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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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The Truth about Mountaintops – The Grind

MountainHave you ever heard people say, “Some days you find yourself on the mountaintop, and other days you’re in the valley?” What they mean is that there are good days and bad days. It also shows that they don’t really understand what it means to be up on a mountaintop.

I’ve told you before that I’m a hiker. I love going out on the trail for days at a time. This summer I plan on doing a two-week section of the Appalachian Trail. It allows me to have a lot of uninterrupted prayer time.

I’ve learned a great deal about how hiking in the natural parallels our walk in the Spirit with Christ. In my hikes I’ve been to the tops of many mountains. These summits are interesting places. I want to share a few things that I found as I listened to the Holy Spirit relating to spiritual mountaintops.

The first thing I want to do is to dispel one of the biggest myths about spiritual mountaintops. In all my years of hiking – hundreds of miles and many nights on the trail – I have never once gone to sleep in a valley and woke up on a mountain. It just doesn’t happen that way, even though I wish it would.

There’s only one way to find yourself at the summit. You have to put one foot in front of the other and continue walking uphill. There’s a natural resistance to your efforts that’s called gravity.

But it’s more than that. You have to continue this repetitive motion, step after step, indefinitely until you reach the top. It can become a boring, monotonous grind even if you enjoy hiking.

To make matters worse, every so often you come to a false summit. Up ahead you see what you think is the top of the mountain. Then when you get there you find out that it’s only a place where the trail flattens out for a bit.

What does this have to do with the spiritual?

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:7-9

This is a great spiritual truth. If we want to see the move of the Holy Spirit in our lives, then we have to continue to do the things we know to do. This is true even when we don’t feel like it, or it’s not convenient.

It continues on day after day, week after week. Sometimes it feels like you’re not making any headway. Sometimes the resistance of our flesh has to be dealt with. But if we want to see the outcome God’s promised, we have to continue on.

I’d love to tell you that there’s an easier way. Just pray this simple prayer and you’ll wake up on the mountaintop. It doesn’t work that way.

Reading, confessing and meditating on the Word of God. Prayer in the Spirit and praying with your understanding. Fellowshipping and worshipping with other believers. These are a part of the sowing that is required for us to reap.

Step by step we approach the summit. Sometimes it doesn’t look like we going very far at all. Then, all of a sudden, there it is. We’re on top of the mountain. But we didn’t get there by magic. It took a determination to reach the top and a consistent walk with the Lord.

In my next post I’ll talk about what exactly it is to be on a spiritual mountaintop.

Question: What are the daily steps you’re taking to reach the summit God has for you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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Look at Me when I’m Speaking to You

BeamI live in the Boston area. Maybe you’ve heard what our weather’s been like lately. Last week we had two feet of snow and now they’re calling for another foot this week.

Needless to say, I’m ready for spring. I love to go out into the woods to hike and pray. It’s a great way to meet with the Lord.

Did you know that this was a large part of Jesus’ ministry?

At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
Luke 4:42-44

Very frequently Jesus went off alone into the wilderness. Usually He would go to pray and to meditate on the Word while seeking the Father’s will for the days ahead. Many times He wouldn’t even tell anyone where He was going. This caused the people and especially His disciples to become annoyed on more than one occasion.

Most people don’t understand the power of solitude with the Lord. When you’re alone in God’s presence, you can see the way ahead more clearly. This is because there are less distractions around you.

I’ve been driving in the car with friends and talked with them the whole way to where we were going. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that those conversations aren’t very deep. I can talk and keep my eyes on the road if I don’t have to think very hard.

Intimate conversation, on the other hand, is very different. If what I’m saying is important, then I want you to make eye contact with me. I want to know that you’re giving me your full attention.

It’s the same with the Holy Spirit. We can pray and praise the Lord no matter what we’re doing throughout the day. That’s fine and it keeps our minds focused on Him.

But there comes a time when we need to enter a more intimate time with Christ – worship. This requires an undistracted heart. I’ve found that the outdoors provides just such an experience. It allows me to “make eye contact” with the Lord.

From the example of Christ, we see that walking in the Spirit is a lot more efficient than the trial and error method many Christians use.

“I’ll try going forward; if the door closes I’ll try another direction.”

When you spend quality time with the Lord seeking His will for your life, you don’t have to waste your time on all these dead end paths that lead nowhere. Jesus knew where He was going before He was surrounded by the crowd. Then they couldn’t sway Him from His path by their persuasive arguments. It’s that level of guidance you should be seeking from God.

If you’ve never tried it, spend some time with the Holy Spirit in the outdoors. Of course, you may have to wait until the weather breaks. Unless you’re like me and can’t wait. (I have a good pair of snowshoes!)

Find a nice solitary place that you can come undistracted into the Lord’s presence. You won’t be disappointed.

Question: Where do you go to seek God with no distractions?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Prayer, Times in the Wilderness, Worship

 

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Love Letters vs. the Lover

Garden PathIn my last post I talked about spending time in God’s presence and hearing a Word from Him. Maybe you got the impression that I don’t encourage the reading of Scripture. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I believe that daily time in the Scripture is absolutely essential for a strong spiritual walk. Nothing can replace that.

But in the same light, by redefining the term Word of God in Scripture, many have totally ignored intimate time with the Lord. They seem to think that reading the Bible and then praying for God to meet their needs is enough.

The fact is that we need intimacy with our Lord. Here’s how Jesus explained it to the Pharisees.

“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
John 5:39-40

As important as the reading of the Bible is, it doesn’t replace quality time with the Holy Spirit. We need both to mature in Christ.

Think about it this way. A soldier stationed in Afghanistan loves his wife and regularly writes her letters from the field. He shares his heart with her – what he’s doing and feeling, how much he misses her and things he looks forward to doing with her when he returns.

The wife loves and misses her husband as well. She reads each letter over and over, imagining him speaking directly to her. Now that she has a collection of these letters, she spends time every day reading them. It comforts her.

When the husband’s tour is over, he returns home to the embrace of his wife. This was the hour they’ve both been waiting for. They’re together again.

But there’s a problem. The next day the husband wants to take a walk in a nearby park, hand in hand with his wife. Does she agree to this? No.

She tells him that it’s her habit to take a couple of hours each day to read his letters. She doesn’t want to stop doing this simply to walk outdoors. The husband is confused and sits on the couch, waiting for her to read his letters and to have the time to be with him.

Does this sound far-fetched? In real life it does. Normal people don’t act that way. Or do they?

I hate to say it, but that’s the practice of many believers. We have access to the intimate presence of Christ. Yet we’re content to merely sit and read His letters to us.

We must read the Bible to understand the heartbeat of God. But there’s more to it than that. Don’t just read the love-letters. Spend time with the Lover of our souls. He’s patiently waiting for our quiet time together. It’s at those times that I receive things that are for no one else but me.

Take the time to hear from the Lord.

Question: Why does it seem easier to read Scripture than to spend time with the author?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2014 in Prayer, Word of God

 

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How to Enter the Place of Blessing

MountainI’ve been posting about how we struggle against God’s will sometimes. Surrendering to the Lord is really the only option. That’s the place of blessing.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.
Genesis 32:30-31

Peniel – it’s a place of blessing, yet a place of struggling. Peniel means, “face of God.”

We use that term lightly. We say, “I’m going to seek the face of God.” What we mean is that we’re going to pray. It should be obvious by now that the struggle comes not by prayer alone, but when we find ourselves before God’s face.

Suddenly our life comes into sharp contrast with the life of Christ. We see how far we’ve fallen short of God’s standard. We hear the Spirit of God calling us to change. We must count the cost. Is God’s destiny for my life worth the effort it will take to lay hold of it?

No one has yet been disappointed by his or her destiny in God. You won’t be the first. Commit to the change. Set your face to the vision God has given you.

The verse says that after that day, Jacob always walked with a limp. His life had an evidence of the change he underwent. The changes you go through in your walk with Christ should be just as plain.

Sometimes our decision to do God’s will is the greatest struggle of our lives. Usually it’s because of the good things that we have to lay down in order to follow God’s plan. More often than not, we have to overcome ourselves.

The writer of the book of Hebrews puts it this way…

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
Hebrews 4:11

In talking about entering God’s rest, he tells us that it will require some effort – a struggle. This is because our flesh fights against entering that place of reliance upon the Holy Spirit. In the natural, we want to take the credit for the blessings we enjoy.

In reality, we must do what it takes to put down the old man, and pick up God’s will and plan for our lives. That’s usually where the biggest struggle comes into play. But if we’ll overcome ourselves, then we find that we’re in the place of rest and blessing in the Holy Spirit.

Really seek God’s face today. Seek His life-changing power. Be prepared to give your all in exchange for His blessing.

Question: What’s your biggest struggle right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Power of God, Prayer

 

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How to Live in Dangerous Times

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIn my last post I said that we are in spiritually dangerous times. How do we live in light of this? Christ gave an important exhortation. In talking about the last days, Jesus said…

“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

His first words are, “Be careful.”

“Pay close attention to what you are doing.”

That sounds like good advice to a rock climber. The words that Jesus used literally mean hangovers, intoxication, and distractions of this life.

So many believers are caught up in what the world have going on. Others are distracted watching what the world is doing. These things can knock you out of the race, in spiritually dangerous times.

You would never think of climbing in this condition. Yet, right now, there are believers on the edge, not prepared for the dangers of this age.

What are we to do if we want to avoid disaster? Christ gives the answer.

“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

“Watch and pray in all times”.

God has certain times appointed for certain things. But now is always the time to pray. It doesn’t matter what else is going on – now is the right time.

We must keep watch – pay attention and pray. That’s the foundation for everything else. We must do this so that we can prevail against, flee away from, and stand. Because of a rich prayer life we can prevail against demonic forces. We can flee away from temptation. And we can stand in the face of severe pressure.

We especially need this in our generation. Paul explains it.

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 is almost the exact same line that Christ used. We are to pray in the Spirit in all times. We have a more powerful prayer weapon than they had under the Old Covenant.

By praying in the spirit we can build up our faith. It opens our heart to hear from God, laying the groundwork for the supernatural. By it we gain wisdom for discerning the times that we live in.

Prayer in the spirit is our greatest advantage in overcoming the dangerous times we live in. Don’t let this great gift go unused in your relationship with Christ.

Question: How has prayer in the spirit strengthened your walk with God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Prayer, Prayer in the Spirit, Revival

 

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America at the Crossroads

FlagcrossToday is Memorial Day. It’s a day to remember the sacrifices that so many men and women have made so that we can live in freedom. It’s sad to see how far we’ve fallen from the original plan of the founding fathers.

How did this happen? First of all, we have to understand that God treats nations differently than He deals with individuals.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
Psalm 33:12

God will bless a nation that follows His ways.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
Proverbs 14:34

To the extent that America followed God’s ways – we were blessed and exalted. We saw the abundance of God, and then thanked Him for it. Our people had wisdom to create wealth, inventions, and many other great achievements.

But there came a time when we started to leave the path.

Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?
Psalm 94:10

The truth is that God disciplines nations. Of course, this requires understanding God’s ways. The world is the Lord’s, and all of the land that exists is His. Nations, themselves, cannot be saved or unsaved. As such, nations are under law, not grace.

We know from Scripture that the power of sin is the law (I Cor. 15:56). That means that the enemy’s kingdom is powered by the law.

This principle was the basis of the law given to Moses.

…for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
Leviticus 18:27-28

In effect, the law gives the devil permission to attack a nation that defiles God’s land. It’s not God cursing a nation. It’s a nation cursing itself by inviting the enemies’ attack.

How is the land polluted? A few things listed in the Bible are: Bloodshed (Numbers 35:33-34); Corruption (Ezra 9:11); Sexual Sin (Leviticus 18:25); Prostitution (Jeremiah 3:2); and Idolatry (Jeremiah 16:18). The devil has permission to attack polluted lands.

It grieves me to admit that America is a defiled land. I’m sorry for sounding so down about the USA. The truth is that there’s nowhere else on earth that I’d rather live. I love this nation. But without a proper diagnosis, there can be no healing.

There is a remedy for the problems we face in our culture.

…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

I have heard this verse emphasized in America since the sixties. But rather than humble themselves, pray, seek, & turn – God’s people have either protested the moral landslide or joined right in with them.

It’s time for us to take God’s holy prescription for this nation. It’s time for the church to remember where we came from, and fervently seek revival.

Question: What would a national revival of the church look like?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Prayer, Revival

 

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