Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Return of Christ – Who do You Believe?

Cloud2In my last post I talked about the Day of the Lord. That’s the day that when Christ appears to rule over the earth. Every eye will see Him as He establishes His millennial kingdom. The Lord explained to His disciples exactly when this would take place.

“At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.”
Matthew 24:30-31

Here’s the verse many Bible teachers love to ignore. This is the statement that Christ uses to bring all His other teachings into perspective. Are you going to ignore it, or are you going to believe what Christ Himself taught?

This day may be called many things: “The Day of the Lord”, “The Day of the Son of Man”, or “The Day of Christ”. Whatever you want to call it, it’s the day Christ returns to the earth to claim His rightful throne.

He makes it perfectly clear. All nations will mourn. They – all nations – will see Him. This is the day He comes to establish His kingdom. In His teachings to the disciples He has referred to it as His day, the day Christ comes to reign on the earth. But wait! What else happens on this same day?

The Lord makes that clear as well. He sends out His angels to gather His elect – the church. There will be a trumpet call. The angels will then gather us from the four winds, meaning those of us who are living on the earth at the time of His appearing. It also says that they will gather us from one end of heaven to the other. That means those believers who have already died before this day.

That makes this the resurrection day as well – the last day of the age. According to Christ Himself, the Day of the Lord and the Resurrection Day are one and the same. Look at how the Gospel of Mark records it.

“But in those days, following that distress, ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’
“At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.”
Mark 13:24-27

The Scripture makes it very clear that the elect, those committed to Christ, will be gathered up upon that day. This is the same day that Christ appears to all nations to take His rightful place as the Ruler of the earth.

How does that sit with what you’ve been taught? Jesus teaches that the Resurrection Day and the Day of the Lord are the very same day. Now the choice is up to you. Who are you going to believe? A man who comes saying there’s a seven-year wait between the two, or the Living Word of God Himself? As for me, I chose to believe Christ.

Question: Why is the belief in the seven year wait so popular?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on August 29, 2014 in Return of Christ, The Church


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The Sign of the Day of the Lord

OrbitI’m posting about the end-times from Jesus’ perspective. It’s the section of Scripture found in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13.

Jesus has just finished telling His disciples how to prepare for future events. He’s warned them in general of the things they need to watch out for.

He also told them about the destruction of Jerusalem. That’s a fairly long section and I’m not going to talk about it in this series. Hopefully I’ll get to it in some later series.

At this point in His teaching, the Lord is going to explain the connection between His coming and the end of the age.

“Immediately after the distress of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’”
Matthew 24:29

Jesus prefaces this section by telling the disciples that these things will happen immediately after the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem. Please realize that this is from God’s perspective.

2,000 years is immediate to an eternal being. Remember, He warned His disciples that they would not see the events connected with His return (Luke 17:22).

The Lord then makes reference to Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4. He describes a sign dealing with the sun, moon, and stars. Notice how the prophet Isaiah describes it.

See, the day of the LORD is coming – a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. The stars of heaven and their constellations will not show their light. The rising sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light.
Isaiah 13:9-10

This sign is described throughout both the Old and New Testaments as the “Day of the Lord”. Whenever the Day of the Lord is described, the same word pictures are always used. In both Old and New Testaments, we’re told that the sun and moon would be darkened, as the heavens themselves are shaken.

Notice that this sign is described in such a way as to make it reliable no matter which side of the earth you’re living on. If your location is in daytime, you’ll see the sun darken. If it’s night, you’ll see the moon and the stars affected.

The important thing is that we know what to look for. It’s the sign of the Day of the Lord. We need to understand its place in the order of end-time events.

In my next post, we’ll see exactly where Christ placed this day in His timeline. The way I look at it, if His is different than mine, then I’m the one who needs to change my thinking.

Question: Where does the Day of the Lord fit in to your last-days timeline?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Return of Christ, The Church


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The End-Time Birth Pangs

Lightning 3I’m continuing a series of posts about what Christ taught concerning the Last Days. Specifically, I’m dealing with His teachings in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13. I believe that we are close to His return.

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.”
Matthew 24:6-7a

The Lord warns us that peace will not occur in this age. Wars and rumors of wars will be going on around the world. In Luke 21:9, He is recorded as adding revolutions, or literally unrest to the list.

As Christians, we are not to be alarmed. That word alarmed in the above verse means to cry out in fright. We should not be afraid or surprised at these events.

The Lord doesn’t give us the illusion of a world getting better and better. Instead, He shows us the reality of what living on this earth will be like.

“There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pangs.”
Matthew 24:7b-8

“There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
Luke 21:11

The Lord goes on to list more signs that He calls birth pangs. He mentions famines. This is a lack of food usually caused by greed. In many places around the world, people starve while ships full of food are docked in the harbor and cannot be unloaded because the repressive government won’t allow it.

The number of earthquakes has been rising steadily over the last hundred years. Luke adds his testimony that Jesus also spoke of a rise in pestilences. New and deadlier diseases are found almost weekly.

From those diseases that are sexually transmitted to the Ebola virus to those created for chemical and biological warfare, there are now many diseases that were unheard of a hundred years ago.

The Lord also mentions fearful events – literally things that cause terror – and great signs from heaven. The word heaven in this verse means in the sky or in space. Whether it’s the fear of collision with an asteroid, a nuclear missile platform, or ultraviolet radiation, at this point in history people are more worried about the sky than ever before.

Jesus calls all these things the beginnings of birth pangs. I believe that Jesus is referring to the time at the end of this age where He will begin to make a distinction between the church and the world.

The Lord doesn’t warn us of these events so that we’ll fear the future. As we see these things happening, our faith in the Lord and in His Word should grow. It should give us a greater urgency for winning souls into His kingdom. We must let this knowledge transform us into the end-time church Christ will be looking for when He returns.

Question: How should believers keep from fearing the future?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Power of God, Return of Christ


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The End-Time Deception

103_A_BonusPhotoWhat did Jesus teach His disciples about the end-times and His return? That’s the subject of this series of posts. I’m dealing with Christ’s teaching in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13.

When we finish this section of Scripture, there will be no doubt as to what Jesus taught about His return. This will be interesting to see because at this point, most American Christians believe that the saints will be resurrected seven years before Christ reveals Himself to the world.

I made up my mind to believe Jesus no matter what He reveals, which should be your attitude as well. If you’re prepared to believe Jesus over anything that man might say, then read on!

The first thing that Jesus does is to give the disciples the short version.

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in may name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.”
Matthew 24:4-5

The initial warning that Jesus gives us is about deceivers. The word deceiver in the Greek literally means those who cause others to leave the path. People will come who make it their goal to remove you from the path of following Christ wholeheartedly. Their methods may vary from time to time and from place to place, but the outcome is the same.

These imitations claim to be the anointed one, which is what Christ means in Greek. They want to convince you that they have the lock on God’s power or His anointing. Many Christians are all too willing to follow these signs from revival to camp meeting to healing service. They never seem to want to settle down under godly teaching.

Please realize that I’m not knocking the revival meeting. I love being a part of the move of God. What I’m saying is that every believer must be plugged-in to a local church body where they’re constantly being fed from God’s Word.

If not, they’ll end up remaining a baby Christian their whole life. Of course, some prefer it that way since they never have to take on the responsibility of ministry. Then, they can just go from place to place getting fed their spiritual bottle.

If deception is a big part of living in the Last-Days, then how do we guard ourselves?

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Hebrews 3:13

It’s through the mutual encouragement of the body of believers that we keep from being deceived. That’s one of the benefits of being connected to a local church.

But wait! The writer of Hebrews also said…

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:25

This verse explains why there is such deception in the Last Days. Believers will be attending church less and less frequently. One of the reasons I feel we’re close to Christ’s Return is because this is an epidemic in the body of Christ right now.

Don’t open yourself to the deceptions of this age. Be an active part of a local body of believers.

Question: Why is church attendance by Christians in such decline in our generation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Return of Christ, The Church


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The Return of Christ – Asking the Right Question

Question MarkIn my last post I started a series on the Return of Christ. I reviewed what the disciples had learned from Jesus up to this point.

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call attention to the buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
Matthew 24:1-2

The disciples are just like many of us – impressed by the massive structures man has built. It’s easy to look at the outside of things. We get the impression that the grander the work, the closer to God the ministry is. This is far from the case sometimes.

This is what Jesus was trying to relate to His disciples. They thought that these impressive structures were a sign of God’s favor. That may have been the case at one time.

At this time, because of the nation of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, they were opening themselves up to destructive forces that would someday level these incredible buildings.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Matthew 24:3

This question shows us incredible insight into the disciples’ thinking process. They liked to get Jesus alone when there were no crowds around to interrupt. That’s when they learned the most. Now, they needed some answers.

Many teachers, when they deal with this verse, explain that the disciples didn’t know what they were saying because they were clearly asking three different questions in one. That statement shows a lack of understanding about what Christ had already taught His disciples. Actually the disciples knew exactly what they were asking.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry He spoke of the end of the age when the righteous would rise to receive their reward. He also talked about the day of His coming, the Day of Christ, when He would reveal Himself to the nations.

The problem the disciples had was that the Lord never related these two events to each other. Were they two different events, or do they happen simultaneously?

To top it all off, now Jesus is talking about the temple being destroyed – something He had never mentioned before – and they wanted to know how it all fit together. They knew exactly what they were asking.

“Lord, You’ve told us about the resurrection. You’ve told us about Your coming, and now You’re telling us about the destruction of Jerusalem. Please, Lord, tie it all together for us. How will we know when these things are about to happen?”

One thing’s for sure – I’m glad they asked. After studying Christ’s teachings, I had the exact same question. I’m even more grateful that Jesus answered the question – in detail.

It’s the Lord’s answers that I will be posting about in this series.

Question: What would you have asked Jesus concerning His return?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Ministry, Return of Christ


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The Return of Christ – His Perspective

Cloud2As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Matthew 24:3

Periodically, I like to post about the Return of Christ. This is a subject that many people are interested in. Unfortunately, few look at the big picture. Instead, they have their own favorite sections of Scripture.

One of these is the portion of Jesus’ ministry that’s recorded in Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Mark 13. This is where most people who study the Second Coming of Christ like to start. It’s where Jesus gives His most comprehensive end-time teaching.

The problem is that if you start here, you have none of the foundational knowledge already laid down by Christ as He taught His disciples. At this point, Jesus had already been teaching the disciples for about three years on the subject. Of course, they had many unanswered questions and a couple of loose ends, but the Lord didn’t start them from scratch with this teaching.

I’ve gone through all of Christ’s teaching on the subject in my posts over the past couple of years. To review them you can read my old posts listed under the Return of Christ category heading or click on the links below.

Let’s review what the disciples knew up to this point. They had learned that there was a time period called this age that started with Christ planting His kingdom on earth. On the last day of this age, the resurrection and reward of the righteous will take place.

However, for an unknown period of time before the resurrection a separation would take place causing a visible distinction between God’s kingdom and Satan’s. Click here to see my series on this teaching of Christ.

Jesus’ followers also knew that there was going to be a special day, called the Day of Christ. It would be a day when Jesus was going to be revealed to the nations as the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

The agenda for this day is as follows: First, the righteous are taken to a place of safety. Then salvation would be closed. At that point, calamity such as the world has never known will fall on the inhabitants of the earth. By the end of the day, the unrighteous will have been swept away, leaving the saints to rule and reign in the kingdom of the Messiah. Click here to read my series on this subject.

It was with this background that the Lord gave the disciples His most detailed teaching on His return. In my next post I’ll start talking about what Christ taught in this section of Scripture. Prepare to receive it. This teaching is life changing!

Question: Why is the Second Coming of Christ such a popular topic among believers?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on August 18, 2014 in Return of Christ


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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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Worship and Spirit

PowerlessI’m posting a series about true worship. It’s amazing to me how many things we call “worship” that really don’t qualify.

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

This verse shows us an aspect of worship that few teachers ever emphasize. Worship is a function of the spirit. This is an import truth that God’s people need to understand.

We label a lot of things as worship. When we go to church on Sunday morning, we call it a worship service. Then when it’s time to sing we call it praise and worship. Somehow we’ve redefined it in such a way that the fast songs are praise and the slower ones are worship.

Actually they are simply fast and slow praise songs. When you understand true worship from Scripture, you see that all the functions of our flesh and our mind are a part of our praise to God.

When Jesus talked with the woman at the well, He explained it to her this way…

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:24

That’s the underlying truth – God is spirit. This word, worship, speaks of intimate relationship. How do you have intimacy with a spirit? There’s only one level of interaction, and that’s in the spirit.

That’s why daily prayer in the spirit is so important. It’s the vehicle by which we have intimacy with the Father.

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh
Philippians 3:3

Do we really put no confidence in our flesh? Especially when it comes to our relationship with God, many believers are driven by their flesh. We’re proud of our trained voices and our professional sound. We want to be moved emotionally by our corporate experiences.

Please understand me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of those things – if you’re talking about praise. But this post is about true, scriptural worship.

In worship, we put no confidence in our praise, our singing, how long we practiced or even our obedience. The only confidence we have is in Him. That’s why most of what we do in church is actually praise.

Praise can be done loudly and in a group. As a matter of fact, the bigger the group, the more stirring the praise – usually.

Worship is different. It’s intimate. It’s personal – one on one, just me and God. Even if I’m with a crowd of believers, I have to zone them all out and just focus in on the Lord.

The easiest way to do this is to begin praying in the spirit. That’s how our relationship with God is built, spirit to Spirit. It’s time for God’s people to stir up the spirit of worship within them. Let’s stop calling everything we do in church “worship”. It’s time to simply bask in the presence of a holy God and spend some quality, intimate time with Him.

Question: How often do you worship God in the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on August 13, 2014 in Prayer in the Spirit, Worship


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Worship – Escape or Preparation?

Pray1I’m posting about how worship takes place around the throne room of God. Then we’ll apply it to our own experience with the Lord.

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
Revelation 4:1

After being called upward, John was told that in this place of worship he would be shown what was to take place beyond his generation.

Not many people realize this, but worship is preparation for the future. In the presence of God, John learned what was needed for the church to be ready for Christ’s return. He got a clear revelation of what was going to happen – most of which we’re still trying to sort out.

In Christian circles we sometimes think of worship as an escape from the problems and demands of life. People talk about just wanting to “run away” to the place of worship.

The reality is that it’s preparation for what’s coming just ahead. When we talk about worshipping in heavenly realms there’s a special work that takes place in us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3

Because we’re in Christ, God wants to bestow upon us all of the spiritual blessings that were purchased on the cross. It’s the place of worship that reveals these blessings to us.

The fact is that we don’t know what is going to happen later today, tomorrow, or a week down the road. But in the spirit we can see what Christ has in reserve for us. Then, when it’s needed we’ll have the faith for it. That’s because our spirit has already laid claim to it in the place of worship.

This is such an important concept. We were created to worship God. It’s probably the most important part of our relationship with Him.

For us to think that it’s an optional thing – something that I’ll do when I find the time – it’s like ignoring a call to your boss’s office. Especially when your boss is about to give you a raise or a new promotion. God calls us upward into His presence to equip us in ways we could never do on our own.

You can’t ignore this call and expect to complete your destiny in Christ. Run to that place of worship. Spend the quality time needed to prepare for the glorious future that God the Father has already set up for you to enjoy.

Question: Why do we find it so hard to set aside the time for the worship of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Faith, Prayer, Worship


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The Upward Call to Worship

ClimberWorship is one of those words that we use a lot in the body of Christ. It means so many different things to different people. But what is it really? Is it just going to church, or is it something more? I want to look at the scene around the throne of Heaven to help answer this question.

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it.
Revelation 4:1-2

So often we pray The Lord’s Prayer from Scripture. We ask for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven. How can God’s will be done on earth? It’s only as believers carry out His will, that we will see it take place in our generation.

So when talking about how to truly understand worship, Heaven should show us our calling. I want to do a series of posts about what the worship in Heaven teaches us.

In the above verse, John is called into God’s presence. The first thing I notice about the call to worship is that it’s the response to an upward call.

Here we are on the earth – running around in the dirt. There above us is a door standing open in Heaven. Worship is a call to the throne room of God. It’s a holy, set apart place.

The call to worship is God calling to us, “Come up here where I am.”

And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus…
Ephesians 2:6

This is an incredible truth. Christ did the work, and now we have complete access to the presence of God. The problem comes when we think that just because I’m in Christ, this position is always manifested in my life.

Know this; Heaven is a place of worship 24/7. Therefore this heavenly place in Christ is the place of worship. We’re not there by default. It takes faith and agreement with what Christ has done for us.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14

Being seated in Christ is a calling – “Come up here.” The place of worship is that heavenly place. If we’re truly going to be called worshippers of the Lord, then we need to respond to this upward call.

Questions: How would you describe worship? Why is it such a common word in our Christian vocabulary?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on August 8, 2014 in Prayer, Worship


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