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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Are You More Like the Pharisees or Jesus? #belikeJesus

Come to JesusI have posted about what happened when the most powerful user of the law (Satan) attacked the most powerful user of the Holy Spirit (Christ).  The battle wasn’t even close.

Now I want to relate how Jesus lived and taught about power on a daily basis.  The last thing I want is to be in error, trying to defeat the devil on his level.  I want to face each battle from a position of strength in the Holy Spirit.

In order to understand this truth, we’ll look at the differences between the Pharisees and Jesus.  It’s no secret that the Pharisees walked in the power of the law.  But…they were powerless in the spirit, so they were usually jealous of Jesus’ power.

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching?  With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!”
Luke 4:36

When Jesus ministered, the people saw something different.  He wasn’t like the Pharisees who simply made excuses why people were sick or poor.  They would point out people’s sin as the answer for everything.  With Jesus, it was a whole different way of ministry.

…and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
Luke 6:19

The people could see the power of God at work through the Lord.  It got to the point where they were not even asking Him to touch them any more.  They were trying to touch Him.  Power was flowing, issuing out, all around Him.  They simply had to put their faith in Him to receive this life transforming flow.  And that’s exactly what it was – a flow of power.

That’s because power is like a liquid.  If the channel is clear, it will move like a river from one person to another.  It was for this reason that a woman tried it later on in the Gospel of Luke.  As He was with the crowd, suddenly Jesus stopped and turned around.

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet.  In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.
Luke 8:46-47

As I was meditating upon these verses, a very interesting question popped up in my mind.  In both Luke 6:19 and Luke 8:46-47 power was flowing out of the Lord.  The question is, was Jesus “controlling” the power?  According to the verses above, He was not consciously deciding who to pray for.  The people were touching Him and the power of God was healing them.  He was simply the avenue through which the Holy Spirit worked.

Questions: Do you want to be used of God in this way?  Are you willing to walk the same road of relationship with the Father that Jesus walked?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2013 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God

 

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Continuing in Power #powerofGod

PowerI have been posting about how Christ was tempted in the wilderness.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, He overcame all the assaults of the enemy.  But there’s more to the story than just the devil’s defeat.

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.  Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
Luke 4:13-14

The story goes on.  After the devil had done everything he knew to do, he was finished.  The enemy had totally drained his battery.  He had to leave for a while to recharge.

Jesus, on the other hand, didn’t miss a beat.  He’d been fasting in the wilderness for 40 days.  Then the Lord experienced a spiritual battle the likes of which we’ve never seen in our lives.

Was He drained?  Did he have to recuperate?  Absolutely not!  Jesus Christ came out of the wilderness experience just as powerful as when He entered 40 days before.

We need to walk in this kind of power.  But in order to do this we must let go of our reliance upon the promises and start acting like spiritual adults.  We need to truly tap into the full potential of the power of the Holy Spirit who is at work within us.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
Ephesians 3:16

Without a doubt, this is the key – the Holy Spirit living within us.  Being led by the Spirit is the earmark of a son.  We must remain in Christ if we are to access this potential.  Christ is our example.

I don’t know why we’ve turned it around and made it all about us.  As if we have the power to change anything.  We think that if we find the right promise or confess the right Scripture verse, then a miracle will happen.  Maybe if we put together the correct formula of words in a prayer the power will manifest.

What’s the secret of how Christ consistently walked in the power of the Spirit?  It wasn’t confessions or formulas.  It was the time He spend remaining in the Father’s presence.  He prayed, He listened, and He obeyed.

It’s time for us to learn this lesson.  We need to stop looking for an easy way to tap into the Spirit while continuing to live for ourselves.  I need to submit to the Lord’s agenda for my life.  Time in the presence of God is the only thing that will bring about this transformation.

Question: What would have to change in order for you to spend more time in the Lord’s presence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Power of God, Prayer

 

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Are You Walking in Faith or Foolishness? #faithorfoolishness

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAIn my last post I talked about how we needlessly put God to the test.  It was something Christ refused to do during His earthly walk.

When I began this series, I shared how I personally went through one of the worst points in my life.  During this time we were one of the families who lost their homes in the recent mortgage crisis.

But I can state, without reservation, that at my worst financial point, I was still better off than most of the world’s population.  I had a roof over my head and a full belly.  How dare I even entertain the idea that God failed to provide for my needs.  If I’m truly walking in faith, then I acknowledge that I serve a faithful God, who I never need to put to the test.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Matthew 4:8-9

The devil continued his assault using the promises of God.  This time he used a promise specifically aimed at Christ, the Messiah.  He was making a deal with Jesus in which the Lord could obtain the Messiah’s blessing without having to endure the pain of the cross.  As far as the Lord was concerned, this was the last straw.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan!  For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Matthew 4:10

Jesus saw right through the devil’s smokescreen, and rejected the offer without even giving it a second thought.  How dumb can we be?  So often we fall when the enemy tempts us to do foolish, unscriptural, and even ungodly things…all for spiritual reasons, of course.  We sometimes make crazy decisions all under the guise of “God wants me blessed, happy, and wealthy”

I’ve heard things like, “God told me that this is the woman He created for me.”  My question is what about the woman you’re married to right now?  What about “God hates divorce”?

By His life, Jesus showed that He lived above the promises.  He lived as a Son empowered by the Holy Spirit.

We’ve lost the whole concept of sonship.  I desire to post about it in depth someday.  But for now we need to see how very differently Jesus lived than we do.  He didn’t feel the need to spend His life rehearsing the promises.  Neither did the Lord try, in His power, to fulfill the requirements so that He could obtain the blessings.

Jesus lived His life in the power of the Holy Spirit.  That’s my goal, and the goal of these posts.  That the church of the living God would wake up to our impoverished condition, and rise up to the potential that the Lord placed before us when He said that we would do the same works that He was doing (John 14:12).

Question: How have you experienced people doing foolish things for “spiritual” reasons?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2013 in Faith, Power of God, The Church

 

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Christ’s Example – Trusting the Promises or God? #promisesofGod

Bible1In my last post I showed that Christ refused to be tempted to claim a promise.  This is the opposite of what many believers do today.  We’re trusting God to provide things we don’t even need just because we found a convenient Scripture to “stand on.”

Paul talked about this in his letter to Timothy.  Paul warned Timothy about people…

…who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.  But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:5b-6

I believe that there’s something inherently wrong with a message that continually focuses on my happiness, my comfort, and my pleasure.  It’s true that God loves us and wants the best for us.  I also believe that there is a scriptural prosperity that God wants for His people.

But I also believe that many have taken this too far.  As a result, God’s people are spending too much time, prayer, energy and “faith” running after the things of the world that they think will satisfy them.  At the same time, they ignore the work of the Kingdom of God.  As a result, they never lay hold of what will ultimately fulfill the desires of their souls.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.  For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Matthew 4:5-6

Again, the enemy tried to use a promise to tempt the Lord.  He wanted Jesus to prove that God was protecting Him, by throwing Himself off the roof of the temple.  Satan uses this same strategy on us as well.  Of course, the results are usually different when we’re involved.

How do you respond when you’re tempted to test God?  Do you trust Him or not?  There’s no need to put God to the test.  He’s already proven Himself in Christ.  We need to follow the example of Jesus, who once again did not take the bait that the devil put before Him.

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Matthew 4:7

This usually turns out very differently when the devil runs this scenario before us.  We love to do foolish things, then “trust” God to get us out of the mess.  We spend our money on movie tickets, CD’s, video games, and new cars.  Then, when we can’t pay the bills, we “trust God” for the money.

How foolish!  Don’t you realize that the money you spent on your toys was the money God provided for your bills?  But we just sit back in bitterness and say, “I tested God and He failed me.”

As the people of God, we need to get our lifestyles back in line with the Word of God.

Questions: How do our faith and our actions work together?  How do they oppose each other sometimes?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Faith, Power of God

 

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Jesus Walked Above the Promises #promisesofGod

MountainI’m posting about how Christ walked in the power of God.  In my last one I started talking about His time in the wilderness as He faced the devil.

It’s now the end of the Lord’s forty day fast.  I can only imagine how the Lord was feeling at the end of this time.  But at this point it’s over; He could eat now, according to the rules of fasting.

It’s interesting to see how the devil attacks Jesus.  This is how most of our temptations are based.  It will give us insight into how the enemy works against us as well.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Luke 4:3

Think about Jesus’ teaching.  Specifically how He taught on prayer.  In what we commonly call “The Lord’s Prayer,” He prayed, “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

This prayer is a son praying to the Father.  If you look closely at this line, it’s not a request.  Jesus is assuming that daily bread is the right of a son.  He doesn’t say that God promised it to Him.  He simply lays claim to what He wants, knowing God’s provision for His sons.

I believe that Satan based his attack upon this prayer.  However, the enemy worded it in the form of a promise.  He said, “If you are The Son of God…”  He challenged Jesus to prove it by claiming the promise for daily provision.  The sad thing is that we would have taken the bait, and we do regularly. Then we say that the Holy Spirit told us to do it.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

Jesus’ response is clear.  The fast was over.  It was perfectly in order for Him to eat.  But that wasn’t the issue.  Jesus wasn’t there in the wilderness for the purpose of eating.  He was there to hear from the Father.  In this verse, “word” is “rhema” in the Greek.  It means the revealed Word of God.

Jesus was telling Satan, “I didn’t come here for bread; I came to hear a Word from the Father.”  If the Lord wanted to eat, He could have brought food.

This is a classic strategy that Satan uses over and over again.  Sadly, we continue to fall victim to it.  We can be tempted to “over-claim” the promises.

In America we already have too much stuff and we believe God for more.  It seems that Christians are always “trusting God” for bigger houses, better cars, and more toys.  Then, we get discouraged when our “faith” doesn’t pay off.

I believe that it’s time for God’s people to grow up and act like mature sons and daughters of God – like Jesus.

Question: What should we be trusting God for?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2013 in Faith, Power of God

 

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Is Christ Really Our Example? #Christourexample

JesusI am posting about how Christ walked in the power of the Spirit.  He’s our example for a life of victory over the power of the enemy.

You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Acts 10:37-38

This was the theme throughout the ministry of Christ.  Whoever sought help to escape the enemy’s grasp was set free by the Lord.  The reason He could accomplish this is because His anointing was based upon the power of the Holy Spirit.  By the way, this is the same Holy Spirit who’s now resident in us.

So, the big question is why was He able to heal?  Was it because of the Old Testament promises that spoke of healing?  No, it was because God, the Holy Spirit, was with Him.  What we need to come to grips with is the fact that God wants to heal.  He doesn’t want anyone bound by the power of the enemy.

So we can see clearly that Jesus’ power was from the Spirit, not from the law.  It’s vitally important that we understand this truth.  This is the key.

To aid in our realization of this we’ll look at the best example that the Gospel record gives us.  We will go to the section of Scripture where the devil and Jesus have their first battle – in the wilderness.  The accounts of both Matthew and Luke, together, show the fullness of what happened during this time in Jesus’ life.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert…
Luke 4:1

The first thing that we see is that the Lord Jesus allowed Himself to be led by the Spirit.  That means that this encounter wasn’t an accident.  This event was part of the strategy for victory over sin.

…where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
Luke 4:2

When Jesus went into the wilderness His intention was to meet with the Father.  His desire was to fast and pray for the ministry He was about to begin.  In order to do this, Jesus fasted for forty days.

This brings up an interesting question.  How important to us is walking in God’s power?  How far are we willing to go to obtain it?  Are we willing to do a long term fast?  Spend time in the wilderness, away from all distractions, seeking God?  In most cases I see believers who live for themselves and are simply “trusting God for a breakthrough.”

If we want to see the results of Christ, we need to walk His walk.

Question: How far are you willing to go to walk in the power of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God

 

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The Power of Christ #powerofChrist

LightningIn my last post I talked about my struggle with legalism that I didn’t even know I had.  I was like so many others who “stand on the promises.”  They are trusting in the power of the law instead of the power of God working in them.

Then again, there are other Christians who have thrown out the whole idea altogether.  They’ve tried to live up to the requirements of the promises and failed.  They’ve come to the conclusion that they’ll never gain the blessings of the promises.  So what they’ve done is to start living for themselves and chase after the things of the world.  Unfortunately, if you throw out the promises altogether, and don’t remain in Christ, you’ll find yourself unplugged from the source of our power.

If my attitude is that I don’t want to read the Bible or go to church, then in essence I don’t love God.  This is because love is an action, and I’m not showing it toward the Lord.  You can say, “I love God” all you want, but that only means that you have good feelings toward Him.

That’s usually how the world defines the word “love.”  In that sense you can love God without any of those things.  However, I’m talking about true love – an action where all your heart, soul, mind, and strength are involved.

It’s clear from Scripture that there are two forms of power – the Spirit and the law.  Both of them are strong forces for change, but the power of the Spirit is the greatest.  We also know that trying to fulfill the requirements of the promises is a form of legalism.

Under the New Covenant, the promises serve two purposes, of which both are important.  The blessings of the promises show us what God enjoys doing for us.  The requirement side of the promise shows us what we can do to please God.

The real question we need to deal with is how did Jesus operate in the power?  We will start by seeing how Jesus taught about the power.

He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
1 John 3:8

This is a simple yet profound truth.  One of the main purposes of Christ coming to the earth was to destroy the devil’s work.  The Lord wanted to end Satan’s reign of terror on this planet.  To do that Christ would have to wield a power much greater than that of the devil.

It’s this power that I want to talk about in these posts.  Christ is our example.  If I can grasp how He walked in the power of God, then I can get the same results by following His principles.

Question: What works of the devil need to be dealt with in our generation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God

 

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