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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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The Burdens of Christ

The Burdens of Christ

We’re continuing through the Gospel of Luke. As we do, we’re now at the crucifixion of the Lord. This is one of the most important events in all of history.

But, before He ever went to His cross, Jesus told us that we each need to carry our own cross. What does that mean to us? I believe that the events surrounding His crucifixion, give us some insights.

As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.

Luke 23:26 NIV

The first thing we see is that in His weakened state, the Lord was physically unable to carry the full weight of His cross. So, a man named Simon was made to carry it.

Nobody volunteers to carry a cross. He had to be forced to do it, and it wasn’t even Simon’s cross.

We may not want to do it, but carrying our cross is a choice every believer has to make. It’s a daily decision. It’s not some situation that we find ourselves in.

I’ve heard some women say about their husband, “You’re my cross that I have to bear.” That’s absolutely not what’s meant by carrying the cross. It’s all about a daily choice to deny the flesh and follow the leading of the Spirit.

However, there’s more to the story that we need to see.

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ‘

For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Luke 23:27-31 NIV

This section of Scripture shows the compassion of Jesus Christ in a powerful way. The Lord is too weak, physically, to carry His cross. Someone else has to bear the weight for Him.

Yet, at the same time, we see Him spiritually strong enough to bear the burdens of others. There are crowds of people following Christ to the place of His execution. Jesus looks at them and shows His concern for them.

Any other person in that place would be worried about themselves.

“I’ve got my own problems. Yes, weep for me. Show me your support of what I’ve done. Encourage me to do what I have to do.”

But, through all of this, Jesus shows that His focus is not on Himself. He’s doing this for others. For the crowd watching, as well as for you and me. He showed in this instance that there was no self-centeredness in His makeup.

He looked at these women and had compassion on them. He saw their future. Israel was going to be attacked and destroyed. All of its people would be scattered across the world. He was bearing the burden of that knowledge.

We need to follow his example. Yes, there are things we’re going through and battles that we’re fighting. But that doesn’t excuse us from ministering to the needs of others.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2 NIV

We’re not told to help others only when everything’s going great for us. That’s not the example Christ laid down for us. We’re to help one another even when it’s not convenient.

Allow the Holy Spirit to work through you. Let Him strengthen you, not only for your trials, but in order to be an encouragement to others.

Question: How have you helped others while going through your own trials?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 18, 2023 in Ministry, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Christ in Our Place

Christ in Our Place

We are now in the Gospel of Luke, looking at the trial, arrest, and death of Jesus Christ. There’s so much that took place here. As believers, we need to understand what the Lord went through for us.

The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And they said many other insulting things to him.

Luke 22:63-65 NIV

Whether you know it or not, this is a very important verse to us. It’s the point at which the Lord begins to pay for all the riches of His grace.

There are three things that happen here. They are spiritual battles that Jesus came through victoriously on our behalf. The first is the one that most preachers talk about.

He was wounded for our healing. This verse says that they began beating Him. That word means to strike hard enough to leave a mark. It could cause bleeding or bruising.

In any case, the Lord took that pain for us. Isaiah prophesied that this was for our healing.

…by his wounds we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5b NIV

So many people don’t want to believe that Christ paid for our physical healing. However, this Hebrew word speak of a physical cure. The fact is that throughout Scripture, we are told that we serve a God who heals our bodies.

It’s at this point in His struggle, that Jesus paid the price for our healing. Now it’s up to us to trust Him as our Healer. But, there was more going on in this verse from Luke.

He was mocked to take away our shame. Many times, our past is a place of shame and disgrace. The Lord took that all upon Himself so that we no longer need to bear it. Isaiah explains this.

I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.

Isaiah 50:6b-7 NIV

Don’t allow the devil to shame you by bringing up your past. It’s all buried under the blood of Christ. We’ve been delivered from the shame and disgrace of our past because of Jesus’ victory.

As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Romans 10:11 NIV

There’s so much more that Jesus Christ accomplished for us. As we look at the verse in Luke, there’s one more thing I want to explain.

He was blasphemed so that we would know the power of His name. Every power in heaven and on earth bows before the name of Jesus Christ. The amazing thing is, that we have been given the authority to use that name.

Again, the prophet Isaiah looked forward to the day when this would happen.

“And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed. Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.”

Isaiah 52:5b-6 NIV

Those of us who are in Christ have been called by that name that is above every other name. Essentially, we’ve been given power of attorney to walk in that name.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Colossians 3:17 NIV

This means so much more than simply tacking on “in Jesus’ name” at the end of our prayers. It means that we are to walk and minister just as Jesus did. We are now taking His place on earth through the power of His Holy Spirit. This is a great responsibility.

There’s so much that Jesus accomplished for us. We may never know all the battles that were won from the Lord’s arrest to His crucifixion. But what I do know is that He paid for everything I’ll ever need.

Question: How well have you applied the Lord’s grace to your life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2023 in Faith, God's Provision, Healing, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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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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Last Days Preparation

Last Days Preparation

As we continue through Luke’s Gospel, we’re looking at the teaching of Jesus concerning the events in the last days. It will become more important for us to be spiritually prepared as His day approaches.

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Luke 21:25-28 NIV

Jesus makes it very clear. In the last days before His return the world will be in anguish and perplexity. People will faint from terror; apprehensive at what they think is coming. If that’s you, then STOP IT! You’re not of the world.

The fact is that there will be different signs in the natural world. Pre-pandemic we went through a sequence of “Blood Moons” that had many believers in panic mode.

What is a blood moon? Most people – even preachers – don’t know what it is. Simply put, a blood moon is a lunar eclipse. Then why call it a blood moon? For effect – it sounds more exciting and ominous that way; and it sells more books.

Please forgive me if I sound a little critical about this. I really do love my brothers and sisters in the Lord who major on current events and try to fit them into end-time Scriptures.

Like I said in a previous post; I’ve studied the Second Coming since the 70’s. That means that I’ve seen a lot of these predictions over the years. All of them had a bunch of Scripture backing them up. It’s a very dangerous thing to try and take the predictions of the Bible and definitively link them to current events.

I remember one prominent preacher who said, based upon Scripture and current events, that the Communist flag would be raised in Washington, DC on July 4, 1976. Then there was the comet Kohoutek and the lining up of the planets. Both of which launched a number of predictions and books proclaiming that Christ would return at that time.

Of course, 40 years after the return of Israel to their homeland in 1948 we read the book 88 Reasons why Jesus is Returning in 1988. Soon to be followed by 89 reasons…

Many of you may remember the posters that were everywhere proclaiming that the rapture would occur in 1990. Then, there was Harold Camping’s prediction that it would happen in 1994. After that, there was Y2K and Saddam Hussein supposedly rebuilding Babylon.

Then Harold Camping was back claiming the rapture would occur in 2011. After that, even Hollywood picked up on the Mayan and Hebrew calendars ending in 2012. Then, we heard about all the blood moons that took place through September of 2015.

Now that we’ve gone through a world-wide pandemic, things seem to be ramping up. Instead of local problems, things are happening on a global stage. Remember, Jesus Christ told us that all these things had to happen before His return.

What bothers me about all this is that there are people in the body of Christ running scared. They’re spending their money buying survival supplies; fearful and confused about the future. That’s not what we should be doing.

As a believer, you will not survive because you prepared, materially, for the apocalypse. You’ll survive because God promised, “I will supply all of your need according to My riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

If you keep focused on Jesus, you won’t need to fear what’s coming on the earth. The Holy Spirit will impart the grace you need, when and where it’s needed.

Spend time in His presence. That’s the prep-work that you need for the coming uncertainty. We need to be strong in the Lord.

Question: How have you been affected by predictions of future events?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Jerusalem’s Fall

Jerusalem’s Fall

We’ve been in the Gospel of Luke, looking at Jesus teaching His disciples about the end-times. Having warned them of what they were about to face, the Lord now answers their original question that started it all (Luke 21:7).

He tells them the signs that signal the approach of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Because we live on this side of the historical event, it’s easier to look back and interpret the Lord’s words.

“When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.”

Luke 21:20-21 NIV

Jesus is referring to a prophecy from the book of Daniel. He makes mention of the desolation of Jerusalem. Daniel calls it the detestable thing that causes the city to be laid waste.

I know a lot of Bible teachers who say that this is a future event, and they have a variety of teachings and beliefs on this subject. I ask you to please read the Scripture without preconceived ideas about what’s being said. Put yourself in the place of the disciples who are hearing this for the first time.

The reaction of the disciples must have been one of surprise. This is because every God-fearing Jew knew that the reference Jesus gave them from the book of Daniel had ALREADY BEEN FULFILLED.

Around 170 BC there was a Syrian ruler named Antiochus IV. He was so full of himself that he gave himself the title “Epiphanes,” which means “the manifest god”. As many emperors did, he forced those around him to worship him.

Antiochus Epiphanes led his army to successfully conquer Israel. On December 15, 168 BC, he set up the image of Zeus on an altar in the Temple of Jerusalem. Ten days later, he dedicated it by sacrificing a pig in the Temple.

Heathen altars were then erected throughout Israel, their celebrations being compulsory. Any Jew would receive the death penalty if found in possession of the Torah. Observing the Sabbath and circumcision were forbidden. Because of their faithfulness to the Law of God, many Jews were killed in those days.

As the disciples heard Jesus speak about Daniel’s prophecy, they must have also thought about the reign of Antiochus. Now they’re hearing from the Lord that it will be fulfilled again. This was a new concept for them to grasp – the fact that a prophetic Scripture could have two fulfillments.

“For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

Luke 21:22-24 NIV

This sounds all too familiar to the disciples. Throughout history, the Jews had been conquered again and again. Now one of the worst chapters in their history was going to repeat itself. All they could do was listen and be prepared.

I think the Lord is obviously talking about the times that the disciples were living in. He says that the Jews would be dispersed among the nations. However, there would be a time-limit on how long the Gentiles would be in control of the Holy Land.

We’ve seen this in our generation. Israel has once again returned to their homeland. And, by God’s power, they have once again become a sovereign nation. God is always confirming that His Word is true.

This should encourage us. I believe that this is how the Holy Spirit operates. If we’re listening, the Spirit will always prepare us for what’s ahead in our future. We need to continue developing our spiritual sensitivity to hear His voice.

Question: Why does the Holy Spirit want to reveal the future to us?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2022 in Israel, Return of Christ, Word of God

 

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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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The House of Prayer

The House of Prayer

As we continue through the Gospel of Luke, we’re approaching the time where Christ submits to the cross. He has now entered and wept over Jerusalem.

Then he entered the temple area and began driving out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”

Luke 19:45-46 NIV

I believe this is a very important passage of Scripture. But so many times I’ve heard this used for unimportant issues.

The emphasis of this verse is not about whether the church should host a flea market or Christmas Bazaar. It’s not about book tables or bookstores.

I don’t think these are why the Holy Spirit placed this incident in the Bible. It’s deeper than these surface issues. I’m talking about the spiritual life of the believer.

Think about who we are in Christ. The Holy Spirit has taken up residence in our lives. We have now become His house.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

I am a temple to the Holy Spirit. Think about it like the ancient Greek temples. My temple says Holy Spirit on the front.

What would you expect if you came to that temple? What if you entered it and saw a Star Trek Convention going on inside? You may question the priest about it.

“It’s only for this week.”

What if for the next few weeks, you visited this temple and saw a beauty pageant, a chili cook-off, and a real estate seminar.

You’d ask; is this a temple to the Holy Spirit or is it something else? With that thought in mind, reconsider what happened when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple. I like John’s description.

To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

John 2:16-17 NIV

Notice the righteous anger that Christ displayed. What was it that aroused such an attitude? The disciples realized that Jesus was consumed by a zeal for the house of God.

When Christ told His disciples about the Holy Spirit, He said that He was sending “another counselor just like Me.” (John 14:26 – My paraphrase!) The difference is that the Holy Spirit lives in us. He lives permanently in His temple, our body. And, He has the same attitude as Christ.

Do we really get the point? We’re living in the Last Days. The Holy Spirit is starting to cleanse His temple. We need to submit to His program.

Remember – the Holy Spirit will not hurt His temple. But He will start to ruin that which would try and steal our affection. In my experience, I’d rather willingly give up something, than have the Lord remove it from my life.

What do we do?

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8 NIV

If you really want what the Holy Spirit desires, then sow to please the Spirit. He doesn’t say to summon up all your will power and live right. No! Simply submit to His plan and sow the Word and prayer. Spend time with the Spirit.

Question: What do you need to do to sow to please the Spirit?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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