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Monthly Archives: May 2013

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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Let it Burn – By Guest Blogger Heath Midkiff

FireLast Thursday morning, I found myself sitting in a chapel at Word of Life Inn, Schroon Lake, NY.  I was at a regional student convention, helping as a judge for various student competitions going on.  We had a morning devotional and it was Pastor Dave Sangster speaking on the topic of “Let It Burn.”

Pastor Dave was phenomenal and the message was impactful.  It made me start to think.  I wanted to apply the changes to my life and I hope it has the same effect on you.  I will be paraphrasing his devotional and adding some of my own thoughts.  I hope you enjoy!

Reading in 1 Kings 19, we see Elijah being told by God to go and anoint Elisha to succeed him as prophet. Elisha was an ordinary man and Elijah found him out plowing his fields with oxen.

Understand, that before Elijah called Elisha to follow him and succeed him as prophet, these oxen and the lands he was plowing were all Elisha owned and how he supported himself.

Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,’ he said, ‘and then I will come with you.’… So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.
1 Kings 19:19-21

In this passage we see what Elisha did that solidified his commitment to working in the ministry.  He took all he had, and all he had ever known – working his fields with his oxen and equipment – and destroyed it all. He killed his oxen, and burned his equipment to cook the meat on.

Some people might call this a bit extreme; Elisha couldn’t turn back now even if he wanted to.  This is the point I want to make and why this blog is titled “Let It Burn”.  God wants the same level of commitment that Elisha showed to be evident in us.

When we feel the call on our lives from God, and we find what our ministry is, he wants to burn up whatever our plan was for our life.  It doesn’t matter how far we have moved up or how much we have achieved.

Another godly example is the author of this blog, Pastor Nick Zaccardi. He was in a great position with a great company making a good amount of money.  However, when God called him out of it and placed him in a ministry in a different state, he left without hesitation and “let burn” the taste of success he already had achieved.

Be encouraged today to spend time with God, and find out what plans He has in store for you.  And when those plans are revealed, be prepared to give up everything you know now to walk in His perfect will.

Question: How much are you willing to “let burn” for God’s calling upon your life?

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2013 in Encouragement, Guest Bloggers

 

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Excellence – From the “Musts” to the “Oughts”

FlyingHow far into the realm of the excellent are you venturing?  In my last post I looked at a sobering statement that Jesus made to His disciples.

“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
Luke 17:10

If all you’re doing in your life and ministry are the things you’re supposed to do, then you’re unprofitable in the kingdom of God, according to the Lord.  There are always things that we must do or that we’re expected to do.

The word unworthy is derived from a Greek word that means, not ought.  The thought is that you are not what you ought to be.  To break into the realm of the excellent you must break through the “musts” and enter into the “oughts.”

Those who are not only doing what they have to do, but have found a way to do what they ought to do, are considered to be walking in the excellent.  When a person goes beyond the expected in his or her walk with the Lord we marvel at their spirit of excellence.

What does that mean to me?  I must stop saying, “I ought to have…”, “I ought to do…”, or “I ought to be…” then with the next breath say, “But I have so much I need to do; I can’t.”  When you develop the spirit of excellence, the Holy Spirit is now free to work in you to accomplish what wasn’t expected.

As excellence starts its work in you, you can tap into God’s “excellent power,” His “excellent grace,” and His “excellent love.”  You’ll find out that God has all the resources you need to fulfill the call to excellence that He’s placed inside of you.

In II Corinthians 12:7, Paul talks about being the recipient of excellent revelations.  He would not have received these had he not been walking in excellence.  Galatians 1:13 says that before he was saved, Paul excelled at persecuting the church.

Everyone else was persecuting Christians in the normal way.  Paul, however, went above and beyond the call of duty.  He dragged people out of their homes, and if they tried to move away, he even tracked them to other towns.  Once saved, He carried over this same spirit of excellence into his work for Christ.  That’s why the Holy Spirit entrusted him with all the revelation that he received from the Lord.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
II Corinthians 4:7

The word all-surpassing is the Greek word hyperballoexcellent.  This excellent power does not come from our own strength.  Don’t ever take the credit for the excellence in your ministry.  The glory belongs to God.

Walking in the spirit of excellence is one of the earmarks of the power of God in your life, showing that you hear from God and are obeying His voice.

Question:  What are some of the marks of God’s excellence in your life and ministry?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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Are You Profitable in the Kingdom?

ProfitMany Christians want to hear Christ say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  But do we really know what Jesus looks for in a servant?  Listen to what He tells His disciples.

“Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep.  Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’?  Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’?  Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
Luke 17:7-10

Christ shows us a servant, working in the fields.  He comes home tired and hungry.  Just as he sits down to eat with his family, he hears the master arrive.

Does he have the luxury of finishing his meal first?  Of course not.  He must immediately get up and tend to the needs of his master.  That’s the life of a servant.

After he has served, he can go back to his meal.  After all he did, does he now expect a bonus?  No, he’s only done what’s normally expected of a person in his position.

God expects more from us than we expect from ourselves.  In the verse above, the Lord asks a very fearful question.  As a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I tremble at the implications.

Should you, as a servant, do as you’re told and then expect to be thanked?  The word thanked means to be blessed, tipped or given a special reward.  Actually, a servant is supposed to do what he or she is told.

If all we do in your ministry is what’s expected or normal for our kind of ministry, then we’re not operating in the excellent.  As a matter of fact, Jesus calls us unworthy servants, meaning unprofitable.

In a business, profit is that which goes beyond the “break even” mark.  Therefore, by definition, profit is in the realm of the excellent.

Many believers are content to sit in a pew.  They feel secure that they’re just like everyone else.  They’re comfortable in their mediocrity.  I find that even in ministry, many pastors and evangelists are content to plug along doing what’s expected of someone with their title.

They do all the necessary things – preaching, praying for the sick, visiting, etc.  Then they pray and expect God to increase their level of anointing based upon the principle that they’re breaking even.  They never realize that their work doesn’t impress God.  More than that, He considers it unprofitable and unworthy of His excellent Name.

Christ is looking for excellence in His servants.  We need to raise our vision of what we’re doing for the Lord.

Question: How should we be “profiting” the kingdom of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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Excellence and Rewards

CrownIn my last post I talked about how we are called to live a life of excellence.  Did you know that your eternal rewards are based upon how well you live up to this?

The Bible does speak over and over again about the different levels of rewards based upon the work we perform throughout our lives.

But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.   From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Luke 12:48

The fact is that we are responsible for what we’ve received.  A young Christian is not responsible for the truths that have not yet been made real to him.  Someone who’s been walking with the Lord for years, and ignoring His call, will receive less in the kingdom.

It’s clear from Scripture that we’re going to be responsible for the grace that we’ve been given.  With a greater anointing and calling comes greater responsibility.

I’ve found that many believers, ministers especially, want the miracles and the big churches without the character it takes to walk uprightly before God in that kind of work.  The Lord wants us to grow from the inside out.  An increase in power, without a corresponding increase in character, will destroy our spiritual walk.

As a matter of fact, it’s probably too late for you now.  You’ve read too much.  If you’ve been reading my blogs regularly, then God is going to require excellence from you and your ministry.  Now that you know He’s a God of excellence, and that He requires excellence in His followers, you must begin to walk in it.  Read on!

Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Matthew 7:13-14

The Lord talked to His disciples about the narrow road.  We like to interpret this verse as if it’s merely talking about the road of salvation.  Salvation is indeed the first step toward excellence.  When we chose Christ, we chose a better path than that of the world.

I believe, however, that this Scripture has a broader meaning in application to the body of Christ.  Very few find the walk of excellence to which we have been called.  “The few;” that sounds like the definition of excellence to me – “that which goes beyond the expected or the normal.”

The Lord expects us to find the narrow gate of excellence.  If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

Question: Have you made the decision to live a life of excellence before God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2013 in Spirit of Excellence

 

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