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Category Archives: Revival

Making Christ Central

I’m continuing to look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  We’re now in chapter 12 where he begins to talk about our spiritual life.

Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant.
1 Corinthians 12:1

The first thing we need to realize is that the word “gift” is not in the original. What Paul literally says is that he doesn’t want the church to be uninformed about the spiritual.  To do that, he’ll talk about more than just gifts.

He begins by addressing their spiritual heritage.

You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.
1 Corinthians 12:2

Because they were a mainly Gentile church, their background included the worship of idols.  They had a history of serving gods that couldn’t speak.  That’s very different from where they are now.

We serve a God who wants to speak to and through His people.  That requires a different kind of lifestyle.  We need to be in a position where we’re ready to hear and obey His voice.  Along with that, we need to discern between the other voices trying to get our attention.

Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 12:3

I have a problem with the way this verse is usually explained.  Why would any Christian need to be told that someone saying, “Jesus be cursed” is not speaking by the Holy Spirit?  There’s a deeper issue here.

In the context of this chapter, Paul is speaking to former idol worshippers.  The word for cursed is the Greek word anathema.  It’s a word that has a specific meaning in regards to the worship of the Greek and Roman gods.

In these pagan temples, if you wanted to appease a god that you needed a blessing from, you would give an animal sacrifice.  Once it was consecrated to that god, it was hung on a wall or a column of that god’s temple.  Now you could go your way and never have to think about it anymore.

In reality, Paul is explaining to these former pagan worshippers, that Jesus was not merely some offering made to appease an angry god.  Christ was, is, and always will be Lord of all.  Not only that, but He now wants to be on speaking terms with His people.

When you’re in a relationship with the true God, He wants a constant interaction with you.  He wants to have power over what you say and do.  He wants to set the direction of your life.

I hate to say it, but sometimes we get this “anathema Jesus” attitude in the modern church.  There are many who have accepted Christ as merely a payment for their sin.  They’re not looking for a relationship with a Lord who wants to direct their lives.

Being a Christian means that Christ has a central role in all that you do.  We live to please Him.  That means we need to spend time in His presence, listening for the voice of His Spirit.

This is where Paul starts with the Corinthian church.  He’s going to explain to them the earmarks of a spiritual life.  What does it mean to walk by the Spirit?

Hopefully, as we continue on in this study, we’ll receive insight that will help us in our daily spiritual walk.

Question: How do you make your relationship with Christ central in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on June 10, 2019 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Grey Areas – The Final Word

We’re continuing our look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He had to deal with a lot of issues.  One of them was how to respond to the grey areas of sin – those things that the Bible doesn’t specifically call out as right or wrong.

Paul talks about this subject in chapters 8-10.  In looking at these principles, we covered a lot of ground.  Since this is the concluding post on that subject, I want to review the principles that Paul talked about.

In chapter 8, we’re told that even though Christ has given us freedom in many areas, we’re not to use that freedom if it will have a negative effect on others.  We have to be sensitive to new believers or weak Christians around us.

Chapter 9, verses 1 through 18, tells us that we need to check our motives.  Why do I want to do this activity?  Is it because I want to imitate the world?  Am I rebelling against authority?  Or is my heart pure in this area?

That same section also deals with the issue of personal rights.  When you’re serving Christ, there are times that the Lord asks you to lay down your rights for the sake of others.  Just because you have the right to do something, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s God’s will for you.

Then, in chapter 9, verses 19 through 23, Paul tells us that the message of the Gospel is the priority.  We can’t lose sight of what’s truly important for the sake of self-gratification.  My life must bear witness to the truth.

After that, Paul deals with the principle of keeping free from distractions in verses 24 through 27.  Even if something is not sinful, it may still keep you from fulfilling God’s call upon your life.  We have to make sure that we don’t spend all of our time pursuing unfruitful distractions.

Then, in the first thirteen verses of chapter 10, the apostle talks about the things that we set our heart on.  Where you set your heart determines your destiny.  Are you after the things of the world or the advancement of God’s kingdom?

In chapter 10, verses 14 through 22, we’re told to flee from idolatry.  For us, this means the modern version of idolatry.  That’s anything that we put in a position where God should be.  Is there something to which we’re devoting our time, money, and strength, that rightly should be going to the Lord?

Finally, in verses 23-30, the principle of caring for others comes into play.  I can’t be doing something that wounds the conscience of a fellow believer.  I have to be careful not to shipwreck the faith of those around me.

These are the important things to think about when deciding if something is right for you to take part in.  Paul sums it up like this…

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.  Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God – even as I try to please everybody in every way.  For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33

The fact is that it’s not all about me.  There’s a bigger picture that I have to take into account.  We must live our lives in such a way that God gets the glory from all that we do.

Question: How does living for God’s glory make the Gospel message more attractive?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2019 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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All About Me

As we continue our look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church, he’s speaking about how idolatry relates to the grey areas of sin.  This is an important issue.  The apostle now lays down the principle of participation.

I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.  Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?  And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
1 Corinthians 10:15-17

The first part of participation that we need to understand is our fellowship with Christ. The words translated participation in this verse, are the same that are translated fellowship in other places in Scripture.  We have a fellowship in the body and blood of the Lord.

In the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, we’re showing a visible representation of our fellowship.  It’s because of our connection to Christ that we’re connected with each other.  We all have a share in His body and in His blood.

It’s this concept of participation that should guide some of our actions.  There are some who would say that it doesn’t matter what I do outside of the church.  What I do in my private time is my own business.  But is it?

Remember, it’s all about participation.  Am I participating with the world in things I shouldn’t be involved in?  That’s the issue Paul’s dealing with here.

Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?  Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything?  No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.
1 Corinthians 10:18-21

Those are strong words.  In context, he’s talking about idolatry in a pagan temple.  But this could apply to us as well.  There are many things in society that could be seen as modern idolatry.  Gaming, the internet, the entertainment industry, sporting events, and a whole host of other things can steal our devotion.

Actually, anything that we participate in that causes us to reject time with Christ is idolatry.  No, I don’t think we should be worshipping 24/7.  But only serving God two hours a week on Sunday morning is a symptom of spiritual sickness.

Paul tells us the bottom line.

Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy?  Are we stronger than he?
“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial.  “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive.  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
1 Corinthians 10:22-24

Even things that are permissible, with no evil aspects, can be detrimental to your Christian walk.  The fact is, being a Christian is not all about me.  I’m a part of something bigger than myself.  The fellowship I share is on a spiritual level.  The things I do in the natural can have a spiritual effect.

This is key to understanding what’s right or wrong for me.  What I do as an individual affects the whole.   That’s life in a body.  When I stub my toe, my whole body is affected.   This is a lesson the current generation of believers needs to learn.

Question: How does a person’s private life affect the whole church?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Modern Idolatry

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes learn more from the negative examples of others.  I see where someone failed and I now know how not to do it.  That’s how the Apostle Paul is using the example of the children of Israel.

Remember, in this verse he’s writing to a church where the manifestation of the Holy Spirit was strong and active.  So this verse is for believers.

Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.”
1 Corinthians 10:7

When I read this verse it causes me to wonder about my pre-conceived ideas.  When I hear the word “idolatry”, I think of a group of people bowing and worshipping a statue of stone or metal.  That’s nothing like what Paul is saying here.

The Greek word that’s translated, indulge in pagan revelry, is simply the word for play.  So Paul’s description of idolatry is very different than mine.  It’s about sitting down to consume and getting up to play.

Wow!  If that’s not a description of our present society in America, then I don’t know what is.  We have a nation of consumers and players.

To be a consumer means that you pour your resources into things that have no lasting value.  You buy a new car and it loses half its value when you leave the parking lot.  You by a brand new electronic device and it’s obsolete in a few weeks.

This became real to me while I was helping someone move.  They had boxes of VHS movie tapes that they’d purchased over the years.  Thousands of dollars in movies, but they can’t even watch them anymore because technology has moved on.

Playing is another big area for us.  Online gaming is a huge industry.  Big league sports are another huge money-maker.  Our society will pay people millions of dollars to throw and catch balls, while those who help others have to work two or three jobs to support their families.  That’s where our priorities are as a society right now.

I realize that without Christ, the “eat, drink, and be merry” lifestyle is sometimes the only way to cope with the pressures of life.  My problem is when Christians get caught up in the frenzy of the world.

We seem to feel left out if we’re not doing what they’re doing.  We want to experience everything that’s available.  So, we consume much of our time and resources chasing after the same temporary things that the world does.

Throughout the Bible, that’s called dissipation.  We are dissipating our energy and resources on things that don’t matter for eternity.  All the while, the kingdom of God has relatively few who are moving it forward.

We need to rethink our way of life.  How should we be living in this day and age?  What should our priorities be like?  I like the way Paul answers these questions in another of his letters.

Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

Living a life that’s mostly consuming and/or playing is a symptom of idolatry.  Don’t let the world dissipate your life.  Live for Christ wholeheartedly.

Question: How do we keep ourselves separate from the idolatry of the world?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Eyes on the Prize

The Olympics are a worldwide phenomenon.  It seems like for two weeks, everything else is put on hold.  There are no other important news stories.  Everyone focuses on the competition.

Are you one of those people who loves watching the drama of the Olympics unfold?  If so, what excites you about it?

Paul used the backdrop of the Olympics to explain his view of the ministry.  Listen to how he puts it.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24

In the ministry, we’re competing for the prize.  The prize is your destiny in Christ.  It should be your reason for living.

The fact is that only one gets the prize.  It’s the one who pushes himself out in front and crosses the finish line first.  Please understand that I’m not talking about racing against other believers.

No, you’re racing against yourself.  Your lazy self, your proud self, your distracted self, and your “all for Christ” self.  They’re all running against each other.  Run in such a way that you get the prize the Lord has called you to receive.

Paul tells us how this is accomplished.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.  They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27

The first key is strict training versus running aimlessly.  We need to focus on our calling in Christ.  What is it that the Lord wants you to accomplish?  What will it take for you to lay hold of it?

This is something that we need to hear in our generation.  We get so distracted by all that’s happening around us.  There are so many opportunities to participate in.

I wish it were simply a matter of right and wrong, but it’s not.  It’s about what you want to accomplish for eternity.

There’s nothing wrong with eating a hot fudge sundae.  However, if you’re training to run a marathon, then it’s not the best food choice.  In our ministry, we avoid certain activities, not because they’re wrong, but because they’re counter-productive to what we want to accomplish.

The other issue is beating the air versus beating my body.  This makes it clear that we truly are competing against our own selves.

Who is going to be in charge?  Will the desires of my flesh determine my destiny?  Or will I, instead, let my spirit lead me into God’s perfect will for my life?

These are the things we need to deal with on a daily basis.  We put the flesh down and build the spirit up.

Of course, that’s not easy or comfortable.  I’m talking about fasting and prayer.  Then there’s prayer in the spirit and meditating on the Word of God.  I also have to be in right relationship with my fellow believers.

Do I have to do these things in order to be a “good Christian”?  Absolutely not.

Unless…your goal is to win the prize of your destiny in Christ.

Question: What is your “strict training” that pushes you toward the prize?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 1, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Everything Changes

I’ve been posting from First Corinthians, Chapter 7.  Paul is dealing with romantic relationships.  In my last article Paul advised that because of persecution that was starting, they needed to consider carefully if they were looking to marry.

Now Paul explains these principles in a little more detail.

What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.  From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none…
1 Corinthians 7:29

We have to understand that Paul is not saying to leave your wife.  What he means is that whatever happens, keep your walk with the Lord your priority.

At any time your spouse might be arrested, imprisoned, or even martyred for your faith in Christ.  If that’s the case, then you can’t let it affect your service to the Lord.  That’s why God gives a special kind of grace to those undergoing persecution.

Many have come to me and said, “Pastor, I hope persecution never comes to America because I don’t think I could handle it.”  I tell them that if we’re called to that kind of life, then we’ll be given the grace to withstand it victoriously.

Paul goes on to explain the underlying truth.

…those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them.  For this world in its present form is passing away.
1 Corinthians 7:30-31

The thing that Paul is trying to get across to us is that everything is subject to change.  The world doesn’t get it.  They think that a single event brings a permanent change.

If they go through a devastating loss, they think their life is over forever.  On the other hand, they think that if they can just win the lottery, they’ll be happy forever.  Neither of those two statements is true.  Change is constant.

So as believers, we’re told not to look at any phase of life as permanent.  Even if we get a new device that we’ve always wanted – we realize that it’s not ours to keep.  It will wear out, break, or become obsolete.

We’re literally told that we can use the systems of the world, but don’t overuse or misuse them.  The way society works is constantly changing.  The strategies that made people successful 50 years ago, won’t work today.

The present form of the world – the way things work – is fading away.  Society is always changing.  The way people learn, interact and do business is always evolving.  We can’t get engrossed in one way of doing things.

But here’s the good news.  God’s kingdom works the same yesterday, today and forever.

It’s all about spending time in the Lord’s presence hearing from the Holy Spirit.  Then we do what He’s leading us to do.  It’s this obedience that makes us successful.

If somebody had told me as a teen, that one day I would sit in my den and explain Biblical truth to people across the country and around the world, I wouldn’t have believed them.  It’s become a different world now.

The bottom line is that change will be constant and that listening to the voice of God is the only thing that will keep us on course.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit helped you to weather the changes in society?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2019 in Encouragement, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Whose Temple Is It?

In my last post, I talked about Paul’s warning to serve God whole-heartedly.  A failure to do so runs the risk of losing some kingdom blessings.  He continues this thought as he uses the illustration of a temple.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I’m a temple to the Holy Spirit.  Think about it like the ancient Greek temples.  My temple says “Holy Spirit” over the front entrance.

What would you expect if you came to that temple?  What if you entered it and saw a Star Trek Convention going on inside?  You may question the priest about it.

“That convention is for this week only.”

What if for the next few weeks you visited this temple and saw a beauty pageant, a chili cook-off, and a real estate seminar?  You’d ask is this a temple to the Holy Spirit or is it something else?

With that thought in mind, consider what happened when Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers in the temple.

To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here!  How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”  His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
John 2:16-17

Notice the righteous anger that Christ displayed.  What was it that aroused such an attitude?  The disciples realized that Jesus was consumed by a zeal for the house of God.

When Christ told His disciples about the Holy Spirit, He said that He was sending “another counselor just like Me.”  (John 14:26 – My paraphrase!)  The difference is that the Holy Spirit lives in us.  He lives permanently in His temple; our body.

In some of my other posts, I’ve talked about the fact that the Holy Spirit is intensely jealous (James 4:5).  Do we really get the point?  We’re living in the Last Days.  The Holy Spirit is starting to cleanse His temple.  We need to submit to His program or face the loss.

Remember – the Holy Spirit will not hurt His temple.  But He will start to ruin that which would try and steal our affection.  In my experience, I’d rather willingly give up something, than have the Lord remove it from my life.

What do we do?

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8

If you really want what the Holy Spirit’s desire, then sow to please the Spirit.  He doesn’t say to summon up all your will power and live right.  No!  Simply submit to His plan and sow the Word and prayer.  Spend time with the Spirit.

Question: What do you need to do to sow to please the Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2019 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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