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Christmas Promise

Today is Christmas, so I decided to post some thoughts about the day.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:18

The verse tells us that this is how, or literally, this is the manner in which it happened.  There’s a pattern that the Lord uses in bringing about His will.  It’s important that we see it.

First, there was an unexpected pregnancy.  This is interesting.  The pregnancy wasn’t expected.  Yet the Messiah was foretold hundreds of years before.

Just like today. God promises things, and then we forget it…or write it off.  Israel was captured and conquered many times.  Would the fulfillment ever take place?

And yet, in the fullness of time…Mary was found to be with child.

There is a supernatural announcement.  Angels appeared to both Mary and Joseph on separate occasions.

God usually doesn’t do things in the dark.  He always announces His plans.  That’s why we need to be a people who not only pray – but listen.

When the birth was imminent, it was announced to shepherds and wise men.

Then it came to pass.  What God promises, will happen.  Even though we don’t always know the how or why.

Finally, when Christ was born, there was a reception of joy.  “Joy to the world…”  He who is born must be received and with that receiving comes great joy.

God wants to do the same in us right now.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

God’s work in us is a birthing process.  There’s a promise.  But then – an unexpected pregnancy.

I wonder sometimes; with all the prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament, did they think He would just appear out of thin air?

There are many great and precious promises God has for us.  We think the same thing sometimes…that they’ll just happen.  No, there’s a process.

It involves birth pangs.  There’s breathing, pushing, work, and sweat.  They come in waves, right up until the time they’re birthed in or through us.

When you think about Christ being born in a manger…think about the same process for His will being born in us.  Wait patiently for the fullness of time – then the rejoicing.

Have a very blessed Christmas as you celebrate what Christ has done!

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on December 25, 2017 in Encouragement, The Gospel

 

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Faith Installments

ProfitThe phrase “nobody likes a quitter” is true throughout our society. I enjoy watching some reality TV shows such as Survivor and The Amazing Race. I have yet to see someone quit that was praised for what they did.

It’s the same in the Kingdom of God. Quitting and living by faith are never compatible. The Scripture is clear on that point.

For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
Hebrews 10:37-39

That phrase I will not be pleased with him literally means I will not think well or approve of him. We must all be striving for a life that’s approved by God. I want to please Him in all that I do.

You cannot live the abundant life and shrink back. It says that those who hold back themselves will suffer ruin or loss. Whenever you quit, something is lost. That’s no way to live. Moving backwards only leads to failure.

Even though it doesn’t feel like it sometimes, trusting the Lord is moving forward. It’s bringing you to the place where you can receive what God has promised you.

When this translation says that we believe and are saved, the Greek word is not the normal word for salvation. This word is actually a phrase that means we are making an acquisition or purchasing our souls.

When we trust God in spite of the circumstances we’re taking a step forward. We’re actually making installments into our soul. You can look at it this way; each step of faith is an upgrade for our soul.

We’re not where we need to be yet. But we’re making progress, step by step. That’s what the verse means by quoting that the righteous one will live by faith. That’s a quote from the prophet Habakkuk in the following context.

For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
Habakkuk 2:3

This verse literally says that God’s revelation waits for its appointment. The good thing about it – the Lord’s promise is never late for its appointment!

The problem is on our end. Will we be at the appointed place, standing in faith, when the promise arrives?

So many times God’s people give up before the fulfillment takes place. We miss out on God’s best because we don’t continue in our faith.

Don’t be a quitter. Don’t give up a couple of steps before the promise arrives. Hold your ground in the spirit. We are not those who shrink back. We are those who obtain the promises by faith.

Question: What was the hardest thing that you’ve had to trust God for?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2016 in Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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Mercy and Perseverance

MountainI’m continuing the series about understanding God’s mercy. If you boil it all down to a simple phrase, here’s what I see in Scripture. Mercy is the favor God shows to His sons and daughters.

As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
James 5:11

One thing that’s abundantly clear from Scripture, the walk of mercy will require perseverance. Of all the people for James to use for an example, did he have to pick Job? The simple truth is that Job drove his friends crazy. The big question on everybody’s mind is; why was Job at a standstill? According to his friends it was because he must have been doing something wrong.

That kind of thinking was absolutely incorrect. Job was being trained for a higher walk in God. As I’ve said before, promises are for spiritual children. In order to get them to obey you must say things like, “Clean your room and you can have ice cream.” Adults don’t live like this.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.
Romans 12:1

Many times I’ve preached from this verse telling my congregation the importance of laying their lives down as living sacrifices. But until I understood the concepts of Biblical mercy, it was always in a legalistic vein. Notice the motivation we’re to use to propel us to offer our lives before God.

Is it in view of God’s law? Maybe it’s in view of the promises? NO!!! It’s as we keep the Lord’s mercy in our sight that we have the drive necessary to lay our lives down on His altar. That’s how powerful the walk of mercy can be. In order to obtain it, it’s worth the greatest cost we can imagine. The total surrender of our lives to God’s plan.

God simply asks you to make the offer, wholeheartedly. Why do we make this life altering decision? It’s because we know that this is the Lord’s desire. No strings attached, no hidden agendas. “Lord I want to know You, because only You are worthy of the investment of my life.” We only obtain mercy through becoming a willing sacrifice.

This is why I made such a bold claim earlier in this series. This isn’t something that you can just try for a day. It would be just as foolish as trying a diet for a day, and then saying that it didn’t work. If we want the benefits of mercy, then this walk must consume our lifestyle. Only then will we have that “blank check” in the spirit.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.
Galatians 6:14-16

If you desire to walk this walk, you must know that mercy makes this the only rule. “Boast only in the cross.” Do you want power? Do you want to live above the law and the promises? Then you must learn to walk the way of mercy.

You must pursue God simply to know Him. You must offer all you are to God, simply because He desires it. Then, when you see the manifestation of His power in your life, boast only in the cross. This is the secret to how Jesus lived and ministered in the world.

Question: What must you do to begin walking in God’s mercy?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Are You a Messy Eater?

DinnerI’ve been posting about going to God for the needs of others.

Do you remember, in Scripture, when Jesus was approached by a Canaanite woman on behalf of her daughter?  She asked for healing and the Lord seemed to give her a hard time.  He even went as far as calling her a dog – the Hebrew term for a Gentile.

He didn’t do this to be mean, but to prove a point to His disciples.  He wanted them to see how great her faith was regarding Christ.

Because she pressed in, her daughter ended up being healed.  Look at the exchange between Christ and the woman.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Matthew 15:26-28

There are some very important truths contained in this passage.  First note that Jesus called healing the children’s bread.  It’s right for the children to eat.  God does not view healing as a privilege, but a necessity.  I talk about healing in another series of posts.

What I want you to see at this point is that when Jesus walked the earth, Israel had an “all about us” attitude concerning the blessings of God.  They were very selfish concerning the Word and the promises of God.

This is interesting since they wasted most of what they received.  They rejected the ministry of Christ even though He was trying to lift them up to a greater walk with God.

It’s a principle we see played out over and over again.  The simple fact is that children are very selfish with their food.  I see it all the time.

Because of this, whenever we have a church dinner, we tell parents of small children to accompany them to the food table.  Without parental control, a child will load his plate up with the food he likes without thought to whether there’s enough for others, or even if he’s able to finish it all.  He just wants to see it all on his plate.

Many times we’re the same way in our walk with the Lord.  We’re very selfish concerning the Word of God.  We want every blessing of Scripture to be all about us.  Then we’re like selfish children who play with their food and end up wasting most of it.

In the above passage, the world is illustrated as dogs that are hungry, and circling the table where the children are eating.  They’re desperate.  They’re coming from a place where there’s a famine of the Word of God.  Even the crumbs of what we have will be satisfying to them.

It’s time for us to stop looking at everything as revolving around our own needs and wants.  We must begin to see that our ministry is to those around us.  We must start to receive the Word of God as mature saints.

Then be ready to minister this grace to the hungry world.

Question: What spiritual gifts do you possess that could help those around you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in God's Provision, Ministry, Prayer

 

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Are You Walking in Faith or Foolishness? #faithorfoolishness

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIn my last post I talked about how we needlessly put God to the test.  It was something Christ refused to do during His earthly walk.

When I began this series, I shared how I personally went through one of the worst points in my life.  During this time we were one of the families who lost their homes in the recent mortgage crisis.

But I can state, without reservation, that at my worst financial point, I was still better off than most of the world’s population.  I had a roof over my head and a full belly.  How dare I even entertain the idea that God failed to provide for my needs.  If I’m truly walking in faith, then I acknowledge that I serve a faithful God, who I never need to put to the test.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Matthew 4:8-9

The devil continued his assault using the promises of God.  This time he used a promise specifically aimed at Christ, the Messiah.  He was making a deal with Jesus in which the Lord could obtain the Messiah’s blessing without having to endure the pain of the cross.  As far as the Lord was concerned, this was the last straw.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan!  For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Matthew 4:10

Jesus saw right through the devil’s smokescreen, and rejected the offer without even giving it a second thought.  How dumb can we be?  So often we fall when the enemy tempts us to do foolish, unscriptural, and even ungodly things…all for spiritual reasons, of course.  We sometimes make crazy decisions all under the guise of “God wants me blessed, happy, and wealthy”

I’ve heard things like, “God told me that this is the woman He created for me.”  My question is what about the woman you’re married to right now?  What about “God hates divorce”?

By His life, Jesus showed that He lived above the promises.  He lived as a Son empowered by the Holy Spirit.

We’ve lost the whole concept of sonship.  I desire to post about it in depth someday.  But for now we need to see how very differently Jesus lived than we do.  He didn’t feel the need to spend His life rehearsing the promises.  Neither did the Lord try, in His power, to fulfill the requirements so that He could obtain the blessings.

Jesus lived His life in the power of the Holy Spirit.  That’s my goal, and the goal of these posts.  That the church of the living God would wake up to our impoverished condition, and rise up to the potential that the Lord placed before us when He said that we would do the same works that He was doing (John 14:12).

Question: How have you experienced people doing foolish things for “spiritual” reasons?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2013 in Faith, Power of God, The Church

 

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Jesus Walked Above the Promises #promisesofGod

MountainI’m posting about how Christ walked in the power of God.  In my last one I started talking about His time in the wilderness as He faced the devil.

It’s now the end of the Lord’s forty day fast.  I can only imagine how the Lord was feeling at the end of this time.  But at this point it’s over; He could eat now, according to the rules of fasting.

It’s interesting to see how the devil attacks Jesus.  This is how most of our temptations are based.  It will give us insight into how the enemy works against us as well.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Luke 4:3

Think about Jesus’ teaching.  Specifically how He taught on prayer.  In what we commonly call “The Lord’s Prayer,” He prayed, “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

This prayer is a son praying to the Father.  If you look closely at this line, it’s not a request.  Jesus is assuming that daily bread is the right of a son.  He doesn’t say that God promised it to Him.  He simply lays claim to what He wants, knowing God’s provision for His sons.

I believe that Satan based his attack upon this prayer.  However, the enemy worded it in the form of a promise.  He said, “If you are The Son of God…”  He challenged Jesus to prove it by claiming the promise for daily provision.  The sad thing is that we would have taken the bait, and we do regularly. Then we say that the Holy Spirit told us to do it.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

Jesus’ response is clear.  The fast was over.  It was perfectly in order for Him to eat.  But that wasn’t the issue.  Jesus wasn’t there in the wilderness for the purpose of eating.  He was there to hear from the Father.  In this verse, “word” is “rhema” in the Greek.  It means the revealed Word of God.

Jesus was telling Satan, “I didn’t come here for bread; I came to hear a Word from the Father.”  If the Lord wanted to eat, He could have brought food.

This is a classic strategy that Satan uses over and over again.  Sadly, we continue to fall victim to it.  We can be tempted to “over-claim” the promises.

In America we already have too much stuff and we believe God for more.  It seems that Christians are always “trusting God” for bigger houses, better cars, and more toys.  Then, we get discouraged when our “faith” doesn’t pay off.

I believe that it’s time for God’s people to grow up and act like mature sons and daughters of God – like Jesus.

Question: What should we be trusting God for?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2013 in Faith, Power of God

 

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How God Opened My Eyes to Legalism #legalism

GlassesToday I want to start a new series of posts about how Jesus walked in the power of God.  But, before I do, I want to share a personal testimony about a trial I had to go through in order to receive this truth from the Lord.

Years ago, the church I pastored was running over a hundred on Sunday morning.  The ministry was flourishing and my family was able to obtain a mortgage on our own house.  It was a nice, little home on a quiet street – just what we always wanted.

Suddenly, the bottom dropped out.  My wife lost her job.  The mortgage payments doubled.  Through a series of moves and other events, the congregation went down to about 30 people.  To make a long story short, we went through a bankruptcy, lost the house, and now live in an apartment owned by my parents.

I don’t say all of this so you will feel bad for me.  I don’t regret it.  Many good things came out of it.  One of them was a Word from God.

This was one of the lowest times of my life.  On many occasions I cried out to God asking Him why this was happening to me.  One day, while I was in this state, I distinctly heard the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart.  He asked me what my problem was.

As I started asking Him why He allowed my finances to dry up, the Lord asked another question.

“Why should I provide for your finances?”

I was a little taken back by the question, but I was ready with my answers.  I went through all the Scriptures I knew about the promises that God would supply my need.  Malachi 3:10-12, II Corinthians 8-9, Philippians 4:19, and many others.  These Scriptures were why I expected Him to bless my finances.

What the Holy Spirit asked next totally floored me.

“So you’re standing on the law to receive your financial blessing?”

I was speechless.  I sat in silence for over an hour.  I refused to believe that I was legalistic.  But I had no other explanation.

I trusted the Scripture instead of the God of the Scripture.  I was like the Pharisees that Jesus got upset at.

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

The Lord started showing me, on that day, that I had fallen victim to an epidemic in the church.  Many believers are doing everything they can to fulfill the promises.  They’re trying to work for the blessings of God.  If you use the promises in this way, then you’re running on the power of the law.  You’ll never reach the full potential God has for you.

In this new series I want to show how Christ operated – as one submitted to God and controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Question: What is your view on the promises of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God

 

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