RSS

Tag Archives: love

Walking in Faith, Hope & Love

In my last post we finished looking at the book of James, the first epistle given by the Holy Spirit to the church. During that time, a man named Saul of Tarsus was persecuting the believers.

After an encounter with Christ Himself, Saul became a Christian and his life was totally changed. He was eventually called to preach and became a missionary to the gentiles. The next revelation of God’s Word to the church was through this man, who changed his name to Paul.

On one of his journeys, Paul went to the city of Thessalonica and many were saved. (These events can be read in more detail in Acts 16-18.) Because of intense persecution, Paul had to leave quickly. This immediate exit caused him to be concerned about the health of the newly formed church.

Paul eventually traveled to Corinth, where he stayed for over a year. During that time, he sent Timothy to check-up on the church at Thessalonica. Timothy brought back a good report that the young believers were standing in the truth.

The letter of First Thessalonians was written to encourage this church, after Paul listened to Timothy’s report.

Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you. We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers. We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-3

Paul opens the letter by remembering their faith, hope, and love. These are the three things that the Bible says will be with us eternally. Too often we think about them only in spiritual terms.

We sometimes get the idea that they’re just good feelings that Christians should enjoy. Some believers act like they’re wonderful gifts that should be tucked quietly away in our hearts.

NO WAY!!! According to Paul, faith, hope, and love are the sparks that ignite our ministry before God. There are three different things that happen in us as a result of their influence upon us.

First, faith produces our work. That word literally means your assignment. It’s the task that God has given you. As you go before God in faith, He gives you grace for the calling He’s placed upon your life. As I trust God more and more, I learn to follow His ways. Eventually I start to understand why He wanted me in His kingdom. Faith causes me to stand in my assignment.

Then comes love – it prompts us to labor. That word labor, means to use up your strength in performing a task. Without the love of God, we’ll never pour ourselves into the calling He’s placed upon us. We’re called to work with all of our strength. Without love, that will never happen.

Finally, hope inspires endurance. It’s easy to start out strong, but it’s how we finish that matters the most. Hope is the biblical word for expectation. If I do my part, then I can expect God to show up and do His part.

That’s what keeps me going even when I don’t feel like it. I know what God says in His Word. Because I place my expectation on Him, I can continue to live for the Lord. Hope gives you the endurance to persevere to the end.

Let faith, hope, and love give you more than just a warm feeling. Let them spur you on to accomplishing your destiny in the Lord’s Kingdom.

Question: How have you seen faith, hope and love at work in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 10, 2017 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Best Father

FallenAs we look forward to Father’s Day this weekend, the best example of a father that I could give is of God Himself.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
II Thessalonians 2:16-17

In this short passage I see four things that we, as godly fathers, need to take to heart. First, the most obvious…

A father loves his children.

This love is the choice to love our children. You might be thinking, “This is the easy part.” It might be easy to say it, but not to do it.

That’s because true love involves disciplining our children. That’s one of the most important aspects of a father’s love. It’s also the part I liked the least, yet it brought about the greatest rewards.

Unfortunately this is a generation of fatherless children. Fathers have either left home or are never home. As of the last census, fatherless homes produce:

90% of homeless and runaway children.

71% of pregnant teenagers

63% of teen suicides

85% of children with behavioral disorders

90% of teen repeat arsonists

71% of high school dropouts

75% of teens in rehab

85% of teens in prison

43% of U.S. children live without their father

We desperately need fathers who are there for their children.

The second thing I see is that a father encourages his children. This Greek word implies what a coach does. The coach can’t play the game for you. But he can give you everything you need to win. A true father gets his coaching from God in order to coach his children.

Next, a father gives hope to his children. We live in a generation with no hope. Teaching our children about Christ gives them a lasting hope. This will give them the strength to endure any challenge ahead of them.

The last thing I see is that a godly father is imitated by his children. Knowing this should drive us to our knees before God. That’s because a true father loves by both discipline and example.

This Father’s Day, I want to encourage any fathers reading this to look to our Father in heaven as their example. Spend time with Him to pick up His heartbeat. Your family will be all the stronger for it.

Question: What are some examples of godly fathers that you’ve seen?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
1 Comment

Posted by on June 17, 2016 in Encouragement, Leadership, Spiritual Warfare

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Our Living Hope

Cross SunsetI want to take a few posts to look at the hope we have that’s talked about in I Peter 1:6-9.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:6-7

This truth is seen all through the Bible. It’s one of those teachings that we don’t want to hear. The fact of the matter is that we will all face trials and challenges.

Yet in spite of all this we can walk in the joy of the Lord. It’s also good to know that in those trials our faith being perfected.

In all of this, Peter understands that there’s a problem we face.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8-9

The problem is that we don’t see the Lord. Because we can’t see Him we must operate by faith. We have to trust in His Word to us.

Of course faith always has a goal. Our goal is to see God’s life-changing power at work in us. Because we look to this goal by faith, it inspires hope – expectation – in our hearts.

As we continue to walk with Christ, we learn more about His ways. This causes us to love Him more and more.

So actually, the trials of life are foundational to our spiritual growth. They produce faith, hope and love in us as we continue to look to the Lord. These are the three essentials that we can’t live without if we want to live a life pleasing to God.

Of all the apostles, Peter had the best handle on this. When it came to persevering under trials, there was no one else like him. When Paul and Silas were in jail they had to start singing to keep their spirits up. When Peter was in prison, chained between two guards, he actually fell asleep!

The question is; how can I rejoice in trials? The secret is in the verses before these.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
1 Peter 1:3

We’ve been given a Living Hope, an expectation of what God’s going to accomplish in and through us. It’s this living hope that causes rejoicing in the trials. The prophet Jeremiah understood this truth.

O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.
Jeremiah 17:13

He knew that the hope of Israel was the Lord, as the spring of living water. Israel missed it. I don’t want to miss it.

It’s clear from the above verse that the Lord’s mercy gives birth to a Living Hope. Hope is birthed in His mercy. In my next posts I’m going to expand on this thought.

Question: How has placing your hope in Christ changed your outlook?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Defining Love

Snow HeartWe talk a lot about desiring to see God’s power working through us. But I think there’s something that we overlook sometimes. Without increasing our love-walk, we’ll never experience all that God has for us.

You can understand all the concepts of vision, calling, and the power of God, but love is the attitude that ties them all together. If you want to develop a Spirit of Excellence, then it can’t be attained without developing love. The Scripture makes it abundantly clear that apart from love, you’ve missed the way of excellence altogether.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
I Corinthians 13:1a-3

It’s clear that as far as God is concerned, it doesn’t matter what you do or how great you build your ministry apart from love. If love isn’t the main ingredient, you’re only spinning your wheels.

It doesn’t matter what the size of your congregation is or how many churches call you Bishop. God is looking for the evidence of love flowing through you. Faith and love are the two non-optional requirements for ministry in the Word of God.

But let’s start at the beginning. Do you really understand what love is? People have so many ideas. Let’s see what God has to say.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
I Corinthians 13:4-6

Think about what this verse says – patient, kind, not rude, and not easily angered. Are there any times during which we have a better chance of doing this – times when it feels more natural? Of course, this happens when we’re around people that we like; when we’re with our friends. I was first able to grasp this concept while reading the book Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

We must first understand that this type of love carries with it no emotional attachment. It’s purely based on decision and will. Over and over again in the Scriptures we’re commanded to love.

If it were based on emotions, it wouldn’t work any more effectively than commanding someone to laugh. You can only command something that’s an act of my will. True love cannot be based upon emotion, it must be my choice.

I find that it’s easiest for me to treat people I like in this way. Sometimes I choose to treat them correctly even if I don’t feel like it, simply because I like them. This brings us to the definition of love that I first heard from C.S. Lewis.

The way of love is to treat people as if you like them – whether you do or not. Also, I would add, whether you know them or not and whether you are in their presence or not.

Question: How does this definition compare to what the world thinks about love?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How Hot is Your Love Lamp?

Fire DangerI’ve been talking about the parable of the Ten Virgins as told by Jesus in Matthew, chapter 21. We now understand the illustration of the light, the lamp, and the oil as our righteousness produced by our faith expressing itself through love.

There’s one more thing I want to look at before we move on. There are two verses that I believe will be the icing on the cake for this parable.

If faith and love are the oil and the lamp, then there should be a teaching in Scripture that shows the condition of these spiritual commodities in the last days. After all, Jesus said that half of the Christians’ lamps would be going out just before He returns. Let’s see if that’s a clearly taught truth that can be found in the Word apart from a parable.

We’ve already looked at the point in His ministry where Jesus taught His disciples that they must continue in prayer and never give up. He highlighted this concept by the use of a parable – the parable of the widow and the unjust judge in Luke chapter 18. As He is finishing this teaching, the Lord makes the following remark.

“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Luke 18:7-8

What an interesting thing for Christ to say. He asks us, when He returns, will He even find faith at all on the earth? If faith is the oil that fuels our lamps, then this is in direct line with what He’s saying in the parable of the ten virgins.

Faith, the oil, will be used up in many people’s lives. According to the Lord, many will be without faith in the last days. Don’t let this happen to you. Do what it takes to have that extra supply. I’ll tell you what this requires in a later post of this series.

What about love? How did Jesus describe the condition of love in the last days? I believe that the words that Jesus uses will surprise you, now that you understand the meaning of the light, the lamp, and the oil.

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Matthew 24:12-13

Could He have made it any clearer? What a description of love in the last days, especially knowing that it’s the lamp that shines our light to the world. Notice that Jesus doesn’t say that that there will be no love in the last days.

He teaches that there will be a form of love, but that it will be cold and lifeless. There’s one thing we know about an oil lamp. When it’s lit and burning, it’s hot. The only way for our love to grow cold is for the fuel to run out.

If we allow our faith to disappear, then the fire of our lamps will go out. We’ll still have the lamp – our love – but it will be a cold and useless love. We’ll be incapable of loving someone into the Kingdom of God. Without our lamps burning, we will not be able to serve God in a way that’s pleasing to Him.

Question: How is a lack of faith and love evident in the church today?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 24, 2014 in Faith, Ministry, Return of Christ, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The True Expression of Faith

lampI’ve been taking an in-depth look at the parable of the Ten Virgins of Matthew, chapter 21. In my last post we concluded that the combination of faith and love was needed to produce righteousness in our lives. Could this be what we are looking for to explain the mystery of the oil and the lamps producing light?

Today I want to look closely at these concepts, to see if they’re what Jesus is talking about. The first question we must ask ourselves is, are they both non-optional in the forming of the light of our righteousness?

First we’ll look at faith. We know, from Hebrews 11:6, that without faith it is impossible to please God. The verse doesn’t say that it’s difficult to serve God without faith. It says that no matter what you do, how much love is in your heart, or how often you go to church, it’s impossible for your works to count for anything in the kingdom of God apart from faith. Working for God absolutely requires faith.

The second commodity necessary for the light to appear is love. Without love our faith will be of no value. The clear teaching of Scripture in I Corinthians 13:2 says if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

I can have faith in God for incredible miracles and yet still not be able to please Him, if I don’t walk in love. Again, the Scripture makes it clear that love is a non-optional requirement to serve the Lord.

Knowing this, I’m now in a position to understand how faith and love work together in my life. They’re not independent. I can’t use one without the other and expect my works to be pleasing in the sight of God.

So, we can see that these two spiritual concepts pass the first test. What about the next test? How do faith and love relate to each other? Remember, the oil must work through the wick of the lamp in order to produce light.

It takes a lamp for the oil to express its true nature. Light is revealed when the oil expresses itself through the lamp. Does this parallel the scriptural description of faith and love?

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6

It’s clear from this verse that all the outward trappings that man looks at are not worth a thing in God’s estimation. If we’re to please God, then our works must be a matter of faith expressing itself through love. Just like the light of a lamp is the oil working itself through the lamp, the light of our righteous works by faith working through love.

I believe that in this parable, the lamp is our love and the oil is our faith. Both are needed to produce the kind of light that will draw men and women to Christ for salvation. Love must be the medium through which the true character of my faith is revealed. It’s only as I have my lamp burning, my faith expressing itself through my love, that my works are acceptable before God.

Question: How does your faith express itself through your love in a practical way?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 22, 2014 in Faith, Return of Christ, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,