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Shining for Christ

In my last post, I talked about the light of the Gospel.  It shines through us if we walk in the power of the Holy Spirit.  But we also saw that it’s possible for the devil to blind the spiritual eyes of unbelievers if they stubbornly refuse to hear the message.

We must always remember that the message is the most important part.  Methods may change, but the Gospel remains the same.

For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:5-6

The message is Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  That’s where the power resides.  That’s where we find salvation, healing, provision, protection, and fulfillment.  There’s no other light that can pierce the darkness of this world.

Our light needs to radiate all around us.  Only in that way will people see their need for the Lord and come to the foot of the cross.  The light of the Gospel is all that matters.

But we always have to remember, it’s not our light but His. Peter talked about having the Word in you and allowing it to grow and produce fruit in your life. In speaking about this fruitfulness, he says the following…

But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
2 Peter 1:9

Peter calls unfruitful Christians blind and nearsighted. He says that you’ve forgotten about your past being cleansed by the blood of Christ.

That’s because this person is blind to what God is doing. They’re also nearsighted; they can only see what’s right in front of them. They major on the temporary things of this world.

We need 20/20 vision in the spirit.

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.
Romans 13:12

It’s interesting to see the contrast here between deeds of darkness vs. armor of light. That’s because the armor is all about action.

Truth, righteousness, the Gospel, faith – all of these things must be visible. It’s up to us to make the light accessible to the world.

We’re the ones looking into the light. We should be walking in it, letting it change us.

…so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life…
Philippians 2:15-16

How do we shine like stars? As we hold out the Word. The Word is the light. We hold it out. Not everybody wants it, but some people are touched and changed by it. We need to live in such a way that the light is seen.

Question: How have people seen the light of Christ in your life lately?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Spiritual Blinders

I’m continuing my series through the book of 2 Corinthians.  Paul is talking about his ministry.  It’s a ministry of power because the Holy Spirit is working through him.

It’s the power of the Holy Spirit that gets the attention of the world around us.  That’s how we become a “light in the darkness”.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.  The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4

We as believers should be reflecting the light of Christ to the dark world around us. The Bible says that those in darkness hate the light. What does that mean?  Sometimes if they see the light of Christ clearly in us, it may make them uncomfortable.

Those who have been reading this blog for any length of time know that I’m an avid hiker. During some seasons, I’ll go out for a week at a time.

The first time I went on a solo hike, sleeping alone in the woods, it was a different experience. I set up my tent and when the sun went down I went to sleep. I had no clue that this would be one of the strangest nights of my life.

Around two o’clock in the morning, I woke up startled. It was as if I was in the center of a huge spotlight. The full moon was directly over me. I could see right through my thin, nylon tent as if it wasn’t even there.

I could see the trees, rocks, and everything around me as clear as day. I felt exposed and uncomfortable as I looked around. I’m very glad that there were no large animals near the tent!

This is the same effect as what happens in the spiritual realm when we reflect Christ. When you’re used to living in spiritual darkness, the light makes you uncomfortable. It exposes things that you’d rather not see. It shows you your true condition.

Satan makes full use of this effect.  He uses this discomfort with the light, the conviction of the Holy Spirit, to get unbelievers to close their eyes to the truth.

Please take note of the fact that the enemy is called the god of this age. That means that there’s a time limit on his ability to act.

This verse tells us that unbelievers are given blinders if they want them. The Scripture says that if they persist in their unbelief, the enemy will give them blinders so that the light will not beam out to them.

This light is coming from the Good News of Christ – the Anointed One. The light is the glory of His presence within us.

Unbelievers are blinded to the light if they choose to believe the lies of the enemy. That’s why it’s now our job is to get them to take the blinders off. That’s a big assignment. It can only be accomplished in the power of the Spirit.

That’s why our ministry can’t be done in our own strength.  Time in the presence of the Lord is what will empower me to cut through the blinders of the enemy.  Only then will they see the glory of the Gospel of Christ.

Question: How have you experienced unbelievers becoming uncomfortable in the presence of the truth?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2020 in Ministry, Power of God, Revival, The Gospel

 

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Seeking God’s Approval

In my last post, I talked about the fact that we need to be approved by the Holy Spirit in order to use the Helmet of Salvation and the Sword of the Spirit.  They are too powerful to be used by infants or the unfaithful.

Now I want to go into this truth in a little more detail.

On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel.  We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4

This is an important verse to understand.  Here’s what the verse says in the Greek language: We speak as men who have been tested and approved by God.  He trusted us enough to allow us to use His Gospel.

I don’t believe that every single Christian should be sharing the Gospel.  I know there are some who would get mad at me for saying this.  But the truth is that there are certain believers that I don’t want anyone to know that they’re a Christian.

When they share about Jesus, they’re doing more harm than good.  Their lives don’t testify to God’s grace.  They actually make people not want to choose Christ.

We need to understand that the Gospel is the Word of God.  If we’re going to spread it with life-changing power, then it has to be done on God’s terms and not ours.

That’s why Paul makes it clear that the true Gospel is about pleasing God.  Too often we try to spread the Gospel with a message designed to please men.  We try to make the message more palatable.

That’s not how we should be operating.  It should be our goal to hear a Word from the Holy Spirit, then speak that to those who will listen.  This is the sword that there’s no defense against.

For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10:18

This verse says it all.  We need to take it to heart.  We need to seek God’s approval.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

I talked about this verse a couple of posts back.  At that point, I emphasized the fact that we need to be approved.  Now I want to concentrate on the first part of the verse.

That phrase, do your best, literally, means be diligent or prompt.  In other words, stop putting off your approval process before God.  It should be a main priority of your life.

The verse goes on to say that we should desire to present ourselves to God in this way.  The words used in this verse are a word picture of standing beside yourself in order to present yourself.  There are times we need to take a step back and view our life from God’s perspective.

Then, we need to do what it takes to seek God’s approval.  This will require us to submit under the Holy Spirit’s training program.

Our flesh will definitely try to rebel against this plan.  But if we want to walk in the supernatural power of God, then this is the only road.

Question: What is the Holy Spirit prompting you to do for the next step in your training?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Manifesting the Holy Spirit (Part 2)

In my last post, I started looking at the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.

To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
1 Corinthians 12:8-10

I’ve already talked about the Message of Wisdom, the Message of Knowledge, and Faith.  Now we’ll move on to the rest.

Gifts of Healing.  You may remember that a couple of posts ago, I talked about the word, gifts.  This is the Greek word, charismata.  It’s a gift that the giver retains the right to tell you how it will be used.

Another interesting point about this manifestation is that the original text reads – gifts of healings.  Both words are plural.

I see an incredible word picture in this.  It’s like each of us is given a bag full of presents – healings that we’re to deliver to particular people that we’ll meet throughout our lives.  It’s up to us to stay sensitive so that we can be obedient when the Holy Spirit tells us to pray over that sick person.

Miraculous Powers.  The words used in Scripture mean the working of power.  This can be anything, other than healing, that seems to go against the natural laws.

This also includes the instances of divine favor that we experience.  People in the world will say, “Wasn’t that a great coincidence.”  No, it was the power of God at work orchestrating things on my behalf.

Prophecy.   This is when God gives you a message that He wants you to deliver for Him.  It could be a private or public message.

Many times when we hear the word, prophecy, we think future.  That’s not always the case.  God may want something said that could deal with the past, present, or future.  I think that there are times when believers are speaking prophetically and they don’t even realize it.

Distinguishing Between Spirits.  The phrase, distinguishing between, comes from a Greek word that means to make a judicial decision.  It’s this supernatural gifting that gives you the ability to know what spirit, if any, is at work in a situation.  You’ll know if the demonic forces are trying to hinder.  You’ll also know if the Holy Spirit is at work in the background.

Speaking in Different Kinds of Tongues.  This is the use of your prayer language for ministry.  It could include simply praying for yourself or others.  It could also be a part of deep intercession.  It’s when you allow your spirit to pray in the will of God beyond what you know in the natural.

Interpretation of Tongues.  This is when the Holy Spirit gives you insight into what you or someone else is praying in the spirit.  It’s not quite the same as a translation.  That’s because what you’re speaking with your mouth may not be what’s being exchanged between you and the Lord in the spiritual realm.

These are the manifestations of power that the Holy Spirit wants to display through His people.  They’ll directly point to Christ as Lord.  They’ll cause people to move closer to a relationship with Him.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18-19

I don’t believe that you can full proclaim the Gospel of Christ without the power of the Holy Spirit.

Question: How have you seen the manifestations of the Holy Spirit at work?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Seat of Judgment

One of the future events that Christians don’t like to talk about is the Judgment Seat of Christ.  I’m referring to the final judgment that will send the enemy’s kingdom, as well as the unsaved, to an eternity in the lake of fire.

This is not something that believers need to worry about.  Our sins have been washed in the blood of Christ.  God has tossed them into the sea of forgetfulness – as far as the east is from the west.  I don’t have to fret over my future in God’s kingdom.

But does this mean that I don’t have to prepare for this judgment?  It turns out that there are a couple of aspects of this trial that most believers are unaware of.  The knowledge of these could spur you on to a deeper walk with the Lord.

Paul talks about them as he continues in his first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s upset with them for taking each other to court.

If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?  Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?  And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?
1 Corinthians 6:1-2

This is a huge revelation to most Christians.  We’re going to be on the judge’s bench with Christ while the world is being judged.  This goes right along with Ephesians 2:6, that verse tells us God has seated us with Christ in heavenly places.

But wait; before you get too happy about it – think about the ramifications.  That means that you’ll judge your next door neighbor who never heard the Gospel from you.  You’ll also judge your co-workers that you didn’t want to offend by mentioning your walk with God.

For many believers, this judgment will be one of the most traumatic and sorrowful events of their lives.  There will be untold weeping.  How do I know this?  There’s another section of Scripture that people don’t put together.

The last paragraph of Revelation, chapter 20, describes the final judgment that Paul is referring to in this verse.  It’s immediately after this, in the first paragraph of Revelation, chapter 21, that God wipes all the tears away from our eyes.  I believe that if God didn’t comfort us, we would weep for all eternity over what we just experienced at the judgment.

I can’t even imagine the pain of having a family member or close acquaintance coming before me that day and asking, “Why didn’t you ever warn me about this place?”  It’s not something that any Christian would want to experience.

This will be a sorrowful time for all of us.  However, we should be doing everything in our power to warn those around us.  We should want to keep as many people as possible away from this judgment.

Don’t be taken by surprise at this trial.  Prepare now to judge as few people as possible.  Let everyone in your sphere of influence know about your life in Christ.

Question: How have you given testimony of the work of Christ in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2019 in Ministry, Missions, The Gospel

 

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Higher Wisdom

We’ve been looking at the message preached by the Apostle Paul.  It was a Gospel of power.  It could totally change the lives of those who heard it.

This message was all based upon the wisdom of God.  He explains it further.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.  No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Corinthians 2:6-8

The first thing I see is that the message of God’s wisdom is for the mature.  It’s not a basic instruction.  There are things that you need to be taught when you’re first saved.  These foundational teachings will give you the ability to understand the greater wisdom of God.

That’s because we’ve spent our whole lives before salvation learning and operating in the “wisdom of this age”.  God’s wisdom is on a whole other level.  So much so, that those versed in the world’s wisdom can’t even understand it.

According to Scripture, the greatest wisdom of this age will only bring you to uselessness.  That’s what the phrase means that’s translated coming to nothing.

On the other hand, I like the results of God’s wisdom.  God destined His wisdom for our glory.  That word means that you have respect – that what you say and do has weight and value.

I think that much of this glory is missing from the church these days.  Could it be that we’re trying to use the world’s wisdom instead of God’s?  It’s the difference between uselessness and glory.

Paul uses the crucifixion of Christ as an illustration.  It was a part of God’s wisdom.  The world can’t fathom it…dying on a cross as the road to victory.

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.”
John 10:17-18

When I watch a movie for the first time, I don’t know what’s going to happen.  I’m in suspense when something bad happens to the hero.  Sometimes they’ll do something I don’t understand.

Then, I wonder how the hero could possibly survive.  But as the movie progresses, I find out that everything he did was part of a plan to bring down the villain.

If I liked the movie, I may watch it again.  But this time I know what’s going to happen.  I’m not in suspense.  I’m actually happy when I see the hero going into danger because I know how it’s going to turn out.

That’s what knowing the wisdom of God should do for us.  We’ve seen the movie before.  What Jesus did on the cross was a carefully planned, strategic attack on the enemy.  He wasn’t taken by surprise.

In that one move, Jesus Christ took down the entire kingdom of sin that was holding us captive. We’re now free to serve God without fear or condemnation.  All because of what happened through the wisdom of God.

So when I look back at the events of 2000 or so years ago, I’m not sad.  As a matter of fact, I have a sly smile.  Because I know that even though it looked bad, three days later it all turned around.  And that’s something to rejoice about!

God wants to do that same thing in us.  But first, we must grasp the wisdom of God.  The big question is; how?  In my next post, we’ll see how Paul begins to explain that to us.

Question: What would it look like if the whole church walked in the wisdom of God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2018 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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To Be Continued…

In my last post, we saw how Paul encouraged the Thessalonian church to remember the way the Gospel was passed down to them.  He now wants them to think about others in need of the truth of Christ.

Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you.
2 Thessalonians 3:1

The apostle asks the church to pray for a couple of things.  The first is that the Word of Christ may advance quickly.  He not only wants it to run forward, but to be honored by those who hear it.

That should be our prayer as well.  It’s wonderful that I heard and honored the Word.  I’m saved because of it.  But for me, it shouldn’t end there.  Others need to hear that same life-changing Word.

Paul goes on with his request.

And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.  But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.  We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command.  May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
2 Thessalonians 3:2-5

These two prayers must go hand in hand.  The spreading of the Gospel message, and the protection of those who are bringing it.

Whenever the Word of Christ is preached, there are always two responses.  Some will have faith to believe it.  But there may also be those who oppose it – sometimes violently.

Of course, in our generation, there are those who have gone in a different direction.  There are some who have watered down the message so there will be little chance of persecution.

In Paul’s mind, the number one goal was the spreading and advancement of the Gospel.  Then he would trust God for his personal safety.

In our society it’s different.  Many have set their first goal as the advancement of their own comfort, entertainment, and wealth.  Then, if they have any free time, they can do something for Christ – as long as it doesn’t negatively affect their status in the world.

We need to change our thinking.  We must get back to the original message of the Gospel.  We don’t go out of our way to offend others, but the truth of God’s Word must be our priority.

Then, we’ll find out the truth of Paul’s prayer request.  We pray that the Word of Christ will spread and increase.  We pray that many will accept it.  And we pray that those who deliver it will have God’s divine protection.

Question: Do you see any differences between the way the Gospel spread in the early church and how it spreads in our present experience?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2018 in Ministry, Prayer, Revival, The Gospel

 

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