RSS

Monthly Archives: February 2016

Passing the Test

ApproveTesting – the very sound of that word is discomforting to most believers. Did you know that how you respond to testing, tells a lot about your walk with God? It’s a part of the Lord’s growth plan for our lives. We should be cultivating a positive attitude toward His guidance in this area.

Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
John 6:3-6

When God tests us, it’s for our benefit. If there’s anything we know about testing; it’s both necessary and unavoidable. Even with this knowledge, it’s still not something we look forward to. One thing we need to realize is that testing is God’s way of reinforcing to us that we’ve learned a lesson of faith.

In the above verse, we see that it was Philip’s turn to experience this kind of test. The Lord asked Philip where the provision was to come from to feed a huge crowd of people. It’s interesting to note that Jesus already knew what He was going to do.

When God tests us, He already knows the outcome. We don’t like to admit it, but we have a very limited knowledge of things. Because of this, we need to firmly rely on God. He already knows the plan. We need to go before Him and seek His mind in the situations we find ourselves in.

This should be very encouraging to us. God is never taken by surprise. He doesn’t have to come up with a solution to our problem ‘on the fly.’ I just need to be in a position where I’m listening for His voice to take me through victoriously.

We must go to God for the plan to pass the test. Instead of always trying desperately to figure out what to do, we need to admit that we don’t know what needs to be done. Then we’re in the best position to let God guide us in the right path. Instead of going off on our own, we should seek to find out from God what it is that He has already decided to do.

Spend some time today seeking God’s wisdom and guidance for the tests ahead. Let Him reveal to you the only plan for your life that will bring about miraculous results. Yield yourself to that which God has already decided to do in your life. Then He’ll get the glory for it.

Question: How has God’s wisdom helped through a difficult test?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Prayer

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Tongues – The Sign

FireI’ve been sharing about why God uses prayer in the spirit. In my last post I talked about giving control over to God. But does that mean that when I pray in tongues I’m ‘out of control’?

The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.
1 Corinthians 14:32

Paul is talking about church order in this section of Scripture. He talks about the limits we place in public meetings.

According to Paul, no one can say, “I just had to – I couldn’t control it.” In context he’s talking about the gift of prophecy. But it’s the same for tongues, healing, or any gift that comes from the Holy Spirit. My spirit is always under the control of my soul.

Does that mean that I’m controlling everything that happens? No. I simply can allow the gift to operate or not operate at any given moment.

Think about sports, for instance. An athlete will spend an enormous amount of time practicing so that his body will function almost independently. We call that eye, hand coordination. If a third baseman has to think about catching a line drive, it’s already too late.

In certain areas we’ll let our body do things on its own. Our mind initiates the response, but reflex takes over. It’s the same with prayer in the spirit.

We need to let prayer in the spirit become a reflex of the spirit. I know when I need to commune with God, and whether or not it’s an appropriate time. Then, if it’s right, I give my spirit the freedom to go where the Holy Spirit will lead.

The reason tongues is so important should be obvious. Paul talks about the reasons we use our spirit to talk to God.

In the Law it is written: “Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:21

God is trying to get our attention. With Israel He tried using prophets, but they wouldn’t listen. So God used other means to get His word across.

Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 14:22

This verse seems to confuse people. The first definition of the word sign is a distinguishing mark. For instance, circumcision was the sign of the covenant. The second definition of sign is an unusual occurrence beyond the course of nature.

The fact is that tongues gets people’s attention.

So what Paul is saying in this verse, is that tongues is not unusual to believers (or at least they shouldn’t be).  It’s something that gets the attention of unbelievers. Prophecy, speaking for God, is not that unusual for unbelievers. They’ve heard moving speeches before.

When used together in a meeting, tongues will get their attention, and then the prophetic word will open their hearts. Both are needed. This generation is in desperate need of seeing the hand of God at work.

It’s time for God’s people to spend time praying in the spirit. It’s not just a spiritual toy to take out when we want to feel happy. It’s vital to our spiritual growth and the evangelism of our nation.

Question: How have you experienced tongues and prophecy working together in the church?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

It’s All About Control

Lion2I’m taking a few posts to talk about why God has chosen the gift of tongues as a way to worship Him.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
1 Corinthians 14:14

Paul shows us three things in this short verse. First, my body is speaking in an unknown language. At the same time, my mind is unfruitful. But the most important aspect is the fact that my spirit is praying to God.

Notice that when I pray in the spirit, my spirit and body are active, but my mind is not a part of what’s transpiring. That’s because the gift of tongues is a physical reaction to a spiritual event. My flesh doesn’t know how to handle what’s happening with me in the spirit.

According to this verse, what comes out of my mouth may or may not have anything to do with what’s happening in the spirit. That includes the length of the “conversation”, any repetition, the language, or even the physical words spoken.

For instance; as my spirit is praying to God, a Native American may hear “Praise God, praise God, praise God” coming out of my mouth.

Prayer in the spirit – tongues – is for a spiritual exchange. It’s all about communication with the Holy Spirit of God. I can say “praise God” well enough in English. So it’s not about what’s coming out of my mouth.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:8

That’s why the gift of tongues is only a temporary gifting. It will be unneeded in our resurrected body. We need this supernatural gift right now.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:7-8

Our tongue can be a big problem. According to James, animals can be tamed; but you can’t tame the tongue.

What’s the difference between something tame and something wild? Tame is about character. A tame dog scratches at the door when he needs to relieve himself. He’ll wait for you to feed him.

With a wild animal it’s all instinct. They’ll do what they want whenever or wherever they are.

I’d like my tongue to be self-controlled. But it’s not going to happen all by itself.

Is a lion in a zoo tame? No; it’s simply being controlled. The fact is, you can’t tame the tongue, but it can be controlled…if you’ll let God have control of your tongue. Then the rest of your life is easy to turn over.

Have you ever noticed how easily we’ll give over control of most things to others? We’ll let hair stylists, beauticians, surgeons, and trainers take over those areas of our lives. But not the tongue.

I believe that’s why this gift is so controversial. I’ve heard people say, “Even if you convince me it’s of God, I’m still not going to seek this gift.”

That’s because tongues is about giving control to God. Prayer in the spirit is about learning to hear and yield to God. When it comes to control; that’s the one thing we don’t want to relinquish in our lives.

As believers we should be daily giving over more and more control to the Holy Spirit.

Question: How has prayer in the spirit positively changed your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 24, 2016 in Prayer in the Spirit, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Why Prayer in the Spirit?

FireI talk a lot about praying in the spirit. I believe that it’s an important part of the Christian walk. Sometimes it can be a controversial subject. I want to take a few posts to talk about why God chooses this method.

We read about the start of this in the book of Acts when the Holy Spirit descended upon the church.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Acts 2:4

Jesus had prepared His disciples, telling them that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit if they waited in Jerusalem. Then it happened on the day of Pentecost. There was a sound like wind, fire rested on each person’s head, and then they started speaking in unknown tongues.

Please realize that the word tongues was the old English word for languages. Somehow the name stuck even though we don’t use it that way today. We’re really talking about the gift of languages.

Why does God choose to use this gift? First of all, the gift of tongues is the proof of the baptism in the Spirit. We see this throughout the book of Acts.

It was that way when the Gentiles first received salvation.

The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Acts 10:45-46

This was the proof the Jewish believers needed to know that salvation was opened to the Gentiles. They understood it because the Gentiles received the same gifting.

At one point Paul was ministering and met some men who had only received John’s baptism. He then preached to them the fuller revelation of Christ. They believed Paul’s testimony and were baptized.

On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
Acts 19:5-6

This is the proof that the early church had of the baptism of the Spirit. What about the other things, like prophecy or healings? I’ve heard some people teach that these are valid proofs as well. I don’t agree with them because all of the other spiritual manifestations were seen in the Old Testament without the baptism.

I believe that this gift of tongues is the only evidence of an immersed life – it’s the start of our prayer language. But a reasonable question many ask is; why tongues? Why not fire, wind, or something else?

Speaking in an unknown language seems so foolish. Then again, foolish never bothered God. If something that looks foolish brings about the results God wants – He’s okay with it.

So I want to take a couple of posts to deal with the issue of; why tongues? What is it about our prayer language that makes it important for us to use regularly? I believe this series will be a help to those struggling to understand it.

Question: How often do you use your prayer language?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Eating From the Tree of Life

Fruit TreeI’ve been posting about our relationship with the Lord. I’ve looked at how Adam portrayed that relationship before the fall. Because he listened to God and obeyed, he walked in the authority of the Spirit.

The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Genesis 2:23-24

When Eve was fashioned from Adam’s rib and brought to him, he immediately spoke under the authority of God. Why will a man leave his father and mother? Why will a husband and wife become one flesh?

It’s because Adam said, under the authority of God, “This is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” This intimate relationship between husband and wife was given birth through Adam’s word under divine inspiration.

We need to get back to the authority that springs from the tree of life. But what does that mean? I’m not talking about the wood or the leaves. Eating from the tree of life is all about the fruit.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.
Proverbs 11:30

The fruit of this tree produces righteousness. It’s all a part of the righteous lifestyle. It’s when we’re worshipping, hearing and obeying God – just like Adam did in his perfect state.

A good example of this, in Christ, is contained in Paul’s letter to the Philippian church. This was a church full of mature believers. It was one of Paul’s favorite places to minister. They supported him in his work when no one else did.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ — to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:9-11

Paul’s prayer for them was that they abound in love. Love is relationship. He wanted the depth of their relationship with the Lord to grow in a big way. Then, he wanted them to discern what is best. That’s not the difference between good and evil, but God’s direction and plan for their lives.

That in itself is great, but what I consider the best part of what the Apostle wanted for them is that they be filled to overflowing with the fruit of righteousness. Where could they obtain this fruit? It only comes through Christ.

Because of our relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, we now have access to the tree of life. Do we really understand the power of that statement? We can have unbroken fellowship with the God of the universe – Creator of Heaven and earth! He will allow His power to work through us. What greater gift could we ever ask for?

Paul went on to say…

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 3:8

This is what the abundant life is all about. Knowing Christ Jesus. That’s our access to the tree of life. That’s the source of all we need for life and godliness. We have a beautiful relationship with God.

Question: Why is it so important to cultivate our relationship with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 19, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Relationship – The Foundation of Authority

BeamI’m posting about how our relationship with God has been revealed throughout Scripture. We started with this verse from John.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:23-24

If you read the first three chapters of Genesis, you’ll find that Adam never needed to speak to God out loud – it was all by the spirit. It was a perfect relationship on God’s level. It’s what we were created for. It wasn’t until sin entered the picture that this union with God was ruined.

…the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7

God caused His breath – or literally the Spirit of life – to enter into Adam’s being. This was what made him come alive to God. Adam became a soul that could enter into a relationship with the Creator of the universe.

God spoke to Adam by His Spirit. Adam worshipped God by his spirit. Adam then obeyed God’s Word. Everything was the way it was designed to work. No words needed to be spoken out loud – it was all in the spirit.

That’s why the tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought death. If you’re hearing from God in your spirit, and obeying what you hear, then there’s no need to recognize good and evil. Your life is simply about hearing and obeying.

I believe that this is the type of relationship that God wants to restore in us. This is the life giving flow of the Spirit. Unfortunately, we live on this side of the fall, and all of our experience before Christ is apart from the Spirit.

It was in the garden that Adam would meet with God, probably under the shade of the tree of life. It was his sanctuary. The tree of life is all about relationship. It was the visible symbol of Adam’s relationship with God.

It amazes me how hard we try to obtain a walk of power and authority. All the while we never stop to realize that these can only flow from a relationship with God. The place of relationship is the place of authority.

Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.
Genesis 2:19

Now that’s authority. God and man working together for a destined outcome. Whatever Adam called the creature – that was its name. This was because Adam functioned perfectly in the spirit. He said what he heard from God. God’s authority was flowing through him to the world around him. This carried over into all aspects of his life in the garden.

This is the kind of relationship we need to cultivate with the Lord. Only then can we walk in the authority of the Spirit.

Question: Why does walking in authority require hearing from God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 17, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s All About Relationship

RelateAn area that the modern church has glossed over is our relationship with the Lord. The Bible describes many levels, yet we seem to think that just because we sing or read about the highest levels, then that’s where we are. We need to relearn what God thinks when He uses these terms.

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:23-24

It’s clear from these words of Christ that the Father’s greatest desire is for relationship. But He doesn’t just want the surface relationship that many are satisfied with. He wants us to come to His presence on His level – in the spirit.

I praise God that I can use my mind and my mouth to approach God. But God is a spirit and He wants us to come before Him at that level. I want to look at the way in which a relationship with God was revealed over time through the Scripture. Let’s start at the beginning.

And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground — trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:9

In this verse we see the garden that God had created. In the center were two very special trees. In them we see the choice that was before mankind. It was life versus the recognition of good and evil. This is where God placed the first man, Adam.

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Genesis 2:16-17

The choice was his. Adam was allowed to eat of any tree he wanted. But he was specifically asked by God not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. One tree would give life, the other would bring death. It was all about Adam’s trust in God’s Word.

It always comes down to this single choice. Life and death are both about relationship. It has always been this way from God’s perspective. We are the ones who redefine things for our convenience and self-justification.

Israel got the same choice many years later.

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
Deuteronomy 30:15-16

Loving God is to relate to Him. Our life then flows from this relationship. It’s an undeniable fact. I must participate in His plan, and I must allow Him to participate in my life. The two go hand in hand. This is the relationship that Adam had with the Lord.

The choice he had was all about life and death. Life is a relationship with God. At the start of this story, Adam had a perfect relationship with God. God wants worshippers who worship in spirit and in truth. This is how Adam related to God.

Question: How does the choice between life and death work in our Christian walk?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 15, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,