord’s transfiguration on the mountain.  I will look at it in detail in my next post.  By understanding this event, we will see why the supernatural is so difficult to enter into in the United States.

The first thing I need to understand is who I am as a person.  I’m a multi-part being.  I exist as body (flesh), soul (mind), and spirit.

My spirit is the part of my being that communes with God.  My spirit believes everything in the Word of God.  It agrees, without reservation, to every word spoken by the Lord.

My flesh, on the other hand, is the part that I inherited from my ancestor, Adam.  It rejects and doubts whatever God says.  The tension between the flesh and the spirit has created a war that’s constantly waging within me.

The third aspect, my mind, is the part of me that’s in control and has to sort it all out.  This will be the case until we receive our resurrected body from the Lord.  So we better know the scriptural way to handle it.

In my next post we’ll see what Jesus says the problem is.

Questions: Have you been trust God for a spiritual breakthrough?  How close is it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Fasting, Spirit of Excellence

 

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Do I Need the Gospel?

News GlassesWho is the Gospel for?  Is it only the unsaved that need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ?  I think that we’ve short changed ourselves by not continuing in the whole truth of the Gospel.

This is my second post in a series about the true, life-changing Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I want to look at what it is and its effect upon our lives.  In this post I want to explain how the Good News is also for believers.

For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Hebrews 4:2

According to this passage of Scripture, without faith, the Gospel is of no value or of no benefit to those who hear it.  It starts there – you must believe the Gospel in order to enter into salvation.  What most Christians don’t realize is that the Good News doesn’t end there.  It’s not something that’s only for those in need of the saving power of God.

Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him…
Romans 16:25-26

In the first line of this section of the Word the phrase is able is the Greek word dunamispower.  This literally says that He has the power to establish you.  How can the Lord accomplish this?  It’s through the Gospel that we are established.  Not only does the Good News save you, but it gives you a foundation.  It sets you firmly in place by the power of the Lord.

I think one of our fundamental mistakes is to think of the word salvation as a one-time thing.  It is actually an ongoing process.  According to Scripture, I received salvation when I accepted Christ as my Lord.  Now, for the rest of my life, I am being saved by His work in me.  One day, when He returns, I will receive my final salvation – my resurrected body.  The Gospel is a part of God’s continuing work in my life.

Of course, if you read the above verse carefully you’ll find that it’s not just the Good News.  It’s also the proclamation of Jesus the Anointed One and His anointing that brings about this stability in your life.  That’s why we can’t neglect the gathering together of the church.  We need what happens when we meet together for worship if we’re going to progress in that anointing.

This is Good News, But as great as our lives being established is, the Gospel doesn’t stop there.  In my next post I will talk about another aspect of the Gospel we don’t normally consider.

Question: What is a result of failing to see the Gospel as an ongoing work in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2013 in Faith, The Gospel

 

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