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Category Archives: The Church

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 – 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 and Unity

In my last post, I showed how when I pray in the spirit, I align my spirit with the Holy Spirit.  I used the illustration of a fan in a field.  This is an important concept in understanding spiritual warfare in the church.

I’ll now continue with a deeper truth.  It all begins when you come along into this illustration.  Let’s say that we’re together.  I’m praying in the spirit and then you begin to pray in the spirit.  We’re now together praying in the spirit.

At that point, I’m one with the Holy Spirit, and you’re one with that same Holy Spirit.  Our two separate spiritual “winds” are now consumed by the wind of the Holy Spirit.

So as we all come together to pray in the spirit, we create a spirit (or “wind”) of unity.  This is the unity of the spirit.  The incredible truth is that as we pray in the spirit together we align with the Spirit of God AND with each other.

Think about some of the great spiritual movements of recent history.  Moves like what happened at the Azuza Street Mission, in California.  According to the reports, rich and poor, black and white, it made no difference, as people from all backgrounds came together into unity.  This was not achieved by willpower or a decision to agree – but by the Spirit.

More recently, think about the Charismatic renewal.  Denominations that never spoke to each other came together in unity as they prayed together in the spirit.  This could only have been accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I believe that both of these moves of God were orchestrated by Him to bring His church into unity for the end-time harvest.  I also believe that the Lord is going to do it again in the near future, only this time with a church that understands the importance.

There is, however, an even deeper work that the Lord wants to do through corporate prayer in the spirit.  The question is; how does this tie into Spiritual Warfare.  For the answer to this, we need to go back to Ephesians, chapter 6.

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 6:18

Most of us know this section of Scripture pretty well.  It’s in the passage that deals with the Armor of God.  This section literally says to pray in the spirit, sleeplessly watching, and persevere at it.  I always thought that this was an interesting verse, especially since it concluded the section on spiritual warfare.  Keep this in mind.

Now we will go to the book of Jude.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit…
Jude 20 (NKJV)

Jude is telling us to strengthen our inner man by praying in the spirit.  Here’s where it starts to get interesting.  To find the reason for Jude’s writing of this short letter we must go to verse 3.

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
Jude 1:3

According to Jude’s own words, he started out just wanting to write a light letter of encouragement.  It would have been a short word about the salvation that we all share.  But the Holy Spirit had other plans.

The Spirit of God moved upon Jude to change the course of his writing.  He says that he felt like he had to write about CONTENDINGfighting, struggling, wrestling – for the faith.  It so happens, that Jude uses the same Greek word here that Paul used when he said that we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12).

There are also some differences between the two writers.  Paul was writing about contending against spiritual forces.  Jude, on the other hand, was dealing with the struggle against false teachers.  But it’s the similarities that caught me off guard.

Here we see two very different writers talking about the fight of faith.  In both cases, they conclude with PRAY IN THE SPIRIT.  It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that there’s a connection.  Somehow our spiritual struggle requires prayer in the spirit.

Question: Why do we need unity for the fight of faith?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Warfare – The Wind of the Spirit

In my last article, I talked about spiritual warfare and the need for unity and agreement.  Today, I want to share some things that Jesus taught about the move of the Spirit.

At one point a teacher of the law named Nicodemus asked Jesus some questions.  Jesus spent some quality time with this young man.  I think however that this teacher left with more questions than he started with.  During the conversation, Jesus said the following to Nicodemus:

“You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
John 3:7-8

When you’re born of the Spirit, you can now live life on a new level.  It’s the level of the spiritual realm.

God describes it as the wind.  It blows wherever it pleases.  Just as in the case of the physical wind, we can see the effect, direction, and speed that it’s traveling.

This is the case even if we don’t know where it’s coming from or going to.  Maybe you’ve seen a weather map on TV.  Personally, the Weather Channel is one of my favorite places on Cable TV.  I’ve gotten many spiritual illustrations from its programs.

When you look at a weather map, sometimes it shows you the flow of the Jet Stream over the United States.  It could start flowing East over Washington state.  Then it dips down to Texas and takes a turn to flow directly up the East Coast.

This is how the flow of the wind operates.  You can’t tell where it’s been or where it’s going just because you know the direction where you’re standing.  In Washington, it flows east, in Colorado it flows south, and in Kentucky, it flows north, all at the same time.

The flow of the Holy Spirit is just as unpredictable; that’s why we must be sensitive.  The Spirit of God may be moving through prophecy in one church, healing in another, and weeping in a third.

I can’t say that because God is not moving in your church the way He moves in mine, that therefore you are out of His will.  It takes sensitivity to the Spirit to know just what He wants to do right here, right now.

It’s just like the wind.  It takes someone who’s born of the Spirit to understand the move of the Spirit.  That’s why it’s called the “flow” of the Spirit.  It’s my goal to get in on that flow which is the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

But what does the flow of the Spirit have to do with spiritual warfare and unity in the body of Christ?  As you’ll see, it has everything to do with it.

“My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:20-21

Jesus is praying in this verse for the church to be one.  This is the same Greek word that’s translated as unity in the verses we looked at in my last post.  It literally means to be one.

This is not a word that means “I agree with you”.  According to the Lord, the way it works between the Father and Himself is that He is in the Father.  It’s Christ’s desire that we share this same degree of unity.  He wants us to be one in Him.

In my next post, we’ll see how this is accomplished.

Question: What would a church look like if it operated in true unity?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Spiritual Warfare – The Need for Unity

I’m continuing to post about spiritual warfare.   It should be obvious that this type of battle takes place in the spiritual realm.  To understand it, we need to grasp life in the spirit.

One of the most common word pictures for the spirit is the wind.  As a matter of fact, both the Hebrew and Greek words for spirit are the English word, wind.

The only way that a translator knows whether to use “spirit” or “wind” is by the context in which it’s used.  The wind is a powerful picture of how our spirits operate in conjunction with the Spirit of God.

When you speak about wind, it implies motion.  Motion is determined by speed and direction.  We need to understand this aspect of the Spirit if we’re to talk about how to wage war in the spirit.

If you remember, I talked about the fact that a war is nation against nation.  That means this warfare is conducted by the body of Christ.  For any type of warfare, a kingdom must fight in unity.  It’s no different for the church.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3

In order to grasp this, we must first define some terms in the Scripture that are commonly misunderstood.  What we must understand is that there’s a big difference between unity and agreement.

Most Christians use these two terms interchangeably.  Actually, they’re two very different truths.  So, we must ask ourselves what’s the difference between unity and agreement?

The Word of God is clear that agreement is when we think and believe the same way.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
Matthew 18:19

In this verse, the Greek word that’s translated, agree, is sumphoneo.  It’s where we get our English word symphony.  It literally means to sound together.

You agree on the facts, so you speak the same thing.  This means that if I believe Jesus is Healer, and you believe Jesus is Healer, we’ll sound the same when we speak.  In that case, we’re in agreement.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:10

In this passage, Paul makes it very clear.  Our agreement involves mind and thought.  These are functions of our soul.  If we believe the same thing, then we’ll also speak the same.  This is agreement – our thinking and our speaking.

Unity is a whole different thing.  Let’s look at the verse from Ephesians again.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3

In the same way, that agreement is a function of our soul, unity is a function of our spirits.  What we need to realize is that we’ve already been made one in Christ.  It’s now our job to keep or guard the unity of the spirit.

In the Greek, the phrase, make every effort, means to use prompt and earnest effort.  This tells me that it requires work on our part.  There’s something we need to do.  In order to keep this unity, it will require the “wind power” of the spirit.

In the next couple of posts, I’ll share how the power of the spirit brings unity in the church and havoc on the enemy’s kingdom.

Question: Why do you think that it’s so hard for churches to come into unity and agreement?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2020 in Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare, The Church

 

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God’s Armor – Using the Shoes of Readiness

In my last post, I talked about what the shoes protect.  They keep our endurance to complete God’s will in our lives.  Today I want to talk about how to use this piece of armor.

We’re told in Ephesians 6:15, that this readiness comes from the Gospel of Peace.  The Apostle explained this Gospel right in this same letter.  You may want to read Ephesians 2:11-22 before continuing with this post.

In the second chapter of Ephesians, Paul shows us that the Gentiles were far from God, while the Jews were in His family.  However, when Christ came, He destroyed all the barriers.

Formerly there were three parties at war: God, Gentiles, and the Jews.  Through His death and resurrection, the Lord Jesus reconciled all people to Himself.  We are all members of one body.  We all have unlimited access to God.

Paul concludes that chapter by stating the point of the Gospel of Peace.

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:21-22

Now, everyone who bows their knee to Christ has a place in this Temple.  We are being built into a dwelling place for God.

What we’re told to do takes effort.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3

We’re told here to guard the oneness of the Spirit in the bond, or literally, the ligament of peace.  Contrary to what many say, peace is not just some calming factor.  It’s the glue, the unifying factor, in the body of Christ.

This tells me that I put on my Shoes of Readiness by connecting to the body of Christ.  In talking about the reason for the five-fold ministry gifts, the Apostle Paul explains it.

…to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…
Ephesians 4:12

This is why we connect with the body of Christ.  By connecting, I learn to serve.

I know that right now many don’t go to church meetings.  Maybe they’ve been hurt in the past.  Or it could be the proliferation of TV and online preachers.

There’s a question that some ask.  “Can’t I be a Christian and never go to a church?”  The answer to that is yes, but it’s not all about you.  Apart from a local church, you can never be prepared for works of service that build up the body of Christ.

Of course, there are a lot of believers who attend church yet aren’t connected.  That puts you in the same condition.  You’re shoeless.

As a matter of fact, the above verse continues to say…

…until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13

It’s all about the body of Christ as a whole operating on the level of Christ.  That’s not going to happen without us all being connected.  The church needs to arise in this generation.

That’s how you put on the shoes of readiness.  You can’t move forward unless you find your connection.  If you’re not connected to a local body of believers, then you’re trying to walk without shoes.

It’s my connection to a local church that fleshes out the Gospel of Peace.  Then, from that connection, my spiritual feet can be protected as I move forward in God’s will.

Question: What are your connections in the body of Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Warfare – What it is and isn’t

I’m posting about the spiritual battles that we find ourselves in.  Having explained the difference between the conflict in the Old and New Testament, I now want to concentrate on how we walk in victory.

The fact is that we’re in a battle.  Not against people, but unseen spiritual forces.  Do we really understand the nature of this conflict?

I’ve heard Christians use the term spiritual warfare in many different contexts.  Does our teaching line up with Scripture?  That’s what matters.

After watching many self-proclaimed spiritual warriors get flattened by the enemy, I have to ask myself what exactly is this about?  We need to base what we’re doing in the Scripture if we want success.

The Bible is clear.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
2 Corinthians 10:1

Unfortunately, many take this verse too far out of context.  Then the church ends up looking like an army of clowns going off to do battle.  They’re unarmed and untrained in this spiritual war.  Then we wonder why the church is so devastated.

At one point the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and made a statement I found hard to accept.  What I heard on the inside was, “Do you realize that there’s been no spiritual warfare for hundreds of years?”

How can this be true?  I hear people say they’re doing spiritual warfare all the time.  We sing about it.  We preach about it.

Eventually, I was able to understand what the Spirit of God was trying to get across to me.  The keyword is warfare.

In the above verse, the phrase wage war literally means to serve in a military campaign.  This is where our definition of spiritual warfare falls short.  Our skirmishes are not warfare.

According to the Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary, war is “a contest between or among nations…carried on by force or with arms.”  That’s where we miss it.  War is between nations, not individuals.

For instance, what if I got upset about some things that Canada is doing (I’m not!).  What if I then covered myself in weaponry, Rambo style, then walked to the border of Canada and declared that I was going to war against them.  How long do you think that “war” would last?

As crazy as that sounds, that’s what many believers do in the spirit.  Then they call what they’re doing spiritual warfare.

We need to realize that true spiritual warfare will not take place until the church wakes up from its sleep.  Then, in the spirit, we must begin to pull down the strongholds of Satan.  This is not just the job of one or two bold Christians.  It’s something that the Lord is calling us all to take part in.

We can either spend our time complaining about our society or do something that will make a difference.  Time on our knees before God will bring great change on the earth.  Prayer, fasting, intercession, and prayer in the spirit are what it will take to bring revival to our land.

Over the next few posts, I’m going to talk about how we prepare ourselves for the spiritual struggles ahead.  It’s all about knowing how our attitudes, weapons, and armor work together to bring the victory we need.

Question: What’s your part in this spiritual battle?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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