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Monthly Archives: May 2013

Going the Distance

JogI have been posting about Abraham and his experience on the mount of sacrifice.  He is an example to us of how to position ourselves to receive God’s provision in our lives.

In my last post I talked about how he was quick to obey the voice of God.  But sometimes, even when we respond right away, things don’t happen when we think they should.

On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.
Genesis 22:4

We saw that God had told Abraham to leave home with his son.  He also told Abraham that He would show him the place where he was to sacrifice Isaac.  Abraham obeyed immediately, but that was not the end of it.

It’s now three days later and they’re still traveling through the wilderness.  This had to be the hardest walk Abraham ever took.  Yet he continued on, even knowing that he would lose his son in the end.

I’m sure he kept telling himself to just turn around and go home.

“You must have heard wrong.”

In spite of this constant internal pressure he continued to move forward.  He did this not even knowing where his final destination would be.

This is the second key to being victorious in the face of trials and unlocking the blessing of God.  We must cultivate perseverance.  Sometimes it all comes down to the choice to put one foot in front of the other no matter how hard that is.  We must continue to serve God day after day, even when everything around us looks just the opposite of what we think it should be.

It’s in times like this that we must place our confidence in the Lord.  Drawing strength from Him is the only way to move forward when the going gets tough.  Christ has promised us that He would never abandon us.

The good news is that situations can change.  Just because things don’t look good now doesn’t mean that God is not in control.  He is still on the throne.

The truth is that it’s not always easy to follow God’s leading.  But the end result is always worth the effort.  Don’t let the temporary problems rob you of the blessings that the Lord has for you.

Maybe you’re going through something right now that you don’t understand.  You might not know how the Lord could possibly get you through it.

Take the time to draw upon the Lord’s power for you.  Spend time before Him in humility, acknowledging that without Him you can do nothing.  Place your future in His hands and commit yourself to seeing His plan fulfilled in your life.

Question: How has God proven Himself faithful to you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2013 in Faith, God's Provision

 

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The Link Between Obedience and Provision

SunriseIn my last post I started a series about God as our Provider – Jehovah Jireh.  I’m using Abraham’s experience on the mountain of sacrifice as our example.

Before Abraham ever called God by this name, the Lord asked him to offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice.  It was Abraham’s response that floored me.

Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey.  He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac.  When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.
Genesis 22:3

I don’t know what time of day God spoke to Abraham about taking his son to the mountain of sacrifice.  But what strikes me the hardest is the fact that immediately – early in the morning – the next day, he was ready to travel.

If I were asked to give up a child, I could find so many excuses to put it off.  I would want to spend some time with him.  Maybe even throw him a going away party so his friends could say goodbye.  I might spend nights in prayer so that I could get a “confirmation” that God really said what He said.

I remember when my middle daughter, Sarah, went away to a ministry internship in Texas.  Even knowing that I would see her again from time to time it was hard to let her go.  I can’t even imagine what Abraham was going through internally.  I don’t know that I could have gone through with it.

Unlike me, Abraham did just what God had asked him to do.  Not only did He respond positively, but he did it immediately when he was asked to do it.  This is the secret to persevering under testing.  We must be quick to obey God.

I have talked to so many people who have told me things like, “I know God wants me to do this, I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.”  Too often the things that God asks of us get put on the  back burner.  We are waiting until our goals are finished.

So often we like to put the teachings of Scripture into little bubbles.  When we talk about God’s provision, we only want hear about how to tap into God’s supply.

Obedience is in a different bubble.  That’s one we don’t want to hear about very often.  In the life of Abraham we learn that everything is interconnected.  How well I tap into God’s supply is dependent upon my level of obedience.

Don’t fall into the “bubble” trap.  Review your life.  Is there something you’re neglecting that you know is God’s plan for you.  Repent of your inaction.  Spend time with Him and commit yourself to His desire for you.

This could very well release a blessing that has been stalled out for a while.

Question: Is there something God wants you to do that you’ve been slow to obey?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2013 in God's Provision

 

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Jehovah Jireh is a Place

MountainThere are a lot of people who write about how you can have the blessing of God on your finances.  I’ve been feeling lately that the Lord wants me to write about this truth for a couple of weeks in my posts.  I’m hoping that it will be a benefit to you.

There’s a name of God that gets a lot of attention.  Jehovah Jireh – which is Hebrew for the God Who provides.  This is one of the names of God that has inspired so many songs and sermons.

It was on the mountain of sacrifice that Abraham used this term for God.  This was the first and only time it was used in Scripture.

It happened just after God stopped Abraham from offering Isaac as a sacrifice.

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.  He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.  So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide.  [Jehovah Jireh]  And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
Genesis 22:13-14

There are many people who view this name as a promise of provision.  What they fail to see is that Jehovah Jireh is not a promise but a place.  It’s a spiritual mountain that must be climbed.  To get to that place in God, it will require the same thing from us that it did of Abraham.

Some time later God tested Abraham.  He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
Genesis 22:1-2

Of all the things that come with the spiritual walk, testing has got to rank among my least favorites.  Yes, I understand from the Scripture that unless my faith is tried and tested it’s worthless.  But that still doesn’t mean I have to enjoy the process.

When we think about Abraham, we usually refer to him as the “father of those who walk by faith.”  A lot has been written about the faith of Abraham.  I’ve heard many people say that they aspire to have that same level of faith.

What’s sometimes forgotten, however, is that along with great faith comes great testing.  Abraham was no exception.  Because his faith in God had risen to such a high degree, he endured trials that I can’t even imagine going through.

Just as he is our example of faith, Abraham can give us insight into how to stay strong under testing.  For the next few posts we will take a close look at this aspect of his walk with God.

As we take this journey with Abraham, I hope that you’ll find that place of abundant provision in Christ.

Question: Have you noticed that with each new step of faith, you enter another phase of testing?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2013 in Faith, God's Provision

 

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Do You have a “Move On” Attitude?

BootGod is calling His church to a higher level in Christ.  The return of the Lord is very close, yet sometimes the church seems to act like we have all the time in the world.  Are you complacent about where you are spiritually?  Or do you want to see a greater move of God through your life?

At one point in his life, Moses had a similar choice to make.

Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.”  So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt.  And he took the staff of God in his hand.
Exodus 4:19-20

Moses had been away from Egypt for a long time.  But in this time of his life, God was calling him to return to his former home.  The difference was that this time he had a mission from God – to set his people free.  Even so, it still required a long wilderness journey.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to start.  The planning and organizing are usually pretty easy.

I enjoy hiking.  There are times that I have spent a few days on the trail.

When morning comes and it’s time to move on, thats when the truth of this is made real.  It’s not that tough to break camp and put things away into your pack.  But when you finally put your pack on, and stand there with your trekking poles in your hand – a subtle transformation occurs.

Suddenly, without warning, the campsite that you’ve called home for the past twelve hours is no longer yours.  Now you’re a part of the trail and looking for a new destination.

We may be very satisfied where our life is right now.  But this isn’t our destiny – the Lord has a greater work He wants to do in us.  When God calls us to a higher level, we can never be satisfied this way again.

Remember that we need to be a people who are packed and ready to go.  This world is not our home and the things of this world will never truly fulfill us.

Sometimes we just need to go before the Lord and reiterate to Him our total commitment to following His path for our lives – no matter where it leads.  We need to thank Him for the destiny that He has prepared for us.  Then, we need to be open and listening for any course changes He may speak to us.

It all depends on our attitude.  Am I satisfied where I’m at, or do I hunger to see what God wants to do in these last days?

Question: Do you desire to move up to a new level in Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2013 in Return of Christ, Revival, The Church

 

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Have You Transferred Ownership?

contractPaul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God…
Romans 1:1

Paul uses some interesting language in this verse.  He calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ – literally a slave.  It’s interesting, because on various occasions Paul made a point of proving his freedom.

Once he was arrested and he asked the guard why he was being denied his right to a trial as a Roman citizen.  The guard explained that he, personally, had to buy his freedom.  Paul, on the other hand, said that he was born a free Roman citizen.

At that time, if you were born a slave, you were expected to be a slave forever – there was no escaping it.  Under Roman law, a slave could find out his “sale price” from his master.  Then, if he saved enough money, he could pay the buying price to and have the ownership transferred to one of the many Roman gods.  Then, as a slave to that god, could serve as a free man.

I believe this was in the back of Paul’s mind as he penned these words.  We are all born under slavery to sin.  That was our unfortunate lot for the rest of our lives.

Jesus Christ paid the “slave price” for us.  Now, just as Paul did, we need to transfer the ownership of our lives over to God.  As God’s slaves we can now serve as free citizens of the kingdom of Heaven.

We have to live under this knowledge if we are to have a fulfilling life in Christ.  We don’t own our lives.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:5-8

Christ, Himself, set the standard of living that we need to follow.  He said that He came to live a life of service.  That should be our attitude as well.

The Apostle Peter understood this truth.

Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.
1 Peter 2:16

In the first verse above, Paul said that as a slave, he was called to be sent forth as an apostle.  Once we’ve transferred the ownership of our lives to God, our callings will open up to us.  We are now free to serve Him to the best of our ability.

Paul finished off the verse by saying that he was set apart to the Good News.  That literally means that we are set off by a boundary.  The Good News is our field of service.

This is the attitude that will push you to great things in the body of Christ.

Question: Have you transferred the ownership rights of your life to the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2013 in Encouragement, The Gospel

 

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Promises Fulfilled – The Rest of the Story

GrapesI’ve been posting about how Christ has fulfilled the requirements of the promises for us.  Now, by faith, we’re free to walk in the blessings as adopted sons of God.

But there’s more that we need to grasp about this truth.  Unfortunately, the response of most Christians in the USA to this teaching is, “Great!  I don’t need to do anything to receive God’s blessing.  I don’t need to tithe or go to church or anything.”

Please understand that I didn’t say that.  What I said was that Christ fulfilled the requirements of the promises.  The blessing side of the promise shows what God wants to do for us as sons.

However, there’s also a reason for studying the requirement side of the promise.  The question at this point is, as a Christian, why do I need to know the requirements?

It’s the requirements of the promises that show us what pleases God.  Remember:

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:7-8

We fulfill the requirements of the promises simply because we love God.  I know the truth about Christ fulfilling the promise, but I continue to tithe because I love God and He deserves ALL my money.  I read the Word of God because I want to know Him better.  I go to church because He meets with me and the body of believers there.

If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
John 15:6

If you’re not remaining in Christ in this love relationship, then you have no access to the power of Christ.  You may not like this, but it’s the truth.  Christians ask dumb questions that show their lack of maturity all the time.

“Do I really have to pray every day?”

“Do believers have to tithe?”

Let me explain to you the nature of these questions.  Most believers have no idea about the implications of what they’re saying.

What kind of person would ask the question, “If I get married, do I really have to kiss my wife?”  It’s simple – a five-year-old would ask that question.  Only someone who is not mature enough to understand the beauty and intimacy of the marriage relationship would think that kissing a wife would be “yucky.”

The very fact that you’re asking those questions show that you’re an immature Christian who doesn’t yet understand the intimacy of our love relationship with the Lord.  A mature believer wants to serve and please God no matter if there is a blessing promised or not.

Question: Are there ways that you’re serving God regardless of any promise?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2013 in Power of God, The Church

 

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All You Need is Christ

JesusIn my last post I talked about how Christ has fulfilled the requirements for the promises.  This teaching is carried on throughout the New Testament.  It’s not just a verse pulled out of context, but a scriptural theme that has been all but ignored by the church.

For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath.  And where there is no law there is no transgression.
Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham.  He is the father of us all.
Romans 4:14-16

This is a foundational passage in our knowledge of how the promises are obtained in Christ.  The blessing is received, not by my working to do the requirements, but by faith in the One who has already fulfilled them.

This truth is not only given to us by Paul, but also by Peter as well.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
2 Peter 1:3-4

The phrase through these obviously refers to the glory and goodness of God, not our works of righteousness.  As a matter of fact the implications of this go deeper than we have yet discussed.  According to this verse, the reason God blesses us is so that we might actually be participants, sharers, in His divine nature.  You will not find the call for us to fulfill the requirements of the promises anywhere in the New Covenant.

If that’s true, then what are the promises for?  We can look at it this way; each promise has two halves.  There are the requirements and the blessing.  According to the New Testament, Jesus came to fulfill the requirements of the promises.  Because of His finished work on the cross, we receive the blessing of the promise because we’re in Him.

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
Galatians 4:4-5

What really began to set me free was when I realized that the promises are the rights of sons.  For instance, this means that the promise associated with tithing has been fulfilled.  God rebukes the devourer because I’m a son.  We need the revelation that we now receive the promises based upon sonship.

As I’ve said before, you need the whole truth to be effective.  In my next post I will deal with the most important part of this series.

Question: Why is it so hard for us to accept that Christ has finished this work on the cross?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 17, 2013 in Faith, Power of God, The Church

 

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Legalism and the Promises

LionIn my last post I shared that when I decided to tithe in order for God to rebuke the devourer, I was appealing to the law for my financial blessing.  Through the gentle leading of the Spirit, I came to the realization that I had placed myself under the commandment.  I now understand that trying to fulfill the requirements of the promises is a form of legalism.

What I forgot was this:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.
James 2:10

By placing my hope in keeping the tithe law, I was missing the rest of the puzzle.  Here’s what I had neglected.  The passage in Malachi showed me the conditions to rebuke the devourer.  But there are 20 other verses that deal with things I can do that allows the devourer to get my stuff.

They talk about everything from hiring prostitutes to neglecting the needs of the church.  So in effect, when I tithed, God rebuked the devourer.  Then, if I neglected the church, I was calling the devourer back so he could continue his work.

Now, don’t get ahead of me.  This is a dangerous point to only have half of the truth.  You need the whole truth, if you’re going to walk in the power of God.  At this point I’m still dealing with the first half.  You must read all the blogs in this series to get the whole picture.

I became more and more aware of the fact that trying to fulfill the requirements of the promises actually puts me under the law.  So I did a study of promises in the New Testament to see how they’re used under the New Covenant.

For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ.  And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 1:20

I was surprised at what the Scripture had to say.  Nowhere did I find it taught that we have to fulfill the requirements.  As a matter, of fact it was just the opposite.  The reason for this is the finished work of Christ on the cross.  He even told us that was why He came to the earth.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
Matthew 5:17

In this statement, Jesus tells us the whole foundation for walking in the blessings of the Word.  Part of His work was to fulfill everything written in the Old Covenant.

The word, fulfill means to cram full, to fill in the holes.  All of the open-ended requirements needed to “claim” the promises have been filled in by Christ.

This means that we are exempt from the requirements, unless we voluntarily place ourselves under the law.  In that case, the kingdom of the enemy has the right to use its power against us on the same level.

Question: What promises have you turned into laws in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God, The Church

 

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How God Exposed my Legalism

SpotlightIn my last post, I looked at Paul’s question – How does God give His Spirit and work power in the church?  This question is the difference between all other religions and Christianity.

Think about it.  In the book of Acts, the early church had no phones, radio, New Testament Scripture, or anything like the resources and knowledge we have today.  Yet they walked in the power of God that’s unrivaled in our modern generation.

As I thought about it, I also realized that my grandparents couldn’t read and had no formal education to speak of.  Yet there was an incredible manifestation of the power of God in their lives – what happened?

Let me say something now, for shock value, that I’ll explain more fully in a later post.  It was when the church started teaching about the promises we began to lose the power.

Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.  I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death.
Romans 7:9-10

This verse is very clear.  God saved me apart from the law when I trusted the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Through this finished work I was made alive apart from the law.  Then the commandment came, which the Scripture says is the power of sin (I Corinthians 15:56). When this happens, death begins its work in me.

Let me explain how God used this truth to minister to me.  One day, as I was driving, praying, and meditating upon the Word, the Holy Spirit started to speak to me.  I had been going through a rough time financially.

I had done everything that I knew to do.  I had stood on all I’d been taught about prayers and confessions.  I’ve always been a tither.  I always remind the Lord what His Word says and that I’m standing on His promises.

At this point in my life I clearly heard God speak to my heart and ask me, “What are you basing your expectation on?”  Immediately my thoughts turned to the Scripture.  I’m basing my hope in the Word that tells me to tithe.  If I’ll tithe, then You will rebuke the devourer and open the windows of Heaven.  I give special offerings when You lead me to, so that I’ll receive the blessings of the seed of faith.

The Lord then asked me a question that floored me.  He said, “So you’re basing your expectation upon the law?”  I was speechless.  I had no response to this.  On the inside I felt like defending and justifying my actions.  But deep down I knew that the Lord had hit upon the very root of the problem, even though at that point I had no clue how to get out of it.

I came to the realization that I had placed myself under the commandment.  Trying to fulfill the requirements of the promises is a form of legalism.

Question: Are there Scriptural promises that you find yourself legalistic about?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God, The Church

 

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The Law and the Power of God

PowerlessI’ve posted in the past about the power of God and the power of sin.  How do I know which power I’m using?  When I understood the answer to this, I was shocked.  I always thought that I was as far from legalistic as you could get.  Be prepared, I think that the answer might change your whole outlook as well.

My goal is to answer two questions over the next few posts.  Why does the church seem to have no power?  And what do we need to do to get it back?

When I say this, I’m comparing us to what I read in the book of Acts.  I’m also thinking about the stories I heard from my grandparent’s generation.  They came to the Lord in the wake of the Azuza Street revival.  When they were saved they saw miracles, healings, signs, and wonders.  What has happened to us since then?

You may think as I did, “I’m not legalistic.”  But do we even know what legalism looks like?  Let’s find out what the New Testament has to say about it.

You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?  Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
Galatians 3:1-2

The word translated foolish in the above verse literally means not thinking.  Paul is asking these Galatian Christians why they are not thinking about what they’re doing.

The next line he writes literally means, who has fascinated you by false representations?  It’s obvious from the way he writes that these believers were not being convinced by the truth, but rather a clever counterfeit.  Paul reminds them of the fact that they first believed Jesus Christ was crucified for them.

He then asks a simple question – how did you receive the Spirit?  The implied answer is that the Spirit was received by faith, trusting in God to do the work.

Paul was re-emphasizing to them that the law can’t save anyone.  The law only condemns.  Paul, however, continues along this line with another question and we have all but ignored its implications.

Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Galatians 3:5

What most people don’t realize is that the word translated miracles in the New Testament is the Greek word dunamisPOWER.  Usually it is just the context that the translators use to decide whether to use miracle or power as the English word.

The question Paul asks is fundamental to our understanding of the power of God.  How does God give His Spirit and work power in the church?  Obviously, the answer is by faith.

Question: Why does following the law never lead to the power of God?

© Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2013 in Faith, Legalism, Power of God

 

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