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Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Nature of the Faith-Love Connection

SpeedIn the natural world, you must always have fuel to use power.   No matter if it’s electricity, cooking, heating, or driving.  Even something as simple as a candle requires wax as a fuel.  The same is true for power in the spiritual realm.

What we commonly mean when we use the term fuel is combustible matter.  But there’s also a general definition of fuel.  According to this definition, fuel is whatever feeds or sustains any expenditure, outlay, passion, or excitement.  What, then, is the fuel for our spiritual power?

It doesn’t take much study of the Bible to realize that faith is the fuel – that which feeds and sustains our spiritual passion – for the Christian life.  Without faith it’s impossible to please God.  Without faith we would have no access to the grace of God.  Faith is the requirement for God to do anything at all in our lives.

Having the fuel is important.  But we must also know how to utilize it.  Just holding a can of gasoline doesn’t automatically make me travel 60 mph.  I need to put it in the gas tank of a working automobile.

Unfortunately, there are many in the body of Christ who haven’t learned this simple concept.  We hold on to the fuel of faith and expect the light and heat of God to start working.  When nothing happens, we conclude that the Scripture is wrong, or that maybe God doesn’t do miracles anymore.  The Bible has the answer to this dilemma.

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

In the above verse the word value literally means force in the Greek.  It’s not how you look on the outside that gives spiritual force, or power, to your walk.  It’s the fuel, faith, expressing itself through love.  What that verse says in the Greek is that faith must energize or activate itself through love.

If I put this in natural terms I could say that faith is the fuel and love is the generator producing the voltage needed to maintain the power of God in us.  The Bible clarifies this truth.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:2

If I have all the faith-fuel in the world, but don’t have the love-generator to use it in, I am nothing.  This is where most of the church finds itself in this generation.  We seem to be so full of faith, yet accomplishing nothing for God.

According to this verse it sounds like a love problem to me.  If we are not using our faith correctly, then there will be no manifestation of power.  I must use my faith to power my love-walk.

Question: Have you ever experienced the failure of faith without love?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

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Posted by on December 31, 2012 in Faith, Power of God

 

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Spiritual Power – What Does it Take?

LightningIn past posts I talked about spiritual power in physical terms.  What does it take to walk in the power of God?  Scripture gives us the answers.

The following is an event that’s recorded in Luke 7:36-50.  I encourage you to take the time and read through this section of Scripture to see the truth of what I’m describing.

A Pharisee had invited Jesus over to his home for dinner.  When Jesus arrived at the house, the Pharisee neglected a few simple courtesies that were a way of life in that region of the world.

He didn’t offer Jesus a kiss, water for His feet, or oil for His hair.  This was a slight against the Lord.

During Jesus’ visit, a woman came in and did something unique.  She knelt before Him and wept, allowing her tears to fall on His feet.  Then she wiped them with her hair.  Once His feet were cleaned, she opened an alabaster bottle of expensive perfume and began to anoint His feet.

As this was going on, the Pharisee was thinking that if Jesus were really a prophet, He would know how sinful this woman was.  According to the Pharisee’s thinking, Jesus shouldn’t let her touch Him.

Jesus, knowing his thoughts, turned to the Pharisee and told him a parable about two men who had their debts forgiven.  One had a large debt, and the other a small one.

He asked the Pharisee which had more love for the one who forgave the debts.  The Pharisee answered that the one who was forgiven more, loved more.  Jesus then applied that truth to the Pharisee and the woman, much to the Pharisee’s shame.

In doing this, Jesus said some things that are very important for us to hear in regards to the flow of the power of God.

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Luke 7:50

We see from this verse that faith brought the woman salvation and peace.  These are two results that can only be accomplished by the power of God.  It is through the salvation and peace of God that we can live above the problems found in the world system.

But there is something else that Jesus said that causes us to question if faith was the only thing involved.

“Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven – for she loved much.  But he who has been forgiven little loves little.”
Luke 7:47

According to Jesus, she had something else that released the power of God into her life.  She had much love.  This is an important concept for us to grasp.  In order to truly understand the nature of power, we must come to terms with the relationship between faith and love.  In short, we must understand the faith – love connection.

Question: Do you see the connection between faith and love?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2012 in Faith, Power of God

 

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You are Better than a Tree

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.  Return to me, for I have redeemed you.”
Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this; shout aloud, O earth beneath.  Burst into song, you mountains, you forests and all your trees, for the LORD has redeemed Jacob, he displays his glory in Israel.
Isaiah 44:22-23

On Christmas Day – at least in my part of the world – I woke up to snow in the air.  It was a beautiful sight to see a new blanket of white on the frozen ground.  I was then blessed to spend the morning opening presents with my wife and children.  God is so good!

Sometimes it just seems like everything is right with the world.  “The hills are alive with the sound of music.”  We look around, and all of nature seems to be singing God’s praise.  Actually, this is a product of our attitude.  It happens when we start the day meditating on what God has done for us.

At least for believers, that should be an easy thing this time of year.  We are reminded of all the Lord has done for us.  Taking on our humanity and living among us was truly a special gift.  Then, bearing our sins to the cross and rising for our salvation was something we couldn’t have even imagined that God would be willing to accomplish for us.

What an incredible thing!  To have your sins forgiven.  To know that the blood of Christ washes you clean.  To be able to approach His holy presence without fear of condemnation.  It’s no wonder that Isaiah felt like all creation was bursting into song before him.

The privilege is ours now to run into His majestic presence.  Don’t start the day without spending time with Him.  Commit the day ahead to His care.  Let Him establish and maintain you.  Bring praise and worship before Him.  Don’t you dare let the forests and mountains outdo you in the praise of His glorious name!

Question: Is there something you would like to praise God for right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2012 in Encouragement, Worship

 

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Birth of Christ…A Sign of Things to Come

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s Christmas Eve.  Our thoughts turn to the Child born in a stable in Bethlehem.

This is the day everything changed.  Christ was born.  God made flesh.

And yet, many people miss the significance of the events that occurred that day.  Sometimes the smallest detail can make a world of difference.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.  An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Luke 2:8-12

At night in Bethlehem, everyone was asleep in their beds.  Well, not everyone.  There was a group of people who couldn’t sleep.  They had a job to accomplish.  They were shepherds watching over a flock of sheep.

Suddenly the unexpected occurred.  They had a supernatural encounter.  An angel showed up with an important message for them.  The Christ was born.

But more than that – there was a sign.  That means there was a special thing they were to look for to prove they were in the right place.  A baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.

This sign to the shepherds was more than just proof for them.  It was a sign of things to come.  This baby was placed in a manger – not a crib or cradle.  A manger is a fancy way of saying a feeding trough for livestock.  It’s a place for animal food, not babies.

Yet this was the “Bread of Heaven” who came down to give us life.  So for Christ, this was an appropriate resting place for Him.  The Bread of Life lying in a feeding trough.

The strips of cloth were another sign. It wasn’t the normal kind of baby clothes of that day.  Strips of cloth were used to clothe the dead, not the living.  This baby was dressed as a corpse.  Again – it was a sign of things to come.

Here was the Lamb of God.  He has come to take our place on the cross.  Even as a baby, His calling was revealed.  Death, burial, resurrection and ascension – all for our sakes.

On this great day, amid all the activities and excitement you may find around you, don’t lose sight of the signs.  This child we celebrate is no longer a baby.  He is King of kings and Lord of lords.  He is our Life and Light.  This season is all about Him.

Have a Blessed and Wondrous Christmas!

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Encouragement, Worship

 

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Understanding is a Scary Subject

LightningThis is my third post talking about why the evolution-creation debate is so emotional.  I have been dealing with the subject of understanding.  I believe this is at the very heart of the issue.  What is it about understanding that scares so many learned people?

The apostle Paul gives us some insight.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.
Romans 1:18-19

I guess the real question is, how has God made it plain?  Atheists say that they can look at creation and not even think about a God.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Romans 1:20

There’s that key phrase again – being understood.  This is what society fears the most.  If you apply understanding to what you see around you, it will lead you to God.  There’s no way around it, understanding will bring you face to face with God.

The Lord made it impossible to use understanding to arrive at the conclusion that we are here by the evolutionary process.  Applying understanding to the world around us will never lead to a belief in random chance.  How does that theory come about?

It starts with the foundation of atheism – I don’t want there to be a God.  Therefore, I have to come up with some other way for us to be here.  I must now find an explanation for how we could have gotten here if there were no God.  Of course, all the facts won’t fit into my theory, but at least I can explain how there can be life without God – even if it means I put my understanding on hold.

That’s why evolution will always be a theory.  It can never be proven, because there are too many things that it can’t explain when taken all together.  All it can do is provide a bit of consolation for those who don’t want to believe in God.

This is where the frightening world of understanding comes in.  Understanding will cost you something.  It brings responsibility with it.  Once I understand that there is a God that I must answer to, the rest of my life is affected by this knowledge.  That’s why the quest for understanding is one which is not undertaken by many.

It’s my prayer that you are one of the few who seek to understand the truth.

Question: How does your understanding of God affect your lifestyle?

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2012 in Creation

 

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The Three Main Functions of the Mind

DonkeyIn my last post I started talking about the subject of Creation vs. Evolution.  I believe there’s a very important issue involved that no one seems to talk about.

We started by looking at a passage from the book of Hebrews.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Hebrews 11:3

Actually, it all boils down to one key phrase – we understand.  What does it mean to understand?

The Bible talks about three basic concepts that deal with how the mind functions.

The first is knowledge.  Knowledge is the accumulation of facts and it’s the easiest to acquire.  We go to school or read books and get knowledge.

The next is wisdom, and that’s a little bit tougher to get.  Wisdom is the application of knowledge to solve problems.  The only way to get wisdom is through experience, or time spent in God’s presence.

The third and most important function is understanding.   Understanding involves direction.  It looks for the eventual outcome of a line of thinking.  It tries to put together all the facts, and asks, “Where does the path I’m on take me?”  This process exercises the mind to its greatest potential.  It’s hard work, and sometimes brings unexpected results.

Because of this, most people will not seek understanding.  Yet seeking is the only way to obtain it.  You must choose to understand.

Understanding, then, is exercising the mind to see the entire picture of life.  It looks at how everything fits together.  This is what our society desperately needs.

Unfortunately, most school systems teach us NOT to understand.  Everything is about the present.  Does it feel good right now?  Instead of understanding, they seek explanations – as long as these explanations fit into their world views.

There is an unfortunate outcome to this kind of living.

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
Psalm 32:9

Our modern society displays the truth of this verse.  The less understanding you possess, the more you need to be controlled.

We frequently hear people complain, “There are so many new and complicated laws now.”  What does that tell you?  I believe that we’re training a generation how not to understand.

The ability to seek understanding is the basis for a clear direction in life.  It’s got to be the starting point.  Without direction, there’s no reason for self-control.

This is why the creation-evolution debate is so emotional.  It involves issues that affect the very core of who we are and how we view our existence.

Question: Do you see a lack of direction and self-control in our society?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Creation, Faith

 

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Evolution vs. Creation…Is it Really that Important?

OrbitTalk about a controversial subject.  Why should we even bother discussing it?  The debate over Creationism only gets people mad, and makes them think that Christians are backward thinking hicks.  Is our view on this issue important to our walk with God?  I want to take a few posts to weigh in on the subject.  I think you’ll be surprised by some of the truths involved.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Hebrews 11:3

A little while ago I did a series of posts on the subject of True Faith.  I came to the conclusion that faith is a walk of discovery and response.  That is, discovering God’s truth and how we respond to it.

What do we discover in this verse?  Actually, we see the foundation of our walk with God.  So often we discount the importance of this truth.  We get wishy-washy because it’s so controversial in our society.  In our desire to sound modern and relevant, we end up denying the very core of who we are as believers.

The hot topic in question is intelligent design vs. evolution.  We seem to think it’s only a peripheral debate.

If that’s the case, then why does the enemy think it’s so important to attack?  Why is it such a main area of discussion when atheists try to show how “foolish” Christianity is?

The reason is crystal clear.  Faith understands that there’s a Creator.  That concept is foundational to our walk with the Lord.  If there’s no Creator, then there’s no purpose to life.  We would also have no responsibility for our actions.  There would be no such thing as sin and no need for forgiveness.  In that case, there would be no final judgment.  Following that logic, there would be no need for a Savior, the cross, or the resurrection.

Everything we believe rests upon the truth that there is a Creator-God, and that we were created by Him and for Him.  That’s why the subject is so important to those who oppose Christianity.  The Creation account is the bedrock upon which everything else we believe is built.

If my faith in God as Creator is shaky, then anything else I believe will be subject to doubt.  I must get the foundation solid in order to stand secure in my faith.

This is such an important subject.  Let me suggest that you subscribe for these posts to come to you via e-mail so that you don’t miss any.

Question: How important do you feel it is to believe in Creation?

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2012 in Creation, Faith

 

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