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Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Last-Days Deception

103_A_BonusPhotoThis post is the last in a series about our relationship to the Word of God.

The Book of Revelation mentions synagogues of Satan (Revelation 2:9).  These are places where the teaching of Scripture was done by satanic influence.  I need the Holy Spirit to help me interpret the Bible.  Yet, there are those who listen to the demon’s view of it.

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
1 Timothy 4:1

There are those who teach the Bible, but not the Word of God.  This is a great deception.  Of course no one would listen if a minister got up and said, “Satan says to do this.”  But if he reads a Scripture verse and puts a demonic twist to it, the church seems to fall for it most of the time.

Just because someone quotes Scripture doesn’t mean that what they’re preaching is of God.  I need the discernment of the Holy Spirit to protect me from false teaching.  How can I tell the difference between Satan’s teaching, man’s teaching, and the true Word of God?

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Mark 16:20

This verse literally says that the Lord was a co-worker with them.  They did their work – proclaiming the Word of God.  God did His part – confirming the Word that was proclaimed.  Miracles were commonplace.  As the disciples went out, the Word of God spread, and there were signs and wonders everywhere they went.

When Satan quoted the Bible to Jesus (Luke 3:9-11), he used it to try and convince the Lord to jump off the highest point of the Temple.  If Jesus had jumped, would God the Father have confirmed that “word”?  Of course not.

Just because I quote the Bible, it doesn’t put God under any obligation to confirm it.  Even if I’m preaching from a text on healing, there’s no confirmation unless it’s a Word God wants preached at that moment.

There are questions I need to ask myself.  Is God working with me?  Am I proclaiming the Word of God for these people?  If the answer to both of these is “yes”, then I can expect a move of God.

We may not like it, but the truth is plain and simple.  If there are no signs following, then it wasn’t the Word of God that was preached.

When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said.
Acts 8:6

Scripture is very clear as to relationship between the preaching of the Word, and the response of the hearers.  When the Word of God is confirmed, there is a supernatural manifestation that draws people’s attention.

America needs a revival of hearing the Word of God.  It will only come from those who have received and planted the Word into their lives.

Questions: How hungry are you for a revival to sweep our nation?  Are you willing to seek God for it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

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Posted by on June 28, 2013 in Revival, The Church, Word of God

 

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Scripture Without the Word of God

Dry2In my last post I talked about those who minister without the Word of God.  We are experiencing an epidemic of this in our American Christian experience.  Jude wrote about this problem almost 2000 years ago.

These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm – shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted– twice dead.
Jude 1:12

This rebuke describes a growing segment of the church.  What an appropriate editorial on many of the “ministers” we see on Christian cable and radio.

Jude describes them as shepherds who feed only themselves.  They preach messages that excite people in order to keep their cash flow going strong.  They’re clouds and wind with no rain – autumn trees with no fruit.

If there’s no fruit, then there are no seed to plant.  But that doesn’t matter.  With no rain they couldn’t water them either.

It’s a sign of the times that we live in.  There’s an abundance of the Bible being preached in America these days.  How much of it is a Word from God?  How much of it speaks what God wants said to this generation for this time in history?  How much planting and watering is being accomplished?

For the amount of Scripture being sent through the airways and over the internet, there is very little fruit to harvest.

“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.  Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.”
Amos 8:11-12

The prophet Amos predicted the days when there would be a famine of the Word of God.  What is a famine?  It’s usually a dry weather pattern.  As a result there’s no rain, no crops, and no new seed.  This must go on for years to qualify as a famine.

During the time of spiritual famine that Amos wrote about, Israel had many synagogues.  These were places where the Scripture was taught.  There were people teaching the Scripture all over Israel.  Scripture reading abounded – but not the Word of God.

It grieves me to look at the United States in light of this Scripture.  We are in that exact same place.  An abundance of the Bible is being preached and taught from every possible media outlet.  Yet for all of this, the church of Jesus Christ is, for the most part, marginalized.

We need to hunger and thirst for a revival of the Word of God in us.  Of course we need Scripture as our foundation – to keep us on track.  But we must seek God Himself so that we can receive the Living Word to burn within us.

Questions: What could America look like with an abundance of the Word of God going forth?  What could your life be like?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Revival, Word of God

 

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The Self-Watering Word of God

rainIn my last post I made a statement about the Word of God planted in us.  I first made the point that we’re powerless to make the seed grow. I then said that the only help we can give it, is in the watering process.

How do we water the seed of the Word of God?  That’s what this post is about.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:10-11

Now that’s an interesting concept.  Not only is the Word seed, it’s also the water.  The first time you receive God’s Word concerning a certain matter, be it salvation or healing, it’s the seed being planted in your life.

After that, you can still hear the Word of God in those areas.  However, it’s now the water to bring the plant to maturity.  That is why it’s so important for me to receive God’s Word in all of its forms.  I need both the initial seed and the water for growth.

As a pastor, I’m accountable to God to bring His Word to those under my care.  I must regularly plant seed and water what’s been planted.  Both are done by a Word from God.

The Word is both the seed and the water.  But that’s not a reason for you to feel comfortable if you’re not a pastor.  You’re under the same marching orders.

You’re accountable to God for the Word God has sent you to plant in the lives of others around you.  It’s this truth that sheds light on a problem that we’re currently experiencing in the body of Christ.

Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.
Proverbs 25:14

It’s very easy to claim gifts that you don’t possess.

“I am a teacher to the body of Christ.”

“I’m a prophet of God.”

It’s easy to lay claim to titles and positions.  The true test is whether or not people are being planted with the Word of God.  Is there fruit to the ministry?

What the world desperately needs right now is a Word from God.  The church promises so much, yet a lot of it is “clouds and wind without rain.”

It’s time for God’s people to press in to receive His Word.  When our society sees someone truly transformed by the Spirit of God, then they’ll hunger to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Question: Why are so many believers content to merely talk about the good things of God, yet not experience them?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Growth – Beyond My Control

SproutI’ve been posting about our relationship to the Word of God.  Specifically, how it works as seed in our lives.  While I am responsible to accept God’s Word into my life, there is another aspect that I have no control over.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like.  A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Mark 4:26-29

One of the most important concepts for us to understand is that the Kingdom of God is all about the Word being planted.  This is a part of all that we do as believers.

As a pastor, my greatest assignment is to receive the Word in order to plant it again in the lives of those who hear me.  Every Christian needs to be planting the Word into the lives of those around them.

With that comes the realization that nothing I do will bring about the growth of that seed, once it has been planted.  From then on it’s out of my control.  Once you plant the Word into the lives of your friends and family, it is time to wait – and that can be the hardest part.

Sometimes we want to force them to produce fruit.  We try to convince and coerce.  That’s usually when we start to push them further away.  We need to learn to plant, then step back and let God provide the increase.

The Word, by its very nature, begins to grow below the surface.  It cannot be stopped, but neither can it be hurried along.  It goes at the pace God has set for it.  One thing is certain; it will produce the harvest that God intended it to bring forth.  This thought was echoed by the apostle Paul.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7

We all have our part to play in the Kingdom of God.  Some of us plant the seed and some water it.  None of us can make it grow, that’s God’s department.  The only help we can give it, once it’s planted, is in the watering process.

Question: Have you ever caused bigger problems by trying to force the Word of God to grow in someone?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Living Saved – Past, Present & Future

GalaxyIn my last post I talked about how the work of salvation was started in your life.  But that’s not the end of it.  The Word has a greater job to do in you.

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
James 1:21

James is writing to the church in this passage of Scripture.  As I’ve stated before, I believe that the book of James was the first New Testament Scripture to be written.  If that’s true, then the Word he refers to could not be the Bible, since that was unknown at this point in church history.

What James is telling us is that the Word has been planted in us and is continuing to grow in us.  It’s there to change us.  Actually, what he says in the original Greek, is that this seed has the power (dunamis) to save your soul.  James is telling us to allow the seed of the Word to do its job, the saving of our souls.

Wait a minute!  I thought that if I accepted Christ, then I’m saved already.  The answer to that is an important one.  Yes, you were saved from sin and hell.  If you died right now you would go to heaven to be with the Lord.

However, in the broadest sense, salvation is not a one time thing.  It’s ongoing.  I’m saved (from sin and hell), I’m being saved (from the effects of sin in me), and I will be saved (from my flesh).  It’s this ongoing process of salvation that James is writing about.

Salvation itself is a package deal.  It includes everything that Christ paid for on the cross.  That same Word that brought me over from death to life also works God’s health and provision in me.  But for this to work, it has to start in my soul and work its way out.

That’s why the Word is called a seed.  Much of its work is done in the unseen places, below the surface.  Then, as it continues its work, it bursts out into the sunlight to bring the work in my life to completion – the bearing of fruit.

The question may arise – where does the seed come from?  The answer is simple.  It comes from the processes of the Spirit.  The seed grows, produces the plant and then the fruit.  The fruit itself contains more seed.  That seed is then planted in new ground to produce even more – and the cycle continues.

So, in reality, the seed comes from those who at one time received the Word, allowed it to grow, and then brought forth fruit.  The seed comes from someone who accepted the Word.  According to the parables of Christ, there can be 30, 60, or even 100 times what was originally sown.  God wants an abundant harvest.  The greater the harvest, the greater the next planting will be.

Question: How much has your life changed since you first made Christ Lord of your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in Word of God

 

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God’s Seed in You

SeedIn many of my posts I talk about the relationship between the Word of God and the Scripture.  The Bible is the written Word of God.  But we also need to hear the Word from the Holy Spirit.  This is where the power of God intersects with our lives.

For a few posts I want to write about how the Word of God relates to us.  The Bible teaches that we must correctly handle the Word of Truth.  In order to do that I must be studying the Scripture – the written record of God’s Word – so that I can handle the Word I receive from God today.

In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Acts 19:20

The Bible uses many terms in relation to the Word of God.  It uses language such as spread, increased, grew, reached and multiplied.  In the above verse we’re told how.  The verse says in this way.  If you read through this nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts you’ll get a taste for the effects of the Word.

We see the gifts of tongues and prophecy being manifested.  There was boldness in preaching.  Handkerchiefs and aprons that touched Paul were taken to the sick and they were healed.  Demonic spirits were confronted and expelled.  There was widespread repentance such that a group of new believers burned the equivalent of $5,000,000 worth of satanic sorcery books.

That’s the way the Word of God is described as growing.  Literally, the above verse says that the Word became a force to be reckoned with.  The Word of God is alive and it grows.  That’s the aspect that I want to discuss in this series of posts.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:23

We’ve been saved by the living Word of God.  That Word is a seed that’s growing inside of us.  It will never decay or diminish.  It’s there forever.

Somewhere along the line somebody spoke God’s Word to you.  It doesn’t matter whether they used the Bible or not – you heard a Word from God that changed your life.  It might have been a Bible verse, a word of prophecy, or a statement of divine truth.  Either way, you received it, it grew inside of you, and eventually you accepted Jesus Christ and were born again.

That’s how the Word of God starts its work in you.  The fact that you’ve established Christ as your Lord and Savior is proof that the Word has taken residence in you.  Now it’s up to us what we do with that seed.

Question: What was the Word of God that brought salvation into your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Are You Ready for Christ’s Return – Really?

ClockJesus made some surprising statements about His return.  Don’t be one of those who are unprepared for what will happen before His return.

“It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Luke 12:38-40

The Lord says that His return will come when you don’t expect it.  Notice that it will not be a surprise because He comes before you expect Him.  What is going to throw people off is that He will arrive later than they thought it would be.

The second watch of the night is from 9 o’clock to midnight.  The third watch is from midnight to 3 in the morning.

What if I said to you, “Can I come over your house tonight?”

“Sure,” you reply and you wait for me to show up.  7 o’clock, 8 o’clock and 9 o’clock go by.  At that point you’ll probably shut the porch light off.  At 11 o’clock you will probably be in bed.  If I then bang on your door at 3 o’clock in the morning, I’m sure you wouldn’t even get out of bed to answer the door, even though I told you I was coming.

That’s what Jesus is saying.  He’s telling us that He’s coming later than we think.  Most people would think that if you’re going to come for dinner you should arrive early.

Naturally, we think “suppertime.”  But Jesus is asking how long after the suppertime is past are we prepared to wait?  There will be a time when people start thinking that Jesus should be here by now, but He’s not.  It’s midnight.  A lot of people have these religious clocks that are set at five minutes to midnight.  They think that the Lord is coming soon – at midnight.

I’ve got news for you.  The Bible says He might come as late as 3 in the morning, spiritually speaking.  There are many Bible teachers who have taken certain future prophetic events and defined them as occurring “after midnight.”

Someday the “prophecy clock” will strike midnight.  If you’re one of the people who believe that He’s going to be here at this prophetic midnight, you might be disappointed.  We’ve got to be careful.  Most of Christianity is expecting Him to come at this midnight hour.

Jesus said, “I’m going to come later than you think.”  As a matter of fact, what you’re going to find as we go through these Scriptures, is that whenever Christ warns us about being ready, He always qualifies it by saying that He will come later than we’re expecting.

Question: How far are you prepared to go if Christ delays His second coming?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2013 in Faith, Return of Christ

 

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