RSS

Tag Archives: Jesus

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

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Warfare – It’s Bigger than Me

I’m posting about the spiritual battle that we have to contend with as believers.  I’m using Christ as our example.  In my last post, I talked about the devil attacking who we are in Christ.  The next attack is more subtle.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Matthew 4:5-6

Remember that I said it’s not about mindlessly quoting the Bible.  That doesn’t bring about the victory.  In this verse, we see the reason for that.  The devil has the Bible memorized.  He can quote it better than we can sometimes.

What is this attack?  By using the Bible, Satan is trying to attack the church.  He wants to go through you to bring down other believers.

If you’re a warrior, then the enemy needs to bring you down so that he can attack the church. That’s what the verse meant that said that the battle entails persistency and petition around all the saints. (Ephesians 6:17-18)

Other Christians aren’t really watching the battle.  Many times they’re off in “praise land,” never realizing that they’re being protected.  There are those whose ministry is interceding for them – protecting them.

Why would the devil have told Christ to jump from the temple?  The angels would have protected Him and it would have fulfilled a prophecy from Malachi.

“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.
Malachi 3:1

Had He jumped off the roof, Christ would have appeared suddenly in the Temple.  The people would have flocked to Him.  But what would they be following?  In a word – sensationalism.

God doesn’t want us following the spectacular.

“He’s on TV, he must be spiritual.”

This attack asks; am I going to build God’s kingdom?  Am I going to protect God’s people?  Or am I going to live for self?  This attack happens after a victory in another area.  I’ve overcome the temptation to sin, now I want the fame, recognition, and money that I deserve.

This attack is all about whether I want to advance myself or God’s kingdom.  Many choose to exalt themselves.  The body of Christ is not a place for self-advancement.  It’s got to be the Lord who exalts us.  Christ’s answer to this attack was simple.

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Matthew 4:7

This is making God the focus of our examination.  The fact is, God doesn’t have to prove He’s going to bless me before I serve Him.  I obey Him because He’s God.  He’s done so much for me already; the Lord has nothing He needs to prove to me.

It’s when we need something more than what Christ has already provided that we fall victim to this trap.  Instead of testing God, our goal should be simply to hear and obey Him.

Question: What are some of the things we chase after that are unneeded in our Christian walk?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Warfare – Battle Tested

I’m taking a few posts to talk about the example Christ is to us as we fight this spiritual battle.  I believe that the church needs to develop a warrior mentality.  In the natural world, soldiers don’t live with civilians.  They live set apart, and they see themselves as set apart.

By looking at the example of Christ, we can see what this battle is all about.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 4:1

In my last post, we saw that we’re to fight this spiritual battle with all persistency and petition around all the saints.  The fight is not in the center of the saints where the “praise party” is going on.  It’s on the edges – in the prayer closet – in the private places.

Notice that Jesus was not in the city or with His disciples when the devil attacked.  It was in the place of prayer and fasting.  That’s the true place of warfare.

So often I’ve heard worship leaders, in the midst of a great time of praise and worship, proclaim, “We’ve got the enemy on the run!”  Far from it.  During those times the church is in the mess hall, far from the battle.  Warfare occurs when we’re in private.

The Scripture is clear that Jesus was tempted by the devil.  It’s important to know what this means.  We think of tempting as Satan trying to get us to fail.  The actual Greek word means a test, proof, or examination.

The temptation is merely asking, “Are you the real thing?”  When you pick up the shield of faith, are you for real?  Are you just repeating something you heard, or does it come from your heart?

This is important for believers to understand. Whenever we grasp a new concept in Christ it must be added to our faith. It can’t simply be something we give lip service to.  We have to be willing to live it out.

The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:3-4

We need to see that the first attack is personal.  Who are you in Christ?  Are you going to cater to your flesh or to the spirit?

This is why you need your helmet and sword.  You have to walk in the authority of your position in Christ.  You must understand the power of the Word of God in you.  That’s the only thing that will counter this attack.

That’s why you need to know who you are in Christ.  What’s your calling in the kingdom of God?  The battle is all about who you’re going to trust for your needs.  Of course, that means we know the difference between wants and needs.

Jesus could have answered “Yes” to the devil’s challenge.  The question is; where did the Lord’s response come from?  Was it the Bible that said “no”?  Was Jesus merely quoting Scripture?

No, this came up from His Spirit.  It was the overflow of a heart that was full of God’s Word.  That’s where we get the strength for overcoming the enemy’s schemes.

The fact is the Word is more important than bread.  We have to come to grips with this.  What’s the Word more important than in your life?  It might not be a bad thing that you have to push aside in place of the Word of God to you.  It’s this response from our heart that proves we’re the “real thing” during the times of testing.

Question: How have you been tested lately?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Spiritual Warfare – The Personal Struggle

In many instances in the Scripture, our personal spiritual walk is described as a battle.  Light vs. darkness; Heaven vs. hell; good vs. evil.  We need to know how to live with this truth.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:17-18

In this verse, Paul is talking about the authority and power of God.  He wants to work these through us.  There’s a battle raging on the earth right now.  Unfortunately, many don’t even care about it.  Do you?

The last sentence of this quote is very important.  It literally says, attending to this with all persistency and petition around all the saints.  The emphasis is that this is encompassing all the saints.

The battle is all around you whether you want it or not.  That’s why the apostle uses such strong language in his exhortation.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-13

Think about the church today.  Picture the body of believers as an army standing before hell’s gates.  Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church.  The question is; are we that victorious church that the Lord was talking about?

We should be, and in some areas, there are local churches that have the enemy on the run.  But that’s not the case everywhere.  Are all the believers in their spiritual armor?  Are all believers even willing to fight this spiritual battle?  I don’t think so.

What about the enemy’s kingdom?  Are they ready?  Absolutely.  They understand what’s at stake and they’re in it for the long haul.  They won’t give in without a fight.

Right now the arrows of the enemy are flying all around us.  If you remember, I’ve said that arrows are the first strike weapon.  The truth is that you don’t have to be in the fight to be hit by an arrow.  That’s why believers are encouraged to take the spiritual armor seriously.

How do you take the stronghold from the enemy?  First, you put on the armor and pick up your shield.  Behind the gates are the prisoners that need to be set free.

Understand this, as you approach the gates the fight goes from general to personal.  It gets to the point where it’s one on one.

Paul is not talking to all believers in this letter, but to the faithful.  That’s who I’m talking to as well.  The believers who want to make a difference in the world around them.

For the next few posts, I want to talk about this personal spiritual battle that we face on a daily basis.  I’ll use Christ as our example of how to live an overcoming lifestyle.

Question: How is your life affected by the spiritual battle?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Spiritual Warfare – The Wind of the Spirit

In my last article, I talked about spiritual warfare and the need for unity and agreement.  Today, I want to share some things that Jesus taught about the move of the Spirit.

At one point a teacher of the law named Nicodemus asked Jesus some questions.  Jesus spent some quality time with this young man.  I think however that this teacher left with more questions than he started with.  During the conversation, Jesus said the following to Nicodemus:

“You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’  The wind blows wherever it pleases.  You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going.  So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
John 3:7-8

When you’re born of the Spirit, you can now live life on a new level.  It’s the level of the spiritual realm.

God describes it as the wind.  It blows wherever it pleases.  Just as in the case of the physical wind, we can see the effect, direction, and speed that it’s traveling.

This is the case even if we don’t know where it’s coming from or going to.  Maybe you’ve seen a weather map on TV.  Personally, the Weather Channel is one of my favorite places on Cable TV.  I’ve gotten many spiritual illustrations from its programs.

When you look at a weather map, sometimes it shows you the flow of the Jet Stream over the United States.  It could start flowing East over Washington state.  Then it dips down to Texas and takes a turn to flow directly up the East Coast.

This is how the flow of the wind operates.  You can’t tell where it’s been or where it’s going just because you know the direction where you’re standing.  In Washington, it flows east, in Colorado it flows south, and in Kentucky, it flows north, all at the same time.

The flow of the Holy Spirit is just as unpredictable; that’s why we must be sensitive.  The Spirit of God may be moving through prophecy in one church, healing in another, and weeping in a third.

I can’t say that because God is not moving in your church the way He moves in mine, that therefore you are out of His will.  It takes sensitivity to the Spirit to know just what He wants to do right here, right now.

It’s just like the wind.  It takes someone who’s born of the Spirit to understand the move of the Spirit.  That’s why it’s called the “flow” of the Spirit.  It’s my goal to get in on that flow which is the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

But what does the flow of the Spirit have to do with spiritual warfare and unity in the body of Christ?  As you’ll see, it has everything to do with it.

“My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:20-21

Jesus is praying in this verse for the church to be one.  This is the same Greek word that’s translated as unity in the verses we looked at in my last post.  It literally means to be one.

This is not a word that means “I agree with you”.  According to the Lord, the way it works between the Father and Himself is that He is in the Father.  It’s Christ’s desire that we share this same degree of unity.  He wants us to be one in Him.

In my next post, we’ll see how this is accomplished.

Question: What would a church look like if it operated in true unity?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Our Victory is in Christ

Now that we’ve seen the war against the flesh and the world, we’ll move on to the final battle.  We’re in a war against the spiritual forces of the kingdom of Satan.

As I’ve already written about, the people around us are not the enemy.  They’re prisoners of war in the spiritual battle.  They’re being held captive by the world system under the control of the devil.

It’s up to us, God’s people, to set them free and bring them to the cross.  That’s where they can find true salvation for their souls.

In order for that to happen, there are some things that we need to understand.  We can’t go into this battle with only half the information.

The first thing that we have to realize is that Christ has already won the war.

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:15

Jesus Christ has once and for all won the victory over all the power of the enemy kingdom.  However, that doesn’t mean that the fighting has stopped.

Just like in WWII, when the Axis powers collapsed, the Allied forces had to mop up the remaining troops.  They had to enter the concentration camps and free the surviving prisoners.  That’s where we are in the spiritual war today.

The trouble is that even in defeat, the enemy is dangerous.  He wants as few people as possible to be set free by the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Just how do we thwart the devil’s plans?  The Lord already took care of this.  Look at what Christ said to His followers.

“I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.”
Luke 10:19

The same power over the enemy that the Lord walked in has been conferred upon us.  We have authority over the enemy’s kingdom.  Of course, the devil would like that to remain a carefully guarded secret.

As long as we look to the future for our victory, we’ll never see the enemy kingdom back down.  We must learn to walk in the authority of Christ that we’ve already been given.

We need to see a God’s-eye-view of the spiritual war.

“…I will build my church, and the gates of Hades [Hell] will not overcome it.”
Matthew 16:18b

We have to come to the realization that the gates of Hell don’t move.  They don’t attack the church.  These gates are fixed around what the enemy already possesses and he’s trying to keep hold of.

The gates of Hell are around our centers of education.  They surround our political systems.  They’re also around our entertainment industry.

What we need to see is that it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.  The gates of Hell – all the power of the enemy – cannot withstand an attack by God’s people walking in the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

Too often we try to infiltrate these areas of society using the rules of the world.  That’s why we only achieve limited success.  We need to learn to take this battle into the spiritual realm.

I’m going to take a few posts to talk about what God has given us in order to walk in the victory that Christ has already won for us.

Question: What are the spiritual battles that you’re facing right now?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Overcoming the World

In my last two posts, we’ve seen what the world is and our relationship to it.  Today I want to talk about what it means to be victorious over the world system.

…for everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
1 John 5:4-5

The first thing we need to see is that you can’t be victorious over the world system if you’re a part of it.  Only a citizen of the kingdom of God can win this battle.

It requires a victory over your own flesh and a renewed mind.  Only then can you direct your faith in a way that goes contrary to where the world is headed.

I think that in many ways, our generation of believers has used the term “relevance” as an excuse to join with the world.  We will very easily miss meeting with the saints in order to attend parties, sporting events, or other activities.

We want to show the world that we’re not different from them.  The fact is that in Christ we are different – very different.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
James 4:4

The problem is that we have a hard time differentiating the people from the system.  The people who live and work around us are not the world.  The world is the system that controls them.

The goal is to show them that we are different.  Only when they see that there’s a life uncontrolled by the world, will they want what we have.

Remember, the objective is to set them free from the enemy’s control.  But first, they need to see their condition.

They must understand that in Christ, my prosperity is not tied to the world’s economic system.  My joy is not dependent on what’s happening around me.  I’m not shaken by the threat of catastrophes that they see looming over their future.

I’ve been set free from the system that has them bound up in slavery.  It’s only when they see the difference that they can be ready to receive the truth of the Gospel of Christ.

Instead, many believers try to become friends of the system in order to reap the benefits that it promises.  In most cases, the cost is too great.  They find themselves in places and conditions that they never thought they would enter.

It’s time for us to live whole-heartedly for Christ.  Victory over the world system means living a life in total freedom from that system.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

You were set free in Christ.  Don’t go back to the same old routine.  Walk in the victory that was won for you at the cross.  If repentance is necessary, then do it quickly.  Get back on the path the Lord has laid out before you.

Question: How have you seen freedom from the world system in your life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 14, 2020 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,