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All for Christ

As we continue through First Corinthians, Paul is teaching the church about human wisdom versus that which is from God.  This is because they had developed factions based upon their favorite teachers.  Paul lets them know that this is a result of worldly thinking.

So then, no more boasting about men!  All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future — all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
1 Corinthians 3:21-23

Paul brings us to the bottom line of the discussion.  If you’re truly operating in the wisdom of God, then you will not be boasting about which teacher you like the best.

That’s because we need a multitude of teachers in order to understand the full counsel of God.  It takes a wide variety of personalities, styles, and ministries in order to bring the church to where it should be.

I’d like to think that my teaching has a lot to offer the body of Christ.  However, if I’m the only one you’re listening to, then you have a very poor and imbalanced spiritual diet.

The apostle explains that everyone God places before you has a role to play in your life and development.  They are yours.  They’re a gift from God to help you grow.

It’s not up to us to decide who we want to sit under.  To reject someone that God has sent is to reject the work of the Holy Spirit in you.  I’ve received some great blessings from people who seemed, to me, to be the least qualified.

But Paul doesn’t stop there.  He goes on to lay a foundation for some incredible spiritual truths.  It’s not just teachers that are ours, but other things as well.

We are told in this passage that the present world system is ours.  That’s an important concept to understand.  We’re members of a kingdom that has greater authority than the kingdom of this world.

As believers, we need to walk in this knowledge.  We shouldn’t be trying to live according to the world’s expectations.  Our life is on a higher level.  If we truly understood this, we wouldn’t spend our time trying to get society’s acceptance.

Another thing that’s ours is life and death.  This truth should make us constantly sensitive to God’s plan in us.

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Proverbs 18:21

The Holy Spirit wants us to produce fruit for the kingdom of God.  That involves both the speaking of life and death.  Yes, you heard me correctly; sometimes we need to speak death over things.  It’s clear from reading the book of Acts that the apostles understood and walked in this.

As an example, we had a large New Age school that operated in our town.  It was a hotbed of occultic activity.  During our prayer meetings, we would curse it (not the people, but the organization).

After a few years of this, it was closed.  I believe that this was a direct result of God’s people taking authority over the enemy’s kingdom.

We’re also told that the present and the future are ours.  Where we find ourselves now as well as where we’re headed is in our control.  It all has to do with our submission to the work of God’s Spirit within us.

I can’t complain about where I’m at.  It’s my own choices that brought me here.  It’s by my own choices that I can move on to new levels in Christ.

The most important point of this is that through us, it all belongs to God.  If we lay hold of these things, even though the enemy rules this present world, God is free to move by His Spirit.  As we allow the Lord to work through us, we can see changes in our sphere of influence.

We must be the catalyst of change that God’s called us to be.

Question: How is God calling you to affect your surroundings?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on February 1, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Teachers in Church

In my last post, I mentioned that my anointing is that of a teacher in the body of Christ.  That got me thinking about our view of teaching in the church of today.  I want to take a couple of posts to talk about this.

I believe that a lot of problems we face are directly tied to what we’re being taught.  But let’s start at the beginning.  We really need to understand the importance of teaching from God’s perspective.

As I’ve stated many times in this blog, the form of the New Testament that we use now is not in the order it was given to the church.  Over the years it has been arranged by topics rather than the original order.

While that may make it easier to find certain passages, we sometimes miss out on some important warnings.  For instance, James was the first book to be written, but because it’s placed close to the end, it doesn’t get a lot of priority.

However, when it comes to teaching in the church, James should be the first book we think of.  In its pages, we find the first thing the Holy Spirit revealed about teachers in the body of Christ.  What do you think that is?

Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
James 3:1

Please pay careful attention to the voice of the Spirit.  The first thing He wants you to know about the ministry of a teacher is – that position comes with a stricter judgment.

That’s because the place of a teacher is much more important than most people realize.  Yet in our present church culture, we’ll let anyone teach.  We need so many for Sunday School, Children’s Church, Teens, and Adult classes.

“Everything you need has already been done.  All you have to do is to study the lesson plan at home, and talk about it in class.”

I’m sorry if I’m stereotyping, but here’s what I observe in our present church ministries.  Most teaching is simply passing on what we’ve read or heard from someone else.  We use books, sermons, online tools, and lessons that give us the messages that we, in turn, pass on to those we’re teaching.

That was actually the state of teaching in Israel when Christ came on the scene.  He had a different method.  The Lord only taught those things that He heard from the Father.  What was the response?

When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
Matthew 7:28-29

The difference was obvious.  He wasn’t simply parroting what someone else was teaching.  He was bringing them a Word from the Father.

That’s where we need to get to in the church today.  We must raise up teachers who walk in the anointing the Holy Spirit.

In my next post, I’ll continue with this important truth.

Question: How should the warning of James work in the life of modern teachers?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2018 in Anointing, Leadership, Ministry, Word of God

 

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Authority and Sonship (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  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.

One of the most important truths in Scripture is the principle of Sonship. We’ve been given this position by adoption into the family of God.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Luke 11:9-10

I’ve heard many people preach on this verse. For the most part, we take it out of context and miss what it’s really saying. Indeed, we’re told that we have the power to receive answered prayers, to find that which is hidden, and to open doors that seem impenetrable.

But we must ask; what is this authority based upon? If we would just read the next few verses, we’d see that Jesus gives us the guidelines for this type of power.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:11-13

It’s obvious that Jesus is talking about the authority of Sonship in this passage. He tells us that we’re asking for the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit that then confers upon us the Spirit of Sonship. Once that’s in place, and I’m walking as a mature son, then I’m free to ask, seek, and knock as led by the Spirit of God.

In many cases, our trouble is that we don’t ask for the Spirit. We want to do it our way. We want what our earthly desires are prompting us to seek for. Then we end up begging God for a snake or a scorpion. It’s no wonder why we don’t get most of what we pray for.

The simple fact is that true authority resides in the correct use of mature sonship. There was another time in Jesus’ ministry when He was talking about being a disciple. He said that if you were truly His disciple, then the truth would set you free.

The religious community – those who continued to rely upon the power of the law – were outraged. “We are sons of Abraham, and have never been a slave to anyone,” they replied.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 8:34-36

I’m sure that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law had no clue what the Lord was talking about when He said this. To us, however, it should be rich in meaning. The words of Christ tell me that Sonship is a position of freedom.

We’ve been set free because of the authority of Christ. We are no longer under the bondage of sin, the world or the devil. What we need is the maturity to walk in it.

Question: What does it mean to be free in Christ?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2018 in Power of God, Prayer, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Asking the Wrong Questions

Did you know that the questions you ask tell a lot about who you are?  It can bring out your motives and prejudices.

As we continue to look at the life of Christ in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus now arrives back at His hometown of Nazareth.

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.  When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles!  Isn’t this the carpenter?  Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon?  Aren’t his sisters here with us?”  And they took offense at him.
Mark 6:1-3

Here Jesus is preaching in the synagogue He grew up in.  They were friends and family who probably knew Him His whole life.  They asked Him to preach on the Sabbath, so the Lord agreed.

Just like in other places, when He spoke, the power and authority of the Spirit were evident.  There was a life-changing quality in what He was speaking.

Unfortunately, people don’t want to change.  Even more so, they don’t want to admit that they need to change.  The result was that their emotional walls started to come up.

They were truly amazed at what Jesus was teaching.  But they had to justify why they didn’t receive it.

Notice what they do.  They focus on the man, not the Word.

“Where did this man get these things?”

After all, He’s one of us, and we don’t know these things.  They had to explain away the Lord’s teaching.

“I know His family.”

“I hired Him and His father to build my house.”

“Why does He think He’s so special all of a sudden?”

As they started thinking along this path, they were offended.  That’s an interesting word.  In the Greek, it’s a word picture of a trap-stick to catch small animals like birds.

This kind of thinking; looking at the person and not the message, is a trap that many fall into.  Many times we write preachers off because we don’t like their style of preaching or ministry.  But there’s a consequence to doing this.

Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”  He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.  And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mark 6:4-6a

In my last post, I talked about the importance of hearing the Word in divine healing.  Because of their familiarity with Jesus, they rejected His Word.  As a result, not many people were miraculously touched by the power of God.

It’s all about the Word.  That’s the difference between the people of Nazareth and Capernaum.

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.  The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.
Mark 1:21-22

It’s the Word itself that should amaze us.  Let’s learn this lesson.  Don’t look at the style of the preacher, but at the power and authority of the Holy Spirit using him.

Question:  When have you had to overlook a person in order to receive a message God had for you?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, Word of God

 

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The Gospel of Power

As we continue our look at the Gospel of Mark, I want to pick up on the theme that Jesus traveled throughout Israel proclaiming the Gospel, the Good News, of the kingdom of God.  The first place we’re specifically told about is a village called Capernaum.

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.  The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.  Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are — the Holy One of God!”

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly.  “Come out of him!”  The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this?  A new teaching — and with authority!  He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.”  News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
Mark 1:21-28

The first thing I see is the amazement of the people.  There was something about how Jesus taught that was different from everyone else.

The other teachers they listened to were mostly scribes, who had no teaching authority of their own.  They would refer back to the writings of famous Rabbis of the past.  They would give long quotes adding no insight of their own.

That’s a far cry from hearing a teaching from the living Word of God.  The Lord didn’t need to fall back on what somebody else said.  He knew exactly what the desired result was when He inspired the Scripture.

Consequently, when they listened to Christ, their hearts were changed.  They understood that they were hearing from the mind of God Himself.

There was, however, an even greater demonstration of the authority in His words.  A man who was under demonic possession was delivered simply by the words that Jesus spoke.  No hype, no theatrics, just, “Be quiet and come out of him!”

It was visibly confirmed that the Gospel that Jesus preached was the true Word of God.  Please don’t get the idea that this was just something for the Lord to do.  This is what the Holy Spirit wants for all who preach and teach.  Listen to how Paul describes it.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18-19

I don’t believe that the Gospel – the Good News of Christ – can be fully proclaimed without the confirmation of signs, miracles, and healings.  This is how the early church grew.  It’s what the world around us needs to see.

But that requires us to spend time with the Holy Spirit; hearing His voice.  Then, we may walk in the authority that only comes from being in the presence of God.  This is where the Father is leading us in this generation.

Question: Why does a demonstration of power increase the effectiveness of the Gospel?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2017 in Ministry, Power of God, Revival, The Gospel

 

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The Spirit-Fruit: Gentleness

In today’s post, I’ll be talking about the fruit of gentleness as found in Galatians 5:23.   Many people associate gentleness with weakness.  In actuality, just the opposite is true.  According to Scripture, it’s impossible to be gentle if you’re weak.  You must be walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t think anyone would accuse Jesus of being weak.  He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Yet this is what it says about Him as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey…

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'”
Matthew 21:4-5

The question is; was that the best the Lord could come up with to ride into Jerusalem?  If it was…if all He could come up with was a donkey, then He was pretty weak.  The fact is that Jesus had the power to break through the heavens, coming down from the clouds on a white stallion.

Even though the Lord has great power, He chose not to use it on that occasion.  This is the true spirit of gentleness.  Look at how it operated in the Apostle Paul’s life.

There were some people in the Corinthian church who were opposing Paul’s authority.  He gave them an interesting choice in his letter to them.

What do you prefer?  Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?
1 Corinthians 4:21

There would be no reason for Paul to threaten them with the “whip” of apostolic authority if he didn’t have any.  The truth is that the apostle had the authority needed to put them in their place.  Yet, his desire was to not have to use it.

So if we were to define gentleness according to its use in Scripture, I’d say that it’s placing my power, under God’s control.

This is the hardest thing to do sometimes.  That’s especially true when I know that I’m in the right.  I want to bring the full weight of my scriptural authority down on their heads.  Unfortunately, that’s usually not the best idea.  I need to be led by the Holy Spirit in my responses to people.

This is why I must spend time in the spirit.  I need to be able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in all the situations I’m going through.  This is true for all church leaders.

Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:25-26

That’s because the goal is not to prove that I’m right or that you’re wrong.  The ultimate objective is a life that is turned around for God’s glory.  Many times, by our arrogance, we win the battle, yet lose the war for the hearts of people.

We may have proved our case, but they were never set free from the devil’s bondage.  True gentleness allows for the working of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives.  So we need to listen and obey His voice, even when our tendency is to defend ourselves.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
Galatians 6:1

This teaching is found throughout the Scriptures.  Gentleness brings restoration.  When you cultivate the spirit of gentleness, you’re participating in drawing someone back to Christ.  Spend time with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to produce this fruit in you.

Question: What was a recent time that you saw God’s gentleness operating through you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our Declaration of Independence

I’m now going to begin posting from the third of the foundational books of the New Testament – Galatians.  It was written by Paul at the same time and place that he wrote 1 Thessalonians (Click here for review).

Just to remind you; James was written as a Christian primer for new believers and 1 Thessalonians was an encouragement to a new church.  Now, with Galatians, we’ll see how Paul handles a long-standing church that was beginning to fall into legalism.

Many call the book of Galatians our spiritual Declaration of Independence.  In it, Paul lays out the true relationship between the Law of Moses and God’s will for the church.  There are many believers who fail to recognize the total package that Christ purchased for us on the cross.

It’s the principles in this letter that sets Christianity apart from all other religions.  We’re not just a sect of Judaism.  Christ is doing a whole new thing in the church.

Paul, an apostle — sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia…
Galatians 1:1-2

This opening line is the key to understanding Paul’s mission and authority.  Becoming an apostle was not his idea.  It wasn’t something he studied and trained for.  He had no MDiv.  He never stood before a denominational ordination committee.

Think about how far we’ve fallen from those days.  In many circles, becoming a pastor or preacher is simply a career choice based on personal preference.  You go to school, get a degree, and then get ordained.  Next, you candidate at a church for the position of pastor, they vote, and you’re elected.

Yes, I realize that a great number of ministers are there because of the clear call of God on their lives and I’m one of them.  But for too many, it’s just a choice they made to pursue a career that they liked the sound of.

Please understand that the ministry to the body of Christ is not something to enter into lightly.  It’s a spiritual battleground that can destroy you if you’re not prepared.  Each year, hundreds of pastors and leaders drop out of the ministry because of this fact.  I personally have had many minister friends who are now selling cars or insurance because they couldn’t handle the pressures or demands.

When we read Paul’s letters, we’re not just reading the suggestions of an intelligent teacher.  We’re hearing God’s heartbeat for the church.  This is something Paul learned by spending years at the feet of the Holy Spirit – listening and obeying what he heard.

The book of Galatians is saturated with the Word of freedom to the church.  Serving Christ was never meant to be about following a set of rules.  God never intended us to figure it out on our own.  The Holy Spirit is our Guide to lead us into His truth.

Hopefully, as we go through this study of Galatians you’ll find a spiritual freedom that you never knew existed.  It’s my prayer that it will cause you to rise to a new level of faith and power in Christ.

Question: What does spiritual freedom mean to you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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