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Hearing Faith

I always thought that I was as far from legalistic as you could get.  What does the Apostle Paul, a former Pharisee, have to say about the subject?  Be prepared; I think that the answer might change your whole outlook as well.

As I look at the church in America today, I can’t help comparing us to what I read in the book of Acts.  I’m also thinking about the stories I heard from my grandparent’s generation.  They came to the Lord in the wake of the Azusa Street revival.  When they were saved they saw miracles, healings, signs, and wonders.  What’s happened to us since then?

You may think as I did, “I’m not legalistic.”  But do we even know what legalism looks like?  Let’s find out what the Paul has to say about it.

You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?  Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?
Galatians 3:1-2

The word translated foolish in the above verse literally means not thinking.  Paul is asking these Galatian Christians why they’re not thinking about what they’re doing.

The next line he writes literally means; who has fascinated you by false representations?  It’s obvious from the way he writes that these believers were not being convinced by the truth, but rather a clever counterfeit.  Paul reminds them of the fact that when they first believed, they clearly understood that Jesus Christ was crucified for them.

He then asks a simple question – how did you receive the Spirit?  The literal answer is that the Spirit was received by the hearing of faith, trusting in God to do the work.  This is an important truth.

Faith comes when you hear a Word from God.  Whether it’s in your prayer time, during a sermon, or while reading the Scripture – hearing from the Holy Spirit produces faith.  Paul was re-emphasizing to them that the law can’t save anyone.  The law only condemns.

Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?  Have you suffered so much for nothing — if it really was for nothing?
Galatians 3:3-4

This is what we need to understand.  If, by all of our rules and self-discipline, we couldn’t even start the salvation process; what makes us think that we can complete it by our own strength?

Paul, however, continues along this line with another question and we have all but ignored its implications.

Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Galatians 3:5

Paul literally asks how does God fully supply you with His Spirit and activate His miraculous power in you?  That’s the question of the hour.  It’s what the church desperately needs to learn and lay hold of.  It’s what the world is dying to see in operation.

I believe that it’s this truth that will usher in the end time harvest of souls before the coming of the Lord.  Paul’s answer is that the Spirit is given and His power is activated in you by the hearing of faith.  This is where the power of God resides.  It’s not a work of the law.  It only comes as I hear His voice and let it inspire faith in me.  This is the foundation for the miraculous.  God and I as co-workers.

He’s looking for someone who’ll listen for His voice.  It’s time for the church to enter that intimate place with the Lord.  Only then will we see the glory of God released through His people.

Question: What should your mindset be while hearing the Word preached or taught?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on August 9, 2017 in Faith, Legalism, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Faith and the Word

In my last post I talked about our faith and our actions working together. James told us that without action, we only have a dead faith.

What kind of faith is James talking about here? Some ethereal faith, believing it will all turn out good in the end? Absolutely not!! It’s the kind of faith that sees things changing by the power of God.

Where do we get that kind of faith? Paul tells us the answer to that question.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

This is one of those verses that everyone quotes, but few understand. The NIV uses the word message in its translation; but that word does not appear in the Greek original. It simply reads faith comes by hearing

The important thing is; what are you hearing? That’s why the Apostle Paul goes on to explain that this hearing is by the Word of Christ.

There are many who believe that this verse is talking about reading the Bible. Personally, I don’t believe that’s what it’s referring to. The Greek words being used here say that this faith comes from the rhema of Christ. That means Paul is talking about the Word we hear directly from the Holy Spirit.

For a detailed explanation of this aspect of the Word, click here.

This faith is not simply choosing to believe what the Bible says – as good as that is. It’s a faith that’s birthed on the inside of you by spending time in the Spirit. That’s the kind of faith that James is talking about.

How do I know this? Look at the example James gives to illustrate his point.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
James 2:20-23

According to James, Abraham believed God – had faith in His Word – and acted upon his faith. Because of his faith, Abraham took his only son up on a mountain to offer him as a sacrifice to God. When he stepped out in faith, God then looked upon him and credited righteousness to his account.

Why would Abraham do something like that? Because he had faith in God’s Word. What was the Word that inspired this faith? It couldn’t have been the Bible since it wasn’t even begun to be written yet. The truth is that Abraham heard a Word from God and it planted an unwavering faith on the inside of him.

James is telling us that if we want to have this living faith, then we must spend time in God’s presence, listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. The kind of faith that moves mountains, heals and delivers is only received in a Word from God.

I believe that this is why there’s so little manifestation of the power of God in our generation. Because of the proliferation of Scripture (a good thing), we have replaced intimate time in God’s presence with Bible reading.

Don’t misunderstand me – reading, memorizing, meditating on, and confession of the Scripture is vital for your growth as a believer. But time spent listening for a Word from God is just as important.

Question: What have you heard and obeyed from the Holy Spirit lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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Are We Hearing?

AloneWhen you hear the term Word of God, what comes to mind? I’ve been posting from the first chapter of the book of James – the first New Testament Scripture to be written. Our understanding of the Word makes a difference in how we view what James is saying.

I’m convinced that when James talks about the Word, he’s not talking about Scripture, since the New Testament hadn’t been written yet. He’s talking about hearing a Word from God, either through your spirit in prayer or by anointed preaching and teaching.

I believe that it was this truth that made the difference in the lives of those early believers. I also believe that the next move of God in the church will be the restoration of our ability to hear a Word from Him on a consistent basis.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
James 1:22

This verse follows right on the heels of James telling us to accept the Word planted in us, which can save us. Now we’re told how to accept it.

The key word in this verse is listen. The word he uses is hearing – one of the five senses. Notice that he didn’t say we were not to merely read the Word. This is a Word that has to be heard.

There’s another point that we gloss over. If this is the first Scripture of the New Testament, and if James was referring to Old Testament Scripture when he talked about the Word; then he’s telling us to do what the Old Testament says.

That would mean we were to continue the sacrificial system and all the Law of Moses. We know for a fact that this goes against everything that Christ accomplished on the cross.

So when James tells us not to deceive ourselves, that’s not really our problem. Many believers aren’t even hearing a Word from God, let alone hearing and not doing.

The normal Christian thinks that it’s the job of the pastor, teacher, or minister to hear from God. It’s never been God’s plan to have an exclusive club of special people who hear His voice. God even made that clear to Israel.

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
Exodus 19:5-6

God’s plan was for all His people to be His priests. It wasn’t until Israel became afraid at the foot of Mt. Sinai, that they told Moses not to let God speak to them anymore. The Lord wants a people who will hear, listen, and respond to His voice.

We wonder sometimes why there was such a manifestation of the miraculous in the early church. It’s not because God changed His way of operating. It’s because His people stopped listening to His instructions.

When we spend time in God’s presence, we hear the Holy Spirit speaking to us. Then, when we follow through on what we’ve heard, we enter the realm of miracles. We start to see the power of God active in us on a consistent basis.

I believe that this is where the Lord is leading His church in our generation. Be a part of what God is doing. Spend quality time in His presence, listening for His voice.

Question: How much time do you spend before God just listening for His voice?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Don’t Let Go

SwordI’ve been sharing about David’s mighty men from the Old Testament. They’re an example to us of the warrior spirit that we need in order to fight our spiritual battle.

The next person I want to talk about is a man named Eleazar.

Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty men, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered for battle. Then the men of Israel retreated, but he stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The LORD brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.
2 Samuel 23:9-10

Apparently there was a time when David’s army started making fun of the Philistines. Israel decided that it wasn’t a good idea to provoke them and they took off. David and his men stayed. In the course of the battle, Eleazar’s hand froze to his sword.

Think about what happens in the body of Christ today. It’s easy to taunt the enemy while we’re safe in church with other believers. What about in the middle of the attack when we’re on our own?

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:17

We’ve been given the most powerful spiritual weapon anyone can use – the Word of God. It’s the sword we need to defeat the enemy. Does your hand freeze to the sword in the spiritual struggle?

Remember the early church. At one point they were commanded not to speak in Jesus’ name anymore. What did they do? Run and hide? Did they compromise to as not to offend?

They had a prayer meeting, praying in the spirit.

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.
Acts 4:31

The middle of the battle is when you cling more tightly to the sword. Only then can the victory be assured.

You need to realize that I’m not just talking about reading the Bible. Even though that’s important to our spiritual growth, it’s the Word we hear from God in our prayer time that makes the difference. Even David understood this.

When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.
Psalms 138:3

There’s a boldness that only comes when we’ve heard God’s voice speaking to us. Then we know that there’s no weapon that can defeat us. It’s time for the church to press in and hear from Heaven. Then we must walk in obedience to the Lord’s will.

Question: When have you been made bold as a result of being in prayer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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The Missing Ingredient – A Word from God

Different AnointingI’m posting about what’s missing in the church of our generation. Why do we not see the power manifest in the early church? I believe that it’s because we’re not hearing from God the way we should be.

It’s the same thing that Jesus manifested as He ministered throughout Israel. He was very clear about how He walked in this divine power.

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
John 5:19

Jesus heard from the Father. That’s the secret to how He could minister the way that He did. It’s the reason why He could heal the sick or walk on water.

It’s also the reason why Peter could boldly say, “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk.” He had heard from the Father. He had already seen this crippled man walking with his spirit.

This experience is what the church of Jesus Christ desperately needs today. We must hear from God. The world needs us to hear from God.

Only then will they see the ministry of Jesus exemplified in us. Only then will they be drawn to the preaching of the cross for salvation. It’s imperative that we once again bring our walk with God to this level.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
John 15:7-8

In this passage Jesus is plainly talking about hearing a Word from God. In the original it says that if you are at home in Me [Jesus] and My words have a home in you, you can ask whatever you wish.

To many Christians this means, “If you memorize the Bible, I’ll give you whatever you want.” How did we ever get so far away from God’s intent?

If Christ was referencing the Bible in this section, it would have been impossible for the disciples to obey it. There were no Bibles for the first generation of believers. They had to rely upon hearing from the Father just as Jesus had done.

As much as I love the written Word of God, I think that we’ve used it to insulate ourselves from the Author. Why spend time seeking to hear God’s voice through the Spirit, when I can open up the Bible and read it for ten minutes?

Yes, we need to read, study, memorize and confess the Scripture. But it’s just as important to hear the Holy Spirit’s spoken Word to us. That’s where the power for the miraculous comes from.

It’s time for the church to once again depend upon a Word from God in order to walk in His power. I believe that this is the next great move of God in His people. He wants to restore to us the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. That’s what will bring about the end-time harvest of souls.

I’m about to say something that will probably make you mad at me, but it’s true none the less. The world doesn’t need any more Scripture. They’re sick of hearing Scripture. What they desperately need is a Word from God.

Who will bring it to them, if not the church? We need a Word from heaven. The first few drops of rain are falling. Will you get yourself into position to receive this anointing? The time is now to prepare.

Question: What does your spirit speak to you about this truth?

© 2016 Nicolas Zaccardi

 

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A Pattern of Trust

BlurDid you know that there’s a pattern to how we should trust God? Sometimes we could get it partly right and miss out on God’s best for us. I want to look at miracle that Jesus performed to illustrate this truth. It’s a miracle that’s very often misunderstood.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
John 2:1-4

There’s a truth here that we miss sometimes because we don’t understand John’s perspective. The Gospel of John was written so that believers could learn how to live and minister as Jesus did. We do a disservice to the Gospel by assuming that John was written to the unsaved – it wasn’t.

In this passage, Jesus literally said, “What is it with me and you? This isn’t my time.” Please understand – Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful to His mother. Because Joseph had passed away before this, Jesus was the head of his family as the oldest son. It was proper for Him to speak to Mary as her authority.

What did He mean that it wasn’t His time yet? If you check the time-line of Jesus’ life, you’ll find that He had just been baptized by John the Baptist. But He hadn’t gone into the wilderness to be tested yet. This is the last stop before the wilderness.

Then if it wasn’t His time yet; why did He perform the miracle? And what exactly was the miracle? His words are very important for us to understand what’s happening.

In actuality, Mary had as much to do with this as Jesus. It’s all about hearing from God and obeying. In this story, Mary is the one who heard from God. She felt in her heart that this need can be supplied by God.

Jesus basically said to her, “It’s not my hour. This is on you – you’re the one who heard from God. It’s your faith that’s going to do this.” In other words, Jesus was telling her, “You do what God tells you to do.”

What did the Father speak to Mary?

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
John 2:5

God the Father impresses Mary to deal with the servants directly. She tells them to do whatever Jesus instructs them. But remember, it’s not time yet for Jesus to act as the Messiah of Israel. That means that He had to operate from a different relationship.

In this event, we see one of the only places in the Gospels where Jesus operates as God in the flesh. In this case He is acting as God, not man. When He speaks to the servants, it’s the voice of God speaking to them.

It’s important for us to know this so we can learn how to respond to God’s voice. Remember I said there was a pattern to trusting God. The start is when God gives the vision. We find out what He can do through us.

But then, we have to follow the step by step instructions that God gives us. Hearing the vision – God wants to supply your need – is the easy part. It’s following through on the instructions to see the manifestation that’s the hard part.

That’s why I want to take a couple of posts to look at this event in the life of Jesus. I believe it will help us in our faith-walk.

Question: What are the things in your life that you’re trusting God for right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Picking Up the Sword of the Spirit

FireI’m posting about the Sword of the Spirit – the rhema of God. In my last post we saw that using this sword means to hear a Word from God and then act upon it.

Paul talked about our speech in the book of Romans. He tells us what righteousness does and doesn’t say. This is what it says if you take out all of the “don’ts”.

But the righteousness that is by faith says: “…The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming…
Romans 10:6-8

“It” is the righteousness by faith. Scripture makes it clear that the rhema is near you – in your heart and in your mouth. He also calls it the rhema of faith.

We know that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. That’s why we must spend quality time with God – praying in the spirit.

As I do that, He puts His rhema in my heart, and then it overflows from my mouth at the right time. The modern church has yet to learn to use this powerful weapon. The early church used it to turn the world upside down.

Before they had any Scripture. Before MP3’s, Bluerays, TV, Radio, or the Internet. They evangelized their world with only the rhema of God. I believe the next great revival will spring from the church laying hold of this truth.

The rhema of God is a necessity. We can’t fulfill God’s plan without it.

In Romans chapter 13, Paul talks about the authorities established by God. In context it’s talking about the government as our authority.

But since he used the general word authority, it can be applied to anyone with God given authority delegated to them. That means it applies to the church since we’ve been given authority to trample the enemy’s kingdom. We’ve been commanded to set the captives free.

Listen to what Paul says about those who walk in God’s authority.

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

This is something that every believer needs to hear. He does not bear the sword for nothing. We weren’t given the sword to take it out and wave it around on Sunday mornings. It’s not merely an ornamental piece to be put up on display.

It’s the power of God given to the church to break the enemy’s hold over the souls around us. Unfortunately much of the church has been ignoring the sword. It’s time to pull it out and use it to drive the enemy back.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
John 15:7-8

This is how God gets glory from our lives. This is how we see the supernatural on a daily basis. It all springs from time spent in the spirit. We hear the voice of the Spirit, and then let the rhema of God do its job – destroying the works of the evil one.

Question: How would evangelism change if the church used the sword of the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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