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Giving – It’s Not What You Think

presentsUsually people associate the term giving with money. That’s not what I’m going to talk about. As a matter of fact, money is one of those things that we’re the most willing to give.

There are things that are easier to give than others. After watching mankind for centuries, Satan came to a conclusion about us.

Skin for skin!” Satan replied. “A man will give all he has for his own life.
Job 2:4

According to his testimony, we’ll give anything before we will give our lives. But that’s just what we’re called to do. Jesus made it clear to His disciples that this was the case.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:24-26

The truth is that a person will sell everything in order to save their life. It’s clear that there’s no greater prize than a person’s life. That’s why the greatest gift you can give to God is yourself.

It’s also the toughest thing we can do. We’d all like to remain in control of our lives. But the Lord tells us that the only way to preserve your life is to turn it over to Him.

“It’s my life. I’ll live it the way I want.”

That’s the cry of this generation. Unfortunately this attitude has crept over into the church. When we accepted Christ as our Savior, everything changed.

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.
John 6:37

In our act of surrender to Christ, the Father is giving us to Him. Jesus will never refuse anyone who comes to Him.

That’s a comforting thought. No matter what my condition is when I come to Him, the Lord will begin His work in me just the way that I am.

In the salvation process, God gives me as a gift to Himself. All the while He knows the deepest part of my soul. He knows all about my personality, my likes and my dislikes. The Lord knows what makes me different from everyone else.

That means that my life is like a gift-card for God to use as He wills. Every card is different. Some are for restaurants, others are for clothing stores.

In the same way, Jesus knows what we’re best suited for in His kingdom. Only He can use us to the best of our abilities. He can do more through us than we could ever imagine.

But before that can happen I have to willingly position myself in His hands. I want to talk about this for a couple of posts. We need to understand what it means to surrender our lives to His will.

Question: What does taking up His cross mean to you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Tongues – The Sign

FireI’ve been sharing about why God uses prayer in the spirit. In my last post I talked about giving control over to God. But does that mean that when I pray in tongues I’m ‘out of control’?

The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.
1 Corinthians 14:32

Paul is talking about church order in this section of Scripture. He talks about the limits we place in public meetings.

According to Paul, no one can say, “I just had to – I couldn’t control it.” In context he’s talking about the gift of prophecy. But it’s the same for tongues, healing, or any gift that comes from the Holy Spirit. My spirit is always under the control of my soul.

Does that mean that I’m controlling everything that happens? No. I simply can allow the gift to operate or not operate at any given moment.

Think about sports, for instance. An athlete will spend an enormous amount of time practicing so that his body will function almost independently. We call that eye, hand coordination. If a third baseman has to think about catching a line drive, it’s already too late.

In certain areas we’ll let our body do things on its own. Our mind initiates the response, but reflex takes over. It’s the same with prayer in the spirit.

We need to let prayer in the spirit become a reflex of the spirit. I know when I need to commune with God, and whether or not it’s an appropriate time. Then, if it’s right, I give my spirit the freedom to go where the Holy Spirit will lead.

The reason tongues is so important should be obvious. Paul talks about the reasons we use our spirit to talk to God.

In the Law it is written: “Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:21

God is trying to get our attention. With Israel He tried using prophets, but they wouldn’t listen. So God used other means to get His word across.

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 the covenant. The second definition of sign is an unusual occurrence beyond the course of nature.

The fact is that tongues gets people’s attention.

So what Paul is saying in this verse, is that tongues is 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.

Question: How have you experienced tongues and prophecy working together in the church?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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It’s All About Control

Lion2I’m taking a few posts to talk about why God has chosen the gift of tongues as a way to worship Him.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
1 Corinthians 14:14

Paul shows us three things in this short verse. First, my body is speaking in an unknown language. At the same time, my mind is unfruitful. But the most important aspect is the fact that my spirit is praying to God.

Notice that when I pray in the spirit, my spirit and body are active, but my mind is not a part of what’s transpiring. That’s because the gift of tongues is a physical reaction to a spiritual event. My flesh doesn’t know how to handle what’s happening with me in the spirit.

According to this verse, what comes out of my mouth may or may not have anything to do with what’s happening in the spirit. That includes the length of the “conversation”, any repetition, the language, or even the physical words spoken.

For instance; as my spirit is praying to God, a Native American may hear “Praise God, praise God, praise God” coming out of my mouth.

Prayer in the spirit – tongues – is for a spiritual exchange. It’s all about communication with the Holy Spirit of God. I can say “praise God” well enough in English. So it’s not about what’s coming out of my mouth.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:8

That’s why the gift of tongues is only a temporary gifting. It will be unneeded in our resurrected body. We need this supernatural gift right now.

All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8 but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
James 3:7-8

Our tongue can be a big problem. According to James, animals can be tamed; but you can’t tame the tongue.

What’s the difference between something tame and something wild? Tame is about character. A tame dog scratches at the door when he needs to relieve himself. He’ll wait for you to feed him.

With a wild animal it’s all instinct. They’ll do what they want whenever or wherever they are.

I’d like my tongue to be self-controlled. But it’s not going to happen all by itself.

Is a lion in a zoo tame? No; it’s simply being controlled. The fact is, you can’t tame the tongue, but it can be controlled…if you’ll let God have control of your tongue. Then the rest of your life is easy to turn over.

Have you ever noticed how easily we’ll give over control of most things to others? We’ll let hair stylists, beauticians, surgeons, and trainers take over those areas of our lives. But not the tongue.

I believe that’s why this gift is so controversial. I’ve heard people say, “Even if you convince me it’s of God, I’m still not going to seek this gift.”

That’s because tongues is about giving control to God. Prayer in the spirit is about learning to hear and yield to God. When it comes to control; that’s the one thing we don’t want to relinquish in our lives.

As believers we should be daily giving over more and more control to the Holy Spirit.

Question: How has prayer in the spirit positively changed your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2016 in Prayer in the Spirit, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Service or Control? #calling

DifferentIn my last post I talked about how we advance in the Kingdom of God.

In the world you set a goal.  You say, “I’m going to be a brain surgeon.”  Then, off you go to school and someday, after years of study and training, you graduate as a brain surgeon.  That’s not how it is in the Kingdom of God.

Before I was born, God said, “I see a day when Nick Zaccardi is going to be born, and I have a place in My kingdom for him, and this is it.”  I then spend my lifetime attaining to the position that God has already prepared for me before the foundation of the world.

Eventually, depending on how well I listen to Him and my obedience level, I may or may not get to that calling.  But the main point for us to see is that it’s not up to me to decide what I want that calling to be.

That’s what the Lord was telling the disciples min the verse we looked at in the last post.  Don’t try to advance yourself in the Kingdom of God by using the world’s methods. But the problem didn’t end there.

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers.  Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:24-28

To operate in the way of the world, you’re going to have to step over everyone in your path in order to get to the top.  Then, once you get there, you start to boss everyone around because they’re all under you.

Jesus made it clear that we don’t act this way in the church.  In His kingdom, He has a place prepared for everybody.  You need to seek the place God has chosen for you from before the foundation of the world.

As you enter into your assignment, you’ll find that it will be a place of service.  It’s not going to be a place of authority in the sense that the world looks at authority.  So don’t come at the Kingdom of God from a worldly perspective.  In Christ we find fulfillment through service.

It’s clear, however, that the disciples believed that Christ’s kingdom was coming.  The disciples had faith in that concept to the point that in their own fleshly way they were starting to jockey for position.  I pray that we would have as much faith in the words of Christ as they did.  It’s my prayer that God’s people will be found ready for Him on His return.

We must begin to prepare now for the coming kingdom.  God’s Word is clear.  Our rewards will be based upon our obedience.  How closely are you following the Lord’s plan for your life?

Knowledge of the Second Coming of Christ should drive you to serve Him with all your ability.  Don’t rest until you know that you are in the center of His will for your life.

Question: What will it take to reach the next step in your calling?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2014 in Ministry, Return of Christ, The Church

 

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Growth – Beyond My Control

SproutI’ve been posting about our relationship to the Word of God.  Specifically, how it works as seed in our lives.  While I am responsible to accept God’s Word into my life, there is another aspect that I have no control over.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like.  A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Mark 4:26-29

One of the most important concepts for us to understand is that the Kingdom of God is all about the Word being planted.  This is a part of all that we do as believers.

As a pastor, my greatest assignment is to receive the Word in order to plant it again in the lives of those who hear me.  Every Christian needs to be planting the Word into the lives of those around them.

With that comes the realization that nothing I do will bring about the growth of that seed, once it has been planted.  From then on it’s out of my control.  Once you plant the Word into the lives of your friends and family, it is time to wait – and that can be the hardest part.

Sometimes we want to force them to produce fruit.  We try to convince and coerce.  That’s usually when we start to push them further away.  We need to learn to plant, then step back and let God provide the increase.

The Word, by its very nature, begins to grow below the surface.  It cannot be stopped, but neither can it be hurried along.  It goes at the pace God has set for it.  One thing is certain; it will produce the harvest that God intended it to bring forth.  This thought was echoed by the apostle Paul.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7

We all have our part to play in the Kingdom of God.  Some of us plant the seed and some water it.  None of us can make it grow, that’s God’s department.  The only help we can give it, once it’s planted, is in the watering process.

Question: Have you ever caused bigger problems by trying to force the Word of God to grow in someone?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2013 in Word of God

 

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The Three Main Functions of the Mind

DonkeyIn my last post I started talking about the subject of Creation vs. Evolution.  I believe there’s a very important issue involved that no one seems to talk about.

We started by looking at a passage from the book of Hebrews.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Hebrews 11:3

Actually, it all boils down to one key phrase – we understand.  What does it mean to understand?

The Bible talks about three basic concepts that deal with how the mind functions.

The first is knowledge.  Knowledge is the accumulation of facts and it’s the easiest to acquire.  We go to school or read books and get knowledge.

The next is wisdom, and that’s a little bit tougher to get.  Wisdom is the application of knowledge to solve problems.  The only way to get wisdom is through experience, or time spent in God’s presence.

The third and most important function is understanding.   Understanding involves direction.  It looks for the eventual outcome of a line of thinking.  It tries to put together all the facts, and asks, “Where does the path I’m on take me?”  This process exercises the mind to its greatest potential.  It’s hard work, and sometimes brings unexpected results.

Because of this, most people will not seek understanding.  Yet seeking is the only way to obtain it.  You must choose to understand.

Understanding, then, is exercising the mind to see the entire picture of life.  It looks at how everything fits together.  This is what our society desperately needs.

Unfortunately, most school systems teach us NOT to understand.  Everything is about the present.  Does it feel good right now?  Instead of understanding, they seek explanations – as long as these explanations fit into their world views.

There is an unfortunate outcome to this kind of living.

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
Psalm 32:9

Our modern society displays the truth of this verse.  The less understanding you possess, the more you need to be controlled.

We frequently hear people complain, “There are so many new and complicated laws now.”  What does that tell you?  I believe that we’re training a generation how not to understand.

The ability to seek understanding is the basis for a clear direction in life.  It’s got to be the starting point.  Without direction, there’s no reason for self-control.

This is why the creation-evolution debate is so emotional.  It involves issues that affect the very core of who we are and how we view our existence.

Question: Do you see a lack of direction and self-control in our society?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2012 in Creation, Faith

 

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