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Category Archives: Revival

Tough Love

As we continue to look at Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we can begin to see his heart for them.  His first letter was very bold and authoritative.  He dealt with many of the sins and failures of the church.

I’m sure that many who read that letter were convicted and sorrowful over their actions.  Paul understood this and now he addresses this issue.

I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.  Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
2 Corinthians 1:23-24

The first thing Paul does is to let the church know that he understands his place in this process of correction and renewal.  It’s something that modern church leaders need to follow after.

He essentially says that “I am not the lord over your faith.  Instead, I’m a fellow worker with you.”  That’s an important concept for all leaders to grasp.  There’s only one Lord in the church – Jesus Christ the Son of God.

It’s not up to me, as a church leader, to make people do what they’re supposed to do.  All I can do is instruct in the way of Christ.  Then, the choice is theirs whether they’ll follow or not.

I can’t make them stand firm in their faith.  Faith is personal.  Everyone needs to stand on their own as they trust in God and His ways.

So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you.  For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved?  I wrote as I did so that when I came I should not be distressed by those who ought to make me rejoice.  I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy.
2 Corinthians 2:1-3

Now Paul bares his heart to them.  He’s overflowing with love for them.  After all, it was Paul’s ministry that gave birth to this church (See Acts, chapter 18).  How could anyone ever think that he was out to hurt them?

Usually, Paul is lifted up when he’s with his spiritual children.  But as he was going through that area, he knew that they had just received his letter.  He also knew, by the Spirit, what the effect upon the church would be.

He assumed that there would be much sorrow and guilt.  He also knew that as it ran its course, this sorrow would produce the repentance necessary for the church to get back on track.

Paul was operating in wisdom.  He knew that if he showed up too early, he might short-circuit the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  So Paul made a painful choice to put off his visit until a later time.

For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
2 Corinthians 2:4

This final thought lets us know what Paul was going through as he wrote First Corinthians.  First, he says that he felt under great distress – literally pressure – to write his letter of correction.

Also, he had great anxiety.  This word means that he felt like everything was falling apart.  It was through his great love for the Corinthian people that he forced himself to write a strong word to them.

It took a tough love to help them to get back to their first love for Christ.

Question: How have you experienced someone’s tough love for you?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2020 in Leadership, Ministry, Revival

 

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The Counter-Culture of Faith

Our culture is our way of life.  Why, then, does modern Christianity seem so much like the culture of America?

It doesn’t matter what you talk about, the statistics are very close.  Divorce, drug and alcohol abuse, depression, and a host of other issues seem very much a part of church life.

Even with this latest outbreak of COVID-19, the church seems to be in as much fear as the society around us.  Why are we so much like the world?

We would rather talk about religion than Jesus.  We try to be so careful not to offend anyone by what we believe.

I think an important word to use is counter.  Think about how we use it in society.  We have groups in counter-intelligence or counter-terrorism.  To be counter means that you are going opposite that group.

More than any other people-group, Christianity should be a counter-culture.  We should have our own cultural lifestyle.

As the church, we should have our own way of doing things.  It should be very different than how our society operates.

We need to see the Scriptural pattern.

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22

This verse tells us that it’s God’s job to make us stand firm in Christ.  How does He do that?  The Lord accomplishes it by anointing us.

Anointing – now there’s a rich word.  The very word, Christ, means the Anointed One.  His anointing came from the Holy Spirit that was upon Him.  Now we’re standing firm in the Anointed One.  That’s where we have the power to fulfill what we’re called to do.

This passage states that the anointing upon us is one of the things that are guaranteeing what is to come.  This tells me that we have a future in Christ.  This anointing is taking us somewhere.

In the same way, this culture we live in is headed somewhere.  It leads to addiction, divorce, depression, fear, guilt, and, worst of all, hell.  Personally, I don’t want to go where the American culture is leading us to.

As the church of Jesus Christ, our future – our direction – should be vastly different.  Actually, the world should want what our culture leads to.  The differences should be obvious.  We need to get back to the basics of what Christ wants to do in us.  Then we must follow it through to the end.

Question: What are some differences that should be obvious to the world?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Spiritual Warfare – The Final Challenge

This will be my last post in the series about spiritual warfare.  I’m looking at Christ as our example.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Matthew 4:8-9

This was probably the greatest attack the enemy could have aimed at the Lord.  Jesus knew that God’s plan called Him to buy the world with His blood on the cross.  This would be an easy way out of that suffering.  But if He took the deal He would have lost it all.

It’s clear that the final attack is aimed at the world.  Why the world?  Remember the goal…our goal is not personal comfort or the safety of the church.  What we’re fighting for is to set the captives free.

That’s why we pick up the shield and advance forward toward the enemy’s camp.  It’s to save souls.

The battle must go from personal to the kingdom.  What I talked about in my last two posts was just a defensive battle.  Now you’re at hell’s gates.  Now you’re taking something from the enemy.

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Matthew 4:10

Jesus saw through the devil’s deception.  It was all about worship.  The Lord was being tempted to pay homage to the ruler of the world.

We fall into that trap when we decide that we want to impress the world.  You can’t do both; you can’t impress them and free them at the same time.

We are here to impose God’s freedom on the enemy’s kingdom.  But we lack understanding if we think it’s like opening up a jail or a prison camp.  It’s not like that.  It’s more like an opium den.  The people we’re trying to set free are all addicts to sin, just like you and I were.  It’s destroying them, but they don’t want freedom.

By the power of God, the church is out to break down the strongholds of the enemy.  In the eyes of the world, it’s like we’re removing their supply of drugs.  It’s the sin they’re addicted to that we’re attacking.  That’s why we’re so hated much of the time.

But that’s why we’re in the battle.  It’s to save lives.  The real question of all this is; are you willing?  Are you ready and able to go to spiritual war?  This generation of America is at stake.

The Lord is looking for the faithful.  He’s calling to assemble His army.  You’re needed on the front lines.

Question: What role do you play in this war to set the captives free from their bondage to sin?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Warfare – It’s Bigger than Me

I’m posting about the spiritual battle that we have to contend with as believers.  I’m using Christ as our example.  In my last post, I talked about the devil attacking who we are in Christ.  The next attack is more subtle.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Matthew 4:5-6

Remember that I said it’s not about mindlessly quoting the Bible.  That doesn’t bring about the victory.  In this verse, we see the reason for that.  The devil has the Bible memorized.  He can quote it better than we can sometimes.

What is this attack?  By using the Bible, Satan is trying to attack the church.  He wants to go through you to bring down other believers.

If you’re a warrior, then the enemy needs to bring you down so that he can attack the church. That’s what the verse meant that said that the battle entails persistency and petition around all the saints. (Ephesians 6:17-18)

Other Christians aren’t really watching the battle.  Many times they’re off in “praise land,” never realizing that they’re being protected.  There are those whose ministry is interceding for them – protecting them.

Why would the devil have told Christ to jump from the temple?  The angels would have protected Him and it would have fulfilled a prophecy from Malachi.

“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
Malachi 3:1

Had He jumped off the roof, Christ would have appeared suddenly in the Temple.  The people would have flocked to Him.  But what would they be following?  In a word – sensationalism.

God doesn’t want us following the spectacular.

“He’s on TV, he must be spiritual.”

This attack asks; am I going to build God’s kingdom?  Am I going to protect God’s people?  Or am I going to live for self?  This attack happens after a victory in another area.  I’ve overcome the temptation to sin, now I want the fame, recognition, and money that I deserve.

This attack is all about whether I want to advance myself or God’s kingdom.  Many choose to exalt themselves.  The body of Christ is not a place for self-advancement.  It’s got to be the Lord who exalts us.  Christ’s answer to this attack was simple.

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Matthew 4:7

This is making God the focus of our examination.  The fact is, God doesn’t have to prove He’s going to bless me before I serve Him.  I obey Him because He’s God.  He’s done so much for me already; the Lord has nothing He needs to prove to me.

It’s when we need something more than what Christ has already provided that we fall victim to this trap.  Instead of testing God, our goal should be simply to hear and obey Him.

Question: What are some of the things we chase after that are unneeded in our Christian walk?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Spiritual Warfare – The Personal Struggle

In many instances in the Scripture, our personal spiritual walk is described as a battle.  Light vs. darkness; Heaven vs. hell; good vs. evil.  We need to know how to live with this truth.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:17-18

In this verse, Paul is talking about the authority and power of God.  He wants to work these through us.  There’s a battle raging on the earth right now.  Unfortunately, many don’t even care about it.  Do you?

The last sentence of this quote is very important.  It literally says, attending to this with all persistency and petition around all the saints.  The emphasis is that this is encompassing all the saints.

The battle is all around you whether you want it or not.  That’s why the apostle uses such strong language in his exhortation.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-13

Think about the church today.  Picture the body of believers as an army standing before hell’s gates.  Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church.  The question is; are we that victorious church that the Lord was talking about?

We should be, and in some areas, there are local churches that have the enemy on the run.  But that’s not the case everywhere.  Are all the believers in their spiritual armor?  Are all believers even willing to fight this spiritual battle?  I don’t think so.

What about the enemy’s kingdom?  Are they ready?  Absolutely.  They understand what’s at stake and they’re in it for the long haul.  They won’t give in without a fight.

Right now the arrows of the enemy are flying all around us.  If you remember, I’ve said that arrows are the first strike weapon.  The truth is that you don’t have to be in the fight to be hit by an arrow.  That’s why believers are encouraged to take the spiritual armor seriously.

How do you take the stronghold from the enemy?  First, you put on the armor and pick up your shield.  Behind the gates are the prisoners that need to be set free.

Understand this, as you approach the gates the fight goes from general to personal.  It gets to the point where it’s one on one.

Paul is not talking to all believers in this letter, but to the faithful.  That’s who I’m talking to as well.  The believers who want to make a difference in the world around them.

For the next few posts, I want to talk about this personal spiritual battle that we face on a daily basis.  I’ll use Christ as our example of how to live an overcoming lifestyle.

Question: How is your life affected by the spiritual battle?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Warfare – The Gathering Storm

Imagine if you were a general at war with another country.  What if you could control the weather?  What if you could hit their country with a category 5 hurricane the day before your attack?  Do you think it would increase your chances of victory?  Believe it or not, we can operate in this scenario in the spirit.

In my last post, I talked about the cumulative effect that takes place when believers pray in the spirit corporately.  There’s an exponential increase as we come together and pray.

Think about it.  When Jesus walked the earth with His disciples, He limited Himself to the power of one man yielded to the Spirit.  When He prayed, He prayed as a man empowered by the Holy Spirit.  The result of the Lord’s ministry was tremendous.  Yet, when He ascended into heaven there were only between 100 and 200 believers.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Acts 2:1

After Jesus ascended to heaven, He told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the Gift of the Spirit.  Nobody knew what He was talking about.  Not the disciples, and certainly not the devil or his dark kingdom.

On the day of Pentecost, there were 120 people in the upper room praying expectantly.  I’m not going to show you the math, because that’s boring.  Suffice it to say, that if you calculate it out like the wind equivalent, this small group of believers had about 10,000 times the prayer power of Jesus by Himself.  Why do you think the Bible records the following?

Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:2

Something happened that had never happened in the history of the universe.  Satan didn’t see it coming; he had no advance warning.  120 believers aligned their spirits with the Holy Spirit all at the same time.

They generated a “spiritual wind” with a force like never before experienced.  I can just imagine demons blowing in all directions out of Jerusalem!  This is why there was such a great effect on the Day of Pentecost.

Jesus Christ had an incredible effect on Israel.  Those who heard Him said, “no one ever spoke like this man.  We have never heard this much authority.”  Yet, after 3 years of ministry, only 120 still obeyed His instructions.

This is because, during His life, Jesus had to fight the spiritual battle single-handed.  This can still be done.  Even today Christians are finding themselves fighting hand to hand with the kingdom of the enemy.

But, when the demonic influence is blown away first, how much easier the battle becomes.  This is illustrated beautifully in the outcome of the day of Pentecost as recorded in the book of Acts.

Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Acts 2:41

Think about the implications of this for us today.  If we have 3000 people show up for an event and 120 are saved, we shout the victory.  How about 120 people showing up for the meeting and 3000 being saved?!!!  This is the potential if we as a body of believers send a spiritual attack against the kingdom of the enemy before we do something in the natural.

Please understand this.  That first day of Pentecost took Satan totally by surprise.  Now he’s ready when believers gather for prayer in the spirit.  He instructs his minions to hang on to something while they’re praying.

I ask you then, what’s the devil’s greatest fear?  It’s simply that the church would come together and pray in unity in the spirit.

Question: Why do so few churches have intentional, corporate, prayer in the spirit?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Warfare – Victory Prayer

I’ve been posting about the connection between prayer in the spirit, unity, and the fight of faith.  Did you know that they all go hand in hand?

Today we’ll look at another place in Scripture where we’re told to contend for the faith.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.  Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.
Philippians 1:27

I’ve read through this verse many times.  After careful study, I’ve developed a very different take on this passage.  When I read it now, it sounds to me like an army general giving a final speech to his troops on the eve of battle.

Listen to what Paul says.  Stand firm in ONE SPIRIT.  Contend as ONE MAN for the faith.  How can this be done in the natural?

We now know that it can’t, it must be a work of the spirit.  We must pray in the heavenly gift together, and so line up our spirits with each other and with the Holy Spirit.  Only then can we stand firm in one “spiritual wind”.

It’s without a doubt that prayer in the spirit unifies the church for war.  This gift is the unifying factor in the body of Christ.  There is, however, a deeper reason for using prayer in the spirit as a part of our warfare.  I found this, of all places, while watching the Weather Channel.

They were airing a special about wind.  Scientifically, the wind is simply air molecules in motion.  They talked about everything from light winds to severe winds.

You would think that a 40 MPH wind is twice as strong, does twice the damage of a 20 MPH wind.  So did I, and I was wrong.  The effect of wind on its environment is an exponential increase as the speed increases.

This means that because of the nature of wind, a 40 MPH wind is actually ten times the strength and effect of a 20 MPH wind.  Take hurricanes for example.  A Category 1 hurricane, the weakest, is about 75 MPH.  The strongest, a Category 5, is about 135 MPH.  Even though it has twice the wind speed, a Category 5 hurricane does ten times the damage of a Category 1.

What does any of this have to do with prayer in the spirit?  Well, all of this talk about the exponential increase of wind should remind you of a spiritual truth.

How could one man chase a thousand, or two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, unless the LORD had given them up?  For their rock is not like our Rock, as even our enemies concede.
Deuteronomy 32:30-31

We usually quote this by saying, “one can put a thousand to flight and two shall put ten thousand to flight.”  Whether you know it or not this verse is speaking about the exponential increase of the move of the Spirit of God.

The truth we need to learn is that prayer in the spirit has an exponential effect on the object of that prayer.  This is the true power of corporate prayer in the spirit.

Question: Why is the power of corporate prayer in the spirit largely untapped in our generation?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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