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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Your Soul is Important

MirrorIt’s important to keep our soul healthy and prosperous. Probably even more than the physical. That’s because what happens in your soul is the foundation for the rest of your life.

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (NKJV)
3 John 2-3

Soul prosperity is the basis for physical prosperity and health. Of course there are those who say that this is just a greeting. They teach that you can’t trust God to perform this in your life based upon this verse.

Wasn’t it the Holy Spirit who inspired John to write this? If so, then it should be applicable to my life. What about the Apostle Paul? When he greets the church by saying “Grace and peace through the Lord Jesus Christ,” does that negate the truth of it? The truth is that the blessings we experience in our Christian walk are directly tied to how our soul prospers. That brings up a question. What is my soul and how does it prosper? I want to post about this for a bit.

So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.
1 Corinthians 15:45-46

In the above passage, the word natural is the word soulish in the Greek. Right now we have inherited a soulish body from Adam. That means that our body responds to commands from our soul – which is our mind. It’s who you are. The soul includes your personality and all of your memories.

It’s the Greek word psyche. It’s where we get our English word psychology, which means the study of the soul. Your soul is the real you. That’s why the Scripture refers to people as souls.

When I speak or write, it’s your soul that I want to communicate with. I don’t just want to stimulate your eyes and ears. It’s the person on the inside that matters.

Even animals have souls – but they don’t have a spirit. That’s what sets us apart from them. Yet without using the spirit, our lives are not much better than the animals.

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Psalms 73:21-22

That’s what humanity is like without Christ. We end up storing up nuts like squirrels. Or constantly searching to mate, like dogs.

The fact is that if you want a good life with health and prosperity, then you need your soul to prosper. Our problem is that we usually don’t take good care of our souls. We let things slide and then wonder why our lives get messed up. I want to take a few posts to look at what it takes to get your soul in shape.

Question: What are the characteristics of a healthy soul?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Healing, Revival

 

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Looking for the Holy Pause

 

AttentionA while ago I posted a series of articles about hearing a Word from God. I said that this was the missing ingredient in the church today. I believe that it’s the restoration of this truth that will be the basis of the next move of God.

With that in mind, I’m drawn to the book of Acts where this principle is at the forefront of the activities of the early church. It’s important to see how they operated in it if we’re to go in that direction.

As I read this account of the church’s infancy, I’ve learned to look for what I call “the holy pause.” These are the times where the believer is taking the time to hear from God concerning their next move. Most of the time, we read right over these important moments without giving them a second thought.

One place this is evident is when Peter and John were going to the Temple at the time of prayer. At the gate was a man who had been crippled from birth.

When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Acts 3:3-5

Did you see it? Peter and John paused to stare at the man. Why? They had been to the temple every day for a long time. They had seen this crippled man on many occasions. Why did they stop to stare at him on this particular day?

It was because at that moment the Holy Spirit was arresting the Apostle’s attention. They were pausing to hear what the Spirit was speaking to them. Then, having heard from God that it was this man’s time to be healed, they spoke the words that changed his life forever.

A similar event took place in the life of Paul.

In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
Acts 14:8-10

When the verse says that Paul saw that he had faith, it literally means that Paul perceived the man’s faith. After all, faith is not something that can be seen with your eyes – it’s an internal decision.

How long did Paul look at the man? We’re not told. But it was long enough for the Holy Spirit to speak the Word of healing to the Apostle.

We need to learn this truth if we’re to see the manifestation of the Spirit in our ministries. We need to learn to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit working in us. This takes time in His presence.

In our generation we want the quick working of God. Unfortunately, the greater the manifestation of God in your life, the more time you must spend in prayer before the Lord. We need to learn the lesson of the Holy Pause.

Question: What are some other examples of this holy pause in Scripture?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Prayer, What's Missing?, Word of God

 

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America at the Crossroads

FlagcrossToday is Memorial Day. It’s a day to remember the sacrifices that so many men and women have made so that we can live in freedom. It’s sad to see how far we’ve fallen from the original plan of the founding fathers.

How did this happen? First of all, we have to understand that God treats nations differently than He deals with individuals.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
Psalm 33:12

God will bless a nation that follows His ways.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
Proverbs 14:34

To the extent that America followed God’s ways – we were blessed and exalted. We saw the abundance of God, and then thanked Him for it. Our people had wisdom to create wealth, inventions, and many other great achievements.

But there came a time when we started to leave the path.

Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?
Psalm 94:10

The truth is that God disciplines nations. Of course, this requires understanding God’s ways. The world is the Lord’s, and all of the land that exists is His. Nations, themselves, cannot be saved or unsaved. As such, nations are under law, not grace.

We know from Scripture that the power of sin is the law (I Cor. 15:56). That means that the enemy’s kingdom is powered by the law.

This principle was the basis of the law given to Moses.

…for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
Leviticus 18:27-28

In effect, the law gives the devil permission to attack a nation that defiles God’s land. It’s not God cursing a nation. It’s a nation cursing itself by inviting the enemies’ attack.

How is the land polluted? A few things listed in the Bible are: Bloodshed (Numbers 35:33-34); Corruption (Ezra 9:11); Sexual Sin (Leviticus 18:25); Prostitution (Jeremiah 3:2); and Idolatry (Jeremiah 16:18). The devil has permission to attack polluted lands.

It grieves me to admit that America is a defiled land. I’m sorry for sounding so down about the USA. The truth is that there’s nowhere else on earth that I’d rather live. I love this nation. But without a proper diagnosis, there can be no healing.

There is a remedy for the problems we face in our culture.

…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

I have heard this verse emphasized in America since the sixties. But rather than humble themselves, pray, seek, & turn – God’s people have either protested the moral landslide or joined right in with them.

It’s time for us to take God’s holy prescription for this nation. It’s time for the church to remember where we came from, and fervently seek revival.

Question: What would a national revival of the church look like?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Prayer, Revival

 

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Let God Take You Away

 

Cloud2In my last post I was talking about Enoch’s experience with God. I said that, like Enoch, God wants to transport us – not out of the world, but from death to life.

Where exactly does the Lord want to transport me to?

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Thessalonians 5:9

God did not take us to a place where we suffer His wrath. A lot of Christians need to hear this.

The Lord takes us into His salvation. He has taken us to a place where we can receive healing, prosperity, grace, joy, peace, as well as all the other blessings which He paid for on the cross. That’s why He wants to set you apart. He wants life for us – not death.

Too many believers picture God as someone just waiting for us to mess up so He can “zap” us. That’s not the God we serve. Christ has done everything needed for us to live in the divine blessing of His love and acceptance. We need to see that as a completed work in Christ.

But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
1 Corinthians 12:18

This is another great truth of Scripture.

The Lord takes us to His body. We need to understand what it means to be part of a body. It’s very different from being part of a collection. In a collection everything is independent from each other.

I have a postage stamp collection. If I’m missing a certain stamp, I say, “Someday it would be nice to get it.”

That’s not how the church should operate. In a body, all the parts depend upon all the others. A person that’s missing a hand is at a disadvantage.

Stamp collections can be arranged in many different ways – by topic, color, country, value, etc. In a body every part has only one place where it belongs. This means that I must let God place me where He wants me.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.
1 Timothy 1:12

This is the final place we’re transported to.

The Lord takes us to His service. This is an incredible verse. God has endued me with His power so that now He can put His faith in me.  He wants to trust me and place me in His service.

What a privilege – I can serve God as a well-pleasing servant. I don’t serve out of fear, but love. He has provided all that I need to serve Him acceptably. I can know and do His will.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Philippians 3:12

Paul had a goal. He wanted to pursue His calling in Christ. He did this so that he could take hold of that for which Christ had taken him. Christ wants me for a reason. I want to find out what that reason is.

This should be the attitude of every believer. Pursue the knowledge of why God has chosen you for His service.

Question: What is your place in the body of Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2014 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God

 

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Have You Been Taken By God?

PowerlessThere are some important truths that we can learn from the life of the patriarch, Enoch.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.
Hebrews 11:5

This verse says that it was by faith that Enoch was taken. Faith is always a choice. It’s the decision to accept and believe something that I have come to understand about God.

We must choose to be taken by God. This is the first and most important choice of the any believer. As Christians, we have accepted the sacrifice of Christ. But very quickly after salvation it becomes obvious that God wants more than just a prayer and an offering.

This is what it means to be a living sacrifice. The Lord says to each one of us, “I want you. I have a purpose and a plan for your life.”

The Scripture says that Enoch was transported so that he did not see death. It’s clear that God doesn’t want us to see death at work in our lives.

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
Romans 6:13

Jesus Christ has brought us over from death to life. The problem is that sometimes, because of our flesh, we’re more comfortable with death. We allow things into our lives that are killing us.

There was a prerequisite to what Enoch experienced. Before he was taken, he was well-pleasing to God. This is one of our greatest blessings in Christ – the fact that today we can be pleasing to God. That’s why the writer talks about it in the next verse.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

This verse literally says that apart from faith you are powerless to please God. You can try to work to please God – but you’re powerless to accomplish it. The only thing to do is to choose to believe He exists, and then earnestly seek Him as the Rewarder of your life.

It is only because of these two choices that the Lord of the universe is well pleased with you. It’s because of your faith that He wants to take you as His own – if you’ll let Him. His desire is to transport you from death to life.

Just like with Enoch, God takes you out of your old life and brings you to a new place of blessing. In my next post I’ll talk about exactly where the Lord transports you to.

Question: Why is it important to know that my works have nothing to do with being pleasing to God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Faith, Power of God

 

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The Locked Up Church

LockedIn my last post I talked about the picture of the church that the Lord gave me from Acts, chapter 16. In that passage, Paul and Silas are in prison, chained up, in the dark. Yet they were praying and singing as if nothing were unusual.

I said that much of the church is in that condition today. We go on praising God every Sunday, yet having no effect on the world the rest of the week. How did we get into this position?

I believe that it’s because we didn’t heed the warning that Christ gave us during His ministry.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”
Luke 21:34

Here Jesus tells us of three weights that can hinder us from fulfilling our destiny. They are called dissipation, drunkenness, and anxieties. We will never reach our true potential in Christ if we try to run with these hindrances.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

We are warned to throw off the things that hinder. Probably the worst is dissipation. We allow the best parts of our life to be dissipated.

The world has so many distractions these days. Classes we could take, recreational opportunities, athletic events, and entertainment. All of these things, in and of themselves, add to our enjoyment of life. They’re good things.

“Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12

Yes, they are all good things, permissible things, but they’ve become the masters of our lives. They dictate our schedules. They tell us what we can and can’t do for God.

We fill up our time with all these good things. Then, more often than not, God gets the leftovers. Our leftover time, strength, and resources.

What happens when God says, “I want you to take a week to meet together and experience my work of revival in you.”?

“Sorry, that won’t work for me. I have a class on Monday night. Tuesday is my bowling league. Thursday I have to get the kids to their Karate lessons. I just can’t make it out to weekday meetings.”

Where does all the time go? Dissipation. We have allowed the distractions of the world to dissipate the time that should belong to the Lord. Our schedules have become mastered by the good things of the world.

In this way the church has become a prisoner to our permissible things. We are in chains and in the dark. We need to be set free by the power of God.

Question: What will it take to shatter these chains from the church?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Revival, The Church

 

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The American Church – In Our Prison Cell

JailA vast majority of American Christians seem to be ineffective at bringing change to our society. Why is that? Our legacy is that of a people who “turned the world upside-down” with the Gospel of Christ.

As I was meditating on Acts chapter 16, I was struck by a mental picture. Paul and Silas were bringing the Good News of Jesus to the town of Philippi. In the course of their time there, they were arrested.

After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Acts 16:23-24

As they were put into their cell, there’s no sign of a struggle. They quietly submitted to their imprisonment. This surprised me.

The next day, they enforced their rights as Roman citizens.

But Paul said to the officers: “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.”
Acts 16:37

Where was this boldness the day before? Maybe they were too exhausted from their beatings. Maybe they were waiting for things to calm down. Whatever the reason, they quietly allowed themselves to be placed in prison, and chained up.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Acts 16:25

This is the picture I saw in my heart as I thought on this passage. I see the church, the jailer, and the prisoners. The jailer is totally unaware of anything out of the ordinary that’s going on.

The church – Paul and Silas – were in chains and in the dark. Yet they were having church, business as usual. They were praying, singing, and praising God.

All of the other prisoners were listening to them. That’s all. No one was being saved. No one convicted of their sin, or at least no visible evidence of it.

As I thought about it, I realized that this is the condition of much of the church these days. We’re going along as we always do. We have our services on Sundays. We sing, we pray, and we praise God. But where is our effectiveness in the world?

The Lord started speaking to me through this picture of the church. We need to wake up to our condition. Until we see and understand that we’re chained in the darkness, we’ll never break out into the freedom that has already been made available to us.

I want to take the next few posts to share what the Lord spoke to me concerning this issue. I want to explain how we got into this position as well as what’s needed for us to break free.

Remember, that it wasn’t until the chains fell off of the church – Paul and Silas – that the jailer fell on his face and cried out, “What must I do to be saved?”

Question: What do you see as the greatest factor in “locking up” the American church?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2014 in Revival, The Church

 

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