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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Meditate on the Word of God

 

Journal 2Godly meditation upon the Word of God is one of the lost arts of the body of Christ. It’s one of the most powerful tools you could ever use in your study of God’s Word.

The Bible is a spiritual book. You can’t expect to use natural study methods to receive the supernatural revelation and knowledge God desires you to have.

There are always those Scriptures that, when read, seem to “jump out” at me. Through my meditation on the Word of God, I’ve gained insight into many of these portions of Scripture. I’ve found that I can use the tool of meditation to take me into the deep places of the Word of God. By meditating on the Word anyone can find the deeper truths of Scripture, and you’ll also come across some hidden gems that you never knew were there.

There are basically three levels to meditation. Each level revolves around an Old Testament Hebrew word. In this post I want to talk about the first.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

Meditation starts in our mind. The Hebrew word for this is Hagag. This word is used throughout the Old Testament and means to think about. That has got to be our starting point. We need to first think about the Word we’re studying. What does it mean? What did it mean to those to whom it was written? What does it mean to me?

Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my sighing.
Psalm 5:1

The word sighing, above, is the word Hagag. In both of the above verses David asks the Lord to consider his meditation. He wants the Lord to be pleased with what he thinks about. What a challenge!

One of the biggest battles we face is in our thought life. One of the side benefits to the discipline of meditation is that it starts to take our thoughts under control as we focus on God’s Word.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

We’re told that we’re to renew our minds. It’s through godly meditation that this is done. By thinking God’s thoughts, we’re “reprogramming our internal computers.” I believe this is what Paul meant when he wrote that we’re made clean by the washing with water through the Word.

This, then, is the first step, the starting point in our trip to supernatural revelation from Scripture. Before we can go any deeper, we must train our thoughts to focus upon the Word of God. We must begin to think about the Word. Only then are we ready for the next, deeper stage of meditation.

My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue.     
Psalm 39:3

As I have just stated, this form of meditation just gets the ball rolling. It’s merely the starting place. It ignites the fire that will bring you further into the Word. Now you’re ready for the second level. I will talk about that in my next post.

Question: How often do you simply think about the Word of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Ministry, Spirit of Excellence, Word of God

 

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Get Your Zeal On!

 

Fire DangerWe’ve all heard of the armor of God in Ephesians, chapter 6. Many people talk about the need to put on this holy armor. But do you know that there’s one more piece of clothing available to us that covers it all?

Paul the Apostle was a Bible scholar. He knew the Scripture better than most others of his day. What we fail to realize, is that he didn’t come up with the teaching of the armor of God on his own. It was actually from the book of Isaiah.

In Isaiah, chapter 59, we see God Himself putting on the armor – at least the helmet and breastplate. This is His personal armor – it was made to fit Him. That’s why I need to abide in Christ for it to fit me. But that’s another teaching…

I want to talk about something else that Isaiah saw as the Lord was preparing for the spiritual battle.

He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Isaiah 59:17

The reason that Isaiah could only see the breastplate and helmet was because God put on some clothes over the suit of armor. Did you know that one of these is available to us today?

It’s not the garments of vengeance. We know from Scripture that vengeance is His alone.

I believe that part of our problems stem from the fact that we want the armor but still fail to fully clothe ourselves. It’s the zeal of the Lord that covers it all. That’s one of the things that the church is lacking in this generation. Paul puts it this way…

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Romans 12:11

When should we be seen without the cloak? NEVER!! But what is zeal?

Zeal itself is a very strong emotion. It’s when you desire to possess some quality or possession of the one you’re zealous for. It’s actually the same as jealousy – only the positive side of that quality.

But I’m talking about being zealous toward Christ. This is a passionate, consuming zeal that’s focused on the Lord. It drives us toward the accomplishment of His will and the maintaining of His honor.

All of this is done in the face of whatever is happening in the world around us. It doesn’t matter whether we’re in the middle of good or bad circumstances.

Christ must be the focus of our zeal. We need to get emotional about our God. We need to stir it up.

That’s what warriors do before a battle. They would hold council the night before they met the enemy. They’d tell stories of former victories, sing, chant victory slogans, and raise the war cry. All of this was to stir up the emotion of zeal.

In the spiritual struggles we face, there’s no difference in the way we achieve victory. God wants us to put on His zeal before we enter the heat of battle. We must take up this attitude: “I live for the honor of Christ!”

Question: How often do you get emotional about the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Spiritual Warfare, The Church

 

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The Truth about Repentance and Restoration

WeedingThere are times when we pick up a bad attitude towards God. This usually happens when we feel that God isn’t listening to us. We think He’s ignoring us. There was a time in Israel that the people felt the same way.

After they returned from captivity in Babylon, the prophet Malachi was sent with a message from God. Listen to the exchange.

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’”
Malachi 1:2a

God gets right down to the basics. It’s all about His love for us. He loves us with an everlasting love.

That love is also a tough love. It’s like a parent who will not let their child touch a hot stove. The Bible clearly teaches that discipline flows out of the Father’s love. That’s usually when we get upset.

In the face of God’s love, the people respond with, “How have you loved us?” It’s a slap in God’s face. They’re saying, “Prove it, God.” It implies that they see no evidence of God’s love.

Why this attitude. It could be because they had just returned from Babylon. Their fields were overgrown. They were surrounded by their enemies. The temple they worshipped in was vastly inferior to the one Solomon built.

“Look at what’s happening to me, God. How can You possibly say that you love me.”

The thing is, we do this all the time in our attitudes. Here’s what they didn’t understand. The condition they found themselves in was because of their sin. It got so bad that they were captured and taken from their homeland.

Now they’ve repented. They’ve turned away from the false gods and were brought back to the land of promise. This is where the attitude springs up.

“Lord I repented, why aren’t things like they were before?”

This is what we need to learn as well. Repentance does not equal restoration. How do you get restoration?

Look at it this way. Spiritually speaking, you spent years planting weeds. Now your life is growing nothing but dandelions and chicory. You see the error of your ways and you repent. Immediately you want God to turn all your weeds into porterhouse steaks! I can tell you from the Word of God, and my own experience – it rarely ever happens that way.

What do you need to do? You dig up the weeds, plant new seed, and wait for the new harvest. Yes, you can trust God for an abundant harvest; and even a quick harvest. But there will still be a period of waiting for the blessings to appear.

Repentance and restoration. They go hand in hand. It’s just that restoration sometimes takes a little longer than we want it to. I repent and replant. Then I remember to keep my attitudes pure as I wait on the Lord to restore what was lost.

Question: What has the Lord restored in your life? How long did it take?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Faith, Revival

 

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The Adolescence of the Church

GirlAs far as I’m concerned, this is the worse stage of growth whether you’re talking about the spiritual or the physical. If there was one point in my life I wouldn’t want to go back to, it would be my pre-teen and teenage years.

The problem with life as an adolescent is that you’re coming into the height of your adult strength and intelligence. Yet, you lack the experience and permission to do things on your own. You see the freedom and resources that adults enjoy, yet you’re locked into a world where you have to wait for your turn to experience it.

In many ways, this is the place that most of the modern church finds itself in. We understand what should be ours in Christ, but walking in it seems to elude us. We need to learn how to overcome and make it successfully through this stage of our Christian development.

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 4:14-16

In this passage, Paul urges his people to follow his example as a mature believer. That’s the toughest assignment for a growing Christian. It’s a very hard thing to move from a childish mindset to that of an adult. There are behaviors that will work for children that adults will never get away with. The problem in most of the church is that we want the irresponsibility of childhood with the freedom and resources of adulthood. This will never happen.

There has to be a giving up of childish ways. We have to move into our role as mature followers of the risen Lord. Until this happens, we will never attain to our true potential in Christ.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

This verse should wake us up. Paul is writing to believers who are in the adolescent stage of their spiritual growth. They are saved and on their way to Heaven, but he tells them something that should get our attention. His burning desire is that Christ would be formed in them.

This is the Greek word morphoo. It’s where we get our English word morph. We hear this word a lot in dealing with computer graphics. When we see special effects in a movie, where one thing turns into something else, we say that it morphed. That’s the spiritual change that we’re looking for.

I want to let the world see a change in me. I want to “morph” into the same life that Christ lived. This is the point where the change happens that brings me from being a child to living as an adult.

In life it happens almost unnoticed. Then one day you see what you’re doing and realize you’re not a child anymore. As Christians, we need to go through this change on a spiritual level. The church as a whole needs to walk on the adult level. This is what Christ is looking for in us.

Question: What would a spiritually adult church look like?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Revival, The Church

 

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Our Final Exam – What’s On It?

ClassI’m posting about God’s ongoing work of salvation in us. God desires to continually bring about changes in us.

But what happens if I don’t allow God to continue with His plan to renew my life? Paul gives us some insight into the question. In the letter to the Corinthian church, Paul is addressing a group of mostly baby Christians. According to the Apostle, they’re not babies because they lack experience, but because they chose not to grow up.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15

When we are initially saved we’re placed onto the foundation of Christ. It’s afterwards that the building program begins. We have the choice to build for ourselves – wood, hay, and straw. Think about it in the natural. All over the world wood, hay, and straw are normal building materials. They’re used because they’re readily available and easy to build with.

It’s a lot more difficult to build with gold, silver or costly stones. They speak of what’s built by the spirit. If we submit to the will of God for our lives, then we’ll see a beautiful structure arise. Not only that, but it will be beyond our expectations for what we could have ever accomplished on our own.

The good news is that we’re told how it will all turn out. We’re not in the dark. We know what we’ll be judged on. The test is fire.

You can build some elaborate and beautiful houses with wood, hay and straw. I’ve seen some grandiose mansions around the country. Here’s the problem, they’re not going to be judged on how high they were built or how ornate they are. They’re going to be doused with gasoline and lit up.

Think about what’s important to you right now. The test is not how high you climbed up the corporate ladder. It’s not how much money you accumulated. It’s not even about how many good deeds you did or how many friends you have on Facebook.

The judgment will be based upon how close you stuck to the Plan. Did you allow the Holy Spirit to work His changes in your life? The final exam is how close your life came to God’s will for you.

That’s what will matter the most to you in the end.

Question: How high on you priority list is knowing and accomplishing God’s will for your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Faith, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Saved in our Past, Present, & Future

Cross SunsetI’m posting about the salvation we share in Christ. How Christ took us from where we were and made us new in Him. Our past had no bearing on His love for us.

…for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:13

This work that Christ has done in us is totally His doing. It didn’t matter how good I was. I’m just as guilty before God. It wouldn’t matter if I was a drug dealer, rapist, or terrorist. The blood of Christ is sufficient to cover all of my sins.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

The salvation of the Lord is all encompassing. But, as incredible as all this is, it’s not the end of it. Even though in one sense I have been saved, God’s work continues to have an effect upon my life. Salvation doesn’t end with the sinner’s prayer.

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:2

It should be clear from the context of this verse that being saved is an ongoing process. The word for saved in this verse implies a continual work. That’s why there’s an “if” in this section. The process of salvation can only continue if you hold firmly to the Word.

I think that part of our problem in the modern church is our stubborn refusal to allow God to continue His work of change in our lives. We’re happy that our sins were forgiven. We look forward with joy to our home in Heaven. But right now there’s so many things that we want to do and experience in the world. The thought of God disrupting those plans for His purpose doesn’t sit well with us.

We need to see change as the natural outgrowth of our walk with God. His ongoing plan of salvation in us should never stagnate. There’s always something new to look forward to. That even applies to the return of Christ.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
Romans 5:9

Not only is the saving work of the Lord active in me today, it gives me a future hope. I know that on the Day of Judgment I have nothing to fear. Because of Christ’s work on the cross, I will be saved from the wrath of God. Death holds no fear for the Christian, only the promise of a new address in the presence of God.

Question: How is God’s ongoing work of salvation continuing to change your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2014 in Faith, The Gospel

 

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How Saved are You?

CrossAs I think about Resurrection Sunday coming up this weekend, I want to talk about our salvation. It seems like we hear about it so often that it loses its appeal. It’s so important that we keep what God has done for us fresh in our hearts.

In this series, I’m not going to give you a detailed theology of Biblical salvation. Rather, I want to talk about some important aspects that we’ve glossed over in the modern church. The saving power of the Lord Jesus Christ is so rich and powerful, yet in many Christian circles we’ve reduced it to only a fraction of God’s desire.

There’s a tendency in the evangelical church to use this word in the past tense.

“I’ve been saved. Are you saved?”

“When did you get saved?”

Statements like these relegate our salvation to an event that happened sometime in the past. It was a great thing. It changed my life. But now it’s something I can look back on. This is the furthest thing imaginable for the true definition of our salvation.

The Greek word sozo is what’s normally translated as saved in our English Bibles. It is a huge word that’s crammed full of meaning.

To enter into sozo means that you’re not only saved, but kept safe and sound, and are rescued from danger and destruction. Also included in that word is the fact that you’re saved from disease, healed, and restored to health. It applies to both the physical and spiritual realms.

The word saved includes the entire scope of everything that Christ paid for on the cross. It contains the answers for our past, present and future. To see it as anything less is an affront to the Gospel – the Good News – of Jesus Christ.

Let’s look at what the Scripture has to say about it. We’ll start with our entrance into this great work of God.

…That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
Romans 10:9-10

This is the only way possible to enter into the salvation of God. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to God apart from His work on the cross. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the only door to our salvation.

In this sense we can look back at the initial work of God’s saving power in our lives. It was the day we heard and understood the Good News. We learned that we were incapable of pleasing a Holy God. Yet, because of the work of Christ, His Son, we could be saved.

We believed the message in our hearts. Then, in an outward response to that faith, we confessed with our mouth that Jesus Christ was Lord.

It doesn’t matter the semantics you used. Whether you say that you received Jesus or prayed the sinner’s prayer. If you bowed your knees to Christ in the above manner, you entered into the salvation of the Lord.

It didn’t matter who you were or where you came from. Your good works or your evil past had no bearing on what God did in you. When you called upon Him, you were saved.

Question: What were the events surrounding your initial salvation experience?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2014 in Faith, The Gospel

 

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