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Category Archives: Prayer

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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Planning for the Future

In the closing chapter of First Corinthians, Paul talks about the future.  He lets the church know where he and his team are going.  This gives us some insight into how we should look forward.

After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you — for I will be going through Macedonia.  Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go.  I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.  But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
1 Corinthians 16:5-9

One of the things that I notice right away is Paul’s reliance upon knowing God’s will for his life.  It’s something that we need to come to grips with, in our generation.

The apostle sought out God’s best every step of the way.  So when he looked ahead, he kept that in mind.  He knew what he wanted to do and where he wanted to go.  But he always qualified it by saying “if the Lord permits.”

All that means is that he didn’t yet know God’s perfect will concerning that trip yet.  He had faith that at some point it would become clear to him where he was to go.

It’s unfortunate that in our generation there are many believers who take no thought of what God wants them to do.  They make their plans based on their own wants and desires.  Then they bring these plans to God for His blessing.

We’ve fallen into the trap of planning out our lives without first seeking God’s will.  That’s the very definition of godlessness.  Yes, it is possible to be a godless Christian.

We need to learn to hear from God first and then set our plans according to His will.  In this way, we’ll know that our path is blessed even before we ask God to bless it.

Of course, there’s another side to the issue.  Just because it’s God’s will for us to do something doesn’t always mean that it’s going to be easy.  God opened a door of ministry for him, but Paul acknowledged that there was going to be great opposition.

That seems to be the story of most successful ministries.  A great door opened for a powerful work.  While at the same time, there’s great opposition.  That’s why problems are never an indicator of whether or not you’re in God’s will.  You need to hear from Him before you start.

I also notice Paul providing for those under him in ministry.

If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am.  No one, then, should refuse to accept him.  Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers.  He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
1 Corinthians 16:10-12

The thing that I see is that there’s no sense of competition.  Paul never felt the need to prove he was better than anyone else.

Too often in ministry, leaders seem to think that they have to keep others down.  They don’t want to see their “protégés” reaching a higher level than them.  Leaders don’t want to lose their status.  Personally, I think that it would be an honor to have trained someone who is doing a great work for Christ.

We need to be seeking the wisdom of the Holy Spirit for every aspect of our ministry.  Only then will we see the results that will point to the power of God at work.

Question: How do you plan what you’ll be doing in the future?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2019 in Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Don’t Power-Up the Enemy

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

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

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

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

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

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

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Revival Starts with Me (and You!) (Repost)

I’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.

Revival – a lot of people talk about it, but few understand it.  For the most part, we like the idea of revival, but lack the drive to see it through.  Like it or not, if we want to see revival in the church, then it needs to start in the individual.

A number of years ago I went through David’s experience with revival as recorded in Psalm 51.  To see the original series, click here.  I believe that it will give us the understanding we need to head in that direction.  The desire is up to you.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.  Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Psalm 51:1-5

The conditions surrounding the writing of this Psalm are very important.  David was the king of Israel.  His word was law.  One day, from the rooftop of his palace, he saw the wife of one of his generals taking a bath.  He was infatuated with her and eventually they had an affair that got her pregnant.

Since the general was away at the front lines, this would be an awkward situation unless it was taken care of quickly.  After a few failed attempts at a cover-up, David had the general assassinated.  He then took the “grieving widow” as one of his wives.  Now everything was fine and they could live happily ever after…or could they?

The prophet, Nathan, was given a Word from God about the situation.  He confronted David with the truth.  Psalm 51 is David’s response.  I’m glad to say that David was able to turn around and renew his walk with God.  By writing it in a Psalm, we can see the principles of personal revival.

In order for us to experience the joy of a personal revival, it always starts in the same place.  We must see the condition of our lives from God’s perspective.

Please understand me.  I realize that we’re righteous, by position, in Jesus Christ.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m looking at the day to day condition of our physical walk with God.  Are we where we should be?  Am I living up to the high calling of God?

It seems that one of the most dreaded exercises for most Christians is to take a long, hard, look at themselves.  We must be brutally honest in our assessment – comparing ourselves with the example of Christ.  No whitewashing, no excuses, and no justifications.  I can’t compare myself with anybody else – after all, I can always find someone doing worse than me.

This then is the first step toward personal revival.  Taking inventory of your spiritual walk as a believer.  Finding and admitting those areas in which you fall short of your calling to walk as Christ did.

Only then you can truly seek God’s power to change you.  Let this be your prayer.  “God, help me to see myself as I really am before you.”  Then take the steps necessary to bring the revival of God into your life.

Question: Why do we hesitate to take a spiritual inventory of our lives?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2019 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Spiritual Investigations (Repost)

I’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.

A few years ago, I posted about the spiritual Christian. For the original series click here.  I looked at a verse that the apostle Paul wrote.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

My last statement was that the things that are received from God are spiritually investigated. You may wonder why I used the word, investigate when the verse said discerned.

The Greek word that Paul used is a legal term that applies to what a judge does when he’s hearing the facts of the case. It’s the investigation stage of the trial. Paul tells us that there are things that can only be investigated in the spirit.

Paul goes further with this point.

The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
1 Corinthians 2:15

We’re told here that the spiritual man is able to use his spirit to investigate all things. On the other hand, he cannot be investigated or figured out. It’s funny when soulish Christians hear the teaching of a spiritual believer. They have a hard time figuring the teacher out.

There have been many times that I have taught on things that I’ve received from the Spirit of God. Frequently someone will come to me and tell me how it blessed them. Then they’ll ask, “Where did you get that from. I’ve read that verse a hundred times and never saw it. What study books do you use?”

The soulish Christian just cannot wrap their brain around the fact that you can be taught directly by the Holy Spirit. They think the only place to get good teaching is from the bookstore or a good commentary.

The fact is, there’s a higher lifestyle in the Lord. A spiritual walk with God simply uses more of the power that He has made available to us by His Spirit.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16

This verse sounds kind of disjointed in English. The reason is that the translators couldn’t figure out why Paul was using the words that he used. What he literally said was who knows the mind of the Lord that we might unite or be knit together with Him?

That is a very powerful question. He then answers it by saying that we hold the mind of Christ. The Holy Spirit who lives in us has access to the very mind of the Lord. All the answers that we need are right within our grasp if we know the language of the Spirit.

One spiritual word from God could change the whole course of our life. This is why we need to live daily in the spirit. The gift of the Holy Spirit gives intimate access to the mind of God.

It’s time for the body of believers to start walking in this great gift. Only then will the church live up to its calling in Christ.

Question: How often do you access the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Supernatural Church

I’m continuing to talk about Paul’s teaching to the Corinthian church concerning the public use of prayer in the spirit (tongues) and prophecy.  The apostle now gets into some technical guidelines for their worship service.

What then shall we say, brothers?  When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
1 Corinthians 14:26

This verse gives us some insight into the early church.  It seems that they were a lot like us.  There was music, preaching, and prayer.

The difference is that they looked for the supernatural move of the Holy Spirit in their services.  They wanted to hear a revelation from God either through prophecy or tongues and interpretation.

I don’t know why there are people today who feel that the supernatural has no place in a church service.  Paul says that all of these need to be done for the strengthening of the church.  Does the church not need strengthening anymore?  Of course, it does!

But on the other hand, Paul doesn’t want there to be so many unexplainable things happening that outsiders are scared off.  There needs to be spiritual decorum.

So, Paul continues with his advice.  He starts with the gift of tongues and interpretation.

If anyone speaks in a tongue, two — or at the most three — should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.  If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
1 Corinthians 14:27-28

Please remember, this verse is referring to when there’s one main person praying in tongues.  Everyone else is focused on them.  In that case, there must be someone with the gift of interpretation.  If there’s no one to interpret, then no one should be leading out in their prayer language.

But there’s more to this passage.  It also tells me that I can pray in the spirit silently – within myself.  That’s a good thing to know.  There are times that I need to build myself up in the spirit when it’s not appropriate to pray out loud.  These could be times when I’m at school or at work.

Paul also talks about prophecy.

Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.  And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.  For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.  The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.  For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.  As in all the congregations of the saints…
1 Corinthians 14:29-33

We need the revelation of God in our church gathering.  But the key is that it’s for our edification.  Therefore, the Lord wants everything done in a decent and orderly way.

There is never a time when anyone will be “out of control.”  The Holy Spirit is a gentleman.  He never takes you over and makes you do things against your will.  You always have the choice to flow with Spirit or ignore Him.

I believe that God wants to show up in our worship services.  Our generation needs to be more open and receptive to the move of the Spirit.

That requires God’s people to spend more quality time in His presence.  The more time we spend with the Lord in private, the more prepared we are for His public appearance.

Question: What experiences, good or bad, have you had with the spiritual gifts in the church?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Our Resting Place

I’ve been posting from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  Specifically, we’ve been looking at the spiritual gifts of prophecy and tongues.  The Corinthians were misusing these gifts and Paul was bringing correction.

Brothers, stop thinking like children.  In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.
1 Corinthians 14:20

Paul is giving them some much-needed encouragement to grow up.  The word for thinking is referring to the thought processes that control our actions.

Children are, by nature, very selfish.  They don’t do things to be evil, but they are simply not thinking about the people around them.  They know what they want and that’s all that they see.

As we mature, we learn to take other people’s needs into account.  Paul wants us to see that our thinking should bring our actions in line with the love of Christ.  When we desire to bless others, we’re becoming more mature.

Maturity comes as we rest in Christ and learn from Him.

In the Law it is written: “Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:21

In telling the church that they need to grow up, Paul refers to an Old Testament Scripture.  It talks about people speaking in a foreign language, yet Israel not listening.  I believe this is something that Paul preached to them while he was at their church, and now he’s reminding them.

What’s this all about?  To understand it, we need to see the whole verse from the book of Isaiah the prophet.

Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people, to whom he said, “This is the resting place, let the weary rest”; and, “This is the place of repose” — but they would not listen.
Isaiah 28:11-12

Within this verse are three words that speak to us about the place of resting in God.  The first means a quiet resting place away from any troubling distractions.  The next means a place where you can settle down and abide in safety.  The third means to rest and be refreshed.

These are the things that Paul was reminding the church through referencing this passage.  They need to grow up in their thinking.  They should be seeking the welfare of others in the gathering of the saints.

But how is it that you grow up in your thinking?  It only comes as you spend quality time resting in Christ.  Jesus told us that we need to abide in Him if we want to live that abundant life.

In previous posts, we saw that prayer in the spirit (tongues) builds us up, personally.  That’s the place of rest and growth.  As I regularly pray in the spirit in my private time, I experience the growth that I need to be a blessing in public.

When I pray in the spirit, I’m resting, abiding, in Christ.  That’s the most powerful tool of self-edification that I could ever access.  God has freely given this to all of His children.  Unfortunately, as the Scripture says, many refuse to hear this Word.

Allow the Holy Spirit to build you up and bring maturity in a powerful way.  Spend time praying in the spirit.

Question: How have you experienced growth and maturity by the power of the Holy Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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