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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Growing Up in the Word of God

BinkiesI believe that in this generation God is trying to get His children to listen to His voice.  He wants them to hear from Him on a daily basis.  God is maturing His church.  I believe that we are very close to a revival.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
1 Corinthians 13:11

God is bringing us from adolescence to adulthood in the Spirit.  In order to attain to this place in Christ we need to “put childish ways behind us.”

By referring to childish ways, I don’t mean these things are bad or wrong.  They’re simply things that we needed to progress in our childhood, but no longer need in adulthood.  For instance, I needed to ask permission to use the car as a teenager when I lived at home.  Now I have my own car, and I can use it whenever I want.  There was nothing wrong with asking permission, but that phase of my life is now over.

The church is progressing through the training levels God has for us.  As this happens, there are some things that worked for a season, but are not needed in our maturity.  I want to take a few posts to talk about this maturing process.  As I go through the teaching of Scripture, we will see some of these temporary principles.

What I’m afraid of, is that there are some who are so attached to the things of our childhood, that they will not want to release them and embrace adulthood in the Lord.  With that in mind, please read with an open mind and an open heart.  Receive those things that are Scriptural and of the Spirit.  And, if there are any things that I have put in from the flesh – with no Scriptural foundation – then you have my permission to lay them aside.

God is bringing His church back to a deeper walk in the Spirit.  At this point in history it seems that we do so much by the flesh.  The winds of change are blowing.  It’s time for us to start operating in the new move of the Spirit.  The foundation for this is the Word of God.

Paul told Timothy that we need to “correctly handle the word of truth.”  (II Timothy 2:15)  In order to correctly handle something, you need to know what it really is.  In the next few posts we will look at what the Word of God is and what it isn’t.

I think some of the words of Christ will surprise you.  In reality, the church has been guilty of using things that are not the Word of God as if they were.  It’s time for us to get back on track.

Question: Do you think the church is ready for revival?  Are you ready?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Revival, The Church, Word of God

 

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How to have a More Satisfying Prayer Life

Pray1Have you ever thought, “If my prayer time was more satisfying, I would pray more.”?  What does it take to have a prayer time that you can feel good about?  I think the answer may surprise you.  It surprised me.

I was reading an chart sent to pastor’s about their prayer lives.  It was based on some research done through a survey.  They asked a number of probing questions.  I want to comment about their findings, which I think can apply to all believers, not just those in full-time ministry.

…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

The researchers broke down their findings into 4 categories – those who were very satisfied, somewhat satisfied, somewhat dissatisfied, and very dissatisfied with their prayer lives.  They found that the average pastor spends 39 minutes a day in prayer.

That might not sound like much to you.  But, the last survey I heard before this one placed it at 20 minutes a day.  So, I’m glad to see that the prayer time of most pastors is on the rise.

What I found very interesting, was the breakdown of averages.  Those who were least satisfied in their prayer lives averaged 21 minutes a day.  Somewhat dissatisfied – 29 minutes.  Somewhat satisfied – 43 minutes.  Very satisfied – 56 minutes.

I find that absolutely wonderful!  The more time spent in prayer, the better you feel about it.  That seems right to me.

The study also looked into what pastors include in their prayers.  It was found that the average pastor spends 5 minutes in confession, 7 minutes in thanking God, and another 7 minutes in praise.  They also averaged 8 minutes quietly listening and 12 minutes giving their requests to God.

How does the average stack up against those who were most satisfied with their prayers?  It turns out that the pastors who were very satisfied with their prayer lives didn’t follow the crowd.  On average, they spend more time listening to God and less time on their requests.

I think that this survey speaks volumes to us.  My blog title was how to have a more satisfying prayer life.  The answer is clear.  The more time you spend in prayer – specifically listening for God’s voice – the more satisfied and fulfilled you’ll be in the place of prayer.

(The above was based upon an Ellison Research Survey for Facts & Trends 05/06/05)

Question: How does your prayer life compare to the research above?  How satisfied are you with your present prayer habits?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in Prayer

 

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It’s Easy to Turn Faith into Superstition

CloverDo you serve God superstitiously?  How do you know whether or not you do?  You may be surprised at the answers.

We’re told in Scripture that we’re to serve God by our faith.  We’re told that it’s impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6).  As a matter of fact, anything not coming from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).

But, just as important as faith is, it’s just as important to know where this faith comes from.  The Bible is clear on this issue, even if we are a little fuzzy sometimes.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

This verse literally says that faith springs out of hearing, but hearing through the Word of Christ.  There are a few key concepts that are important in this verse.  The first is that, of all the different kinds of faith that we can have; only the faith that has its birth in the Word of God is valuable.

The next is one you may not want to hear.  But, this faith comes by hearing the Word and not reading the Word.  That’s because it’s the Greek word rhema that’s translated word in this verse.  The Greek word rhema always refers to the revealed Word of God to us.

This isn’t talking about reading the Bible and drumming up faith in ourselves.  It’s about listening to the Holy Spirit speaking to us.  It might take place while we’re reading the Scripture, praying, or listening to a sermon.

Jesus got upset at the Pharisees for this same type of superstition.

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
John 5:39-40

Here’s what takes place sometimes.  It may be that there’s a believer in need of healing – for example.  As they’re reading the Bible, the Holy Spirit uses it to grab their attention.  The Lord takes the Word that they’re reading and makes it rhema to them.

In a moment of divine faith and obedience, they declare that Word with their voice.  Immediately they’re healed.

What does he do next?  He starts teaching that if you confess this verse, you will be healed.  That is superstition.

It’s not reciting the verse that healed this person.  Christ our Healer was the one who made them whole.

This is how easy it can be, to turn faith into superstition.  Instead of bringing people to a deeper relationship with Christ, it’s easier to recite Scripture over and over.

Please understand – I didn’t say to stop memorizing and confessing the Scripture.  What I am saying is to seek to hear from Christ.  He’s the One our life flows from and not our “works of righteousness.”

Question: Why is it so much easier for us to recite the Bible than to seek to hear from God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Faith, Word of God

 

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Have You Heard the Good News?

SharingFor the last few posts I’ve been talking about the Good News of Jesus Christ.  What exactly is that Good News?  I think you’ll be surprised at how the modern church has turned the message around, making it empty of its power.

If I were to ask people “What is the Gospel?”, I would probably receive many answers.  There are a host of believers who are actively trying to “win the lost.”  They would most likely give me very Biblical answers.

What I want to know are the perceptions of those who hear the Gospel.  From talking with unbelievers who have been “witnessed to” I could boil it down to the following: “You’re an evil sinner going to hell, but if you repeat a special prayer you can go to Heaven.”

If that’s what they got out of an encounter with a Christian, then something’s wrong with our approach.  There is no way to demonstrate a statement like that.  That’s why so many unbelievers are bitter toward those who have tried and failed to convert them.

We need to return to a true understanding of what the Good News is all about.

Here is an example of Jesus’ ministry.

“The time has come,” he said.  “The kingdom of God is near.  Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:15

Jesus made two statements.  The kingdom of God is near was the Good News.  The Lord then told the people how to respond to this Good News.

Repent and believe is not the Good News, it’s the response that’s needed.  We must learn that the power is in the Good News, not in the response to the Good News.  In many cases, we have started calling the response, the Gospel.  You cannot go out preaching “repent and believe” and assume you’re bringing the Gospel to the world.

When it comes to the Good News, one size doesn’t fit all.  There are gang members and single moms, Wall St. executives and the homeless.  Is the Good News the same for all of them?

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that the response to the Good News must be the same for all people.  But the message itself will be different depending upon who you’re talking to.  This is how God established it in His Word.

God, Himself, gave us four Gospels.  Matthew was written for the Jews and Mark for the Romans.  Luke was for the Greeks and John contained Good News for the Christian.

It’s a fact that religious people need to hear something different than the unchurched.  The Bible itself describes the Good News in many ways.  It’s called the Gospel of the Kingdom, of God, of Christ, of God’s grace, of your salvation, and the Gospel of peace.

Of course, no matter how the Gospel message is tailored to an audience, Jesus Christ is central.  Furthermore, it all must be demonstrated by the power of the Holy Spirit in order for the world to see the full picture.

Question: How can you bring the Good News to those in you sphere of influence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in The Church, The Gospel

 

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The Place of Signs and Miracles

One WayI believe that signs and miracles are a part of the true Gospel.  Without them, it’s difficult to impact the unbeliever.

The Apostle Paul refers to this truth throughout his writings.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18-19

Paul tells us how he led the Gentiles to obey God by announcing the Gospel and making disciples.  Notice, that he accomplished this by what he SAID and DID.  It was through the power of signs and miracles.  The difference between a sign and a miracle is that a sign is a miracle that confirms what you say about God.

The key issue is that by operating in this way, Paul fully proclaimed the gospel.  I believe that just talking about Christ is not the whole Gospel.  The Bible is clear that the kingdom of God is “not a matter of talk but of power.” (I Corinthians 4:20)

Last week I asked, what is it about the Gospel that we’re ashamed of ?  I used some illustrations.  If I won a new car I would call you over to look at it.  If I got a promotion at work, I would immediately show you my new business cards.  How is that different from the spiritual Good News?

I believe it’s because we have reduced the Gospel to clichés.  “Jesus loves you.”  “Jesus wants to bless you.”  “God loves you and I do too.”

The problem is that there’s no demonstration.  It’s not like the new car or the promotion at work because I offer you no proof of what I’m saying.

Based upon Scripture, if there’s no demonstration, then there’s no Gospel.  Many are ashamed because all they can do is tell about Jesus.  Some can’t even see the proof in their own lives because of the lack of power.  It makes many believers feel like charlatans when they share the Good News.

It seems we’ve lost the original Good News.  We don’t understand the power of God and we don’t understand the Gospel. The two go hand in hand.

Without the Good News, there’s no need for the demonstration of power.  Some American Christians want the power without proclaiming the Good News.  The fact is, that without the message of the Gospel there’s no need to demonstrate healing, prosperity, joy, freedom from depression, or anything else the Lord has provided for us through the cross.  I’m striving to spur the church on to get hungry to experience the full Gospel.

That’s why Paul could say that he had fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ.  Not only did he tell about Christ, but he also demonstrated the love and power of the Lord.

Question: How can we return to the true Gospel?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2013 in Power of God, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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