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Monthly Archives: November 2019

God’s Armor – The Shoes of Readiness

As I continue with my series on the Armor of God, today we’ll look at the shoes.

…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Ephesians 6:15

It’s obvious that this piece of armor protects our feet.  The question is; what are our spiritual feet?

Simply put, we walk with our feet.  This includes three aspects.  Direction…we point our feet where we want to go.  Speed…this could be determined by a number of factors.  Endurance…as a hiker I know that I can only walk as long as my feet are able.

So to answer my question I need to understand what it is that determines my direction, speed, and endurance in my spiritual walk.  In life, it’s my will that brings all of these things into focus.

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.
Psalms 18:32-33

God perfects the way before me, but I still have to set my will to walk it out.  My will determines my direction, speed, and endurance.  This is important for us to know.

Knowing this, we’re told that something needs to be fitted on our spiritual feet.  The word, fitted, in the verse from Ephesians literally means an under binding.

That’s because my will is where I come in contact with the world.  It’s just like in the natural; my shoes protect my feet as they contact the earth.  When I live for Christ, my will comes in direct opposition to that of the world.

It’s in this place of contact that your endurance can get worn down.  If you don’t wear shoes, or don’t wear the right shoes, the earth determines how you walk.  With the right shoes, you determine your walk.

Like I’ve said, I’m a hiker.  I have a good set of hiking boots.  I’ve gone out for day hikes with friends who only had a pair of flimsy sneakers.  I laughed as they slowly picked their way so as not to step in mud or on a sharp rock.  But I was able to move straight forward because my feet were properly protected.

As I look at the armor, I notice that there’s a specific order to put it on.  It starts with the mind (The belt), then moves to the heart (The breastplate), and now we prepare our will.

That answers a question that many ask.  How do I know God’s will for my life?  Once you protect your mind and your heart, you’re ready to hear God’s will.  There’s a divine order to it.

Having said all of this, I think the keyword is readiness, the preparedness to do God’s will.  We must realize, even before we know God’s will for us, that it’s going to be the opposite of what the world desires.  Unless we’re prepared to protect it, our day to day life will wear it down.

Any believer can start doing God’s will.  Only those who can endure to the end can finish what they started.  We need the preparation that can only come from the Gospel of Peace.

We sometimes get the idea that everything’s okay.  “When something comes up, I’ll do the right thing.”  NO!  You won’t unless you’ve prepared yourself for that evil day.

The fact is that if you don’t prepare beforehand, you won’t choose God’s will when you’re under extreme pressure.  The Lord has provided a way for us to walk in victory, but we have to put the armor on.

At one point in Paul’s ministry, he knew God’s will for him was to go to Jerusalem.  All along the way, prophecies came forth warning that he would be arrested.  The church people pleaded with him not to go.

Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Acts 21:13

We need that same preparation.  No matter what comes our way, we’re ready to follow through and complete God’s will for our lives.

Question: What’s the next step in God’s plan for your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Thanksgiving Victory

Today in the USA, it’s the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday.  So, I’m writing this post to talk about thankfulness.  In my next post, I’ll continue talking about our spiritual armor.

As believers, we need to live a life of thankfulness to God.  What most people don’t realize is that walking in thankfulness actually places you in a position of spiritual power.

…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20

This is actually a poor translation of what the Apostle was saying.  Paul literally said we should be always giving thanks…OVER everything.  We need to understand that in the name of Christ we are over the situation.

This verse tells me that giving thanks raises me over any situation that I happen to be in right now.  We see the problems and they look so big.

It’s just like the Israelites who spied out the land.  Most of the spies only saw that there were giants living there.  They announced to Israel, “We were grasshoppers in our eyes.”

But Joshua and Caleb, on the other hand, were looking through eyes of thankfulness.  They were thanking God for giving them the land.  Their attitude was, “Thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory.”

It doesn’t matter how big the mountain is.  Thankfulness puts you over it.  How does that work?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

You’re told not to worry about the situation you see before you.  Listen to the response of God’s will.  We are to go before God’s presence, then we bare our hearts before Him, and finally, we lay our needs at His feet.

Look at the outcome that’s promised to us.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

When you offer up thanksgiving in a worrisome situation, then the peace of God will begin its work in you.  This verse says that it transcends your understanding.  Do you know what that means?

The actual Greek word is Huperecho.  It literally means to hold oneself above.  So, when you present these challenging situations to God, with thanksgiving, God’s peace will hold you above all your human understanding.

This same peace of God will also be a guard, like sentries, around you.  We need to see that it’s the peace OF GOD that will hold you above the circumstance.

But it’s the giving of thanks which results in the peace of God.  Then, that peace is activated to hold you above the circumstance.

This holiday season, allow the peace of God to work in you.  Yes, thank God for all that He’s done in your life.  But don’t stop there.  If there’s anything that you’re facing that’s challenging or causing you to worry, thank God for the victory over it.

In faith, take the high ground this Thanksgiving.

Question: What future victories do you need to thank God for right now?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2019 in Encouragement, Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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God’s Armor – Using the Breastplate of Righteousness

In my last post, I showed how the Breastplate of Righteousness was given to us to protect our hearts.  That’s the good ground of our life.  It’s where we plant the good seed of the Word of God.

In Scripture, we’re told to put on the full armor of God.  That means it’s a choice I have to make.  The first thing we need to understand is what this righteousness is.

In the Bible, we’re told about two kinds of righteousness and both of them are important.  First, there’s the position of righteousness.  That means I’m declared righteous simply because I’m in Christ and He’s my righteousness.

Because of this position of righteousness, I can go into the presence of God whenever I want.  Whether I need forgiveness, or simply want to praise and worship the Father, I have 24/7 access to God’s throne.

I praise God for the position of righteousness that we’ve been granted in Christ.  However, that’s not the righteousness that protects our ground.  The breastplate speaks of the walk of righteousness.

How does the walk of righteousness protect my heart?  In the natural, Scripture talks about the enemies that invaded Israel and ruined their fields.  Fire, drought, foxes, stones, salt, weeds, locust, and hail were all causes of crop failure.

In our walk with God, we’re warned to be careful not to form intimate relationships with unbelievers.  We’re told that bad companionships corrupt good character (1 Corinthians 15:33).  By becoming intimate with the world you’re opening up yourself for a broken heart – rocky, stony soil.

When your walk is not right before God, you have an open, unprotected heart.  If you remember, a few posts ago I showed that the armor wasn’t Paul’s invention.  There’s a word picture of God wearing His armor in the Old Testament.

Knowing this, Paul described what the breastplate consists of.

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1 Thessalonians 5:8

The first thing Paul talks about here is self-control.  You may not want to hear this, but it takes self-control to put on the breastplate.

The word, self-control, in this verse, is not the same as the fruit of the spirit.  This Greek word means to be sober, not drunk.  We can’t be so intoxicated with the world that we miss God’s best.

Then, Paul gives us a closer look at this breastplate.  He tells us that it’s comprised of a combination of faith and love.  Walking in faith and love is the completion of your righteousness before God.

It should be obvious how this works.  I must choose to trust God.  I must choose to love God.  This is a daily choice, to walk in righteousness.  It’s a faith-love walk.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6

In the New Covenant, circumcision is all about the rules of men.  The reality is that in Christ rules don’t count for anything.  Only a walk of righteousness matters.

This verse talks about being in Christ Jesus.  That’s where you have to be to use the armor.  This passage literally says that in Christ…the only thing that has force is faith, energized and made effective, through love.

How does this protect my heart?  When you walk in the combination of faith and love, you’re placing a “force field” of righteousness around your heart.  Your ground is protected, and you can expect your spiritual seed to grow unhindered by the enemy.

Question: What evidence do you see of faith and love working together in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God’s Armor – The Breastplate of Righteousness

I’m now in a series where I’m going through the Armor of God in detail.  We’ve already seen how the Belt of Truth protects your store of spiritual seed.  Today we’ll move on to the breastplate.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…
Ephesians 6:14

The first thing we need to recognize is the placement of this piece of armor.  It should be obvious that this breastplate protects your heart.  That’s an important point.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
Proverbs 4:23

Scripture tells us that the most important thing to guard is your heart.  It’s where your life springs from.  Why is that?  And if life flows from the heart, where does that life come from?

If we read the few verses preceding this one, we’ll get the answer.

My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words.  Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body.
Proverbs 4:20-22

It’s clear that everything I need for life and godliness springs from my heart.  That even includes healing for my body.  But that’s all based upon the assumption that I’m placing God’s Word in my heart.

We need to get the seeds from the storehouse (our mind) and plant them into our hearts.  Jesus taught the same thing to His disciples.  We find it in the parable of the sower.

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
Luke 8:15

Without question, your heart is the good soil of your life.  Whatever you plant in it will grow and bear fruit.  The real question is; are you planting wheat or milkweed?

When we come to Christ, our life is a mess.  The Lord comes in and the Holy Spirit begins the process of cleaning us up.

The good soil of my heart is cleared of weeds.  Through repentance, I turn the soil over regularly.  Soon I have a heart of rich, nutrient-filled ground.  It’s ready for planting.

The problem is that you can only plant what’s readily available.  That’s why in my last post I talked about the importance of filtering what we place in our minds.  Too often we allow the enemy to plant his seeds in our soil.

Then we get into the cycle of planting, letting the weeds grow, pulling them up, and then starting again.  Instead, we should be getting God’s Word planted in our hearts.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalms 37:4

Most people don’t understand what this verse is really saying.  It’s NOT saying that if you delight in the Lord, He’ll give you whatever you want.  It DOES say that if you delight in Him, He’ll put His desires into your heart.

As we place God’s Word in our hearts, His desires spring up.  Then, we’ll bear the fruit of that Word.

That’s why we need to protect our good ground.  This is where the Breastplate of righteousness comes in.  In my next post, I’ll talk about how to use the breastplate to protect your ground.
Question: What have you planted in your heart that you desire to see bear fruit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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God’s Armor – Using the Belt of Truth

In my last post, I showed that the Belt of Truth was the piece of armor that protects our minds.  When we memorize Scripture, that seed is stored in our mind.  We want it protected so that it can be planted to produce a good crop for the Lord.

How do I use this piece of armor?  Paul talked about our spiritual weaponry in his second letter to the Corinthian church.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5

In this battle to protect the seed, I need to make my thoughts obedient to Christ.  That’s the goal.  I don’t want weeds affecting my harvest.

Jesus warned His disciples about the same things.

“Be careful,” Jesus said to them.  “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Matthew 16:6

We need to watch what we let into our minds – the things that we dwell on and rehearse.  We can’t just swallow everything.  There’s a lot of religious talk out there that sounds good.  The real question is; does it line up with God’s Word?

The fact is, the more of God’s Word that we desire, the more the enemy will try to water it down.  Guarding this is the most important thing you can do if you want a fruitful life.

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.  Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.  Grace be with you.
1 Timothy 6:20-21

Paul warned his spiritual son, Timothy, that he needed to guard the Word that had been deposited in him.  Paul literally tells him to avoid those who have crossed the line with their empty words and conflicting theories of how they think God should do things.

The Greek people had a word that they used for this kind of person.  It meant someone who just babbled on and on.  The idiom they used literally translates as a seed-picker.

Are you letting the “seed-pickers” into your life?  You need to be buckling the Belt of Truth around the loins of your mind.  Let God’s Word be a filter to stop the wrong things from getting in.

When we hear something that could affect how we serve God; it should cause a question to rise up.  Is this truth, or is it someone’s opinion?  I don’t want to be found trying to please God based on an opinion.

Please understand that I’m not talking about stray thoughts.  We all have them and there’s not much we can do about them.  But those are thoughts that are not stored yet.  I’m talking about the ones that we continue to dwell on.  They need to be passed through the filter of the Word.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32

I’ve heard people quote this verse many times…usually out of context.  Jesus was speaking to believers here.  He explains to them that if they dwell, live in, His Word, they are truly His disciples.

As Christ’s followers, it’s only as we remain in His Word that we will know the truth.  And it’s that truth that will set us free.

The more we immerse ourselves in God’s Word, the more freedom we can walk in.  We will also have a great supply of spiritual seed to plant for the increase of God’s kingdom.

Question: How do you guard what’s stored in your mind?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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God’s Armor – The Belt of Truth

Our Supply in GodNow that I’ve talked about the spiritual battle that we face, we need to know how to prepare.  To do this, the Lord has given us access to His personal set of armor.  It will take me a number of posts to cover them in detail.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…
Ephesians 6:14a

The first piece of armor that we’re given is the Belt of Truth.  We’re told that it needs to be buckled around our waist.  Literally, the belt is buckled around our loins.

In Scripture, our loins speak about our seed.  Not to be too graphic, but that’s where our reproductive organs reside.  Our seed needs to be protected.

We’re told throughout the Bible that we need to be bearing fruit.  That’s not going to happen without a good supply of seed.

First, I want to deal with some misconceptions concerning our seed.  Some think that a few bad seeds mixed in don’t matter.  That’s not true.  Weeds grow and spread without any help at all.

Another wrong thought is that anything that we plant will grow.  That’s not true either.  Galatians 6:7-9 explains that you reap what you sow IF you don’t give up.  It also matters where you sow your seed.  They need to be planted in good soil.

With that understanding, we can talk about the seed that we want to see grow in our lives.  How do we protect our precious, spiritual seed?

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:13

Peter understood this concept.  In this verse, the phrase, prepare your minds for action literally reads, gird the loins of your mind.  Spiritually speaking, your loins, the storehouse of your seed, is your mind.

The reason for this is because your mind should be where you’re placing the truth.  Every time you memorize Scripture, you’re placing good seeds in your storehouse.

The real question then becomes; how well do you protect your seed?  It’s really easy to complain when nothing seems to be growing.  We need to keep our seed from being nullified.

Jesus communicated this in His prayer to the Father.  He wanted the disciples, and us, to bear much fruit.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.
John 17:17

We’re talking about the truth of God’s Word, not man’s word.  The only way to protect your seed is to walk in the truth of God.

When we walk in doubt, fear, presumption, hearsay, or our own habits, we nullify God’s Word in us.  We need to operate in the truth – “Thus sayeth the Lord.”  Our goal should be, “I’m doing this because God said…”

We get into trouble because many times we plant a lot of unprotected seed.  We need to learn the lesson from airport security.  “Has your suitcase been away from your control?”

Please understand that this is not just a prayer you make in the morning.  You can’t just confess the Belt of Truth when you get up, and then feed the spiritual pigeons the rest of the day.

We have to protect our seed if we want to see it grow.  That means allowing the truth of God’s Word to saturate all that we do.

In my next post, I’ll talk about how to actually use the Belt of Truth in our daily lives.

Question: How much of God’s Word have you stored in your mind?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Spiritual Bootcamp – Warned and Prepared

I’m continuing to post about spiritual warfare.  The Apostle Paul had a lot of insight in this area.  Of course, not everything he wrote sounds good to me.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:13

This is one of those Scriptures that I have to embrace whether I like it or not.  I’m told under the authority of the Holy Spirit to always be prepared to stand my ground.

This is a great lesson that the church needs to hear.  So many people give up when things get hard.  Some of us are under the impression that working for God should be all hearts and flowers.

Why then does Paul use the analogy of a warrior, fully armed, and dressed for battle?  The fact is that there are spiritual forces that don’t want us to succeed in our service to the Lord.  The victory comes from knowing that it’s the Holy Spirit giving you strength, and not giving up.

We need to learn how to stand in the center of opposition.  The ancient Romans knew how to do this.  It was the secret to the success of their army.  Each of the Roman soldiers was taught how to defend a 3-foot square of ground from an invading army.  When they fought side by side, there was no way to break through their lines.

We need to get it into our heads that the only way to victory is to move forward in the Lord.  Backing up WILL NOT get you out of the battle.  It only means that you’ll have to fight to regain that ground later.

Of course, the thing about this verse that gives me the most trouble is Paul saying when the day of evil comes.  Not “if”, not “there might come a time when problems arise”.  He tells us in a straight forward way that this day is coming whether you’re ready or not.  So the best thing to do is prepare now.

The word that Paul uses for stand literally means to stand in opposition to.  This word is used elsewhere in the Bible.

Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

The word, resist, in this verse is the same word as stand that Paul used.  We need to stand our ground and resist the devil.  We’re told that if we do this, in submission to the Lord, the enemy will flee.  It’s the time frame between the resisting and the fleeing that gives us the most problem.

Why would the devil ever flee from us?  After all, we’re not that strong compared to him.  The answer is back in the verse from Ephesians.

The phrase, after you have done everything, actually translates after you have fully accomplished your work.  When you’ve done everything you were assigned to do by the Lord, then it’s time for the Holy Spirit to take over.  One thing I’m certain about.  The enemy is no match for the God I serve!

So, being forewarned with the knowledge that the day of evil is coming, we need to be ready.  We must be fully armed and prepared to stand our ground in Christ.  Then we’ll see the victory of God manifest in our situation.

In my next post, I’ll start talking about what it takes to be fully armed and dangerous to the enemy’s kingdom.

Question: What are you going through right now that will require you to stand your ground?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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