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Are We Lion Tamers?

As we continue our walk through Mark’s Gospel, we now come to chapter 5.  It begins with Jesus encountering a demon-possessed man who lived in the tombs.  Because of the length of the passage, I can’t show it all here.  I suggest that you read Mark 5:1-17 before proceeding.

In this section of Scripture, we see a man tormented by the enemy.  Night and day he would be crying out in agony and cutting himself with rocks.  When people tried to bring him into custody, the demons would give him the strength to break any form of shackles.

The description that Mark gives is very interesting.  Look at what verse 4 tells us.

For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet.  No one was strong enough to subdue him.
Mark 5:4

The word, subdue, in this verse literally means to tame, like a wild animal.  Many people enjoy going to a zoo or a circus to see a wild animal show.  They watch as the lion tamers guide their huge cats around the ring.

I think this is how we get into trouble sometimes.  This man was under the control of the devil’s power.  Yet there were people trying to tame him.

They were just like many Christians today who are trying to tame the enemy’s kingdom.  They want it to work for them.  They think that they can receive all of the benefits of the world, with none of the hurts.  I wish that were true.

The Bible teaches that the enemy is not to be played with.

Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

The goal of the enemy is to destroy your life.  But he can’t do it with a frontal assault because we’re protected by the power of God at work in us.

However, if he can get us to lay down our spiritual armor, then we’re open to his attack.  If it suits his purpose, the enemy can pretend to be tamed long enough for us to feel secure in playing with him.  Yet, we don’t realize that we’re walking right into his trap.

The principles of the kingdom of God and seeking to be a friend of the world don’t mix.  You have to choose one or the other.  Straddling the fence will bring your life to ruin.

The Lord understood how to handle the work of the devil.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
1 John 3:8b

Our goal should be the same as that of Christ.  We should live to set the captives free.  All the while we must watch ourselves so that we’re not captivated by the world.

The power of God did more than just tame the demon-possessed man.  He was set free and his life was totally renewed by the power of God.  That’s the type of victory we should be seeking in our generation.

But it will require us to spend time in the Father’s presence just as Jesus did.

Question: What are some areas that you see the need for Christ to set people free?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Are You Armed?

SwordI’ve been talking about the spiritual battle that we’re involved in. The problems we face and the people who annoy us are not the issue. The real fight is with the unseen world around us.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:11

We’re told to put on the armor. I’ve heard many believers talk about it, but do we understand what this means? Do we even know what the armor really is?

First and foremost we need to realize that this is the armor of God. It’s not my armor; it belongs to God. Actually, it’s God’s personal suit of armor. It was talked about back in the Old Testament.

At one point Isaiah got a prophetic picture of God getting himself ready for battle.

He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Isaiah 59:17

Because of the Lord’s outer garments, Isaiah could only see the helmet and breastplate. But that’s enough to know who the armor belongs to. The point is this – it’s not made to fit us, but God. That’s why being in Christ is so important.

The fact is that we are told to put on the full armor of God. If I have to put it on, then I’m not automatically fully clothed. Putting on the armor is something I need to do.

I also believe that “confessing the armor on” or “praying it on” is not enough. While I do believe in confessing and praying the Word of God, there’s more involved here.

For instance, if you’re not walking in faith, you haven’t picked up your shield no matter how many time you confess that you’re holding it. The same with truth. If you’re not walking in the truth of the Word of God, then no amount of praying will put the belt on you.

In order to be protected, we need to be using the armor daily. We need to be walking in truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. Only through practice can a warrior get good at using his armor and weaponry.

There are no overnight successes. We either use it or there’s no victory for us. The devil is playing for keeps. He’s not going to back down simply because we claim to have armor.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8-9

The enemy’s looking for an easy victim. Not one that’s fully armed. This verse literally says that he’s looking for someone he can gulp down in one bite.

Given the choice, do you think he’d rather take on a naked believer thinking that their armed or a spiritual warrior fully clothed and trained for battle? The answer is clear. Don’t be a meal for the enemy’s kingdom.

Take your stand in the full armor of God.

Question: What’s the greatest challenge that you’re facing right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2014 in Power of God, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Jesus Walked Above the Promises #promisesofGod

MountainI’m posting about how Christ walked in the power of God.  In my last one I started talking about His time in the wilderness as He faced the devil.

It’s now the end of the Lord’s forty day fast.  I can only imagine how the Lord was feeling at the end of this time.  But at this point it’s over; He could eat now, according to the rules of fasting.

It’s interesting to see how the devil attacks Jesus.  This is how most of our temptations are based.  It will give us insight into how the enemy works against us as well.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Luke 4:3

Think about Jesus’ teaching.  Specifically how He taught on prayer.  In what we commonly call “The Lord’s Prayer,” He prayed, “Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)

This prayer is a son praying to the Father.  If you look closely at this line, it’s not a request.  Jesus is assuming that daily bread is the right of a son.  He doesn’t say that God promised it to Him.  He simply lays claim to what He wants, knowing God’s provision for His sons.

I believe that Satan based his attack upon this prayer.  However, the enemy worded it in the form of a promise.  He said, “If you are The Son of God…”  He challenged Jesus to prove it by claiming the promise for daily provision.  The sad thing is that we would have taken the bait, and we do regularly. Then we say that the Holy Spirit told us to do it.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

Jesus’ response is clear.  The fast was over.  It was perfectly in order for Him to eat.  But that wasn’t the issue.  Jesus wasn’t there in the wilderness for the purpose of eating.  He was there to hear from the Father.  In this verse, “word” is “rhema” in the Greek.  It means the revealed Word of God.

Jesus was telling Satan, “I didn’t come here for bread; I came to hear a Word from the Father.”  If the Lord wanted to eat, He could have brought food.

This is a classic strategy that Satan uses over and over again.  Sadly, we continue to fall victim to it.  We can be tempted to “over-claim” the promises.

In America we already have too much stuff and we believe God for more.  It seems that Christians are always “trusting God” for bigger houses, better cars, and more toys.  Then, we get discouraged when our “faith” doesn’t pay off.

I believe that it’s time for God’s people to grow up and act like mature sons and daughters of God – like Jesus.

Question: What should we be trusting God for?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2013 in Faith, Power of God

 

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Do You Know the Enemy’s Power Source?

BatteryIn my last post I talked about power and authority.  Power is the ability to produce change.  Authority is the permission to use power.

Jesus told us that we had authority over all the power of the enemy.  This causes me to question our current church experience.  If what the Lord said is true, then why does the enemy seem to be winning?

To understand this you must realize that just like electricity, there are two forms of spiritual power.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

These were some of the last words of Jesus before He was taken up into Heaven.  We must realize that our power comes from God Himself through the Holy Spirit in us.  This means that the two sources of spiritual power are the Holy Spirit and sin.

This is a very important fact to know if we’re to grow in our spiritual walk.  Our goal should be to only receive our power from the Holy Spirit.

We must be certain that we’re not powered by the same thing that powers the enemy’s kingdom.  To have this assurance, we need to ask a very important question.  If sin is a power source, then what is the power of sin?

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:56-57

That should be an eye opener.  Most Christians have no idea that the power of sin is the law. We seem to have missed this fact even though it’s plainly taught in the Scripture.  This means that without the law, sin would have no power.

As a matter of fact, Satan’s power is derived totally from sin.  So if there were no law, then the enemy would have no power.  Everything that Satan is able to do is powered by the law.  Whether you realize this or not, every accusation and attack that he makes is all based upon the law.  The problem we have is that just knowing this truth isn’t enough to defeat him.

Like AC and DC, both forms are very powerful.  AC is the type of electricity that powers your house.  DC is the type that starts your car in the morning as well as supplying power for the lightning we see in a thunderstorm.  In the same way, the two forms of spiritual power can be very potent.

We, as believers, need to understand the differences so that we’ll not fall into the trap of trying to use the enemy’s power to defeat sin in our lives.

Question: How do we sometimes try to use our sinful nature to defeat sin in our lives?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2013 in Power of God, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Scripture, the Truth, and the Word of God

We live in an age where people are using the Bible to support what they’re doing or teaching.  How do I know if I’m truly hearing God’s Word?  Just because someone quotes the Scripture – is it really God’s Word they’re proclaiming?

In my last post we saw that Jesus didn’t accept the scriptural declaration of the devil.  He knew that the enemy was not speaking God’s Word to Him.

BibleHere is a surprising fact you may not know.  Throughout the entire Bible, the Scripture never calls itself the Word of God.  That’s something we have done.

At this point you’re probably ready to stone me as a heretic.  Please wait.  I’m not saying that the Bible is not the Word of God. All I’m saying is that the Bible doesn’t call itself the Word of God.

There is an important reason for that, which Christ Himself will testify to.  You need to let His words speak to you to understand the true nature of Scripture and the Word of God.

“Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
John 17:17

Jesus is very clear in this passage.  God’s Word is not just truthful.  It doesn’t only contain truth.  It is, by its very nature, TRUTH.

What about Christ the Living Word?  Didn’t He say, “I am the Way, THE TRUTH, and the Life.”?  There’s no getting around it – God’s Word is truth.

It’s unfortunate, but people can take the words of Scripture and twist them around for their own ends.  That’s why we need a daily walk with the Holy Spirit.  There’s a reason He’s called the Spirit of Truth.  The Spirit of God gives us the discernment we need when reading or hearing the Scripture.

Christ needed to discern the “word” He heard from the devil.  He was mature enough to see that even though Satan was quoting Scripture, his intent was evil.  In that case, the verse that the devil spoke was not the Word of God to Jesus.

We’re running into the same type of problems in the church today.  It grieves me that there are ministers whose only reason for studying the Bible, is to find passages that will convince you to put your money into their wallets.  They’ll tell you, based upon a Bible verse, that you will be blessed if you send them an offering of your month’s salary.

They’ll tell you that it’s God’s Word to you that if you’ll send them the money, then you’ll be out of debt and in a new house by the end of the year.  Of course, when it doesn’t come to pass you’ll blame God.  “I stood on God’s Word and He failed to keep it.”

Unfortunately, it was not God’s Word that failed.  What happened was that some preacher’s faulty use of the Scripture failed.  Then again, it got him the money he wanted, so it didn’t fail to bring in what he was after – your money.

Question: Have you ever seen the Scripture used to promote a lie?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Word of God

 

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The Devil and the Word of God

TowerIn my last post I talked about the lies of the devil.  We saw that, according to Jesus, the enemy cannot hold the truth neither is there any truth in him at all.

Understanding this gives us insight into how the devil operates.  He speaks lies, sometimes by making true statements.  We need to understand this as we look at an encounter between Christ and the devil.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Matthew 4:5-6

This verse is important in understanding the relationship between the Bible and the Word of God.  Here we see the devil quoting the Bible correctly.  He even used it in context.  The verse is from Psalm 91 which we all know is about the protection of God for the Messiah and us.

Now, it’s time for the tough question.  In quoting the Bible, was Satan speaking the Word of God to Jesus?  Be very careful how you answer this.  It’s the basis for understanding how the Word of God works in us.

Jesus clearly taught that Satan could not hold the truth neither was there any truth in him at all, yet it is clear that he has the Bible memorized.  We know that the devil only quotes the Scripture when it suits his purpose to try and deceive us.  His use of Scripture is actually a lie – according to Christ Himself.

As I said previously, we get so caught up asking the wrong questions.  We should be asking, what exactly is the Word of God to me?  I need a Word from heaven.  How do I know what that Word is?  When Jesus heard the Scripture from the mouth of Satan, He totally rejected it as a lie meant to trip Him up in His walk with the Father.

Then what is the Scripture?  It is the written record of the Word of God, given to various people, at different times, under different circumstances and for many purposes.  I have to ask, is what I’m reading God’s Word to me?  The answer to that is both yes and no.

There are some scriptures that have nothing to do with me or what I’m going through.  There are others that the Holy Spirit can use to speak to me.  That’s the key.  What is the Holy Spirit saying to me?  Very often He will use Scripture to speak to believers.

But you must also understand that Satan will use Scripture as well.  That’s why it’s so very important that we learn to discern the voice of the Spirit.  The Bible is a spiritual book and must be read prayerfully.

Question: How has God spoken to you through the pages of Scripture?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Bears

1 Peter 5:8
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

I have learned many valuable spiritual lessons as I have been hiking.  One of those lessons has to do with bears.

I praise God that I live on the East Coast.  When I hike, I don’t have to contend with grizzly, Kodiak, or polar bears.  Only cute, little (comparatively), vegetarian, black bears.  Well, as many people are aware of, even black bears can be nuisances.  Usually it’s the fault of a human.  When we leave our food and trash out, we encourage them to hang around.  They will then prowl around looking for something to devour.  Hmm…sounds familiar.

A lot of the time we encourage the enemy to attack us.  We do it by trying to live in both kingdoms.  We try to get God’s blessing using the world’s methods.  Or we try to use God’s power to satisfy our lust for material gain.  These things signal the enemy to hang around hoping for a free handout.

It is time for us to “clean up our camp.”  Seek God today.  Is there anything that needs to be put back in order in your life?  Christ will give you the wisdom, strength, and courage you need to overcome in this area.  Turn it over to Him.  Don’t give the enemy a free handout.  Use this time to take back any foothold that you have given him in your life.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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