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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Humility is not Dirt

Dry1In my last post I said that God desires His people to pursue Him with humility. To be a people who hold His Word in high honor.

I think sometimes we get so focused on who we are in Christ that we forget about who we were without Him. Don’t get me wrong. It’s imperative that we understand our “in Christ realities.” But who I am in Christ has nothing to do with my accomplishments and everything to do with what the Lord has done.

God wants to be pursued humbly. The problem is that many believers don’t understand the Scriptural concept of humility. We don’t like the sound of that word.

At one point children were running around the feet of Jesus. He reached down and picked one up.

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3-4

We need to learn from the humility of children. When they’re with an adult who shows them love and attention, children are transformed. That adult becomes their world.

They want to be like that adult. They want to act and talk like them. Children just want to hang around that kind of adult. They look up to them and have the attitude that “he or she is it!”

That’s what true humility is all about. It has nothing to do with considering yourself as dirt. Being humble never causes you to put yourself down. It’s a whole different side of the coin.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Humility never puts itself down, but rather sees others as better. That makes a world of difference. Humility looks beyond its own interests.

When you’re truly walking in humility, you are no longer the center of your own world. Now the needs and desires of other people become important to you. You want to find a way to uplift others.

In our walk with God, that translates to seeing God’s desires for us as greater than our own wants. I want to please Him first, before I please myself. I seek the Lord for who He is rather than what I can get from Him.

Instead of looking to Christ and saying, “I want this from You.” we need to be saying, “Lord, I want to be like you.” “Lord, I just want to hang around in Your presence. I want to pick up Your habits and attitudes.”

That’s what true humility is all about. It has nothing to do with putting myself down or trying to get others to believe that I’m a nobody.

A humble pursuit of God means that I take my eyes off myself and focus on Him.

Question: What needs to change in order to pursue God in humility?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

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Posted by on March 30, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Are We Pursuing God – Really?

JogLast week I mentioned our pursuit of God. Many believers are convinced that they’re pursuing God. But is that what’s really happening?

I want to take a few posts to talk about the pursuit of God. Over and over again in the Scripture we see God saying to His people, “Seek Me, follow Me and come near Me.” One of the most important jobs of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into the Lord’s presence.

The fact is that God wants to be pursued – He wants to be sought after – and He wants to be found. The question I have is; are we pursuing God the way He wants to be pursued?

The Nation of Israel learned this lesson the hard way.

Here are two verses that don’t sound like they go together.

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.”
Isaiah 58:1-2

The first verse talks about showing the people their rebellion. In what way are they rebelling?

The next verse sounds like just the opposite. Day after day they seek out the Lord. They are eager to know His ways. They are asking for God to come near them.

This verse should actually cause us to stop and think. It sounds like much of the church in our generation. We are seeking, asking, studying, and desiring the presence of God to show up.

And yet, the Lord calls it rebellion. What was the problem? Actually, it was a very subtle one. The beginning of the next verse gives us the answer.

“‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’”
Isaiah 58:3a

They’re error was that they weren’t really pursuing God. They were trying to use fasting, prayer, going to church, and studying the Bible as a way to get God’s attention. In actuality, they were trying to get God to pursue them.

I believe that many of us in the church today are falling into the same trap. We’re trying to get God to come after us.

This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord.
“This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.
Isaiah 66:1-2

In effect, God is saying, “What could you possibly offer that I would pursue you?” This verse literally says that the one God looks intently atthe one who gets His attention – is the one who humbles himself before God.

I want to take a couple of posts to look at this aspect of pursuing God.

Question: How do we show either pride or humility in our pursuit of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Good Friday Meditation

Cross SunsetToday is Good Friday. Around the world, Christians of all cultures are thinking about the death of Christ. That’s a good thing in that it gets people thinking about what Jesus did.

What I don’t understand, is why in some regions they go about in mourning. As if Jesus is still dead. He’s not. He’s alive and well and living on the inside of us.

When I watch a movie for the first time, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m in suspense when something bad happens to the hero. Sometimes they’ll do something I don’t understand.

When that happens, we usually wonder how the hero could possibly survive. But then as the movie progresses, we find out that everything he did was part of a plan to bring down the villain.

If I liked the movie, I may watch it again. But this time I know what’s going to happen. I’m not in suspense. I’m actually happy when I see the hero going into danger because I know how it’s going to turn out.

That’s my take on Good Friday. I’ve seen the movie before. What Jesus did on this day was a carefully planned, strategic attack on the enemy. He wasn’t taken by surprise.

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
John 10:17-18

This was the plan of the Lord all along. It’s actually Satan and his kingdom who should be mourning today. They were the ones who were hurt the most by what happened.

None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Corinthians 2:8

Every time the enemy looks back and remembers this day a chill should run up his spine. It was his greatest mistake. He never saw it coming.

In that one move, Jesus Christ took down the entire kingdom of sin that was holding us captive. We are now free to serve God without fear or condemnation. All because of what happened this day.

So when I look back at the events of 2000 or so years ago, I’m not mourning. As a matter of fact, I have a sly smile. Because I know that even though it looked bad, three days later it all turned around. And that’s something to rejoice about!

So as you go through your day today – think about what Christ did for you on the cross. But just remember, it ends with the resurrection. And that’s better than any movie I’ve ever seen – or ever will.

Have a blessed Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday!

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Cain – Repentance Breaks the Curse

CrossesI’m posting about Cain’s experience. He murdered his own brother because he thought that it would allow him to worship God on his own terms. It didn’t work.

He found himself away from his calling, and hidden from God’s presence. He even feared that he would be killed for his actions. But God did something surprising.

But the Lord said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him.
Genesis 4:15

God gave Cain the world’s first tattoo. It read, “Kill him and answer to Me – signed – GOD.”

Why would God do such a thing? Throughout His Word the Lord has said that murder is punishable by death. The answer is in His mercy.

Adam lay with his wife again, and she gave birth to a son and named him Seth, saying, “God has granted me another child in place of Abel, since Cain killed him.”
Genesis 4:25

This is a very strange statement for Eve to make. At this point she already had over 100 children. Why did she see the need to specifically replace Abel? The name Seth means to place in as a substitute.

Here’s where we see God’s mercy.

Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time men began to call on the name of the Lord.
Genesis 4:26

What this verse tells us is that something happened when Seth was old enough to have children. The Bible literally says that calling on the name of the Lord was opened up. (The word men is not in the original Hebrew)

Why did God not allow Cain to be killed? The Lord wanted Cain to see the day when a new prophet would rise up. Seth could now offer the sin-offering for Cain’s forgiveness. I’d like to think that Cain took God’s offer of a second chance. I believe that we’ll see him in Heaven.

Remember – Cain’s curse was that he would be a restless wanderer.

Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.
Genesis 4:17

Do you hear that? Cain built a city. He’s not a wanderer anymore. It sounds like the curse was broken over his life. I believe it’s because he took God’s offer of forgiveness.

What can we learn from all of this – the way of Cain? I can’t worship God on my own terms. It’s an epidemic of our generation of believers.

Many people say that they’re pursuing God. The truth is that I can only pursue God the way God wants to be pursued. Anything else and I’m just a spiritual wanderer.

We must worship God the way He wants to be worshipped – in spirit and in truth. Anything else misses the mark.

Question: What curses has God broken from over your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Cain – Worship On My Terms

WomanI’ve been posting about the offerings of Cain and Abel. What we’ve seen is that Abel was God’s designated prophet. If Cain’s gift was to be accepted, he had to bring it to Abel. This would have required Cain to humble himself.

“You mean I have to go to my little brother for God to accept my offering?”

The truth is that there’s only one way to worship God acceptably – God’s way. Cain had a problem with that.

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.
Genesis 4:8

The result was that Cain killed Abel. Cain’s thinking was that God wanted him to worship through the prophet. But what if there was no prophet? Then God would have to accept an offering from Cain’s hand.

Cain wanted to worship God on his own terms. He thought that God would have to accept his offering regardless of how he brought it. But that wasn’t the case.

Cain became the world’s first murderer. He was cursed for this sin.

The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”
Genesis 4:10-12

What was Cain’s response?

Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
Genesis 4:13-14

Cain said that his punishment would be unbearable. Why? Not only was he driven from the land, but he would be hidden from God’s presence.

Does that sound like an angry, hardened reprobate to you? I don’t see any of that as he stands before God.

He is starting to understand his situation. He can no longer fulfill his calling – being driven from the land. He can’t find forgiveness in the presence of God. The only advocate that he could have gone to – Abel – is dead. It even dawns on him that he deserves death.

His answer to God sounds sorrowful to me. He sounds more humble that Adam and Eve did when they sinned.

This shows the mercy of God. The conversation between Cain and God still sounds like the interactions of a father and a wayward son.

We serve a God who always desires restoration over judgment. The outcome of this event is no different. Cain was sorry for what he had done. God had a remedy.

In my next post you’ll see how the story ends. It’s probably different than you think.

Question: How has God’s forgiveness affected your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2016 in Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Abel – Acceptable Offerings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I look at Cain and his unacceptable offering, it’s not really complete unless we understand why Abel’s offering was accepted. After all, why would Cain kill Abel if he was really mad at God?

The truth is that there’s an offering that’s acceptable to God. The question is; what makes it acceptable?

But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering…
Genesis 4:4

Some say that God accepted Abel because he brought a blood offering, but that’s not the real reason. We must also remember that God called for many offering of firstfruits from the Israelites. So there’s no law that says God only accepts blood offerings.

You need to understand the times that Cain and Able lived in to see the issue. In talking about Abel’s birth, the Bible says…

Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
Genesis 4:2

Why was Abel a shepherd of flocks? I ask that because God did not give mankind permission to eat meat until after the flood.

When Adam and Eve sinned and were removed from the garden, God did something interesting.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
Genesis 3:21

In order to cover their sin and nakedness, God slaughtered an innocent animal before them. He showed them the way to sacrifice a sin offering.

Abel was the shepherd of the flock. That means that Abel was the priest designated by God to offer sacrifices and offerings. Even the Lord Jesus referred to Abel as the first prophet (Luke 11:50-51).

Because Abel was God’s chosen priest, he was the only one who could offer sacrifices before God acceptably. Protocol dictated that Cain bring his offering to Abel in order for God to accept it.

Remember in my last post we saw that God told Cain, “If you do what is right, you will be accepted.” It wasn’t what Cain offered that was wrong; it was how he offered it.

This was going to require humility on Cain’s part. That’s always the catch, even for us. We offer a lot of things to God – Worship, praise, tithes, offerings, prayers, etc. In all of this we must humble ourselves before God.

I must realize that what I give isn’t acceptable simply because I’m bringing it. I’m only accepted because I’m in Christ. He’s our great High Priest.

We can’t boast in what we offer. It’s not about us. It’s about the One who makes us acceptable to God.

Question: How do you show your humility before God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2016 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Cain – Offerings and Relationship

Fake MoneyI’m looking at the life of Cain and how he speaks to our modern worship of God. In my last post we saw that he loved God and brought Him an offering. Unfortunately, God didn’t accept the offering.

…but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Genesis 4:5

As a result, Cain’s emotions were stirred up and he became upset. But do we really understand him or what he was going through?

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Genesis 4:6-7

I believe that these verses are the key to understanding Cain. I see some things that are happening here that sometimes get overlooked because we’re so familiar with the story.

First, I see that God loved Cain. The Lord wanted the best for him. I see it by the way God talks to Cain. God speaks to him as a father would speak to a son.

I also see that Cain had a great deal of respect for God. He didn’t have an angry outburst or talk back to Him. I think that speaks volumes especially since some of the Old Testament prophets – Moses and Elijah, just to name a couple – talked back to God in their anger.

The fact is that in all our dealings with God, He knows what’s in our hearts. There’s no way around that. It was the same in this encounter with Cain. God spoke to the real issue.

God told Cain that if you do right, you’ll be accepted – which literally means promoted or exalted. So what was Cain really looking for? He wanted acceptance from God.

That surprised me more than anything. Cain’s goal was a relationship with God.

Even more than that – Cain talked with God, and God talked with him. They had conversations together. Think about it. Wouldn’t you want a relationship like this with God?

I came to the conclusion that Cain was a great guy! If he showed up at our church, we would love him. He would worship and sing right along with us. He would look and act no different than anyone else attending our service. And that’s what concerns me.

It’s also why Cain was so upset. He wanted to show his love to God through an offering, yet it wasn’t accepted. In effect God was saying, “I love you, Cain, but I cannot accept your offering.”

But God’s statement implies something else. Cain knew the right way to bring an acceptable offering to God. Because if there’s an offering God doesn’t accept – then there must be one that He does accept.

In my next post I’ll talk about exactly why Cain’s offering wasn’t accepted. We’ll need to understand it if we’re going to keep off of his path.

Question: Have you ever been upset at God for something?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2016 in Spiritual Walk, The Church, Worship

 

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