Tag Archives: parable

The Mustard Tree

In looking at the parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, we will continue with the Parable of the Mustard Seed.  This will give us some insights into how the kingdom of God should be growing.

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?  It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground.  Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
Mark 4:30-32

First, let me say that unless you know the region, this parable can’t be understood properly.  There are a few different species of “mustard” that are common around the world.  The one that can grow into a tree is not the one where we get the yellow goop for our hot dogs.

The seed for the mustard tree is tiny.  This speaks of the small origin of the church.  Jesus Christ was one man.  But He wasn’t just a man.  He was God made flesh.

When He was planted; the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection birthed an eternal kingdom.  But that’s one of the keys.  For this plant to grow, it has to be planted under just the right conditions.  That’s why Jesus had to emphasize over and over that in His ministry, everything had to be fulfilled according to the Father’s plan.

Another thing about this plant – it germinates quickly and grows slowly, but steadily.  God’s kingdom is unstoppable.  Many have tried to put an end to it, without success.  That’s because it’s a kingdom born and nourished in the spirit.  God is at work in the lives of His people.

As I said earlier, this isn’t the mustard we think of in talking about condiments and seasonings.  However, the leaves and fruit of this tree are edible and have a slight, mustardy flavor.  So animals and people can derive nourishment from it.

That brings me to my last point.  The mustard plant is very hardy.  Once it takes root, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to remove.  Because of this fact, the mustard tree is used throughout the Middle East and Africa for land reclamation.

Because it thrives in hot, arid climates; it can turn deserts into habitable places again.  And isn’t that one of the mandates of God’s plan?  We are to bring life to the dead places around us.

Of course, not everybody sees it that way.  Because it’s so hard to remove, people either view the mustard plant as a beneficial tree or a troublesome weed.  Some spend a lot of time and resources to remove it.

That’s how the church is described sometimes.  Paul had this to say about it.

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.  And who is equal to such a task?
2 Corinthians 2:15-16

As for me, I’m grateful to be found in the kingdom of God.  As I continue; I look forward to His grace, power, and blessing that he desires to manifest through His people.

Question: How have you experienced the unstoppable growth of God’s kingdom?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on February 5, 2018 in Power of God, The Church


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The Master’s Investment

Our Supply in GodI’m posting about Jesus’ Parable of the Talents. In my last article we saw the instructions that the Master gave to His servants.

“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. ‘Master’, he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

“The man with the two talents also came. ‘Master’, he said, ‘you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.’

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
Matthew 25:19-23

Everything seemed to be going well. There was increase. Both of the servants ended up with twice as much as they were given. They had used the money they were entrusted with wisely. Their Lord commended them. Now they could expect the reward that they earned.

Finally, the last servant showed up.

“Then the man who had received the one talent came. ‘Master’, he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’”
Matthew 25:24-25

This servant took what was given to him and instead of using it and putting it to work, he just buries it. The worst part of this whole scenario is that he knows his master is expecting him to increase it.

He has no excuse. The servant even said, “I know you expected me to work with it and to make more because that’s the kind of person you are.”

Listen to the attitude. It’s heard throughout the church today. It’s the cry of those who have bought into the lie of the enemy concerning their lives.

This servant has the audacity to accuse the master of harvesting where he hasn’t planted. It was the master’s money he was entrusted with. The master was planting his own money into the lives of his servants.

I’ve seen this exact attitude in the church. “What has God ever done for me? I’m going to take care of myself first. If I have any leftover time, then I’ll worry about serving Him.”

The Lord gave them the very life in their body. They belong to Him. He has sown so much into their lives, yet they act like they’ve been given nothing and now have to make their way on their own.

Our attitudes play a big part in how we serve our Lord.

Question: What has Christ sown into your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015


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The Long Wait


PowerlessI’m writing a series of posts about the parable of the Ten Virgins so that the people of God who are wise and listening will be prepared for the most glorious hour the church has ever known. Please don’t be like the foolish virgins who recklessly go out, never realizing that their meager oil supply would be their undoing.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

“But while they were on their way to buy oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Matthew 25:6-13

When they had all fallen asleep, the cry came forth waking them up. At that point it became obvious that the time of the bridegroom’s arrival was near. Here we can clearly see what constituted their foolishness. Please hear well what the Lord is saying – it could save your life.

Obviously Jesus saw a set of circumstances in the Last Days that would have the ability to rob Christians of their faith. I believe that the present teaching about the seven year Pre-Tribulational Rapture is just such a danger. What do you suppose will happen to believers who have put their faith in this doctrine? What will happen to their faith when it becomes clear that they’ll not be airlifted out before any trouble starts? Many will lose their faith in the Word.

Notice that the foolish virgins still had their lamps. The problem was that they had no fuel. It’s easy to love if you think that you’ll be taken away before the real problems start. But if my goal is for personal comfort, then when it becomes known that I must stay until the end, it’s every man for himself. My love degrades into a self-love.

These virgins were not called foolish because they lacked any faith. They were not called foolish because they were not waiting for the bridegroom. It’s obvious to see that they were the ones who believed that the groom was coming quickly.

They had placed all their faith in the Lord’s quick appearing, so they felt no need to bring any extra oil with them on their vigil. They were not called foolish because they didn’t expect the Lord to come so soon. They were not caught off guard by the Lord’s immediate coming.

The problem was that they were not prepared to wait through the night as long as they were supposed to. They were looking for the return of Christ too soon. The fact is that they lost faith because Jesus took longer than they expected for His return.

Question: How long are you willing to wait for Christ’s return?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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


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Faith that Lasts


OilI’ve been posting about the parable of the Ten Virgins. For the last few articles I’ve talked about the light, the oil, and the lamp.

As you can see, everything in the Word of God supports the reality that the light is our righteousness that’s seen by the world. This light, then, is produced by the union of our faith – as the oil – working itself through the lamp of our love.

Armed with this understanding, we’re now prepared to truly grasp what Christ was getting at in the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

“The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.”
Matthew 25:3-5

The problem, then, was in the amount of faith that each virgin possessed.   This is what separates the wise from the foolish. What makes a Christian wise in the last days, is that they have the faith to see it through no matter what comes their way. This is what Jesus said on more than one occasion.

“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Matthew 10:22

“Standing firm to the end” – this requires more faith than looking for an early escape. We need to be ready for the future as Christ described it.

We need to have faith working itself through love if we’re going to stand firm to the end. Since both of these spiritual commodities require knowledge of the Word of God, I must be careful who I allow to train me.

I want an oil supply that won’t give out in my time of need. When I’m going through the darkest times in my life is when I really need to walk in love and in faith. Then, when the world begins to see these qualities in my life, they’ll see a light burning in the darkness.

Anyone can walk in bitterness and defeat, doubting that they’ll ever make it through. It takes someone trained and walking in the Word of Truth to make it victoriously through the rough times.

That’s why it’s so important who you place yourself under, in submission to, as your pastor. The Bible is clear that the works you do (your light), are directly related to the training you received.

It was he [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service…
Ephesians 4:11-12a

If the man of God that you place your trust in is not rightly dividing the Word of Truth, then your works will suffer. You won’t have the oil supply that you need to get you through the tough times. This is why it’s so important to know what Christ taught about His return. The last days will either be your greatest hour to shine or your darkest and most difficult failure.

Question: What does it take to increase your supply of faith?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on December 26, 2014 in Faith, Ministry, Return of Christ, The Church


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How Hot is Your Love Lamp?

Fire DangerI’ve been talking about the parable of the Ten Virgins as told by Jesus in Matthew, chapter 21. We now understand the illustration of the light, the lamp, and the oil as our righteousness produced by our faith expressing itself through love.

There’s one more thing I want to look at before we move on. There are two verses that I believe will be the icing on the cake for this parable.

If faith and love are the oil and the lamp, then there should be a teaching in Scripture that shows the condition of these spiritual commodities in the last days. After all, Jesus said that half of the Christians’ lamps would be going out just before He returns. Let’s see if that’s a clearly taught truth that can be found in the Word apart from a parable.

We’ve already looked at the point in His ministry where Jesus taught His disciples that they must continue in prayer and never give up. He highlighted this concept by the use of a parable – the parable of the widow and the unjust judge in Luke chapter 18. As He is finishing this teaching, the Lord makes the following remark.

“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Luke 18:7-8

What an interesting thing for Christ to say. He asks us, when He returns, will He even find faith at all on the earth? If faith is the oil that fuels our lamps, then this is in direct line with what He’s saying in the parable of the ten virgins.

Faith, the oil, will be used up in many people’s lives. According to the Lord, many will be without faith in the last days. Don’t let this happen to you. Do what it takes to have that extra supply. I’ll tell you what this requires in a later post of this series.

What about love? How did Jesus describe the condition of love in the last days? I believe that the words that Jesus uses will surprise you, now that you understand the meaning of the light, the lamp, and the oil.

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Matthew 24:12-13

Could He have made it any clearer? What a description of love in the last days, especially knowing that it’s the lamp that shines our light to the world. Notice that Jesus doesn’t say that that there will be no love in the last days.

He teaches that there will be a form of love, but that it will be cold and lifeless. There’s one thing we know about an oil lamp. When it’s lit and burning, it’s hot. The only way for our love to grow cold is for the fuel to run out.

If we allow our faith to disappear, then the fire of our lamps will go out. We’ll still have the lamp – our love – but it will be a cold and useless love. We’ll be incapable of loving someone into the Kingdom of God. Without our lamps burning, we will not be able to serve God in a way that’s pleasing to Him.

Question: How is a lack of faith and love evident in the church today?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on December 24, 2014 in Faith, Ministry, Return of Christ, The Church


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The True Expression of Faith

lampI’ve been taking an in-depth look at the parable of the Ten Virgins of Matthew, chapter 21. In my last post we concluded that the combination of faith and love was needed to produce righteousness in our lives. Could this be what we are looking for to explain the mystery of the oil and the lamps producing light?

Today I want to look closely at these concepts, to see if they’re what Jesus is talking about. The first question we must ask ourselves is, are they both non-optional in the forming of the light of our righteousness?

First we’ll look at faith. We know, from Hebrews 11:6, that without faith it is impossible to please God. The verse doesn’t say that it’s difficult to serve God without faith. It says that no matter what you do, how much love is in your heart, or how often you go to church, it’s impossible for your works to count for anything in the kingdom of God apart from faith. Working for God absolutely requires faith.

The second commodity necessary for the light to appear is love. Without love our faith will be of no value. The clear teaching of Scripture in I Corinthians 13:2 says if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

I can have faith in God for incredible miracles and yet still not be able to please Him, if I don’t walk in love. Again, the Scripture makes it clear that love is a non-optional requirement to serve the Lord.

Knowing this, I’m now in a position to understand how faith and love work together in my life. They’re not independent. I can’t use one without the other and expect my works to be pleasing in the sight of God.

So, we can see that these two spiritual concepts pass the first test. What about the next test? How do faith and love relate to each other? Remember, the oil must work through the wick of the lamp in order to produce light.

It takes a lamp for the oil to express its true nature. Light is revealed when the oil expresses itself through the lamp. Does this parallel the scriptural description of faith and love?

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6

It’s clear from this verse that all the outward trappings that man looks at are not worth a thing in God’s estimation. If we’re to please God, then our works must be a matter of faith expressing itself through love. Just like the light of a lamp is the oil working itself through the lamp, the light of our righteous works by faith working through love.

I believe that in this parable, the lamp is our love and the oil is our faith. Both are needed to produce the kind of light that will draw men and women to Christ for salvation. Love must be the medium through which the true character of my faith is revealed. It’s only as I have my lamp burning, my faith expressing itself through my love, that my works are acceptable before God.

Question: How does your faith express itself through your love in a practical way?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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


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Faith + Love = Righteousness

Stream 2I’m posting about the parable of the Ten Virgins from Matthew 21. In my last article we saw that the light is our righteousness shining into the darkness around us.

If righteousness is our light, then what constitutes the oil and the lamp? It’s the combination of the two that brings light. The relationship between them is what’s important.

Both must be present to produce light. You could have 100 lamps, yet with no oil, there’s no light. Conversely, you could have barrels of oil, yet with no lamp to burn it, there would still be no light. It’s only the combination of lamp and oil that will produce light.

You could say that the light is the oil expressing itself through the lamp. If the light is the manifestation of our righteousness, then we need to discover what the Scripture says about the source.

First, we must see how righteousness is described in the Word of God.

The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Isaiah 59:15b-17

Here we see God Himself putting on the breastplate of righteousness. Most Christians don’t know that this armor was first seen in the Old Testament. It was not something that the Apostle Paul came up.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…
Ephesians 6:14

So we can know for a certainty that righteousness is our breastplate. This is important, because Paul also described it to the Thessalonian church.

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
I Thessalonians 5:8

In this verse Paul is clearly referring to our spiritual armor. He even makes mention of the helmet of salvation. But instead of assigning righteousness as the breastplate, he says that faith and love are used in that role. Paul is telling us that it’s the combination of our faith and our love working together that completes our righteousness.

I believe that the lamp and the oil represent the operation of love and faith in our spiritual walk. In my next post I’ll show how they work together in both the natural and the spiritual.

Question: How does the absence of either faith or love affect our walk with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on December 19, 2014 in Return of Christ, The Church


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The Light of the World


NightIn my last post I started talking about the parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew, chapter 25. I concluded that the key is identifying what’s meant by the light, the lamps and the oil. If we can understand these three parts, then we’ll know how to act wisely in the days leading up to the return of the Lord.

All ten virgins had the ability to light up their area, at least for a little while. This tells me that all of the Christians in the end-time church will have the same ability to be a light to their generation.

This should help us, because on more than one occasion Jesus told us to be a light to those around us. What does this mean? And more importantly, does it fit into the constraints of the parable of the ten virgins? Let’s allow Jesus Himself to explain it to us.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16

Jesus tells us that we are the light of the world. He wants our light to be as conspicuous as a city on a hill, showing that we belong to Him. What is it that shines from our lives to those around us?

It’s clear from the above passage that our light is the works we show forth to those needing a touch from the Lord. All of us have the same ability. Jesus is clear that He will not allow our light to be hidden.

There are many believers who think that they should be able to live their lives without anyone knowing that they’re Christians. They don’t want to do anything to label themselves. Jesus never gave us this option.

We’re to share the Gospel, pray for the sick, and give hope to the hurting around us. I’m not talking about activities that we do in church buildings. God wants us to function like that in our society.

I’m to be a light on the job, at school, at home, or even on the ball field. The point is that when I’m with people, my works should be a light to reflect who Jesus is. So the light then, is the good works that I perform in Jesus’ name.

But wait, when the Lord speaks of “good works”, He’s talking about righteousness. Please understand that righteousness is the only work that’s good in God’s eyes. It’s as I live righteously before God that the world sees the light of life.

This concept is underscored by the Apostle Paul.

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
2 Corinthians 6:14

In this passage Paul states that righteousness and wickedness are the spiritual equivalents of light and darkness.

Question: How can our lives be as bright as possible?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on December 17, 2014 in Ministry, Return of Christ, The Church


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Last Generation Living

OilThroughout His ministry, Jesus gave many parables concerning the end-times. One of the most well know is of the ten virgins. I want to take a few posts to talk about this parable.

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.”
Matthew 25:1-2

Not only is this parable well know, it’s probably the most misunderstood. Please read these posts with an open mind and a desire to hear the truth of God’s Word. Don’t miss the important point that the Lord is trying to make.

Notice that in verse 1 the Lord says at that time. This parable is about the church that’s alive in the last days.

You may also notice that He says the Kingdom of Heaven, the church, will be like ten virgins. This is an important point. All ten of these young ladies start out in the kingdom of God. They’re all saved and waiting for the bridegroom at the start of this parable.

All ten of these women are virgins at the start of this story. As a matter of fact, all ten of them are looking for the bridegroom. All ten virgins are ready and waiting. Please don’t get the idea, as some foolishly do, that only five were expecting the return of the Master.

The only issue in the parable that separates these virgins into two groups is their wisdom. In the original Greek it reads, “Five of them were morons and five were wise.” Don’t get mad at me, that’s the word Jesus used!

But the truth is that five of them guided their actions by wisdom and the other five didn’t think ahead. The real question is, which group are you in? As we continue through this parable, I hope it will become clear. For now, we need to see what constitutes wisdom and what causes Jesus to call others foolish.

“The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.”
Matthew 25:3-5

What’s the difference in their actions? The foolish ones have their lamps with a little oil in them. The wise ones also have lamps with oil in them, but they did something further. The virgins who were noted as being wise brought extra oil in jars along with their lamps.

It should be clear to us at this point that the extra jars of oil are the key to being wise in the last days. If I can understand the significance of the oil, then I can see what differentiates the wise and the foolish Christians in the last days.

There are, therefore, three elements that we need to understand in this parable. If we can grasp the significance of the light, the lamps, and the oil, we’ll have a handle on what the Lord’s trying to tell us in this teaching. Understanding these three elements is what this series of posts is about.

Question: What do you think the difference is between wise and foolish believers of our generation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on December 15, 2014 in Return of Christ, The Church


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