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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Wilderness Provisions

Water JugsHow far can you trust God? Are you willing to place your complete confidence in Him? Or is there a point where you’ll “cut your losses” and try to get by on your own?

These are questions we all need to deal with as believers. The Lord has promised to be our everything. All we need for life and godliness is wrapped up in Him. But we have to be willing to surrender totally to His will.

The prophet Elijah had to learn this lesson.

Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there.”
So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
I Kings 17:2-6

I’ve heard it said, and have found it to be true, that where God calls, He also equips. We sometimes seem to be under the impression that there are places that God can’t get to. We can also think that there are situations that are beyond His control.

After all, how can God provide if you’re out in the wilderness, far away from any human assistance? The above event in Elijah’s life makes it abundantly clear that God can and does provide even in the desert places.

You’re never beyond God’s reach. If you’re doing His will, then He promises that He’ll watch over you, caring and providing for your needs.

I recently had an encounter with God’s goodness in this way. A couple of weeks ago I went out to hike and pray on the Appalachian Trail in New York. My intent was to be out for over a week.

The hike was one of the worse struggles I’ve ever had in the woods. This was due to the drought that the Northeast is currently experiencing. Most of the places where you would expect to find water – springs and brooks – had dried up.

I found myself having to conserve water and was close to dehydration. But the fact is that even in the wilderness God had my back.

I was approaching a particularly tough climb, one the hikers call Agony Grind. I was badly in need of water. As I crossed a road and re-entered the woods at the foot of this steep section, I was totally amazed. A local “angel” had placed about 25 gallon jugs on the trail for hikers to enjoy (the above photo).

I took this as a blessing from God. He knew what I needed, and when I needed it the most. This proves to me once more that I can trust the Lord completely with my future.

Strive to be in the center of God’s will for your life, as Elijah was. That’s the place of abundance in Christ. Remember not to put the cart before the horse. Seek first to be in His will, then the rest will follow.

Spend time in His presence and meditate on what you know of God’s plan for your life. Seek to enter closer and closer to the heart of what God desires for you. This could mean the difference between an empty life and a life of abundance.

Question: What is an example of God’s faithfulness that you’ve experienced?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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The Word Works

BibleI’ve been posting about the Word of God and how it imparts life to us. In my last article we saw how the Word of God will only benefit you if it’s received with faith. Faith itself is brought to us by the Word of God. How can I position myself to receive from the Lord?

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13

God is a co-worker with us and it’s His job to confirm His Word with signs and wonders. When receiving the Word of God, that’s the mindset I must bring with me. I want to hear from God. He’s using a human being to distribute this Word, but I want what God has for me.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
2 Corinthians 9:10

This verse explains what God provides for us. Even though the context is talking about finances, Paul makes it clear that the scope is far greater by calling it the harvest of your righteousness.

One major principle is that God provides bread for food. That’s the logos of God. It’s the Word that can give you immediate benefit. It’s readily digestible and palatable.

There’s also another major truth found here. It deals with sowing. If you’re a sower – you want the long-term benefits of the Word of God – then you’re seeking rhema from God. God is willing and able to drop the grain of rhema into your spirit.

The key is that you must be seeking this blessing. It doesn’t happen by accident. You need the attitude that says, “Sure, I hear Pastor Nick preaching, but I want to receive a Word from God.”

God desires to give His Word in all of its forms to anyone that will listen and receive. By the power of His Spirit, He gives both at the same time. God sends the digestible logos of preaching right along with the raw rhema from the mouth of God Himself.

Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Galatians 3:5

This question that Paul asks summarizes the entire scope of this teaching. Paul literally asks how does God fully supply you with His Spirit and activate His miraculous power in you? That’s the question of the hour. It’s what the church desperately needs to learn and lay hold of. It’s what the world is dying to see in operation.

I believe that it’s this truth that will usher in the end time harvest of souls before the coming of the Lord. The answer that Paul gives is that the Spirit is given and His power is activated in you by the hearing of faith.

This is where the power of God resides. It’s not a work of the law. It only comes as I hear His voice and let it inspire faith in me. This is the foundation for the miraculous. God and I as co-workers.

He’s looking for someone who’ll listen for His voice. It’s time for the church to enter that intimate place with the Lord. Only then will we see the glory of God released through His people.

Question: What’s your mindset while hearing the Word preached or taught?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Warfare, Word of God

 

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Receiving God’s Word

BreadI’m posting about giving and receiving the Word of God as spiritual seed. I’ve talked about preaching and teaching being like a baker making a loaf of bread for those who listen. Jesus had something to say in this regard.

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
Luke 12:1

On different occasions Jesus told His disciples to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. At that time they didn’t understand what He was saying to them. Later on they realized that the Lord was speaking about their hypocrisy.

This was not a warning that only applied to the disciples. We need to take care not to add our own baggage into the mix. If so, then we will corrupt the pure Word of God with our own pet doctrines. What we mix into the Word determines the spiritual climate of our churches.

For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Hebrews 4:2

This verse speaks to us about the similarity between us and Israel. It warns us about how we receive the Word. It literally says that the logos of their hearing did not benefit them. The only way it will is if we combine it with faith in the process of receiving it. The Word of God must be combined with your faith in order for it to be of benefit to you.

So, here we are. I’m doing my best to present you with the pure, clear, logos of God in this article. I want to give you life and nourishment through the Word of God. This is the logos of your hearing. There’s only one way that it will accomplish what was intended. That’s for you, the reader, to combine it with faith. But wait a minute! Where do you get this faith which you’re to combine with the Word?

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

Most of us have this verse memorized. Faith comes by hearing the Word. What it says in the Greek is that this faith comes by hearing the rhema of Christ. What is this? Is it a “catch 22”?

I present the logos to you, but the only way it will benefit you is if you combine it with the faith that only comes through rhema. What kind of circular logic is this? Actually, it’s a picture of the infinite wisdom of God. It’s better than anything you could ever imagine.

In my next post, which will finish this series, I’ll show how God wants to impart both logos and rhema into His people. But, more importantly, what we need to do to receive them.

Question: When have you heard a Word from God while listening to a human speaker?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Faith, Ministry, Word of God

 

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The Word of God as Wheat

Wheat field against a blue sky.

In my last post I talked about the Word of God in its different forms. These are emphasized by the Greek words graphe, logos and rhema.

We have seen that graphe refers to the written Word of God – the Scripture. To see the differences between logos and rhema, we need to understand the Scriptural illustration of the Word of God as a seed or grain of wheat.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:9-11

The two purposes that God determines for His Word are seed for the sower and bread for food. It’s just like the function of wheat in the natural. You can find wheat all over the world in literally millions of forms.

Grains of wheat, wheat berries, flour, crackers, and bread; it’s all wheat, just in different textures, shapes, and consistencies. Mankind lives on wheat products.

But the real question is; which form of wheat would you prefer to eat, given a choice? Which form is easier to digest? Which is more palatable to you? Personally, I love a fresh loaf of Italian bread, hot out of the oven.

In the same way, the Word of God comes in many forms. All of them are powerful and life giving. We need understanding to discern the differences and how they relate to us.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

The word in this verse is logos. The logos of God needs to be handled correctly. As a matter of fact, throughout the Scripture we find that logos can be distorted, nullified by tradition, peddled for profit, and spoken vainly or carelessly. This means that we must use integrity when dealing with logos.

Based upon a careful study of Scripture, I believe the following: Rhema is the raw, unadulterated Word that God Himself has spoken. Logos is man’s attempt to express the Word that God has spoken.

Let me use myself as an example. As the Senior Pastor of a church, I’m responsible to spend time in the presence of the Lord, listening for His voice. When I hear from God, that’s rhema to me. It’s the raw grain of the Word that God plants in my heart. I then study and meditate on the rhema I’ve received. As I work on it, I’m grinding up the Word into spiritual “flour”.

Along with that I also study the Scripture. In essence I’m adding the flour of the Apostles Matthew, John, or Paul to the mix. In my studies it’s as if I am mixing and baking the Word into a loaf of bread that I can then present to my congregation for their nourishment.

Of course, along the way I’m adding my personality and preaching style into the mix. That’s why it’s important for pastors and teachers to be careful how they form their spiritual bread.

The Word that I present the congregation with is the logos of God. It’s the same Word, but in a form that’s more digestible to the general group of church people. This is what they’ll feed upon for their edification.

In my next post I’ll explain how this Word from God can be life-giving to those who hear it.

Question: Why will God judge preachers and teachers more strictly than others?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Ministry, Word of God

 

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The Word of Life – Its Three Forms

Bible1Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

We know from Scripture that the Word of God is like seed received into our hearts. How do we receive this life? To answer that question, we’ll go to the beginning of the Gospel of John.

I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.
John 6:47-48

This is vital to our understanding of how to receive life. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. That’s the theme of the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. The Lord sums it up in this way.

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
John 6:63

This is the bottom line. In order to walk in the abundant life we must live by every Word of God. Christ is the Living Word – the personification of the Word of God. His Word is spirit and life. It’s a life that can only be received by the spirit. This is the foundational truth of how the Word works in us.

First, we must understand the key to grasping the Word of God. I’m speaking of the two Greek words, logos and rhema. These two words are both translated as “word” in the English, which makes it very hard to see the contrasts without a basic knowledge of the original language. My goal in this series is to bring out the truths contained in these two important words.

A lot of teaching has gone forth in the Faith Movement concerning logos and rhema. Some of it has been good, and some has been a little off. I want our foundation to be solid, so I ask you to read this with an open heart.

Some have mistakenly taught that logos refers to the written Word while rhema is the spoken word. In actuality, the Greek word graphe refers to the written Word. It’s usually translated “writings” or “Scripture”.

In the Bible, both logos and rhema are only referred to as spoken. They’re never read. Graphe is always read and never spoken.

What you’ll find in a careful study of logos and rhema is that they’re almost always indistinguishable from one another. According to Scripture, both of them are alive. Both endure eternally. Both contain creative power. Both are referred to as the sword of the spirit. Both logos and rhema can manifest the power of God.

It’s the differences, however, that I’m going to focus on. The first principle of the Word is found in Matthew 4:4 above. The word used in that verse is rhema. We must live on rhema. This is the source of our life.

The next important truth is found in John 6:63 above. That verse also uses the word rhema. Only rhema is given and received in the spiritual realm. It’s the form that spiritual life takes in order to be transferred from one to another.

You may be wondering why this study of linguistics is so important. I’m now going to put it all together for you so that you can see the beauty of God’s Word in all of its forms. We’ve heard the teaching that the Word of God is like a seed. Think about it as a grain of wheat. In the world, wheat is called the “staff of life.” That makes it a wonderful illustration for the Word.

In my next post I’ll use this view of the seed to explain how God uses His Word to impart life to His people.

Question: How much time do you spend listening to the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Power of God, Word of God

 

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Jesus Christ – Our Living Hope

Cloud2For a couple of posts we’ve looked at the first time Jesus mentioned the Last days in His teaching (John chapter 5). It’s the basis for constructing our picture of the future return of the Lord.

As I said before, we’ll build “line upon line, precept upon precept” as we go along. In future posts, we’ll be making the picture more complete.

“For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
John 5:26-30

The cross is our starting point. We come along about 2000 years later. The physical resurrection of the dead that Jesus talked about hasn’t happened yet. But, we know for a certainty that someday the dead are going to rise and there’s going to be a time of judgment with the result being either eternal life or eternal condemnation.

We don’t know when it’s coming, but there will be a resurrection day. In Jesus’ teaching, that we looked at in my last post, the disciples hadn’t heard anything that was new to them. Jesus didn’t start with some new doctrine that they’d never heard before.

You can find teaching on the resurrection throughout the Old Testament, too. Job looked forward to it in the book of Job chapter 19. It’s a Scripture that’s probably familiar to most of you. It was Job’s statement of faith that one day he was going to see the Lord.

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
Job 19:25-27

Even in the Old Testament, believers knew that there was going to be a resurrection. They understood that God was not going to leave His people in the grave. It’s in a few other places in the Old Testament as well. Not a lot, but enough to let us know that it was a recognized concept.

The Old Testament saints knew about it. Even the Pharisees, as a group, believed and taught that one day God would bring about the resurrection of the dead.

This is where Jesus starts out. It’s a very simple concept, but He begins where His disciples were familiar – the fact of the resurrection.

The only shocker in His teaching was that it will be the voice of Christ that causes the dead to rise. I’m sure that the Pharisees had some choice thoughts on that subject. We, however, are given a foundation upon which to build the rest of the teaching on the return of Christ.

It’s the Lord Himself who is our resurrection. It’s His voice who will call us from our graves to a place of victory. This is a day we can all look forward to as believers. Knowing this, we now have a proper foundation upon which to build the rest of our end-time teaching.

Question: How does the hope of the resurrection comfort you, especially in uncertain times?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2016 in Power of God, Return of Christ

 

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Do You Know the Two Resurrections

GravesWe’ve been discussing Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection as the key to understanding the Second Coming. In talking about this, the Lord describes two kinds. Here is the first.

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”
John 5:24-25

It’s obvious that Jesus is talking about a spiritual resurrection here, because He uses the phrase, has now come. It was not future, but was being fulfilled in the days that Jesus walked the earth.

The Pharisees were the dead people (spiritually) that Jesus was talking about. He was telling them, “Wake up! You’re dead and if you want life, you must believe and obey my words.”

It was time for them to hear and live. Jesus loved them and desired that they would pass over from death into life.

They could have experienced the life-giving power of God. Unfortunately, their pride kept them from accepting Christ for who He was. Even today pride is one of the biggest hindrances to the move of God in the church.

Jesus makes an important point here. It’s the basis of our belief in His return. Christ is the Life-Giver. This is the foundation for everything else. He uses it as the platform from which to speak of His future ministry of raising the dead (physically) to life.

“For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.
“Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out – those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”
John 5:26-30

This is the first recorded incident in Jesus’ ministry where He mentions the end-times. No, He doesn’t say a lot about it, but what He does say is at the very core of our belief in the Second Coming.

Jesus explains that there’s a day coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and will come out – those who have done good will rise to live; those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

Unfortunately, we usually miss this key. Yet it’s the foundation stone for everything else that you’ll learn about when you study the Second Coming of Christ. The entire message that Jesus teaches builds on this.

Question: Have you experienced spiritual resurrection? How did it change your outlook on life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2016 in Power of God, Return of Christ

 

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