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Friendship with Christ

As Paul closes his first letter to the Corinthian church, he makes a number of concluding remarks.  Most of them are private greetings.

The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings.  Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.  All the brothers here send you greetings.  Greet one another with a holy kiss.
I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.
If anyone does not love the Lord — a curse be on him.  Come, O Lord!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
My love to all of you in Christ Jesus.  Amen.
1 Corinthians 16:19-24

As I read through these statements, there’s one that grabs my attention.  Is Paul really pronouncing a curse on someone?  What’s that all about?

It’s important that we understand what the apostle is saying here.  To start with, the love that he’s speaking about is not the normal word, agape, that’s usually translated as such.

Paul uses a word that speaks of the emotional feelings of affection that two friends have toward one another.  He’s talking about being a friend of Christ.

As believers, we should have a deeper level of love for Christ than just a choice to love Him.  There should be an emotional component as well.  Just thinking of all He’s done for us should cause us to desire to be with Jesus.

This goes right along with something that James said.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?  Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

In this verse, James uses the same word that Paul used.  It’s an emotional desire for friendship.

We know that the Lord wants to be your friend.  But what He reveals about Himself is that you can’t be both His friend and the world’s friend.

Understand – you can have friends in the world.  But the Spirit of God doesn’t want you to be a friend of the world system.  We can’t be chasing after the same things that the world does.

What is Paul trying to tell us by cursing someone who befriends the world system?  Actually, he doesn’t use the normal word for a curse.

He uses the Greek word, anathema.  In that society, this word meant a religious ban.  Paul is talking about someone who claims to be a Christian, yet shows no emotional attachment to Christ.  In other words, if you know someone like that, then don’t hang around with them.

You don’t want to have an intimate friendship with someone who doesn’t have an affection for Christ.  A love for the world will rub off on you.  Your walk with the Lord will suffer for it.

We need to be wise in our choice of intimate relationships.  They’ll affect our devotion to Christ – either for good or bad.

Don’t just choose to love Christ.  Cultivate an emotional friendship with Him as well.

Question: What does friendship with Christ look like in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2019 in Fellowship, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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Why We Choose Talk Over Power

PhoneFor the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
1 Corinthians 4:20

For a couple of posts I’ve been talking about the power of God. In my last article, we learned that the definition of power was the ability to produce change. If there’s no change taking place in our lives, then no power has been manifest. The simple fact is – when God shows up, things begin to change.

You have to remember that the above passage was written when Christians were the people who were turning the world upside down for the Gospel. In light of this, we must ask ourselves; how powerful is the kingdom of God today?

There are those who might get mad at me and say that you can’t quantify the power of God. That’s because we like to spiritualize things that we don’t understand. There’s an easy way to tell how much of the power of God is being released in our lives and ministries. You simply take into account how much change is being produced.

The unfortunate answer is – not much. In a lot of churches around the country not many are being healed, set free from sins, or seeing great growth in their spiritual lives. The problem is that we’ve become masters at using talk over power.

We say things like, “That was a powerful message.” Or, “We had a powerful service last night.” I’ve also heard, “She has a powerful anointing to sing.”

The fact is, we come to church on Sunday mornings and sing a host of songs about the power of God. Then we sit back and think that because we just sang about it, somehow that means we’re walking in it. If there’s no change, then our power is just words.

If no one leaves the service changed, then there was no power manifested in that meeting. People weeping during the worship service is no indication of power. There are plenty of unsaved actors and singers that can evoke an incredible emotional response from their audience, but that’s not power.

We’ve learned to mask our powerlessness by calling the release of emotion “power”. The bottom line is – no matter how many people wept, no matter how many chills ran down your spine, no matter how many people were slain in the spirit – if no one was changed, then there was no power.

Don’t get me wrong. There are churches around the country where the power of God is manifest at every meeting. People’s lives are being changed daily. But that’s not the norm in America.

If we’re ever to see the real move of God, then we must first come to grips with the truth. We have to desire change. To be hungry for God’s power is to be hungry for change. We must admit our need for God to do His work in us.

Question: Have you seen the power of God at work? If not, are you hungry for change?

© Nicolas Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2016 in Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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Get Your Zeal On!

 

Fire DangerWe’ve all heard of the armor of God in Ephesians, chapter 6. Many people talk about the need to put on this holy armor. But do you know that there’s one more piece of clothing available to us that covers it all?

Paul the Apostle was a Bible scholar. He knew the Scripture better than most others of his day. What we fail to realize, is that he didn’t come up with the teaching of the armor of God on his own. It was actually from the book of Isaiah.

In Isaiah, chapter 59, we see God Himself putting on the armor – at least the helmet and breastplate. This is His personal armor – it was made to fit Him. That’s why I need to abide in Christ for it to fit me. But that’s another teaching…

I want to talk about something else that Isaiah saw as the Lord was preparing for the spiritual 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

The reason that Isaiah could only see the breastplate and helmet was because God put on some clothes over the suit of armor. Did you know that one of these is available to us today?

It’s not the garments of vengeance. We know from Scripture that vengeance is His alone.

I believe that part of our problems stem from the fact that we want the armor but still fail to fully clothe ourselves. It’s the zeal of the Lord that covers it all. That’s one of the things that the church is lacking in this generation. Paul puts it this way…

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Romans 12:11

When should we be seen without the cloak? NEVER!! But what is zeal?

Zeal itself is a very strong emotion. It’s when you desire to possess some quality or possession of the one you’re zealous for. It’s actually the same as jealousy – only the positive side of that quality.

But I’m talking about being zealous toward Christ. This is a passionate, consuming zeal that’s focused on the Lord. It drives us toward the accomplishment of His will and the maintaining of His honor.

All of this is done in the face of whatever is happening in the world around us. It doesn’t matter whether we’re in the middle of good or bad circumstances.

Christ must be the focus of our zeal. We need to get emotional about our God. We need to stir it up.

That’s what warriors do before a battle. They would hold council the night before they met the enemy. They’d tell stories of former victories, sing, chant victory slogans, and raise the war cry. All of this was to stir up the emotion of zeal.

In the spiritual struggles we face, there’s no difference in the way we achieve victory. God wants us to put on His zeal before we enter the heat of battle. We must take up this attitude: “I live for the honor of Christ!”

Question: How often do you get emotional about the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Spiritual Warfare, The Church

 

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