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Attitudes are Contagious

As we continue in the Gospel of Mark, we’re now a few days before the cross.  The Lord was invited to a party in His honor.  Many people came to see Him.

I suggest that you read Mark chapter 14, verses 1 through 11 before proceeding in this post.

During this meal, a woman shows up and makes her way to the feet of Jesus.  She opens a bottle of expensive perfume (approximately $40,000 in our economy) and pours it on the Lord’s feet.  This caused quite a stir among the crowd.

Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume?  It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.”  And they rebuked her harshly.
Mark 14:4-5

But wait a minute!  How did it get to this stage?  I think that the answer may surprise you.

According to John 12:4-5, Judas was the first person to mention the price of the perfume.  He objected to its being poured out on Jesus’ feet.  Then, in Matthew 26:8-9, we see the rest of the disciples picking up this attitude.

I believe that it wasn’t until Judas and the disciples started their fuss, that the crowd heard it and ran with it.  I’m sure that it took some time for this attitude to build up.  Then the crowd got angry and eventually said something to the woman.

This should be a lesson to us.  We need to watch what we say and the attitude that comes across.  Too often we’re guilty of giving the world ammunition to aim at the church.

I find it interesting that people who’ve never set foot inside a church will say that all the church wants is your money.  Where did they hear that from?  Was it from a believer who was upset that the pastor actually taught about tithing?  We need to be careful.

“Leave her alone,” said Jesus.  “Why are you bothering her?  She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.  But you will not always have me.  She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”
Mark 14:6-8

Jesus makes some interesting statements to the crowd.  If you put it into modern terms, He said, “Let it go!” and “Get off her back!”  The Lord made it clear that they had placed a heavy burden on her.

When the woman heard the crowd, she probably started to second-guess herself.  She might have thought, “I’ll never do something like that again.”  Many times, because they’re misunderstood, people are hurt and then they don’t do anything else for God.

It’s clear that she had done something prompted by the Holy Spirit.  She was anointing Christ to prepare Him for burial.  This was something she had no way of knowing in the natural.  This woman was operating in the wisdom of God.

“I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”  Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.
Mark 14:9-10

This story has a sad ending.  In the original Greek, these two sentences are connected by the word “and”.  I believe that Judas was upset at being called out for his bad attitude.  It was the final act that made him seek to betray Jesus for money.

Don’t let your attitude mess up your walk with God.  Keep it in check by the Holy Spirit and don’t let it affect others around you.

Question: How has the attitude of others caused your attitude to change?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on July 16, 2018 in Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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The Fig Tree

I’m continuing to look at the Gospel of Mark.  In this section, Jesus is teaching His disciples about His Second Coming.  It seems that what Jesus taught is different than what many are teaching in our generation.

As He brings this teaching to a close, the Lord begins to summarize for His followers.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.  I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Mark 13:28-31

Before He finishes this section of His teaching, Jesus emphasizes the certainty of His words.  It will take place as He said.  We will see it approaching just as we see the changes of the seasons.  If we are believers who are prepared to meet Christ, then this day will not take us unawares.

Let me add a note here.  Some teachers use this section to fix a date for the return.  They reason that the budding fig tree is when Israel became a nation again in 1948 or perhaps when the United Nations recognized them in 1965.  This line of thinking continues as they explain that a generation is 40-50 years.  That would have made the year of the return 1988, 1998, 2005, or 2015!

Jesus said that we wouldn’t know the day or the hour.  In reality, the word generation in the above verse could also be translated race.  Jesus could have merely been saying that, as a sign to prove the truth of His statement, the Jews would never be totally exterminated.  Considering the persecutions and the atrocities that have been committed against them, this is a miracle in itself.

The Lord then seals the certainty of what He says.  He contrasts the Word that He speaks to the natural heavens and the earth.

The earth and the sky that we see now are only temporary.  There will come a day when they’re changed by the Lord.

Right now, because of sin, everything is subject to decay – which, in terms of Physics, is the Third Law of Thermodynamics.  When Christ returns, He will make all things new – with no more decay.  I’m looking forward to that day with great anticipation.

His Word, however, will never change.  It is forever settled in Heaven.  I can put my trust in Christ, knowing that He will always bring about His revealed plan to completion.  That’s true whether we’re talking about world events or my personal life.

So, as we continue living in these last days before Christ’s return, let’s focus our hearts and minds on Him.  That’s how we’ll receive the strength and wisdom needed to be victorious until the end of this age.

Maranatha!  Even so, come quickly, Lord!

Question: How are you preparing yourself for the Lord’s return?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2018 in Return of Christ, Word of God

 

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Jesus Teaches About His Return

In my last post, I talked about the Day of the Lord.  That’s the day that when Christ appears to rule over the earth.  Every eye will see Him as He establishes His millennial kingdom.  The Lord explained to His disciples exactly when this would take place.

“But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
“At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.  And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”
Mark 13:24-27

Here’s one of the verses that many Bible teachers seem to ignore.  This is the statement that Christ uses to bring all His other teachings into perspective.  Are you going to ignore it, or are you going to believe what Christ Himself taught?

This day may be called many things: “The Day of the Lord”, “The Day of the Son of Man”, or “The Day of Christ”.  Whatever you want to call it, it’s the day Christ returns to the earth to claim His rightful throne.

He makes it perfectly clear.  Mankind will see this return.  This is the day He comes to establish His kingdom.  His teachings to the disciples referred to it as His day, the day Christ comes to reign on the earth.  But wait!  What else happens on this same day?

The Lord makes that clear as well.  He sends out His angels to gather His elect – the church.  The angels will then gather us from the four winds, meaning those of us who are living on the earth at the time of His appearing.  It also says that they will gather us from the heavens. That means those believers who have already died before this day.

That makes this the Resurrection Day as well – the last day of the age.  According to Christ Himself, the Day of the Lord and the Resurrection Day are one and the same.  Look at how the Gospel of Matthew records it.

“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
Matthew 24:30-31

All nations will mourn.  They – all nations – will see Him.  There will be a trumpet call.  The Scripture makes it very clear that the elect, those committed to Christ, will be gathered up on that day. This is the same day that Christ appears to all nations to take His rightful place as the Ruler of the earth.

How does that sit with what you’ve been taught?  Jesus teaches that the Resurrection Day and the Day of the Lord are the very same day.  Now the choice is up to you.  Who are you going to believe?  A man who comes saying that there’s a seven-year wait between the two or the Living Word of God Himself?  As for me, I chose to believe what Christ teaches.

Question: Why is the belief in the seven-year wait so popular?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2018 in Return of Christ

 

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Jesus Teaches the Day of the Lord

I’ve been posting about the end-times from Jesus’ perspective.  It’s the section of Scripture found in Mark, chapter 13.

Jesus has just finished telling His disciples how to prepare for future events.  He’s warned them in general of the things they need to watch out for.  He also told them about the destruction of Jerusalem.

At this point in His teaching, the Lord is going to explain the connection between His coming and the end of the age.

“But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’”
Mark 13:24-25

Jesus prefaces this section by telling the disciples that these things will happen in the days following the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem.  Please realize that this is from God’s perspective.

2,000 years is “just following” to an eternal being.  Remember, He warned His disciples that they would not see the events connected with His return (Luke 17:22).

The Lord is making reference to Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4.  He describes a sign dealing with the sun, moon, and stars.  Notice how the prophet Isaiah describes it.

See, the day of the LORD is coming – a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.  The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light.  The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.
Isaiah 13:9-10

This sign is described throughout both the Old and New Testaments as the “Day of the Lord”.  Whenever the Day of the Lord is prophesied, the same word pictures are always used.  In both the Old and New Testaments, we’re told that the sun and moon would be darkened, as the heavens themselves are shaken.

Notice that this sign is described in such a way as to make it reliable no matter which side of the earth you’re living on.  If your location is in the daytime, you’ll see the sun darken. If it’s night, you’ll see the moon and the stars affected.

The important thing is that we know what to look for.  It’s the sign of the Day of the Lord.  We need to understand its place in the order of end-time events.

In my next post, we’ll see exactly where Christ placed this day in His timeline.  The way I look at it, if His teaching is different than mine, then I’m the one who needs to change my thinking.

Question: Where does the Day of the Lord fit into your last-days’ timeline?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2018 in Return of Christ

 

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False Christs

In my last post, we started looking at Jesus’ warning about the fall of Jerusalem.  The disciples knew what was coming and could prepare accordingly.  But there was one more aspect of this that they needed to know.

“At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it.  For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect — if that were possible.  So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.”
Mark 13:21-23

The Lord also warned His disciples about false Messiahs.  During times of great crisis, there are always those who want to rise to power.  They convince the masses that they have the solution to all the problems.  I find it amazing that the real Author of peace and life was rejected, while society will accept anyone else who promotes himself as the hero of the day.

Jesus reminds the disciples that no matter how wonderful this messiah sounds, they will not live to see the return of Christ, so there’s no question that this person is false.  Their signs and miracles would be so convincing that the apostles themselves would be fooled – if Jesus had not told them ahead of time that they would not see His return.

What many Christians never hear is that this second fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy has already occurred.  Even though the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, the Jews still regarded this site as holy.  Around 132 AD the Roman emperor Hadrian decided that Judea needed to be Romanized.  He put many policies into effect that were intolerable to the Jews.

He made it illegal for Jews to enter Jerusalem except for one day a year.  He banned the rite of circumcision.  He made it a crime to practice or teach the Jewish religion.  The most detestable change of all, however, was that he established a pagan temple to the god Jupiter on the former Temple site.

At this point in history, two men came onto the scene in Israel.  One was named Akiba Ben Joseph and the other was Simon Bar Kokba.  Bar Kokba was a Jewish leader who incited the people into violent rebellion against these hateful policies of Rome.  Today, he would be labeled a terrorist.

Akiba Ben Joseph was a rabbi who was imprisoned for teaching and practicing the Jewish religion.  When he saw what Bar Kokba was doing, he proclaimed this leader as the long-awaited messiah, giving him the title “son of the star”.

Akiba taught that Bar Kokba was sent by God to restore Israel and to reign in righteousness over the entire world.  With Akiba’s support, Bar Kokba was able to raise a huge army of Jews who were willing to fight the Romans.

The Romans in Caesarea eventually killed Akiba.  Bar Kokba then attacked the Romans.  He defeated them and captured Jerusalem and over 50 towns and villages.  When the emperor Hadrian sent an army to stop this rebellion, Bar Kokba defeated them as well.  Things were looking good for Israel.  Unfortunately, trying to be a messiah without the power of God can prove fatal.

In 135 AD Hadrian was at the end of his patience.  He sent his best general, Julius Severus.  It was a long campaign, but eventually, the Jewish army was annihilated at the town of Bethar, near Jerusalem, in August of that same year.  It’s interesting to see the result of this false messiah in the light of what Jesus said would happen.

The Temple had been destroyed in 70 AD, 65 years earlier, but the city of Jerusalem was still intact.  But, when Hadrian polluted the Temple grounds (the abomination that causes desolation), a false messiah rose up to deceive many and bring about the final destruction of Jerusalem.

On the day of Bar Kokba’s defeat, over 500,000 Jews were killed.  Thousands of Jewish women and children were sold into slavery.  Others were forced to leave Israel and settle throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa.

This was the final dispersal of the Jews spoken of by Christ when He said that they would be taken as prisoners to all nations.  It turned out just like Jesus said.  From that point on, the Gentiles held Jerusalem for almost 2,000 years.

It’s important for us to see, as believers, that this part of Jesus’ teaching has already been fulfilled.  The prophecy of the book of Daniel ended up pointing to two different events.  Some say it will happen again.

They teach that the Jews will rebuild the Temple, and in the last days, we will see this take place.  Those who teach this are only speculating.  There’s nothing in Scripture that directly supports this.  Only time will tell how it will all turn out.

What we shouldn’t do is get caught up debating what the end-times will look like.  The important thing is to be preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ.  We need to be working to bring in the end-time harvest, knowing that the Lord’s return is imminent.

Question: How are you preparing to reach the lost in these Last Days?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2018 in Return of Christ, Revival

 

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The Warning

We’ve been in the Gospel of Mark, looking at Jesus teaching His disciples about the end-times.  Having warned them of what they were about to face, the Lord now answers their original question that started it all.

He tells them the signs that signal the approach of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.  Because we live on this side of the historical event, it’s easier to look back and interpret the Lord’s words.

“When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong — let the reader understand — then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”
Mark 13:14

Jesus quotes the book of Daniel.  He makes mention of the abomination that causes desolation.  Literally, it reads the detestable thing that causes destruction.  Then Mark himself adds his admonition to the reader of this gospel to “use your mind, think and consider” what Jesus has said.

I know a lot of Bible teachers who say that this is a future event and have a variety of teachings and beliefs on this subject.  I ask you to please read the Scripture without preconceived ideas about what’s being said.  Put yourself in the place of the disciples who are hearing this for the first time.

The reaction of the disciples must have been one of surprise.  Every God-fearing Jew knew that the quote Jesus gave them from the book of Daniel had ALREADY BEEN FULFILLED.

Around 170 BC there was a Syrian ruler named Antiochus IV.  He was so full of himself that he gave himself the title “Epiphanes,” which means “the manifest god”.  As many emperors did, he forced those around him to worship him.

Antiochus Epiphanes led his army to successfully conquer Israel.  On December 15, 168 BC, he set up the image of Zeus on an altar in the Temple of Jerusalem.  Ten days later, he dedicated it by sacrificing a pig in the Temple.

Heathen altars were then erected throughout Israel, their celebrations being compulsory.  Any Jew would receive the death penalty if found in possession of the Torah.  Observing the Sabbath and circumcision were forbidden.  Because of their faithfulness to the Law of God, many Jews were killed in those days.

As the disciples heard Jesus speak about Daniel’s prophecy, they must have also thought about the reign of Antiochus.  Now they’re hearing from the Lord that it will be fulfilled again.  This was a new concept for them to grasp – the fact that a prophetic Scripture could have two fulfillments.

“Let no one on the roof of his house go down or enter the house to take anything out.  Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak.  How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers!  Pray that this will not take place in winter, because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now — and never to be equaled again.  If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive.  But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them.”
Mark 13:15-20

This sounds all too familiar to the disciples.  Throughout history, the Jews had been conquered again and again.  Now one of the worst chapters in their history was going to repeat itself.  All they could do was listen and be prepared.

This should encourage us.  I believe that this is how the Holy Spirit operates.  If we’re listening, the Spirit will always prepare us for what’s ahead in our future.  We need to continue developing our spiritual sensitivity to hear His voice.

Question: Why does the Holy Spirit want to reveal the future to us?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2018 in Encouragement, Return of Christ

 

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Deception in the Last Days

In my last post, we began looking at the passage in Mark where Jesus talks about the end-times with His disciples.  He had told them that the Temple would be destroyed someday.  So they asked Him how they would know it was about to happen.

Jesus starts by giving the disciples a general overview of future history.

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you.  Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.
Mark 13:5-6

The initial warning that Jesus gives us is about deceivers.  The word deceiver in the Greek literally means those who cause others to leave the path.  There will be those who make it their goal to remove you from the path of following Christ wholeheartedly.  Their methods may vary from time to time and from place to place, but the outcome is the same.

These imitations claim to be the Anointed One, which is what Christ means in Greek.  They want to convince you that they have the lock on God’s power or His anointing.  Many Christians are all too willing to follow these signs from revival to camp meeting to healing service.  They never seem to want to settle down under godly teaching.

Please realize that I’m not knocking the revival meeting.  I love being a part of the move of God.  What I’m saying is that every believer must be plugged-in to a local church body where they’re constantly being fed from God’s Word.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Ephesians 4:14

We should make it our goal not to end up remaining a baby Christian our whole life.  Staying in that baby stage opens you up to deception.

Of course, some prefer it that way since they never have to take on the responsibility of ministry.  Then, they can just go from place to place getting fed their spiritual bottle.

If deception is a big part of living in the Last Days, then how do we guard ourselves?

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Hebrews 3:13

It’s through the mutual encouragement of the body of believers that we keep from being deceived.  That’s one of the benefits of being connected to a local church.

But wait!  The writer of Hebrews also said…

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:25

This verse explains why there’s such deception in the Last Days.  Believers will be attending church less and less frequently.  One of the reasons I feel we’re close to Christ’s Return is because this is an epidemic in the body of Christ right now.

Don’t open yourself to the deceptions of this age. Be an active part of a local body of believers.

Question: Why is church attendance by Christians in such decline in our generation?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2018 in Return of Christ, Revival, The Church

 

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