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Category Archives: The Gospel

God’s Armor – The Shoes of Readiness

As I continue with my series on the Armor of God, today we’ll look at the shoes.

…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
Ephesians 6:15

It’s obvious that this piece of armor protects our feet.  The question is; what are our spiritual feet?

Simply put, we walk with our feet.  This includes three aspects.  Direction…we point our feet where we want to go.  Speed…this could be determined by a number of factors.  Endurance…as a hiker I know that I can only walk as long as my feet are able.

So to answer my question I need to understand what it is that determines my direction, speed, and endurance in my spiritual walk.  In life, it’s my will that brings all of these things into focus.

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.
Psalms 18:32-33

God perfects the way before me, but I still have to set my will to walk it out.  My will determines my direction, speed, and endurance.  This is important for us to know.

Knowing this, we’re told that something needs to be fitted on our spiritual feet.  The word, fitted, in the verse from Ephesians literally means an under binding.

That’s because my will is where I come in contact with the world.  It’s just like in the natural; my shoes protect my feet as they contact the earth.  When I live for Christ, my will comes in direct opposition to that of the world.

It’s in this place of contact that your endurance can get worn down.  If you don’t wear shoes, or don’t wear the right shoes, the earth determines how you walk.  With the right shoes, you determine your walk.

Like I’ve said, I’m a hiker.  I have a good set of hiking boots.  I’ve gone out for day hikes with friends who only had a pair of flimsy sneakers.  I laughed as they slowly picked their way so as not to step in mud or on a sharp rock.  But I was able to move straight forward because my feet were properly protected.

As I look at the armor, I notice that there’s a specific order to put it on.  It starts with the mind (The belt), then moves to the heart (The breastplate), and now we prepare our will.

That answers a question that many ask.  How do I know God’s will for my life?  Once you protect your mind and your heart, you’re ready to hear God’s will.  There’s a divine order to it.

Having said all of this, I think the keyword is readiness, the preparedness to do God’s will.  We must realize, even before we know God’s will for us, that it’s going to be the opposite of what the world desires.  Unless we’re prepared to protect it, our day to day life will wear it down.

Any believer can start doing God’s will.  Only those who can endure to the end can finish what they started.  We need the preparation that can only come from the Gospel of Peace.

We sometimes get the idea that everything’s okay.  “When something comes up, I’ll do the right thing.”  NO!  You won’t unless you’ve prepared yourself for that evil day.

The fact is that if you don’t prepare beforehand, you won’t choose God’s will when you’re under extreme pressure.  The Lord has provided a way for us to walk in victory, but we have to put the armor on.

At one point in Paul’s ministry, he knew God’s will for him was to go to Jerusalem.  All along the way, prophecies came forth warning that he would be arrested.  The church people pleaded with him not to go.

Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Acts 21:13

We need that same preparation.  No matter what comes our way, we’re ready to follow through and complete God’s will for our lives.

Question: What’s the next step in God’s plan for your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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God’s Seed in You (Repost)

Our Supply in GodI’m taking a couple of weeks to be involved in some ministry events.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

In many of my posts, I talk about the relationship between the Word of God and the Scripture.  The Bible is the written Word of God.  But we also need to hear a Word from the Holy Spirit.  This is where the power of God intersects with our lives.

I want to write about how the Word of God relates to us.  The Bible teaches that we must correctly handle the Word of Truth.  In order to do that I must be studying the Scripture – the written record of God’s Word – so that I can handle the Word I receive from God today.

In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Acts 19:20

The Bible uses many terms in relation to the Word of God.  It uses language such as spread, increased, grew, reached and multiplied.  In the above verse, we’re told how.  The verse says in this way.  If you read through this nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts you’ll get a taste for the effects of the Word.

We see the gifts of tongues and prophecy being manifested.  There was boldness in preaching.  Handkerchiefs and aprons that touched Paul were taken to the sick and they were healed.  Demonic spirits were confronted and expelled.  There was widespread repentance such that a group of new believers burned the equivalent of $5,000,000 worth of satanic sorcery books.

That’s the way the Word of God is described as growing.  Literally, the above verse says that the Word became a force to be reckoned with.  The Word of God is alive and it grows.  That’s the aspect that I discussed in a series of posts.  For that original series, click here.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:23

We’ve been saved by the living Word of God.  That Word is a seed that’s growing inside of us.  It will never decay or diminish.  It’s there forever.

Somewhere along the line, somebody spoke God’s Word to you.  It doesn’t matter whether they used the Bible or not – you heard a Word from God that changed your life.

It might have been a Bible verse, a word of prophecy, or a statement of divine truth.  Either way, it grew inside of you, and eventually, you received Jesus Christ and were saved.

That’s how the Word of God starts its work in you.  The fact that you’ve established Christ as your Lord and Savior is proof that the Word has taken residence in you.  Now what we do with that seed is up to us.

Question: What was the Word of God that brought salvation into your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2019 in Faith, The Gospel, Word of God

 

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Too Far for the Sake of Relevance

I’m continuing to look at First Corinthians, chapter 15.  Paul is talking about the concept of resurrection.  He started by reminding them of his Gospel message.  This is, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he then appeared to many credible witnesses.

Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
1 Corinthians 15:11

This is the foundation of faith that the Corinthian church was established upon.  Unfortunately, they were now trying to become more acceptable to the society around them.  Belief in someone rising from the dead was a little far out.

Greek society prided themselves on their intellect and knowledge.  It’s a lot like where I live, in the Boston area, where there’s a college or university everywhere you look.

Because they wanted to be “relevant”, they downplayed the resurrection.  Sometimes even telling people they could become a Christian without believing in it.  They were probably well-meaning and though that once they came in the door, someday they’d “see the light.”

What does Paul think about this?

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
1 Corinthians 15:12-14

Paul is very clear.  There’s no salvation without the resurrection.  If God isn’t powerful enough to raise the dead, then what was the purpose of the cross?  What Christ did on the cross is meaningless without the resurrection.

More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.  But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:15-17

Changing the truth of God’s Word in order to make it more palatable to society only removes the very heart of the message.  It’s no longer the Gospel.

Many in our generation need to understand this truth.  The Scripture says what it says.  It will offend some people.  We can’t change that.

This being said, we can change the way we handle it.  We can be more loving and less judgmental.  When Jesus ministered, He found a way to show God’s love without compromising truth.

We need to take stock of our message.  Does it line up with Scripture?  Once you leave the clear path of truth, the doctrines of faith begin to fall like dominoes.

Paul shows these Christians the end result of a belief in no resurrection.

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
1 Corinthians 15:18-19

The bottom line is to never compromise the truth of the Word to win people to Christ.  You can change the method, but not the message.

Question: What was the message that you believed when you were saved?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2019 in Faith, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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The Gospel in a Nutshell

As we go through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul now begins speaking about a new subject.  It deals with the truth of the resurrection of Christ.

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2

Paul gives us a wonderful view of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  It’s not a matter of simply repeating a prayer and all of our troubles vanishing.  There’s more to it than that.

We have to understand that the Gospel Paul is talking about is more than just “believe in Jesus and you’ll be on your way to heaven.”  The sinner’s prayer is definitely our entrance into God’s salvation.  But the Gospel of Christ doesn’t end there.

According to Paul, these people heard what he preached, and then they responded.  Not only did they receive it, but they took their stand on it – they began to establish their lives on this Good News.

The key phrase in all of this is, by this Gospel you are saved.  Paul is talking to a group of established Christians.  This tells me that salvation is an ongoing process in their lives.

That’s because the Greek word for save is full of meaning.  It doesn’t just mean that we’re freed from our sin.  Scripturally, saved means to be delivered and safe from any harm or loss.  It includes healing, protection, provision, and a whole host of other things as well.

Then again, that’s why there’s an “if” in this passage.  The initial believing and confessing of Christ place us firmly into God’s kingdom.  But there’s more that the Lord wants for us.

Our salvation is the ongoing process of the grace of God renewing every aspect of our lives.  In order for this to happen, I have to hold firmly to the Word.  That means that I need to hold fast to it, memorize it, and retain it.

In short, I need to build myself up in the Word of God.  Otherwise, my faith will be too weak to allow God’s work to be manifest in my life.

I think that part of our problem in the modern church is our stubborn refusal to allow God to continue His work of change in our lives.  We’re happy that our sins were forgiven.  We look forward with joy to our home in Heaven.  But right now there are so many things that we want to do and experience in the world.  The thought of God disrupting those plans for His purpose doesn’t sit well with us.

We need to see change as the natural outgrowth of our walk with God.  His ongoing plan of salvation in us should never stagnate.  There’s always something new to look forward to.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
1 Corinthians 15:3-8

This is the Good News of Jesus Christ in a nutshell.  The Lord came to earth, died for us, was buried, and three days later He rose from the dead.  The resurrection was confirmed by hundreds of qualified witnesses.

Because of what Christ has done, our lives can be changed by the power of God.  Allow the Holy Spirit to continue the work.  Hold firmly to the Word of God that you’re receiving.

Question: How have you changed since bowing your knees to Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spirit Led Meetings

I’m continuing to study the gifts of prophecy and tongues in First Corinthians, chapter 14.  Paul is trying to get this church back on track with the proper usage of these powerful workings of the Spirit.

Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 14:22

This verse seems to confuse people.  The first definition of the word sign is a distinguishing mark.  For instance, circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Israel.  The second definition of a sign is an unusual occurrence beyond the course of nature.

The fact is that tongues get people’s attention.  It’s something beyond the realm of an unbeliever’s everyday life.

So what Paul’s saying in this verse, is that tongues are not unusual to believers (or at least they shouldn’t be).  It’s something that gets the attention of unbelievers.  Prophecy, speaking for God, is not that unusual for unbelievers.  They’ve heard moving speeches before.

When used together in a meeting, tongues will get their attention, and then the prophetic word will open their hearts.  Both are needed.  This generation is in desperate need of seeing the hand of God at work.

It’s time for God’s people to spend time praying in the spirit.  It’s not just a spiritual toy to take out when we want to feel happy.  It’s vital to our spiritual growth and the evangelism of our nation.

So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?  But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare.  So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
1 Corinthians 14:23-25

There is definitely a place for the usage of prayer in the spirit.  But it must be used carefully in church gatherings.

It’s more important that those who come to a meeting receive a Word from the Lord.  That’s especially true if there are unbelievers present, or even believers who don’t understand the usage of a prayer language.

I have a friend whose wife was a Christian and he wasn’t.  He refused to come to Christ.  He told her, “I’m not a bad person.  When I die, I’ll show God all the good things I’ve done and He’ll let me into Heaven.”

One night, his wife went off to church.  He decided to check the place out, without her knowing.  He snuck in and sat in the back of the church.

That night as the Pastor was giving the call for salvation he said, “And don’t think for one minute that you’re just going to show God all the good things you’ve done and He’ll let you into Heaven.  The only way is through the blood of Jesus.”

Talk about the secrets of your heart being laid bare!  Please understand that no amount of arguing or debating would have convinced him to turn to Christ.  But that night, one Word from God brought him to his knees in repentance.

We need the power of God to be present and active in our churches.  That only happens as God’s people spend quality time in the spirit.

Question: How have you seen a Word from God change a life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, The Gospel, Word of God

 

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Navigating the Grey Areas

We’re approaching the conclusion of Paul’s teaching on the grey areas of sin.  These are activities that the Bible doesn’t specifically talk about.

The apostle now gives some advice on how to handle these things.  The specific issue he’s dealing with is the eating of food that had been previously brought as a sacrifice to a pagan temple.

Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
1 Corinthians 10:25-26

God has placed His Holy Spirit within each of us as believers.  If the Bible is silent about it, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t activate our conscience, then don’t over-think it.  If it troubles your conscience, then keep away from it.

That’s for you as an individual.  There’s more advice once others are involved.

If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience.
1 Corinthians 10:27

If an unbeliever invites you to an activity, and your conscience isn’t troubled, then you’re free to go.  The fact is that we need to be cultivating healthy relationships with the unchurched.  How else will they be affected by the Gospel of Christ?

That was easy, but what about a mixed crowd of both believers and unbelievers?

But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sake – the other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours.  For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience?  If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
1 Corinthians 10:28-30

This is where it begins to get complicated.  I now have to take my mind off myself and think of the good of others.  I can’t just run rough-shod over another person’s conscience and proclaim, “I’m free in Christ to do what I want.”

We have to be sensitive to the maturity level of those around us.  We don’t want to be the cause of an offense that hinders their walk with God.

“Well, they just need to grow up!”

Try telling that to a three-year-old.  Growth takes time and nurturing.  Take your eyes off yourself, and be a blessing rather than a hindrance.

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.
1 Corinthians 10:31-33a

The bottom line is that it’s not about me, but God receiving the glory from my life.  I should be able to live with a little inconvenience in order for God’s kingdom to advance.  Our goal should be that the name of Christ is exalted.

Question: Why is sensitivity to the needs of others so important to God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Out of the Comfort Zone

How far are you willing to go out of your comfort zone in order to share the Gospel?  The Apostle Paul made some tough choices so that he could win the lost.  What about us?

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.
1 Corinthians 9:19-20

It all springs from having a servant’s attitude.  The Word of God is clear that we’re to walk in freedom.  But it’s how we handle that freedom that makes all the difference.

Paul chose to be a servant of the Gospel to everyone he meets.  In that way, he hopes to bring the message of salvation to those who are ready to accept it.  It’s a very hard road to walk.

Look at how the apostle describes it.

To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.  To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.
1 Corinthians 9:20

He starts by talking about his relationship to the religious folk.  These are the people who believe that God will only bless you if you maintain strict adherence to a code of conduct.

Paul admits that these religious rules and regulations have no power to bring you closer to God.  But in order to open up communication with this group, he must honor their customs while he’s with them.

I’ve seen those who have destroyed their witness because they’ve ridiculed the beliefs of others.  You may not agree with them, but everyone should be treated respectfully.

There’s another group that Paul reached that we have problems with.

To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law.
1 Corinthians 9:21

I believe that the word Paul used to describe this group is closer to our word, outlaw.  He tells us that to the outlaws he became like an outlaw in order to win them to Christ.  All the while he knew that he mustn’t break God’s law in Christ.

This is a tough group to reach.  I’m thinking bikers, gang members, and street people.  We’re not going to reach them dressed like we’re going to church.

I had a friend that I would see once in a while when I took the subway into Boston.  His hair was matted and uncombed.  His beard was long and straggly.  His clothes looked like they had been slept in for weeks.  He looked homeless.  Of course, the reason was that he had a ministry to the homeless in Boston.

To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.  I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.  I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
1 Corinthians 9:22-23

I think sometimes that we’re just too stubborn to try identifying with those around us.  We want everyone to see how spiritually strong we are.  I’m glad that Christ identified with us in our weakness.

If we truly want to be a participant in the work of the Gospel, then we need to get uncomfortable sometimes.  We need to forget who we are and see the need in those around us.  Only then will we see the power of God at work bringing people to Christ.

Question: How do you identify with those who are not like you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2019 in Ministry, Relationships, The Gospel

 

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