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Category Archives: God’s Provision

Spiritual Warfare – The Battle for Peace

In my last post, we looked at the opening of the title deed to earth (Revelation 6:1-2).  According to the deed, Adam was the first owner.

We then saw how when Adam was created he was given authority to rule the earth.  He had a spiritual bow and arrows.  He could defeat any enemy from a comfortable distance.  He had the high ground, so to speak.

What happens next was totally off-script.

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!”  Then another horse came out, a fiery red one.  Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other.  To him was given a large sword.
Revelation 6:3-4

There are those who don’t like my interpretation of the seals in Revelation.  They don’t like the fact that I say they’re already past – a compressed view of the earth’s history.

But simply reading this passage should be enough to convince you.  This person on a red horse has the power to take peace from the earth.  There’s only one point in the history of the world when that was possible – before the fall of Adam.

Ever since Cain killed Abel there has been no peace on earth.  Right now, at this moment, no one can take peace from the earth.  There’s no peace to take.  This seal could only be a picture of Satan entering the scene with Adam.

The color red always stands for sin in the Scripture.  The enemy is seen as the one bringing sin into God’s perfect creation.

What we need to understand is the objective of the enemy.  Notice that he didn’t come to steal money, health or joy away from Adam.  He came to steal PEACE.

We know from Scripture that one title of Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 6:7).  He’s the Ruler of Shalom-Peace.  If you have this peace, then you have everything you need.

The word, Shalom in the Old Testament is rich in meaning.  It includes health, growth, prosperity, safety, fulfillment, rest, peace, protection, and more.  It implies “nothing missing, nothing broken.”  It includes everything God has for you.

That’s the prize the enemy was after.  If he could steal peace, then he’s got everything else.

As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace — but now it is hidden from your eyes.
Luke 19:41-42

This is what the Messiah wanted to restore.  It broke His heart when they rejected His attempts to restore to them His peace.

But there’s good news.  The story doesn’t end there.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27

When you receive Christ as your Lord and Savior you also receive His peace.  The peace of God, that passes all understanding, has been restored to us (Philippians 4:7).

The problem is that most Christians have no idea that this is the prize.  This is the objective that the enemy is trying to steal.  If he can rob your peace then he’s got everything else.

Once you know the enemy’s objective, it’s easier to fight the war.  Protect the peace that the Lord has given you.  Or…if you’ve already lost it, then stand your ground to get it back.  It’s God’s will that you walk in everything that Christ won for you on the cross.

Question: How active is the peace of God in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Self-Judgment

As we go through First Corinthians we’re continuing our look at the Lord’s Supper.  We’ve seen that it’s meant to be a powerful part of our worship.  It’s a time where we can attach our faith to what Christ has done for us on the cross.

In my last post, I talked about the need to examine ourselves before taking the Communion elements.  We need to check up on our faith.  Are we really trusting the Lord for our life?

This is a very important part of the Communion experience.

For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.  That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 11:29-30

We need to understand what Paul is saying here.  Unfortunately, the word, judgment, has some strong implications in our modern “Christianese” vocabulary.  We sometimes get the idea that God is going to curse us with problems if we do something wrong in how we receive Communion.

That’s not what’s being said.  The word judgment simply means a judicial decision.  Your attitude at the Lord’s Table determines the decision you receive.

If you understand who you are in Christ, and see yourself as receiving His provision, then you get the decision in your favor.  You will receive healing, resources, strength, or whatever it is that you’re trusting God for.

If, on the other hand, you don’t understand the payment that Christ made for you, there’s another decision.  If you don’t see Christ as Healer, then you miss out on His healing.  How we approach the Communion table determines the decisions we receive.

But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment.  When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:31-32

This is another passage where we need to understand the “judging” words being used.  The first sentence tells us that we need to take a step back and look at our lives objectively.  Where’s my faith at? How far am I really trusting God?

I have to be willing to do that and take the appropriate measures to fix any problems.  If I do this, then I won’t get that negative decision.  I’ll begin placing myself in a position to receive from the Lord.

If not, then it will be the Lord’s decision to train me up as a child.  This requires His discipline.  This could include hearing teachings from those over me.  It could also be situations that God allows into my life to get my attention.  Please understand that these situations are only temporary challenges that are designed to focus my attention on Christ and His ability.

So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.  And when I come I will give further directions.
1 Corinthians 11:33-34

This closing statement from Paul is to further reinforce the fact that this meal is more than just about the food.  It’s about coming together in unity of faith, to receive our life from Christ.

Question: What’s your level of faith in who Christ is in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Unworthy?

I’m continuing my look at Paul’s teaching about the Lord’s Supper to the Corinthian church.  As we’ve already seen, this celebration in the church is more than just a mindless tradition.  It’s not just an act we do to fill the time.

There’s a power that’s released in us as we proclaim what Christ has accomplished through His death.  Through the participation in the Communion table, we embrace what Christ obtained for us on the cross.

That’s why we have to watch our attitudes as we receive the elements.

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.
1 Corinthians 11:27-28

I’ve seen these verses used to beat up God’s people.  It’s important that we understand what Paul’s saying here.

The word, unworthy, means to be unfit.  In the context of this chapter of the Bible, we see a group of people who viewed the meal as an opportunity to exalt themselves.  That’s being unfit.  The Lord’s Supper is not about me, it’s about Christ.

We are to come to the table humbly, with the understanding that I have nothing to offer God.  He has everything I need.  If that’s not my attitude, then I’m “guilty of the body and blood…”  But what does that mean?

It means guilty in the sense that something wrong was done and now I’m obligated to make it right.  In other words, if I steal something from you, I’m now indebted to you.  If I claim that Christ is the Source of my life and He’s not, then God will work to bring me there.

Part of coming to the Lord’s Table with the right attitude is to examine myself.  That literally means to test and approve myself.

Unfortunately, there are some churches do the testing for you.  They let you know whether they think you’re worthy or not to receive the Communion elements.  That’s not God’s will.  He wants us all to examine ourselves.

What do I have to do?  Do I check under all the rugs?  Search for any little hidden sin that I might not have repented over?  I don’t believe that’s what’s being talked about here.

There’s only one place in Scripture that uses that same word to tell us what to examine.  It’s found in a letter that Paul wrote to this same church.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.  Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you– unless, of course, you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 13:5

We must examine and approve our faith.  Are we truly trusting God with our lives?  Are we in the faith?

In order to receive the communion elements in a way that’s worthy, we need to be looking to Christ in faith.  We see Him as the one who has already purchased all we need for life and godliness.

It’s not about me striving to be good enough.  It’s about me yielding my life to Him and letting the Holy Spirit bring me to where I need to be.

Question: What have you received from Christ that you couldn’t obtain on your own?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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I Have the Right…

In First Corinthians, Paul explains to the church that as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, he has the right to ask them for support.  Those who work in the ministry should receive their living from that ministry.

Having laid that foundation, he now makes a very astounding statement.

But I have not used any of these rights.  And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me.  I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast.
1 Corinthians 9:15

Paul makes it clear that he absolutely had the right to ask them for support.  But, by his own choosing, he did not ask them for it.  He also wants them to understand that he’s not telling them this to manipulate them into sending him something.

There were some important reasons for this decision.  Paul knew the controversy that his ministry stirred up in the church at Corinth.  It was a church of many factions.  They argued over whether Paul was an apostle or not.

Because of this, he decided not to ask them for support.  He didn’t want to be the cause of strife in the body of Christ.

Of course, that didn’t let the Corinthian church off the hook.  They were called by God to support Paul, even if he didn’t ask for it.  So there were blessings and rewards that they’ll never receive because of their disobedience.

Paul was able to do this because of the position he was in.  Firstly, we know from Acts, chapter 18, that Paul had a trade that he could fall back on.  He was a tentmaker.  Besides that, we know from 2 Corinthians 11:7-12, that Paul was supported by other churches while he ministered in Corinth.

He was able to minister freely in Corinth because God was supplying his need from elsewhere.

Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!  If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me.  What then is my reward?  Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.
1 Corinthians 9:16-18

This is the attitude of a true minister of the Gospel.  It’s unfortunate that many in the church use it to hold back support to those who need it.

A true minister is called to preach.  They’ll do it for Christ’s sake.  They’ll do it no matter how hard a church makes it for them to survive.

As a pastor and traveling minister, I understand this.  When God places a message in my spirit, I can’t help but preach it.  I serve Christ, not the church.

There have been times that I knew God wanted me to preach in a certain church.  I obeyed.  Then, whether by oversight or decision, I received no offering from them.  Am I going to be bitter or complain about it?  Absolutely not!  God pays my salary.  Whoever He uses to support me is up to him, not me.

On the other side of the coin, I don’t want to be found guilty of not supporting the Lord’s servants.  If I’m a member of a church, then I want that pastor or minister to be abundantly supplied.  I want their ministry to be a joy, not a constant struggle to survive.

This is an issue that many churches need to come to grips with.  They think that it’s their responsibility to keep their pastor in poverty.  It may not be until the Judgment Seat of Christ that the church board finds out what their greed and desire for control has cost them.

We need to support those in ministry as the Lord leads us to.

Question: Why is it better if the minister is not struggling to provide an income?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2019 in God's Provision, Ministry, The Church

 

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Jehovah Jireh – The Mountain (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  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.

Originally, this was the final post of a series about how Abraham positioned himself to receive God’s supernatural provision.  To go to the original series, click here.

At this point, we find Abraham with the knife raised, about to sacrifice his only son.

But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham!  Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said.  “Do not do anything to him.  Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Genesis 22:11-12

Abraham was able to come through this time of testing victoriously.  But there was something that always puzzled me.  God said, “Now I know that you fear God.”  I thought God knew everything, so why would He say that?

The Hebrew word for know is Yada, which means to know by seeing.  What God said was that now Abraham’s faith could be seen.  His fear of God was now obvious to everyone.

That’s the reason for trials and testing.  We may have faith quietly tucked away in our hearts.  Without works, it’s not yet a living faith.  It must be proved genuine.

It’s the trying of our faith that causes it to be seen by those around us.  That’s why Scripture tells us over and over again that without trials we’ll never become mature in Christ.

It was when his faith was tested, and proved genuine, that Abraham’s eyes were opened to the provision of God that was before him.

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.  He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.  So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide.  [Jehovah Jireh]  And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
Genesis 22:13-14

Jehovah Jireh – the God Who provides.  There are many who think this name is a promise of unbridled wealth.  They think that it’s all about their physical comfort.  What they fail to see is that Jehovah Jireh is a place of supernatural provision in Christ.

As I said in the first post of this series, it’s a spiritual mountain that must be climbed.  To get to that place in God, it will require the same thing from us that it did of Abraham.

It will take a life of immediate obedience to God, perseverance, speaking our faith, and a decision to give up everything for the cause of Christ.  That’s the real mountain that Abraham had to climb.  The physical mountain was easy in comparison.

As with all things in Christ, God has already provided everything we need for life and godliness.  The problem is that we need to position ourselves to receive the provision of God.

That’s the point.  Why do we want God’s blessing?  To accomplish His will or ours?

If you want Christ to be exalted in you, then you’re in a position to receive.

Question: What is God calling you to do that you need His supernatural provision for?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2018 in Faith, God's Provision, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Heart of Giving

What’s your attitude toward offerings at church?  Do you consider it a necessary evil?  Do you look forward to the chance of investing in God’s kingdom?  It turns out that the Lord takes an interest in how we give.

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.  Many rich people threw in large amounts.  But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Mark 12:41-42

There are some things about Jesus that you need to know, especially in regards to your giving.  As the pastor of a church, I know that where people choose to sit tells a lot about them.  Jesus chose to sit right in line with the offering boxes so that He could watch people as they gave.

It’s interesting that the literal Greek of this verse says that the Lord watched how the people put their money in the box.  Whether you know it or not, how you give is as important to God as what you give.

That’s because true giving is an act of the heart.  Jesus explained the underlying principle.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matthew 6:21

This statement brings it all into focus.  At offering time, do you feel like you’re giving your treasure to God?  Or do you feel like you’re giving money to the One that you treasure?  In other words, is Christ your treasure, or is money your treasure?

As Jesus watched the rich give money, they weren’t affected by it.  They gave out of their overflow.  What they put in the treasury wouldn’t change their standard of living.

The widow, on the other hand, gave everything.  Money that could have been used for food or other necessities was now gone.  That made an impression on Jesus and He called it to the disciples’ attention.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:43-44

The Lord’s commentary is important for us to hear.  There’s a “break-even point” in our finances where our expenses equal our income.  He explained that the rich gave from above that point.  The widow gave all that she had, even though she had less than breaking even.

But there’s more Jesus said that we miss because of the translation.  In the original, the Lord said that the widow put in all that she had and her whole life.

She wasn’t just giving her money to God.  She was placing her very life in His hands.  That’s the attitude that’s needed in our giving.

It’s not just my money that belongs to God.  It’s everything that I have, even my very life.  All that I am – my time, goals, dreams, possessions – I must place it all in His hands.

Offerings are not simply a tradition of the church that we have to do each week.  It’s not something I do to get God off my back for another week.  It’s an opportunity to once again confirm to myself and the Lord that all of my life is His.

This widow may have thought that her giving had gone unnoticed.  But the truth is that God saw it, and it moved His heart.  I know without a doubt that God met her need and sustained her because of her faith.  That’s the true attitude of giving.

Question: What goes through your mind as you give your offerings?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Who are You Really Serving?

There are posts that I really enjoy writing.  There are others that I wrestle with God about publishing them.  I don’t want to be the one who rocks the boat.  Unfortunately, today’s post is one of those that I didn’t want to write.

Jesus was nearing the cross and the battle lines were being drawn between Him and the religious leaders of His day.

As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law.  They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.  They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers.  Such men will be punished most severely.”
Mark 12:38-40

In Jesus’ day, there were those who taught the Scripture, while at the same time having an element of self-indulgence.  There were times that they taught the truth of God’s Word, drawing people closer to the Lord.  At the same time, they were feeding their own egos and lining their pockets.

These religious leaders liked the fact that they were highly esteemed among the people.  They were able to dress well and were readily recognized.  People wanted to be at the meetings when these leaders were present.

According to Jesus, for all of their training and knowledge, they weren’t scoring any points with God.  As a matter of fact, the Lord warned the crowds that they needed to do what these leaders taught, while at the same time rejecting their self-absorbed lifestyle (Matthew 23:1-4).

Jesus also condemns the religious system itself.  He points out the fact that their extravagant way of life is paid for by those who could least afford it.

That was the easy part of this post.  Now on to the difficult section…

Lately, I’ve been becoming more and more disheartened by the direction of our modern system of Christianity.  It seems like in many areas we’re taking on the attitude of corporate America.

What do I mean by this?  In most large corporations, the senior executives make more money than they could spend in ten lifetimes.  In that same company, the employees who do the bulk of the work can’t make ends meet with the one salary they earn from doing that job.

Now we have huge churches where the pastors have big homes, garages full of cars, private jets and a continual desire for more.  Many of their members have to work two or sometimes three jobs to make ends meet.  Granted, they’re preaching Jesus Christ and many are getting saved under their ministry.  But at what point is enough, enough?

I’m told that their luxurious lifestyle is the reward for their faithfulness in the ministry.  As a pastor who has been serving the same church for 30 years, I find that kind of thinking offensive.  I gave up a career where I was on track for a six-figure engineering salary when God called me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not jealous of these preachers.  If I had it to do all over again I would gladly make the same choices for the honor of serving my Lord.  I just don’t like being told that the car I drive or the house I rent is the indication of how faithful I’ve been to the calling of God.

It’s nothing new.  The church has been dealing with this throughout history.  I like Paul’s attitude.

But what does it matter?  The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached.  And because of this I rejoice.
Philippians 1:18

That’s the attitude I want to portray.  I apologize if I seemed to be ranting.  I hold no ill will against any of my brothers or sisters in the ministry.  I simply want Christ to be exalted in His church.

Question: What is the true indication of faithfulness to God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2018 in Faith, God's Provision, Ministry, The Church

 

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