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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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The Constant Light

BeamWhat are you striving for? That’s an important question that we all need to answer. James had some insight into this issue.

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
James 1:16-18

The first thing he tells us is not to be deceived. That’s because the truth goes contrary to what we normally accept as logical in our modern society. We think that to get ahead we need to struggle and sacrifice.

Fortunately, the most valuable thing offered to us, is absolutely free. James makes it clear that if it’s worth having then it comes from God. You can rely on Him to know what you need the most, and to provide it as we trust in Him.

As you probably know from reading my blog – I love to go camping. At night, I love sitting around a campfire under the stars. The fire that I watch produces light. But it isn’t consistent.

The shadows of a campfire move and dance around the whole time. Sometimes the things around me look like they’re moving, even though they’re standing still.

That’s not how God’s light works. The light of His Word is a clear, constant source of blessing for us. I don’t go off in one direction, and then find out that the Lord has changed His mind. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.

It was by God’s wisdom that He chose to give us birth by the Word of Truth. He’s referred to as the Father of Heavenly Lights. It’s His light shining on us that brings us life. In His love and wisdom He sent Christ into the world for that purpose.

This passage is clear. We’ve been given a new birth. It’s a birth that wasn’t flesh and blood, like our original entrance into the world. This birth was through the Word of Truth.

I believe that James is referring to something more than the Bible, as wonderful as that Word is. It’s a Word that speaks to our inner being.

One of the names of Christ is the Word made flesh. It wasn’t a matter of ink and paper coming alive. He’s the living and enduring Word of the Most High God. Christ said of Himself, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by me.” He’s the direct expression of the Word of Truth.

It’s through this Word, Christ Himself, that we’ve been given new birth – if we’ve accepted the free gift of His salvation.

He did this so that He could begin the renovation of the human race in us. That’s what the last part of this verse is all about. The firstfruits of all He created.

This is the beginning of the kingdom of God manifest on earth. Right now it’s difficult to see. It’s taking root in the hearts of men and women throughout the world. But they’re changing, becoming what God intended them to be. His Kingdom is starting in us.

As we let the clear, consistent light of God’s Word shine on us, it will transform us. It won’t take us in random circles, always searching for something better. It will bring us forward from glory to glory as the Holy Spirit works God’s will in us.

The more time I spend in the presence of that Word, the more I become like Him. Don’t ever take the presence of the Lord for granted. It’s a privilege to have access to the throne room of God. It was paid for by the precious blood of Christ. Let the living Word do the work in you that only He can do.

Question: What are some changes that the Word has accomplished in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2017 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Why Scripture?

BibleIn my last article, I began posting about the Scripture. Do you know what it is and what it’s for? Let’s look at what Scripture says about itself.

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:19-21

Peter tells us that Scripture was given to bring light into our hearts. In the pages of the Bible is everything we need to accurately set the course for our lives. We don’t have to live stumbling around in the darkness.

Next, Peter says that there’s an overriding principle that we need to understand above all else. Nothing in Scripture is there all by itself. There’s an eternal purpose for everything that’s written.

It’s the Holy Spirit who gave it. No passage can be interpreted apart from the whole. We cannot take a verse or two and interpret them out of their context. I need to know their place in the chapter or the book that they’re in. Context is everything when I read Scripture.

Finally, we’re told that no Scripture came about by the will – the choice or determination – of man. That would never have worked. No matter how hard I tried, I could never even imagine what God’s plan is, or how to bring it about.

On the contrary, it could only come forth by a moving of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people who were completely sold out to Him. They allowed the Lord to carry them along.

Scripture, therefore, contains the words of those who, moved by the Spirit, were speaking what God wanted to be said, the way God wanted it said. God used their language and personalities to speak what was in His heart.

The Greek word for Scripture is the word graphe, which means writings. Our working definition for what Scripture is would be: The written record of God’s Word to people.

Since the dawn of Creation, God has sent His Word to many different people, in different places, at different times, during different situations and circumstances. I’m glad that God desired these Words to be written down for future generations to read. I’m grateful that I can hold them in my hands and study them.

In my next post, I’ll begin talking about why was it so important to God that this word be written down.

Questions: What does the Scripture mean to you? How has it impacted your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2016 in Scripture Series, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Shining Like Stars

GalaxyI’m posting about how we show the light of Christ to the world around us. The enemy would try to blind their spiritual eyes to the truth. But he can’t stop the power of God.

That’s because the light takes many forms. The prophet Malachi foresaw this day.

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.
Malachi 4:2

He saw righteousness rising like the sun. Have you ever seen sunbeams breaking through the clouds? In the ancient Hebrew culture, they called them the “wings” of the sun. So Malachi saw healing beaming out from righteousness.

That’s a part of the light that we shine. That’s why we pray for the sick, especially for an unsaved person. When God brings healing, that’s the light of Christ breaking through to them.

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6

But we always have to remember, it’s not our light but His. Peter talked about having the Word in you and allowing it to grow and produce fruit in your life. In speaking about this fruitfulness…

But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
2 Peter 1:9

Peter calls unfruitful Christians blind and nearsighted. He says that you’ve forgotten about your past being cleansed by the blood of Christ.

That’s because this person is blind to what God is doing. They’re also nearsighted; they can only see what’s right in front of them. They major on the temporary things of this world.

We need 20/20 vision in the spirit.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Romans 13:12

It’s interesting to see the contrast here between deeds of darkness vs. armor of light. That’s because the armor is all about action.

Truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith – all of these things must be visible. It’s up to us to make the light accessible to the world.

We’re the ones looking into the light. We should be walking in it, letting it change us.

…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…
Philippians 2:15-16

How do we shine like stars? As we hold out the Word. The Word is the light. We hold it out. Not everybody wants it; but some people are touched and changed by it. We need to live in such a way that the light is seen.

Question: How have people seen the light of Christ in your life lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2016 in Healing, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Fear of the Light

BeamI’m talking about how we, as believers should be reflecting the light of Christ to the dark world around us. The Bible says that those in darkness hate the light. What does that mean?

Sometimes if they see the life of Christ clearly in us, it may make them uncomfortable.

Those who have been reading this blog for any length of time know that I’m an avid hiker. I’ll go out for a week at a time.

The first time I went on a solo hike, sleeping alone in the woods, it was a different experience. I set up my tent and when the sun went down I went to sleep. I had no clue that this would be one of the strangest nights of my life.

Around two o’clock in the morning I woke up startled. It was as if I was in the center of a huge spotlight. The full moon was directly over me. I could see right through my thin, nylon tent as if it wasn’t even there.

I could see the trees, rocks, and everything around me as clear as day. I felt exposed and uncomfortable as I looked around. I’m very glad that there were no large animals near the tent!

This is the same effect as what happens in the spiritual when we reflect Christ. When you’re used to living in spiritual darkness, the light makes you uncomfortable. It exposes things that you’d rather not see. It shows you your true condition.

Of course, Satan has a plan as well.

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:4

Please take note of the fact that the enemy is called the god of this age. That means that there’s a time limit on his ability to act.

This verse tells us that unbelievers are given blinders if they want them. The Scripture says that if they persist in their unbelief, the enemy will give them blinders so that the light will not beam out to them.

This light is coming from the Good News of Christ – the Anointed One. The light is the glory of His presence within us.

Unbelievers are blinded to the light if they choose to believe the lies of the enemy. That’s why it’s now our job is to get them to take the blinders off. That’s a big assignment. It can only be accomplished in the power of the Spirit.

In my next post I’ll show how the Word says that this takes place.

Question: How have you experienced unbelievers becoming uncomfortable in the presence of the truth?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Do You Understand Where You Are?

TimingThis question isn’t about place, but time. Do you know where you are in the history of the church?

I’m posting about the spiritual battle that’s going on around us. It’s vital that we know the times we live in.

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Romans 13:11

We need to know where we are on God’s timetable. I don’t like saying it, but the truth is that past generations of believers could “sleep” through their Christian walk. Not us. We live in dangerous times.

The Apostle Paul continues talking about this.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Romans 13:12-14

In this generation we need to lay aside the things that are a part of the darkness. In their place, we must put on the armor of God.

We must live carefully and clothe ourselves with Christ. And as I focused on in my last post, we need to watch and pray. That’s how we keep alert spiritually.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

This verse literally says that we must keep watch with all persistency. That word persistency means to be strong toward, to be diligent. We must be diligent in the battle zone.

When we say that we need to be strong toward something, it speaks about a goal, a direction. We sometimes use the term “press in.”

In battle there are places that are hard to get to. There are houses you can’t enter until you bind the strong man. It isn’t easy to press into the miraculous. If it was – everyone, every church would have it.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
Acts 2:42-43

Was it any easier back then, in the early church? Did those believers have all the time in the world to do all these things? I don’t think they were any different from us. It was as hard for them as it is for this generation.

If we want God’s best, it takes diligence. It will cause us to leave our comfort zone. But the spiritual rewards will be worth it.

Question: What do you find to be the most difficult about pressing in to God’s presence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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Faith that Lasts

 

OilI’ve been posting about the parable of the Ten Virgins. For the last few articles I’ve talked about the light, the oil, and the lamp.

As you can see, everything in the Word of God supports the reality that the light is our righteousness that’s seen by the world. This light, then, is produced by the union of our faith – as the oil – working itself through the lamp of our love.

Armed with this understanding, we’re now prepared to truly grasp what Christ was getting at in the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

“The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.”
Matthew 25:3-5

The problem, then, was in the amount of faith that each virgin possessed.   This is what separates the wise from the foolish. What makes a Christian wise in the last days, is that they have the faith to see it through no matter what comes their way. This is what Jesus said on more than one occasion.

“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Matthew 10:22

“Standing firm to the end” – this requires more faith than looking for an early escape. We need to be ready for the future as Christ described it.

We need to have faith working itself through love if we’re going to stand firm to the end. Since both of these spiritual commodities require knowledge of the Word of God, I must be careful who I allow to train me.

I want an oil supply that won’t give out in my time of need. When I’m going through the darkest times in my life is when I really need to walk in love and in faith. Then, when the world begins to see these qualities in my life, they’ll see a light burning in the darkness.

Anyone can walk in bitterness and defeat, doubting that they’ll ever make it through. It takes someone trained and walking in the Word of Truth to make it victoriously through the rough times.

That’s why it’s so important who you place yourself under, in submission to, as your pastor. The Bible is clear that the works you do (your light), are directly related to the training you received.

It was he [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service…
Ephesians 4:11-12a

If the man of God that you place your trust in is not rightly dividing the Word of Truth, then your works will suffer. You won’t have the oil supply that you need to get you through the tough times. This is why it’s so important to know what Christ taught about His return. The last days will either be your greatest hour to shine or your darkest and most difficult failure.

Question: What does it take to increase your supply of faith?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2014 in Faith, Ministry, Return of Christ, The Church

 

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