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Faith + Love = Righteousness (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

At one time I did a series of posts about the parable of the Ten Virgins from Matthew 21.  To see that original series, click here.

In that series, I showed that the light is our righteousness shining into the darkness around us.  If righteousness is our light, then what constitutes the oil and the lamp? It’s the combination of the two that brings light. The relationship between them is what’s important.

Both must be present to produce light. You could have 100 lamps, yet with no oil, there’s no light. Conversely, you could have barrels of oil, yet with no lamp to burn it, there would still be no light. It’s only the combination of lamp and oil that will produce light.

You could say that the light is the oil expressing itself through the lamp. If the light is the manifestation of our righteousness, then we need to discover what the Scripture says about the source.

First, we must see how righteousness is described in the Word of God.

The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Isaiah 59:15b-17

Here we see God Himself putting on the breastplate of righteousness. Most Christians don’t know that this armor was first seen in the Old Testament. It was not something that the Apostle Paul came up.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…
Ephesians 6:14

So we can know for a certainty that righteousness is our breastplate. This is important because Paul also described it to the Thessalonian church.

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
I Thessalonians 5:8

In this verse, Paul is clearly referring to our spiritual armor. He even makes mention of the helmet of salvation. But instead of assigning righteousness as the breastplate, he says that faith and love are used in that role. Paul is telling us that it’s the combination of our faith and our love working together that completes our righteousness.

I believe that the lamp and the oil represent the operation of love and faith in our spiritual walk. If you go to my original series by clicking the above link, you’ll see a more detailed teaching about how they work together.

Question: How does the absence of either faith or love affect our walk with Christ?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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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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Being the Light

MoonThe New Testament speaks a lot about our spiritual light. But do we ever stop to consider the implications of this? I want to take a few posts to talk about it.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

The bottom line is that Jesus Christ is the Light. The world is in darkness. Christ – the Light – came into the world.

We know from history and experience that the world, for the most part, hated the light that He brought. That’s because people who live in darkness, are afraid of the light. It makes them uncomfortable. Many times it reveals things they don’t want to see.

Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering.
Hebrews 10:32

We’ve learned that salvation comes through embracing that light. Of course, those of us who desire to live in this light have learned that there’s some discomfort to it. But we have to make the decision that I’m going to live in this light, whatever that means.

The Bible says an interesting thing about John the Baptist. It can be applied to us as well.

He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
John 1:7-8

He wasn’t THE light, but merely a witness to the light. In the same way, we are witnesses to the light. But we have to understand what that means.

Jesus testified to the work that took place through John the Baptist.

“John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light.”
John 5:35

In His ministry, Jesus said that John was a light that the people enjoyed for a while. It’s the same with us. We are called the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). How can we be the light, yet not be the light?

It’s all a matter of perspective. Like John, we are a witness to the light.

In Psalm 89:37, the Bible says that the moon is the great witness in the sky. The sun is light. The moon is not light, just a big rock. However, it is a witness to the light of the sun.

From the perspective of people on earth the moon is a light. In the same way, we are not the Light, only a witness to it. But from the perspective of people living in darkness we are the light of the world.

This is our job, just like the moon, to faithfully reflect the light of Christ into the world. That’s why it’s so important that we be positioned properly. It’s also why there are “new moon, half-moon, and full moon” type Christians.

Our goal should be to reflect as much of the life of Christ as we possibly can.

Question: How well are you at reflecting Christ to the world?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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