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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Christ Our Example

JesusI’m posting about Christ as the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. In my last article we saw how Jesus manifested the power of the Spirit. How else did this power reveal itself?

The Lord healed the sick, but they did that in the Old Testament as well. Here are some other manifestations of the Spirit in His life.

One time, when dealing with the Pharisees, we’re told…

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?”
Mark 2:8

The Holy Spirit gave Christ the supernatural knowledge of what the Pharisees were thinking.

Another time, when the Lord went to the grave of His friend, Lazarus, the Scripture gives us some insight.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
John 11:33

Literally this verse says that He groaned in the spirit and was stirred up. That’s the same thing the Word says about us. (Romans 8:26) We’re told that the Spirit uses groans that cannot be put into words. I believe one of the secrets to His power was His sensitivity to the move of the Spirit within Him.

In His ministry, Jesus sent out 72 men to go throughout Israel and preach. One day they came back and reported what happened.

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”
Luke 10:21

The literal Greek of this verse will probably offend the legalistic, churchy crowd. It reads that Jesus jumped for joy, danced, and spun around in the Spirit. Many folks do not want to hear that Christ danced in the Spirit, but that’s exactly what He did. I believe that it happened on more than one occasion.

Let’s look at one more example. Once when Jesus preached in the wilderness, it started to get late. He sent the disciples across the lake in a boat. Then He dismissed the crowd.

After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them…
Mark 6:46-48

Christ saw the disciples. Miles away, at night, and in a storm. He didn’t see this with His physical eyes. It was revealed to Him by the Holy Spirit as the Lord prayed up on that mountain.

These are the same manifestations we see in believers who are baptized – immersed in the spirit. We should be doing the same things that Jesus did.

But in order for this to happen, we have to walk the same walk. We need the power of an immersed life.

Question: How would our evangelism be different if we walked as Christ did?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

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Christ the Baptizer

 

DoveI believe that America is ripe for revival. I also believe that prayer in the spirit will play a major role in this move. John the Baptist preached about this subject.

And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1:7-8

We will need an understanding of this if we’re going to flow in revival to the level God desires. I want to take a few posts to talk about Christ, the Baptizer. He’s the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

But there’s a question that this brings up. How can Christ do that if He wasn’t baptized Himself? I believe that Jesus was baptized in the Spirit and prayed in the spirit.

Of course Jesus prayed in the spirit without the manifestation of tongues. The reason for this is that speaking in tongues is the reaction of our sinful flesh to the work of the Spirit. Our flesh can’t comprehend what’s happening when we pray in the spirit.

In the Gospels, we see John the Baptist witnessing something unique.

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’”
John 1:32-33

This was unheard of in their day – the Holy Spirit remaining upon a person. This was the point where Jesus was baptized in the Spirit. I believe that from this day forward, Jesus prayed in the spirit.

But I think that the key word here is remained. The Holy Spirit remained upon the Lord and Jesus remained in the Spirit.

That’s something we need to see the importance of. Very often we think that what Jesus did was a special case. He said that the same works He did, we would do. But in order for that to happen it will take the same preparation.

We need the same remaining in the Spirit. You could also call it immersion in the Spirit.

Before He ascended to the Father, Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for this gift. Don’t preach, don’t make disciples, don’t do anything, just wait.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

That was fulfilled in the baptism found in Acts chapter 2.

What about Jesus. He was baptized by John who testified that the Spirit remained on Him. Then Jesus went into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days. There, the Lord was tempted by the devil himself, yet…

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
Luke 4:14

What power did He walk in? The power of His immersion in the Spirit.   We need this same power to be evident in our lives. We must remain in the Holy Spirit.

Question: How does Christ exemplify the Christian walk?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Two Crosses

 

CrossesI’m posting about embracing the cross of Christ. We have to follow the same path Jesus followed. If I work at saving myself, I’ll find myself on the path of ruin and loss. If, instead, I lose my life for the Lord’s pattern, then my destination has changed to that of increase and growth. That’s the path of the cross.

We need to follow Christ to the cross even though it’s offensive to us and against our very nature.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
Matthew 27:39-40

“Save yourself – come down from the cross!”

This is the part of our human nature that we need to contradict. This is being an adversary of the cross of Christ.

Many believers try, by their valiant efforts, to save themselves and bring about God’s plan in their own power. The result is that many in the church today are floundering around in mediocrity.

Paul was having the same problem in his day. There were some who were teaching that you needed to come under the law in order to be saved. What they taught was that Christ forgives your sin, but the law makes you acceptable to God.

Paul had an answer for these people that we need to take to heart in this generation.

Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Galatians 6:12

If our focus is on the outward, then we’ll avoid the cross at all cost. But we still want God’s grace to work in our lives. At that point our mind tells us that there must be something we can do to obtain God’s blessing. So we put ourselves under all kinds of rules and regulations in order to earn the grace of God.

Here’s why that approach doesn’t work. Under the law, you can live for yourself by invoking a string of technicalities. It’s the same thing the Pharisees of Jesus’ day would do. You simply tell yourself, “I’m okay. I go to church, read the Bible, and live a good life.”

In reality, these people want to avoid the fear of the cross. The word persecuted in the above verse comes from a root word that means to run away or retreat. That tells me that that these individuals are cowards who have decided not to embrace the cross. Instead of running from it, we must live in its shadow.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14

Instead of trying to avoid being worldly by our own will power, we must embrace the cross. Think about what Paul is saying here. The world is nailed to a cross. I’m nail to another. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get over to that other cross. Neither can the world get to me.

That’s what we do to our flesh by invoking the power of the cross in our lives. When we nail our flesh to the cross there’s a power that’s released to work God’s righteousness in us. It’s not a struggle to keep pure, but reliance upon the Holy Spirit in us.

This is the path to all that God has for you. I’m talking about healings, increase, miracles and the provision of God. It’s everything you need for life and godliness.

It will only come in its fullness as we embrace the pattern laid down by the Lord. We must follow the path of the cross. Allow the Lord to work His pattern of salvation in us. It’s the way to freedom in Him.

Question: What would the church look like if we all embraced the path of the cross?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2015 in Legalism, Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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The Great Deception

TrophyIn my last post I talked about Paul’s rebuke of the Christians who live as enemies of the cross. There are many who replace Christ with worldly pursuits. I’ve heard a lot of holy sounding excuses.

“We need to be a witness to the world.”

“God understands that I need to do this.”

“I’ve been faithful for months. I can take a week off.”

Here’s the problem. We’ve begun to believe a lie. It sounds so good that even preachers will quote it. But, it’s destroying God’s people. What is this great deception?

“Jesus Christ needs to have first place in your life.”

It sounds so pure and holy, but it has the potential to destroy your walk with the Lord. Why is this the case? Because Jesus never wanted to be first in your life. It’s abundantly clear from the Scripture – Christ wants to be the only thing your life revolves around.

But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Philippians 3:7-8

If Christ is in first place, then we can have a close second and feel good about it.

“I go to church most Sundays. I only missed one week this month. Of course Christ has first place over the amusement park.”

We need to get back to the pattern. That’s what will change our lives, and the world around us. This is what we were saved for. Not a one-time encounter with Christ, but an ongoing relationship of renewal and transformation.

In order to live this way we must move on into the walk of victory that Christ has destined us for. This will require us to get a new revelation of the cross of Christ.

First we must get over our fear of the cross. For too long God’s people have backed off from it because it sounds uncomfortable. It’s always been this way. Even from the first time Jesus mentioned it to His disciples. At one point the Lord described what He was going to do on the cross and Peter openly rebuked Him.

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Matthew 16:23

Very few people understand the cross. The enemy’s kingdom didn’t. Neither did the disciples. But we see here that the very notion of rejecting the cross was offensive to Christ. Peter had no idea the significance of what would happen there. So at this point in time, Peter was an adversary of the cross. It’s the same place we find ourselves so often. Not enemies of Christ, but of His cross.

Even back then, the Lord didn’t let it end there. He went on with His teaching.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
Matthew 16:24-25

Christ tells His disciples, and us as well, that if we want to walk in step behind Him, then we need to go where He’s going. We have to be on the same path He’s taking. That means that we must deny ourselves – literally to contradict ourselves – in order to follow Him. That tells me that I must go in a direction that’s opposite of what I think is the logical course for my life.

Question: What does embracing the cross mean to you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on January 7, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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Avoiding the Cross

 

 

Cross SunsetIn my last post I talked about the pattern of living that the Apostle Paul handed down to his churches.

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Philippians 3:17-18

The unfortunate truth that Paul saw in his day, and is an epidemic in ours, is that many believers live as enemies of the cross. Please understand. They’re not really enemies – they would never think to put it into those terms.

They actually think they’re followers of Christ. But in reality, enemies try to avoid one another at all costs. That’s how many treat the cross.

You can see it in a church service. When the sermon starts heading in that direction, eyes start to glaze over.

“Yes, Pastor, we know we need to take up our cross. But I’d rather hear something that will get me a better job.”

Paul describes these people in the next verse.

Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things.
Philippians 3:19

Actually, this verse isn’t as bad as it sounds. What’s translated as their destiny is destruction isn’t talking about spending eternity in hell. What it means is that the destination of the road they’re on is ruin and loss.

It’s talking about what happens in this life. So much of the church is wallowing in ruin and loss. We spend so much time trying to come up with teachings that merely put a Band-Aid on the problem.

He also describes the objects of their focus. It’s all about their stomach, their shame and earthly things. Christians are involved in so much these days – a lot of them are healthy pursuits. Restaurants, gym memberships, sports leagues, and hundreds of other things.

Many of us give great sounding reasons for what we do. We want to be well-rounded people. Our lives need to be in balance. We want the world to see that we’re regular people. Paul, however, sees it from a different perspective.

Through the eyes of Christ, the Apostle breaks through our excuses and zeroes in on what’s really going on. It’s all about us. Our god is our stomach. Our desire is to fulfill the lusts and desires of our flesh. We look at the world around us and get jealous of all that they experience. We want to partake of the same things.

We glory in our shame. This is a hallmark of our society. I’m ashamed that I don’t look like the actor on TV with those washboard abs. I have to start a program at the gym to try and work on it.

My heroes are the singers on American Idol, so I need to take voice lessons. I want to be like the athletes I watch at the stadium, so I join a basketball league. Now, I’m too busy to do very much for Christ.

It all boils down to the last statement Paul makes – their mind is on earthly things. It doesn’t matter how good you make it sound. The things that distract us from pursuing Christ will only pull us down to ruin and loss. It’s time for the church to wake up.

Question: How do we break free from the distractions of the world?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2015 in Revival, The Church

 

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Choosing the Right Path

TrailIt seems that the more I study about the cross, the more I’m drawn to it. It was on the cross that Christ became our Savior. It was there that the saving power of the Messiah was released to transform our lives forever.

Salvation is not a one-time thing, but an ongoing process. It’s a process that all focuses on the work of the cross.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

It all hinges on the Word of the cross. What we find in the body of Christ is two kinds of believers. One group is composed of those who are being saved. They have decided to submit to God’s renovation plan in their lives.

They want to see the whole package of God’s provision accomplished in them. They want not only healing, joy and prosperity, but they’re willing to see righteousness, holiness, and obedience developed as well. They want to see all the losses of the curse turned around. To this group, the Word of the cross is the power of God that transforms them into the image of Christ.

There’s another group as well. These are people who have accepted God’s forgiveness, but haven’t progressed any further. They’ll be in God’s kingdom when they die, but for now they’re content to live for themselves.

The word perishing in the verse above simply means decay or loss. There are those in the church who have chosen the path of decay and loss.

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you. For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Philippians 3:17-18

There’s a pattern that we can follow. Literally this verse says that there is a die that has been struck. A die, in this sense, is a mold for shaping something according to an original pattern. Christ was the original.

On the cross He became a pattern for us to follow in the spiritual realm. There’s a work the Holy Spirit wants to do in us if we will only let Him.

As he went around to all the churches, Paul would give them a pattern of living. This is what we’re missing in our generation. We need a pattern to focus our lifestyles around. Following Christ is not a hobby. It’s not just one of many pursuits in our daily schedules. If we serve Christ, then that’s all there is – everything else revolves around that truth.

That’s the goal of these posts. I want us, as the people of God, to get back to the pattern. We have made serving God into formulas. Each one has their own little bubble. Nothing affects anything else.

We’ll teach about the “Ten Steps to Prosperity” or the “Five Steps to Receive your Healing.” We’ll talk about how to walk in the power of God or what to do to overcome depression. Once in a while we might even hear that we need to become a disciple. Each teaching comes in its own separate parcel. Little do we realize that our life in Christ is a package deal.

Everything we do affects all the areas of our life. My righteousness affects my prosperity. My holiness affects my relationships. Everything is intertwined. That’s why I need the pattern, if I’m going to live the abundant life that Christ talked about.

Question: Where do we find the pattern for how we are to live?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in Power of God, Revival

 

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