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Category Archives: Worship

Is a Clean Heart Enough?

We’re continuing our look at Mark’s Gospel.  Specifically, the last week before the cross.  Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Passover feast.

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there.  He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.
Mark 11:15-16

Obviously, Jesus was upset by what He saw going on in the Temple.  The courts were like a city marketplace.

The Law of Moses said that if you lived far away from Jerusalem, you could sell your offering animals at home.  Then, when you journey to Jerusalem for the feast, you could use that money to buy the animals on site.  God was making it easier for the Israelites to serve Him.

Then man gets involved.  The priests determined that you can’t use regular money to buy animals for sacrifice.  You have to use special Temple coins – hence the money changers.  But they sold these coins at a premium.

So if you wanted to give your full offering of animals for the sacrifice, it would cost you double what they were worth.  That’s the thievery that Jesus was talking about.  The Temple had become a place where greed and self-interest was the driving force.

Jesus showed the passion He had for the true worship of God.  There was no place for these attitudes in the courts of the Lord.  He tried to teach them the lessons that they should have already known.

And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?  But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”
Mark 11:17

It’s sad that many religious Christians only apply this by saying that they’ll never have a flea market or fair on church property.  That’s not the point.

In spite of our religious language, local churches are no longer God’s house.  We, as God’s people, are now the temple of the living God.  The question isn’t, “What are we allowing on church property?”  It’s about what I’m allowing into my life.

Please understand that my heart – the sanctuary – may be clean.  But what about the outer courts?  That’s what my body is involved in.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Psalms 100:4

The courts are where you prepare to worship.  It’s the outer part of our lives that we let the thieves do their work.

Sometimes we get so distracted by too many things in our schedule.  Then we have no time for worship.  We miss out on the blessings of fellowship with the Father.

Thanksgiving and praise are things that I have to make my flesh do.  I have to actually make the time for these pursuits.  Once I’ve entered into the place of praise, the courts, then I’m ready to pour my heart out to God.

Christ is passionate about you becoming a “house of prayer.”  Don’t let it get to the point where your “distracting tables” need to be overturned.   Spend the time needed in thanksgiving and praise so that you’re truly prepared to enter His presence with no distractions.

You’ll be glad that you did.

Question: How do outward distractions affect your inner peace with God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on May 21, 2018 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Four Common Worship Mistakes

Every weekend thousands of Christians around the world attend church.  They think that they’re worshipping God.  Unfortunately, in many cases, they’re doing just the opposite and God isn’t pleased with them.  Learn from their mistakes and offer true worship to the Lord.

I invite you to read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7, verses 1 through 20, which is the basis for this post. Here are the four worship mistakes commonly made by modern Christians.

Making sure the outside is cleaned up, and not the inside (Verse 14-15).  Most people get all washed and looking their best for a church service.  That’s just normal.  You want to look nice when you’re around others.

It’s far easier to hide the dirt that can accumulate on the inside.  As we live in and interact with the world, we can pick up thoughts and attitudes without ever knowing it.  Over the course of time, they can lead us off track in our Christian walk.

We need to continue in the repentance and forgiveness that only comes from time spent in the presence of Christ.  That’s where our true beauty should come from – a life that’s kept clean before God.

Saying all the right words, but not living them (Verse 6).  You may not want to hear this, but in every service, churches are attended by many liars.  How can I say that?  Think about the songs we sing.

“Lord, you are more precious than silver…Nothing I desire compares with you.”

Then, during the rest of the service, we’re thinking about what’s for dinner.  We sing passionately about how we would do anything for God or how deeply we want to know Him.  Yet, once we leave the church, we don’t think twice about it until next week.

In many cases we act like the fact that we’re singing the words, automatically makes it true.  To live a life of worship, our lives need to line up with our “Sunday personas”.

Preferring to follow a set of rules rather than cultivating a relationship with God (Verse 7-8).  Sometimes we get the idea that just because we don’t murder, cheat, steal, or do drugs, then we’re okay.  We read the Bible and pray for our needs every day because that’s what a Christian is supposed to do.

What about simply spending time in God’s presence because He’s God?  The Father wants us to get to know Him personally.  He wants to speak to our hearts and enjoy our fellowship.

Being a Christian isn’t just a choice to do good things.  It’s a living relationship with a holy God.  Worship is not a chore to complete.  We are to become worshippers.

Giving money in the offering rather than giving yourself to the Lord.  This is one of the biggest mistakes that we can make.  Thinking that we own everything except what we willingly give to God.

God is the Creator of Heaven and earth.  It’s all His.  It’s my responsibility to acknowledge that fact.  I am His.  My greatest act of worship is to willingly give myself to Him.  Only Christ is worthy to receive an offering like that.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
John 4:23

Don’t waste your life being a superficial believer.  Enter into a lifestyle of worship.  True worship is not a matter of what you do on Sundays, but who you are all week long.

Questions: What’s your definition of worship?  What worship issues have you had to deal with in your walk with God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2018 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church, Worship

 

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Focus Determines Attitude

What does your mind dwell on when it’s free to wander?  You need to realize that the things you focus your attention on go into your heart, and eventually, if not taken care of, will come out in your actions.

We’re now getting to the concluding thoughts in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.  There are some simple truths that we all need to follow.  No matter what our calling, these are all a part of God’s will for us.

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:15-18

The first is to treat others correctly.  Our human nature wants to retaliate when we’re wronged.  But that’s not the way of the Spirit.

The Greek language of this verse says to watch or stare at so that nobody pays back wrong for wrong.  It’s all about what you focus on.  If you stare at and rehearse what’s been done to you, then you’ll eventually try to “even the score”.

The problem with this is that it doesn’t solve anything.  The retaliation will simply get passed back and forth like a bad potato.  It’s God’s will for us to bring peace into these types of situations.  Only then will people notice that there’s a different Spirit in us than what’s normally in the world.

We’re also encouraged to always be joyful.  It’s a word that simply means to be glad.  Again, it’s all about what you focus your attention on.

There are those who say that they can’t be cheerful because they’ve had such a hard life.  We need to realize that very few people get through life with no pain.  Those who are miserable about their lives are focusing on the struggle.

Please understand, you may have had a hard life.  But the key word is LIFE.  You’re alive.  And in Christ, you have the hope of a great future.  Scripture is very clear that in Christ our past never determines our future – no matter how bad it looks.  You need to be dwelling upon God’s Word, His promises to you, and His ability fulfill His plan in you.

The next is to pray continually.  Paul is actually telling us to worship uninterrupted.  I think that this is one of the most important parts of being cheerful.

Paul doesn’t mean for us to continually be asking God for things.  That’s not the spirit of worshipful prayer.  He’s talking about being conscious of the fact that the Holy Spirit is constantly with us.

It’s like being with a close friend.  In a close relationship, nobody dominates the conversation.  And sometimes you don’t need to talk at all, you’re just glad that you’re experiencing something together.  That’s what true, uninterrupted worship is all about.

Finally, we’re to always be thankful.  Remember, we don’t have to thank God FOR everything, but IN everything there’s always something to be thankful for.  It might be as simple as thanking God for His presence with you.  If we focus on finding something to be thankful about, we’ll have a much better attitude about our situation.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9

It’s clear from Scripture that what we dwell on will determine our attitude, and what we receive from life.

Question: How has your thought life affected your attitude – both good and bad?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2017 in Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Jealous God

I believe that much of the church doesn’t treat the Holy Spirit as it should. We don’t fully understand the blessing we’ve been given. We have the Spirit of the living God residing in us.

We learn about who the Holy Spirit is through Scripture. Who wrote the Bible? Obviously THE HOLY SPIRIT! The Lord breathed His Word through individuals to bring us the Scripture.

I asked myself a question. What’s the first thing that the Holy Spirit says about Himself? After all, first impressions are the most important.

As I’ve said in this series, James was the first New Testament book to be written. This next verse is the first reference which speaks about the Holy Spirit.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?
James 4:4-5

We know that God the Holy Spirit wants to be your friend. But it’s interesting to see that the first thing He reveals about Himself is that you can’t be both His friend and the world’s friend.

Understand this – you can have friends in the world. But the Spirit of God doesn’t want you to be a friend of the world system. We can’t be chasing after the same things that the world does.

The Scripture above literally says that the Holy Spirit is intensely jealous. This is a destructive jealousy to the point where He actively seeks to destroy whatever would try to steal the heart of those He loves.

He knows that you love Him. He knows the plans He has for you. He wants to bring you prosperity and health. He has a hope and a future destiny for you.

But at the same time He sees someone trying to steal your heart. Someone who has plans to ruin your life. Someone with a desire to steal, kill, and destroy.

My question is; if that’s the first thing He says about Himself, how important is it to Him? Unfortunately, I believe that many of us have lost this sense of the Lord’s jealousy.

Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
Exodus 34:14

In this section of Scripture God is giving Israel the Law through Moses. As I read it I was taken by surprise to find out that His name is Jealous.

I’ve heard a lot of teachings about the names of God. He’s Jehovah-Rapha, the Healing God. He’s Jehovah-Tsidkinnu, God our Righteousness. All of these names don’t even scratch the surface.

But in all of these teachings that I’ve heard about the names of God I was never told about El Qanaa. The Jealous God. (Pronounced like El Kanaw)

For purposes of comparison I started counting. Jehovah Jireh, the God who Provides, is only used 1 time in Scripture. Abraham was inspired to use this name for God when He provided a ram for sacrifice in place of his son.

In contrast, God calls Himself El Qanaa 7 times in the Old Testament. I think this is a part of God’s character that shouldn’t be ignored.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30

This verse literally says do not make the Holy Spirit sad, mournful. I think we lose sight of the fact that He’s a person with feelings. How many times do we make Him feel rejected or ignored?

There’s a work that the Holy Spirit wants to accomplish in us. When we tell Him, “Not now. Come back later”, that makes Him sad. He knows the destiny He’s leading us to. We need an increased sensitivity to the Holy Spirit working within us.

Question: What has the Holy Spirit been working in you lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2017 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Jump in the River

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Worship – The Place of Change

LightningI’ve been posting about the worship that takes place in the throne room of God. We enter that place as we pray in the spirit.

From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
Revelation 4:5

Here is another picture of what happens before the throne of God. We need to understand that the term seven spirits of God could also be translated as the seven-fold spirit of God. I believe that’s referring to the Holy Spirit.

Also around the throne we see flashes of lightning. We see this happening throughout the Bible when God’s throne is mentioned. Lightning, loud noises, and thunder. But when you read Scripture there are only certain times when this happens.

We see this taking place when God changes something. In Revelation, chapter 8, we see the prayers of the saints offered like incense before God. Then, as they were being offered to God, the following takes place.

Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
Revelation 8:5

What was taking place in Heaven started happening on earth. That’s because worship is a place of change. It’s in His presence that our lives are changed.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16

The Apostle Paul understood this. When he wrote this, Paul was talking about himself and his ministry team. He knew that in the place of worship there could be daily change happening.

Just think about it; we can come into God’s presence for daily renewal.

We try so hard to be good. We fail. Then we keep trying to be better. We need to learn the truth of that old chorus…

“I am changed in the presence of an awesome God.”

Enter into God’s throne room through prayer in the spirit. Everything we need is there. It’s in His awesome presence that we find unity, peace, and a changed life.

Question: How has your life been changed in God’s presence?

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© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Worship Calms the Storm

ReflectionIn my last post I talked about being transported before God’s throne as we worship Him. That’s a wonderful place to be. That’s why we should all be worshippers. Look at where the Spirit brings us to.

Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
Revelation 4:6

In the book of Revelation and throughout the Bible, the symbolism of the sea speaks of nations. These are the saints of all nationalities worshipping Christ before His throne. But this sea is as calm as glass.

That’s because the place of worship is a place of peace. James talked about the negative reality of this truth.

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
James 1:6

Doubt and unbelief puts us in a troubled sea of confusion. That’s not God’s will for us. The Lord wants to calm our sea. How does that happen?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

The word prayer in this verse literally means to draw near. When anxiety, worry, and confusion try to stir up our “ocean”; there’s only one remedy. We must take the time to draw near to God. The next verse tells us that the results are supernatural.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

This peace is ABOVE your understanding. When we come near to God in worship the things that should be causing anxiety melt away in God’s presence. I’m reminded of a chorus we used to sing many years ago.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full on His wonderful face,
And the things on earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

That’s the place of worship. But we have to set aside the time for this. That’s usually our problem. We have plenty of time to wallow in confusion and doubt. But the very thing that will calm the storm just doesn’t fit into our schedule.

We need to get our priorities straight. I find that I’m much more productive when I’m operating in the peace of God. I think you will too.

Draw near to God with the things you’re anxious about. Let the place of worship bring peace to your storm.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit brought peace into your life in the past?

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©Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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