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Living Today with our Hope in View

SpotlightI’ve been posting about Paul’s view of the Second Coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians. We understand that the Resurrection Day is the great hope of the church. But it’s not just about the future.

You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:5-11

Paul tells us the attitude we need in the last days. He says that we’re to be alert and self-controlled. The literal meaning of these words are awake and sober. We can’t be in a spiritual stupor and be victorious as we approach the end of the age.

He also tells us to put on faith and love as a breastplate. As you know, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, I believe that this is the oil and the lamp that we’re to keep burning. These are the two non-negotiable parts to serving God.

Without faith it’s impossible to please God, and without love your faith is worthless. You have to use both of these spiritual commodities. You can’t live for God without faith and love.

And so, these fruit need to be evident in all of our good works. Everything we do for the Lord has to spring from faith and love. Paul is in total agreement with the teaching of the Lord as found in the Gospels.

Finally, we must have the hope, or literally, the expectation of salvation as a helmet. We have to expect the salvation of God. We know what’s going to happen. We know that God is going to rescue us, so we might as well live like it.

Paul said that we’re not appointed to wrath. According to the Lord’s own words, wrath was not going to fall until the Last Day. Before it fell, however, Jesus said that He would gather up His elect to Himself. All of this happens on the last day of the age, according to Jesus. The Church will be taken to safety first, and then the wrath of God will fall.

It’s clear from both the teaching of Christ Himself and Paul the Apostle that God did not appoint us to wrath. What Paul is saying here is that we who are alive in the last days – who see the signs approaching as labor pains – must not get worried as people who don’t have any hope.

We must realize that we have the helmet of salvation on. We’re not appointed to wrath, so when The Day gets here, we’re going to be protected.

Don’t worry about the future, even though you see problems coming. Be prepared. Be self-controlled. Be alert. Be working for God, but don’t be afraid.

The last thing we need to remember is to continue to encourage one another, to build one another up and to exhort one another as, in fact, we should be doing.

That’s what being a part of the church is all about. We must help each other in areas of weakness. It’s only as we work together that we’ll gain the victory.

Question: How does your future hope affect your walk with Christ today?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

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Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Return of Christ, Revival, The Church

 

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The Last Days – Finishing Strong

JogToday’s post will conclude my series about last-days attitudes. I’ve talked about the things that cause the world to worry and fret about the future. God’s people are not to act like this.

The promises of God don’t go null and void simply because we’re living near the end of the age. We’re still under our covenant with Christ – a better covenant. That’s why we can look to what’s ahead with hope and anticipation.

He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.”
Luke 21:29-31

This should be an exciting time for the Church of Jesus Christ. The Kingdom is near! That thought should push us forward to greater effectiveness in the Kingdom.

Jesus does give us a warning, however. That’s the key reason for this series. I think that we’ve somehow lost sight of His Word to us.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.”
Luke 21:34-35

The Lord tells us that there are three things that we should be especially careful about in the last-days. The first of these is dissipation. Think about something like fog, when it dissipates. It seems to vanish right before our eyes.

That’s the distractions of the world. They dissipate your time, money, and strength. Then you find that you have nothing left to put into the Lord’s work.

Then there’s drunkenness. I don’t believe that Jesus is only talking about alcohol here. It could be anything that intoxicates God’s people. We end up chasing things when we should be pursuing the Lord.

The third is the anxieties of life. This is when you’re worried about things you can’t control. Put them in God’s hands. If you trust the Lord and follow His plan for your life, then the rest will fall into place.

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:36

This is the bottom line of how to live in the last days. We must be a people who watch and pray. We must spend quality time in the presence of the Lord. This includes praying in the Spirit and listening to hear God’s voice.

In this way, the Holy Spirit will give you insight on how to live. We’re told that living like this will allow us to escape. Escape what? The anguish, perplexity, fainting from terror, and the apprehension that’s coming upon the world.

Isn’t that our ultimate goal; to stand boldly before the Son of Man at His return? If we heed His exhortation to us, then we’ll be unashamed by our life on earth. I’ll know that I lived by His power operating in me.

We’ll finish the race strong, knowing there’s a reward waiting for us. Not in fear, but the faith that Christ is with us.

Question: What do find most exciting about living in the last-days?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Return of Christ, Revival

 

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Faith – Past, Present, Future

Jet Plane to NowhereI’m posting about receiving God’s power through prayer in the Spirit. I’ve found that there’s always a problem created by accessing this power. Once the Lord begins to work in us, we find that the power of God changes EVERYTHING it touches.

The problem is that we know this and resist sometimes because we don’t want to change. It takes the power of God for us to do and become what God wants for us. How do we receive this power?

It has a lot to do with attitude. We started by looking in Hebrews chapter 11.

By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.
Hebrews 11:11

That’s an interesting statement about Abraham. He considered Him faithful who made the promise. We receive when we consider God faithful.

The word consider is important for us to understand. This is a belief that does not rest upon feeling, sentiment, or emotion. Instead, it’s based upon careful and deliberate consideration of everything you’ve experienced so far. It involves weighing and comparing all of the facts.

Think about how God dealt with Abraham. He became 100 times richer during a time of famine. With only 300 men, he defeated a great army. The question was; can this God make good on His promise? The answer was a resounding YES!!!!

Remember what David said when he faced Goliath. God had helped him overcome a lion, then a bear, now this giant would be no different.

The disciples got a rebuke from Christ for not understanding this principle. At one point Jesus was upset as they got on a boat. The disciples discussed why the Lord might have had this attitude. They came to the conclusion that it was because they had forgotten to bring bread.

Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
“Twelve,” they replied.
“And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
They answered, “Seven.”
He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
Mark 8:17-21

We don’t want to be like them. We must look back at what God has already accomplished in us. Then, use that to bolster our faith for what lies ahead.

There may be a problem looming on the horizon. It might even be bigger than anything we’ve ever faced before. That’s not a problem for the God we serve.

The big issue is – will we remember. Remember how God saved you. Remember what He’s done for you in the past. Look at all the riches of His grace that have already been poured out upon you.

Then take that into consideration. Base your faith on the Word of the Lord who has never failed His people. Look to Christ with the knowledge that He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.

That’s the attitude that prepares you to receive God’s power. Now you’ll see God’s intervention on your behalf. But you must also remember, once God’s power is active in your life – everything is subject to change. It’s based upon His destiny for your life. He’s working out all things for your good. The Lord wants to give you a hope and a future.

Question: How has God worked His power in your life in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Prayer in the Spirit

 

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The Cross – Past, Present, Future

cross 2In my last post I talked about the work Christ did for us on the cross. Because of it, repentance and forgiveness of sin can be proclaimed throughout the world. We simply cry out to the Lord, “I want my life to change. Please, Lord, I’m asking you to take the trash out of my life.”

This is the result of Christ going to the cross. It’s the pattern for how we submit to the salvation process at work in us. We like to focus on the resurrection, but the fact is that there can be no resurrection without the cross.

That’s why Jesus tried to explain to His disciples over and over that He needed to go to the cross. It was imperative that He suffers, dies, and then three days later, rises up from the grave. He did this so that all of the unneeded baggage could be removed from our lives.

For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin…
Romans 6:6

This explains what exactly He removes. The Lord wants to get rid of your entire past. The “old you” is removed and nailed to the cross with Christ. It’s never to be heard from again. But it doesn’t end there.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

Christ doesn’t only deal with our past. The work He did on the cross affects our present and future as well. This is because the cross means nothing without the resurrection. The two must go hand in hand.

It’s great that Jesus got rid of my past sins and the guilt and shame that came with it. But I’m living in the present. I’m concerned about the future. How does what He’s done speak to this?

The power that was released when Christ rose from the dead is available to me today. I now have the power of God present in me. I have a source of strength that will get me through today victoriously. It will carry me through until I reach my destiny in Christ Jesus. That’s the power of the resurrection.

It’s just like when we’re doing something on our computers. You can create a lot of great stuff. But until you click on the save button, everything can be lost. Christ did a powerful work on the cross. But it was when He rose up from the dead that He hit the save button.

The Lord’s death and resurrection opened up the saving work of God for all time and to all people. This is what the church should be proclaiming. Repentance and forgiveness is now available through Jesus Christ.

That’s why I’ve bowed my knee to Jesus as my Lord and Savior. No other god has ever done this for his people. All the other religions tell their followers that if they want acceptance, enlightenment, or paradise, then they need to work harder. Sweat for it, bleed for it, suffer for it. Only when you’ve put enough effort into your seeking, will you attain the prize.

My God understood my problem. As a human being, I’m incapable of living the perfect life He requires. I had no ability to approach God on my own merit.

I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
Galatians 2:21

If there was a rule book or a set of laws that we could follow correctly, then we wouldn’t need Jesus. Because of the grace of God and the work of the cross it’s no longer about my ability. It’s now all about God’s work in me.

Question: How does Christ’s work continue to change your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, The Gospel

 

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Worship – Escape or Preparation?

Pray1I’m posting about how worship takes place around the throne room of God. Then we’ll apply it to our own experience with the Lord.

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
Revelation 4:1

After being called upward, John was told that in this place of worship he would be shown what was to take place beyond his generation.

Not many people realize this, but worship is preparation for the future. In the presence of God, John learned what was needed for the church to be ready for Christ’s return. He got a clear revelation of what was going to happen – most of which we’re still trying to sort out.

In Christian circles we sometimes think of worship as an escape from the problems and demands of life. People talk about just wanting to “run away” to the place of worship.

The reality is that it’s preparation for what’s coming just ahead. When we talk about worshipping in heavenly realms there’s a special work that takes place in us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3

Because we’re in Christ, God wants to bestow upon us all of the spiritual blessings that were purchased on the cross. It’s the place of worship that reveals these blessings to us.

The fact is that we don’t know what is going to happen later today, tomorrow, or a week down the road. But in the spirit we can see what Christ has in reserve for us. Then, when it’s needed we’ll have the faith for it. That’s because our spirit has already laid claim to it in the place of worship.

This is such an important concept. We were created to worship God. It’s probably the most important part of our relationship with Him.

For us to think that it’s an optional thing – something that I’ll do when I find the time – it’s like ignoring a call to your boss’s office. Especially when your boss is about to give you a raise or a new promotion. God calls us upward into His presence to equip us in ways we could never do on our own.

You can’t ignore this call and expect to complete your destiny in Christ. Run to that place of worship. Spend the quality time needed to prepare for the glorious future that God the Father has already set up for you to enjoy.

Question: Why do we find it so hard to set aside the time for the worship of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Faith, Prayer, Worship

 

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Building for the Unseen

FoundationThis is the final post in a series about the faith of Noah. He’s one of the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews, chapter 11. It says of him that he was warned about the unseen, and built for the future by faith. This is the same thing that each of us is called to do.

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 3:12-15

How we build our lives will be shown for what it really is. After the final tally, some will have no building. The work of others will be burned up. I want to be of the company of those who have a work that lasts.

For this to happen, I must take care how I build, knowing that it’s for eternity. Remember what was said about Noah.

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

Look at his results. The choice that he made was far-reaching. In most cases, our choices affect so many others.

First of all we see that it saved his family. He had to take care in how he built. In the midst of the storm they were walking on floorboards that might have been laid down 50 years before. His work had to last.

I might think that when I tithe it only affects me. But that’s not entirely true. It will have an effect upon my children and grandchildren.

The last part of the verse literally says that he condemned the world (system). Every day that we live by God’s standards proves that the world system is wrong. Because of this, I don’t fear what they fear. I don’t have to worry about how the economy is going to affect me or what kind of germs I’m being exposed to.

Just like Noah, we are heirs of righteousness. Please understand that righteousness is the complete package of grace that Christ purchased for us. This includes our healing, prosperity, joy, peace, goodness, and so much more.

By taking care how I build, I put myself in a position to receive from God. There may be things in my life that are not seen yet, but I’m getting into position. We need to make the choice to build for the unseen.

Questions: What are you trusting God for that you haven’t seen yet? How are you building for it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Faith, Word of God

 

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Saved in our Past, Present, & Future

Cross SunsetI’m posting about the salvation we share in Christ. How Christ took us from where we were and made us new in Him. Our past had no bearing on His love for us.

…for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:13

This work that Christ has done in us is totally His doing. It didn’t matter how good I was. I’m just as guilty before God. It wouldn’t matter if I was a drug dealer, rapist, or terrorist. The blood of Christ is sufficient to cover all of my sins.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

The salvation of the Lord is all encompassing. But, as incredible as all this is, it’s not the end of it. Even though in one sense I have been saved, God’s work continues to have an effect upon my life. Salvation doesn’t end with the sinner’s prayer.

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:2

It should be clear from the context of this verse that being saved is an ongoing process. The word for saved in this verse implies a continual work. That’s why there’s an “if” in this section. The process of salvation can only continue if you hold firmly to the Word.

I think that part of our problem in the modern church is our stubborn refusal to allow God to continue His work of change in our lives. We’re happy that our sins were forgiven. We look forward with joy to our home in Heaven. But right now there’s so many things that we want to do and experience in the world. The thought of God disrupting those plans for His purpose doesn’t sit well with us.

We need to see change as the natural outgrowth of our walk with God. His ongoing plan of salvation in us should never stagnate. There’s always something new to look forward to. That even applies to the return of Christ.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
Romans 5:9

Not only is the saving work of the Lord active in me today, it gives me a future hope. I know that on the Day of Judgment I have nothing to fear. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, I will be saved from the wrath of God. Death holds no fear for the Christian, only the promise of a new address in the presence of God.

Question: How is God’s ongoing work of salvation continuing to change your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2014 in Faith, The Gospel

 

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