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The Fig Tree

I’m continuing to look at the Gospel of Mark.  In this section, Jesus is teaching His disciples about His Second Coming.  It seems that what Jesus taught is different than what many are teaching in our generation.

As He brings this teaching to a close, the Lord begins to summarize for His followers.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.  I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Mark 13:28-31

Before He finishes this section of His teaching, Jesus emphasizes the certainty of His words.  It will take place as He said.  We will see it approaching just as we see the changes of the seasons.  If we are believers who are prepared to meet Christ, then this day will not take us unawares.

Let me add a note here.  Some teachers use this section to fix a date for the return.  They reason that the budding fig tree is when Israel became a nation again in 1948 or perhaps when the United Nations recognized them in 1965.  This line of thinking continues as they explain that a generation is 40-50 years.  That would have made the year of the return 1988, 1998, 2005, or 2015!

Jesus said that we wouldn’t know the day or the hour.  In reality, the word generation in the above verse could also be translated race.  Jesus could have merely been saying that, as a sign to prove the truth of His statement, the Jews would never be totally exterminated.  Considering the persecutions and the atrocities that have been committed against them, this is a miracle in itself.

The Lord then seals the certainty of what He says.  He contrasts the Word that He speaks to the natural heavens and the earth.

The earth and the sky that we see now are only temporary.  There will come a day when they’re changed by the Lord.

Right now, because of sin, everything is subject to decay – which, in terms of Physics, is the Third Law of Thermodynamics.  When Christ returns, He will make all things new – with no more decay.  I’m looking forward to that day with great anticipation.

His Word, however, will never change.  It is forever settled in Heaven.  I can put my trust in Christ, knowing that He will always bring about His revealed plan to completion.  That’s true whether we’re talking about world events or my personal life.

So, as we continue living in these last days before Christ’s return, let’s focus our hearts and minds on Him.  That’s how we’ll receive the strength and wisdom needed to be victorious until the end of this age.

Maranatha!  Even so, come quickly, Lord!

Question: How are you preparing yourself for the Lord’s return?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on July 11, 2018 in Return of Christ, Word of God

 

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Faith and the Word

In my last post I talked about our faith and our actions working together. James told us that without action, we only have a dead faith.

What kind of faith is James talking about here? Some ethereal faith, believing it will all turn out good in the end? Absolutely not!! It’s the kind of faith that sees things changing by the power of God.

Where do we get that kind of faith? Paul tells us the answer to that question.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

This is one of those verses that everyone quotes, but few understand. The NIV uses the word message in its translation; but that word does not appear in the Greek original. It simply reads faith comes by hearing

The important thing is; what are you hearing? That’s why the Apostle Paul goes on to explain that this hearing is by the Word of Christ.

There are many who believe that this verse is talking about reading the Bible. Personally, I don’t believe that’s what it’s referring to. The Greek words being used here say that this faith comes from the rhema of Christ. That means Paul is talking about the Word we hear directly from the Holy Spirit.

For a detailed explanation of this aspect of the Word, click here.

This faith is not simply choosing to believe what the Bible says – as good as that is. It’s a faith that’s birthed on the inside of you by spending time in the Spirit. That’s the kind of faith that James is talking about.

How do I know this? Look at the example James gives to illustrate his point.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
James 2:20-23

According to James, Abraham believed God – had faith in His Word – and acted upon his faith. Because of his faith, Abraham took his only son up on a mountain to offer him as a sacrifice to God. When he stepped out in faith, God then looked upon him and credited righteousness to his account.

Why would Abraham do something like that? Because he had faith in God’s Word. What was the Word that inspired this faith? It couldn’t have been the Bible since it wasn’t even begun to be written yet. The truth is that Abraham heard a Word from God and it planted an unwavering faith on the inside of him.

James is telling us that if we want to have this living faith, then we must spend time in God’s presence, listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. The kind of faith that moves mountains, heals and delivers is only received in a Word from God.

I believe that this is why there’s so little manifestation of the power of God in our generation. Because of the proliferation of Scripture (a good thing), we have replaced intimate time in God’s presence with Bible reading.

Don’t misunderstand me – reading, memorizing, meditating on, and confession of the Scripture is vital for your growth as a believer. But time spent listening for a Word from God is just as important.

Question: What have you heard and obeyed from the Holy Spirit lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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It’s Easy to Turn Faith into Superstition

CloverDo you serve God superstitiously?  How do you know whether or not you do?  You may be surprised at the answers.

We’re told in Scripture that we’re to serve God by our faith.  We’re told that it’s impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6).  As a matter of fact, anything not coming from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

But, just as important as faith is, it’s just as important to know where this faith comes from.  The Bible is clear on this issue, even if we are a little fuzzy sometimes.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

This verse literally says that faith springs out of hearing, but hearing through the Word of Christ.  There are a few key concepts that are important in this verse.  The first is that, of all the different kinds of faith that we can have; only the faith that has its birth in the Word of God is valuable.

The next is one you may not want to hear.  But, this faith comes by hearing the Word and not reading the Word.  That’s because it’s the Greek word rhema that’s translated word in this verse.  The Greek word rhema always refers to the revealed Word of God to us.

This isn’t talking about reading the Bible and drumming up faith in ourselves.  It’s about listening to the Holy Spirit speaking to us.  It might take place while we’re reading the Scripture, praying, or listening to a sermon.

Jesus got upset at the Pharisees for this same type of superstition.

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

Here’s what takes place sometimes.  It may be that there’s a believer in need of healing – for example.  As they’re reading the Bible, the Holy Spirit uses it to grab their attention.  The Lord takes the Word that they’re reading and makes it rhema to them.

In a moment of divine faith and obedience, they declare that Word with their voice.  Immediately they’re healed.

What does he do next?  He starts teaching that if you confess this verse, you will be healed.  That is superstition.

It’s not reciting the verse that healed this person.  Christ our Healer was the one who made them whole.

This is how easy it can be, to turn faith into superstition.  Instead of bringing people to a deeper relationship with Christ, it’s easier to recite Scripture over and over.

Please understand – I didn’t say to stop memorizing and confessing the Scripture.  What I am saying is to seek to hear from Christ.  He’s the One our life flows from and not our “works of righteousness.”

Question: Why is it so much easier for us to recite the Bible than to seek to hear from God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Faith, Word of God

 

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Do You Know the Two Anointings of Music?

Did you know that the Bible speaks about how we should aim our singing?  There are two goals we should direct our music toward.

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Psalms 96:1-2

The first should be pretty obvious.

Our music can be directed toward God in the praise of His glory.  This is an important part of our relationship with the Lord.  Singing His praises transports us into His presence.

I get so upset when believers view the praise and worship time as merely the “warm-up act” for the pastor’s preaching.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  As we sing praise and thanksgiving to God, we are brought into a deeper spiritual place.  We become more open to the move of the Holy Spirit.

Praising God in song is an important part of a spiritual walk.

The second aim of music may surprise some of you.

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord…
Ephesians 5:19

Our music can be directed toward each other.  There are many people (and I used to be one of them) that dislike the use of songs that are not directed toward God.  This verse clearly shows the necessity of both types of music.

There are times when we need to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to one another.  Why is that so important?

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

It’s through music that the Word of Christ can live richly in you.  Singing music that’s directed at each other is a form of teaching and admonishing.  As we sing, we learn.

This is an incredible truth.  When my children were small, they learned all the states and their capitals because they were put to music. How much more important is it to get the Word into our hearts?

Through music, the Word of Christ can enter our lives and stay with us.  That’s why I’m so adamant about not singing songs that contain bad doctrine.  Too many Christians believe error because they learned it in their music.

We give praise to our God.  We teach and admonish each other.  Both of these can and should be done through the music of God’s people.

Question: Is there a song that opened up your eyes to a spiritual truth?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Encouragement, Music, The Church, Word of God

 

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