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Monthly Archives: April 2020

Mercy and Power

In my last post, I talked about how it’s the power of God that brings both the walk of righteousness and the miraculous into our Christian walk.  Here’s the last verse we looked at…

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

This is the power of God that changes us day by day if we’re submitted to it. As good as this verse is, that’s not the end of it. We usually miss the point because there’s a chapter break right after that verse. The original has no such break in the writing. This thought continues into the next verse.

Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
2 Corinthians 4:1

What we need to realize is that it’s through the power of mercy that we have ever-increasing glory manifest in our lives. We need to understand that our tiny view of mercy is inadequate to explain the great depth of this truth. The best part is that we can approach the throne of grace to lay hold of this mercy. I want to show you what this means.

Since it brings the power of God into our lives, we know it’s not by the law. It’s interesting to note that two times were recorded in the Gospels where Jesus made the same statement to the Pharisees. In both cases, they were condemning Him for what He was doing. He did things like eating with “sinners.” The Pharisees were thinking, “How can the power of God work in you if you do that?”

Jesus had a stern rebuke for them.

“If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.”
Matthew 12:7

This statement was directed at the Pharisees, But I have to admit that when I began studying about mercy I had no idea what He meant by it. I had always quoted the verse “to obey is better than sacrifice.” This view of the mercy of God was new to me.

The first thing I notice is that this is a desire of God. It’s not a command or a law. This means that the obtaining of mercy is optional. It’s not something that you need to have for salvation, or even for your growth in the Lord.

As a matter of fact, it’s very rarely used in the body of Christ because in this generation we strive to live by the promises. I’m here to tell you that living the walk of mercy is above the promises.

In the past, I’ve posted about God’s mercy in detail.  To read my full series on mercy, click here.

The walk of mercy is a higher walk in the spirit.  According to Paul, it’s the understanding of God’s mercy that allows us to minister for Him.  God’s mercy also keeps us from becoming discouraged.

We need a fresh revelation of the mercy of God.  Walking in it will change your life.

Question: How have you experienced God’s mercy?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Plugged Into the Power

I’ve been posting from 2 Corinthians about how to walk in righteousness and the power of God.  It should be obvious by now that we must rest, remain, and abide in the presence of God.  That’s the place we receive His power.  Once we have the power we need, we’re able to live righteously.

When I’m saved, I’m made righteous by an impartation from God.  He does this so that I can receive His power by the Holy Spirit who now resides in me.

By drawing upon that power I can now live righteously before Him.  Without the power of the Spirit, I have no hope of ever pleasing the Lord with a walk of righteousness.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18

I can’t make myself walk in righteousness.  My flesh will never be able to fix itself.  My only hope is in the power of the Spirit.

I want to sum up the truths that we’ve learned with an illustration the Lord gave me.  Think about a living room with a TV and a lamp.  There’s also an extension cord with a power strip on it plugged into an electrical outlet.

The extension cord will represent our relationship with Christ.  If the plug is attached to the outlet, we’re remaining in Christ, if not then we’re on our own.

The TV is the miraculous – healings, provision, etc.  The lamp is our righteousness – living rightly before God.  Both of these items must be powered by our relationship with the Lord.  They are both plugged into the power strip.

We’ve noticed that if the lamp works, then the TV works as well.  A life that has the miraculous in operation is also becoming more and more like Jesus.

We’ve also noticed that if the TV isn’t working, then the lamp doesn’t work either.  The TV and the lamp always work together, so we assume that it’s the lamp that’s running the TV.

This is why so many Christians assume that it’s the walk of righteousness that brings the power for the miraculous.  The fact is that both are powered by the same plug – our relationship with Christ.

So, do we try to increase our intimacy with Christ?  No.  Instead, we try to artificially power the lamp through obeying a set of rules.  We preach that people need to live right to see the miraculous.  We tell them that it’s because we’re not living up to the rules that the church has no power.

By doing this, we actually get the lamp to appear to be lit.  What we don’t realize is that it’s not the power of the Spirit that’s working, but our own self-righteousness powered by the law.

Since the power chord of our relationship is not plugged into Christ, the manifestation of God’s power through healing and miracles does not exist.  That’s when all of our excuses start as to why there’s no healings, signs, or wonders in the church anymore.

In order for the power of God to flow into your life, you must be intimate in your relationship with Christ.  The flow of power does not depend upon how good you act.  It’s your intimacy with Christ that will bring about both the miraculous and the walk of righteousness that the Savior has called you to manifest.

Question: How intimate is your relationship with Christ?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Are You Like Moses?

The Apostle Paul explained to the early church about the fallacy that obeying the Law of Moses will give you access to the power of God.  In my last post, we looked at this verse…

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.  But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:13-14

Paul says that their minds, or literally their perceptions, were made dull, hardened, and callous.  Then he makes a statement that we miss the implications of altogether.  He says that to this day the veil remains when the Old Covenant is read.  IT HAS NOT BEEN REMOVED.

I’ve heard preachers talk about this and explain that it’s about the Jews who don’t understand that Jesus is the Messiah.  The truth goes so much deeper than this.  Remember, Paul is writing to believers in this passage.  He makes no qualifications as to who the veil is covering.

He says, without any adjusting of the statement, that whenever the Old Covenant is read, the veil remains.  Even if a Christian reads it there remains a veil that only Christ can remove.

The reason is that the law veils the truth about righteousness.  The law sounds logical.

“If I will do this, then God will do that.”

“If I will bring the whole tithe to the church, then God will rebuke the devourer and pour out a blessing.”

“If I will walk in righteousness, then God will manifest His power in me.”

This veils the truth that under the New Covenant this is not the case.  Paul goes on in more detail.

Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:15-16

EVEN TODAY!!!  It’s so clear.  Right now if I read the Old Testament, a veil covers my heart.  There’s a cure, however.  The word, turns, in this verse is actually a Greek word that means turn again.

What this says to us, is that when anyone reads the Old Covenant a veil blocks their view of New Covenant righteousness.  But when you turn again to Christ, the veil is cast off.  How can you turn again to Christ if you were never looking at Him in the first place?

Paul is warning us that as New Testament believers, we cannot read the Old Testament without constantly looking back to what Christ did on the cross.  He fulfilled it all.  Everything I need to walk righteously before God has been supplied to me by the Savior.

Question: Why do many believers still live as though they’re under the Old Covenant?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Rules and Power

In this post, I’m continuing to talk about Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s addressing the issue of trying to live for Christ by turning the Gospel into a set of rules.

In the church, we’ve come up with all kinds of excuses as to why we lack the power of God.  The one that I’ve been posting about is the notion that until we walk in righteousness, we’ll never experience the move of the Spirit.

This is exactly how the Pharisees viewed the world.  Unfortunately, many of us are walking in the same amount of power they walked in – NONE.

There was a group of former Pharisees who were trying to lead Christians to follow the Law of Moses “if they were truly saved”.  Paul was vehement in his opposition to this movement.  Let’s continue in Second Corinthians, chapter 3, and look at the revelation that he received concerning this teaching.

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.  But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:13-14

Here Paul is referring to when Moses came down from the mountain where God delivered the law to him.  The Bible says that Moses’ face shown so brightly with the glory of God that it looked like the sun.  People had to shield their eyes from it.

So that he could be among the people, Moses put a veil, or a cloth, over his face to shield them from the light.  But something else happened.  As Moses was with the people, the glory of God started to fade and grow dim.

At one point, even though the glory was dim enough for people to see without hurting their eyes, Moses left the veil on.  Paul said it was so the people would not see the glory of God fading.  In other words, Moses put on a veil so that the Israelites would not see his spiritual batteries draining.

Moses was a man who walked in great power.  He called down plagues upon Egypt.  He commanded the Red Sea to part.  He obtained water from the rock.  The list of miracles God performed through his hand goes on and on.  Yet, all of Moses’ power was derived through the law.

On more than one occasion he blew it.  He even missed out on entering the Promised Land because of one of his failings.  As great as his power was, it was only a battery pack compared to what the Holy Spirit offers us today.  What surprises me is that many of us try to use the same lesser power that Moses used.

We have a better covenant than Moses had.  In my next post, I’ll show how trying to live like Moses will actually rob us of spiritual strength.

Question: Why is it popular to think that we can adequately serve God in our own strength?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Rules and Righteousness

In my last post, I talked about the difference between a ministry of rules vs. a ministry led by the Holy Spirit.  There are so many believers bound in the notion that if we can just be righteous enough, we can walk in the power of the Spirit.

They spend their lives frustrated trying to live up to the righteous rules set out by their teachers.  Many give up on ever obtaining a walk in the power of the Spirit.  Little do they know, that their quest is in vain.

And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold.
2 Corinthians 3:11-13

It’s the power of the law which, like batteries, eventually fades away.  Not so the power of the Spirit.  This verse literally says that it lasts, remains, stays perpetually.  What kind of power are you looking for?  A temporary boost that fades as your strength declines?  Or do you seek a power that comes from the Spirit of the living God?

The righteous life can only come from a walk of power.  Jesus not only walked in power, but also in the righteousness of the Father.  This means it’s possible for me as well.  I just need to apply the truth of Scripture to my life.

For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 1:17

Righteousness is not a function of my strength or my will power.  It comes from God through His Holy Spirit.  The key is that this truth is revealed in the Gospel – the Good News.  To many believers, a righteousness from God is Good News.

As I’ve said before, so many live their lives constantly failing to live up to the standards set by Christ in the Word.  The Good News is that you don’t have to.  But wait a minute!  Maybe you think I’m talking about the imparted righteousness that God gives to us when we’re saved.  I’m not.

The Bible teaches about two different kinds of righteousness under the New Covenant.  First, there’s imparted righteousness.  This is the righteousness that Christ places within you when you’re saved.

This means that when God the Father looks at you, He sees you in Christ.  This gives you access to God at all times so that your sin will not keep you from approaching the throne for forgiveness, praise, worship, or any other purpose.  We need this righteousness to establish a relationship with the Lord as we grow in our faith.

There is also another kind of righteousness that the New Testament talks about.  That’s the walk of righteousness.

This is the application of the righteousness of God to our daily lives.  This means that I live correctly before God.  This one is harder to see manifest in my life.  That’s especially true if I try to accomplish it in my own power, as so many Christians endeavor to do.

I believe that in the above verse, Paul is talking about the walk of righteousness.  It’s this righteousness from God that allows us to live righteously.  We can never hope to walk rightly before God in our own strength.  It’s going to require us to walk in the ability of the Lord in order to please Him.

Going back to the first passage we looked at, we see that knowing this allows us to live boldly for Christ.  I know that it’s His work in me that makes me walk in His image.

Question: Why is it so tempting to please God in our own strength?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Spirit or Law

In my last post, I talked about not turning our New Covenant into a law.  Trying to follow a set of rules to please God is what got Israel in trouble.

Many try to use the “cookie-cutter” approach to Christianity.  They try to get everyone to follow the same set of rules.  But that’s not what life in the Spirit is all about.

Yes, there are certain absolutes that the Bible tells us will bring death into our lives.  There are also some other things that God desires us all to do.  But a vast majority of our walk with God is based upon what we learn in His presence.

The fact is that life in the New Covenant is greatly superior to what it was like under the Old Covenant.

Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?  If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!  For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.
2 Corinthians 3:7-10

The beginning of this passage is about the former ministry that condemned men.  The glory that God exhibited back then was indeed glorious.  But Paul says in verse 10 that we’re now living in the day when God wants to exhibit His excellent glory.

When I think about the glory He showed in the Old Testament, I wonder how it could be any better.  He ordained a place of worship that was lined in gold.  Even the utensils used in its service were mostly of gold and silver.  The priests themselves were lavishly dressed – the high priest having precious stones on his garment.

But we have to realize that having a powerful ministry is not about things, but about spirit.  It’s based on who you are.  Are you living up to God’s expectations for your life?  This is different for everyone.

In some places, it might mean a large building and the latest technology.  In other places around the world, however, a great ministry might mean a building with a roof that doesn’t leak.  I’ve found that in some cultures, just starting a meeting on time is a mark of maturity.

When you look at ministry, the difference is in our attitude.  Turning the New Covenant into a set of rules brings condemnation.  On the other hand, ministry in the Spirit brings life.

That’s how you can tell the difference between the two.  What’s the focus?  If a ministry is always pointing out our faults without showing how to let God change us, then they’re missing the most important aspect.

The Lord came to bring us new life.  I do need to know where I’m missing the mark.  But I also need to know that I can’t change myself.  It only comes as I yield to the power of the Holy Spirit.

Christ is looking for people who will allow Him to shine through them.  That should be our desire as well.  Then the world will see and be attracted to the excellent glory of God revealed in us.  Oh, that the Church would rise up in the excellence of our New Covenant, that the world might once again be turned upside down for the glory of God!

Question: How does the glory of the New Covenant play a role in your life and ministry?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2020 in Legalism, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Servants of a New Covenant

As we continue looking at Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, we’ll begin to see his view of ministry.  But in order to understand clearly, we must strip away our “Christianization” of some important words.

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.  Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.  He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6

If you read my last post, then you know the context of this passage.  Paul is talking about his confidence that his ministry is life-changing.  The Corinthian church was proof of that.

He makes it clear that his ability to accomplish this was not from himself.  It was God working through him.  God made him competent.

Paul describes this work as being a minister of a new covenant.  That’s where we have to be careful in how we understand what he’s saying.

The covenant we have in Christ is the same one God gave to Abraham (Galatians 3:16-18).  But now in Christ, it’s been refreshed, which is what the Greek word, new, means in that verse.

Now we get to one of our problem words – minister.  This is the Greek word, diakonos.  This word means a household servant.  It’s someone who does what their master tells them to do.

Paul is clear that he and his ministry team are servants of this covenant with Christ.  But more than that, they’re servants of the Spirit of this covenant.

There’s a difference between the letter of the covenant and the Spirit.  That word, letter, means something that’s written down.  I believe that this includes what we call the New Testament in our Bibles.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I believe that the New Testament is the Holy, Authoritative, and Infallible Word of God.  I’m not trying to diminish its place in the life of a believer.

However, if I turn the New Testament into a law, then I’m falling into the same trap of legalism that Israel did.  I serve Christ through the Holy Spirit.  The Bible simply serves as the guide to bring me to Christ (John 5:39-40).

The apostles understood this truth.  They knew who they served.  It was brought out when they needed to start a ministry to the widows of Jerusalem.

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”
Acts 6:2-4

They had a choice either to be a servant of the Word of God or servant of the widow’s ministry.  They chose to pray and then to serve the Word that they heard from the Holy Spirit during their time of prayer.

When did being a minister change from being a servant of the Holy Spirit to become an authority over church people?  We need to get back to our first calling.

We must spend time with the Holy Spirit, hearing His voice.  Then be obedient to do what He desires.

Question: What does the word, minister, mean to you?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Word of God

 

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