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A Mature View of Pressure

As we continue through the epistle of Second Corinthians, we’re seeing Paul’s attitude toward the ministry.  He views the challenges that he faces as a way to see God’s power at work in his life.

This power then becomes a source of life for those he ministers to.  He stays focused on the benefits rather than the struggles.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18

What really speaks to me about his attitude is the first part of his statement.  He describes the pressures as light and momentary.

From my perspective, some of his troubles seemed to linger on and on.  How could he call them momentary?

I believe it was because he turned them over to Christ daily.  He let them go.  So, each new day was viewed as a brand new pressure.  We need to follow that example.  I think that it would go a long way toward changing the bad attitudes that we get sometimes.

Instead of the problems, Paul focused his attention on the glory that was being accomplished in him.  He makes an interesting comparison.  Temporary troubles; eternal glory.  Light pressure; far heavier weight of glory.  The apostle found that it was worth the trade-off.

The question is; how does this really work?  The answer to that question is a little hidden in the English translations.  By adding the word, “so”, it sounds like we fix our eyes on the eternal because of the glory.

That’s not really what it says.  The original is all one sentence.  It says, in effect…

Our pressures are working in us an eternal glory, not as we look to the seen, but the unseen.

That tells me that the only time pressures are working for my good, is when I focus on the eternal.  When I keep looking at the troubles, they’re wearing me down.

We need to take this truth to heart.  Keep the Word of God before you.  That’s what works God’s glory in you during the challenging times.

Problems and challenges are going to continue to come my way.  But the realization is that if I can see it, then it can be changed.  It’s the unseen things – the things of the spirit – that remain eternal.

The Apostle Peter understood this as well.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
1 Peter 5:10

Look to the unseen, eternal truths of God’s Word.  That’s what will sustain and strengthen you during these challenging times.

Question: How do you stay focused on the eternal?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Life that’s Over the Top

SkateboardI’ve been posting about the Gift of God, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It’s a river of life bubbling up from within us. Jesus told us that it’s eternal life. It’s His perpetual, continual life that’s flowing through us.

But in calling it eternal life, the Lord was speaking about more than just length. It’s not just about how long you live for. Look at how Jesus describes it.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

If I tell you that something is full, would you only think about it in one dimension? Full implies more than just length.

The word full that the Lord used actually means superabundant in quantity, superior in quality, and excessive in amount.

Think about it this way. I come to you and ask you, “Can I borrow your car to go grocery shopping?”

You say, “Sure.” But the next thing I know is that a 2016 stretch limousine with a chauffeur pulls up to my house. That’s the picture this word evokes.

In spite of that, we usually settle for the Flintstone mobile – spiritually speaking. We should be expecting so much more from our walk with God. He wants to lavish His life upon us.

The gift of God is where this spring of life comes from. When Jesus called it a spring of water, the word He used was of the surface fountain. The source was not included.

That’s how it is with us. You can’t see the source because it’s in the spirit. I’ve got to tap into the Holy Spirit to get the spring going.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
2 Timothy 1:6

This verse tells us that the gift of God is received by the laying on of hands. It’s imparted from one who has already received it. The gift must be passed on and received.

But this verse also makes it clear that it can lay dormant after it’s received. Why would anyone want to ignore the gift of God’s eternal life flowing through them?

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

How does Paul describe this gift of God? The apostle says that He’s a Spirit – the Holy Spirit. Boldness comes from this Spirit. Why? Because He gives us a life that’s over the top. If you have perpetual life to draw upon, who cares what people think?

If you borrow money for a mortgage, the bank tells you how big a house you can get. But if you win a Powerball jackpot, no one can tell you what to buy.

That’s what God gives us in the spirit. We have power, love, and a saved mind. Because you can draw on the Holy Spirit and His perpetual life, you now have the power for everything God calls you to do.

You have enough love for all who come your way. You have a saved mind to know God’s will.

What else do you need? It’s up to us to seek it out. All we have to do is to trust God to receive it or fan it into flame.

Question: How have you experienced God’s abundant life working in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Looking Forward to the Resurrection

Cloud2I’m posting about Paul’s teaching on the Second Coming of Christ found in First Thessalonians. He was answering some questions that the church had. The first was about believers who die before the resurrection.

We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
I Thessalonians 4:14

Because of the foundation of the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself, we know that Paul is talking about the day when Jesus returns. He’s speaking here about the Last Day, the Day of the Lord.

We remember how Jesus taught that on that day, when He returns, every eye shall see Him. This passage reminds us that on that day, He’s going to bring with Him those who have died in the Lord. All the saints that Jesus referred to as being gathered from one end of heaven to the other will be there.

According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
I Thessalonians 4:15-18

In other words, those who have already died in Christ have a better place in the resurrection than we do because they’re the first to be called. At one point our church had a Christian Academy. Every morning we had opening exercises for the children.

At the end, my wife, Cheryl, (who was the Principal) always said, “O.K. ladies, you’re dismissed, young men, please wait.” The young men were not to precede the ladies in leaving the sanctuary. Sometimes it was very hard for them. Sometimes you could see that their legs just didn’t want to stay still. I think that’s what it’s going to be like for us.

The Lord returns, but we’ve got to wait for those who’ve passed on before us. The Scripture says here that we’re not going to precede those who’ve died in the Lord. There’s a divine order to the resurrection.

Obviously, it’s going to take place in an instant. It’s not like we’re going to have to wait around for an hour. But in that instant, when we’re resurrected, the dead in Christ are going to be resurrected first.

Paul is calming their fears that those brothers and sisters who have passed on before us will not be missing out on anything.   They have a good place in the resurrection.

This should be an encouragement to each of us. What we see of the material world is not all that there is. We have a hope that goes beyond the natural. We should be looking through an eternal perspective.

Question: How should our future hope affect our present way of living?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Eternal Attitudes

Jet Plane to NowhereAttitudes play an important role in our walk with the Lord. It’s the determining factor in how well you receive from Him.

Abraham understood this fact. Especially as he looked at the promises of God in contrast to his circumstances.

And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
Hebrews 11:12

That phrase; as good as dead, means to deaden. In the natural, Abraham saw himself as becoming deader and deader.

We all must acknowledge that the power of God will change us. Our walk, attitudes, habits, likes & dislikes, friends, etc. are all affected. This is all a part of the deadening process.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5

When we read this verse, the key word is therefore. That word means that the reason we do what’s in this verse is because of what he just wrote. What was that?

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:1-3

We desire to put to death the things of the flesh because we now have a higher calling. We kill off the desires of the world in order to seek the eternal.

This is a very important truth. We receive from God when we seek the eternal. The writer of the book of Hebrews understood this.

People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.
Hebrews 11:14-15

Eternally minded people search for, crave, demand a home town. That’s why Jesus told us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. We’re not looking for the temporary high that the world offers us.

Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:16

The final result of this attitude is that God is not ashamed to be called their God. That’s interesting. Are there times when God is ashamed to be called someone’s God? I think this verse implies that He could be.

Before we pick up this eternally minded attitude, we’re only accomplishing what a man can do. Is God satisfied with what is merely possible – even without His help? Of course not. He expects us to do a God sized work.

When that happens; the world can see His glory. God’s people need to stop chasing the temporary pleasures of the world, and focus in on the eternal glory of God. Let Him accomplish what He desires in you.

Question: What is a way that the glory of God is seen in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2015 in Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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What Kind of Builder are You?

FoundationThis is the last post in my series about the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25. In my last article I talked about how we must give an account of how we build on Christ’s foundation in our lives.

We started to look at how the Apostle Paul described it.

If any man builds on this foundation, using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
I Corinthians 3:12-15

Paul writes that there are those Christians who are listening to the Lord and obeying Him. Because of this, they’re building with gold, silver, and gems on that foundation. When the Lord brings us up for review, it’s a work that will last through eternity.

There are, however, other Christians who are doing what they want. They might even be doing good things, but they’re not doing the works that God wants them to do.

It could be that they’re doing wonderful acts of service or giving lots of money. But if they’re not doing what God has prepared for them to do, then it will turn out to be wood, hay, and straw.

When they go before God and God puts His checklist next to what they did, all their hard work is going to be burned up. Now the Word of God does say that they’ll be saved, but only like one passing through the fire.

Everything they did was wasted. That’s not the legacy I want for my life. But even that’s not the end of the matter. Paul has some more insight into how we are to prepare.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
I Corinthians 3:16-17

You can build with the right stuff – gold, silver, costly stones. You can also build with the wrong stuff – wood, hay, straw. But there’s also a third thing that can be done. You can also tear down the godly work someone else is doing.

You can actually be working against the Kingdom of God. This corresponds to those who are lost – doing the exact opposite of what God wants done in their lives.

We can see, then, in Paul’s writings the very same thoughts that we’ve found in the gospels. In the parable that Matthew records, the servant was lost – cast out of the presence of the Lord. Luke, however, says that he lost everything he had, but he didn’t lose his soul.

So Paul shows us the same concept. Great returns, little returns, and no returns on the investment God has entrusted to us.

Make very sure that you’re in the group that’s building with gold, silver, and precious stones. Be a servant who takes the investment that God has placed in you and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading to bring about a great harvest for the Kingdom. Then you can march into Heaven victorious with works that will last.

Question: How have you brought increase into the Kingdom of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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God and the Candy Machine

 

CandyThis is the first of six reposts of my most read articles. This one is from 2013. It was originally from a series dealing with how similar our modern attitudes are to the crowd in John Chapter 6. They seem to have their eyes on the temporary, while Christ is trying to point them to the eternal.

Click here to view the original series.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty…And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:35-40

Notice that Jesus repeats Himself here. Two times He said to them, “I will raise them up at the last day.” It’s a very simple statement. It’s so simple, in fact, that most Christians miss it as well.

He told them that if they come to Him and put their trust in Him, He’ll give them eternal life and He’ll raise them up at the last day. The key is that you must have this eternal life in you BEFORE you enter the grave. If you have this eternal life in you, then death will not be able to keep you any more than it could hold on to the Lord.

He said it twice yet they didn’t hear him. Look at their reaction.

At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
John 6:41

It went right over their heads. They missed it. The Lord said you can have eternal life and that He’d raise you up at the last day. All they heard was that He thinks He’s bread that has come down from heaven. “What does He mean He’s bread coming down from heaven?”

They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:42-44

Jesus is desperately trying to get it into their head that He wasn’t emphasizing bread coming down from heaven. He was trying to get them to embrace eternal life. Over and over again He said, “I’ll raise him up at the last day.” They just didn’t get it.

I think, that just like us, they didn’t want to get it. They could tell that what Jesus was talking about meant change. They would have to change their views and attitudes about God. The Lord would no longer be that big “candy machine in the sky,” but a friend with whom you must spend time cultivating a relationship.

Question: How do you deepen your relationship with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Do You Interrupt the Lord?

SpeakerWe all know that it’s impolite to interrupt someone when they’re speaking.  Have you ever thought about this in relation to Christ and His work in you?  He speaks to us in various ways.  Are we guilty of interrupting what He’s doing in us?

I want to look at an incident in the life of Jesus that illustrates this.  It’s found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 12.  At this point in the Lord’s ministry, He’s publicly teaching somewhere when all of a sudden a loud voice interrupts Him.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”
Luke 12:13

Can you imagine that?  Jesus is walking down the street giving words of instruction and perhaps ministering to the sick when somebody yells out, “Tell my brother to give me my share of the inheritance.”

It makes you wonder what type of individual would be so self-absorbed, that they would make a public statement like that.  Well, that kind of presumption was enough to set Jesus off in a new direction of teaching.

Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?”  Then he said to them, “Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”
Luke 12:14-15

When Jesus got done, that person probably felt as though he should have kept his mouth shut.  Jesus used this interruption to teach the crowd about the foolishness of greed.

He told them a parable about a rich man with no common sense. This man got a big harvest, built bigger barns, and stored it all up.  Jesus explained that the man ended up dying before he could spend all of his wealth.  That foolish man lost the eternal to gain the temporary.

The Lord’s message to those gathered around Him was that our life does not consist of what can be accumulated.  You’re not to worry about what you’re going to wear or what you’re going to eat.  God will provide for you.

Worry about serving God.  Worry about doing the Father’s will.  In that way you’re laying up treasure in Heaven.  Christ said that where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is going to be.

This got me thinking.  The Lord is attempting to do a particular work in my life.  He communicates His plan to me through a series of events.  He speaks to my heart, allows circumstances to come my way, and teaches me through the lives and words of others.

How often do I “interrupt” His plan with a totally unrelated request?  I get my eyes off His plan and onto my desires.  When it comes to the Lord, I need to think before I ask.

We must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit at work in us.  Make sure that your requests are in line with His plan.  Don’t be discourteous and interrupt the Lord.

Question: Have you ever found yourself guilty of interrupting God’s work in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2013 in Encouragement

 

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God and the Candy Machine in the Sky

CandyI’ve been posting about how similar our modern attitudes are to the crowd in John Chapter 6.  They seem to have their eyes on the temporary, while Christ is trying to point them to the eternal.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty…And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.  For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:35-40

Notice that Jesus repeats Himself here.  Two times He said to them, “I will raise them up at the last day.”  It’s a very simple statement.  It’s so simple, in fact, that most Christians miss it as well.

He told them that if they come to Him and put their trust in Him, He’ll give them eternal life and He’ll raise them up at the last day.  The key is that you must have this eternal life in you BEFORE you enter the grave.  If you have this eternal life in you, then death will not be able to keep you any more than it could hold on to the Lord.

He said it twice yet they didn’t hear him.  Look at their reaction.

At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
John 6:41

It went right over their heads.  They missed it.  The Lord said you can have eternal life and that He’d raise you up at the last day.  All they heard was that He thinks He’s bread that has come down from heaven.  “What does He mean He’s bread coming down from heaven?”

They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?  How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.  “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:42-44

Jesus is desperately trying to get it into their head that He wasn’t emphasizing bread coming down from heaven.  He was trying to get them to embrace eternal life.  Over and over again He said, “I’ll raise him up at the last day.”  They just didn’t get it.

I think, that just like us, they didn’t want to get it.  They could tell that what Jesus was talking about meant change.  They would have to change their views and attitudes about God.  The Lord would no longer be that big “candy machine in the sky,” but a friend with whom you must spend time cultivating a relationship.

Question: How do you deepen your relationship with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Encouragement, Return of Christ

 

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The Temporary vs. the Eternal

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been posting about the discussion Jesus had with the crowd in John chapter 6.  Having told them that He understood their motives; Jesus goes on to explain further.

“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.  On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
John 6:27

The Lord is about to tell them that He’s the Bread of Life and He has the Words of truth.  He goes on to explain that if they’ll come to Him in faith, they’ll never lack for life.  The point is that you can’t spend all your time and energy chasing the things of this world.  There’s a more important issue at stake here.

Too many believers spend their prayer time with the Lord running through their lists of needs and wants.  While there is a place for petitioning the Lord in prayer, that should not be the major part.  Prayer is where we get to know Christ in relationship.  It’s give and take.

Yes, it is talking, but it’s also listening.  If we’re going to be prepared for the last days, then we must get past this mentality that chases God around simply for what we think we can get from Him.

The crowd made their motives very plain to Jesus.  Even in their answer, they show Him that His assessment of their true character was correct.

“Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.”
John 6:34

Their thoughts are, “You’ve got the bread from heaven.  Give us this bread.”  Again, they’re thinking in a material way.  If His earthly bread was good, the heavenly must be even better tasting!

It reminds me of the woman at the well.  Jesus said that He could give her living water so that she would never thirst again.  Her reply was, “Great, then I won’t have to come to this well every day to draw water.”

Why are we all so foolish?  Jesus longs to give us eternal, abundant life, yet we are content to simply ask Him for things.  I know that in His Word He’s promised to take care of our needs.  The problem is that we seem to major on the physical.

My true needs are so much deeper than that.  He wants to satisfy the longing of our souls, but this will require that we spend time in His presence.  We fail to enter the abundance that He has for us because we’d rather have the “quick fix” of more money or more stuff so that we can then get on with our plans.  The better solution would be for us to bow our knee to the Lord and take up His plan for our lives.

Question: Why do the temporary issues of life seem so important sometimes?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Encouragement, Faith, Prayer

 

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The Word of God – Who, not What

BeamI want to talk about the very foundation of the Word of God.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.
John 1:1-2

Whenever you talk about the Word of God you must start with Christ.  Notice that in this verse the Word is a He.  God and His Word are one and the same.  When the Bible speaks about the Word of God, it’s talking about God’s revelation of Himself.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Christ is the Word made flesh.  He was the Word throughout eternity past.  He will be the Word for all of the eternity that lies before us.  This is the foundation of all we know about the Word of God.

By looking at Christ we see the total embodiment of what the Word of God is and does in our lives.  It’s through His life and words that we can truly understand how the Word applies to us.

You would think that because of this truth, there would be no question as to what the Word of God is in our life and walk.  I wish that were the case.  The fact is that there’s much controversy surrounding exactly what the Word of God is.

Please read my posts carefully, and prayerfully.  It’s my hope to cut through some of the problems created by our present use of “Christianese” – the religious language we have grown used to in the church.

This language is not always in line with Scripture.  It’s my prayer that you will see a difference between how we describe certain truths and how the Bible describes them.  I also pray that when you see this difference, you’ll choose the Biblical definition.

It’s because of our use of this religious language that we get into many arguments.  One of these is over what the Word of God is.

There are some who insist that only the King James Version of the Bible is the Word of God.  There are others who say that any translation is the Word.  Who is right?

Actually, according to Scripture, the above argument is not even asking the right question!  Let’s allow Christ, the Living Word, to be the Judge in this situation.

Over the next few posts I hope to clarify some things that are causing tremendous problems in the Body of Christ.  I want to see God’s people get back to where we should be in our handling of the Word.

Question: How does Christ continue to reveal Himself as the Living Word of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2013 in Word of God

 

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