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The Gift of God – Like a River

Stream 2All around me I see people gearing up for Christmas. The parking lots at the malls are starting to fill up as shoppers begin buying presents. We all like to receive gifts. But I think that the greatest gifts are not from a store. They’re things that affect us for eternity.

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
John 7:37-38

I want to take a few posts to talk about the gift of God to us. Jesus describes it as streams of living water bubbling up on the inside of us. Yet, even though it flows through you, you’re not the source. The Lord is talking about an unending stream.

By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
John 7:39

Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit living in God’s people. It was a new thing that God was going to do. It had never been seen before.

Of course, there were many Old Testament saints who were used mightily by the Holy Spirit. But until this time, no one had ever experienced the Spirit of the Lord actually taking up residence in their lives.

Look at what happened after Jesus was glorified.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 1:4-5

It’s clear from the words of Christ that the gift of God is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. God wanted them to have this gift. It was something that they needed to wait for before they did anything else.

They had already been given the “Great Commission” to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone. But now Jesus is telling them to wait. Don’t go, don’t preach, don’t do anything for me until you receive this gift. That tells me that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is necessary to proclaim the Good News.

We need to understand how the Spirit operates in us. In some ways the Holy Spirit is like water. He can be compared to a stream, a river, a pool or an ocean. He can be in you and you can be in Him.

But this was not the first invitation Jesus gave to receive His gift. At one point in His traveling, the Lord met with a woman by a well. In discussing about water…

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
John 4:10

Jesus used a very interesting phrase to describe this. He called it living waterwater that is alive. That’s because this water is a person – the Holy Spirit. We need to learn how to relate to Him. That’s how His life can become our life.

Question: How has the life of the Holy Spirit changed you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Worship in Spirit and Truth

DoveIn this post I’m continuing to talk about the encounter between the woman at the well and Jesus. He told her that He could give her living water. She replied that she wanted it so that she wouldn’t have to keep coming back to this well.

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
“I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
John 4:16-18

We usually miss what’s happening here because we live in a different culture. To us, having five husbands means that you must have low morals. In that culture it probably meant that she couldn’t bear children.

When each new husband realized that she couldn’t produce an heir, she was sent away. She was also under the stigma that if you can’t bear children, then you’re under a curse from God.

Jesus was showing her that God knew everything about her, and he loved her anyway. She was still a candidate for a blessing.

The woman was floored by that thought. It’s one thing to say, “I’m going to bless you”, if you don’t know me. But to know everything about me and still love me enough to bless me; that’s overwhelming…let’s change the subject.

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:19-24

This is the key to what John wants to teach us by this encounter. The highest relationship with God is accomplished only in the spirit. The Lord is talking about being baptized in the spirit and continuing the relationship by praying in the spirit.

The natural is alright – but the highest and best is accomplished in the spirit. You can’t worship in spirit and truth simply using your flesh and your soul. As a matter of fact, you can sing, clap and dance without even thinking about it – it’s automatic sometimes. There are other times that I can think deeply about what I’m praying for. Those things are good and acceptable.

But the truth is that God desires a relationship with your spirit.

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”
John 4:25-26

Christ then reveals Himself to her. In this discussion we see God’s heart for us. He wants us to relate to Himself on a level that’s deeper than our minds can fathom. He wants us to communicate in the spirit. That’s why prayer in the spirit is so important. Don’t neglect this great gift.

Question: How often do you spend time praying in the spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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The Living Water of the Spirit

Stream 2In my last post I talked about the woman at the well encountering Jesus. He talked to her about receiving living water. We saw that this was a concept found in the Old Testament.

The prophet Zechariah talks about living water in relation to the Second Coming of Christ.

On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
Zechariah 14:8-9

It’s important that we as believers understand what Jesus means by living water. It’s also obvious that the woman doesn’t understand what the Lord’s talking about.

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:11-14

Jesus was not talking about natural water. In the original Greek, Jesus says that if you drink His water you will not never thirst ever. That might not be grammatically correct in English, but it’s very emphatic in Greek.

Why will you never thirst again? That’s because a spring of this living water will come up from WITHIN you.

What does this mean based upon the Old Testament Scriptures that we looked at? Jesus was saying, “I can place God inside of you.”

You need to understand that this was the last Gospel to be written. When the church received it, they already knew the testimony of John the Baptist.

And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1:7-8

So the early church read this knowing that Jesus is the baptizer in the Spirit. What do Jesus’ words to the woman mean to us? If you ask the Lord, then you’ll be baptized in the Spirit.

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
John 7:15

The woman didn’t know it at the time, but she was operating in a Scriptural principle. She was placing a demand upon Christ. The Lord offered her an amazing blessing. She asked to receive it. That’s what it takes for a miracle to occur.

In my next post we’ll see what her need was, and how this blessing takes shape in her life.

Question: What are some blessings that you received by asking the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Encountering Jesus

cross 2What would you do if you met Jesus in the flesh? How would you react, and what would you say to Him? I want to talk about a Scripture that speaks about an encounter with the Lord.

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”
John 4:4-7

This translation puts Jesus’ words into the form of a question, but it was actually a statement – “give me a drink.” The woman had an interesting response.

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
John 4:9

The first question I have is; how did she know he was a Jew? I believe that there was an inner witness. She feels the guilt – I’m not worthy to give you a drink.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
John 4:10

What’s Jesus talking about? What does He mean by the term living water? I believe that He’s referring back to an Old Testament passage.

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
Jeremiah 2:13

In this encounter with the woman at the well, we see the first record of Jesus talking about living water. It’s important that we understand what the Lord’s getting at.

According to Jeremiah, Israel had left God, the spring of living water. Therefore, If Jesus can give living water, then He’s God.

This is the foundation of our walk in the Spirit as believers. I’ve said it before, that the unsaved cannot fully understand the book of John. This Gospel was written so that the church would have a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and how He operated.

I believe that this is one of the reasons why the church has so little power in our generation. So often we simply use the Gospel of John to get sinners saved. Then, we don’t read it with understanding that it’s to teach us how to live like Jesus.

I want to take a couple of posts to look at this encounter from our perspective. I want us to see what John is trying to convey to us as believers. In my next post I’ll look at this concept of living water.

Question: Were there times when someone sensed that there was something different about you because you’re a believer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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God’s Place of Rest

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been posting about resting in the Lord. I’ve talked about what life is like with and without that rest. God desires for His people to find that place in His presence.

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world.
Hebrews 4:3

The only way to enter that rest is by faith, there’s no other way. God calls it, My rest. That means it’s the very same rest that He has entered. What a privilege to know that we may enter God’s rest. It should be obvious that since it’s His we cannot enter on our own.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
Psalm 23:2

It’s interesting to note that the phrase quiet waters literally means the waters of rest. Just like sheep, we can’t find this place without Him. That’s because it’s only found in Him. According to the writer of Hebrews it’s for we who have believed. It must be by faith that we enter this rest.

Jesus said the same things during His earthly ministry.

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
John 7:38-39

Jesus was speaking here about the Holy Spirit. That’s where we access the streams of God. If they are the waters of rest, then that means that I must rest in the Holy Spirit. Of course the Israelites we read about in the Old Testament rejected this provision of God. Jeremiah talked about it in his prophetic writings.

“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”
Jeremiah 2:13

The children of Israel rejected God’s rest. They ended up trying to find a rest on their own. It didn’t work. It’s sad to say, but we’re guilty of the same type of wandering sometimes. We would much rather do it ourselves than to take part in what God has freely provided.

He makes it clear in Hebrews 4:3 above that everything that was needed for our rest was accomplished in God’s Creation. Now that’s interesting to learn. The cross wasn’t needed to enter into His rest. The only thing required was faith. Of course there’s more available to us now through the cross, but the access is still the same – faith.

It requires us to trust God in all things. It doesn’t matter what the situation I’m in right now looks like. God has it all under control. I can rest confidently in Him, knowing that He will work all things out for my good.

Question: How does resting in God affect your outlook on life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2015 in Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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Transformed by the Spirit

GalaxyI’m posting about Christ as the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. In my last article I showed how Christ walked in the power of this baptism as our example.

“For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit.”
John 3:34

This is what the Lord said about Himself. Jesus had unlimited access to the Spirit.

I’ve heard people use this verse as if it only applies to Christ. Think about what it means to have the Spirit without measure.

Maybe you’ve seen the example of the glass that’s full of water. That’s like us being filled with the Spirit. Then if you take that same glass and immerse it in a fish tank; that shows what the baptism in the Spirit is like. I’ve used this example many times.

How much water does the glass have in the fish tank? There’s no way to measure it. That’s what Christ is talking about. He was the first one to experience a life that was baptized in the Spirit.

In talking about this to the disciples, the Lord said…

“Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
John 7:38

This can happen because I live in two realms. In the spiritual world I live immersed in the Spirit – the living water Christ talked about. In the physical, this water gushes out and is evident to those around me.

It doesn’t matter how much power I have to put out in ministry, in the spiritual it’s without limit. The truth is that we have that same unlimited access – if we live an immersed life.

But that’s not the best part, in my opinion! At one point Jesus took the three closest disciples up on a mountain to pray.

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
Luke 9:29

This verse literally says that He was changed as He prayed and His face became different. Jesus was transformed by the Spirit. He had no sinful flesh as we do. But as He prayed His flesh, His physical appearance, was changed. He was transformed to a higher, more glorious appearance.

We’re told in Scripture that God desires to take us from glory to glory. How will this happen? I believe it’s through prayer in the Spirit. It will be accomplished through living an immersed life.

That’s why an understanding of the gift of the Spirit is so vitally important to this generation. We need it. In order to transform the church we need a manifestation of the power of God. We need the Holy Spirit’s life changing work.

It will only come as God’s people press in and do what Jesus did. Live a lifestyle of prayer in the spirit – a life of immersion.

Question: What will it take for you to live a life of immersion in the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Guidance for the New Year

20132012 is over.  We’re now in new territory!  What does this new year hold for us?  There is a way to safely navigate the unknown that lies before us.

Society is taking a dim view of the future.  With talk of fiscal cliffs and higher taxes, many are worried.  There are those who fear an increase in violence and unpredictable weather patterns.  Where can we turn to for answers?  The same place the truth has always been…

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:11

Our God didn’t get stuck in 2012!  He is with us today.  He knows all about the latest technology – before it’s even invented.  He is well able to bring though to a victorious new year.

It’s a blessing to know that God will never leave us nor forsake us. According to this verse,  He’s the Guide that never fails.  He can find water in the driest desert.  He gives strength in the time of trouble.  If we rely on Him, we will be just like a spring whose source never fails.

Many times people look at us and wonder what’s the secret of our strength.  There seems to be nothing special about us.  On the outside we’re as weak and mortal as everyone else.

What they don’t know is that our strength comes from far below the surface – deep within – where we have tapped into the presence of an Almighty God.  This is the secret to the abundant life.  We must learn to remain in the presence of the Lord.

Because of the hand of God upon our lives, we seem to have an ability to move forward in ways that others cannot comprehend.  This only happens when we take a spiritual drink from the springs of living water that come directly from the Lord.  This is the road to victorious living.

Spend time with your Guide today.  Let Him empower you for the year ahead.  Become that “well-watered garden” in His presence.  That is the only way to assure an outcome of fulfillment and joy throughout 2013.

I pray God’s richest blessing upon you in the coming year!

© Nicolas Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2013 in Encouragement, Faith

 

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