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Pride – Know the Symptoms

Are you walking in pride? Do you know what to look for? Many are self-deceived and don’t even know they’re headed for problems in this area.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
James 4:6

By understanding pride, we can make sure that we haven’t put ourselves in a position of opposing God. That’s a no-win situation. We need to steer clear of that trap.

Scripture records some events that surrounded Christ’s birth. The following principals are gleaned from Luke’s Gospel and the birth announcements of both John the Baptist and Jesus. These are found in Luke 1:5-38. You may want to read this passage before continuing with this article.

By comparing the responses of Zechariah and Mary, we can see how to recognize pride. It’s clear in Luke’s Gospel that Zechariah was rebuked, while Mary was commended. How you answer the following questions will show your spiritual attitude in relation to pride.

Are you walking in fear? Right from the start, Zechariah was terrified, while Mary was troubled. Even though it may sound the same on the surface, there’s a world of difference.

The word troubled literally means to be mixed up or uncomfortable. This is a normal reaction to a spiritual encounter.

When new opportunities arise to serve God, there’s always a level of discomfort and uncertainty. On the other hand, if the thought of doing something new for Christ is terrifying to you, that’s a sign that pride is at work in your life.

Do you need proof of the outcome before you do something for God? Zechariah’s first question was, “How can I be sure of this?” Mary simply asked for a clarification of how it would happen. When given a new assignment from the Lord, do you insist that you know how it will turn out BEFORE you act on it?

Praying for wisdom and direction to complete your service to Christ is the right way to go. Needing proof that it will turn out the way you want it to, is a sign of pride in your heart.

Do you see your title as important to God? Two different people stood before the angel Gabriel – God’s designated messenger. Mary’s response was, “I am the Lord’s servant.” That’s the best way of viewing ourselves. What God wants accomplished in me is my priority.

Zechariah’s response was a little different. Many translations quote him as saying, “I’m an old man.” What he actually said, in the original Greek, was, “I am an elder”.

It was as if he was somehow superior and needed the assurance that his position would not be compromised by this announcement. After all, he had a reputation to maintain.

If you can’t do what the Lord wants because it’s “beneath you” – that’s a symptom that pride has taken over. You have to realize that if God doesn’t do what He says He’ll do, He has more to lose than you do.

Don’t let pride mess up your walk with the Lord. If you find these symptoms in your life, then simply repent and move on in the grace of God.

Question: How have you found yourself wrestling with pride?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2017 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Two Kinds of Wisdom

Did you know that your life shows where your wisdom comes from? It either comes from Heaven, or the world and the devil. Do you know the difference?

The book of James explains it to us.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
James 3:13-16

We all want a good life. But do we want to do what it takes to receive the wisdom for it? And more than that; do we want to walk in the wisdom from heaven?

A good life shows that you’ve learned how to tap into Heaven’s resources. That means you’re spending time with the Lord. Then, you’re listening to and obeying the instructions of the Holy Spirit.

That’s what James means by the humility that comes from wisdom. You’ve humbled yourself before God, knowing that His plan for your life is better than yours. His destiny for you is worth whatever it takes to get there.

The wisdom of the devil – which is usually what the world operates in – is all about self-promotion. It sounds good in a logical way, but the focus is too narrow. It’s all about me; what’s best for me, what will make me happy, and how I can accumulate the most toys.

When we live a life that’s self-absorbed, we end up in disorder and doing things that we never thought we would – evil things. The word disorder literally means confusion. When I spend my life going after the things I want, I eventually learn that I didn’t really want what I thought I wanted. Now that’s confusing!

If we want a life that we’re pleased with – a good life – then we need to walk in the wisdom of God.

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.
1 Corinthians 2:6-7

Here’s the problem. The wisdom of Heaven is hidden. You can’t find it by careful thought and study. It’s only found in God’s presence. Quality time with Him, listening to His voice, will impart it to us. Then, as we walk in what we’ve heard from God, things around us will start to change. It will become evident that we walk in God’s wisdom.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:17-18

These are the marks of a life walked out in God’s wisdom. To walk in God’s wisdom is to walk in peace. You can even walk into a situation where there’s all kinds of confusion and problems, and by the wisdom of the Lord, bring peace. That’s what it means by the word peacemaker.

Heaven’s wisdom changes the atmosphere around you. That’s a good life. Walking in wisdom and making peace wherever you go.

Question: How has God’s wisdom brought peace into your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2017 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Money and Humility

Fake MoneyThey say that the grass is always greener in the next yard. But is that the truth? What should our attitude be towards wealth?

If we want to do our best work for the Lord, then we need to deal with the issue of money. In our society you can’t function real well without it. So, we need to understand the Scriptural view. James had something to say about it.

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower.
James 1:9-10

The first thing that we understand from this verse is that James is not saying that we all need to be poor. He doesn’t contrast poor vs. rich, which references how much money you have. Instead, he’s dealing with humble vs. rich, which tells me that he’s talking about our attitudes.

I believe that God wants to provide abundantly for His children. But what I’ve learned is that He works with us individually. What I mean is this; abundant provision in the United States will look differently than abundance in Indonesia. Yet, in both places, the Lord blesses His people in order for them to be a blessing to others.

The problem is not about how much money you have, it’s your attitude towards it that makes the difference. I’ve seen people who have no real money – everything they own is on credit. Yet they act arrogantly as if they own the world and are better than everyone else.

I’ve also seen people who don’t have a lot, but they’re constantly blessing others. As a result, God is always continuing to provide for them.

We need to learn the lesson of attitudes. It’s never about how much money you have. There needs to be a walk of humility.

But what is humility? Some think that it means you have to see yourself as a nobody. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

At one point Paul told Titus to show true humility toward all men (Titus 3:2). The fact is that true humility is always directed at others and never at us. It’s how I need to view those around me.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
Philippians 2:3

Humility never puts itself down. Instead, it lifts others up. Okay, but what does that have to do with money?

If you think that your money makes you great and important, then you need an attitude adjustment. Money is a tool that we use to provide for our needs and to bless others. Having it doesn’t make you any better than you were without it.

James makes it clear in his next statement.

For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.
James 1:11

One way or another we’re going to learn that the external is not what life’s all about. Either you develop the spiritual strengths that bring a mature walk or you find out that the material things you’re relying on are never enough.

If you put your hope in a big bank account, then it will fail you. Your willingness to trust God and bless others is what will see you through the challenges of life.

Question: How have you experienced that trusting God is better than a big bank account?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2017 in Faith, God's Provision, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Price of the Power

MeterI’ve been talking, lately, about the power of God. If we’re going to walk in true spiritual power, then we need to stop talking about it, and admit our lack. We must start with a true, Biblical knowledge of what power is and how to use it.

In the New Testament, the Greek word for power is dunamis. It’s the root of our English words dynamic, dynamite, and dynamo. When we study how this word is used in Scripture, we find some interesting things. First of all, we’re faced with the fact that there’s nothing new. Jesus dealt with the same issues that trouble us, when He talked with the religious leaders of His day.

In Matthew, chapter 22, we’re told of an encounter that Jesus had with the Sadducees. They came to Him with a question. It wasn’t that they needed Jesus’ advice. The Sadducees were a Jewish religious group who didn’t believe in the resurrection power of God.

They had a trick question that they used frequently to prove their point. It was about a woman who had seven husbands. They asked; who would be her husband in the resurrection? They were trying to trick Jesus into saying something foolish.

The Lord showed that in actuality the point was not about the question, but about their hearts. Jesus answered their question in a way they didn’t expect. By doing so, He went straight to the source of their problem.

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”
Matthew 22:29

The word error in the above verse is a Greek word that literally means roaming from the path. These two issues that Jesus spoke about are the root cause of us leaving the path of truth. The first is; not knowing the Scripture.

It’s very easy to fall into error if you don’t know the Word of God. The second problem is; not understanding the power of God. Every error of false teaching can be traced to one of those two foundations.

Are we guilty of this kind of error? Have we begun to roam from the truth? If we don’t have a proper understanding of the power of God, then the answer is yes. We must understand that the power of God produces change.

That’s true power. If there’s no change taking place in the lives of believers under a ministry, then no amount of talk can produce any power. It’s not about goose-bumps or emotions. Were they healed? Were their lives changed?

The road to seeing the power of God at work is a hard one. It requires humility. The Sadducees of Jesus’ day were not willing to admit their lack, and come to Christ. We must lay aside our pride, and come to the place of brokenness before the Lord.

Question: How far are you willing to change in order to see God’s power work through you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2016 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Humility is not Dirt

Dry1In my last post I said that God desires His people to pursue Him with humility. To be a people who hold His Word in high honor.

I think sometimes we get so focused on who we are in Christ that we forget about who we were without Him. Don’t get me wrong. It’s imperative that we understand our “in Christ realities.” But who I am in Christ has nothing to do with my accomplishments and everything to do with what the Lord has done.

God wants to be pursued humbly. The problem is that many believers don’t understand the Scriptural concept of humility. We don’t like the sound of that word.

At one point children were running around the feet of Jesus. He reached down and picked one up.

And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 18:3-4

We need to learn from the humility of children. When they’re with an adult who shows them love and attention, children are transformed. That adult becomes their world.

They want to be like that adult. They want to act and talk like them. Children just want to hang around that kind of adult. They look up to them and have the attitude that “he or she is it!”

That’s what true humility is all about. It has nothing to do with considering yourself as dirt. Being humble never causes you to put yourself down. It’s a whole different side of the coin.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Humility never puts itself down, but rather sees others as better. That makes a world of difference. Humility looks beyond its own interests.

When you’re truly walking in humility, you are no longer the center of your own world. Now the needs and desires of other people become important to you. You want to find a way to uplift others.

In our walk with God, that translates to seeing God’s desires for us as greater than our own wants. I want to please Him first, before I please myself. I seek the Lord for who He is rather than what I can get from Him.

Instead of looking to Christ and saying, “I want this from You.” we need to be saying, “Lord, I want to be like you.” “Lord, I just want to hang around in Your presence. I want to pick up Your habits and attitudes.”

That’s what true humility is all about. It has nothing to do with putting myself down or trying to get others to believe that I’m a nobody.

A humble pursuit of God means that I take my eyes off myself and focus on Him.

Question: What needs to change in order to pursue God in humility?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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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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