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Category Archives: Prayer

Is It Really Over?

Is It Really Over?

We’re at the final chapters of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus Christ is on the cross, giving His life for our redemption.

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

Luke 23:44-46 NIV

The power that was released because of Christ’s obedience is beyond comprehension. You need to realize that the curtain in the Temple was not a mere piece of cloth. It was made of leather panels stitched together. It was tested by placing it between two teams of oxen. If they couldn’t tear it, then it was ready for the Temple.

In the same way, the power of God is released in us when we walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit. There may be trials along the way. There may even be people who ridicule and tell us we’re wrong to trust God. But, God’s power shines brightest when we’re at our weakest.

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Luke 23:47-49 NIV

This wasn’t something that was done in secret. There were many people surrounding the cross. They watched as He gave His life.

Many of these people had placed their hopes in Christ. Now that dream was gone.

Maybe they were all praying for a miracle as they watched everything taking place. They could have hoped that at the last moment, angels would swoop down and take Jesus off the cross. They watched and waited, but the Messiah stayed on the cross.

Now it was over. There was nothing left to do but to take care of the body. A member of the Sanhedrin stepped up and came out of the shadows.

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

Luke 23:50-54 NIV

Joseph was a man who was highly respected. He could have remained as a secret follower of Christ. Instead, he summoned his inner strength, and received the body of Jesus. Joseph did what he could to prepare the body for burial. He even gave the Lord his own tomb that had never been used.

The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

Luke 23:55-56 NIV

Once the body was laid to rest, the tomb was sealed. It was finished.

At least that’s what everybody thought. What went through their minds as they tried to sleep that night? It seemed like God had failed them.

It’s like us sometimes. We give God a time limit. We think He needs to answer us by this time. Then, when nothing happens, we get upset at God.

“Lord, I trusted You. Why didn’t You answer my prayer?”

What we miss, sometimes, is that God isn’t bound by our limits and weaknesses. He can bring about His plan even after we think it’s too late.

The people of Scripture thought the same way as us. Jesus is dead and buried in the ground. There’s no way that He can save Israel now.

Understand this. God always has a bigger plan than we can see. It’s never too late for the Lord to turn things around. Put your trust in Him and never waver in your faith.

We know how the story will finish!

Question: When has God answered your prayer even when you thought it was too late?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Save Yourself?

Save Yourself?

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. We’re now seeing Christ on the cross and all that means to us. Listen as the crowd mocks Him.

The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One.”

The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

Luke 23:35-39 NIV

As emotionally charged as this scene is, there’s something for us to take note of. There’s an overall theme of what’s being said to the Lord. “Save yourself!”

I think that we lose sight of this truth sometimes. The will of God often goes against the natural tendencies of our humanity.

The world and even our own flesh will cry out for us to save ourselves. Surely there must be something we can do to get out of the mess we find ourselves in. However, that’s carnal thinking.

Jesus prepared the disciples for what His attitude would be on the cross.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25 NIV

There was a work that needed to be done. The only possible way was by means of the cross. There was no accomplishing our salvation and at the same time saving Himself. Jesus totally surrendered to the will of the Father.

We are not called to anything less. The road that we walk, many times, requires us to deny ourselves for the sake of others. Our flesh may be insisting that we save ourselves. But that’s not the example that was laid down for us.

Even in His pain and suffering, there was a work that Christ needed to be doing for those around Him. There was one more act of compassion that had to be done before His death.

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:40-43 NIV

I can’t even fathom the love of the Lord at this point. My attitude would have been a lot different.

“Really, Father? I’m dying here. Do you really expect me to minister to this man in my condition?”

I’m so glad that Christ lived above our petty self-centeredness. His life was never about Himself, but always for the betterment of others.

That’s the key to a fulfilled life in Christ. We must accurately portray who He is through our daily lives.

But we’ll never be able to live up to this in our own strength and ability. The only way to accomplish such a lifestyle is through the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

That’s why we need to spend quality time in the Lord’s presence. It’s only as He imparts His love, boldness, and strength, that we can hope to minister as Jesus did. Let the Lord’s example motivate you to seek His face for the days ahead.

Question: How much of the Lord’s compassion do you see in your life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2023 in Faith, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Flee and Pursue

Flee and Pursue

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. In my last post, we saw Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane just before His trial. Now, He’s about to be arrested. You may want to read Luke 22:47-53 before continuing with the rest of this article.

The Lord knew that His captors were approaching. He woke up His disciples and went to meet the officials. It’s interesting to see how the disciples reacted.

When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

Luke 22:49-50 NIV

We know from the other Gospels that this verse is referring to Peter. A fisherman wielding a sword. I’m surprised that he didn’t hurt himself! The best he could do was to cut the ear off of an unarmed servant.

When the other disciples saw the futility of resisting, they all ran away. One of them, when he was grabbed, left without any clothing (Mark 14:51-52). It was the normal, human, fight or flight reaction.

The Lord knew where He was headed. He was looking forward to the victory He was going to accomplish on the cross. So, instead, I want to talk about what was happening with the disciples.

What they did was the normal reaction that’s built into all of us. When we see trouble coming, our entire being begins to prepare to either fight or run away. God placed that in our DNA in order for us to protect ourselves in emergency situations.

The problem is that there’s a spiritual side that many of us fail to grasp. In the spiritual battles that we face, there are times that we need to apply the lessons of “fight or flight”.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:13 NIV

I think Scripture is clear that the first choice is to stand your ground. We need to prepare ourselves spiritually, so that we don’t fall back into our old ways. If you’re strong in the Lord, and understand your place in Christ, then stand and fight that spiritual battle.

If you remember from my last post, Jesus gave this warning to the disciples. Two times He told them to pray in order that they wouldn’t fall to temptation. The time to prepare is before the spiritual struggle.

But, what about those who aren’t in that position? They’ve tried to fight the enemy and merely “cut off a servant’s ear”. They haven’t put on their holy armor.

Many believers find themselves in spiritual battles with no hope of victory. They’ve resigned themselves to falling backwards for the rest of their lives. There is another choice.

Look at what Paul advised a young pastor who he was mentoring.

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

2 Timothy 2:22 NIV

Some of the worst problems we face are when the old man tries to reassert itself. The sins that we thought were long gone are suddenly calling to us again.

This is especially true of addictive sins. Sexual, drug, and alcohol addictions are a few areas that never seem to let up on their assaults. What do you do if your spiritual strength is not enough to overcome? Should you just give in? Absolutely not!

There is a time to flee. Get out of the situation that’s causing the temptation. You must leave the environment that weakens your defenses. There’s nothing shameful about a strategic retreat. It gives you the ability to strengthen your position for the next battle.

However, that’s not the end of the story. There’s a place you need to run into. Along with “fleeing”, we need to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace. There must be both fleeing and pursuing if we want a life of victory over evil in our lives.

Question: When have you needed to flee from an overpowering situation?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2023 in Power of God, Prayer, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Prayer in the Battle

Prayer in the Battle

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we’re now at the point just before the Lord’s arrest. They had finished the Passover meal and were now spending the night on the Mount of Olives.

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.”

Luke 22:39-40 NIV

This was the time in Jesus’ life that leads up to His betrayal and arrest. He knew that the cross was before Him. He came to earth knowing that He was to die for the sins of all people.

When it comes down to the hard choices, knowing your path and walking it out can be very different. Now that the hour was at hand, the Lord needed the strength to see it through.

In order to receive what He needed from the Father, Jesus did what He always knew would bring Him an answer. He spent time with God the Father in a private place, far away from any distractions.

This was not to be a time for crowds of people. He even left most of His disciples at the entrance to the garden. The only ones to stay with Him were Peter, James, and John. He would spend the night agonizing over what was ahead.

The disciples didn’t know it, but they were about to enter a storm of doubt and fear. Jesus wanted them to be prepared as well. Unfortunately, they didn’t have that same fervency in prayer.

He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Luke 22:41-44 NIV

This is one of the simplest yet profound prayers in the Bible. It’s during these times of struggle that we dispense with the “religious protocol” of prayer. We forget about the intricate prayer charts or King James English. Our goal is to get right to the heart of the prayer – HELP!!!

It was no different for Jesus. He wasted no time on introductions. However, there’s one difference between His prayer and many of ours. This is seen in His attitude. Rather than trying to convince the Father to work out His plan in an easier way, our Lord immediately bowed His knee to the revealed will of God.

This is the example we need to follow. How often do we try to convince God to do things our way? Instead, our goal should be to learn the kind of submission that brings us right into the center of God’s will for us.

Are there things that God wants you to do that you’re having a hard time yielding to? Take this time to follow Christ’s lead. Surrender your whole life to God. Submit yourself by saying, in your own way, “Yet not my will, but yours be done.”

When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Luke 22:45-46 NIV

I always stand in awe of how determined Christ was to accomplish the work He was called to do. After His time in the presence of the Father we see no hesitancy or fear. He has set His face toward the path ahead.

I realize that, unlike us, He had no sin nature. However, it’s clear that He keenly felt the sting of His mortality. I believe that He also understood clearly the pain that He would have to endure. It was these realizations that brought Him to His knees in the garden.

What I really need to grab hold of is the understanding that it’s only in the presence of God that I can receive the strength and determination that it takes to move forward in my life. All of my will power and good intentions will never bring me to my destiny in the Lord. I need help from beyond myself.

Seeking intimacy with the Lord is time well spent. Use the time that you’ve been given to get into that place of safety in God. In that way – just like Jesus – you may leave your time in His presence physically drained, but you’ll be spiritually strong.

Question: What trials are you facing right now that are beyond your control?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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A Psalm for 2023

A Psalm for 2023

As we begin this new year, we should take the time to meditate on where we’re headed. I want to use this post to give you some thoughts to pray on.

For many years, I’ve had a tradition when it comes to the New Year. I’ve only posted about it a few times, but I want to start making it a yearly thing.

A long time ago, I noticed that since 1901, the Psalms have pretty much lined up with what was happening in world events. For at least 20 years, I’ve been using them to prepare me, and those under my ministry, for the year ahead.

Last year, I noticed something that I find very interesting. With the global pandemic that started in 2019, a majority of Christians stopped attending church in-person. Coinciding with that, from Psalm 120 on, are what’s known as the Psalms of ascent. That means they are Psalms calling God’s people to meet together. Hmmmm!

In last year’s post, I showed a call to return to in-person meetings. Unfortunately, there are large groups of believers who still don’t meet together for whatever reasons. To read last year’s post, click here.

Psalm 123 is the Psalm of Ascent for 2023. That’s what I want to talk about in this post. It’s up to you whether or not you see it as a prep for the coming year.

I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.

Psalm 123:1-2 NIV

This Psalm begins with an acknowledgment that God is higher than we are. We need to start looking up – seeking His face. This has to be done in the humility of a servant’s heart.

That in itself is an important concept. We look to the Lord’s hand. The Hebrew language distinguishes between an open hand and a closed hand. In the above verse, we look to the open hand of our Lord.

We need to understand this because an open hand is significant in Scripture. An open hand speaks of power, means, and direction. All of these things are to be sought from the hand of God.

This is where the Holy Spirit is leading us in the coming year. That is, if we’re willing to seek His face. That’s the place where we obtain mercy.

In this verse, the Hebrew word for mercy literally means that a superior being is bending or stooping in kindness to an inferior, in order to bestow favor on them. This is where the Lord wants us to be positioned.

However, the question this brings up is; why – why do we need this divine impartation at this time? The Psalm gives us the answer, although you may not want to hear it.

Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt. We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant.

Psalm 123:3-4 NIV

This cry for mercy is because of the attitude of the world around us. These verses say that our lives will be abundantly filled with disrespect, contempt, and ridicule.

Our society has already begun this type of assault against true, Bible believing Christians. I believe that it will ramp up this year. Some of it is deserved for our timid service to Christ.

I believe that God is allowing this in order to get our attention. We need to get back to a lifestyle of seeking God’s face. We must let 2023 be a year of pressing into the Holy Spirit.

Question: How deep is your walk with the Lord?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Get Packed Up!

Get Packed Up!

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. At this point, Jesus and His disciples are about to leave the upper room where the Last Supper was held.

The Lord gives these men some final instructions.

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That is enough,” he replied.

Luke 22:35-38 NIV

The Lord tells His disciples how to prepare for what’s ahead. As I look at this, I can see some spiritual parallels to what He’s saying. It’s how we should be prepared for our walk with the Lord.

Take a purse. That’s a money holder. In some of his parables, Jesus talked about money. A rich man gave money to his servants, for them to increase it while he was away (Matthew 25:14-30).

That speaks to me of calling. We’re called to be fruitful and profitable in the Lord’s kingdom. This means that we’ve sought God’s will for our lives. More than that, now we seek to please God by fulfilling that purpose.

Take a bag. The Greek word used, speaks specifically about a food bag. We need to have something to sustain our inner man.

In the natural, they would probably pack some bread. We have something more nourishing in the spirit.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Matthew 4:4 NIV

We must spend time in the Lord’s presence. We need to be regularly hearing from the Holy Spirit. After all, He’s the one leading and guiding us to our calling and destiny.

Sell your cloak. We need to stop hiding. Many of us are very comfortable in our “spiritual cloaks”. We like blending in with the society around us.

Many times, I hear believers say that they’re trying to be relevant. I’m sick of hearing that. We were never called to be “relevant” to the point of compromise.

If the world can’t see a difference between us and them, then there’s something wrong with our lifestyle. Jesus makes it clear that how we live is going to make the world uncomfortable (John 15:18-19). There’s no way around it.

Take a sword. I don’t think this should take much to explain. We need God’s Word as a weapon. It’s a component of the whole armor of God.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:17 NIV

I talked about the Word when I looked at the food bag. That was a Word for our nourishment and growth. This is a Word to defeat the enemy.

That’s why intimacy with the Holy Spirit is so important. Hearing from God is a vital part of our entire walk with the Lord. It’s what we need in every area.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

2 Peter 1:3 NIV

The Lord wanted His disciples to be prepared. Spiritually speaking, we need preparation as well. Don’t be found lacking in the things of God. Walk in the fullness of what He has for you.

Question: What will it take for you to be spiritually prepared?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Prepared in the Spirit

Prepared in the Spirit

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, it’s now the day of the Last Supper. The disciples have no idea what’s about to take place during this feast. All they know is that the Passover needs to be celebrated.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

Luke 22:7-12 NIV

To understand the importance of this passage, you must first understand the relationship between Christ and His disciples. At that time, the role of Jesus to His disciples was the same as the Holy Spirit is to us today.

Remember that Jesus told His followers that He would send another Counselor to lead and guide them. The Holy Spirit wants to lead us in the same way that the Lord led His disciples. That’s why it’s so important for us to develop sensitivity to the voice of the Spirit.

It’s sad that so many Christians think that God no longer works in this way. I personally believe that the Holy Spirit still desires to operate through the church. It’s the manifestation of the Gifts of the Spirit that will draw unbelievers to a saving knowledge of Christ.

In this instance, Jesus is functioning in the gifts of Prophecy and the Word of Knowledge. Notice how specific His instructions are. I believe that the Holy Spirit will be just that detailed with us, if we’ll place ourselves in a position to hear Him.

What was the response of the disciples to this astounding instruction?

They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

Luke 22:24 NIV

This simple statement shows the trust that had developed between Christ and His followers. There was no question or hesitation. They just went and did exactly as they were told.

So often we find two different extremes in the body of Christ these days. The first is that some Christians come up with elaborate stories of what the Holy Spirit “told” them. Then, a few days later the “spirit” tells them something that sounds just the opposite.

On the other hand, I’ve heard people who feel impressed to do or say something. They don’t follow through on it. Then, when it’s too late, they realize that they’d heard from the Holy Spirit and missed the opportunity for a blessing. (I’ve been guilty of this more than once.)

We need to spend quality time in the spirit. That’s where trust and sensitivity are developed. I believe that’s why the disciples had an easier time hearing from the Spirit once Christ had ascended. They simply transferred their focus to the voice of the Spirit.

Spend the time necessary to learn to hear and obey the Spirit. I believe that’s where the Lord is leading His church in this generation. It’s through hearing and obeying that we’ll see the end-time harvest of souls before the return of Christ.

Question: What can you do to develop a listening ear in the spirit?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Staying Strong in the Last Days

Staying Strong in the Last Days

I’m continuing through the Gospel of Luke. For the past few posts, we’ve been going through Jesus’ Last Days teaching. I’ve talked about the things that cause the world to worry and fret about the future. God’s people are not to act like this.

The promises of God don’t go null and void simply because we’re living near the end of the age. We’re still under our covenant with Christ – a better covenant. That’s why we can look to what’s ahead with hope and anticipation.

He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

“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.”

Luke 21:29-33 NIV

This should be an exciting time for the Church of Jesus Christ. The Kingdom is near! That thought should push us forward to greater effectiveness as we work for the Lord.

Jesus does give us a warning, however. That’s the key reason He told this to the disciples. I think that we’ve somehow lost sight of His Word to us.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.”

Luke 21:34-35 NIV

The Lord tells us that there are three things that we should be especially careful about in the last days. The first of these is dissipation. The Greek word literally means tossing-head. It was the common term for a hangover.

We associate this term with drinking, but Jesus wasn’t limiting it to the use of alcohol. Whenever we leave our calling to chase after the world, there’s a wasted period of time while we get back on track again. This is the period of our spiritual “hangover”.

Too many Christians are living most of their lives in dissipation. They’re either giving in to the desire for the things of the world or they’re trying to regain what they’ve lost. Don’t waste most of your life in dissipation.

Then there’s drunkenness. I don’t believe that Jesus is only talking about alcohol here. It could be anything that intoxicates God’s people. We end up chasing things when we should be pursuing the Lord.

The third is the anxieties of life. This is when you’re worried about things you can’t control. When we spend most of our time worrying about finances, health, and relationships, we lose our desire to serve God faithfully.

Put them in God’s hands. If you trust the Lord and follow His plan for your life, then the rest will fall into place. Jesus said that if you seek His kingdom and His righteousness first, then your needs would be taken care of.

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:36 NIV

This is the bottom line of how to live in the last days. We must be a people who watch and pray. We must spend quality time in the presence of the Lord. This includes praying in the Spirit and listening to hear God’s voice.

In this way, the Holy Spirit will give you insight on how to live. We’re told that living like this will allow us to escape. Escape what? The anguish, perplexity, fainting from terror, and the apprehension that’s coming upon the world.

Isn’t that our ultimate goal; to stand boldly before the Son of Man at His return? If we heed His exhortation to us, then we’ll be unashamed by our life on earth. We’ll finish the race strong, knowing there’s a reward waiting for us. Not in fear, but the faith that Christ is with us.

Question: What do find most exciting about living in the last days?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Last Days Testimony

Last Days Testimony

I’ve been posting from Luke’s Gospel about how we should be living in the last days. In my last article I talked about what not to do. The last exhortation was, not to worry about your testimony. I believe this a vital piece of knowledge that we need in these last days.

Listen to what the Lord tells His disciples and us about standing before those who oppose us.

This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.

Luke 21:13-19 NIV

We live in a culture that is becoming increasingly more hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians look like they’re becoming more low-key in their proclamation of the Word of God.

Many believers are worried. “What do I say? What if someone from the LGBTQ+ community calls me out? I don’t want to be labeled a ‘hater’.”

The problem, as I see it, is two-fold. First of all, many modern believers have become lazy and scripturally illiterate. They go to church to be spoon fed from the Bible.

We have to realize the times we’re living in. Whether you want to accept it or not, living in the United States today as a Christian, is like living on the mission field. We need to know the Scripture and live it in order to survive, spiritually.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 NIV

When we allow the Holy Spirit to take us through God’s approval process, there’s no need for shame. Christians who get embarrassed about their faith show that they’re still in their spiritual childhood. It’s not a bad thing, but they need to get into the Word and grow up.

The second part of the problem is a little deeper. There’s an assumption in the words of Christ. He told His disciples that He would give them words and wisdom that none of their adversaries would be able to resist or contradict.

This assumes that God’s people know how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to them. That’s the number one problem in the church today. We’ve lost the ability to hear from God.

We try in our own intelligence to reason and debate with the world. We try to convince them that our way of thinking is correct. The result is that they resist and contradict us at every turn.

Then, when that doesn’t work, we try to give them a list of quotes from the Bible. We want them to see what God thinks about the subject. But, what we find, is that the last thing they want to hear is the Bible. Please understand – people of the world don’t believe the Bible.

We have to come to the realization that, today, we’re in the same position as the early church. We’re in a society like the Roman Empire. They were mildly religious, but ungodly. They need to hear a Word from God. That’s what will make the difference.

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.

Mark 16:20 NIV

You do understand that when this was written there was no New Testament. Christians had no Bibles. The only thing they could do was to pray and receive a Word from the Holy Spirit. They had no choice but to hear God’s voice.

Today, we have Scriptural overload. We’ve replaced time with the Holy Spirit with Bible reading. Please hear me – Bible reading is very important. I read the Word every day. But it’s no replacement for time with the Spirit.

The only hope for our society is a group of believers who hear from the Holy Spirit. This generation needs to hear from God. Only then will they hear a message that they can’t resist or contradict. That alone will draw them to the cross of Christ.

Question: How much time do you spend with the Holy Spirit?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Thanksgiving 2022

Thanksgiving 2022

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.

Psalm 100:4 NIV

Here in the United States, we’re preparing for our Thanksgiving holiday. It’s a day that’s supposed to be set aside to thank God for His abundant blessings on us.

Unfortunately, there are many who don’t look to God in thankfulness. Even worse, there are believers who don’t consistently thank the Lord for His goodness to them.

We look around at everything going on in the world today. Sometimes we may get the idea that things are out of control. But, for the Christian, we should be seeing the hand of God at work through it all.

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24 NIV

Only those who experience God’s grace can truly fathom it. That is why no one should be able outdo our celebration.

In the world, many people look at Thanksgiving as simply a great day to watch football. I look at the fans that flock to the stadiums. It’s a shame that football teams receive more praise than the Creator of heaven and earth.

God made this day so that we could experience His blessings. The verse above literally says, let us spin around under the influence of a violent emotion. God deserves the greatest praise.

The second half reads, and in this rejoicing, we will brighten up and be made glad. So, you don’t have to feel good to start thanking God. Thankfulness changes your emotions.

These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng.

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Psalm 42:4-5 NIV

David learned this lesson. Giving thanks changes how we feel about things. And, when our emotions change, our whole outlook changes.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Take some time this holiday season to give thanks to the Lord. Let it transport you out of the stress and anxiety that preparing these holidays may bring. Find the peace and joy that only comes through giving thanks to God.

Have a blest Thanksgiving!

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2022 in Daily Thoughts, Encouragement, Faith, Prayer

 

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