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Weakness – Qualified for a Miracle

I’m posting from the first letter to the Corinthians.  We’ve been seeing that the message of the cross – Christ crucified – is a message of God’s power and wisdom for the church.  It’s something that needs to be a greater part of our spiritual walk.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.
1 Corinthians 1:25

Is God ever foolish or weak?  Absolutely not!  But it does appear that way sometimes.  When Christ went to the cross, it did appear to be a weak and foolish move on His part.  Of course, that was only until the resurrection, when the full wisdom and power of God was revealed.

It’s the same with us.  Sometimes we feel like we have nothing to offer to God.  We don’t have the strength, resources, or wisdom to do the work we’ve been called to do.  But that’s okay, our limitations don’t affect God’s calling on us.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.  Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29

Paul is bringing this message to normal people, just like you and me.  We have our weaknesses and struggles.  But that puts us in a good place.  We’re now candidates for a move of God’s power in us.

If you’re feeling unqualified to serve the Lord, then I have a message for you…

“God wants you strong in spirit.”

“It’s time to hear a Word from heaven.”

Right now, the church needs an influx of spiritual warriors – and this is where it starts.  God is calling believers who feel like they don’t measure up.  Maybe you look at your past and think that you have too much baggage.

Why would God ever want someone like that in ministry?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The word trouble in this passage is actually the Greek word for pressure.  Pressure qualifies us for ministry.  When we can endure pressure, we can help others who are undergoing the same things.

Whatever you’re going through, God can and will bring restoration.  Then, He’ll use the experiences that you’ve had, both good and bad, to help others.

That’s the wisdom and power of God.  Jesus Christ went through the cross, the burial, and the resurrection.  Sometimes you may feel like your life is over.  All your plans are dead and buried.  All that means is that you’re in a position to see the resurrection power of God manifest in your life.

Then, you can use what you’ve gone through to bring others into that place of power.  You just have to walk by faith, trusting that God will complete His plan in you.  Remember that it’s not about what you have to offer to God, but what He’s already done for you.

Question: What are some challenges that God has already given you the victory over?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on December 14, 2018 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God

 

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Ignoring the Cross

As I continue my series through First Corinthians, we’re looking at the wisdom of God manifest in the cross.  It’s something that God expects His church to understand.  It’s been revealed to us in His Word.

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 1:21-24

This is a problem we face even in our society today.  There’s a pressure on the church to cater our message to those we’re trying to win.

Religious people want to hear one thing, while the educational community wants to hear something else.  Many times we fall into the trap of trying to please our listeners with the message we think they want to hear.

Paul strips away all of these elements by boiling the message down to its vital component.  He preaches the same essential message to all who will listen.  That message is the Word of the cross – Christ crucified.

The reason is clear.  There’s a supernatural call in that Word.  It contains the power of God to draw men and women to the place of repentance.

We need to see this.  When we water down or ignore the Word of the cross, we lose the bulk of the power needed to win the lost.  Beyond that, those who do come to the Lord with little knowledge of the cross, have no desire to become radical disciples of Christ.

This is what the world desperately needs to see in the church.  It’s also what the church needs in order to be transformed into the victorious kingdom that was set forth by Christ.  We must hunger and thirst for the Word of the cross.

We’ve tried a whole host of other strategies only to be met with little or no results.  Isn’t it time to proclaim Christ the way they did it when the world was “turned upside-down” by the Gospel?  We need to renew our knowledge of what happened in and through the cross of Christ.  This is a message that the Lord can’t wait to reveal to us if we’ll just stop and listen.

This is one of the things that we’re missing in our churches these days.

No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
1 Corinthians 2:7

Paul explains to us that this message was destined for our glory.  That’s why it’s such a mystery.  From the outside, the cross looks like a place of pain, suffering, and weakness.   But in reality, it will bring glory to all who live by it.

It was the same for Christ.  The demonic kingdom had no idea what would be unleashed on the cross.  When the “Lord of Glory” was crucified, there was an explosion of power that rocked the universe.  It’s clear that Satan would never have allowed this to happen if he had known what the results would be.

It’s time for God’s people to once again unleash this power in the world.  We need to walk in the power of the cross.  The message of the cross is vital for our last-days testimony.

Question: What would change if we incorporated the teaching of the cross into our message?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2018 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Wisdom is not Enough

In my last post, we saw that in the message of the cross of Christ we find the power to live for God.  When we try to do things in our own power, we end up short-circuiting God’s plan for us.  Look at how Paul describes it.

For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Where is the wise man?  Where is the scholar?  Where is the philosopher of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
1 Corinthians 1:19-20

Scripture makes it clear that we have to leave man’s wisdom out of the equation.  I hate to say it, but many of our church methods in this generation are man-made.  I think that’s why we see a church with a split personality.

On one hand, many churches are growing and have deep, meaningful worship times.  Preaching is as powerful as it’s ever been.  Yet in spite of all this, God’s people seem to be having almost no impact on the society around us.

That’s because the power that results in change is resident in the message of the cross.  Without that Word, everything remains at the comfort level of the world.

The above passage mentions three kinds of people.  There’s the wise man.  That’s the person who is well versed in human wisdom.

Then there’s the scholar.  The literal word that Paul used for this is a scribe.  They were the professional writers of that day.

Finally, he talks about the philosopher.  The Greek word for this means a debater.  These were people who merely discussed things for a living.

Together, this is a lethal combination for the church.  When those who follow the current thinking and trends of society, professional writers, and debaters come together to give direction to the church, then we’re headed for trouble.

Please understand – none of these things are evil in and of themselves.  But when we ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit and totally rely on our wisdom, the kingdom of God will not advance.

In the above passage, Paul quoted a verse from Isaiah the prophet.  I think it’s important to note the verse just before the one he gave us.

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”
Isaiah 29:13

I can look at society and see the trends and wisdom of corporate America.  Then, I can logically come up with a plan to reach the lost, based upon this information.  But without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I simply have “rules taught by men.”

It’s time that the church moves away from the world’s methods.  Yes, we need to know what’s happening in society.  We need to understand the trends and changes around us.  (After all, I am working at an online ministry!)

However, without quality time spent in the presence of God – it will have no impact.  We need a Word from God – that’s where change takes place.  Allow the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide you in your ministry.

Question: What are some differences between God’s wisdom and the world’s?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Pattern of the Cross

I’m continuing my look at the cross of Christ in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  It seems that the more I study about the cross, the more I’m drawn to it.

It was on the cross that Christ became our Savior.  It was there that the saving power of the Messiah was released to transform our lives forever.

Salvation is not a one-time thing, but an ongoing process.  It’s a process that all focuses on the work of the cross.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

It all hinges on the Word of the cross.  What we find in the body of Christ is two kinds of believers.  One group is composed of those who are being saved.  They’ve decided to submit to God’s renovation plan in their lives.

They want to see the whole package of God’s provision accomplished in them.  They want not only healing, joy and prosperity; but they’re willing to see righteousness, holiness, and obedience developed as well.  They want to see all the losses of the curse turned around.  To this group, the Word of the cross is the power of God that transforms them into the image of Christ.

There’s another group as well.  These are people who have accepted God’s forgiveness but haven’t progressed any further.  They’ll be in God’s kingdom when they die, but for now, they’re content to live for themselves.

The word, perishing in the verse above simply means decay or loss.  There are those in the church who have chosen the path of decay and loss.

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.  For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Philippians 3:17-18

There’s a pattern that we can follow.  Literally, this verse says that there is a die that has been struck.  A die, in this sense, is a mold for shaping something according to an original pattern.  Christ was the original.

On the cross, He became a pattern for us to follow in the spiritual realm.  There’s a work the Holy Spirit wants to do in us if we will only let Him.

As he went around to all the churches, Paul would give them a pattern of living.  This is what we’re missing in our generation.  We need a pattern to focus our lifestyles around.

Following Christ is not a hobby.  It’s not just one of many pursuits in our daily schedules.  If we serve Christ, then that’s all there is – everything else revolves around that truth.

That’s the goal of these posts.  I want us, as the people of God, to get back to the pattern.  We’ve taken our service to God and turned it into formulas.  Each one has their own little bubble.  Nothing affects anything else.

We’ll teach about the “Ten Steps to Prosperity” or the “Five Steps to Receiving your Healing.”  We’ll talk about how to walk in the power of God or what to do to overcome depression.  Once in a while, we might even hear that we need to become a disciple.  Each teaching comes in its own separate parcel.  Little do we realize that our life in Christ is a package deal.

Everything we do affects all the areas of our life.  My righteousness affects my prosperity.  My holiness affects my relationships.  Everything is intertwined.  That’s why I need the pattern if I’m going to live the abundant life that Christ talked about.

Question: Where do we find the pattern for how we’re to live?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2018 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Work of the Cross

As believers, most of us know that the goal is to walk in maturity.  What I’ve found is that in order to understand the road to maturity, we must first understand the significance of the cross.

Usually when we think about Christ, and all that He accomplished for us, we mention the cross but immediately focus on the resurrection.  Don’t get me wrong, the resurrection of Christ was the most important event in all of history.  It sealed our redemption.  Without the risen Lord, we would still be dead in our sins.

Our problem is that we usually don’t give the cross a second glance.  We sometimes downplay the cross.  We’ve become too familiar with it.  We see crosses everywhere.  It’s become the most recognized symbol of Christianity.

But do we really understand its significance in our growth process?  As Paul writes to the Corinthian church, he’s trying to get across to them its importance.  I think that our generation of the church needs this same understanding.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18

In my last post, I talked about this a little.  When I meditate upon what Paul is saying in this passage, it causes me to take a step back.  Paul said that Christ did not make me an apostle to baptize.  This statement should capture our attention.

The apostle was not sent out to make converts.  That wasn’t his goal and it shouldn’t be ours.  In some circles, this needs to be emphasized.

We’re not in the Kingdom of God to “get people saved.”  We’re simply here to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ.  How people respond to the message is up to them.  The only thing I’ll be judged on is how accurately I gave that message, not on how many believed it.  I think this distinction is lost on many believers.

However, there’s a deeper truth here than just to preach the Gospel.  We must preach this Good News without emptying the cross of its power.  By expressing the Gospel through my human wisdom and reasoning, I lose the power that’s resident in the cross.  That’s why I need to hear a Word from God and preach that Word.

The Word of the cross has the power to save.  But it’s how we understand this statement that makes all the difference.  Remember, being saved is not a one-time thing.  It’s an on-going process.  That’s why the Word of the cross is for those who are being saved.

I need the saving power of God on a daily basis. This is the power that saves me from my sinful actions, sickness, poverty, depression, and a whole host of other issues I have to deal with in my old nature.  The message of the cross speaks to all of these and brings victory.  It’s because we’ve watered down the message of the cross, that we have such a battered down church in our generation.

When we give the Word of the cross a back seat, we miss out on the victory that God has made available to us.  We need to understand what Paul is saying to us about the cross.  My hope is that it will help us in becoming more like the Lord.

Question: What do you see as significant about the cross?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2018 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Who Are You Following?

As we continue in our study of First Corinthians, Paul has begun talking about agreement in the body of Christ.  We’ll now see why he brought up that subject.

My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.  What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
1 Corinthians 1:11-12

When will we learn that among the followers of Christ, there’s only one true God?  There may be a multitude of teachers and methods of teaching, but we serve the same Lord.  2000 years later, and we still fall into the same trap.

Different denominations within Christianity still quarrel over the small details of the faith.  We all have a brand of teaching that we enjoy.

There’s nothing wrong with being different.  That is, as long as we believe in the fundamentals – Jesus Christ, God made flesh, the One who died, rose from the dead, and is Lord of all.  We believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, but my teaching is not the only way to know Christ.

Paul had to deal with this in the Corinthian church.

Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Were you baptized into the name of Paul?  I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.  (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)
1 Corinthians 1:13-16

In these questions, Paul is asking about a fundamental truth.  Who is the focus of our faith?  Is it our teacher, or Christ Himself?  The answer should be obvious.

Paul now makes one of his most powerful statements.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1 Corinthians 1:17

The impact of this verse is all but lost on many in the church today.  In effect, Paul is saying, “God did not call me to simply convert people to Christianity.  I am not using my superior wisdom to get people to make a logical choice to follow the teachings of Christ.”

Paul was commissioned by God to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Hearts were to be convicted.  Lives were to be changed and made new.

The Gospel is not about convincing people that they need to begin following the teachings of Christ.  It’s giving them the choice to become a new person in Christ.  It’s a call to leave the kingdom of this world to become a citizen of the kingdom of God.

Human wisdom has no power to change a life.  But in the cross, we find the power of transformation.  Paul makes that abundantly clear.

It’s unfortunate that the cross is preached so rarely in our generation.  It’s actually the foundation of life on a higher level.  In the next few posts, we’ll see how Paul describes it.

Question: What is the place of agreement for all believers?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2018 in Power of God, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Repairing the Body of Christ

I’m continuing my series through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s writing it in order to give them practical advice on remaining faithful to Christ.

I think it’s beyond question that our God is faithful.  What He’s looking for, is faithful people.  The Lord wants to see believers who walk wholeheartedly with Him.  How is that possible, unless we walk faithfully with each other?

Because of this, we’re not called to live solitary lives.  In Christ, we’re part of a body.  We need each other.  Without the local church, we can never reach our greatest potential.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:10

Fulfilling this will require us to walk in agreement.  Agreement is a place of power in the Holy Spirit.  In the above verse, the word, agree means to speak the same thing.  The only way that will happen is if we’re all speaking the Word of God.

It takes time in the Word to bring about agreement.  It’s not about me convincing you that I’m right.  It’s when we both come into agreement that God’s way is right.

The Lord wants us to unite in mind and thought – with no divisions. The simple truth is that this will never happen if we all do our own things. There has to be a coming together for fellowship around the Word of God.  That’s what church is all about, or at least it should be.  The Word should be central to everything we say and do.

The result is that if we all agree with God’s word, then we’re in agreement with each other.  Along with that, we’ll all be speaking the same thing.

I want to emphasize that among God’s people there should be no divisions.  This means that there are no splits or gaps between us.

Instead, we must be perfectly united with one another.  The word Paul uses in this verse is very interesting.  It literally means to be repaired or mended together.  It describes us as going through a process that joins us together.

This is what we’re to strive for. To be perfectly united in mind and thought requires more than just good teaching.  It means that I’m spending time in the presence of the Holy Spirit.  It also means that you’re spending time in the Spirit.

Being united in this way is a choice.  It’s unfortunate that when some people pray for the unity of the church, what they’re really praying is, “God, please make everyone else think like me.”  That’s not true unity.  It’s us choosing to work together as the Holy Spirit makes us begin to think like God.

As we allow the mind of Christ to take over our lives, we’re setting the stage for the unity of the Spirit.

The more you and I begin to think like Christ, the more unity we’ll walk in.  This is how the fellowship and unity of Christ can be manifest in His people.  Make that your goal as we minister together for the Lord.

Question: What are you doing in order to come into agreement with God’s Word?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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