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Tag Archives: God

Three Symptoms of a Lack of Power

Compared to the early church, we live in a generation that barely sees the power of God at work. As a result, we need to use other methods to promote God’s kingdom. Do you know what these powerless methods look like?

I believe that if God’s people would spend time with the Holy Spirit, and then obey what they hear, we would see society changed. Instead, we rely on human plans to try and do God’s work. It’s sad, but I think that we’ve simply gotten used to ministry without power.

A few posts ago I talked about how Paul’s view of the Gospel was a demonstration of the power of God. Now he explains what it’s not…

For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.
1 Thessalonians 2:3

Without operating in the power of the Spirit, leaders must find other ways of getting people to serve God. Paul lists three of them here. I think you’ll be surprised at what he says to us.

The first word he uses is error, which means wandering. This word literally means to stray because you’ve left the right way and are now simply roaming around.

It’s very easy to leave the right path if I never seek God’s will to begin with. Ministries with this problem are always trying something new, because they saw it work somewhere else. They wander from new program to new program, hoping for something that works.

For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:25

The goal should be to seek the Lord’s will for my life, then walk in it. That will keep me from wandering around, hoping to someday stumble upon God’s plan for me.

The next issue is that of impure motives. The reason behind the ministry is as important as the ministry itself. There are some ministries that seem like their only goal is to exalt themselves.

We live in a society where many of the advertising and political campaigns are based upon negativity. It’s not about what I’m trying to do, but what you’re doing wrong. Unfortunately we’ve carried this kind of thinking into the church.

I believe that I should be able to do what God has called me to do without having to put down any other ministry. The fact is that making someone else look bad, doesn’t make me look any better.

The final issue Paul talked about was trickery. It’s believed that this Greek word means to set up a decoy or bait in hunting. It’s unfortunate that there are ministries that view believers as prey.

To make things worse, the decoy or bait they use, is the Scripture. Please understand me; I’m not saying that all televangelists are bad. Most of them are trying to do God’s will. But there are some who, I believe, only study the Bible in order to find a Scripture verse that will convince you to take money out of your wallet and put it into theirs.

Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 4:2

I truly believe that if I’m doing God’s will, then God will provide my needs. Yes, He will use people to give into my ministry. But I won’t need to make them feel guilty or use any other form of trickery or deceit.

We need to be looking at the fruit of the ministries that we want to support. We should only give into those works that are proclaiming the truth of Jesus Christ.

Question: What do you think are the marks of a ministry of integrity?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Are We Pursuing God – Really?

JogLast week I mentioned our pursuit of God. Many believers are convinced that they’re pursuing God. But is that what’s really happening?

I want to take a few posts to talk about the pursuit of God. Over and over again in the Scripture we see God saying to His people, “Seek Me, follow Me and come near Me.” One of the most important jobs of the Holy Spirit is to lead us into the Lord’s presence.

The fact is that God wants to be pursued – He wants to be sought after – and He wants to be found. The question I have is; are we pursuing God the way He wants to be pursued?

The Nation of Israel learned this lesson the hard way.

Here are two verses that don’t sound like they go together.

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them.”
Isaiah 58:1-2

The first verse talks about showing the people their rebellion. In what way are they rebelling?

The next verse sounds like just the opposite. Day after day they seek out the Lord. They are eager to know His ways. They are asking for God to come near them.

This verse should actually cause us to stop and think. It sounds like much of the church in our generation. We are seeking, asking, studying, and desiring the presence of God to show up.

And yet, the Lord calls it rebellion. What was the problem? Actually, it was a very subtle one. The beginning of the next verse gives us the answer.

“‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’”
Isaiah 58:3a

They’re error was that they weren’t really pursuing God. They were trying to use fasting, prayer, going to church, and studying the Bible as a way to get God’s attention. In actuality, they were trying to get God to pursue them.

I believe that many of us in the church today are falling into the same trap. We’re trying to get God to come after us.

This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?” declares the Lord.
“This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.
Isaiah 66:1-2

In effect, God is saying, “What could you possibly offer that I would pursue you?” This verse literally says that the one God looks intently atthe one who gets His attention – is the one who humbles himself before God.

I want to take a couple of posts to look at this aspect of pursuing God.

Question: How do we show either pride or humility in our pursuit of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Abel – Acceptable Offerings

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I look at Cain and his unacceptable offering, it’s not really complete unless we understand why Abel’s offering was accepted. After all, why would Cain kill Abel if he was really mad at God?

The truth is that there’s an offering that’s acceptable to God. The question is; what makes it acceptable?

But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering…
Genesis 4:4

Some say that God accepted Abel because he brought a blood offering, but that’s not the real reason. We must also remember that God called for many offering of firstfruits from the Israelites. So there’s no law that says God only accepts blood offerings.

You need to understand the times that Cain and Able lived in to see the issue. In talking about Abel’s birth, the Bible says…

Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
Genesis 4:2

Why was Abel a shepherd of flocks? I ask that because God did not give mankind permission to eat meat until after the flood.

When Adam and Eve sinned and were removed from the garden, God did something interesting.

The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
Genesis 3:21

In order to cover their sin and nakedness, God slaughtered an innocent animal before them. He showed them the way to sacrifice a sin offering.

Abel was the shepherd of the flock. That means that Abel was the priest designated by God to offer sacrifices and offerings. Even the Lord Jesus referred to Abel as the first prophet (Luke 11:50-51).

Because Abel was God’s chosen priest, he was the only one who could offer sacrifices before God acceptably. Protocol dictated that Cain bring his offering to Abel in order for God to accept it.

Remember in my last post we saw that God told Cain, “If you do what is right, you will be accepted.” It wasn’t what Cain offered that was wrong; it was how he offered it.

This was going to require humility on Cain’s part. That’s always the catch, even for us. We offer a lot of things to God – Worship, praise, tithes, offerings, prayers, etc. In all of this we must humble ourselves before God.

I must realize that what I give isn’t acceptable simply because I’m bringing it. I’m only accepted because I’m in Christ. He’s our great High Priest.

We can’t boast in what we offer. It’s not about us. It’s about the One who makes us acceptable to God.

Question: How do you show your humility before God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2016 in Legalism, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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God Became Man

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis week especially, many people are thinking about the Christmas holiday. It’s funny to me how it stirs up so much controversy.

Here and there you see the scenes of the season. A humble stable with animals and a

manger. Why does it offend and anger a lot of people? After all, it’s only a father, a mother, and her child.

The problem is what it means to the human race. The writer of Hebrews gives us the truth behind this simple picture.

You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor.
Hebrews 2:7

God became man. He humbled Himself in ways we could never imagine. The Creator of the universe needed to have His diapers changed. He had to depend upon his parents to feed and clothe Him. That’s what He willingly chose in order to save us from our sin.

The all-powerful One clothed Himself in our weakness.

For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.
Hebrews 2:17

For this reason, He became like us. In the summertime I see ants all over the place. Sometimes they’re just a nuisance. What God did for us would be like me becoming an ant in order to communicate to other ants. I would have to eat what they eat and live where they live. That’s not a very appealing thought to me.

Think about what it meant to Christ. He got tired, hungry, frustrated, and angry. He had to deal with the enemy as a man – as someone weaker in the flesh. That’s why He alone is worthy to be our advocate, and our judge.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.
Hebrews 5:8-9

This is one of the characteristics of the Lord that amazes me. The God of the universe – the highest authority there is – learned obedience through suffering.

Please understand what this means when it says He became perfect. That word means to become mature. He was always perfect in the sense of His sinlessness. What He had to learn was the maturing process that all humans must go through.

In my next post I’ll talk about this in a little more detail. My desire is that it will give us a little more insight into the holiday that we celebrate.

Question: What amazes you about the birth of Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2015 in Encouragement, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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God is God

GalaxyIn my last post I started talking about the person of the Holy Spirit. I’m trying to show that the language we use is messing us up sometimes. We don’t serve three gods. We serve one God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We run into problems when we try breaking them apart into separate entities. That’s because it’s God we’re talking about.

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 2:12

So who lives in us? According to this verse it’s the Holy Spirit.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

Does Christ live in me or does the Holy Spirit live in me? That’s a dumb question – God lives in me.

You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
Romans 8:9

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ. He’s all the same person. To know the Holy Spirit is to know Christ and the Father. We just need to deepen our relationship with Him.

“I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
John 17:22-23

The Lord wants us to be one in Him. How will He accomplish this? Jesus said, “I in them…” It’s His Spirit within us, bringing us to unity.

That’s why we call that the unity of the Spirit. You can’t break up God into little separate pieces. God is God – Father, Son, and Spirit.

In many areas of life there’s overlap and cooperation in their function. You can’t say – “Only the Holy Spirit did this.”

The fact is that the God of Glory, Creator of the universe has decided to take up residence in His people. I don’t understand why He’d want to do that, but I’m glad that He did.

It’s the greatest insult imaginable to ignore His presence in us. We should be eager to run to Him throughout our day. It’s the Holy Spirit of God that leads and guides us into the life that’s truly worth living.

Draw on this precious relationship that we’ve been given. The more time you spend with the Lord, the greater the blessing.

Question: How much quality time do you spend with the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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What is Fellowship?

CrossMost believers have no understanding of what fellowship is all about. I want to take a few posts to talk about it.

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
1 John 1:3-7

Our fellowship is in two directions. We have fellowship with God, as well as with other believers. We can’t live a healthy spiritual life without it.

It’s the basis of a joyful ministry and a fulfilled life. It’s how we tap into everything God has for us. Unfortunately, many Christians have no clue what fellowship entails.

The word itself, koinonia in the Greek, means partnership or participation. It comes from a root that means shared or common.

The Bible talks a lot about what we have in common. There’s our common salvation and our common faith. All of us who are in Christ have reached out to God – which is our common faith. We have all received from God – our common salvation.

The fact is, we’re all in this together. We’re all the same at the foot of the cross. But how do we view these things? Am I a part of something that’s much bigger than myself? Or do I view this walk as all about me? These are important questions.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:42

This verse talks about the attitude of the early church. It tells us the things that they were devoted to. The word devoted literally means to be strong, steadfast toward. These were the things that the New Testament church majored on.

We would probably agree with most of them. Hearing the teaching of the Word of God. Going to church and celebrating the communion service. I don’t think anyone would question the need to pray.

But fellowship; what about that one? Do we really need to be strong and steadfast toward that aspect of our Christian walk?

We are all a part of the body of Christ. Fellowship should be one of our main emphases. Without it our spiritual lives would shrivel up. We need to understand the function of fellowship in the believer’s life.

That’s the basis of this new series.

Question: How do you view fellowship in your spiritual walk?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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God and the Candy Machine

 

CandyThis is the first of six reposts of my most read articles. This one is from 2013. It was originally from a series dealing with how similar our modern attitudes are to the crowd in John Chapter 6. They seem to have their eyes on the temporary, while Christ is trying to point them to the eternal.

Click here to view the original series.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty…And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:35-40

Notice that Jesus repeats Himself here. Two times He said to them, “I will raise them up at the last day.” It’s a very simple statement. It’s so simple, in fact, that most Christians miss it as well.

He told them that if they come to Him and put their trust in Him, He’ll give them eternal life and He’ll raise them up at the last day. The key is that you must have this eternal life in you BEFORE you enter the grave. If you have this eternal life in you, then death will not be able to keep you any more than it could hold on to the Lord.

He said it twice yet they didn’t hear him. Look at their reaction.

At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.”
John 6:41

It went right over their heads. They missed it. The Lord said you can have eternal life and that He’d raise you up at the last day. All they heard was that He thinks He’s bread that has come down from heaven. “What does He mean He’s bread coming down from heaven?”

They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”
“Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:42-44

Jesus is desperately trying to get it into their head that He wasn’t emphasizing bread coming down from heaven. He was trying to get them to embrace eternal life. Over and over again He said, “I’ll raise him up at the last day.” They just didn’t get it.

I think, that just like us, they didn’t want to get it. They could tell that what Jesus was talking about meant change. They would have to change their views and attitudes about God. The Lord would no longer be that big “candy machine in the sky,” but a friend with whom you must spend time cultivating a relationship.

Question: How do you deepen your relationship with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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