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Category Archives: Faith

God’s Armor – The Shield of Faith

In talking about God’s Armor, the next piece we’ll see is the Shield of Faith.  That’s probably one of the most preached about in our generation.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:16

There are some assumptions being made in this verse.  Paul says that this is in addition to the pieces already talked about. This assumes that you’re already standing firm in the Word, walking in righteousness, and prepared to do God’s will.

We can stand firm in just these.  What we have to realize is that when we take up the shield, we’re going from defense to offense in the spiritual battle.  Up until this point, your goal is to keep the enemy from harming you.

You add the shield so that you can now defeat the enemy.  You take up the Shield of Faith because you’re now going into the part of the battle where the arrows are flying.

Please understand that I’m not talking about saving faith.  You’ve already trusted Christ for that.  I’m also not talking about faith in the promises of God.  I’m looking at using faith in the middle of the battle as a shield.

It’s your protection against the flaming arrows of the evil one.  This means that there’s more than just one arrow headed in your direction.

That brings me to the word, shield, itself.  The Greek word used in this verse is not the little one that looks like a trashcan cover.  Get that picture out of your mind, even though most of the illustrations for the Christian armor look like that.

The word Paul uses comes from the word door.  That’s because this shield is as big as a door.  The soldier could hide behind it and be totally protected from these arrows as long as he stayed there.

That tells me that faith protects my whole life.  So far, the armor has protected my mind, my heart, and my will.  This piece protects everything else.

This shield protects me from evil.  What kind of evil?  I’m talking about the random evil that’s flying in the front lines.  The archers on the wall loose a volley of arrows against those who are advancing.  These are simply flying to take out whoever they can hit.

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day…
Psalms 91:5

If the enemy can hit our flesh with evil, then our flesh will take us out of the fight.  We’ll end up battling our own sin nature instead of defeating the devil’s kingdom.

However, there’s one more purpose of the shield other than for protection.  In the Roman army, everybody’s shield was painted differently.  They did this because your shield identified your family.  Members of the same family had the same design on their shields.

But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house.  And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
Hebrews 3:6

The fact is that we’re now in God’s family.  This verse tells us that we can show it by our outspokenness.  When we walk in faith, we can boldly declare our expectation in Christ.  In that way, we show what family we belong to.

This is the shield that protects us from evil.  In my next post, I’ll talk about how to use and apply this piece of armor.

Question: How has God shielded you from the enemy’s attacks?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2019 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare

 

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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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Spiritual Warfare – Avoiding Battles Through Obedience

I’m taking a couple of posts to glean some principles from the Old Testament.  Even though their fight was in the natural, some of the things they learned can be applied to us.

One of the things I’ve always wondered about is why God seems to make it so hard to obey Him.  God told Israel that He was giving them the Promised Land.  But, in order to claim it, they had to fight giants and other mighty warriors.

Actually, it turns out that there’s more to the story.  It’s a lesson that we should take to heart in our generation.

After the flood of Noah’s day, God’s blessing and anointing were passed on through his son, Shem.  32 years after the flood, Shem had a grandson named Shelah.

When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber.
Genesis 11:14

The name, Shelah means the spear of attack.  Interesting name…his parents must have seen great things in his future.  Actually, we know that Shelah had a deep relationship with the Lord. God spoke to him just like He called out to many in this family line.

Long before Abraham was called, Shelah was given the same orders as Abraham.  He was told to leave his home to follow God’s leading.  The difference is that he never left everything to follow God’s voice.

How do I know this?  Instead of leaving his home, he named his son, Eber – which means the land across the river.  He must have reasoned, “I can’t go, but I’ll have my son obey God’s call.”  It turns out that Eber didn’t leave home either.

Actually, the word, Hebrew, comes from the name Eber.  It means, from the family of Eber.

Two sons were born to Eber: One was named Peleg, because in his time the earth was divided; his brother was named Joktan.
Genesis 10:25

Eber had a son around the same time that God destroyed the Tower of Babel.  The Lord divided the nations and people dispersed throughout the world.  So Eber named his son Peleg, which means, divided.

Why is all of this important?  It’s so we can understand the reason for immediate obedience to God.

The enemy knew about God’s call upon the family of Shelah.  I’m sure they talked and even argued about it on more than one occasion.

The devil knew the beautiful land that God wanted to give to this family.  That’s where the Messiah was to be born.  And with Him, the enemy’s ultimate defeat.

So the devil strategically placed his most fearsome, brutal warriors in that part of the world.  He reasoned that “if you want your people to have this land, then you’re going to have to fight me for it.”

The fact is that God called His people to inhabit that land long before the nations were divided.  When God called Shelah, there were no giants in the land.  They could have walked in and taken possession with no resistance.

This is why obedience to God’s voice is so important.  Once we know God’s will, we need to walk it out.  We must take the “high ground” before the enemy can get assembled.

When the devil knows what you want to do for God, his goal is to stop you.  The longer you take to obey God, the more resistance can be prepared against you.

Please understand, the enemy can’t stop you from fulfilling your calling.  But, he can make it more difficult than it would have been if you’d obeyed immediately.

Don’t play into the enemy’s hand.  Find your calling in Christ and then quickly begin walking in it.  You’ll be glad you did.

Question: What’s the next step God is calling you to do?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 1, 2019 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Encouraged to Grow

As Paul nears the end of his first letter to the Corinthian church, he gives a series of exhortations.  I think that we would do well to live by them.

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.  Do everything in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

These five simple statements are the foundation for a growing walk with the Lord.  If we would make it a point to see these activated in our lives, we’d be a lot better off.

Be on your guard.  This literally means to stay awake.  I think that too many Christians are spiritually asleep in this generation.  What do I mean by this?

When you’re asleep, you’re unaware of what’s happening around you.  Spiritual sleep is the same.  There are Christians who are totally unaware of the spiritual aspects of their life.

They think that everything revolves around what they see in the natural.  It’s all about satisfying their wants and desires.  They never ask, “What’s God’s will for my life?”

I need to seek what God has destined me for.  Then, with His strength, I can start heading in that direction.  I want my spiritual eyes to be open.

Stand firm in the faith.  This simply means that once you know what God’s Word says, you don’t waver or move from believing it.

Believing means taking action.  If I believe something is true, then I’ll act on it.  If I believe that a chair is strong enough to hold me, then I’ll sit on it.  If I believe that God’s my Provider, then I’ll move forward in what He’s called me to do.

Be men of courage.  This is the second step of faith.  If I believe that something’s true, then I won’t be afraid to let people know that I believe it.  I think that all too often, courage is the missing ingredient in many of our lives.

We are a part of a culture that tells us that it’s offensive to believe in Jesus Christ as a Savior.  So in order to accommodate them, we keep silent.  At the same time, every other belief is allowed to take center stage.

We need to be vocal about what we believe, while at the same time being sensitive to walk in love.

Be strong.  This actually means to be strengthened.  We shouldn’t be stagnant in our spiritual growth.  There are things we can be doing to build ourselves up.

Prayer in the spirit, meditation on the Word, and fasting are just a few ways to become stronger.  Just like in the physical, we can’t neglect our spiritual health.  If we do, then the consequences could be devastating.

Do everything in love.  This is the one that ties everything else together.  Our lives should reflect the love of Christ in all that we do.

This is the agape-love.  It’s the non-emotional desire to treat others as if you like them, no matter how you actually feel about them.  And also, whether you know them or not.

This love is a choice that we make to walk like Jesus did.  Our love is what will draw people to the cross.  That should be the goal of all that we do.

Question: How well is each of these characteristics visible in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God’s Seed in You (Repost)

Our Supply in GodI’m taking a couple of weeks to be involved in some ministry events.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

In many of my posts, I talk about the relationship between the Word of God and the Scripture.  The Bible is the written Word of God.  But we also need to hear a Word from the Holy Spirit.  This is where the power of God intersects with our lives.

I want to write about how the Word of God relates to us.  The Bible teaches that we must correctly handle the Word of Truth.  In order to do that I must be studying the Scripture – the written record of God’s Word – so that I can handle the Word I receive from God today.

In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Acts 19:20

The Bible uses many terms in relation to the Word of God.  It uses language such as spread, increased, grew, reached and multiplied.  In the above verse, we’re told how.  The verse says in this way.  If you read through this nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts you’ll get a taste for the effects of the Word.

We see the gifts of tongues and prophecy being manifested.  There was boldness in preaching.  Handkerchiefs and aprons that touched Paul were taken to the sick and they were healed.  Demonic spirits were confronted and expelled.  There was widespread repentance such that a group of new believers burned the equivalent of $5,000,000 worth of satanic sorcery books.

That’s the way the Word of God is described as growing.  Literally, the above verse says that the Word became a force to be reckoned with.  The Word of God is alive and it grows.  That’s the aspect that I discussed in a series of posts.  For that original series, click here.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:23

We’ve been saved by the living Word of God.  That Word is a seed that’s growing inside of us.  It will never decay or diminish.  It’s there forever.

Somewhere along the line, somebody spoke God’s Word to you.  It doesn’t matter whether they used the Bible or not – you heard a Word from God that changed your life.

It might have been a Bible verse, a word of prophecy, or a statement of divine truth.  Either way, it grew inside of you, and eventually, you received Jesus Christ and were saved.

That’s how the Word of God starts its work in you.  The fact that you’ve established Christ as your Lord and Savior is proof that the Word has taken residence in you.  Now what we do with that seed is up to us.

Question: What was the Word of God that brought salvation into your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2019 in Faith, The Gospel, Word of God

 

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Too Far for the Sake of Relevance

I’m continuing to look at First Corinthians, chapter 15.  Paul is talking about the concept of resurrection.  He started by reminding them of his Gospel message.  This is, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he then appeared to many credible witnesses.

Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
1 Corinthians 15:11

This is the foundation of faith that the Corinthian church was established upon.  Unfortunately, they were now trying to become more acceptable to the society around them.  Belief in someone rising from the dead was a little far out.

Greek society prided themselves on their intellect and knowledge.  It’s a lot like where I live, in the Boston area, where there’s a college or university everywhere you look.

Because they wanted to be “relevant”, they downplayed the resurrection.  Sometimes even telling people they could become a Christian without believing in it.  They were probably well-meaning and though that once they came in the door, someday they’d “see the light.”

What does Paul think about this?

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
1 Corinthians 15:12-14

Paul is very clear.  There’s no salvation without the resurrection.  If God isn’t powerful enough to raise the dead, then what was the purpose of the cross?  What Christ did on the cross is meaningless without the resurrection.

More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.  But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:15-17

Changing the truth of God’s Word in order to make it more palatable to society only removes the very heart of the message.  It’s no longer the Gospel.

Many in our generation need to understand this truth.  The Scripture says what it says.  It will offend some people.  We can’t change that.

This being said, we can change the way we handle it.  We can be more loving and less judgmental.  When Jesus ministered, He found a way to show God’s love without compromising truth.

We need to take stock of our message.  Does it line up with Scripture?  Once you leave the clear path of truth, the doctrines of faith begin to fall like dominoes.

Paul shows these Christians the end result of a belief in no resurrection.

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
1 Corinthians 15:18-19

The bottom line is to never compromise the truth of the Word to win people to Christ.  You can change the method, but not the message.

Question: What was the message that you believed when you were saved?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2019 in Faith, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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