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Prepared?

Prepared?

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. Jesus now tells the crowds about the rich man and Lazarus. You may want to read Luke 16:19-31 before going further in the post.

The Lord has been talking about the difference between living under the Law of Moses and entering the kingdom of God. It’s the difference between following rules and cultivating a relationship with God.

Christ said that those who enter the kingdom have to put forth an effort. It requires conviction and zeal to find that “narrow gate” which leads to the life in the spirit.

He concludes this teaching by talking about the rich man and Lazarus. There are many who believe that this is not a parable. They think it’s an actual event Jesus is talking about. They believe this because Jesus doesn’t give anyone an actual name in His parables.

Whatever the case, we need to hear what the Lord is saying to us. It’s not simply about being saved.

The Lord starts with the two main characters. The first is a rich man, who according to Christ, radiated rejoicing every day.

Then there was a poor beggar who was thrown down at the rich man’s gate every day. He watched the house and wished that he could eat the crumbs that the rich man threw away. This beggar was covered in sores that he allowed the dogs to lick in order to keep them clean.

The Lord then describes what happened after they both died. We need to remember that this description is about death before the resurrection of Christ. At that time everyone went to a “holding area”, waiting for the salvation that Christ would purchase.

In this holding area, there were two sections. One for those who were lost, and one for those were looking forward in faith to the Messiah.

It’s very interesting the way the story unfolds. One thing I see, is that attitudes and perceptions don’t change, even after death. Look at the request that the rich man asked of Abraham.

So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’”

Luke 16:24 NIV

Do you hear the attitude? The rich man still sees himself as superior to Lazarus. He expects Lazarus to tend to his needs. Abraham explains that this will never happen.

When he sees that his condition will not be improved, the rich man begins to think about his family. He asks Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to tell his brothers about this place.

Abraham tells the rich man that his family already knows about this. They have the Scripture warning them about the afterlife.

The rich man says that they need a miracle to convince them. They need to see someone rise from the dead.

Abraham counters with a very important statement.

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”

Luke 16:31 NIV

That raises an important question we need to ask ourselves. What will it take for us to wholeheartedly follow God’s Word? We all need to come to grips with this.

In this story, I see so many parallels with the generation we’re living in. Yes, I know that we’re now living under grace and not under the Law. I know that in Christ, our sins are covered, and we stand in the righteousness of God.

However, there are still things that please and displease the Lord. There is still going to be a final judgment where we receive, or don’t receive, rewards for our service to Christ.

Many believers live in luxury, with no thought to those who are dying around them. Many powerful ministries are starving for the resources that could multiply their ability to reach the lost. What side of the kingdom are you sitting on?

This story should force us to think about our eternal future. Set aside spiritual riches for the kingdom. Prepare now for your future with Christ.

Question: How prepared are you for your eternal life in the kingdom?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2022 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Eternal Perspective

Eternal Perspective

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. Jesus has been talking to the crowds about entering and remaining in the kingdom of God. We’re now starting chapter 16, where the Lord begins teaching His disciples.

The first principle He illustrates is found in the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. This is Luke 16:1-12. You may want to read that passage before continuing with this post.

The parable is about a manager – more like an accountant – who was accused of wasting his rich employer’s goods. This manager obviously had power of attorney over his master’s property.

This manager knew that he was about to be fired, and all of his privileges revoked.

The manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do now? My master is taking away my job. I’m not strong enough to dig, and I’m ashamed to beg – I know what I’ll do so that, when I lose my job here, people will welcome me into their houses.’”

Luke 16:3-4 NIV

This manager saw trouble coming and wanted to plan accordingly. He started calling in all of his masters clients. Each of them had a sizable debt.

As this manager met with each one, he lowered what they owed by 20 to 50%. That was a huge financial boon to these people. They owed the manager, and he was going to use this influence when he was fired.

The master, of course, found out what was happening. In the end, the employer was impressed with how this manager thought ahead.

The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly.”

Luke 16:8a NIV

Jesus used this story to illustrate a spiritual truth. Some people erroneously think that Jesus is commending the bad way these accounts were handled. That’s not the case. Jesus clearly labels this manager as dishonest.

The Lord wants us to see that even though this man was evil and dishonest, he knew that he had to think ahead. Jesus then contrasts this with the foolishness that He sees in the religious people around Him.

For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”

Luke 16:8b-9 NIV

Jesus explains exactly what He’s talking about. It’s a very sad commentary on the state of the Jewish nation of His day. Worse than that, it’s a serious rebuke to us in the modern church.

The Lord is explaining that, in the natural, when it comes to their comfort, the world takes thought of their future. They plan and work things out so that they will have what they desire.

Then, there’s God’s people. We’re the children of the light. We have the light of Christ and the Scriptures. We know what’s ahead. We know that we’re eternal beings with a future that goes on with no end.

The problem is, we live like the only importance is the here and now. We go after the temporary with the same fervency as the world.

We should be living now, with eternity in view. We should be asking; what rewards am I laying up for myself in the future kingdom?

I’ve said it many times and my hope is that believers will take it to heart. There’s coming a day when the things we thought were of highest importance, will suddenly become worthless. Then, the things we put on the shelf to do later, will suddenly become vitally important. But it will be too late.

We need to live with an eternal perspective. We’re going to live forever somewhere. What’s going to be important to you one million years from today? Focus on that.

Live for today, with eternity in mind.

Question: How do you live with an eternal perspective?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2022 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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A Last Days Mindset 2

A Last Days Mindset 2

In my last post, I started looking at how Jesus told us to be ready for His return. We need to be always awake and alert in the spirit. This is important because we have no idea when this return will take place.

But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”

Luke 12:39-40 NIV

Jesus uses the illustration of a thief breaking into a house. The Lord makes it clear that no amount of experience or calculation can pinpoint the day and hour of a break-in. The only thing you can do is to make preparations for that possibility.

In the same way, Jesus will return at an unknown day and hour. It will be when a majority of people don’t expect Him. The Greek word for expect means to be of the opinion or to suppose.

As I said in my last post, there are many believers who are of the opinion that Jesus is going to come sooner than He says He will. The Lord doesn’t operate according to popular opinion. It’s all about His Word and His will.

There are some who think it’s the world that Christ is talking about here. They suppose it’s the world who won’t expect Jesus to return at the proper time. The Scripture has an answer for this.

Peter asked, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us, or to everyone?”

The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.”

Luke 12:41-44 NIV

Thank you, Peter, for asking that question. The answer is very important to our discussion. The Lord makes it clear that He’s not only talking to believers, but especially to the leadership of the church. If the spiritual leaders are ignorant of the truth, then what chance do the young believers have?

Jesus is talking to the teachers. He wants those who feed the Word of God to the flock to know the truth. After all, those who teach and preach will be judged more strictly.

Because of this, the Lord is directing His comments to the faithful and wise leaders. He’s addressing those who have a great desire to accomplish God’s will.

That word, faithful, means someone who you can fully trust. The word, wise, literally means thoughtful and implies a cautious character.

What does this mean to us? When it comes to the return of the Lord, there are many who teach what they’ve heard others teach. They only echo the voice of others with no thought of seeking the truth for themselves.

We live in the last days. The time is getting shorter. We don’t have the luxury of teaching something because it sounds exciting. By our preaching, believers are either being set-up for heartache and failure or faith and victory.

We need to be prepared to wait for the Lord’s return, no matter how long it takes. I’ve done an in-depth study of the Lord’s teaching on this and put it in a book. It’s called The Third Watch – It’s Later than You Think. For more information about this book, click here.

We need to be a people who are preparing ourselves for the Lord’s coming. That means spending time in the Word and in the Spirit. We need to be praying, hearing from God, and then doing what He speaks.

Then, no matter what the future holds, we’ll be found as faithful and wise servants at His return.

Question: How do you cultivate faithfulness to Christ?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2022 in Faith, Leadership, Return of Christ

 

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A Last Days Mindset

A Last Days Mindset

Do you believe that we’re living in the Last Days before the coming of the Lord? Do you think that His return is close? If so, then what should our mindset be like?

We’re looking at the Gospel of Luke, and we’re now in chapter 12. At this point in His ministry the Lord is talking about the importance of being ready. We’re not to be distracted by all the things the world has to offer.

Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.”
Luke 12:35-36 NIV

In this verse Jesus shows us how to live in the last days. He tells us to be dressed. For us it means to have our spiritual armor on. Don’t go around without your protection from the snares of the enemy.

Too many Christians are walking around spiritually naked. Then they wonder why the enemy has such an easy time messing with them. The time is now to prepare for the spiritual conflict ahead.

The Lord also said to keep your lamps burning. We must be awake and alert. The world is in the dark and we’re supposed to be in the light. That’s the kind of constant preparedness our lives should be equipped with.

We are to be in an attitude of waiting and watching. The meaning of the word that He uses for waiting is to give access to. In other words, I’m not living for myself. I’m at someone else’s disposal. I’m supposed to be ready at a moment’s notice to do something for somebody else.

The Lord must have 24 hour a day access to our lives. As soon as the Master knocks, we should be at the door, opening it. Our schedule should not even factor into it. We live to please the Master.

Sometimes our attitude with the Lord sounds like this; “Oh, I’m sorry. I was reading a book, and I wanted to finish the paragraph.” Servants don’t have that luxury. We live to please Christ. We must be prepared to serve at a moment’s notice.

In order to fulfill this calling, we must have the attitude of a waiting servant. Christ is coming, and we want to be ready when He appears. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, what I’m reading, or what I’m eating – when He arrives on the scene, I’m there to meet Him. “Lord, I’m ready for you.” That’s the ready attitude to have.

It’s time for the church to stop living like our wants and desires are the most important thing. Christ must be given the highest priority of our service. If we live like this, we have a blessing waiting for us.

It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.

Luke 12:37-38 NIV

According to the Lord, if we work now, at His return it will be our time to rest. That’s something to look forward to.

However, Jesus made some surprising statements about His return. Don’t be one of those who are unprepared for what will happen before His coming.

The Lord says that His return will come when you don’t expect it. Notice that it will not be a surprise because He comes before you expect Him. What is going to throw people off is that He will arrive later than they thought it would be.

The second watch of the night is from 9 o’clock to midnight. The third watch is from midnight to 3 in the morning.

What if I said to you, “Can I come over your house tonight?”

“Sure,” you reply, and you wait for me to show up. 7 o’clock, 8 o’clock and 9 o’clock go by. At that point you’ll probably shut the porch light off. At 11 o’clock you will probably be in bed. If I then bang on your door at 3 o’clock in the morning, I’m sure you wouldn’t even get out of bed to answer the door, even though I told you I was coming.

That’s what Jesus is saying. He’s telling us that He’s coming later than we think. Most people would think that if you’re going to come for dinner, you should arrive early.

Naturally, we think “suppertime.” But Jesus is asking how long past suppertime are we prepared to wait? There will be a time when people start thinking that Jesus should be here by now, but He’s not. It’s midnight. A lot of people have these religious clocks that are set at five minutes to midnight. They think that the Lord is coming soon – at midnight.

I’ve got news for you. The Bible says He might come as late as 3 in the morning, spiritually speaking. There are many Bible teachers who have taken certain future prophetic events and defined them as occurring “after midnight.”

Someday the “prophecy clock” will strike midnight. If you’re one of the people who believe that He’s going to be here at this prophetic midnight, you might be disappointed. We’ve got to be careful. Most of Christianity is expecting Him to come at this midnight hour.

Jesus said, “I’m going to come later than you think.” As a matter of fact, what you’re going to find as we go through the Scriptures, is that whenever Christ warns us about being ready, He always qualifies it by saying that He will come later than we’re expecting.

Question: How far are you prepared to go if Christ delays His Second Coming?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2022 in Faith, Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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Hearing and Speaking

Hearing and Speaking

As we go through Luke, chapter 12, we come to one of the greatest parts. Jesus is talking to His disciples about their identification with Him. It’s a blessing because the Holy Spirit is involved.

“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”

Luke 12:11-12 NIV

The Holy Spirit should be allowed to take an active role in all that we do. Being aware of His presence is a major part of a powerful ministry.

There are times the Lord wants us to speak on His behalf. Jesus gives us three different venues where this can take place. We need to be prepared for any and all of these.

The synagogue was the meeting place for those who professed to serve God. That should be the most receptive group to hear a Word from God. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out that way.

The Lord also mentions rulers – the highest position in any situation. But, there are also authorities. These people are simply over a group of others.

Jesus makes it clear that there will be times when we have to speak up in these places. It’s especially during these times that our reliance on the Holy Spirit is free and clear.

I think that the key in all of this is the phrase, do not worry. This is a Greek word that means to take no thought. It comes with the implication that you don’t allow your thoughts to run wild in all directions.

I know from experience that this is easy to say. In practice, it’s a lot harder to walk out. Disciplining our mind is not an easy task.

However, that’s one of the results of time spent cultivating our relationship with the Holy Spirit. We’re able to increase our ability to place our mind at rest and hear His voice. That’s the preparation needed to be a true witness before others.

But wait a minute! Some might ask, “Shouldn’t I memorize certain Scriptures and prepare a ‘Witness Testimony’?”

Memorizing Scripture is always good. It gives the Holy Spirit something to work with in your thoughts. But, a prepared speech rarely ever touches the hearts of those listening. What truly transforms people is a Word from the Holy Spirit.

As Jesus says, our desire is usually to defend ourselves or our actions. We want just the right words to say that will get us out of trouble. We want to say something that we think the listener wants to hear and will agree with us about.

That’s not the Lord’s goal in most situations. His agenda is truth expressed in love. That’s what the Holy Spirit will bring through us if we allow Him to.

The Lord says this in a very interesting way. He tells us that the Holy Spirit will teach us right at that moment. Think about that.

Teaching usually requires time to get a point across. It means that we learn to think about something in a new way. It’s about changing our thought patterns to a new conclusion.

The fact that the Holy Spirit can do this in a short amount of time is truly a miracle. This means that two things are required of us.

First, we must have a willingness to trust Him and wait for His teaching BEFORE we start talking and giving our own opinions. Then, we must also be willing to speak out whatever the Lord gives us, no matter how contrary it runs to our own thoughts.

I believe that this is a major part of what the Lord is doing in His church right now. God’s current agenda is to train up a people who are willing to take the time to listen to His voice. Then, once they hear from Him, they immediately go out and do what He has spoken.

That’s the foundation for the coming move of God!

Question: How do you cultivate your time with the Holy Spirit?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2022 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, Prayer, The Gospel

 

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Lord?

Lord?

We’ve been going through the Gospel of Luke. This post will finish our discussion of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus gives us a powerful conclusion to this message.

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”

Luke 6:46

This is one of the most important questions that we, as believers, need to answer. We all call Jesus Christ, “Lord”. But, what do we mean by that?

To many Christians, “the Lord Jesus Christ” is simply His title. It’s what you call Him because that’s what it says in the Bible. They have no attachment to the words.

We really need to grasp the significance of this word, “lord”. According to Webster’s Dictionary, lord means – one possessing supreme power and authority.

Having an understanding of this word shows us the foolishness that many believers find themselves in. If you truly believe that Jesus Christ is Lord – supreme ruler of the universe – then how could you ever possibly ignore or defy His commands?

The most impossible statement to ever make is, “No, Lord.” If He’s your Lord, then you can’t say “no”. If you can say “no”, then He’s not your Lord. This is the truth of our situation.

Jesus goes on to describe the results of our decision to obey or not.

I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Luke 6:47-49

The fact is that we’re all in the building process. Every one of us is building a shelter from the ravages of sin in the world. We know that trouble is coming. The only thing we can do is prepare for it.

Let me explain the problem that many of us have with Jesus’ teaching. To the casual observer, there’s no difference between the two. Both houses look the same.

The difference is below the surface. It’s all about making a secure foundation. And that’s where the road separates.

Building a foundation is a slow painstaking process. In the Lord’s day, it required back-breaking labor. There were no excavators or jack-hammers to break through the tough terrain.

Then, large rocks for the foundation needed to be moved and dragged into position. You had to use a horse, or many people working together. Either way, it was a labor intense operation.

I’m sure that in those days there were many people who wanted to go the simpler route and build the house immediately. They decided to forego the foundation, to get into their house quickly.

The deception is, that for a long while it looks like building the foundation was a wasted activity. That is, until the once in a lifetime monster storm breaks out. Then, suddenly, the easy path turns out to be deadly.

It’s like that in the spiritual as well. For the most part, we can weather the minor “storms” of life without the power of God. But, the fact is, there will come problems that are far beyond our ability to contend with.

In times like that, people run to the Lord, expecting a miraculous exit strategy. The problem is that what we’ve built to that point was not according to the Lord’s pattern.

Many times God allows the life-structure that we’ve built to be destroyed. His desire is that when we rebuild, we’ll be wise enough to do it His way.

Don’t let the troubles of life destroy you. Don’t just call Jesus “Lord” out of lip service. Build your life on the proper foundation of His Word. Then, you can rest assured that your destiny is in God’s hands. He’ll bring to pass what He’s promised.

Question: What have you done to provide a secure foundation for your life?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2022 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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