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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Why Scripture?

BibleIn my last article, I began posting about the Scripture. Do you know what it is and what it’s for? Let’s look at what Scripture says about itself.

And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:19-21

Peter tells us that Scripture was given to bring light into our hearts. In the pages of the Bible is everything we need to accurately set the course for our lives. We don’t have to live stumbling around in the darkness.

Next, Peter says that there’s an overriding principle that we need to understand above all else. Nothing in Scripture is there all by itself. There’s an eternal purpose for everything that’s written.

It’s the Holy Spirit who gave it. No passage can be interpreted apart from the whole. We cannot take a verse or two and interpret them out of their context. I need to know their place in the chapter or the book that they’re in. Context is everything when I read Scripture.

Finally, we’re told that no Scripture came about by the will – the choice or determination – of man. That would never have worked. No matter how hard I tried, I could never even imagine what God’s plan is, or how to bring it about.

On the contrary, it could only come forth by a moving of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people who were completely sold out to Him. They allowed the Lord to carry them along.

Scripture, therefore, contains the words of those who, moved by the Spirit, were speaking what God wanted to be said, the way God wanted it said. God used their language and personalities to speak what was in His heart.

The Greek word for Scripture is the word graphe, which means writings. Our working definition for what Scripture is would be: The written record of God’s Word to people.

Since the dawn of Creation, God has sent His Word to many different people, in different places, at different times, during different situations and circumstances. I’m glad that God desired these Words to be written down for future generations to read. I’m grateful that I can hold them in my hands and study them.

In my next post, I’ll begin talking about why was it so important to God that this word be written down.

Questions: What does the Scripture mean to you? How has it impacted your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

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Posted by on December 14, 2016 in Scripture Series, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Handling the Truth

Bible1I talk a lot about the Word of God in my posts. So I decided to do a series of posts on the subject of the Scripture. Most Christians have a misunderstanding about what Scripture is, or of its place in the life of a believer. Without that foundational knowledge, you can never move on to the greater experiences of the faith.

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

This verse should set us on course in all that we do for the Lord. We should be seeking His approval. Not running after the fame of a large ministry or the acclaim of people. We should be doing our best to receive our approval from the only One whose opinion matters.

Do your best literally means to use speed, be prompt, and be earnest. This speaks about our priorities. How important is it to you to obtain God’s approval? As you look at the important matters of your life, where does God’s will fit in?

Present yourself is an interesting phrase in the Greek. It means to stand beside and exhibit yourself. Think about it. You need to take a step back from your life and view it from the outside.

How would someone else, watching you from a distance, classify your commitment to the Lord? What would your advice be to someone else who lives for God the way you do?

We need to put away the denials and excuses we use to justify our lack of relationship with the Lord. It’s time to step back and take a cold, hard look at our priorities and change whatever needs to be corrected.

Don’t be ashamed. God wants workmen who do not need to be ashamed about anything. This is a big problem in the church today – embarrassment over our walk with God.

We say that we’re all about winning the lost, yet we never speak to anyone about Christ. We say that Christ is Healer, yet few are healed. We’re afraid to speak up because we don’t want to offend anyone. Why? The world has no qualms with offending our beliefs 24/7. What’s the problem?

Correctly Handle. In the original text there’s no word and after the word ashamed. The reason you don’t need to be ashamed is that you correctly handle the word of truth.

The literal Greek of the phrase correctly handles is to make a straight cut with. The Word of God is a sharp sword. Would you trust your life to a surgeon who couldn’t cut a coupon out of a magazine? In the same way, the church needs to know how to handle the Word.

Why are we so ashamed sometimes? The answer is the same as the lawyer was given in the movie, A Few Good Men. “You can’t handle the truth!”

Questions: Have you felt embarrassed for being a Christian? How did you handle it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2016 in Scripture Series, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Life that’s Over the Top

SkateboardI’ve been posting about the Gift of God, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It’s a river of life bubbling up from within us. Jesus told us that it’s eternal life. It’s His perpetual, continual life that’s flowing through us.

But in calling it eternal life, the Lord was speaking about more than just length. It’s not just about how long you live for. Look at how Jesus describes it.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

If I tell you that something is full, would you only think about it in one dimension? Full implies more than just length.

The word full that the Lord used actually means superabundant in quantity, superior in quality, and excessive in amount.

Think about it this way. I come to you and ask you, “Can I borrow your car to go grocery shopping?”

You say, “Sure.” But the next thing I know is that a 2016 stretch limousine with a chauffeur pulls up to my house. That’s the picture this word evokes.

In spite of that, we usually settle for the Flintstone mobile – spiritually speaking. We should be expecting so much more from our walk with God. He wants to lavish His life upon us.

The gift of God is where this spring of life comes from. When Jesus called it a spring of water, the word He used was of the surface fountain. The source was not included.

That’s how it is with us. You can’t see the source because it’s in the spirit. I’ve got to tap into the Holy Spirit to get the spring going.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
2 Timothy 1:6

This verse tells us that the gift of God is received by the laying on of hands. It’s imparted from one who has already received it. The gift must be passed on and received.

But this verse also makes it clear that it can lay dormant after it’s received. Why would anyone want to ignore the gift of God’s eternal life flowing through them?

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

How does Paul describe this gift of God? The apostle says that He’s a Spirit – the Holy Spirit. Boldness comes from this Spirit. Why? Because He gives us a life that’s over the top. If you have perpetual life to draw upon, who cares what people think?

If you borrow money for a mortgage, the bank tells you how big a house you can get. But if you win a Powerball jackpot, no one can tell you what to buy.

That’s what God gives us in the spirit. We have power, love, and a saved mind. Because you can draw on the Holy Spirit and His perpetual life, you now have the power for everything God calls you to do.

You have enough love for all who come your way. You have a saved mind to know God’s will.

What else do you need? It’s up to us to seek it out. All we have to do is to trust God to receive it or fan it into flame.

Question: How have you experienced God’s abundant life working in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Jump in the River

diveIn my last post I started talking about the Holy Spirit being described as Living Water in the Scripture. Jesus referred to this water when He talked with the woman at the well. She had no idea what He was talking about.

I also talked about Jesus preparing His disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the church. He told them that the Gift of God was the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4-5)

Baptism is a religious word that we sometimes misunderstand. To baptize literally means to submerge or immerse completely in a liquid.

So when we talk about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we’re really talking about being immersed in the Spirit. So the gift of God is a spiritual immersion. The Lord wants us to jump in this spring of living water.

The woman didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about, so He explained it.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:13-14

The water that Christ gives (the Holy Spirit) will become a gushing fountain of this water. And it will continue springing up to eternal life.

Drinking water is a lot like breathing air. In the spirit we need to be breathing in and out. It should be a continual thing.

That’s why Jesus could say in verse 21 that a day is coming to fulfill this in God’s people.

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:24

We are given the Holy Spirit on the inside of us when we’re saved. But God wants us to be immersed in Him; immersed in the living Holy Spirit.

We sometimes think of eternal life only in terms of length. God wants us to live His kind of life – the God kind of life. That’s why God wants us to have the water of life within us.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

What is the gift of God? It’s the Holy Spirit in you – springing up to eternal life. The gift of God brings eternal life.

The real question we should be asking is; what exactly is eternal life? What does God mean when He uses that phrase?

In my next post I’ll wrap up this series by showing how Christ explains this gift of His life bubbling up within us.

Question: How often do you pray and worship God in the Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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The Gift of God – Like a River

Stream 2All around me I see people gearing up for Christmas. The parking lots at the malls are starting to fill up as shoppers begin buying presents. We all like to receive gifts. But I think that the greatest gifts are not from a store. They’re things that affect us for eternity.

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
John 7:37-38

I want to take a few posts to talk about the gift of God to us. Jesus describes it as streams of living water bubbling up on the inside of us. Yet, even though it flows through you, you’re not the source. The Lord is talking about an unending stream.

By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
John 7:39

Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit living in God’s people. It was a new thing that God was going to do. It had never been seen before.

Of course, there were many Old Testament saints who were used mightily by the Holy Spirit. But until this time, no one had ever experienced the Spirit of the Lord actually taking up residence in their lives.

Look at what happened after Jesus was glorified.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 1:4-5

It’s clear from the words of Christ that the gift of God is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. God wanted them to have this gift. It was something that they needed to wait for before they did anything else.

They had already been given the “Great Commission” to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone. But now Jesus is telling them to wait. Don’t go, don’t preach, don’t do anything for me until you receive this gift. That tells me that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is necessary to proclaim the Good News.

We need to understand how the Spirit operates in us. In some ways the Holy Spirit is like water. He can be compared to a stream, a river, a pool or an ocean. He can be in you and you can be in Him.

But this was not the first invitation Jesus gave to receive His gift. At one point in His traveling, the Lord met with a woman by a well. In discussing about water…

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
John 4:10

Jesus used a very interesting phrase to describe this. He called it living waterwater that is alive. That’s because this water is a person – the Holy Spirit. We need to learn how to relate to Him. That’s how His life can become our life.

Question: How has the life of the Holy Spirit changed you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Worship – The Place of Change

LightningI’ve been posting about the worship that takes place in the throne room of God. We enter that place as we pray in the spirit.

From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
Revelation 4:5

Here is another picture of what happens before the throne of God. We need to understand that the term seven spirits of God could also be translated as the seven-fold spirit of God. I believe that’s referring to the Holy Spirit.

Also around the throne we see flashes of lightning. We see this happening throughout the Bible when God’s throne is mentioned. Lightning, loud noises, and thunder. But when you read Scripture there are only certain times when this happens.

We see this taking place when God changes something. In Revelation, chapter 8, we see the prayers of the saints offered like incense before God. Then, as they were being offered to God, the following takes place.

Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
Revelation 8:5

What was taking place in Heaven started happening on earth. That’s because worship is a place of change. It’s in His presence that our lives are changed.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16

The Apostle Paul understood this. When he wrote this, Paul was talking about himself and his ministry team. He knew that in the place of worship there could be daily change happening.

Just think about it; we can come into God’s presence for daily renewal.

We try so hard to be good. We fail. Then we keep trying to be better. We need to learn the truth of that old chorus…

“I am changed in the presence of an awesome God.”

Enter into God’s throne room through prayer in the spirit. Everything we need is there. It’s in His awesome presence that we find unity, peace, and a changed life.

Question: How has your life been changed in God’s presence?

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© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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