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Loving God

As Jesus was nearing the time of the cross, He was questioned by various religious leaders.  Some with good motives and others who were trying to trap Him in what He said.  There was one who seemed to want a real answer.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.  Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
Mark 12:28

Jesus was always willing to answer those who asked a serious question.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’”
Mark 12:29-30

The Lord gives this man the most important command of the Law.  It turns out that Jesus didn’t give him a rule to follow, such as sacrificing, tithing, or reading Scripture.  Instead, it was a command to know who God is and then knowing how to respond to Him correctly.

This is still a valid command for us today.  As Christians, we need to understand who it is that we serve and what it takes to show our love for Him.

Love God with all of your heart.  Your heart is the garden of your life.  It’s where you put things that you want to grow.

It’s the good soil that you should be planting the Word into.  Loving God with all your heart means that you will only plant things that will please God.

If I were a servant tending to a garden for my master, this would be simple to understand.  If my master hated green beans, then there would never be any green beans in my garden.  We should only be planting the things that please God in our hearts.

Love God with all of your soul.  That’s the seat of your decision making.  We show our love for God each day by the decisions we make.  Do we take God’s will into account when we decide what direction our lives will take?

Love God with all of your mind.  Your mind is the storehouse of your life.  Whether you remember it or not, everything that you see and hear is stored forever in your mind.  That’s why it’s so important to be careful gatekeepers of what we watch and listen to.

When the Lord walks through your storehouse, what does He see?  Are there things that are offensive to Him?  If so, then you can clean it up through repentance and faith in the cleansing power of the blood of Christ.

Love God with all of your strength.  I think that this is the one command that seals all of the others.  Without it, our love falls short.

That’s because your strength speaks of actually doing something.  You can’t say that you love without putting it into action.

I’ve heard people say, “I love God in my heart even though you don’t see it in my actions.”  Actually, that’s not real love.  Whether you’re talking about a human relationship or walking with God, love has to be shown by what we do.

It takes all of these together to make a complete love package.  Our heart, soul, mind, and strength must be working in unison.  It’s through these that we fulfill our greatest calling.

Question:  Why is this the most important command of Scripture?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on June 6, 2018 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Law of Freedom

MirrorIn my last post I talked about the need to hear a Word from God. We have to spend the time listening for his voice. But it doesn’t just end there.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
James 1:23-24

Once you’ve heard from the Holy Spirit you need to follow through on what He spoke to you. This goes beyond simply thanking Him for speaking. There has to be a fulfillment of the assignment.

I like the illustration that James gives us here. It’s important for us to understand just what he’s saying to the church.

In my last post I talked at length about the Word of God being more than just Scripture, but God speaking to us. As James continues on that theme, he starts to give us more detail. We can’t ignore the implications of what he’s teaching.

When I read the Bible, I know that it’s the same for everybody. The life of Jesus, the teachings of the Apostles, and the histories don’t change from generation to generation. The truths that we read are timeless, and apply to everyone for all time.

A mirror is a completely different piece of equipment. What I see in a mirror is not at all what you would see. As a matter of fact, what I see when I first wake up in the morning is nothing like what I see as I’m preparing to go to bed.

Every time I look into the mirror, it’s a unique experience. That’s another reason why this has to be about our time spent with the Holy Spirit – hearing His voice. Whenever we spend quality time in the presence of God it should be a one-of-a-kind encounter.

What I need to hear from God today, may be about something totally different than what He speaks to me tomorrow. The Lord wants to work in us and in the lives of those around us. For that to happen, I need to hear from Him on a consistent basis.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:25

Listen to what James calls this encounter. The perfect law that gives freedom. There’s absolutely no way he could be talking about the Old Testament here. Paul said almost the same thing in his letters.

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. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:15-17

It’s obvious that freedom can only come through the Holy Spirit. He wants to speak a word that’s tailor made to the situations we’re facing. I believe that hearing and doing what the Spirit speaks to us is the perfect law that gives freedom.

It’s through time spent in the Spirit that God writes His law on our hearts. That’s where we find the freedom to live for Him without hindrance.

Question: What was the last thing the Lord spoke to you about?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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Relationship Over Rules

RulesIn my last post I talked about the fact that the Bible isn’t meant to be a rule book. The Old Testament law teaches us that a set of rules could never bring us closer to God.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:13-15

This verse makes it abundantly clear that on the cross, Christ cancelled – obliterated, blotted out – the rule book. God no longer wants us to follow Him by rule, but by the Spirit.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
1 Corinthians 15:56

This verse tells me that all of Satan’s so called power comes from the law. His only mode of attack is to enforce the law. That’s the power of his weaponry.

This verse also shows the basis of how Christ could disarm the demonic forces. On the cross, Christ obliterated the power source of the enemy. Satan’s kingdom is now an army of unloaded guns.

The only power they have is the power we give them, by subjecting ourselves, once again, to the law. That’s the trouble with our human nature. We all want rules. We’d rather someone tell us, “do this”, than to spend time with the Father and seek His will.

The verse we looked at in my last post showed us that following the apostles teaching as a rule opens us up to the sin of pride. Paul said that’s why they were talking arrogantly against one another. Pride is the sin that caused the devil to fall from the place he was created for.

Don’t let subjection to the law ruin your walk with God. The tendency of using the Bible as a rule-book causes many divisions and problems in the Body of Christ.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Colossians 2:16-17

Using the Bible as a rule book causes most of the arguments we see between believers. We get so passionate about our own pet rules. It’s all talked about in this verse.

Believers argue about what Christians can or cannot eat and drink. There are controversies over whether or not to celebrate Christmas; or whether to worship God on Saturday or Sunday. None of these issues have any place under the New Covenant.

The reality is that God wants a relationship with His children. He’s not looking for robots. The Lord wants us to seek time with Him so that He can teach us to follow Him.

I realize that I’ve had to deal with this subject very quickly here. But I’m sure I’ll get back to it again in future posts.

Question: What divisions have you seen in the church over what the “rules” are?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2016 in Legalism, Scripture Series, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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America at the Crossroads

FlagcrossToday is Memorial Day. It’s a day to remember the sacrifices that so many men and women have made so that we can live in freedom. It’s sad to see how far we’ve fallen from the original plan of the founding fathers.

How did this happen? First of all, we have to understand that God treats nations differently than He deals with individuals.

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.

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 many other great achievements.

But there came a time when we started to leave the path.

Does he who disciplines nations not punish? Does he who teaches man lack knowledge?
Psalm 94:10

The truth is that God disciplines nations. Of course, this requires understanding God’s ways. The world is the Lord’s, and all of the land that exists is His. Nations, themselves, cannot be saved or unsaved. As such, nations are under law, not grace.

We know from Scripture that the power of sin is the law (I Cor. 15:56). That means that the enemy’s kingdom is powered by the law.

This principle was the basis of the law given to Moses.

…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

In effect, the law gives the devil permission to attack a nation that defiles God’s land. It’s not God cursing a nation. It’s a nation cursing itself by inviting the enemies’ attack.

How is the land polluted? A few things listed in the Bible are: Bloodshed (Numbers 35:33-34); Corruption (Ezra 9:11); Sexual Sin (Leviticus 18:25); Prostitution (Jeremiah 3:2); and Idolatry (Jeremiah 16:18). The devil has permission to attack polluted lands.

It grieves me to admit that America is a defiled land. I’m sorry for sounding so down about the USA. The truth is that there’s nowhere else on earth that I’d rather live. I love this nation. But without a proper diagnosis, there can be no healing.

There is a remedy for the problems we face in our culture.

…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

I have heard this verse emphasized in America since the sixties. But rather than humble themselves, pray, seek, & turn – God’s people have either protested the moral landslide or joined right in with them.

It’s time for us to take God’s holy prescription for this nation. It’s time for the church to remember where we came from, and fervently seek revival.

Question: What would a national revival of the church look like?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2014 in Prayer, Revival

 

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Are You More Like the Pharisees or Jesus? #belikeJesus

Come to JesusI have posted about what happened when the most powerful user of the law (Satan) attacked the most powerful user of the Holy Spirit (Christ).  The battle wasn’t even close.

Now I want to relate how Jesus lived and taught about power on a daily basis.  The last thing I want is to be in error, trying to defeat the devil on his level.  I want to face each battle from a position of strength in the Holy Spirit.

In order to understand this truth, we’ll look at the differences between the Pharisees and Jesus.  It’s no secret that the Pharisees walked in the power of the law.  But…they were powerless in the spirit, so they were usually jealous of Jesus’ power.

All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What is this teaching?  With authority and power he gives orders to evil spirits and they come out!”
Luke 4:36

When Jesus ministered, the people saw something different.  He wasn’t like the Pharisees who simply made excuses why people were sick or poor.  They would point out people’s sin as the answer for everything.  With Jesus, it was a whole different way of ministry.

…and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
Luke 6:19

The people could see the power of God at work through the Lord.  It got to the point where they were not even asking Him to touch them any more.  They were trying to touch Him.  Power was flowing, issuing out, all around Him.  They simply had to put their faith in Him to receive this life transforming flow.  And that’s exactly what it was – a flow of power.

That’s because power is like a liquid.  If the channel is clear, it will move like a river from one person to another.  It was for this reason that a woman tried it later on in the Gospel of Luke.  As He was with the crowd, suddenly Jesus stopped and turned around.

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”
Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet.  In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed.
Luke 8:46-47

As I was meditating upon these verses, a very interesting question popped up in my mind.  In both Luke 6:19 and Luke 8:46-47 power was flowing out of the Lord.  The question is, was Jesus “controlling” the power?  According to the verses above, He was not consciously deciding who to pray for.  The people were touching Him and the power of God was healing them.  He was simply the avenue through which the Holy Spirit worked.

Questions: Do you want to be used of God in this way?  Are you willing to walk the same road of relationship with the Father that Jesus walked?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2013 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God

 

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Is Christ Really Our Example? #Christourexample

JesusI am posting about how Christ walked in the power of the Spirit.  He’s our example for a life of victory over the power of the enemy.

You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Acts 10:37-38

This was the theme throughout the ministry of Christ.  Whoever sought help to escape the enemy’s grasp was set free by the Lord.  The reason He could accomplish this is because His anointing was based upon the power of the Holy Spirit.  By the way, this is the same Holy Spirit who’s now resident in us.

So, the big question is why was He able to heal?  Was it because of the Old Testament promises that spoke of healing?  No, it was because God, the Holy Spirit, was with Him.  What we need to come to grips with is the fact that God wants to heal.  He doesn’t want anyone bound by the power of the enemy.

So we can see clearly that Jesus’ power was from the Spirit, not from the law.  It’s vitally important that we understand this truth.  This is the key.

To aid in our realization of this we’ll look at the best example that the Gospel record gives us.  We will go to the section of Scripture where the devil and Jesus have their first battle – in the wilderness.  The accounts of both Matthew and Luke, together, show the fullness of what happened during this time in Jesus’ life.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert…
Luke 4:1

The first thing that we see is that the Lord Jesus allowed Himself to be led by the Spirit.  That means that this encounter wasn’t an accident.  This event was part of the strategy for victory over sin.

…where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
Luke 4:2

When Jesus went into the wilderness His intention was to meet with the Father.  His desire was to fast and pray for the ministry He was about to begin.  In order to do this, Jesus fasted for forty days.

This brings up an interesting question.  How important to us is walking in God’s power?  How far are we willing to go to obtain it?  Are we willing to do a long term fast?  Spend time in the wilderness, away from all distractions, seeking God?  In most cases I see believers who live for themselves and are simply “trusting God for a breakthrough.”

If we want to see the results of Christ, we need to walk His walk.

Question: How far are you willing to go to walk in the power of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God

 

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The Power of Christ #powerofChrist

LightningIn my last post I talked about my struggle with legalism that I didn’t even know I had.  I was like so many others who “stand on the promises.”  They are trusting in the power of the law instead of the power of God working in them.

Then again, there are other Christians who have thrown out the whole idea altogether.  They’ve tried to live up to the requirements of the promises and failed.  They’ve come to the conclusion that they’ll never gain the blessings of the promises.  So what they’ve done is to start living for themselves and chase after the things of the world.  Unfortunately, if you throw out the promises altogether, and don’t remain in Christ, you’ll find yourself unplugged from the source of our power.

If my attitude is that I don’t want to read the Bible or go to church, then in essence I don’t love God.  This is because love is an action, and I’m not showing it toward the Lord.  You can say, “I love God” all you want, but that only means that you have good feelings toward Him.

That’s usually how the world defines the word “love.”  In that sense you can love God without any of those things.  However, I’m talking about true love – an action where all your heart, soul, mind, and strength are involved.

It’s clear from Scripture that there are two forms of power – the Spirit and the law.  Both of them are strong forces for change, but the power of the Spirit is the greatest.  We also know that trying to fulfill the requirements of the promises is a form of legalism.

Under the New Covenant, the promises serve two purposes, of which both are important.  The blessings of the promises show us what God enjoys doing for us.  The requirement side of the promise shows us what we can do to please God.

The real question we need to deal with is how did Jesus operate in the power?  We will start by seeing how Jesus taught about the power.

He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.  The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
1 John 3:8

This is a simple yet profound truth.  One of the main purposes of Christ coming to the earth was to destroy the devil’s work.  The Lord wanted to end Satan’s reign of terror on this planet.  To do that Christ would have to wield a power much greater than that of the devil.

It’s this power that I want to talk about in these posts.  Christ is our example.  If I can grasp how He walked in the power of God, then I can get the same results by following His principles.

Question: What works of the devil need to be dealt with in our generation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God

 

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