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Everything Changes

I’ve been posting from First Corinthians, Chapter 7.  Paul is dealing with romantic relationships.  In my last article Paul advised that because of persecution that was starting, they needed to consider carefully if they were looking to marry.

Now Paul explains these principles in a little more detail.

What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.  From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none…
1 Corinthians 7:29

We have to understand that Paul is not saying to leave your wife.  What he means is that whatever happens, keep your walk with the Lord your priority.

At any time your spouse might be arrested, imprisoned, or even martyred for your faith in Christ.  If that’s the case, then you can’t let it affect your service to the Lord.  That’s why God gives a special kind of grace to those undergoing persecution.

Many have come to me and said, “Pastor, I hope persecution never comes to America because I don’t think I could handle it.”  I tell them that if we’re called to that kind of life, then we’ll be given the grace to withstand it victoriously.

Paul goes on to explain the underlying truth.

…those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them.  For this world in its present form is passing away.
1 Corinthians 7:30-31

The thing that Paul is trying to get across to us is that everything is subject to change.  The world doesn’t get it.  They think that a single event brings a permanent change.

If they go through a devastating loss, they think their life is over forever.  On the other hand, they think that if they can just win the lottery, they’ll be happy forever.  Neither of those two statements is true.  Change is constant.

So as believers, we’re told not to look at any phase of life as permanent.  Even if we get a new device that we’ve always wanted – we realize that it’s not ours to keep.  It will wear out, break, or become obsolete.

We’re literally told that we can use the systems of the world, but don’t overuse or misuse them.  The way society works is constantly changing.  The strategies that made people successful 50 years ago, won’t work today.

The present form of the world – the way things work – is fading away.  Society is always changing.  The way people learn, interact and do business is always evolving.  We can’t get engrossed in one way of doing things.

But here’s the good news.  God’s kingdom works the same yesterday, today and forever.

It’s all about spending time in the Lord’s presence hearing from the Holy Spirit.  Then we do what He’s leading us to do.  It’s this obedience that makes us successful.

If somebody had told me as a teen, that one day I would sit in my den and explain Biblical truth to people across the country and around the world, I wouldn’t have believed them.  It’s become a different world now.

The bottom line is that change will be constant and that listening to the voice of God is the only thing that will keep us on course.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit helped you to weather the changes in society?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on April 8, 2019 in Encouragement, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

We’re continuing to look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s now getting into some guiding principles as he talks about relationships in chapter 7.

Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him.  This is the rule I lay down in all the churches.
1 Corinthians 7:17

The context of this verse is that you shouldn’t end your marriage just because you got saved.  If your partner wants to remain together, even though they might not be a Christian, then allow the Holy Spirit to work through your relationship.

This is a guideline that Paul teaches in all of his churches.  It literally says that whatever portion God has assigned to you when He calls you; remain in it.

The Lord doesn’t work like a steam roller.  He doesn’t come into your life and tear everything down.

Cults do that.  When you join a cult, many times they’ll tell you to leave your family and cut all ties with your friends.  That’s not how the Lord works.

Normally, the Holy Spirit will work on you from the inside out.  He wants the people who know you best to see the change as it’s happening.  Then it will be a witness to them of the power of God.

Paul uses an example of circumcision to make his point.

Was a man already circumcised when he was called?  He should not become uncircumcised.  Was a man uncircumcised when he was called?  He should not be circumcised.  Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing.  Keeping God’s commands is what counts.
1 Corinthians 7:18-19

The fact is that God can use anyone.  You don’t have to change who you are in order to serve Him faithfully.  The bottom line is that you hear and obey God’s voice.

He speaks to His people and we obey.  It’s a step by step process.  If there’s something in our lives that needs changing, then the Lord will provide the power to bring that about.

Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him.  Were you a slave when you were called?  Don’t let it trouble you — although if you can gain your freedom, do so.  For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord’s freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ’s slave.
1 Corinthians 7:20-22

Paul talks about some situations that we find ourselves in that aren’t ideal.  Unfortunately, they’re not easy to get out of.  In this case, it’s slavery.  In those days it wasn’t all like the American version.  For some, slavery was a voluntary way to repay a debt.  For others, it was a penalty for a crime committed.

For us, it might be a massive amount of debt or multiple jobs in order to pay your bills.  Paul explains that in these types of situations, don’t worry about it.  Let God work through it.

But there is hope during those times.  We’re told the if we have the power to become free, then use it.  We don’t have to remain downtrodden.  Through prayer and obedience to the voice of God, our situation can and will improve.

You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.  Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.
1 Corinthians 7:23-24

However, it’s important that we don’t knowingly place ourselves in these types of situations.  We want to be able to give our best for the Lord.

Question: How has God used your unique position in the past?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2019 in Encouragement, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Imitation – The Path to Greatness

In my last post, I talked about how the Thessalonian believers accepted the Word of God. It changed them. It brought them to a new way of life.

But even though it created a desire for change in them, something else was needed. You may have the desire and the power to change, but without a proper example, you won’t know how to live a new life.

For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

The word imitation keeps popping up in this letter. That’s because it’s an important concept for growing Christians. More than ever, we need leaders who are worthy of imitation.

I don’t know where I’d be today if weren’t for the pastors and teachers who I watched and copied along the way. By watching their examples, I learned how to love others, to pray for those in need of God’s touch, and how to witness to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

We were never meant to serve God on our own. It’s not God’s plan for us to figure everything out all by ourselves. We need to follow in the footsteps of those who have walked this path before.

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
Hebrews 13:7

We sometimes get the idea that the great men and women of God were somehow born into their positions of honor. We see the work that they’re doing now and can’t grasp that they ever had to struggle with their Christian walk.

The fact is that every believer – whether they’re a leader or not – has to wrestle with the same problems and challenges. The important thought in this verse is to consider how their lives turned out.

That word, consider, means to look again. We need to take a second look at our leaders. See how they got from salvation to their present position. Then, we should imitate the positive way that they trusted and served Christ.

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Hebrews 6:12

Here’s the key. When we look at those who are leaders in the body of Christ, we must always understand the road that they took.

There’s no easy way. It’s not just about faith. Inheriting the promise comes through both faith and patience.

We think that we can simply start trusting God and walk in a ministry like those who’ve been trusting the Lord for years. It doesn’t work like that.

Imitation doesn’t only mean that I minister the way they do right now. It means that I follow the same path that they took to get there. I have to learn the same lessons and fight some of the same battles.

The good news is that if they could come through victoriously, then I can too. God is no respecter of persons. If I’m willing to listen to, trust, and obey God the way others do, then I’ll receive the same inheritance.

Question: What blessings are in your life as a result of godly examples?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2017 in Faith, Leadership, Spiritual Walk

 

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No Pain, No Gain

JogI’ve been posting about the uses of Scripture as listed in 2 Timothy 3:16. Today I’m going to talk about training in righteousness.

This word training means to mentor or to train up like a child from infancy to adulthood. The Bible is written for all. It doesn’t matter where you are in your spiritual walk.

If you’re a baby Christian, who was just saved, it can be your milk bottle. If you’re mature in the Lord, it has the meat of the deep truths of God. It can satisfy any hunger.

But what exactly does it train us in? Paul is very specific – training in righteousness.

In Scripture, you’ll find that righteousness is the whole package of what Christ has paid for on the cross. Throughout the Word righteousness is associated with: Rewards, victory in battle, prosperity, salvation, honor, life, and healing. Scripture truly is the owner’s manual for our walk with the Lord.

When Paul speaks about training in righteousness, he’s talking about the whole plan of God for your life. The job of Scripture is to take you from wherever the Lord found you when you were saved to the heights of His perfect plan for your life.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12:11

The word discipline in this verse is the same Greek word as training in Second Timothy. The writer of Hebrews tells us that there is pain associated with this kind of training. Why is that?

The answer is simple. This training is what causes us to grow from infancy to maturity. Growth means change, and change hurts. Think about it – when I was an infant I could throw my toys all over the floor and my parents would joyfully pick everything up.

Then, there came a day when I was told, “It’s time to pick up your toys and put them away.” There must have been a look of pain and distress on my face when I had to clean my room.

Then, there came a day when I couldn’t just do as I pleased all day long. My parents came to me and informed me that I would be starting school next week. Suddenly there was a place I had to be every day. At school, they made me read, learn, and take tests whether I wanted to or not. It was painful to me.

As a matter of fact, almost every new responsibility throughout our lives causes some degree of discomfort. That’s what this Scripture is talking about. As we’re brought to maturity there are going to be painful changes.

There are things we used to do, that we’re no longer able to do. There are also things we’ve never done that we’re now responsible for. Through it all we must let the Scripture do its work, so that we can be mature and complete – not lacking anything that the Lord has provided for us.

Question: What did you find painful in this maturing process?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in Scripture Series, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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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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Spirit Overcomes Flesh

FlyingIn my last post we saw how the spiritual walk, specifically prayer in the spirit, will bring change from the inside out. This truth is also brought out in other parts of the Scripture.

No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
Romans 2:29

This is another piece of that same puzzle. Our outside will never change unless we have a change of heart. The problem is that our heart itself is very deceptive. We can’t always trust what we’re feeling.

That’s why true change can never be imposed upon it from the outside, by the written code. It must come from the inside, by the power of the spirit. Isn’t it great to know that your spirit can change your heart?

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Galatians 5:16

Our new knowledge of the power of prayer in the spirit should give us a whole new insight into what this verse is actually saying. Many times, when people quote this verse, they’re using it as a weapon.

I’ve heard people say things like, “Look at how that person lives, and they call themselves a Christian. They’re walking in their flesh so they must not have the Holy Spirit in them. They can’t really be saved.”

This isn’t a verse that Paul gave us to test whether a person is saved or not. This is a passage of Scripture to tell us how to receive the power we need to walk in victory over the flesh. The only way you’ll have the power you need to not gratify the flesh, is to live your life in the spirit.

You cannot do it by exercising the will power of your soul, or even disciplining your body. This means that you spend time praying in the spirit, communing with God in the realm of the spirit. That’s where we access the power to overcome the desires of the flesh.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

This is one of the most popular passages with many Christians. Unfortunately many believers have no clue what this section is actually saying.

What is fruit? Fruit are those yummy balls of sweet goodness that hang from various kinds of trees. How do they get there? Does the tree have to sweat and fret and work hard to push them out? Does a tree try and fail and get frustrated and try again to do better?

Of course not! Fruit are a natural result of being an apple tree. They are produced simply because the tree is healthy, and has access to everything it needs (air, minerals, water, and sunshine).

This is something that most Christians miss. They think that producing the fruit of the spirit only comes by hard work and a lot of will-power. That’s not what God intended. The fruit mentioned here will not be produced by reading the Bible or going to church.

They will not even come by will power or guilt. These things are the fruit of the SPIRIT. Why would we then think they would be the product of our works, will power, or trial and error?

The fruit of the spirit are the natural product of a life lived in the realm of the spirit. As our spiritual relationship with the Lord grows, then so will the fruit. They will not be from our strength.

In my next post, I’ll give some examples of how this works.

Question: Why is it impossible for our flesh to discipline itself?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Change – From the Inside Out

ButterflyI’ve been talking about walking out the spiritual life. In my last post I said that because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, we hold the mind of Christ.

Having this access to the mind of the Lord is a very powerful thing. It affects our lives in a number of ways if we’re willing to walk in it. Remember, power is the ability to produce change, and the power of God changes everything it touches. Let’s take a look at some of the changes it affects in our lives.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.
Jude 1:20

What you need to note about this verse is that the word and is not in the Greek text. It should read, build yourselves up…praying in the Holy Spirit. What we need to realize is that God wants to explain things to us on His level.

When I pray in the gift, I build up my most holy faith. This is the faith that’s resident in my spirit. It’s a faith that goes beyond what I know about the Scripture or the situation I’m in.

There are times when there may not even be a Biblical verse that covers my situation. What do I do then? I pray in the Spirit. This helps me to trust God when there seems to be no earthly reason to put my faith in Him. It’s a faith that goes beyond what my mind can understand.

As great as that is, there’s even more that this gift can accomplish.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…
Romans 8:13

This is a very interesting verse. If you just skim through it you’ll miss what it says. We understand, according to the Scripture, that we’re dead to sin and alive to God. Elsewhere in Romans we’re told to count ourselves dead.

This is based upon the truth that we were crucified with Christ, and this death separates us from the dominion of sin. That’s NOT what the above verse is telling us about. This verse is very different because it contains the word if. This verse is telling us something we could do or we could choose to ignore.

There’s a battle that rages in my being. Even though I’m saved, my flesh is still subject to its sin nature. I find that even though I’m dead to sin in Christ, I continue to fall to the temptations that come before me. Even Paul wrote about this struggle that we all face. How do I overcome this dilemma?

Many people try differing methods to bring about the victory. Some try to live right in their own strength. I’ve found that if I live trying to use my flesh to overcome my flesh, by shear will power, I will fail miserably. The above verse tells us that if I use my flesh, then death will reign in me. The problem is, to use a computer term, there’s a virus in the software.

The good news is that I can use the power of God’s network. I can use my spirit to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh. This is a truth that we have totally missed in the modern church. You can use your spirit to change your flesh.

In simple terms, you can download God’s anti-virus program and it will change the way you live. This is a powerful change because you’re allowing God to change you from the inside out.

Question: How has prayer in the spirit changed the way you live?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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