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The Spirit-Fruit: Patience

The next stop in our study of the Fruit of the Spirit is patience.  As with the other fruit, I need to explain how God looks at this characteristic.  Contrary to what society thinks, it’s not merely the ability to stand in a long check-out line without complaining.

I think that part of the reason we have a mistaken view of patience is that the KJV translated the word as long-suffering.  We get the idea, from that word, that patience requires us to suffer for a long time.  I’ve got good news for you.  There’s no suffering involved in the original Greek word.

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Hebrews 6:12

The actual Greek word in Scripture is a compound word.  It means long passioned.  According to this verse, faith and patience go hand in hand.  There’s a reason for that.

When we hear from the Lord and His Word, faith is birthed in us.  We then start to pursue what we’re trusting God for.  Then something happens.  Day follows day, and week follows week.

As time goes on we sometimes lose sight of God’s promise.  That’s when we need patience – the long passioned work of the spirit.  I have to have the same passion about what I heard from God weeks, or even years after I initially heard it.

That’s what the fruit of patience is all about.  I like the way James described it in his book.

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming.  See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.
James 5:7

James uses the example of a farmer waiting for his crops to appear.  He’s not just waiting in line for his turn at life.

He prepared the ground and planted the seed.  He continued to work by weeding and fertilizing the field.  He did all that was required of him, and now he’s patiently waiting for God’s part to be accomplished.

That’s the key to understanding God’s view of patience.  The fruit of patience must always be based upon God’s Word.  There’s an outcome that I’m trusting God for.  So I want the Holy Spirit to cultivate a passion in me that won’t fade away over time.

This is the kind of patience that’s a part of God’s character.  We can see this through Paul’s testimony of how the Lord worked in his life – bringing him to a knowledge of Christ.

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.
1 Timothy 1:16

The fruit of patience in us is a manifestation of God’s patience at work.  Christ didn’t just wait idly for Paul to become a Christian.  The Lord saw the outcome before it was ever manifested.

That’s the patience I want the Holy Spirit to grow in my life.  I want to see the outcome of my faith with the eyes of my spirit.  Then it will produce a passion that doesn’t fade away over time.

Spend time in the spirit.  Allow Him to work His patience in you.  Then you can be long-passioned toward your destiny in Christ.

Question: What was a recent time that you saw God’s patience operating through you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on October 16, 2017 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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True Success

How do you measure success or failure? Is it based upon your obvious victories and accomplishments? What about some things that aren’t so readily apparent?

Paul made some observations about this to the Thessalonian church.

You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure.
1 Thessalonians 2:1

Paul makes this simple, clear statement of fact. But what was he talking about? Surely the great Apostle Paul didn’t have any major setbacks in his ministry.

Fortunately for us, the people recorded in the Bible had the same types of challenges that we face. That way we can see how they trusted God to bring them through victoriously. It turns out that Paul’s visit to Thessalonica was a major temptation for him to feel like a failure.

In order to see the whole story, you can read Acts 17:1-10. But I’ll review the basic story line here.

Paul was on one of his missionary trips. He had just left Philippi, where he was temporarily thrown in jail. He arrives at Thessalonica, and is allowed to teach in the synagogue for three Sabbaths in a row.

Of course, he preaches Jesus Christ as Messiah. He talks about the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection.

As a result, some of the Jews and a large number of Gentiles trust in Jesus for their salvation. Because the number of Christians was increasing, the Jews started to become jealous. They wanted to shut down Paul’s ministry.

So, what these hateful people did was to round up some unsavory characters from the marketplace. The Jews then paid them to start trouble and cause a riot. They tried to find Paul and his team, but weren’t able to locate them.

Instead, they grabbed some of the new believers, and dragged them off to the magistrates. They then began to accuse them of criminal activity. The city was in an uproar.

Fearing for Paul’s life, the believers made him leave the city immediately. Because of this, Paul and Silas, his partner in ministry, were not able to fully establish this church in the usual way. They had to trust God for the church’s continued survival.

It wasn’t until months later that Paul sent Timothy to check on the Thessalonians. Not only did they survive, they were flourishing as followers of Christ.

We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.
1 Thessalonians 2:2

When it came to evangelizing the Thessalonians, Paul went from one trouble to the next. Yet in spite of it all, he could boldly declare that his visit was not a failure.

We need to learn that lesson. It would go a long way to giving us a better attitude.

Remember this – Just because things don’t go according to our plan, doesn’t mean it’s a failure. The fact is that we rarely ever see everything that God is doing behind the scenes. He sees the end from the beginning, we only see the surface.

Paul only knew that it was God’s plan to bring the Gospel to this region. He did his part, and then he had to trust the Lord for the results.

Many were saved. The church was established on a firm foundation. And – miracle of miracles – the Holy Spirit was able to accomplish it without all of Paul’s expertise.

Do what God has called you to do. Then leave the results in His hands. That’s the basis of true success.

Question: What is something you originally thought was a failure; but God turned it into a success?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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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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The Pattern of Faith and Obedience

ProfitI’m posting about the miracle of Jesus turning the water into wine. In my last article we saw that Jesus had not stepped into His role as Messiah yet. In this one instance He’s acting as God in the flesh.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
John 2:7-8

In this passage, Jesus is speaking as God – not man. The servants are hearing the Word of God. What will they do with what they hear?

Step one is easy. It takes no faith at all to fill the jars with water. That in itself must have taken a lot of time. Each jar held about 20 to 30 gallons. Drawing water from a well was time consuming.

It’s the same thing in our lives. The first part of faith is the easy stuff. We hear the Word of God to us. We accept it, meditate on it, and declare it.

Then comes step two, when you have to trust in the Word of God. The hard part for the servants was when Jesus told then to take this “water” to the master of the banquet for him to taste. They would have looked like fools if nothing had happened.

That’s why it’s important for us to continue to do what we know to do. We walk by faith in the Word of God. Even when it doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary is happening. It’s the obedience of faith that brings about the miracle.

Hearing God’s Word is not enough. We need to move ahead and walk in it. That’s the sign that we truly believe it. That’s when the world sees that Jesus is Lord.

Through this miracle, the disciples got a glimpse into who Jesus really was. He wasn’t just a good teacher with a message for Israel. He was God taking on flesh to reveal Himself to lost humanity.

That’s why the Gospel says…

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
John 2:11

The word first in this passage literally means the first in priority. It doesn’t mean the first in order – like 1, 2, 3. (Actually, the first miracle recorded by John was when Jesus saw Nathaniel under the tree before they met.)

What this verse is saying is that the miracle of turning the water into wine was the most important miracle of Jesus. It was through this that He revealed to the disciples that He was God. It proved to them that they could trust His Word.

When the Lord spoke to them, they knew that whatever He said would come to pass just as He said it would. We need to operate on that level of faith.

That’s how the words of Jesus are introduced to us in the Gospel of John. That’s why it’s so important for us to understand that John was writing to the church. It’s for God’s people to learn to walk the same way Jesus did.

The church needs to learn this lesson. If we want to see miracles to a greater degree it will require more than just church attendance. Listening to God’s Word is not enough. Hearing and obeying must become the pattern of our walk with God.

We need to be praying for the grace to hear and obey. Pray for the power of the Lord to be evidenced in us. The power to walk His road, hear His voice, and then to follow through on His instructions.

Question: What were the last instructions that you heard from the Lord that you need to obey?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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A Pattern of Trust

BlurDid you know that there’s a pattern to how we should trust God? Sometimes we could get it partly right and miss out on God’s best for us. I want to look at miracle that Jesus performed to illustrate this truth. It’s a miracle that’s very often misunderstood.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
John 2:1-4

There’s a truth here that we miss sometimes because we don’t understand John’s perspective. The Gospel of John was written so that believers could learn how to live and minister as Jesus did. We do a disservice to the Gospel by assuming that John was written to the unsaved – it wasn’t.

In this passage, Jesus literally said, “What is it with me and you? This isn’t my time.” Please understand – Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful to His mother. Because Joseph had passed away before this, Jesus was the head of his family as the oldest son. It was proper for Him to speak to Mary as her authority.

What did He mean that it wasn’t His time yet? If you check the time-line of Jesus’ life, you’ll find that He had just been baptized by John the Baptist. But He hadn’t gone into the wilderness to be tested yet. This is the last stop before the wilderness.

Then if it wasn’t His time yet; why did He perform the miracle? And what exactly was the miracle? His words are very important for us to understand what’s happening.

In actuality, Mary had as much to do with this as Jesus. It’s all about hearing from God and obeying. In this story, Mary is the one who heard from God. She felt in her heart that this need can be supplied by God.

Jesus basically said to her, “It’s not my hour. This is on you – you’re the one who heard from God. It’s your faith that’s going to do this.” In other words, Jesus was telling her, “You do what God tells you to do.”

What did the Father speak to Mary?

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
John 2:5

God the Father impresses Mary to deal with the servants directly. She tells them to do whatever Jesus instructs them. But remember, it’s not time yet for Jesus to act as the Messiah of Israel. That means that He had to operate from a different relationship.

In this event, we see one of the only places in the Gospels where Jesus operates as God in the flesh. In this case He is acting as God, not man. When He speaks to the servants, it’s the voice of God speaking to them.

It’s important for us to know this so we can learn how to respond to God’s voice. Remember I said there was a pattern to trusting God. The start is when God gives the vision. We find out what He can do through us.

But then, we have to follow the step by step instructions that God gives us. Hearing the vision – God wants to supply your need – is the easy part. It’s following through on the instructions to see the manifestation that’s the hard part.

That’s why I want to take a couple of posts to look at this event in the life of Jesus. I believe it will help us in our faith-walk.

Question: What are the things in your life that you’re trusting God for right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Journey of Faith

TrailThe word picture that’s used the most in the Bible to describe our Christian life is probably walking. We even call our life in Christ the walk of faith.

I personally love walking and hiking. It seems that the more I pursue this in the natural, the more I learn about the spiritual walk.

The Bible uses Abraham as an example of one who walked by faith in God.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:8-10

Abraham was a man of faith. He lived in tents and shelters. He didn’t know what lay on the trail ahead, nor did he know where it was leading. But because he trusted God, he kept moving forward, and entered the land of promise.

Every time I hike, I illustrate the walk of faith – the dependence that if I continue to follow the path, step by step, I’ll come out to the end promised by the map. In my case, I don’t actually know the person who wrote the guidebook. I don’t even know the person who marked out the trail.

Yet in spite of this, I’m willing to strap a pack on my back, and follow a trail through the woods for days at a time. I willingly trust those who have done it before me and those who “wrote the books and maps.” I have faith that the trail I’m on will come out where they say it will.

You may ask, “What does that have to do with our spiritual walk?” It turns out that there are definite parallels between the two.

The fact is, sometimes the trail I’m on doesn’t feel right. There are times I’m hiking a southbound trail that, because of the twists and turns, actually heads north for a time. I know that I’m supposed to come out south of where I started. But when I look at my compass, it seems that I’m headed in the wrong direction.

What do I do? To put it simply – I trust the book and keep going. Eventually the trail makes a turn and heads south again. Amazingly, it comes out exactly where the map said that it would.

When I think about Abraham’s walk of faith, I see the same things happening. The Lord gave him a path to walk. There were times he had to go in a direction that didn’t seem right to his natural mind. But in spite of his present circumstances, he looked forward to the distant end of his journey because he trusted the One who wrote the “guidebook.”

It takes trust and obedience toward God to reap the promises of His Word. We need to trust Him even when life doesn’t look like it will turn out the way He says it will.

God knows the end from the beginning. He sees all the twists and turns ahead of you. The Holy Spirit can guide you on the best possible course to navigate your way through the tough parts of this life.

Spend some time in the Lord’s presence. Recommit yourself to following his path for your life. Let Him know your desire to trust His Word as the only true guide for your steps. Then you can rest assured that you’ll see His destiny for your life come to pass.

Question: What is a time when you thought that God was taking you in a “wrong” direction?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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How Persuaded are You?

Bible 2We sometimes tend to treat the things of God very lightly. We say things like, “Of course I’m trusting God.” But are we really? How far would we let our faith take us? That’s the real test of our belief.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews talked about some Old Testament saints who stood their ground in the spirit.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:13

This Scripture says that they saw the promises of God from a distance. Obviously Christ had not arrived on the scene yet. They had to wait for the fulfillment. They went to their graves fully trusting God for the outcome He promised.

There’s actually more to it than that. The word saw in the above verse literally means to become persuaded. These believers become persuaded about God’s power.

How persuaded are you? They were convinced in God’s ability to accomplish what He said He would do. What’s the confession that people hear from your mouth?

It should be: “God can heal.” “God can restore broken homes.” “God can provide for needs.” “God can change people’s lives.”

Not only were these Old Testament people persuaded by God’s abilities, the verse says that they welcomed His promises. That word welcomed means that they embraced those promises even at a distance.

Are you embracing the Lord’s Word for yourself? It’s not enough just to agree that God is able to do something. You need to make it personal.

“God can heal me.” “God can restore my home.” “God can provide for my needs.” “God can change my life.”

We all have to come to the point where we understand that we serve a very personal God. Christ didn’t just go to the cross for the sins of the world. He went to save ME from MY SIN. I need to see Him as the One who is presently working in my life.

That will lead me to the next thing that these bygone saints were known for. They admitted, literally confessed, that they were aliens and strangers on earth. That word, in Greek, means to speak the same as. I need to speak the same Word that the Lord speaks.

I’m an alien here on earth. I’m a part of the heavenly kingdom. I have access to more than our society does. It changes the way I talk.

“God is my Savior.” “God is my Healer.” “God is my Provider.” “God is my Restorer.”

This is where our strength comes from. It’s not from how good I am, but how good my God is.

…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

That word confident is the same word persuaded from the verse above. How persuaded are you, not only that God can do the work, but that He will complete it in you? It’s not about us. It’s all about what He has accomplished for us. Let the Word of God fully persuade you to put your whole trust in the Lord.

Question: What are you trusting God to accomplish in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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