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Will Your Gift to God be Returned? #greatestgift

PresentThe Christmas season is in full swing!  The stores are full of shoppers.  The TV is all about buying presents for people.  With all the hype going on around us; do we really understand giving?

I’m talking about what we give to God.  No, I’m not going to ask for an offering.  I’m thinking about how willing we are to give.

There are some things that we’re more willing to give than others.  Many are willing to give some time to the Lord on Sundays as well as a couple of hours during the week.  There are a lot of believers who give ten percent of their income to the work of God.

Here’s the problem.  Am I giving what God is asking for?  If not, then all my works count for nothing.

Is it any different than our Christmas experience?  We all get presents that we don’t want.  Check out the exchange lines the day after Christmas and you’ll see exactly what I mean.  No one wants to give a gift that gets returned.

How much more important is it to you, that God doesn’t return your gift?  We need to know what He’s looking for in a gift.

Actually, we can get some insight from the enemy.  Satan made an interesting statement while he was accusing Job before God.

“Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life.”
Job 2:4

If anyone knows us well, it’s the devil.  After centuries of watching us, he came to this conclusion.

That’s how we know the value of the greatest gift God asks of us.

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.  What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:25-26

Jesus taught the same thing.  A man will sell everything he has to save his life.  It’s the most precious possession we own.

That’s why it’s also the greatest gift we can give to God.  In reality, God doesn’t want your time or money if it’s just a replacement for you.  The Lord wants you.

This season, while we think about all the things we’re getting for others, don’t forget the highest name on the list.  Make it your first priority to give yourself fully to Christ.  Then, everything else will fall into place.

Question: How far are you willing to go for the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2013 in Encouragement, Worship

 

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Going the Distance

JogI have been posting about Abraham and his experience on the mount of sacrifice.  He is an example to us of how to position ourselves to receive God’s provision in our lives.

In my last post I talked about how he was quick to obey the voice of God.  But sometimes, even when we respond right away, things don’t happen when we think they should.

On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
Genesis 22:4

We saw that God had told Abraham to leave home with his son.  He also told Abraham that He would show him the place where he was to sacrifice Isaac.  Abraham obeyed immediately, but that was not the end of it.

It’s now three days later and they’re still traveling through the wilderness.  This had to be the hardest walk Abraham ever took.  Yet he continued on, even knowing that he would lose his son in the end.

I’m sure he kept telling himself to just turn around and go home.

“You must have heard wrong.”

In spite of this constant internal pressure he continued to move forward.  He did this not even knowing where his final destination would be.

This is the second key to being victorious in the face of trials and unlocking the blessing of God.  We must cultivate perseverance.  Sometimes it all comes down to the choice to put one foot in front of the other no matter how hard that is.  We must continue to serve God day after day, even when everything around us looks just the opposite of what we think it should be.

It’s in times like this that we must place our confidence in the Lord.  Drawing strength from Him is the only way to move forward when the going gets tough.  Christ has promised us that He would never abandon us.

The good news is that situations can change.  Just because things don’t look good now doesn’t mean that God is not in control.  He is still on the throne.

The truth is that it’s not always easy to follow God’s leading.  But the end result is always worth the effort.  Don’t let the temporary problems rob you of the blessings that the Lord has for you.

Maybe you’re going through something right now that you don’t understand.  You might not know how the Lord could possibly get you through it.

Take the time to draw upon the Lord’s power for you.  Spend time before Him in humility, acknowledging that without Him you can do nothing.  Place your future in His hands and commit yourself to seeing His plan fulfilled in your life.

Question: How has God proven Himself faithful to you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Faith, God's Provision

 

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Do You Interrupt the Lord?

SpeakerWe all know that it’s impolite to interrupt someone when they’re speaking.  Have you ever thought about this in relation to Christ and His work in you?  He speaks to us in various ways.  Are we guilty of interrupting what He’s doing in us?

I want to look at an incident in the life of Jesus that illustrates this.  It’s found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 12.  At this point in the Lord’s ministry, He’s publicly teaching somewhere when all of a sudden a loud voice interrupts Him.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Luke 12:13

Can you imagine that?  Jesus is walking down the street giving words of instruction and perhaps ministering to the sick when somebody yells out, “Tell my brother to give me my share of the inheritance.”

It makes you wonder what type of individual would be so self-absorbed, that they would make a public statement like that.  Well, that kind of presumption was enough to set Jesus off in a new direction of teaching.

Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”  Then he said to them, “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Luke 12:14-15

When Jesus got done, that person probably felt as though he should have kept his mouth shut.  Jesus used this interruption to teach the crowd about the foolishness of greed.

He told them a parable about a rich man with no common sense. This man got a big harvest, built bigger barns, and stored it all up.  Jesus explained that the man ended up dying before he could spend all of his wealth.  That foolish man lost the eternal to gain the temporary.

The Lord’s message to those gathered around Him was that our life does not consist of what can be accumulated.  You’re not to worry about what you’re going to wear or what you’re going to eat.  God will provide for you.

Worry about serving God.  Worry about doing the Father’s will.  In that way you’re laying up treasure in Heaven.  Christ said that where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is going to be.

This got me thinking.  The Lord is attempting to do a particular work in my life.  He communicates His plan to me through a series of events.  He speaks to my heart, allows circumstances to come my way, and teaches me through the lives and words of others.

How often do I “interrupt” His plan with a totally unrelated request?  I get my eyes off His plan and onto my desires.  When it comes to the Lord, I need to think before I ask.

We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit at work in us.  Make sure that your requests are in line with His plan.  Don’t be discourteous and interrupt the Lord.

Question: Have you ever found yourself guilty of interrupting God’s work in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Encouragement

 

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The Foundation for Revival

FireI have said that the United States desperately needs a revival.  What is that?  Is it a church full of weeping, “falling down under the power of God”, or huge crowds on Sunday morning?

Is it something we plan into our schedules?  “Revival Meetings the first week of December.”

The truth is that it’s not something we put on, but a work that God performs in us.  It’s a special presence of Christ revealing Himself to our society.

I believe that revival is birthed out of desperation.  When we reach the end of what we can do, all we can rely on is the work of God in us.

It’s kind of like the condition of Israel as they prepared to leave Mt Sinai in the book of Exodus.  They had already turned from God before Moses had even come down from the mountain with the law.

Now God has cleansed the camp and they are about to move out.  They are headed for the Promised Land.

Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.  How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us?  What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
Exodus 33:15-16

Now there’s a desperate prayer!  What if the modern church prayed like this and meant it?  Most churches would close their doors the first week.

Unfortunately, we just go on with the show.  We’ve learned how to experience growth without the move of God.  A great music team and a charismatic preacher is all you need for success.

We need to learn that growth doesn’t mean that God is in the work.  It grieves me to say it, but if the Holy Spirit left us today, 90% of churches would be unaffected.  Much of the church in America is leaning on the arm of flesh to sustain it.

We need the presence of the Lord.  What else will distinguish the church from any other good social program?

The key is transformed lives.  That’s the proof of the power of God.  When Christ works through His people, we don’t remain the same.

Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
Exodus 33:18

This is the prayer of desperation that needs to go up from God’s people.  We must put aside our goals, and seek the glory of God in our lives.  If He does the work, then He gets the glory.

It’s time for revival in our nation.

Question: How desperate are you for a move of God in our nation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2013 in Revival

 

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America, Terrorists, and the Lord

FlagcrossThe past week has been very challenging to us as a community and a nation.  I live and minister in Watertown, Massachusetts.  It’s a tiny area where not much seems to happen – until now.

I have a friend who was at the Boston Marathon.  Upon looking at the pictures they took, they saw the terrorists standing right next to them in the crowd.

My daughter works in the Watertown Mall.  She arrived at 10 pm for an overnight inventory shift.  At 2 am they were informed by FBI agents that the store (and the town) was in lockdown – no one in or out.

I have a member of our church who lived in the area of town where she witnessed explosions and gunfire that evening.  She spent the rest of the night comforting her children and grandchildren as she saw Swat Teams sweeping her neighborhood.

What’s happening in our nation?  Where are the days when this only happened in other parts of the world and we only watched the events on TV?

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

I believe that the protections we enjoyed in the past were due to the heritage of faith laid down by our godly forefathers.  That was then, this is now.  We have become a nation where any public reference to Jesus Christ is considered an abuse against society.

We have effectively told God that we don’t want Him interfering in our schools, courts, or politics.  Then, in times of crisis, we ask where He went to.  We have become so enamored by our own prowess that we think we have the answer to all our problems.

I do not believe this is the judgment of God on America.  He is a God of grace.  Instead, the Lord is respecting our wishes for Him to keep His hands out of our business.

No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength.  A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.
Psalms 33:16-17

America needs a change of heart and not a change of politics.  We desperately hunger for revival.  God’s people must awaken from slumber and turn the tide upon their knees.  That is where true restoration will come from.

I believe that the recent events will be a part of the call to us.  The pressure is on.  Are we willing to pray the price required to save our nation?  It is time for us to rise to our feet and be true men and women of God.

Question: How have these events affected your faith?  How will you respond?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2013 in Revival

 

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The Temporary vs. the Eternal

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been posting about the discussion Jesus had with the crowd in John chapter 6.  Having told them that He understood their motives; Jesus goes on to explain further.

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.  On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
John 6:27

The Lord is about to tell them that He’s the Bread of Life and He has the Words of truth.  He goes on to explain that if they’ll come to Him in faith, they’ll never lack for life.  The point is that you can’t spend all your time and energy chasing the things of this world.  There’s a more important issue at stake here.

Too many believers spend their prayer time with the Lord running through their lists of needs and wants.  While there is a place for petitioning the Lord in prayer, that should not be the major part.  Prayer is where we get to know Christ in relationship.  It’s give and take.

Yes, it is talking, but it’s also listening.  If we’re going to be prepared for the last days, then we must get past this mentality that chases God around simply for what we think we can get from Him.

The crowd made their motives very plain to Jesus.  Even in their answer, they show Him that His assessment of their true character was correct.

“Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
John 6:34

Their thoughts are, “You’ve got the bread from heaven.  Give us this bread.”  Again, they’re thinking in a material way.  If His earthly bread was good, the heavenly must be even better tasting!

It reminds me of the woman at the well.  Jesus said that He could give her living water so that she would never thirst again.  Her reply was, “Great, then I won’t have to come to this well every day to draw water.”

Why are we all so foolish?  Jesus longs to give us eternal, abundant life, yet we are content to simply ask Him for things.  I know that in His Word He’s promised to take care of our needs.  The problem is that we seem to major on the physical.

My true needs are so much deeper than that.  He wants to satisfy the longing of our souls, but this will require that we spend time in His presence.  We fail to enter the abundance that He has for us because we’d rather have the “quick fix” of more money or more stuff so that we can then get on with our plans.  The better solution would be for us to bow our knee to the Lord and take up His plan for our lives.

Question: Why do the temporary issues of life seem so important sometimes?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Encouragement, Faith, Prayer

 

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Scripture and the Word of God

Bible 2I have been posting about the Word of God and its relation to Scripture.  I’ve probably said some things that have caused you to question my beliefs.  In today’s post you’ll see that what I believe is firmly rooted in the teaching of Christ, Himself.

At one point the Pharisees were trying to come up with a reason to kill Jesus.  They were upset that He healed people on the Sabbath and called God “Father,” among other things.  It’s important to see how the Lord handled these men.  Remember, these were people who dedicated their lives to the study and memorization of Scripture.

And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
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 5:37-40

Notice how the Lord’s words to the Pharisees resemble His words to Satan when He was tempted.  He first tells them that they have not heard from God nor seen God.  He then told them that God’s Word did not live in them.  Wait a minute – they had the Scripture memorized – yet God’s Word did not have a place in their lives.

Jesus then makes a statement that we need to pay particular attention to.  He admits that those around Him diligently study the Scripture.  Isn’t that a good thing?  Why does it sound more like an indictment when the Lord says it?

Because it all depends upon why you’re studying the Scripture.  They were approaching it with the wrong reasoning.  Listen carefully to the words of Christ.  He said that they diligently study the Scriptures because they think that by the Scripture they possess life.

Jesus is clear.  You cannot possess life in Scripture.  You can only possess life in Christ.  It doesn’t matter how hard you study or how many verses you have memorized, according to Jesus, you will not find Life in the Scripture.

You may get mad at me for saying it – but that will not change the truth.  How we handle the Scriptures these days borders on superstition.  So many of us believe that the Bible is going to give us what we want.

I have heard it preached (I preached it, myself, before I understood the truth) that if you want something from God, “just find a Scripture that supports it and stand upon it.”  That’s not what the Bible is for.

Christ came that we might live the abundant life.  That life will only be found in Him.  There are many aspects of the abundant life that the above truth could apply to.  Think of how we do things in the church today.  Christ could be speaking directly to us.

Question: How have you seen the Bible used superstitiously?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Word of God

 

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