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Category Archives: Prayer in the Spirit

Faith and the Word

In my last post I talked about our faith and our actions working together. James told us that without action, we only have a dead faith.

What kind of faith is James talking about here? Some ethereal faith, believing it will all turn out good in the end? Absolutely not!! It’s the kind of faith that sees things changing by the power of God.

Where do we get that kind of faith? Paul tells us the answer to that question.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

This is one of those verses that everyone quotes, but few understand. The NIV uses the word message in its translation; but that word does not appear in the Greek original. It simply reads faith comes by hearing

The important thing is; what are you hearing? That’s why the Apostle Paul goes on to explain that this hearing is by the Word of Christ.

There are many who believe that this verse is talking about reading the Bible. Personally, I don’t believe that’s what it’s referring to. The Greek words being used here say that this faith comes from the rhema of Christ. That means Paul is talking about the Word we hear directly from the Holy Spirit.

For a detailed explanation of this aspect of the Word, click here.

This faith is not simply choosing to believe what the Bible says – as good as that is. It’s a faith that’s birthed on the inside of you by spending time in the Spirit. That’s the kind of faith that James is talking about.

How do I know this? Look at the example James gives to illustrate his point.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
James 2:20-23

According to James, Abraham believed God – had faith in His Word – and acted upon his faith. Because of his faith, Abraham took his only son up on a mountain to offer him as a sacrifice to God. When he stepped out in faith, God then looked upon him and credited righteousness to his account.

Why would Abraham do something like that? Because he had faith in God’s Word. What was the Word that inspired this faith? It couldn’t have been the Bible since it wasn’t even begun to be written yet. The truth is that Abraham heard a Word from God and it planted an unwavering faith on the inside of him.

James is telling us that if we want to have this living faith, then we must spend time in God’s presence, listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. The kind of faith that moves mountains, heals and delivers is only received in a Word from God.

I believe that this is why there’s so little manifestation of the power of God in our generation. Because of the proliferation of Scripture (a good thing), we have replaced intimate time in God’s presence with Bible reading.

Don’t misunderstand me – reading, memorizing, meditating on, and confession of the Scripture is vital for your growth as a believer. But time spent listening for a Word from God is just as important.

Question: What have you heard and obeyed from the Holy Spirit lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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The Perfect Law of Freedom

In my last post I talked about how we need to be careful in judging others. We’re never to make a judgment merely on appearances. But we need to keep in mind that all of us will be judged righteously by the Lord.

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!
James 2:12-13

There are many Christians who ask; how are we going to be judged? Christ has rewards waiting for us at His coming. In order to qualify for them, I need to be found faithful in what’s expected of me.

That’s the way it is in all areas of life. If you know that you have to take a test, you make sure that you’re prepared for it. If you want the reward offered by the test – a promotion, a good grade, or a license – then you need to fulfill the requirements of the test.

In our case, as believers, we are judged by the law that gives freedom. I talked about that a few days ago when we looked at James 1:23. If you remember, this law is the mirror that we see ourselves reflected in.

I said then, that this is not talking about Scripture. The Law of Moses never gave freedom to anyone. This is talking about how well we follow the direction of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

How are we judged, then? It’s all about how well we’re hearing and doing what the Holy Spirit is instructing.

It’s truly unfortunate that there are many believers who have the wrong idea about our freedom in Christ. They think that it means they can now live however they want with no consequences. Even though we’re free, we must still walk in obedience to the Spirit of Christ.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 8:1-2

It should be clear that we’re still under God’s law. But it’s not the Old Testament law. We serve the law of the Spirit. It’s this law that has set us free. That’s why James calls it the perfect law that gives freedom.

This freedom doesn’t mean there are no rules. It just means that each of us have a different set of instructions based upon what God has called us to do.

…in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
Romans 8:4

If I live according to the Spirit, then all the requirements of the law are met in my life. That’s what James is saying. We’re judged by the law that gives freedom. We’re judged by how well we hear and do what the Holy Spirit is instructing.

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17

Some may think that following the voice of the Holy Spirit isn’t freedom, but I assure you it is. We are free to move unhindered into our destiny.

In the Olympic swimming competitions there are lanes in the pools. The swimmers are not allowed to cross into another lane. But that “law” is not there to stop their fun. Because of the rule, they know that they can swim their best without fear that they’ll run into another swimmer.

That’s the freedom of the law of the Spirit. Hearing and doing. Now we are free to do our best for the Lord.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit instructed you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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The Law of Freedom

MirrorIn my last post I talked about the need to hear a Word from God. We have to spend the time listening for his voice. But it doesn’t just end there.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
James 1:23-24

Once you’ve heard from the Holy Spirit you need to follow through on what He spoke to you. This goes beyond simply thanking Him for speaking. There has to be a fulfillment of the assignment.

I like the illustration that James gives us here. It’s important for us to understand just what he’s saying to the church.

In my last post I talked at length about the Word of God being more than just Scripture, but God speaking to us. As James continues on that theme, he starts to give us more detail. We can’t ignore the implications of what he’s teaching.

When I read the Bible, I know that it’s the same for everybody. The life of Jesus, the teachings of the Apostles, and the histories don’t change from generation to generation. The truths that we read are timeless, and apply to everyone for all time.

A mirror is a completely different piece of equipment. What I see in a mirror is not at all what you would see. As a matter of fact, what I see when I first wake up in the morning is nothing like what I see as I’m preparing to go to bed.

Every time I look into the mirror, it’s a unique experience. That’s another reason why this has to be about our time spent with the Holy Spirit – hearing His voice. Whenever we spend quality time in the presence of God it should be a one-of-a-kind encounter.

What I need to hear from God today, may be about something totally different than what He speaks to me tomorrow. The Lord wants to work in us and in the lives of those around us. For that to happen, I need to hear from Him on a consistent basis.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:25

Listen to what James calls this encounter. The perfect law that gives freedom. There’s absolutely no way he could be talking about the Old Testament here. Paul said almost the same thing in his letters.

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. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:15-17

It’s obvious that freedom can only come through the Holy Spirit. He wants to speak a word that’s tailor made to the situations we’re facing. I believe that hearing and doing what the Spirit speaks to us is the perfect law that gives freedom.

It’s through time spent in the Spirit that God writes His law on our hearts. That’s where we find the freedom to live for Him without hindrance.

Question: What was the last thing the Lord spoke to you about?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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Do You Know the Two Kinds of Testing?

ClimberWe all go through challenging times in our lives. The Bible calls them trials or tests. None of us are exempt, so we need to be aware of how they function.

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Notice that James is not saying that the trial is a blessing. Our blessing is the result of coming through the test victoriously. If you remember from the first post in this series; it’s our faith that’s tried. This trial then brings perseverance and results in our faith being approved as genuine.

But what exactly are these tests all about? James goes on to explain it to us.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:13-15

First, we must understand the words being used. In the English Bible, the words temptation, test, and trial all mean different things to us. In the original Greek they’re all the same word. The translators used these different English words depending upon the context.

In this verse, James is only referring to one kind of testing – testing by evil. In this post I want to talk about the two kinds that are spoken of in Scripture.

The first I want to share about is testing by evil. This is usually called temptation by the translators. This is when we are given the opportunity to do something against God’s law or human law. It could also be troublesome, injurious, or destructive to us or others.

In thinking about testing, it’s important that we don’t get our theology from cartoons. There isn’t any little demon or angel sitting on our shoulder, whispering into our ears!

James makes it clear that usually the devil is not even involved. I think that we give him too much credit. It’s actually our own flesh that brings on the temptations that we face. We are tempted when our sin nature wants something that’s not God’s best for us. The only way to overcome consistantly is by a lifestyle of fasting and prayer in the spirit. (For more detail on these, click fasting or prayer)

The second kind is testing by God. James only says that God doesn’t use evil to test us, but there is a test that He sets up for us. This happened a lot with Jesus and His disciples.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
John 6:5-6

In this kind of testing, the Lord brings opportunities before us. Their purpose is to show forth the faith that has been produced in us as a result of hearing His Word. He wants us and others to see the growth that’s taking place in us. The result should bring glory to Christ working in us.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:6-7

Knowing these two types of trials will help us to be victorious no matter what challenges we face. As we rely upon the Holy Spirit, we can become mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Question: How has the testing process worked maturity in your Christian walk?

©Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Don’t Let Go

SwordI’ve been sharing about David’s mighty men from the Old Testament. They’re an example to us of the warrior spirit that we need in order to fight our spiritual battle.

The next person I want to talk about is a man named Eleazar.

Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered for battle. Then the men of Israel retreated, but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
2 Samuel 23:9-10

Apparently there was a time when David’s army started making fun of the Philistines. Israel decided that it wasn’t a good idea to provoke them and they took off. David and his men stayed. In the course of the battle, Eleazar’s hand froze to his sword.

Think about what happens in the body of Christ today. It’s easy to taunt the enemy while we’re safe in church with other believers. What about in the middle of the attack when we’re on our own?

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:17

We’ve been given the most powerful spiritual weapon anyone can use – the Word of God. It’s the sword we need to defeat the enemy. Does your hand freeze to the sword in the spiritual struggle?

Remember the early church. At one point they were commanded not to speak in Jesus’ name anymore. What did they do? Run and hide? Did they compromise to as not to offend?

They had a prayer meeting, praying in the spirit.

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 4:31

The middle of the battle is when you cling more tightly to the sword. Only then can the victory be assured.

You need to realize that I’m not just talking about reading the Bible. Even though that’s important to our spiritual growth, it’s the Word we hear from God in our prayer time that makes the difference. Even David understood this.

When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.
Psalms 138:3

There’s a boldness that only comes when we’ve heard God’s voice speaking to us. Then we know that there’s no weapon that can defeat us. It’s time for the church to press in and hear from Heaven. Then we must walk in obedience to the Lord’s will.

Question: When have you been made bold as a result of being in prayer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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Life that’s Over the Top

SkateboardI’ve been posting about the Gift of God, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. It’s a river of life bubbling up from within us. Jesus told us that it’s eternal life. It’s His perpetual, continual life that’s flowing through us.

But in calling it eternal life, the Lord was speaking about more than just length. It’s not just about how long you live for. Look at how Jesus describes it.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

If I tell you that something is full, would you only think about it in one dimension? Full implies more than just length.

The word full that the Lord used actually means superabundant in quantity, superior in quality, and excessive in amount.

Think about it this way. I come to you and ask you, “Can I borrow your car to go grocery shopping?”

You say, “Sure.” But the next thing I know is that a 2016 stretch limousine with a chauffeur pulls up to my house. That’s the picture this word evokes.

In spite of that, we usually settle for the Flintstone mobile – spiritually speaking. We should be expecting so much more from our walk with God. He wants to lavish His life upon us.

The gift of God is where this spring of life comes from. When Jesus called it a spring of water, the word He used was of the surface fountain. The source was not included.

That’s how it is with us. You can’t see the source because it’s in the spirit. I’ve got to tap into the Holy Spirit to get the spring going.

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
2 Timothy 1:6

This verse tells us that the gift of God is received by the laying on of hands. It’s imparted from one who has already received it. The gift must be passed on and received.

But this verse also makes it clear that it can lay dormant after it’s received. Why would anyone want to ignore the gift of God’s eternal life flowing through them?

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

How does Paul describe this gift of God? The apostle says that He’s a Spirit – the Holy Spirit. Boldness comes from this Spirit. Why? Because He gives us a life that’s over the top. If you have perpetual life to draw upon, who cares what people think?

If you borrow money for a mortgage, the bank tells you how big a house you can get. But if you win a Powerball jackpot, no one can tell you what to buy.

That’s what God gives us in the spirit. We have power, love, and a saved mind. Because you can draw on the Holy Spirit and His perpetual life, you now have the power for everything God calls you to do.

You have enough love for all who come your way. You have a saved mind to know God’s will.

What else do you need? It’s up to us to seek it out. All we have to do is to trust God to receive it or fan it into flame.

Question: How have you experienced God’s abundant life working in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Jump in the River

diveIn my last post I started talking about the Holy Spirit being described as Living Water in the Scripture. Jesus referred to this water when He talked with the woman at the well. She had no idea what He was talking about.

I also talked about Jesus preparing His disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the church. He told them that the Gift of God was the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4-5)

Baptism is a religious word that we sometimes misunderstand. To baptize literally means to submerge or immerse completely in a liquid.

So when we talk about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we’re really talking about being immersed in the Spirit. So the gift of God is a spiritual immersion. The Lord wants us to jump in this spring of living water.

The woman didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about, so He explained it.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:13-14

The water that Christ gives (the Holy Spirit) will become a gushing fountain of this water. And it will continue springing up to eternal life.

Drinking water is a lot like breathing air. In the spirit we need to be breathing in and out. It should be a continual thing.

That’s why Jesus could say in verse 21 that a day is coming to fulfill this in God’s people.

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:24

We are given the Holy Spirit on the inside of us when we’re saved. But God wants us to be immersed in Him; immersed in the living Holy Spirit.

We sometimes think of eternal life only in terms of length. God wants us to live His kind of life – the God kind of life. That’s why God wants us to have the water of life within us.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

What is the gift of God? It’s the Holy Spirit in you – springing up to eternal life. The gift of God brings eternal life.

The real question we should be asking is; what exactly is eternal life? What does God mean when He uses that phrase?

In my next post I’ll wrap up this series by showing how Christ explains this gift of His life bubbling up within us.

Question: How often do you pray and worship God in the Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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