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Monthly Archives: September 2019

Don’t Power-Up the Enemy

In my last post, I talked about the power of the resurrection in our lives.  This power affects every aspect of our walk with God.

Jesus told us that we had authority over all the power of the enemy.  This causes me to question our current church experience.  If what the Lord said is true, then why does the enemy seem to be winning?

To understand this you must realize that just like electricity, there are two forms of spiritual power.  Paul writes about one of these in his first letter to the Corinthian church.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:56-57

That should be an eye-opener.  Most Christians have no idea that the power of sin is the law.  We seem to have missed this fact even though it’s plainly taught in the Scripture.  This means that without the law, sin would have no power.

The other source of spiritual power should be obvious to us.

“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

These were some of the last words of Jesus before He was taken up into Heaven.  We must realize that our power comes from God Himself through the Holy Spirit in us.  This means that the two sources of spiritual power are the Holy Spirit and sin.

That’s a very important fact to know if we’re to grow in our spiritual walk.  Our goal should be to only receive our power from the Holy Spirit.  We must be certain that we’re not powered by the same thing that powers the enemy’s kingdom.

As a matter of fact, Satan’s power is derived totally from sin.  So if there were no law, then the enemy would have no power.  Everything that Satan is able to do is powered by the law.

Whether you realize this or not, every accusation and attack that he makes are all based upon the law.  The problem we have is that just knowing this truth isn’t enough to defeat him.

Like AC and DC electricity, both forms are very powerful.  AC is the type of electricity that powers your house.  DC is the type that starts your car in the morning as well as supplying power for the lightning we see in a thunderstorm.  In the same way, the two forms of spiritual power can be very potent.

There are some important differences between the law and the Holy Spirit.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8

Literally, this verse says God is powerful enough to do everything you need according to His grace.  In all things, at all times – this means that the power of the Holy Spirit is permanent, whereas the law is temporary.

If I base my walk on how well I follow the law, I’ll soon be in big trouble.  Everything is fine while I’m at church, especially if I just went to the altar and repented.  I go on my way feeling strong spiritually.

Then it happens, on my way to the car, I get into an argument.  It all goes downhill from there.  Now Satan has a basis for accusation again and I can feel my power dwindling.

On the other hand, I can base my spiritual walk on the Holy Spirit within me.  I know that He’s always there.  I can run to Him in all things, at all times, and I know that He’s able to meet my need no matter what.  We, as believers, need to understand this truth so that we’ll not fall into the trap of trying to use the enemy’s power to defeat sin in our lives.

Question: How do we sometimes try to use our sinful nature to defeat sin in our lives?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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The Great Change – Earthly to Heavenly

In my last post, we saw the two different perspectives that we can have as believers.  You can live for the world with the dirt mentality.  You can live for Christ with an eternal focus.  That’s an important choice because the material things of this earth are not transferrable to the heavenly kingdom.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1 Corinthians 15:50

As we exist right now, with our body made of dirt, we cannot inherit God’s kingdom.  That’s a problem.  But if you’re in Christ, there’s no need to worry about it.  God has the solution.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52

There’s coming a day when everything changes.  When the passage says that we will not all sleep, he’s talking about the sleep of death.  We’re not all going to die.

There are some of us who will be alive at the Second Coming of Christ.  At that moment, we will be changed.  Our soulish bodies will be immediately converted into new, spiritual bodies.

If you remember what Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, the dead are not left out.  As a matter of fact, those who die in Christ are the first to receive their new bodies.  Then, we get ours.

That’s good news.  I can’t enter into my eternal life in God’s kingdom with my present fleshly body.  So God arranged to have it changed into a heavenly body.  It’s something I could have never hoped for apart from the work of Christ on the cross.

I love Paul’s description of this change.

For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
1 Corinthians 15:53

The word perishable means that right now we are subject to decay.  The older we get, the more things don’t work the way they used to.

For instance, in high school, I was a powerlifter.  Now that I’m over 60, I can’t lift what I could back then.  It’s a part of the decay process.

But this verse tells us that there’s a day when we will be clothed with an inability to decay.  Even better than that, we’ll be given an inability to die.  That’s a day to look forward to!

It’s all because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for us on the cross.  He won a great victory that day.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”
1 Corinthians 15:54-55

The Lord Jesus Christ defeated death.  The Good News is that now, in Him, we reap the benefits of this victory.

As believers, we know that there’s nothing to fear in death.  Even more than that, we don’t need to fear the aging process.  In Christ, it’s 100% reversible.  When Christ returns I’ll be young again – forever!

Question: How do you keep the Return of Christ in focus?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2019 in Encouragement, Power of God, Return of Christ

 

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An Inheritance of Dirt

As we continue going through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we can see that he’s trying to give them an eternal perspective.  Paul wants them, and us, to be looking forward to the return of Christ on Resurrection Day.

Our inheritance is going to be glorious in Christ.  That means we need to be focused on what is ahead of us.

To do that, we need to understand the difference between us and the world.

As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.  And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.
1 Corinthians 15:48-49

We know from Scripture that we were created from the dirt.  Even the name, Adam means red, because of the color of the clay God used to form him.

That’s important because the word, earthly in the above verse literally means dirt-like.  Just like Adam was dirt-like, we have the same makeup.

I’m glad that the story doesn’t end there.  There’s a higher calling that we can share.  This verse also talks about the Man from heaven – literally, the one from beyond the sky.

So now we have a choice.  This passage tells us that we can wear like a garment, the likeness of dirt or the likeness from beyond the sky.

That’s the two different perspectives before us.  You can have your eyes on the dirt, or on heaven.  What do you focus most of your attention on?

But you might ask me why that’s so important.  I’ll let Paul explain it.

I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
1 Corinthians 15:50

To put it simply, dirt can’t inherit that which is beyond the sky.  Unfortunately, too many of us want the inheritance of dirt.

What do I mean by that?  Every material thing that we have in this world is either dug out of the dirt or grows from the dirt.  Yes, even your computer chips are made of silicone which is simply refined dirt.

Why are we so mesmerized by the things from dirt, that we ignore the things from heaven – beyond the sky?  We need to retool our priorities.

Scripture teaches us that this is how we do our best for Christ.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

We need to be eternity minded.  That’s where our treasure resides.  Allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse you from the “dirt mentality”.  God’s kingdom offers us so much more.

Question: How do you know the difference between being earthly-minded vs. heavenly-minded?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2019 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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Keep Your Soul Healthy

As he talked about the resurrection, the Apostle Paul mentions the relationship between soul and spirit.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.  So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.
1 Corinthians 15:44b-46

In the above passage, the word, natural is the word soulish in the Greek.  Right now we have inherited a soulish body from Adam.  That means that our body responds to commands from our soul – which is our mind.  It’s who you are.  The soul includes your personality and all of your memories.

It’s the Greek word, psyche.  It’s where we get our English word psychology, which means the study of the soul.  Your soul is the real you.  That’s why the Scripture refers to people as souls.

When I speak or write, it’s your soul that I want to communicate with.  I don’t just want to stimulate your eyes and ears.  It’s the person on the inside that matters.

Even animals have souls – but they don’t have a spirit.  That’s what sets us apart from them.  Yet without using the spirit, our lives are not much better than animals.

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Psalms 73:21-22

That’s what humanity is like without Christ.  We end up storing up nuts like squirrels.  Or constantly searching to mate, like dogs.

We need to realize that it’s important to keep our soul healthy and prosperous.  Probably even more than the physical.  That’s because what happens in your soul is the foundation for the rest of your life.

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (NKJV)
3 John 1:2-3

Soul prosperity and health is the basis for physical prosperity and health.  Of course, there are those who say that this is just a greeting.  They teach that you can’t trust God to perform it in your life based upon this verse.

Wasn’t it the Holy Spirit who inspired John to write this?  If so, then it should be applicable to my life.  What about the Apostle Paul?  When he greets the church by saying “Grace and peace through the Lord Jesus Christ,” does that negate the truth of it?

The truth is that the blessings we experience in our Christian walk are directly tied to how our soul prospers.  The fact is that if you want a good life with health and prosperity, then you need your soul to prosper.

Our problem is that we usually don’t take good care of our souls.  We let things slide and then wonder why our lives get messed up.  We need to spend the time and energy necessary to keep our souls prosperous and healthy.

A few years ago I had a couple of posts about keeping your soul healthy.  To begin that series, click here.

Question: What are the characteristics of a healthy soul?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2019 in Healing, Spiritual Walk

 

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Planting for the Resurrection

As a pastor, I’ve been asked many questions about death and the resurrection.  The Apostle Paul had to deal with these issues as well.

But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised?  With what kind of body will they come?”  How foolish!  What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
1 Corinthians 15:35-36

This is our great hope in a nutshell.  We’re not just looking for the end of life.  In Christ, there is death and rebirth.

Even knowing this, people have questions about how this all works.  What about believers whose bodies were burned at the stake?  Or those who died in shipwrecks and were eaten by fish.  Then there are those who choose to be cremated.

This section of Scripture deals with these issues.  The bottom line is that we don’t need to worry about what happens to our bodies after we die.

When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.  All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.  There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.  The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
1 Corinthians 15:37-41

Paul starts by saying that every type of body is different.  We serve a very creative God.  He loves variety.  So the natural universe is a grand display of His power and artistry.

But one thing is clear…the body that’s placed in the ground is not the body that will rise at the resurrection.  That’s just like the fact that a tomato plant looks nothing like the tomato seed that was planted.

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead.  The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
1 Corinthians 15:42-44a

This is the foundation for our expectation of the future.  When we attend a believer’s funeral, it’s not the body in the casket that will rise.  On Resurrection Day we will receive a brand new body.

It doesn’t matter if your dead body is burned, eaten by fish, or turned into powder by the passing of time.  The body that was “planted” does not contain the material of the new body that will rise at the coming of the Lord.

According to this verse, the old body is subject to decay, disgrace, and weakness.  Our new body will have none of those characteristics.  Instead, it will be a body that has immortality, glory, and power.  That’s something to look forward to.

The last part of this verse gives us a little more insight.  Right now, our body is natural, or literally, soulish.  That means that our flesh is under the authority of our mind.  Whatever we think about, our body performs.

After the resurrection, our body will be a spiritual body.  That means it’s under the control of our spirit.  It will function like Jesus did after His resurrection.  It will even be able to transport wherever it needs to be – even going through walls if needed.

As I said in the last post, this thought should give us the perseverance to live for Christ to our fullest potential.  We know that our future, in Him, will be glorious!

Question: How focused are you on eternal life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2019 in Return of Christ, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Reason for Perseverance

Sometimes it seems difficult to serve Christ.  That’s especially true in the parts of the world where Christians are persecuted.  Why do we persevere through the trials?

We’re continuing to look at First Corinthians. Paul is teaching about the truth of the resurrection.  He’s writing to some believers who think that the concept of resurrection is only a suggested teaching.

Paul rebukes them and explained that belief in our future resurrection is non-optional.  Without the resurrection, there’s no salvation.

He now talks about how it relates to us.

Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead?  If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?
1 Corinthians 15:29

This probably refers to a local tradition they had in the early church.  If someone was saved in prison and was martyred before they could be baptized, someone would be baptized for them.  In this way, they could publically proclaim that this person was saved before they died.

But how does looking forward to the resurrection affect us?

And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?  I die every day — I mean that, brothers — just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.  If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained?  If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”
1 Corinthians 15:30-32

Paul walked a very difficult road in his service to Christ.  It involved persecution again and again.  It was his view of the resurrection that kept him going.

That’s why he asks the important question.  Why go through this type of suffering if there’s no resurrection?

No resurrection means that there’s no eternal life.  That would mean this life is the only thing we’d experience.  If that was the case, there would be no reason to endure hardship for the Lord.  Without eternal life to look forward to, our goal should be to go for everything the world has to offer.

The fact is that eternal life is real.  We will rise again when Christ returns to the earth.  This present world is not all that there is.  We can give all for Jesus, knowing that our future glory is something to look forward to.

The apostle gives those who don’t believe in the resurrection a final rebuke.

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God — I say this to your shame.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34

It all comes down to who you’re trying to impress.  If you spend all of your free time with unbelievers and you want to please them, then your character will suffer.  Their attitudes will start to affect you.

The ones that Paul was writing to actually got to the point where they felt that the Resurrection Day was unimportant.  Their walk with the Lord suffered because they were living for the world.  We can’t allow that to happen to us.

You need to take stock of your friendships.  What effect are they having on you?  Are you in fellowship with other believers, or do you mostly want friendship with the world?

Keep your focus on the eternal.  That’s what will give you the foundation for perseverance in Christ.

Question: How important is the future resurrection to you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2019 in Ministry, Return of Christ, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Trinity – Divine Order

One of the most difficult concepts for most people to understand is the triune nature of God.  We have come up with the word, trinity to describe it.  But you have to realize that “trinity” is not in the Bible.

As we go through Paul’s explanation of the resurrection, he touches on this subject in passing.

For he “has put everything under his feet.”  Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.  When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
1 Corinthians 15:27-28

The first and most important thing you need to understand is that we serve one God.  Sometimes the way we use the word trinity, and the way we talk about “God in three persons”, makes it sound like we have three Gods.  That is absolutely NOT the case.

The next piece of the puzzle is the realization that this one God, throughout history, has manifested Himself in four ways.  There are times that we see God the Father, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit.  Then there are those times when we refer to all of these together simply as God.

Are you confused yet?  I hope not.  But hopefully, I’ll clear some things up for you as we go along.

The Bible is clear that we were created in God’s image.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness…”
Genesis 1:26a

It turns out that because of this, we are also triune beings.  We each have a body, a soul, and a spirit even though we’re one person.  Unfortunately for us, these three don’t always agree with each other.

You can think about God in the same way.  Our spirit exists, functions, and interacts in the spiritual realm.  That corresponds to God, the Holy Spirit.

Our body exists, functions, and interacts in the material realm.  That part of us corresponds to God, the Son.

Our soul is the center of who we are.  It houses our personality, memories, and the seat of our decision-making ability.  That part corresponds with God, the Father.

I am one person.  But I have three parts that make me whole.  They are always working together whether I realize it or not.

In my person, my soul is the part with the highest authority right now.  Some people teach that our spirit is highest, but Scripture says otherwise (1 Corinthians 14:32).  After the resurrection, however, our spirits will be in charge (1 Corinthians 15:44).

Now that I’ve explained all of this, let’s look at the above verse from First Corinthians.

Let’s say that I want a new smartphone.  But who really wants it?  It’s the real me – the person inside my being – my soul is wanting it.

How does my soul get it?  My body goes to work and makes a salary.  The money goes into the bank account of my whole person.  My body goes to the store and buys a new smartphone.  Now, my body places the new phone under the authority of my soul.

My body carries out the will of my soul.  It’s under the authority of my soul.  But even though this is true, my body is no less “me” than my soul.

In the same way, God the Son carries out the will of God the Father.  But, that doesn’t make the Son any less God than the Father.  Father, Son, and Spirit are all God.  One God.  They work together in the same way that my body, soul, and spirit work together.

We serve a great God.  He desires to reveal Himself to His people if we would spend time getting to know Him better.

Question: How do you describe the relationship of God – Father, Son, and Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2019 in Creation, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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