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A Righteous Exchange

In my last post, I talked about how Christ reconciled us to God.  I explained that the Greek word deals with the concept of exchange.

We know that when God removes something, He always replaces it with something else. Jesus Christ bore my sin to the cross.  What’s the opposite of sin?

It’s clear from Scripture that the opposite of sin is righteousness. You can read all of Romans, chapters 5-6, and see how God replaced sin with His righteousness.

The fact is that I can’t be righteous on my own – it had to be a work of God’s power.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

This verse is the essence of our salvation.  He took my sin and now gives me His righteousness.  It’s beyond anything we could have hoped for as human beings.

What is our salvation all about?  There are many believers who don’t really understand what happened to them when they bowed their knees to Christ.

To some, it simply means that they decided to be good. To others, it means that they’re going to try and follow the teachings of Jesus. That is NOT Christianity.

It all starts with an understanding of our condition without Christ.

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
Romans 3:23

Our problem is sin. You probably already know that the word sin, in both the Greek and Hebrew, means to miss the mark. That means that we’re all deficient, inferior to, God’s glory. Even though we were created in the image of God, in Adam we’ve fallen from that high position.

It doesn’t matter who you are, where you were born, or how good you are. In Adam, the whole human race is guilty of sin – missing the mark. But as bad as that is, it gets worse.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned…
Romans 5:12

It turns out that sin brought a friend with him – death – separation from God. Who is under the penalty of death? EVERYONE! Death is the penalty for not living up to the glory of God.

You can look at it this way; every human being ever born was born onto the path that leads to death. There’s no reversing it, no exits, and it leads straight to hell. But, praise God, that’s not the end of the story.

Christ came to the earth as a man, God made flesh. He took on humanity but lived a life totally without sin.

Because it was He who created us, only He had the power to take our place. That’s the concept of substitution. He took our place on the cross in the penalty for our sin.

Now we come along, thousands of years later, on this path that leads to death. We can’t leave it or even turn around. We hear the Gospel of Christ. We decide to accept what Christ did for us by faith.

That’s when everything changed. The Lord freely gives us His righteousness.  It’s the basis for a new life in Christ.

Question: What were the events that led to your salvation?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2020 in Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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The Big Lie – I Can’t Change

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions this past January?  Are they still going or have you given up on them?  The Apostle Paul talks about what our attitudes should be.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view.  Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
2 Corinthians 5:16

That includes how we look at ourselves.  We can’t see ourselves from a worldly perspective.  We need to see ourselves in Christ.

A number of years ago I read a book called Changeology by John Norcross, Ph.D.  He talked about some myths we’ve bought into about change.  I’ve noticed them in the lives of many believers, so I’m adapting them for this blog.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

As Christians, our faith is in Christ as the agent of change, making us more like Him.  We can’t afford to buy into the lie that change is beyond our grasp.  Have you listened to the enemy’s deception in this area?

“I can’t change on my own.” This one is partly true.  If you take God out of the equation, then change is a lot tougher.  But the simple fact is that you have to start the ball rolling.  It all begins with your decision to change; then God has your permission to act on your behalf.

“I can only make insignificant changes.” The deception in this is that no change is ever insignificant.  Sometimes the smallest change has the greatest effect.  On the side of a mountain, the smallest gust of wind can start a huge avalanche. If God can change something small in your life, then you can trust Him for something greater.

“I don’t have enough willpower to change.” It’s not about willpower, it’s about faith.  Willpower places trust in yourself to do the work.  You need to put your expectation in the power of the Holy Spirit working in you.  The simple fact is that your flesh will never change itself.  Time in God’s presence is the most effective means to see God’s hand upon your life.

“I can’t change who I am.” The Scripture above exposes this fallacy.  In Christ, your past never determines your future.  Personality, family traits, and even bad habits are not outside the power of God.  The Lord can heal hurts and bitterness of the past.  You need to open your heart to the Great Physician to do the work that only He can do.

“I’ve tried to change in the past and failed at it.” The Bible is clear that we might experience failure in our lives.  The key is to not wallow in it.  You may fall, but keep getting up.  Perseverance is the key to victory.  One great success will wipe out all the sadness of past mistakes.  Let God strengthen your heart for the path ahead.

Maybe you’ve fallen victim to one of these insidious attitudes.  If so, then it’s time to lay them down and choose the path to your destiny in Christ.  Decide today to yield to the Holy Spirit’s power.  Let Him work with you as you walk step by step to your high calling in the Lord.

Questions: What do you want to change in your life?  How can you allow God to be a part of this process?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Are You Like Moses?

The Apostle Paul explained to the early church about the fallacy that obeying the Law of Moses will give you access to the power of God.  In my last post, we looked at this verse…

We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.  But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read.  It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:13-14

Paul says that their minds, or literally their perceptions, were made dull, hardened, and callous.  Then he makes a statement that we miss the implications of altogether.  He says that to this day the veil remains when the Old Covenant is read.  IT HAS NOT BEEN REMOVED.

I’ve heard preachers talk about this and explain that it’s about the Jews who don’t understand that Jesus is the Messiah.  The truth goes so much deeper than this.  Remember, Paul is writing to believers in this passage.  He makes no qualifications as to who the veil is covering.

He says, without any adjusting of the statement, that whenever the Old Covenant is read, the veil remains.  Even if a Christian reads it there remains a veil that only Christ can remove.

The reason is that the law veils the truth about righteousness.  The law sounds logical.

“If I will do this, then God will do that.”

“If I will bring the whole tithe to the church, then God will rebuke the devourer and pour out a blessing.”

“If I will walk in righteousness, then God will manifest His power in me.”

This veils the truth that under the New Covenant this is not the case.  Paul goes on in more detail.

Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.  But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:15-16

EVEN TODAY!!!  It’s so clear.  Right now if I read the Old Testament, a veil covers my heart.  There’s a cure, however.  The word, turns, in this verse is actually a Greek word that means turn again.

What this says to us, is that when anyone reads the Old Covenant a veil blocks their view of New Covenant righteousness.  But when you turn again to Christ, the veil is cast off.  How can you turn again to Christ if you were never looking at Him in the first place?

Paul is warning us that as New Testament believers, we cannot read the Old Testament without constantly looking back to what Christ did on the cross.  He fulfilled it all.  Everything I need to walk righteously before God has been supplied to me by the Savior.

Question: Why do many believers still live as though they’re under the Old Covenant?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Coach it Forward

I’m continuing my look at Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.  He was talking about the way we can help one another in the same way that we were helped in our troubles.

For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.  If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.  And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:5-7

The first thing Paul tells us is that Christ suffered the same challenges that we face.  The Lord is aware of what we’re going through.

The important thing to know is that through Christ we have an abundance of comfort.  But just what does that mean?  The word, comfort, means a lot of things to different people.

Usually, when people think of comfort, they’re talking about something soft and familiar – like a favorite easy chair.  Unfortunately, soft and comfortable is not what this word means.

Comfort, in Scripture, usually comes from a Greek word that means to call alongside.  It’s what a coach does when he or she is dealing with their athletes.

A good coach is not concerned with how comfortable the athletes are.  Instead, their goal is to make sure that they’re successfully completing their training routine.

Actually, that’s the job of the Holy Spirit in our lives right now

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14:26

Jesus tells us that the Holy Spirit will be our Counselor.  That word, counselor, is the same as comfort in the above verse.  In other words, the Holy Spirit is to be our Life-Coach.

It’s His job to come alongside us and call out the instructions we need to victoriously face the challenges that come our way.  We need to be listening for His voice.

So, as we receive coaching from the Holy Spirit, we can pass on what we’ve learned.  When we see others in that same situation, we can share what our Coach told us.

According to Paul, the result is patient endurance.  It’s the ability to remain in your calling without giving up.  That comes from the expectation that God will work through you for His glory.

Then, as we pass on this coaching, the body of Christ will be built up.  This is especially what we need in our generation.

In the world, there’s so much uncertainty right now.  But in Christ, we know that the Lord is working out all things for our good.

Question: How has the Holy Spirit coached you recently?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2020 in Encouragement, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Spiritual Bootcamp – Armed and Ready

I’ve been talking about the spiritual battle that we’re involved in.  The problems we face and the people who annoy us are not the issues.  The real fight is with the unseen world around us.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
Ephesians 6:11

We’re told to put on the armor.  I’ve heard many believers talk about it, but do we understand what this means?  Do we even know what the armor really is?

First and foremost we need to realize that this is the armor of God.  It’s not my armor; it belongs to God.  Actually, it’s God’s personal suit of armor.  It was talked about back in the Old Testament.

At one point Isaiah got a prophetic picture of God getting himself ready for battle.

He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Isaiah 59:17

Because of the Lord’s outer garments of vengeance and zeal, Isaiah could only see the helmet and breastplate.  But that’s enough to know who the armor belongs to.  The point is this – it’s not made to fit us, but God.  That’s why being found in Christ is so important.

The fact is that we’re told to put on the full armor of God.  If I have to put it on, then I’m not automatically fully clothed.  Putting on the armor is something I need to do.

I also believe that “confessing the armor on” or “praying it on” is not enough.  While I do believe in confessing and praying the Word of God, there’s more involved here.

For instance, if you’re not walking in faith, you haven’t picked up your shield no matter how many times you confess that you’re holding it.  It’s the same with truth.  If you’re not walking in the truth of the Word of God, then no amount of praying will put the belt on you.

In order to be protected, we need to be using the armor daily.  We need to be walking in truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God.  Only through practice can a warrior get good at using his armor and weaponry.

There are no overnight successes.  We either use it or there’s no victory for us.  The devil is playing for keeps.  He’s not going to back down simply because we claim to have armor.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8-9

The enemy’s looking for an easy victim.  It’s not his first choice to mess with someone who’s fully armed.  This verse literally says that he’s looking for someone he can gulp down in one bite.

Given the choice, do you think he’d rather take on a naked believer who thinks that their armed or a spiritual warrior fully clothed and trained for battle?  The answer is clear.  Don’t be a meal for the enemy’s kingdom.

My prayer is that the church of Jesus Christ once again rises up in the Lord’s strength.  Not just a few little groups here and there, but a majority of God’s people.  That’s why this blog exists.

Don’t be the enemy’s next victim.  Take your stand in the full armor of God.

Question: What’s the greatest challenge that you’re facing right now?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Adolescent Church

Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church sounds like he’s writing to a group of adolescents.  As far as I’m concerned, this is the worse stage of growth whether you’re talking about the spiritual or the physical.  If there was one point in my life I wouldn’t want to go back to, it would be my pre-teen and teenage years.

The problem with life as an adolescent is that you’re coming into the height of your adult strength and intelligence.  Yet, you lack the experience and permission to do things on your own.  You see the freedom and resources that adults enjoy, yet you’re locked into a world where you have to wait for your turn to experience it.

In many ways, this is the place that most of the modern church finds itself in.  We understand what should be ours in Christ, but walking in it seems to elude us.  We need to learn how to overcome and make it successfully through this stage of our Christian development.

I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children.  Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel.  Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
1 Corinthians 4:14-16

In this passage, Paul urges his people to follow his example as a mature believer. That’s the toughest assignment for a growing Christian. It’s a very hard thing to move from a childish mindset to that of an adult.

There are behaviors that will work for children that adults will never get away with.  The problem in most of the church is that we want the irresponsibility of childhood with the freedom and resources of adulthood.  This will never happen.

There has to be a giving up of childish ways.  We have to move into our role as mature followers of the risen Lord.  Until this happens, we’ll never attain our true potential in Christ.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

This verse should wake us up.  Paul is writing to believers who are in the adolescent stage of their spiritual growth.  They’re saved and on their way to Heaven, but he tells them something that should get our attention.  His burning desire is that Christ would be formed in them.

This is the Greek word morphoo.  It’s where we get our English word morph.  We hear this word a lot in dealing with computer graphics.  When we see special effects in a movie, where one thing turns into something else, we say that it morphed.  That’s the spiritual change that we’re looking for.

I want to let the world see a change in me.  I want to “morph” into the same life that Christ lived.  This is the point where the change happens that brings me from being a child to living as an adult.

In life, it happens almost unnoticed.  Then one day you see what you’re doing and realize you’re not a child anymore.  As Christians, we need to go through this change on a spiritual level.  The church as a whole needs to walk in adulthood.  This is what Christ is looking for in us.

Question: What would a spiritually adult church look like?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2019 in Leadership, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Authority and Sonship (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.

One of the most important truths in Scripture is the principle of Sonship. We’ve been given this position by adoption into the family of God.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Luke 11:9-10

I’ve heard many people preach on this verse. For the most part, we take it out of context and miss what it’s really saying. Indeed, we’re told that we have the power to receive answered prayers, to find that which is hidden, and to open doors that seem impenetrable.

But we must ask; what is this authority based upon? If we would just read the next few verses, we’d see that Jesus gives us the guidelines for this type of power.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:11-13

It’s obvious that Jesus is talking about the authority of Sonship in this passage. He tells us that we’re asking for the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit that then confers upon us the Spirit of Sonship. Once that’s in place, and I’m walking as a mature son, then I’m free to ask, seek, and knock as led by the Spirit of God.

In many cases, our trouble is that we don’t ask for the Spirit. We want to do it our way. We want what our earthly desires are prompting us to seek for. Then we end up begging God for a snake or a scorpion. It’s no wonder why we don’t get most of what we pray for.

The simple fact is that true authority resides in the correct use of mature sonship. There was another time in Jesus’ ministry when He was talking about being a disciple. He said that if you were truly His disciple, then the truth would set you free.

The religious community – those who continued to rely upon the power of the law – were outraged. “We are sons of Abraham, and have never been a slave to anyone,” they replied.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 8:34-36

I’m sure that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law had no clue what the Lord was talking about when He said this. To us, however, it should be rich in meaning. The words of Christ tell me that Sonship is a position of freedom.

We’ve been set free because of the authority of Christ. We are no longer under the bondage of sin, the world or the devil. What we need is the maturity to walk in it.

Question: What does it mean to be free in Christ?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2018 in Power of God, Prayer, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Religion is Slavery

Slavery is evil.  But when someone chooses to be a slave to an unworthy master, that’s just plain foolish.  It’s so unfortunate that this is the position many Christians find themselves in.

As we continue our look at Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he begins to talk about this problem.

Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods.
Galatians 4:8

Paul tells us here that before we experienced the true God, we were under the yoke of slavery.  Now, having come to Christ, we’ve learned the freedom that’s only available in Him.  Paul is perplexed about why anyone would ever want to go back to the old ways.

But now that you know God — or rather are known by God — how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?  Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?
Galatians 4:9

Paul makes it clear that this slavery is not to a person.  We choose to be enslaved by certain principles.  And his description of these principles – this way of ordering our lives – makes it sound like it’s not worth serving under them.

He says that they’re weak, without any power.  I want my life to change, but trying to serve a set of rules doesn’t bring about that change.  I’m the same person I always was, but now I’m struggling to act differently than my natural desires.

He also calls these principles miserable.  The word he uses means a fearful, beggarly existence.  In other words, you want God’s blessing, but you’re so afraid that at any step you’ll do something wrong and lose it all.  You’re hoping that by your good works you’ll convince God that you’re worthy of His blessings.

I can tell you from experience that this is a miserable way to live.  And yet there are many who only serve God in this way.  They’re in constant fear of making God mad at them.  They’re in slavery to a no-win lifestyle.

You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!  I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
Galatians 4:10-11

The bottom line is that God isn’t pleased with us because of our rituals and observances.  He loves us because we’re in Christ.  He sees us under the blood – washed clean and delivered from our past.  It’s not about ritual but relationship that brings us closer to the Lord.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

Please understand what Paul is saying here.  It’s not that he wants to know about, read about, or learn about Christ.  He wants to know Christ deeper and deeper on a personal level.  The more he knows Christ, the more like Him Paul will become.

Instead of fearing that we’ll get God mad at us, we should be drawing on our relationship with Him.  Spend time in His presence.  Let the Holy Spirit work in you as He wills.  Don’t waste time by putting yourself back under a yoke of slavery.

Question: Why is relationship better than slavery?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2017 in Encouragement, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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Blessed to be a Blessing

Come to JesusWhat does it mean to be a blessing? We use the word a lot, but do we really understand it? I want to take a couple of posts to talk about our ability to bless others.

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
Hebrews 11:20

Mature believers don’t just seek to be blessed, but to be a blessing. It’s a choice that has to be made. It’s by faith that we choose to be a blessing to others.

We use the word bless very loosely in the body of Christ.

“God blessed me with a parking space.”

We seem to think that anything good that happens is a blessing. That’s the modern church definition. But when you read the Bible, that thought will hide the truth about the blessing.

There are two opposites in Scripture, and we need to understand both of them. I’m talking about blessing and cursing.

Let’s start with blessing. What exactly does the word bless mean. In the Old Testament it’s the Hebrew word Barak. It means to kneel, which emphasizes the receiving aspect. In the New Testament, the Greek word Eulogeo is used. It means a well spoken word; and relates to the giving of a blessing.

One thing that we have to realize is that the blessing is always spoken. The actual word, bless, means to endue with power for success. That’s a tall order – to be a blessing to someone. How can I do that?

In Scripture we’re told to do everything in the Name of Jesus. It’s in His powerful name that we have what we need to bless others.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
Psalm 118:26

If you have the name of the Lord, then you’re already blessed. It’s an event that has taken place when you made Christ the Lord of your life.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3

The good news is that I’m not looking for God’s blessing. According this verse, He has already blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heaven in Christ.

We know Scripture tells us that we can do all things through Christ. We have to remember this. We’ll never get that done on our own. We are blessed in order that we might be a blessing to others.

Getting back to what I said above. Now that we know what a blessing is, we can understand it better. A good parking space is not a blessing – it’s actually the result of the blessing that’s upon our lives.

This is the basis for blessing others. I can only bless those around me if I know that I am truly blessed. It takes blessed people to bless people.

Question: How has the blessing of God been evident in your life lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2016 in Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our All-Powerful God

LightningI’ve been posting about our need to walk in the power of God. It’s beyond question that we serve a God of power. He doesn’t have to merely talk about it. In the Old Testament He’s called God Almighty – the all-powerful God.

In referring to Him we say that He’s omnipotent. That means that He has unlimited and universal power. There’s nothing that God can’t accomplish through the working of His power.

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Hebrews 1:3

This verse literally says that Christ is the beaming out of God’s glory. The Son manifests everything that God is. Part of the glory of God is His power. That tells me that true power is found only in Christ. That’s why it’s so important that we spend time with Him. Paul understood this concept intimately.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

How badly do you want to walk in the resurrection power of Christ? Do you know Christ in the power of His resurrection? This is the unbridled power of God that raised Christ from the dead.

The good news is that you can know Christ in this way. If it was possible for Paul, then it’s within your reach, if you’re willing to put forth the effort that an intimate relationship with Christ requires.

I’ve found that if you talk about power enough, then people will send you money just to hear your words. Sadly, there are many others who’ve made this same discovery. Most of them have found a lucrative place on Christian TV. They’re getting rich, while God’s people remain sick, poor, weak, and bound by sin.

My goal is to help the church to once again walk in spiritual power. Simply put, I’m not satisfied with the talk of power that’s prevalent in the church today. It’s time for the church to accurately portray who Christ is.

Jesus is Savior, Healer, Redeemer, Provider, and Life-Giver. I want to be a catalyst for change. I want to see lives changed by the power of the Spirit of God. I want to be able to understand both the Scripture and the power of God.

Only as we are willing to spend time with the Lord, will we see the power we desperately need. That’s why the Holy Spirit is always trying to draw us into His presence. That’s the place of power.

Question: What will it take for us to walk this road?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2016 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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