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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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Short-Lived Champions

TrophyI live in the Boston area. I have to admit that I was excited when the New England Patriots won the Superbowl. That probably doesn’t sound very spiritual.

A couple of days ago the Patriots celebrated their victory with a parade in Boston. Everybody seems to be feeling good about it.

Actually there’s a truth here that we need to understand. It hurts me to tell you this, but now that the Superbowl is over, both the Patriots and the Falcons are tied for last place. (Along with every other team.)

When you look at the world of sports, the game gets reset every year. What you did last year doesn’t mean anything during the next season.

From this point on it’s all about winning next year. In our society, championships are a temporary thing. You can be a world champion today and scraping the bottom the next season.

For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.
1 Peter 3:18

I’m glad Jesus wasn’t this kind of champion. The victory that He won was once and for all. There will be no rematch, no do overs, and no replays. It is finished.

Under the Old Covenant it was much different. The death of a bull or goat today had no power to help you a year later. The sacrifices had to be repeated over and over again.

The work that Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross will never lose its effectiveness. It will never fade or wear out. The Lord is eternally victorious.

But there’s more to the story. Christ has passed this victory on to all who will trust in Him.

But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:57

As I said before – I’m glad the Patriots won. The problem is that their victory didn’t do anything for me. After the Superbowl, my health, finances, and attitudes were the same as they were before. They got the glory, and I got to watch.

Christ, on the other hand, allowed me to share in His victory. Even though there was nothing I could to do to help, I benefit from all that He did. All I had to do was to trust in Him as my Lord and Savior.

…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.
1 John 5:4

In one decisive act, Jesus Christ accomplished freedom, salvation, healing, and restoration for all. We just need to get in on it by faith in Him.

Spend some time with the Lord today. Let His victory spill over into your life. Don’t walk around as if you’re defeated, hoping to win the next round. You can walk in his freedom right now.

Question: How has the victory of Christ been effective in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Warfare, The Gospel

 

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Are You Tired?

ClimberI don’t know about you, but sometimes I just get tired. Tired of the battles, the problems of life, and everything that society throws at me. It’s times like that when I need to seek the encouragement of the Word of God.

Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joy.
Colossians 1:11

The Apostle Paul understood how to live victoriously in spite of all the stuff that was happening around him. He knew where to go to receive strength in his time of need.

One of the things that the Holy Spirit desires to do in us is to build us up in our inner man. He wants to give us the power we need to stand our ground for Christ.

This life is very draining on people. I don’t believe that there’s any such thing as an easy life. Of course, as the saying goes, the grass is always greener in someone else’s yard. We look at other people and think that they have it so easy.

The reality is that we’re all different. We all see life from a different perspective. The things that you find difficult to deal with, I don’t have any problem with. And some of the things that trip me up, you don’t struggle with at all.

The simple fact is that everyone needs an abundance of endurance, patience, and joy. Those are the qualities we seem to lose so easily. Yet that’s exactly what the Lord wants to bring into our lives.

Apart from the Holy Spirit we would give up too soon. I want to see the finish line and cross it with strength. I don’t want to barely finish then collapse in exhaustion.

Finishing strong requires me to rely on His strength for my life. I must come to the realization that without Him I can do nothing.

It’s a humbling experience to tell the Lord that you need Him. But that’s why Scripture teaches that if you humble yourself before Him, He will exalt you.

That’s why we need to run to God’s Word. The verse above is especially encouraging. I’m so glad that the apostle didn’t say, “Being strengthened with some power according to my best efforts.”

When I draw on the power of the Spirit, I have access to all power – all the power I need overcome in every area of my life. This power isn’t based upon what I can do. It’s all because of the Lord’s unlimited resources. He’s the One I look to for help.

Draw on the power of the Holy Spirit today. Spend quality time in His presence and watch what the Lord can do in a life that is yielded before Him. Make use of His promises. Let Him grant to you His endurance, patience, and joy.

Question: How have you seen the difference between living in your power vs. the Holy Spirit’s?

©Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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Worship – The Prelude to Victory

TrophyThis will be my last post in the series on true worship. I’ve been looking at the worship around the throne in Heaven recorded in the book of Revelation.

At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.
Revelation 4:2

Probably the most important aspect is knowing the object of our worship. Worship is always directed toward Christ. It’s all about the person on the throne. It has nothing to do with us.

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
Hebrews 3:1

This is where we lose our grasp of the spiritual on many occasions. We see all the stuff that’s happening around us. We start to concentrate on the circumstances and not the answer to that need.

I need to focus my mind on Christ. I need to make Him my obsession. That’s the beginning of worship; when I let everything else go and zero in on the Holy Spirit calling me into His presence.

In the first post of this series I talked about this heavenly calling – our upward calling in Christ. How can we ever hope to fulfill it apart from worship?

The book of Hebrews talks a lot about this call.

See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?
Hebrews 12:25

We are being called upward to the secluded place of worship. Don’t refuse like the Israelites of Moses’ day did in the wilderness. There were bad consequences. As a result, they were overcome by their enemies.

In Ephesians we’re told about being seated in heavenly places in Christ. Later Paul writes…

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:12

We have the advantage of the high ground. We can look down upon the enemy’s position from our seat in heavenly realms. They are the powers of this dark world. They’re stuck on the earth. Even the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly realms aren’t higher than our place in Christ.

Don’t fight them on their level. Let worship raise you up to the victory Christ bought for you. Respond to God’s upward call to worship.

Question: How do you incorporate the call to worship into your everyday life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Power of God, Worship

 

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Do You Know You’re in Danger?

ClimberI’m taking a few posts to talk about understanding God’s timetable. Do we really understand the times we’re living in? In my last post I talk about Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees about not understanding their times. Are we guilty of the same problem?

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
2 Timothy 3:1

Paul literally wrote to Timothy that he needed to know this truth. In the last days – that’s us – there will be dangerous times. What does that mean?

This word terrible comes from a root which means lowering down into a chasm. I have watched rock climbers going up the face of a sheer cliff. That’s what this verse is talking about.

Serving God in the last days is like repelling off the edge of a mile high cliff. We live in dangerous times.

No, they’re not physically dangerous – at least here in America. But they are spiritually perilous.

If we are going to live a victorious Christian life, then we need to know this and act accordingly. We need the spiritual discernment of the Holy Spirit.

You wouldn’t think of going off the edge of a cliff without training and the right equipment. Think in those terms about being a believer in this generation.

At this time, many are living for self. It’s as though they’re “flying by the seat of their pants” in their Christian walk.

This is not the generation to do that. In times past you could get by just attending church on Sundays and doing your own thing the rest of the week. At the present time we don’t have the luxury of “floating along in Christ.”

That brings me back to a verse I looked at in my last post.

And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.
Romans 13:11

“WAKE UP!!!”

Rock climbers have to concentrate on every move. They can’t afford even a momentary lapse in judgment. Many have been severely injured or even killed because of a distraction during their climb.

This is not the time for God’s people to be distracted by the world. We need to turn our attention and focus back to Christ. We must seek His will, and what He wants accomplished in and through our lives.

Don’t become a victim of the dangerous times we’re living in.

Question: How is this present time spiritually dangerous?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 

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Where is your God? #prayforrevival

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I was reading in Psalms the other day, I came across this question.

Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?
Psalm 42:5a

Are you downcast over the society we find ourselves in?  Are you worried about the future?  You’re not alone.  Many find themselves in this position.  It’s what you do about it that counts.

The writers of this Psalm felt the same way.  So much so, that they asked this question twice in this small passage.  You’ll find they ask this in both verse 5 and verse 11.

I also noticed something else in this section of Scripture.  Twice, in verse 3 and verse 10, the world asks a question of us.

My tears have been my food day and night, while men say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
Psalm 42:3

This seems to be the cause of their downcast soul.  I believe that it’s affecting the church today as well.  We’re so worried about looking foolish in the eyes of the world.

As they taunt us – “Where is your God?”, we slip back into the shadows so that we won’t be hurt by their actions.  That’s when we find ourselves depressed and confused over the spiritual condition of our nation.

I believe that this Psalm holds the answer to the problem.  The second half of verses 5 and 11 says…

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalms 42:5b

Put your hope, your expectation, in what God promises His people.  In that way you’ll have a better attitude over the situation we’re in.

But sometimes that’s easier said than done.  How do we put our hope in God in the midst of the taunts of the world?

There’s more to this Psalm.  The solution is simple, yet we have a hard time with it.

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
Psalms 42:1-2

This is the key to a victorious attitude in an ungodly culture.  We hear what the world is telling us – the taunts and ridicule.  It depresses and disturbs us.  But there’s another response that it should summon up in us.

The state of our society should drive us to our knees.  It should push us into the presence of the living God.  We need to let the condition of the world light a fire for Christ in our hearts.  Only then will we place our expectation in what the Lord is about to do.

It’s time for God’s people to wake up from their slumber and affect our culture with the Word of God.  That will only happen as we spend quality time in the Lord’s presence.

Question: How are you affected by the society you live in?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Encouragement, Revival

 

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Food for the Journey of Life #wordofGod

TrailHave you been starving your inner man?  Spiritual victories require a healthy soul.

The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children.  Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds.  With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.
Exodus 12:37-39

Israel was about to leave Egypt.  Moses, the man of God, had warned them days before that they would need to depart quickly.  In order to accomplish this, they took along dough made without yeast.

I’ve shared in the past that I like to get away now and then to hike and pray in the wilderness.

I’ve learned a lot of spiritual lessons along the way.  It comes as no surprise that one of the most important hiking supplies is food.  Thru-hikers walking the Appalachian Trail plan “food drops” to be waiting for them at strategic post offices along the route.  This way they can easily resupply along the way.

One Friday night in a shelter, I met a young man who was out of food and money.  This was a big problem for him even though he had a supply box waiting at a nearby post office.  Ahead of him was a full day’s walk to the post office (which closed at noon on Saturday).  This was compounded by the fact that this particular Monday was a holiday.  That would be three days without food.

I happened to be at the end of the section I was hiking – so I was able to bless him with a ride to pick up his drop before the post office closed.  Needless to say, he was very grateful.

That got me thinking of a spiritual application.  The Word of God is our spiritual bread.  There are many Christians who try to hike the road of life with only one or two meals a week.

So often we wonder why the obstacles of life take such a toll on us.  We blame God and ask why it’s so hard to serve Him.  All the while we live in spiritual starvation.

We need a constant diet of God’s Word if we’re to be victorious.  In the same way that we can’t be healthy without nutritious food, we can’t live for God without a diet of His Word.

Please don’t neglect this vital nourishment.

Question: What do you do to keep well fed in the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2013 in Word of God

 

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