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The Yeast Principle

I’m continuing my study through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  Chapter 5 is very controversial in some circles.  How do you deal with carnal Christians?  It’s an issue that every church leader has to face.

As I’ve stated in previous posts, the key attitude is a desire for restoration in the lives of these individuals.  Unfortunately, in our generation, many leaders simply ignore the issue, hoping that it will resolve itself.  Human nature should warn us that this rarely happens.

In my last two posts, we saw that Paul called for a spiritual separation to take place.  First, lifting up this person before God in prayer.  Then, if no repentance was forthcoming, surrendering the offender over to the enemy’s kingdom, for discipline.

Why did Paul find it so important to deal with unrepentant sin in the body of believers?  Why not ignore what people do in their private lives?  The problem is that we’re not just members of an organization, but parts of a body that need to function together.

Your boasting is not good.  Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?  Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast — as you really are.  For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
1 Corinthians 5:6-7

To explain this, Paul uses the illustration of the Passover celebration.  During that feast, the Jewish people must remove all yeast from their homes.  Any bread baked during that time must be unleavened.

Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, bore our sin to the cross.  In that sense, the final Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.  We are now in a continual celebration of that feast.

What the apostle is telling us is that sin is like yeast.  It needs to be handled in the same way.

I love bread.  I love baking bread.  There’s nothing like the smell of a fresh loaf when it’s in the oven.

I can tell you about yeast.  Once you add it to the dough, there’s no going back.  It’s not like picking carrots out of your soup because you don’t like them.

In God’s kingdom, He wants us to deal with the sin before it infects the whole body.  As we’ve seen, this involves a work that can only be done in the spirit.

We’re not talking about kicking a member out of the organization.  But, in the spirit, taking authority over the sin.

Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Corinthians 5:8

Paul is clear that the person is not the yeast.  It’s the sin that infects the church that needs to be dealt with.

I’ve heard the saying that, “we need to hate the sin, but love the sinner.”  That’s a Scriptural attitude, but it very hard to implement.  All too often we end up hating the sinner and ignoring the sin.

I apologize beforehand for my sarcasm, but the following two statements are how some people act.

“It was easy under the Old Covenant.  Kill the sinner and the sin is removed.”

Fortunately, we’re under grace now.  We’ve been given spiritual weapons with which we can deal with the sin without harming the person bound by the sin.  We’re commissioned to “set the captives free.”

It’s time for mature believers to take a stand in the spirit.  Through prayer and intercession, we can start the process of cleansing the bride of Christ.

Question: How does not dealing with sin allow it to spread through the church?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on March 1, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, The Church

 

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Memorial Day – For Those Who Protect Us

Since today is Memorial Day, I want to interrupt my blogging from Thessalonians to talk about the holiday. I believe that the USA is still the best nation on earth.

It was founded upon Christian principles. But are we truly a “Christian Nation” anymore? Does a Christian nation tell you not to pray in public? Does it warn you not to show Christian symbols in public?

The fact is that although many Christians live in this nation – the nation itself is no longer Christian. In the past, there were many blessings that we enjoyed because we followed the Lord’s principles.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
Psalm 33:12

God will bless a nation that follows His ways. But there comes a time when the past no longer affects us.

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
Proverbs 14:34

To the extent that America followed God’s ways – we were blessed and exalted. We saw the abundance of God, and then thanked Him for it. Our people had wisdom to create wealth, inventions, and new innovations that the world took notice of.

But there came a time when we started to leave God’s path. Because of this, we should heed the warning that God gave to Israel.

…for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.
Leviticus 18:27-28

Please understand what this verse means. When a people no longer choose to follow God’s plan for them, it’s not God cursing the nation. It’s the nation cursing itself. By going our own way, we’re inviting the enemies’ attack.

I believe that currently, America is a defiled land. Much of the trouble that we’re facing has been brought on by our own choices. God has not cursed us; but we have removed our nation from under His blessing.

…if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

That’s why this verse has been so important in America since the sixties. Believers need to be interceding for our country.

That brings me back to Memorial Day. This is the day when we remember those who have given their lives to defend this nation. That should stir us up to action.

More than ever we need to be thankful for our military as well as all of our first responders. Because of the increase of violence, we need to be interceding for their safety, wisdom, and ability.

I believe that a move of God is imminent, but we must remain spiritually vigilant. We need to be on the front lines in the spiritual battle for the heart of America. In that way we will be truly honoring the sacrifices that were made by so many.

May God richly continue to bless you this Memorial Day.

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2017 in Prayer, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Memorial Day – Our Assignments from God

FlagcrossWe’re living in troubled times; that’s beyond question. In spite of this, I still believe that the United States of America is the greatest nation on earth in which to live. I’m very grateful to God for the privilege I have to live here.

Memorial Day is the day all Americans should reflect upon the price that so many men and women have paid for our freedom. As I think about this, I can see what our role as believers should be.

There are so many complainers who gripe about what’s going on around us. There are Christians pointing fingers and blaming various groups for the problems we face. That’s not the Biblical response that we should take.

When Israel was defeated because for her sin, and went into captivity, Godly Jews were affected. What were they told to do?

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”
Jeremiah 29:7

First and foremost, we must pray for our nation. Complaining doesn’t solve anything. All it does is to bring division and more problems.

As a matter of fact, I can’t think of anything that will work effectively in the natural. There has never been a vote that brought about lasting change. There’s no candidate that will turn our nation back to God.

The only solution is for God’s people to get on their knees and pray. Then we’ll see the results that only the Holy Spirit can orchestrate. As believers, we need to be found doing what only we can do – interceding for our country.

As we do our part, God will see that we’re taken care of, no matter what’s happening around us. When these things came upon Israel, they were in the same position. Listen to what God spoke to the faithful.

Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.
Isaiah 3:10

There is also a second assignment that we’ve been given from the Lord. It’s an outgrowth of the first. As we spend time in prayer, the Lord will show us His heart. We’ll hear from heaven concerning what we need to do and say.

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.”
Ezekiel 3:17

As we spend time in the spirit, we must warn our nation of what lies ahead. I believe that God informs His people about things that will happen in the future. He wants us to be prepared for what’s coming – good or bad.

It’s not the time to sleep or party, spiritually speaking. We must become the laborers in the fields that He’s called us to be.

These are important days in America. We’re placed here by God for this time in history. Don’t let it be said of us that we let the enemy have our nation without a fight.

This Memorial Day, thank God for the service men and women who help protect our freedom. But more than that, take some time to pray for our nation. Seek the Lord’s spiritual healing for America

Question: What can you do to fight the spiritual battle for America’s heart?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Encouragement, Prayer, Revival

 

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Healing Principles – Intercession

HandsThis will be my last post on the principles that govern the healing that Christ provided for us on the cross. In my last article we saw how healing is based upon a Word from God. We need to really grasp this point.

Healing is not based upon my need. Neither is it based upon my love for the sick person or my desire to see them get well. Healing is initiated by a Word from God for me to take authority over that sickness.

That explains what James said in his letter.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:16

We see two important thoughts in this verse. First of all there’s confession of need. I already talked about this one in a former post in this series. If nobody knows about your sickness, how can they be in prayer for you?

The word confess literally means to speak out where you’ve missed the mark. This includes if you are missing the mark of God’s perfect health.

The second thought is just as important, yet highly overlooked in our generation. James says to pray for one another for healing. I believed that we’ve totally misunderstood what he’s saying here.

He’s not talking about laying hands on people to bring healing. This verse is speaking about our daily routines. We should be praying and interceding for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Then, from time to time we will receive a Word for someone’s healing…or other situations they may be going through.

The last line of this verse clinches that for me. It says that the energized prayer of the righteous is a mighty force.

Energized prayer – I believe he can only be talking about prayer in the spirit by using that term. Paul talks about it in that way as well.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
Romans 8:26

When I intercede in the spirit for my fellow believers, I’m praying beyond my limited knowledge. Then the Holy Spirit is free to give me a Word for their healing. That’s the precise way that the healing ministry of Jesus took place.

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

The whole ministry of Jesus was Word based. He heard from the Father, and then did what He saw. Of course, that meant spending a large amount of time in the spirit, listening to the Father’s voice. That’s the biggest hurdle for us. We need to take the time necessary to operate at this level.

I believe that the day is coming when the church will finally be so upset by our lack of power, that we’ll press in and learn to hear God clearly. That’s what will initiate the final harvest before the coming of the Lord.

We need to be a people of prayer. Prayer in the spirit and intercession for others should be a part of our daily walk. This will bring us to where we need to be as God’s people.

Question: What would the church look like if this was in place?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Spiritual Interaction

PowerlessIn my last post I started to talk about prayer in the spirit. We saw that it’s a spiritual communication with the Lord. But how does this help me?

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.
Romans 8:26-27

This is a verse that the translators had some problems with. First of all, there’s no capital “s” in the word spirit. They did that because they believed that this passage was referring to the Holy Spirit.

Actually, this verse is talking about the interaction between our spirit and the Holy Spirit. I believe that the first part is talking about our human spirit. I would ask you to trust me on this for now.

We will look at another verse in my next post that will bear me out (1 Corinthians 2:11-12). At that point, if you disagree, you’re free to disregard what I say. But for now I ask you to keep an open mind.

I believe that verse 26 is saying that our spirit cooperates with our weakness. It’s very familiar with the failings of our flesh. Because it knows you intimately, your spirit works with your weakness.

What is the weakness that it’s talking about here? The literal Greek in this verse says, we do not know, by seeing and observing, the objective of the prayer precisely as needed. We don’t always fully understand what we’re praying for. As a pastor, when someone comes forward for prayer, I want to see them blessed. If they say, “Pastor, I’m having severe headaches – pray for me.”, then I want to see them healed. So I pray in the name of Jesus, against that sickness.

What this verse is saying is that I don’t always know what’s happening. According to my observation, the person needs to be healed of the headaches. However, what if I don’t know that this person has been nursing bitterness against a brother in the Lord? What if the headaches are a physical manifestation of this bitterness?

There are many sins that can cause physical symptoms. The objective of the prayer should be to let go of the bitterness. That’s why the Scripture says that I don’t always know the objective of the prayer exactly as needed. This is a part of my weakness that my spirit helps me with.

So, what does my spirit do to help me? According to this verse, my spirit intercedes over me with sighs that cannot be spoken. Literally, you cannot put what the spirit is doing into words. The fact is, your spirit intercedes for you.

Now, here’s the great part. It says that he who searches our hearts does this work. It’s my spirit who searches my heart. Again, I’ll show you this elsewhere in Scripture in my next post. My spirit searches my heart AND knows the mind of THE SPIRIT.

Here I believe that THE SPIRIT is the Holy Spirit of God. This can only be what it means. Why would Paul feel it necessary to tell us that the Holy Spirit knows the mind of the Holy Spirit?

So what this tells me is that my spirit knows my weaknesses and searches my heart. But, because of the fact that the Holy Spirit now resides in me, my spirit also knows the mind of the Holy Spirit. And it’s this same Holy Spirit that intercedes for all the saints in the perfect will of God.

This is simply the most powerful interaction that anyone could ever hope for. These two things are happening as we pray in the spirit. My spirit intercedes for me knowing both my needs and my weaknesses. The Holy Spirit intercedes for the saints knowing God’s will. As they get together and share with one another, there’s nothing that they cannot accomplish together.

Question: How does prayer in the spirit bring your prayer life to a whole new level?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Prayer in the Spirit, Spiritual Walk

 

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Revival – Overcoming Evil with Good #prayforrevival

WaveI’ve been talking about the connection between revival, repentance, and forgiveness.  I believe that’s what’s necessary to usher in a revival in our nation.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:21

Is this verse true?  Can evil be overcome with good?  The answer is a resounding YES!  The principles of forgiveness bring victory over evil.  Look at the example of Scripture.

In the early church of Jerusalem thousands of people a month were being saved.  Jesus was being preached.  Also during this time the apostles were arrested and brought before the religious leaders for questioning.

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Acts 4:18

This was the outcome of their meeting.  Does it sound familiar to you?  It should.  This is the attitude of society in the United States today.  They tell us that we can do whatever we want – just don’t mention Jesus.

What was the response of the church in Jerusalem to this kind of attitude?  Did they go out and preach some more?  Hold a Jesus concert?  Put a referendum on the ballot?  Absolutely not.

They called a prayer meeting.  This is what they brought before the Lord at that time.

“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.  Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Acts 4:29-30

Considering that they were told not to use the name of Jesus, here’s their request.  First, they asked for boldness.  Then they asked for healings, miraculous signs and wonders.  But the important point was that they wanted them accomplished in the name of Jesus.

They didn’t just want to preach in His name, they wanted the world to see the power of the name of Jesus.  This is the forgiveness principle at work – it’s the power to arrest and destroy sin.  It’s all done by the power of the Spirit.

That brings me back to the verse I first started with at the beginning of this series.

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

Do we want our land healed?  Then sin must be forgiven – removed – arrested and destroyed.  The only way this will happen is for the church to get on our knees.  There needs to be intercession made for our nation.

Not praying for a better president or leaders.  Not praying for new laws.  We must cry out God to give us the boldness to speak His Word.  We must intercede for the Lord to send miracles, healings, signs and wonders.  All of this so that the name of Jesus can break sin.

After all, it’s so much easier to win the lost if the battle is won first in the heavens.

Questions: Why is it so hard to get people to intercede for our nation?  Are you willing to pay the price for revival?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
 

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America Needs Forgiveness #prayforrevival

TreeI’m posting about the link between revival and forgiveness.  In my last post we looked at II Chronicles 7:14, which said that God’s people have the responsibility to pray and seek the face of God.  Then God would hear, forgive, and send healing and revival to our land.

Yes, revival really is up to us.  The Bible says, “If my people, called by My Name will do what’s necessary.”  Then we would see the healing of God on our land.  This is an important concept for us to learn.

The land and God’s people are linked.  This has always been true.  When Israel was going into captivity, God told them pray for Babylon to prosper.  If things go well for the nation that we live in, then they’ll go well for us.

It’s a very selfish thing for us to only seek God’s blessing for ourselves.  We need to care about the people around us.  We are the only ones who can intercede for our nation.  That’s where revival starts.

We need to understand the principles of how forgiveness relates to revival. Daniel understood the concept.

“Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name.  We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.  O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive!  O Lord, hear and act!  For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
Daniel 9:18-19

This kind of repentance takes humility. Daniel was righteous. He wouldn’t eat the king’s meat and he kept himself pure. Of all Israelites, Daniel had the least to repent of. Yet he is crying out for forgiveness. We have to understand that he wasn’t asking for people to be forgiven, but for the nation.

Nations need forgiveness. I’m not talking about the people, but the nation itself. Throughout the Bible we see that God treats nations like people.

Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
Romans 14:22b

Nations are judged by what they allow or don’t allow.  Just because a nation says something is legal, doesn’t make it right.  So if my nation is allowing things to be done that are evil, then God’s people need to intercede for forgiveness.  This is where true revival is birthed.  It comes to pass when we take responsibility for our nation.

It’s up to God’s people to pray for forgiveness for their nation.  This is where the battle for the USA will take place.  It’s in the place of prayer.  We need to be interceding for our nation.  Then we’ll see the hand of God moving on the hearts and lives of those around us.

Question: What do we need to repent of for our nation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2013 in Prayer, Revival

 

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