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Blessed to be a Blessing

Come to JesusWhat does it mean to be a blessing? We use the word a lot, but do we really understand it? I want to take a couple of posts to talk about our ability to bless others.

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
Hebrews 11:20

Mature believers don’t just seek to be blessed, but to be a blessing. It’s a choice that has to be made. It’s by faith that we choose to be a blessing to others.

We use the word bless very loosely in the body of Christ.

“God blessed me with a parking space.”

We seem to think that anything good that happens is a blessing. That’s the modern church definition. But when you read the Bible, that thought will hide the truth about the blessing.

There are two opposites in Scripture, and we need to understand both of them. I’m talking about blessing and cursing.

Let’s start with blessing. What exactly does the word bless mean. In the Old Testament it’s the Hebrew word Barak. It means to kneel, which emphasizes the receiving aspect. In the New Testament, the Greek word Eulogeo is used. It means a well spoken word; and relates to the giving of a blessing.

One thing that we have to realize is that the blessing is always spoken. The actual word, bless, means to endue with power for success. That’s a tall order – to be a blessing to someone. How can I do that?

In Scripture we’re told to do everything in the Name of Jesus. It’s in His powerful name that we have what we need to bless others.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
Psalm 118:26

If you have the name of the Lord, then you’re already blessed. It’s an event that has taken place when you made Christ the Lord of your life.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3

The good news is that I’m not looking for God’s blessing. According this verse, He has already blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heaven in Christ.

We know Scripture tells us that we can do all things through Christ. We have to remember this. We’ll never get that done on our own. We are blessed in order that we might be a blessing to others.

Getting back to what I said above. Now that we know what a blessing is, we can understand it better. A good parking space is not a blessing – it’s actually the result of the blessing that’s upon our lives.

This is the basis for blessing others. I can only bless those around me if I know that I am truly blessed. It takes blessed people to bless people.

Question: How has the blessing of God been evident in your life lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

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Posted by on November 16, 2016 in Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Hiking and Praying

BackpackAs I said in my last post, I’m about to leave for two weeks of hiking and praying. I always find these times refreshing. I get to be alone with the Lord for hours praying and listening for His voice.

The Lord spent 40 days alone in the wilderness. This helped to prepare Him for ministry. I’m looking forward to what Holy Spirit will work in me during this time.

Actually this type of praying in the outdoors was a large part of Jesus’ ministry. Over and over again we read of the Lord having this “alone time” with the Father.

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.
Matthew 14:23

I think that every believer should experience this blessing. No, you don’t have to go off into the woods for a week. You can find a quiet place near your home where you can spend even an hour or two outdoors with the Lord.

I can tell you this; it’s a totally different experience than praying in your house or office. Be prepared to hear from God in a way that you never have before.

As I’m preparing to leave, I feel the Lord impressing me to do something a bit different for the posts while I’m away. My hope is that it will be a blessing to you.

I realize that this blog is not very far reaching at this point. But there have been a few of my posts that seemed to touch a lot of people. So for the two weeks that I’m away, I’m going to repost the 6 most read posts of mine since I’ve started.

Many of those following this blog were not here for those early days. They’ll probably be new to most of those now following me. The Apostle Peter put it this way.

So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body…
2 Peter 1:12-13

It’s good to be reminded of the truths that we’ve heard in the past. Who knows, even if you read them the first time they were posted, you might get something new from them in your present walk with the Lord.

One more thing; please keep me in your prayers as I take this time to seek God. And please be patient with me if I take a while in responding to comments. Sometimes the cell phone reception is spotty on the trails.

Question: Do you have any interesting experiences you’ve had outdoors with the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Two Crosses

 

CrossesI’m posting about embracing the cross of Christ. We have to follow the same path Jesus followed. If I work at saving myself, I’ll find myself on the path of ruin and loss. If, instead, I lose my life for the Lord’s pattern, then my destination has changed to that of increase and growth. That’s the path of the cross.

We need to follow Christ to the cross even though it’s offensive to us and against our very nature.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”
Matthew 27:39-40

“Save yourself – come down from the cross!”

This is the part of our human nature that we need to contradict. This is being an adversary of the cross of Christ.

Many believers try, by their valiant efforts, to save themselves and bring about God’s plan in their own power. The result is that many in the church today are floundering around in mediocrity.

Paul was having the same problem in his day. There were some who were teaching that you needed to come under the law in order to be saved. What they taught was that Christ forgives your sin, but the law makes you acceptable to God.

Paul had an answer for these people that we need to take to heart in this generation.

Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Galatians 6:12

If our focus is on the outward, then we’ll avoid the cross at all cost. But we still want God’s grace to work in our lives. At that point our mind tells us that there must be something we can do to obtain God’s blessing. So we put ourselves under all kinds of rules and regulations in order to earn the grace of God.

Here’s why that approach doesn’t work. Under the law, you can live for yourself by invoking a string of technicalities. It’s the same thing the Pharisees of Jesus’ day would do. You simply tell yourself, “I’m okay. I go to church, read the Bible, and live a good life.”

In reality, these people want to avoid the fear of the cross. The word persecuted in the above verse comes from a root word that means to run away or retreat. That tells me that that these individuals are cowards who have decided not to embrace the cross. Instead of running from it, we must live in its shadow.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14

Instead of trying to avoid being worldly by our own will power, we must embrace the cross. Think about what Paul is saying here. The world is nailed to a cross. I’m nail to another. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get over to that other cross. Neither can the world get to me.

That’s what we do to our flesh by invoking the power of the cross in our lives. When we nail our flesh to the cross there’s a power that’s released to work God’s righteousness in us. It’s not a struggle to keep pure, but reliance upon the Holy Spirit in us.

This is the path to all that God has for you. I’m talking about healings, increase, miracles and the provision of God. It’s everything you need for life and godliness.

It will only come in its fullness as we embrace the pattern laid down by the Lord. We must follow the path of the cross. Allow the Lord to work His pattern of salvation in us. It’s the way to freedom in Him.

Question: What would the church look like if we all embraced the path of the cross?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2015 in Legalism, Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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Let Thanksgiving do its Work

GrapesI’m taking a couple of posts to talk about Thanksgiving from Psalm 118. In my last post I talked about how Christ has opened the gates of righteousness. Through thanksgiving, we enter those gates into the throne room of God.

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Today is a great day to praise the Lord. God made this day – that we can enter His righteousness. This word rejoice literally means to jump, dance, and spin around under the influence of a violent emotion. God deserves the best of our praise.

In the original Hebrew this verse reads and in this rejoicing we will brighten up and be made glad. So, in reality, you don’t have to feel good to start with. Being thankful changes your emotions. David understood this truth.

These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go with the multitude, leading the procession to the house of God, with shouts of joy and thanksgiving among the festive throng. Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:4-5

This is a lesson we all need to learn. As I thank and praise the Lord, I begin to feel good emotionally. Then, when our emotions change, our whole outlook on life changes for the better.

O LORD, save us; O LORD, grant us success. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
Psalm 118:25-26

When we thank God for His work in us we’re actually admitting that we needed His salvation. Without Him we can do nothing. He is our strength and our success.

When I’m thankful – meditating on the good things of God – that joy gives me strength to move forward. So it’s my thankfulness that makes me strong. That’s why it’s such an important part in the life of a believer.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
Psalm 118:26

We’re supremely blessed in that Name above all names that Christ has given to us. In the name of Jesus we have all that we need for life and godliness. We have hope, healing, victory, peace, and salvation. That’s where the place of blessing is – in His name.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

My prayer for you is that you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday this year. But more than that, I pray that you can live a life of thankfulness before God.

Question: What are you specifically thankful for that God has done in you this year?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2014 in Encouragement, Prayer

 

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How to Enter the Place of Blessing

MountainI’ve been posting about how we struggle against God’s will sometimes. Surrendering to the Lord is really the only option. That’s the place of blessing.

So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.
Genesis 32:30-31

Peniel – it’s a place of blessing, yet a place of struggling. Peniel means, “face of God.”

We use that term lightly. We say, “I’m going to seek the face of God.” What we mean is that we’re going to pray. It should be obvious by now that the struggle comes not by prayer alone, but when we find ourselves before God’s face.

Suddenly our life comes into sharp contrast with the life of Christ. We see how far we’ve fallen short of God’s standard. We hear the Spirit of God calling us to change. We must count the cost. Is God’s destiny for my life worth the effort it will take to lay hold of it?

No one has yet been disappointed by his or her destiny in God. You won’t be the first. Commit to the change. Set your face to the vision God has given you.

The verse says that after that day, Jacob always walked with a limp. His life had an evidence of the change he underwent. The changes you go through in your walk with Christ should be just as plain.

Sometimes our decision to do God’s will is the greatest struggle of our lives. Usually it’s because of the good things that we have to lay down in order to follow God’s plan. More often than not, we have to overcome ourselves.

The writer of the book of Hebrews puts it this way…

Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience.
Hebrews 4:11

In talking about entering God’s rest, he tells us that it will require some effort – a struggle. This is because our flesh fights against entering that place of reliance upon the Holy Spirit. In the natural, we want to take the credit for the blessings we enjoy.

In reality, we must do what it takes to put down the old man, and pick up God’s will and plan for our lives. That’s usually where the biggest struggle comes into play. But if we’ll overcome ourselves, then we find that we’re in the place of rest and blessing in the Holy Spirit.

Really seek God’s face today. Seek His life-changing power. Be prepared to give your all in exchange for His blessing.

Question: What’s your biggest struggle right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2014 in Power of God, Prayer

 

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Know When to Give Up

SunriseIn my last post I talked about the times we find ourselves wrestling against God’s plan for us. We’re looking at Jacob as an example of this.

Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”
But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”
Genesis 32:26

No, God wasn’t getting tired. No, God wasn’t going to turn into a pumpkin when the sun came up. Why then did He impose a time limit? Purely and simply out of His love for Jacob. God knew that having fought all night, Jacob was getting to the end of his strength.

The Bible teaches elsewhere that God will not allow our struggles to go beyond our ability to endure. This is how God worked with Jacob. He made Jacob fight to the end of His strength. Up to this point, Jacob always found the easy way out of his troubles.

The scheme, the bribe, the fixed fight, whatever it took to win without breaking a sweat – that’s who Jacob was. God, however, knew he was better than that. He was created to father a nation. Through this experience God taught Jacob that he was able to overcome by his inner strength and determination alone, without all the scheming.

God wants to do that with us as well. He’ll allow us to get to the end of our strength so that we’ll cry out to Him. Don’t drop out of your fight too quickly. Make the determination to lay hold of the prize God has called you to obtain.

The man asked him, “What is your name?”
“Jacob,” he answered.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.”
Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.”
But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there.
Genesis 32:27-29

You would think that because he wrestled with God, Jacob would get in trouble. Nothing could be further from the truth. God doesn’t care if you struggle with Him as long as you learn the lesson He’s trying to teach you.

Up to this point in his life, Jacob had been trying to buy, fight, and steal his way to the blessing of God. Now he was to learn that the only way to obtain it is by freely receiving it from the Lord’s own hand.

He spent his life fighting God and man. Now God tells him that he has overcome. Overcome what? He has finally overcome himself. He now has the control to take his life and lay it at the feet of the Lord.

How do we know this? God gives him a new name – Israel – that means, “conquered by God.”

Perhaps you’ve been struggling in your walk with the Lord. Maybe there is an area in your life you’ve been refusing to turn over to God.

It’s time for you to give up and receive the blessing God’s been waiting to give you. Today, allow yourself to be overcome by God.

Questions: Are there areas, right now, where you’re struggling against God? What will it take for you to give up?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Power of God, Prayer

 

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The Walk of Maturity

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the final post about the stages of spiritual growth. In my last post I talked about the frustration of an immature believer wanting a quick, easy way to the blessings of maturity.

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.
Galatians 4:1-3

This is a truth that many have missed. Our position in Christ is not enough for us to experience the manifestation of His power. If you’re a spiritual child, you have the position of righteousness and holiness. But you’re still in slavery to the principles of the world.

Spiritually, you own everything that Christ has purchased for you on the cross. But practically speaking, you’re living out your life never experiencing the reality of it because you’re a child. We have to come to the realization that position only gets you into the presence of God. When it comes to the power of God, you need the freedom and authority of adulthood.

As spiritual children, we’re still under the supervision – literally the guardianship and training –of the law. I think you’ll be surprised by this aspect of childhood.

In the Faith Movement, we were taught the importance of trusting the Word of God. As a result, we learned that the promises of God could be embraced and applied to our lives. This was when we started to submit to the guardianship of the law of God.

We learned how to follow the requirements of the promises. For instance – if I tithe, then God will open up the windows of heaven and pour out a financial blessing upon me. Make no mistake about it. Even though this was a fundamental part of our growth process, it was still a part of our childhood. This is how children are trained to obey.

“If you’ll take out the trash every week, I’ll give you an allowance.”

“If you’ll tithe, I’ll open up the windows of heaven for you.”

Living on the level of “if you do this, I’ll do that” is the childhood phase of our walk. We all must go through it, but we’re not meant to stay there.

When I was a child, one of my chores was to put out the trash every week for pickup. I couldn’t wait to grow up so I could be free of my parents’ rules.

I’m now an adult with a family of my own. Actually, I’m still putting the trash out every week – but there’s a difference. I don’t put out the trash because I’ll lose the privilege to use the car. I put out the trash because THAT’S WHAT ADULTS DO. I’m not under a law that tells me that I have to do it to receive a blessing. I do my chores because I’m an adult.

I still give a tithe of my finances to the Lord, but, with an adult mindset. God blesses my finances because I’m His son. I tithe because that’s what mature believers do. Spiritually speaking, I’m in my Father’s family business. I get my salary from Him. I know that it would please Him if I reinvest 10% back into His business every week. Why would I refuse? He’s never failed to provide for me.

Since I’ve started to look at God’s kingdom from this perspective, I’ve had more peace and freedom than I’ve ever known before. I’ve seen more answered prayer than I ever have before. My prayer is that I can apply this to more and more areas of my life.

The Lord is looking for His people to rise up to this level of maturity in Him. We need a revelation of what sonship is all about.

Question: What’s the next stage in your spiritual growth?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2014 in Prayer, Revival, Sonship, The Church

 

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