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Tag Archives: kingdom of God

Light – The Blessing of Discipleship

We’re continuing to deal with the subject of parables in the Gospel of Mark.  One of the questions that many have is; why did Jesus speak in parables?  Why didn’t He simply state the truth in plain language?  That’s a good question.

The disciples wondered about it too.  Here’s a verse we looked at a few posts ago…

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.  He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you.  But to those on the outside everything is said in parables…”
Mark 4:10-11

The word translated secret in this verse is a special word.  It refers to a mystery that you’re not privy to until you’ve joined the group.

Jesus is talking about the secret of the kingdom of God.  It’s something that you won’t understand until you’re actually a member of it.  Once you’re in the kingdom, you can handle the knowledge.

The Lord then went on to explain the parable of the sower.  We looked at that over the last few posts.  He then explains about the kingdom secrets.

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed?  Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?  For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.”
Mark 4:21-22

This question sounds like a no-brainer.  The very purpose of a light is to reveal what’s in the dark.  If you want to remain in darkness, then just don’t bring in the light.  There’s no sense in hiding it.

This statement by Jesus was supposed to be an encouragement to the disciples.  He wanted them to continue to ask questions about His teachings.  There were even times that the Lord asked them, “Do you understand what I just said?”

At that point in history, Jesus was the Light of the world.  He was the one revealing the things of the Father to those in Israel who would listen.

In essence, He was telling the disciples, “You have the light with you right now.  I’m here for a reason.  Let me reveal to you the things that may seem hidden.  I want you to know the secrets of the kingdom.”

The things that had been concealed for ages past were not meant to be kept secret forever.  It was time for those with the faith to trust the Messiah to hear these truths.

But it gets even better than that.  This is a Word to us as well.  Whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.

That’s the job of the Holy Spirit in us.  He’s the One who teaches us all the things we need to understand in our walk with God.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

We don’t have to walk around in the dark.  We have the light of the Holy Spirit within us.  Time spent with the Spirit is time spent in the light.  Use this great blessing that we’ve been given.  Walk in the light of the Lord.

Question: What are some things that the Holy Spirit has revealed to you in the past?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Counter Culture

Is the church called to run contrary to the world? If so, then where are we missing it? I want us to think about our walk as Christians in America. This topic actually isn’t that new. James wrote about it long ago.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

Those are some strong words he uses. He called them an adulterous people. What does cheating on your spouse have to do with the spiritual condition of a generation? The answer is found in the verse just preceding this one. It explains his choice of words. As he talked about asking for things in prayer, he wrote…

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:3

Here’s the problem that James is describing as adultery. They asked God for things so that they could then spend those things on their pleasures. It literally says that their motives in seeking God, was so that they could become consumers of pleasures.

That sounds a little too familiar.

“God, please help me to get a better job.”

Then, as our blessings increase, we get more things and push God further into the background. After all, now that I have more stuff, I have less time for “church”.

Here’s the problem from God’s perspective. It says in verse 4, above, that trying to make friends with the world is an act of hostility toward God. To make a friend, you need to try to please them or be like them in some way.

Remember, we’re not talking about the people, but the world system. You can make friends with people without buying into the system.

There’s a word we use for the world’s system of order. It’s the word culture. Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary defines culture as, the sum total of the attainments and activities of any…people, including their implements, handcrafts, agriculture, economics, music, arts, religious beliefs, tradition, language and story.

In other words, the American culture is our entire way of life. It’s how we live and what we expect. It’s what we strive for as well as what we accept as “normal”.

When I think about the mainstream of life in the United States, I get a picture of the system at work here. Then, when I see the lifestyle we’re called to as followers of Christ, I get a whole different picture. There are some areas where the two cultures are drastically different.

How do we live in both worlds? As believers, we must live in the world without operating according to its system. That makes us a part of a counter-culture.

Many of the ways of God run contrary to how the world does things. When we seek acceptance from society by trying to fit in with them, we run the risk of compromising our beliefs. We must always live as a part of God’s kingdom no matter where we are.

Question: What are some areas you see where the church is too friendly with the world system?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on April 7, 2017 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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A New Kingdom

NightI’ve been posting about the change that takes place when we receive the salvation of Jesus Christ. Our whole reality changes. The Apostle Peter understood this.

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia…
1 Peter 1:1

In the opening statement of his letter, he describes the believers that he’s writing to. He tells us that we’re strangers in this world. The word he used literally means aliens alongside, resident foreigners. We may live here, but we’re no longer a part of this system.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:13

We know that Hebrews, chapter 11, is the faith chapter. Towards the end of this chapter, the writer makes a comment about all these Old Testament saints. They were all still living by faith when they died.

But more than that, they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. We need this mindset. I do not belong to this world. This truth is emphasized over and over again in the Scripture.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

I live in the world, but I don’t belong to this world. I live by a different set of rules. I live on a different level.

There are a lot of things that are going on in the world – who’s in power, the economy, the weather, etc. These things are important, and I need to understand what’s happening, but they don’t determine what I do.

That’s because I’m a part of a different kingdom. We are a part of the kingdom of God.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13-14

This is the key to most of our Christian walk. We were under the authority of darkness. The word authority basically means permission to act. Now we have been brought over into the King-dom of Christ. That’s the dominion of the King – the area of His rulership.

When I was saved, I placed myself under His authority – in His kingdom. That’s why we can do things, and trust God for things that the world can’t.

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
2 Corinthians 5:20

Because of our position, in this world but not of this world, we have diplomatic immunity. We operate as diplomats – where I am, my kingdom is. Wherever I am, the rules of my government are in operation. That’s why every believer should strive to understand how God’s Kingdom operates.

Question: What are some things that we should be doing as ambassadors of Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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God’s Representatives

MirrorWe sometimes get the impression that it doesn’t matter what people think about us. After all, “I’ll live the way I want. I don’t care what you think about me.” As Christians, we have to be careful about that attitude.

If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 4:11

Whatever we say or do should be praiseworthy. Of course, that in itself can bring on another set of problems.

We all like to be praised. When we accomplish something worthwhile, we expect people to notice and appreciate us. It makes us feel good about ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with accepting praise for a job well done.

The problem we get into, is wanting to keep it ALL for ourselves. If we live independent of God, then we don’t have to give Him any praise. The fact is, my wisdom isn’t good enough. My strength will never overcome all the obstacles before me. I need to rely upon God.

So there are the two ditches on the side of our path. Not caring at all about how we affect people, or living for praise. Either way, we miss out on God’s best. I need to learn to live with the knowledge that my life represents someone other than myself.

I belong to Christ. I’m a citizen of the Kingdom of God. I’m an ambassador for a realm that’s beyond this world. As such, I can’t allow myself to pick up the attitudes of this world.

When I spend time in the presence of the Lord, I begin to live on a higher level. Then, when someone is touched by my words, I can’t take the credit for it. God gets the glory.

When I do something sacrificial that my flesh would have never agreed to apart from God’s prompting, He get the praise for it.

We should seek to live our lives in such a way that God receives continual praise. This requires us to spend time with Him, meditating on His Word, and listening to His Spirit.

Yes, there will still be things that we’re praised for, but our goal should be for the Lord to receive most of the glory for how we live. In that way our lives will be a continual testimony to the greatness of our God.

Question: How has something that you’ve done brought praise to God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Born Again and the Kingdom

CastleI’ve been posting about the Biblical definition of being born again. It’s quite different than how we use the term in this generation. In this post I want to look at how Jesus describes it to a believing Pharisee who met with Him.

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
John 3:3

In answering his statement of faith, Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again. In the book of John, the gospel that was written to the church, that’s a ground shaking statement. Telling a believer that he needs to be born again is something unheard of in our generation.

According to Jesus Christ Himself, believers must be born again. Obeying the law isn’t enough. Trying your best to be good isn’t enough. The Good News is not “believe in Jesus and follow the law.” It’s all about becoming a new person.

The Lord tells Nicodemus and us that unless we experience the process of this new birth, we will not see the Kingdom of God. At this point it’s important that you understand what Christ is saying in this passage. He’s not saying that you must be born again in order to be saved. That’s how we describe it.

The Greek language has two words that translate to the word see in English. They are blepo and eidon. Blepo means to look at with your eyes. That’s what we normally think of when we hear that word.

That’s not the word in this verse. Instead it’s the word eidon, which literally means to know by seeing. In other words – to experience something. Christ was telling this Pharisee that unless he is born again, he will never experience the kingdom of God.

You can sit back and watch things happen in the Kingdom of God. But if you want to be a part of what’s going on, experiencing the manifestation of the kingdom, then you need to be born of God.

At this point Nicodemus was thinking merely in the physical. He asked about how you could return to your mother’s womb. In later years he probably looked back on this and laughed. Jesus explained it further.

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”
John 3:5

The Lord wasn’t talking about physical birth, but entering the kingdom. That’s the definition of being born again – being given access to the Kingdom of God.

Then again, that brings us to another sloppy definition of the modern church – exactly what is the Kingdom of God? Listen to how Jesus described the Kingdom to the Pharisees that opposed Him.

“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
Matthew 21:43

The Kingdom of God is about producing its fruit. It’s not just reciting a prayer, then sitting back and doing nothing. Paul gives us even more insight.

…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Acts 14:22

Paul and Barnabas, as they were encouraging the disciples, told them that in order to enter the kingdom, hardships would have to be overcome. When was the last time you heard that preached on a Sunday morning? Well, you’re reading it today. It’s hard! You must be born again!

Question: How does the church react to the thought of hardships these days?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on May 2, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Shaken, not Stirred

As I was sitting in church a few months back, I received a thought from the Lord. It was a quote from a movie franchise.

Many people are familiar with the secret agent, James Bond. In his movies, he likes his drinks shaken, not stirred. That may be okay for 007, but that’s not what the Lord is looking for in His church. Let me explain.

As I began studying this out in the Scripture, I found that being shaken is not a part of God’s plan for us. As a matter of fact, when God’s people are shaken, it’s a sign that they’re not trusting Him fully. They’re looking for help and security apart from His presence.

In talking about those who reject God, the Psalmist Asaph says…

“They know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.”
Psalm 82:5

If the world is where your hope lies, then you’ll find yourself shaken whenever you hear bad news. Lately, that comes to us pretty often. The world is in chaos right now. No one seems to have the answers.

Contrast that to life in the Kingdom of God.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.”
Hebrews 12:28-29

If we’re firmly grounded in Christ, and His Word, then we will not be shaken no matter what happens in society around us. We should, however, be stirred up.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”
The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”
Matthew 21:10-11

When the Lord is present, hearts are stirred. We need the stirring presence of the Holy Spirit to move through the church. That’s when great things begin to happen.

When Israel returned to the Promised Land after their captivity, they were apathetic about the things of God. Then something happened.

So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God…
Haggai 1:14

When the Holy Spirit stirs up His people, the miraculous takes place. We start to see the Kingdom of God built up. We see souls coming into the kingdom. We see people being delivered from the chains of demonic oppression.

We need the stirring power of the Holy Spirit to be released in us. The church needs to be stirred, not shaken. Seek the Lord for His move to take place in us.

Question: How would the church look if we were truly stirred by the Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2016 in Ministry, Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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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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