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The Triumph of the Cross

For the last few posts, I’ve been talking about the crucifixion of Christ.  It always amazes me what He went through to purchase our salvation.  You may want to read Mark 15:25-39 before continuing with this post.

In this passage of Scripture, we see Jesus hanging on the cross.  The Messiah and true King of Israel, dying for the sins of mankind.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So!  You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” 
In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves.  “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!  Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”  Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
Mark 15:29-32

This scene holds an important truth.  The religious leaders are taunting and insulting the Lord.  They think that His desire is not to die.  After all, that would be the natural reaction of anyone being put to death.

The fact that Christ was enduring this with a greater goal in mind never figured into their thinking.  They were looking for Him to try and escape death.  The Lord saw His death as a means to an end.

This should speak to us.  When we know that God has called us to accomplish something, there will always be those who doubt and ridicule.  If we stand on God’s Word, however, these people can’t hinder our progress.

Scripture is clear that those who only think in the natural can never understand those who walk according to the Spirit.  The natural walk involves feelings and logic.  These don’t always work in bringing about God’s will.

At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”- which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
Mark 15:33-35

It’s clear that the religious leaders don’t even understand what He’s saying.  The Lord quotes a Messianic Psalm (Psalm 22:1) and they think He’s asking Elijah for help.  But in spite of the ridicule, unbelief, and pain, Christ endured it all to the final victory.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
Mark 15:37-39

The power that was released because of Christ’s obedience is beyond comprehension.  You need to realize that the curtain in the Temple was not a mere piece of cloth.  It was made of leather panels stitched together.  It was tested by placing it between two teams of oxen.  If they couldn’t tear it, then it was ready for the Temple.

In the same way, the power of God is released in us when we walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit.  There may be trials along the way.  There may even be people who ridicule and tell us we’re wrong to trust God.

Have faith in God’s Word and do what you’re called to do, then see the hand of God work mightily in your life!

Question: How have you been ridiculed for your faith in God’s Word?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on September 7, 2018 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Mature Talk

In my last post I started looking at how the book of James dealt with the speaking of our faith. Our words and actions need to line up with what we believe. Our words make visible the faith – or doubt – that’s in our heart.

But did you know that our words also indicate our level of spiritual maturity? Too often we like to think of ourselves as being more mature than we actually are. It’s our words that truly show how far along we are.

I believe that most of us want to experience the walk of maturity and the blessings that come with it. Here’s the problem. We know what it should look like. But many are trying to do it without growing up.

We’re always on the lookout for some new teaching or “move of God” that will give us our breakthrough. We want the Six Steps to Prosperity or the Ten Confessions that bring Healing. We’re trying to get the freedom and resources of maturity while desperately hanging on to our childhood.

This is never going to happen. It’s only when we attain to the goal of spiritual adulthood that we’ll see these things accomplished in us.

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.
James 3:2

There’s more to the mature walk than simply getting our needs met. This word perfect literally means mature and complete. When you reach this level in your Christian experience sin is the exception rather than the rule. It’s not about trying harder. It’s the Holy Spirit working in you to perfect you.

So much of our energy is spent on trying to “be good.” Many preachers are wasting their time using guilt and scare tactics to try and get their people to live a righteous life. That’s not the scriptural way to get there.

The reason James talks about this in relation to our speaking, is because this is one of the most obvious ways that we show our immaturity. You might look good on the outside, but as soon as you open your mouth, everybody knows where you’re at.

Jesus gives us the reason for this.

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45

The fact is that whatever is in your heart will eventually come out of your mouth. It’s not something that you can control simply by deciding “not to say anything.” Most of us have found out the impossibility of sticking to that statement.

Your mouth is merely a channel from your heart to the outside world. You can try plugging it up, but eventually the pressure will build until the contents flood out. Then we wish we could take it back. We tell people that we didn’t mean it. But the fact remains that if it wasn’t already in your heart, it wouldn’t have come out of your mouth.

That’s why we can’t concentrate on simply using self-control. The answer is to have a change of heart. If I can plant God’s Word in my heart, then I know the output of my mouth will be pure.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalms 119:11

This includes the sinful things that come out of our mouths. If I can keep my heart pure, then my mouth will follow.

Question: How has your mouth showed the good things in your heart?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Double Minded

WaveIn my last post we saw that maturity requires the wisdom of God. Without His wisdom, there will be areas of lack in our lives.

James tells us that all we need to do is ask God, and He’ll give us His wisdom in abundance. But there’s a requirement for us to receive it.

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
James 1:6-8

According to Scripture, there must not be any doubt that God will provide. This passage is actually a very detailed look at what doubt is and how it functions.

First, the word doubt in the Greek actually means to thoroughly judge, discern or discriminate in the decision making process. As a matter of fact, this word could be good or bad in Scripture, depending upon the context.

Jesus said that we should discern the signs of the times (Matthew 16:2-3). We should be able to judge disputes between believers (1 Corinthians 6:5). We must discern the Lord’s body during communion (1 Corinthians 11:29). Prophecy should be judged by the listeners (1 Corinthians 14:29).

The problem comes in when we try to judge God’s Word. It’s not up to us to decide whether God means what He says or not. His Word is truth. It doesn’t matter what things look like from our perspective.

The next thing I see is that the person who doubts is like a wave on the ocean. But it’s not just any wave. It’s a wave that’s specifically formed by the wind blowing across the water. That kind of wave only moves in the direction that the wind is blowing.

If I only trust God when the wind of circumstance is blowing in a favorable direction, that’s a very shallow faith. It’s up to random chance whether it will take me to God’s best or not. Most likely, you’ll never get there.

This person is also called double-minded, or literally double souled. It’s like you have a split personality. When you’re around God’s people it seems like nothing’s impossible. But in the middle of the struggle, you lose all hope.

According to James, this person is unstable in all he does. That literally means that the road he’s taking has no permanent direction.

Think about it. What if the road I took to work each day comes out at a different place each time I drove on it. That’s what life is like as a doubter. You never know where you’re going to end up, spiritually speaking.

We need to trust God’s Word no matter what things look like around us. Abraham learned this lesson, and he saw God’s power at work.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Romans 4:20-21

So if you need God’s wisdom – if you lack in any area of your life – then you can trust Him for it with all your heart. Don’t try to decide whether it’s for you or not. Jesus Christ already paid the price for it. Receive God’s wisdom without any doubt.

Question: What are some doubts that you’ve had to overcome in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2017 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Worship Calms the Storm

ReflectionIn my last post I talked about being transported before God’s throne as we worship Him. That’s a wonderful place to be. That’s why we should all be worshippers. Look at where the Spirit brings us to.

Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
Revelation 4:6

In the book of Revelation and throughout the Bible, the symbolism of the sea speaks of nations. These are the saints of all nationalities worshipping Christ before His throne. But this sea is as calm as glass.

That’s because the place of worship is a place of peace. James talked about the negative reality of this truth.

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
James 1:6

Doubt and unbelief puts us in a troubled sea of confusion. That’s not God’s will for us. The Lord wants to calm our sea. How does that happen?

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

The word prayer in this verse literally means to draw near. When anxiety, worry, and confusion try to stir up our “ocean”; there’s only one remedy. We must take the time to draw near to God. The next verse tells us that the results are supernatural.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

This peace is ABOVE your understanding. When we come near to God in worship the things that should be causing anxiety melt away in God’s presence. I’m reminded of a chorus we used to sing many years ago.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full on His wonderful face,
And the things on earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”

That’s the place of worship. But we have to set aside the time for this. That’s usually our problem. We have plenty of time to wallow in confusion and doubt. But the very thing that will calm the storm just doesn’t fit into our schedule.

We need to get our priorities straight. I find that I’m much more productive when I’m operating in the peace of God. I think you will too.

Draw near to God with the things you’re anxious about. Let the place of worship bring peace to your storm.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit brought peace into your life in the past?

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©Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2016 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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Thanksgiving and God’s Plan for You

ThanksgivingMany people are preparing their homes for Thanksgiving. I think that the average American has lost sight of the true meaning. It’s become “Turkey Day” or a day for watching great football games. But many have erased God from the picture.

The world we live in is so uncertain. Finances, healthcare, government, crime, terrorists…society is on the edge of their seat. How can we be thankful in a time like this? The fact is, if we want to live victoriously, then it’s all about thankfulness. Here are some things to think about as we head into this holiday.

…give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

First of all, giving thanks is God’s will. It doesn’t matter what you’re going through – good times or bad. Notice that He doesn’t say for all things, but in all things. We shouldn’t be moved by the visible. We must keep our eyes on the eternal.

The ups and downs of society and the weather are all temporary. In any situation I find myself in, I can give thanks and I’m in the will of God for me.

…always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 5:20

This is a poor translation. The verse literally says always giving thanks OVER everything.

Giving thanks raises you over the situation. In the name of Christ we’re above our circumstances.

We see the problems and they look so big. Like the Israelites who spied out the Promised Land. They saw the giants. But Joshua and Caleb were looking through eyes of thankfulness because God was giving them the land.

It doesn’t matter how big the mountain is thankfulness puts you over it.

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

Giving thanks results in the peace of God. The literal Greek of this verse says that when you offer up thanksgiving in a worrisome situation then the peace of God will hold you above all understanding.

Then it will guard you; like having sentries all around you. It’s the peace OF GOD that will hold you above the circumstance.

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.
Psalms 50:23

Giving thanks prepares you for victory. You need to be prepared to receive God’s blessing. That’s the rule in the kingdom of God.

Somewhere along the way we’ve missed it. We’ve let the selfishness of society mold our thinking.

“When somebody does something nice, you thank them.”

Thankfulness after the fact is based upon doubt. The kingdom of God is based on faith. When do you thank God for your food – after you receive it? No – we see the food, thank God, and receive it.

By faith we see the answer to our need, thank God, and THEN receive it. This holiday, be thankful – future tense.

Question: What are the future blessings that you’re thanking God for right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2015 in Faith, God's Provision, Power of God

 

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6 Signs of Missing God’s Rest

WomanIn my last post, I started talking about resting in the Lord. That’s God’s provision for His people. He desires us to enter into that place of peace.

But what happens if we ignore this invitation? Let’s look at the symptoms of a life lived outside of God’s rest. The Lord explained it to Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land.

Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!” – because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see.
Deuteronomy 28:65-67

This passage plainly tells us the symptoms of a life lived outside of God’s resting place. These symptoms include:

An anxious mind. The words he uses here are literally a trembling and fearful heart. The future should never cause anxiety in the hearts of God’s people. Do you have fear in your heart about the future? Are you constantly worried about what you see coming at you? Then you need to enter God’s rest.

Weary eyes. These are eyes that fail to see what God has for you. The Word of God is clear about the many things that were purchased for us on the cross. We need to constantly remind ourselves of these things. Weary eyes means that you have no vision for your life based upon the Word. You seem to be longing for something more. Do you have a lack of vision?

A despairing soul. This literally means a soul that’s in mourning. Mourning takes place as a result of experiencing loss. When something or someone dear to us is taken away, we enter a state of mourning. Do you always feel as if you lost something along the way? God’s answer is to enter His rest.

Constant suspense. This actually means that you are always doubting. Is God’s purpose hidden from you? Do you doubt that He can bring about His desire for you?

Dread day and night. This is talking about constant fear over the future, with no assurance in sight. Do you fear that your life will have no impact or meaning?

Depression. That’s the final step in this process. You can’t wait for evening to go to bed. Then, sleep eludes you and you can’t wait for morning. Do you battle with depression? Does it rob you of your will to go on?

If you have these symptoms at work in you, then you need to understand and enter God’s rest. The Word is clear. God has so much He wants to shower upon you.

That’s why I felt the need to start this series. Many believers, either through a lack of understanding or disobedience, fail to see God’s blessing in their lives. They miss out on resting in the Lord.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
Hebrews 4:1

In my next post I’ll show the results of a life resting in Christ.

Question: How has resting in Christ helped you to overcome these problems?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Encouragement, Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Foundation for Fasting #spiritualfast

BibleI am posting about the New Testament fast.  I believe that it can revolutionize your walk with the Lord.

Did you ever feel like your spiritual breakthrough was right there?  You could almost taste it.  You have the faith, but you just couldn’t cross over to the promise before you.

Hopefully, that will no longer be the case.  No, you don’t have to fast to be saved.  However, if your desire is to walk in the fullness of the salvation that the Lord has provided for you, then fasting is one of the tools available to propel you forward.

Fasting is something that should be a normal part of your walk with the Lord.  As a matter of fact, no one should even be aware of your doing it.

When the Lord spoke of washing your face and putting oil on your head he was referring to the normal grooming that most people of His culture did each day.  In other words, go through your day in the normal routine, only without eating.  That is the impact of what Jesus was teaching in the verses we looked at in my last post (Matthew 6:16-18).

On the other hand, I have seen people get religious about this point.  They lock themselves in their room for the day.  It’s not a sin for people to know that you’re fasting.

My regular fasting day is Tuesday.  It would be impossible for me to hide this from my wife and children.  What I’m not to do is use fasting as a way to make myself look good in the eyes of others.  I simply go through the day normally – only without eating.

The big question is – why does the Lord want us to fast?

To understand fasting, we must look at an incident that occurred in Jesus’ ministry.  This happened immediately after the Lord’s transfiguration on the mountain.  I will look at it in detail in my next post.  By understanding this event, we will see why the supernatural is so difficult to enter into in the United States.

The first thing I need to understand is who I am as a person.  I’m a multi-part being.  I exist as body (flesh), soul (mind), and spirit.

My spirit is the part of my being that communes with God.  My spirit believes everything in the Word of God.  It agrees, without reservation, to every word spoken by the Lord.

My flesh, on the other hand, is the part that I inherited from my ancestor, Adam.  It rejects and doubts whatever God says.  The tension between the flesh and the spirit has created a war that’s constantly waging within me.

The third aspect, my mind, is the part of me that’s in control and has to sort it all out.  This will be the case until we receive our resurrected body from the Lord.  So we better know the scriptural way to handle it.

In my next post we’ll see what Jesus says the problem is.

Questions: Have you been trust God for a spiritual breakthrough?  How close is it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Fasting, Spirit of Excellence

 

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