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Hearing God’s Wisdom

I’ve been posting about how the Wisdom of God can bring your life to a whole new level.  It was destined, by God, to bring glory to the church.  We now need to see how we can lay hold of this wisdom.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

The power of the Spirit takes us beyond our own human understanding.  No eye has seen – You can read the Bible from cover to cover and not see everything God has prepared for your life.

No ear has heard – You can listen to every sermon, prophet, and apostle and yet still not hear all God has for you.

No mind has conceived – You can’t brainstorm, imagine, or even dream up everything that’s your portion in the will of God.  BUT…God has revealed it by His SPIRIT.

Paul then goes on to explain that the spirit can investigate everything, even the deep things of God. I believe that Paul is talking about your own human spirit. Your spirit can search out all things.

You may think Google is good. The Bible tells you that your spirit is the greatest search engine ever created.

I know that Paul was given an enormous amount of revelation.  He wrote most of the New Testament under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  How did he receive all of that?  By spending time in the spirit.

Here Paul tells us the secret of this supernatural revelation.  It can only be received in the spirit.  He makes it clear that your flesh (eyes and ears) cannot grasp it.  Neither can your soul (mind) come up with it.  It has to be a work of your spirit.

If this is true, then you must know how to use your spirit in order to access this information.  It only comes to a person who knows how to interact on the spiritual level.  This means that you must know how to pray in the spirit in order to receive the revelation that’s referenced by this verse.

Your body and soul can never search out the deeper things of God; it will only be accomplished by your spirit working in conjunction with the Holy Spirit.

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?  In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.  We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
1 Corinthians 2:11-12

We have to understand how our human spirit functions.  Most people have no idea what it does.  Other than knowing that we have a spirit, most people don’t even give it a second thought.

Our spirit it the most important part of our being.  It has abilities and functions that are indispensable to our Christian walk.  One of its functions is to search out what we’re thinking about.  Your spirit knows what you want as well as all of your hopes and dreams.  The fact is that your spirit knows you intimately.

In the same way that your spirit knows your thoughts, God’s Spirit knows His thoughts intimately.  Now for the question that can unlock the power of God in your life.  What if these two spirits get together and compare notes?  Your spirit knows your needs, thoughts, desires, and questions.  God’s Spirit knows all the answers to these things.

When they get together, the result is a release of the power of God over your life and ministry.  It’s through prayer in the spirit that this will happen.  That’s how to lay hold of the wisdom of God.  It can only be done in the realm of the spirit.

Question: How does prayer in the spirit affect your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Spirit vs. Flesh

In my last post, I started talking about Paul’s teaching on the Spirit-led life.  He tells us that we must cultivate our spiritual life if we want to overcome the flesh.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.  For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature.  They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.
Galatians 5:16-17

When I read verse 16 in the original language, it’s very powerful.  Paul says that if you walk in the spirit, you will not bring to completion the things that the flesh is passionate about.

It doesn’t matter how much will-power you have or how many good intentions.  I’m writing this in September – how have your New Year’s resolutions turned out?  The only thing that can change the destination of our life is a walk in the spirit.

Verse 17 explains why this is true.  Your flesh is passionate against what your spirit wants.  Your spirit also has different goals than your flesh.  The two of them are battling for control of your mind.

But it’s the last sentence that gives us the understanding.  Because of their conflict, you cannot determine the things you do.  That’s the literal meaning of that verse.

You may not want to hear it, but your mind has very little to do in determining the path your life takes.  It usually bends either to the will of your spirit or your flesh.  Whichever has the stronger voice, determines what your mind will decide.

The teaching that “whatever you put your mind to you can accomplish” is a lie.  The illusion is strengthened by the fact that your mind can change course over the short term.  Like the first month of the gym membership that you knew would change your life.

The only time it appears to work is when your flesh and your mind are passionate about the same things.  If your flesh wants to be rich, or to own a large company, or to have great political power; that’s when it seems like your mind’s in control.

Other times, your flesh my use self-control as a means to an end.  That’s why many people who look like successes on the outside, turn out to be alcohol, drug, or sex addicts.  Then we’re shocked when their life ends in a tragic overdose or a suicide.

That’s why it’s so important that a Christian doesn’t fall victim to this false teaching.  You can’t bring about God’s plan for your life by disciplining your mind.  It has to be done in the spirit.

Paul brings this out in the next verse.

But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
Galatians 5:18

Being led by the spirit is not about controlling yourself.  The only way to walk in God’s plan for you is to strengthen your spirit.  Then, your spirit will take over in plotting the course for your life.

But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
Romans 7:6

Spend time praying in the spirit.  Activate your spiritual walk.  Only then will you see the change in your lifestyle.  You’ll be glad that you did.

Question: How has your life changed since you started praying in the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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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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Are Your Clothes Shrinking?

clothes2I’m posting about the place of fasting in the life of a believer. In my last post I looked at an incident in the life of the early church.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Acts 13:2-3

We saw that it was fasting that prepared them to hear from God. They received the message to set apart Barnabas and Saul. So what did they do next? They continued to fast and pray in order to hear the specifics of this calling.

You need the whole Word from God. Too many people run off with only part of the message. Then they get into trouble and blame God.

What’s so special about fasting? In Jesus’ ministry He taught what to do “when you fast.” Jesus assumed that fasting would be a normal part of our lives.

I believe that hearing from God is the great assumption in the New Testament. In the above verse, it doesn’t look like a special, radical, event took place in the church. A mature believer should be hearing from God regularly.

The problem we have today is that much of the church has lost this ability to hear from God. It’s hearing from God that gets us to the narrow gate I talked about in my last post. His Word to us helps us to stay on the narrow road. Fasting is the key.

There was a point when the disciples of John and the Pharisees were fasting. They noticed that Jesus’ disciples were not. They questioned Jesus about it.

He said that fasting would change in the transition from the Old Covenant to the New. The Lord wanted the disciples to wait until after the resurrection to begin fasting. Jesus gives a description of these differences in parable form.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.”
Matthew 9:16

First, the Lord talks about the outside – a garment. The old way was to take an old cloth and patch an old garment. Fasting in the Old Testament was only a patch. At that time, fasting was all about getting God to listen to me. I needed to patch things up between God and me.

If I try to patch the garment in the New Testament it only makes things worse. Then how do I get God to hear me? I DON’T!!!

In Christ we now have access to God 24/7. There’s now no condemnation and we can enter boldly into His presence. Now we are a new garment and we don’t need a patch.

But a new garment (back then) would shrink with usage. Fasting under the New Covenant shrinks the outer garment. That’s what we look for – the flesh to decrease. We want the voice of the flesh to get quieter.

Fasting forcefully puts down the flesh. This is because now it’s about me hearing from God. God hears me in Christ. But I need to hear Him when He speaks. And that’s where fasting comes in.

Question: How often, and for how, long do you fast?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2016 in Fasting, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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One More Week

TimingI’ve been posting about the fact that the Holy Spirit in us is jealous over us. He’s passionate about His love for us. Ignoring or rejecting His attempts to work in us gives the Holy Spirit emotional pain.

We talk a lot about faith. Without it we can’t receive anything from God. If we truly trust God, then we’ll delight in His plan to renew our lives.

Rejecting the Lord’s instruction is the opposite of faith. We can see this in the example of Moses.

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.
Hebrews 11:24-26

I’ve heard different people teach about this verse and I think we’ve missed the real point. The writer isn’t saying that sin only gives you pleasure for a short time. Actually, if you spend enough money, you can sustain the pleasure of a sinful lifestyle for quite a long time before it catches up with you.

This verse literally says that Moses chose not to enjoy the pleasures of sin for this little time only. In other words, he didn’t say to God, “Let me have one more month as a royal Egyptian before I follow your plan for my life.”

“Pharaoh’s birthday is in two months. That kind of celebration will never happen again. I’ll attend it, then after that I’ll identify with Israel.”

The trap is that it will never be the right time to live for God. It will never be the right time to listen to and obey the Holy Spirit in us.

Scripture says that Moses was looking ahead to the reward. Do I look ahead to the reward that the Holy Spirit is holding out to me? The choice is – do I want to go where the world is leading me to or where the Holy Spirit wants to take me?

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
Galatians 5:16-18

That’s why we need the Holy Spirit’s leading. If we submit to His process then there’s no need for the law. It’s when our heart sides with the flesh that the conflict starts. My spirit wants to submit to Christ and my flesh wants to chase after the world.

I need make the choice to follow the Spirit’s leading. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today – while the Holy Spirit is seeking my attention. Don’t ignore His gentle voice calling for your fellowship.

Question: Is there something in your life that’s been hindering you from fully submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leadership?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Revival, The Church

 

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Which Criminal are You?

CrossesWe all want to experience the resurrection power of Christ in our lives. We just don’t like the road that it takes to get there. Paul understood what needed to happen to walk in the power.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.
Romans 6:5-7

This is a huge verse. For Paul, it was the foundation for all that he did. He writes that we should know this. But knowing and applying are sometimes two very different things.

The Greek words of this verse say that our old, antique, worn out man is crucified with Him. What does that mean to you? How do you see this taking place on a daily basis? What’s your reaction to it? These are the important questions we all need to deal with.

Actually, we can gain some insight into it by looking at the scene of the Lord’s death on Calvary. There were a couple of people who really were crucified with Christ. What was their reaction?

One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”
Luke 23:39

Here’s the first response. You’re the Christ. It sounds like there’s some level of belief. But the plea is, “Save yourself AND ME!”

The unfortunate thing about this is that many believers do the same thing. They’ll try everything possible other than crucifying the old nature.

“Lord, surely there must be some way to keep the things I enjoyed about the old man.”

What we need to realize is that it’s because of our sin nature that Christ went to the cross. That’s exactly where our flesh needs to hang. It needs to be done away with, never to be heard from again.

It was the second criminal that got it right.

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:40-43

He understood that the cross was where he belonged. But that wasn’t the end of the story. He was also looking forward to the resurrection power of Christ.

There are two responses to being crucified with Christ. Which do you choose? Keeping the old man as long as you can, trying to make him be good. Or will you nail him to the cross with Christ and open yourself up to the power of the risen Lord.

I want to experience the manifestation of the kingdom of God during this life. To do that I need to make sure that my sin nature is right where it belongs – nailed to the cross with Jesus.

Question: What does it take to crucify the old sin nature?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2014 in Power of God, Revival

 

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In the Spirit – A Special Time & Place

MeditationI’ve been posting about the intimacy that comes from worshipping God in spirit.  That brings us to another question. What does in the spirit mean?  It’s a common enough expression throughout the Word of God, but do we really know what it means?

On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet…
Revelation 1:10

This is the Apostle John describing what took place just as the Lord was about to show him the Revelation he recorded in the Scripture.  He went out of way to let us know that he was not just eating breakfast or reading the newspaper.  He was in the spirit.

It sounds like this is a special place.  Of course, that’s only logical.  Even in our natural lives intimacy with another person requires a special time and place.  A man could not be intimate with his wife in the stands at a hockey game.

In the same way, intimacy with God requires a special time and place – that is being in the spirit.

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.
Philippians 3:3

In this section, Paul is talking about those who were trying to place Old Testament rules on Gentile believers.  It’s about the overcoming church that he writes, “It is we who worship God in spirit.”  We are the ones who boast only in Christ.  True Christianity places no confidence in flesh.

The Scripture is clear that flesh and blood cannot worship at the level of the spirit.  The Biblical picture always shows that in worship, our flesh must be prostrate and silent.  That’s why we read things like, “I fell at His feet like a dead man.”

This means that my hands cannot worship God.  Neither can my mouth, my feet or my entire body.

Worship can only be an act of my spirit.  So, if I don’t understand how my spirit operates, then I really can’t understand true worship.

Let’s start with the basics.  God created us all in His image.  He is a three-part being – Father, Son, and Spirit.  God created us with the same three parts.  We have a body, a soul, and a spirit.

Our soul is who we are.  It’s the seat of our mind, memories, personality, and emotions.  My soul is the real me.  When I want to talk to you, it’s not your body I want to talk to, but your soul – the person inside the body.

Your soul is housed in a thing called your flesh or your body.  This is the part of your being that allows your soul to interact and communicate in the physical, natural realm.  It’s the part of you that can taste, smell, touch, hear, and see.

Unfortunately, this is the part of your being that’s marred by sin.  Because Adam chose the path of rebellion, the flesh now desires to be first place in your life.  This is what causes most of our trouble.

The third part of our being is our spirit.  This is the part of us that allows our soul to interact and communicate in the spiritual realm.  This is the dimension where God, angels and demons usually dwell.  It’s with your spirit that God desires to have fellowship with you on His level.

Question: Why is overcoming the flesh so important to the believer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Prayer, Prayer in the Spirit

 

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