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God’s Armor – Using the Sword of the Spirit

In my last post, I explained that the Sword of the Spirit is a special Word that you’ve received from God.  You get it by spending quality time in His presence.  The Holy Spirit trains you before giving you this gift.

For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

This truth is hard for us to accept sometimes.  The true Word of God is alive and active.  It has a life and will of its own.  I can speak it, but I can’t control what it does.

We sometimes think that if God would speak through us, we’ll have such a great time.  That’s not always the case.

Think about Elijah.  He heard from God and then spoke to a king saying that it wouldn’t rain for a few years.  Because of that Word, Elijah had to live by a brook for his water.  Later, the brook dried up and he had to go to a widow for provision.

When God’s Word is invoked over a situation, that Word has its own plan.  Scripture makes it clear that it will accomplish what God ordained it to do. (Isaiah 55:11)

Even more than that, once God’s Word goes forth, nothing can be protected from it.  It can totally change every area of your life.  The writer of Hebrews continues with this thought.

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
Hebrews 4:13

When this verse says that everything is laid bare, it uses a special Greek word.  It literally means to expose the neck of a victim so that they can be killed.  This is a powerful spiritual weapon.

This is why the Holy Spirit must train us to use it.  God will never entrust it to an infant, the unapproved, or fools.  It can totally destroy the work of the enemy in someone’s life, in a city, or in a region.

As believers, we should desire to enter the spiritual battle.  Our goal should be to set the captives free from the influence and control of the enemy.

In speaking about those with God-given authority, Paul made an interesting observation.

For he is God’s servant to do you good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing.  He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Romans 13:4

I know that in its context, this verse is talking about people in authority, such as the Police Department, who are authorized to keep the peace.  But there’s a greater application.

Are you God’s servant?  Do you desire to do good?  If so, then this verse could be applied to you in a spiritual sense.

This verse tells me that there’s a reason why the police carry a gun.  In the same way, the Lord doesn’t issue the Sword of the Spirit for no reason.  If you have no reason to bear the sword, you will not be issued the sword.

What’s the reason that we’re given this sword?  To explain it, I’m going to give a word by word translation of the last sentence of the above verse.  In essence, God’s servant is a punisher, who repeatedly carries out justice against evil, while motivated by a violent passion.

Please remember – I’m ONLY talking about attacking the devil’s kingdom IN THE SPIRIT.  I’m not talking about any physical attack.

With that in mind, if you have no intention of attacking the enemy’s kingdom with a violent passion, then you’ll have no reason to be given the Sword of the Spirit.  To put it another way, God will have no reason to give you a special Word from Him.

We need to allow the Holy Spirit to train us.  Our generation needs more believers who can handle this sword.

Question: How passionate are you about seeing God’s will done on earth?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God’s Armor – The Belt of Truth

Our Supply in GodNow that I’ve talked about the spiritual battle that we face, we need to know how to prepare.  To do this, the Lord has given us access to His personal set of armor.  It will take me a number of posts to cover them in detail.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist…
Ephesians 6:14a

The first piece of armor that we’re given is the Belt of Truth.  We’re told that it needs to be buckled around our waist.  Literally, the belt is buckled around our loins.

In Scripture, our loins speak about our seed.  Not to be too graphic, but that’s where our reproductive organs reside.  Our seed needs to be protected.

We’re told throughout the Bible that we need to be bearing fruit.  That’s not going to happen without a good supply of seed.

First, I want to deal with some misconceptions concerning our seed.  Some think that a few bad seeds mixed in don’t matter.  That’s not true.  Weeds grow and spread without any help at all.

Another wrong thought is that anything that we plant will grow.  That’s not true either.  Galatians 6:7-9 explains that you reap what you sow IF you don’t give up.  It also matters where you sow your seed.  They need to be planted in good soil.

With that understanding, we can talk about the seed that we want to see grow in our lives.  How do we protect our precious, spiritual seed?

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:13

Peter understood this concept.  In this verse, the phrase, prepare your minds for action literally reads, gird the loins of your mind.  Spiritually speaking, your loins, the storehouse of your seed, is your mind.

The reason for this is because your mind should be where you’re placing the truth.  Every time you memorize Scripture, you’re placing good seeds in your storehouse.

The real question then becomes; how well do you protect your seed?  It’s really easy to complain when nothing seems to be growing.  We need to keep our seed from being nullified.

Jesus communicated this in His prayer to the Father.  He wanted the disciples, and us, to bear much fruit.

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

We’re talking about the truth of God’s Word, not man’s word.  The only way to protect your seed is to walk in the truth of God.

When we walk in doubt, fear, presumption, hearsay, or our own habits, we nullify God’s Word in us.  We need to operate in the truth – “Thus sayeth the Lord.”  Our goal should be, “I’m doing this because God said…”

We get into trouble because many times we plant a lot of unprotected seed.  We need to learn the lesson from airport security.  “Has your suitcase been away from your control?”

Please understand that this is not just a prayer you make in the morning.  You can’t just confess the Belt of Truth when you get up, and then feed the spiritual pigeons the rest of the day.

We have to protect our seed if we want to see it grow.  That means allowing the truth of God’s Word to saturate all that we do.

In my next post, I’ll talk about how to actually use the Belt of Truth in our daily lives.

Question: How much of God’s Word have you stored in your mind?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Repairing the Body of Christ

I’m continuing my series through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s writing it in order to give them practical advice on remaining faithful to Christ.

I think it’s beyond question that our God is faithful.  What He’s looking for, is faithful people.  The Lord wants to see believers who walk wholeheartedly with Him.  How is that possible, unless we walk faithfully with each other?

Because of this, we’re not called to live solitary lives.  In Christ, we’re part of a body.  We need each other.  Without the local church, we can never reach our greatest potential.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:10

Fulfilling this will require us to walk in agreement.  Agreement is a place of power in the Holy Spirit.  In the above verse, the word, agree means to speak the same thing.  The only way that will happen is if we’re all speaking the Word of God.

It takes time in the Word to bring about agreement.  It’s not about me convincing you that I’m right.  It’s when we both come into agreement that God’s way is right.

The Lord wants us to unite in mind and thought – with no divisions. The simple truth is that this will never happen if we all do our own things. There has to be a coming together for fellowship around the Word of God.  That’s what church is all about, or at least it should be.  The Word should be central to everything we say and do.

The result is that if we all agree with God’s word, then we’re in agreement with each other.  Along with that, we’ll all be speaking the same thing.

I want to emphasize that among God’s people there should be no divisions.  This means that there are no splits or gaps between us.

Instead, we must be perfectly united with one another.  The word Paul uses in this verse is very interesting.  It literally means to be repaired or mended together.  It describes us as going through a process that joins us together.

This is what we’re to strive for. To be perfectly united in mind and thought requires more than just good teaching.  It means that I’m spending time in the presence of the Holy Spirit.  It also means that you’re spending time in the Spirit.

Being united in this way is a choice.  It’s unfortunate that when some people pray for the unity of the church, what they’re really praying is, “God, please make everyone else think like me.”  That’s not true unity.  It’s us choosing to work together as the Holy Spirit makes us begin to think like God.

As we allow the mind of Christ to take over our lives, we’re setting the stage for the unity of the Spirit.

The more you and I begin to think like Christ, the more unity we’ll walk in.  This is how the fellowship and unity of Christ can be manifest in His people.  Make that your goal as we minister together for the Lord.

Question: What are you doing in order to come into agreement with God’s Word?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Transmitting the Truth

In my last post, we saw how the Thessalonian church pressed into a mature walk with Christ.  It’s something that we need to learn in our present generation.  Paul commends them for it and exhorts them to continue.

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
2 Thessalonians 2:15

Paul tells these believers to stand firm and unmovable in the truth that they’ve received.  The word translated, teachings, is a special word.  It means something that’s been transmitted or passed down from one to another.

The things that they were taught were not invented by Paul.  They were transmitted from God the Father to Christ, then Christ to His apostles, and finally from the apostles to the church.

The unfortunate thing is that, in many cases, we’ve either stopped teaching them or watered them down in our generation.  Personally, I want to see them restored in our lifetime.  That’s the goal behind this blog and my ministry.

Notice that this passage tells us that the church received this through both the spoken and written Word.  This will require us to spend time in the Lord’s presence.  As great as the Scripture is, we need both God’s written and spoken Word to fulfill our calling in Christ.

I like the encouragement that Paul gives at the close of this passage.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

We’re told that if we stand firm in the Lord’s grace, we have eternal encouragement.  That’s important.  It’s speaking about the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

The word, encouragement, is the same word Jesus used in calling the Holy Spirit the Comforter.  In our modern terminology, it means to be a coach.  If we remain in God’s presence, we have an eternal Life-Coach.

Here’s some more good news.  This Coach does not only deal with your physical life, but He can coach your heart as well.  I don’t know about you, but I need the internal coaching more than the outer.

Because of this, our words and our actions will be produced by an overflow of God’s grace working through us.  I believe this is what the world desperately needs to see in the church.

This is what will draw people to the cross of Christ.  It’s only when the Holy Spirit is active in us that the Gospel is energized to that extent.  We need to get back to the pattern that was originally transmitted to the church.

Question: What differences do you see between the early church and our modern church experience?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2018 in Encouragement, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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The Truth or a Lie

In my last post, I talked about the rise of satanic activity in the Last Days before the return of Christ.  The enemy’s kingdom will perform many impressive miracles – counterfeits of the true miracles of God.

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

That’s what’s happening when people go to witch doctors, shamans, or psychic healers.  It’s the same when people go to “faith healers” that don’t use the name of Jesus.

They’ll say that it’s the power of love that’s going to heal you.  No, it’s the power of Satan.  No matter what they call themselves, whether it’s healer, shaman, or witch doctor; without Christ, they rely upon the power of the devil.

Satan also knows what’s going on.  His servants are watching pretty much everyone.  He knows that your boss just got done interviewing a blonde for the secretarial position.  Then you go to a psychic on Friday.

“I need a relationship in my life.  Do you know if I’m going to meet anyone soon?”

The psychic then consults with her “spirit guides.”  (demons)

“The spirits tell me that you’re going to meet a blonde on Monday.  A lovely blonde is coming into your life.”

So you walk into work on Monday.

“Look at that.  They were right.  They really can predict the future.”

No, they just have a good communication system.  It has nothing to do with predicting the future.  Only God knows the future.  He knows it ahead of Satan.

If Satan had known the future the way that God does, he wouldn’t have crucified Jesus.  He would have seen that one coming a mile away.  The fact is, he’s very limited, but he plays really good tricks and mind games.  Paul does his best to warn us so we can be ready for them.

Along with the miracles of Satan, there will be every sort of evil that deceives those that are perishing.  At first glance, we might feel sorry for them.  If they’re being deceived then they don’t know what they’re doing.  How can they be held accountable?

But the Scripture goes on to say that they perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  That’s why God allows the miraculous, powerful delusion of Satan.  They’ve already chosen not to believe the truth of God’s Word.  The reason why they were deceived is that they didn’t want the truth.

So God said if you don’t want the truth, let Me give you something to believe in.  I’ll allow you to believe this lie if you’d rather.  Never get the idea that they’re perishing because they didn’t know.  They’re perishing because they refused to believe the truth.  And when the lie came along, they found it so much more comfortable.

I don’t know why people would rather embrace the lie.  I’ve seen and read about some of the crazy things that people do as they try to get healing, fame, and money.  Why don’t they just trust Jesus?  They probably stumble over it because it’s too easy.

They’d rather fly around the world and go see a doctor in Hong Kong who has them take special herbs that cost $500,000, but they won’t trust Jesus.  I don’t understand it.  They get a lie instead, and that’s what kills them.

As believers, we need to stand our ground in trusting the truth of God’s Word.  That’s what will see us through in these perilous times.

Question: How far have you seen people go in order to refuse the truth?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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I Can’t Believe It!

Why do we find it so hard to believe God’s Word sometimes?  We trust Him for our salvation.  But what about other things like healing, provision, and protection?  Why do some obstacles look bigger than others?

When Jesus rose from the dead, we find that the disciples struggled with the same issues that we do.  You may want to read Mark 16:1-14 before continuing with this post.

The morning that Jesus rose from the dead, some women went to the tomb to finish the embalming process.  When they arrived, they found that the stone was rolled away from the entrance.  Even more astounding was the angel that was sitting inside the tomb, apparently waiting for them.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said.  “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'”
Mark 16:6-7

They received one of the most glorious messages in history.  But instead of the joy it should have brought them, it only made them afraid.  As a matter of fact, the next 6 verses tell of the most doubt-filled, unbelieving time in the lives of the Lord’s followers.

The women, themselves, were too afraid to tell anybody about what the angels had told them.  Mary Magdalene actually saw and talked to the risen Lord.  Yet no one would believe her.  Others saw and spoke to the risen Christ, but nobody believed them either.

Why is it so hard to believe that God can do the impossible?  It’s probably because we look at things through the eyes of our experiences.  That’s why we find it easy to believe God to heal our headache, but cancer seems too big an issue.

The Lord had something to say about it to the disciples.

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
Mark 16:14

Jesus rebuked them for two things.  The first was unbelief.  That’s normal for us as humans.  There will always be a level of unbelief that resides in our flesh – even when we’re trusting God.

The key is in the next word that Jesus used.  The phrase, stubborn refusal is literally hard-hearted in the Greek.  They had closed their hearts to the truth.

We know that faith comes by hearing God’s Word.  The problem was that when they heard the Word of testimony from those who saw Christ, they refused to let that truth enter their heart.  If they had, it would have produced the faith that could overcome their unbelief.

We need to learn this lesson.  Open your heart to God’s Word.  Even if it sounds impossible.  Even if your experience tells you that there’s no way for God to accomplish it.  Put that Word into your heart and let it grow and produce the fruit of faith in your life.

Our God can do the impossible – we simply have to trust Him for it.

Question: What have you seen God do for you that you originally thought was impossible?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2018 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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How God Confirms His Word (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

I firmly believe that the power of the early church was based upon their hearing from God.  God spoke to them, they obeyed, and God confirmed His Word.

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Mark 16:20

Scripture says that the Lord confirms His Word with the signs – healings and miracles – that accompanied it.  What’s our problem?  Do we serve a different God?  Of course not.  Is He still on the throne?  That’s a dumb question.

We serve a God who’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Then what’s the problem?  It should be clear to us.  We’re trying to get God to confirm the Bible verses that we’re preaching, when all along He wants to confirm the Word that He speaks to us.

He never told us to go out and read the Scripture to people for them to be saved – He tells us to proclaim His Word.  I submit to you that our society has heard enough Scripture – it’s everywhere.

They’re sick of hearing Scripture.  Many unbelievers can quote as much of the Bible as some Christians.  What the world is desperate for, is a Word from God.  That’s what’s going to change their lives.  They can argue with the Scripture, but the Word of God will cut straight to their heart.

In our exuberance over the enormous availability of Scripture, we’ve taken it too far.  It doesn’t seem to matter what anyone says.  As long as there’s a Scripture verse attached to it, we call it the Word of God.

It doesn’t take much listening to Christian radio or cable channels to see that many preachers are using Scripture to support their own teachings and philosophies.  Hear me well.  They may be preaching Scripture, but they’re NOT proclaiming the Word of God.

In these cases, God is under no obligation to confirm what they’re preaching.  God doesn’t have to confirm a quote from the Scripture; He only endorses His Word – what He wants to be said at that particular time and place.

Please don’t think, based upon what I said, that I have no respect for the Scripture.  I cannot live without it.  Daily, I read, memorize, study, and meditate on the Scripture.  I use it prayerfully.  I expect and seek God to speak to me through the pages of my Bible.

The difference is that now I’m also listening for God to use other means as well.  I want to hear God’s voice – however He wants to speak to me.  I believe that this was the basis for the power in the life of Christ and in the early church.  One of my goals in this blog is to share how this works in a practical way.

Question: How strong is your desire to hear a Word from God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2018 in Daily Thoughts

 

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