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God’s Armor – Using the Breastplate of Righteousness

In my last post, I showed how the Breastplate of Righteousness was given to us to protect our hearts.  That’s the good ground of our life.  It’s where we plant the good seed of the Word of God.

In Scripture, we’re told to put on the full armor of God.  That means it’s a choice I have to make.  The first thing we need to understand is what this righteousness is.

In the Bible, we’re told about two kinds of righteousness and both of them are important.  First, there’s the position of righteousness.  That means I’m declared righteous simply because I’m in Christ and He’s my righteousness.

Because of this position of righteousness, I can go into the presence of God whenever I want.  Whether I need forgiveness, or simply want to praise and worship the Father, I have 24/7 access to God’s throne.

I praise God for the position of righteousness that we’ve been granted in Christ.  However, that’s not the righteousness that protects our ground.  The breastplate speaks of the walk of righteousness.

How does the walk of righteousness protect my heart?  In the natural, Scripture talks about the enemies that invaded Israel and ruined their fields.  Fire, drought, foxes, stones, salt, weeds, locust, and hail were all causes of crop failure.

In our walk with God, we’re warned to be careful not to form intimate relationships with unbelievers.  We’re told that bad companionships corrupt good character (1 Corinthians 15:33).  By becoming intimate with the world you’re opening up yourself for a broken heart – rocky, stony soil.

When your walk is not right before God, you have an open, unprotected heart.  If you remember, a few posts ago I showed that the armor wasn’t Paul’s invention.  There’s a word picture of God wearing His armor in the Old Testament.

Knowing this, Paul described what the breastplate consists of.

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1 Thessalonians 5:8

The first thing Paul talks about here is self-control.  You may not want to hear this, but it takes self-control to put on the breastplate.

The word, self-control, in this verse, is not the same as the fruit of the spirit.  This Greek word means to be sober, not drunk.  We can’t be so intoxicated with the world that we miss God’s best.

Then, Paul gives us a closer look at this breastplate.  He tells us that it’s comprised of a combination of faith and love.  Walking in faith and love is the completion of your righteousness before God.

It should be obvious how this works.  I must choose to trust God.  I must choose to love God.  This is a daily choice, to walk in righteousness.  It’s a faith-love walk.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6

In the New Covenant, circumcision is all about the rules of men.  The reality is that in Christ rules don’t count for anything.  Only a walk of righteousness matters.

This verse talks about being in Christ Jesus.  That’s where you have to be to use the armor.  This passage literally says that in Christ…the only thing that has force is faith, energized and made effective, through love.

How does this protect my heart?  When you walk in the combination of faith and love, you’re placing a “force field” of righteousness around your heart.  Your ground is protected, and you can expect your spiritual seed to grow unhindered by the enemy.

Question: What evidence do you see of faith and love working together in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The 5 Warning Signs of Legalism (Repost)

I’m continuing through the book of Galatians, studying Paul’s teaching on legalism.  Because many people have told me this post helped them in the past, I decided to include it in this series.  I hope this repost will be a blessing to you.

Many Christians are bound by legalism.  Are you one of them?  The trouble is that legalism can be very deceptive.  You can be caught up in it and never know it – unless you see the warning signs.  I hope this will be both a challenge and a blessing to you.

Elevating works over position.  Do you worry about what you can do to please God?  The correct answer is – nothing!!  It’s the blood of Christ that makes me acceptable to God.  Nothing I do can make Him love me any more or any less.  While works can affect my rewards and blessings, they’ll never change God’s love and acceptance of me if I’m in Christ. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Seeing yourself more of a slave than a son. Yes, we do serve God and are expected to obey Him in all things. But the way we obey is as mature sons and daughters.  As spiritual children, we learn servanthood.  It’s the training ground for our growth in Christ.  The purpose of servanthood is so that we can walk in maturity.  The Lord desires sons and daughters to represent Him to the world.  (Galatians 4:1-7)

Relying more on your confession than God’s grace. I believe in the confession of Scripture.  Rehearsing and memorizing it is an important part of the believer’s life.  Just as important is the reason we do it.  The purpose of confessing God’s Word is to increase our faith in Him.  But ultimately, it’s not my confession, but the power of God that will bring about the changes that I need.  (II Peter 1:3)

Giving more time to studying Scripture than to intimacy with Christ.  Scripture study is very important – it’s one of my passions.  I couldn’t live without it.  But, spending quality time with the Lord is even more so.  Jesus rebuked the Scribes and the Pharisees for diligently studying the Scriptures, yet not going to the Christ that they pointed to.  It’s not enough just to know about Christ.  I need to have an intimate, personal knowledge of Him that only comes from time spent in His presence.  (John 5:39-40)

Being confident more in the comparison with others than abiding in Christ.  Comparison is a deadly trap.  The problem is that I can always find someone less committed than me. It gives me a false sense of security because I’m no worse than anyone else.  On the other hand, I can spend my days feeling worthless, because I look at others who are farther along than me in the faith.  I can’t base my self-evaluation on someone else’s life.  My goal is not to be better than you, but to be like Christ.  (II Corinthians 10:12)

Questions: Have you battled with legalism?  How have you overcome it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2017 in Faith, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Facts About Missing Church

meLyRzsI’m not going to try and make you feel guilty for missing church. As a pastor I’ve found that guilt never accomplishes anything lasting in the lives of people. But, where missing church is concerned, there are some principles at work that most believers don’t know about.

The principle of positioning yourself. We all need God’s blessing, provision, and wisdom. Maybe there are things you’re trusting Him for right now. God has a specific way that He provides for us. In order for us to receive, we need to fulfill the conditions that He sets forth. The Lord already has the supply; it’s up to us to be in the position to receive it.

God has an appointed a time and place for you to receive those things that you’re trusting him to accomplish in you. If the Lord has called you to be a part of a certain local church, then many times that will be the place He expects to meet with you. If God shows up at the appointed time and place with your answer, and you’re not there, you’ve just missed out on your blessing.

How many “unanswered prayers” are simply the result of us deciding to miss church for the wrong reasons? We need to compare the way we show up to church with the other activities of our lives. How does our church attendance compare to work, school, sports, or the other things we’re involved in? That’s how you can usually tell if the reason for missing is justified.

The principle of fellowship. The word fellowship, in the Greek, is the word koinonia. It’s a word that speaks of placement. It means that I have a share in what’s taking place. It’s like being a shareholder in a corporation. I share in the profit or the loss.

In the body of Christ I have a role to play. There’s somebody who needs the blessing that I have. If I “take a day off”, there will be something missing in our fellowship. Conversely, how many times have you missed a blessing because the person who had it just didn’t feel like showing up?

The principle of the church as an organism. We’re not just an organization. We rely on each other. Until we get a vision of this truth, we’ll never rise to our true potential in Christ. The writer of Hebrews understood this fact.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:25

We need each other. Our blessings and provisions in Christ are all interdependent upon each other. What I do affects you and your actions affect me. If we want to see revival and a renewed power in our churches, then we must stand together in our fellowship.

Questions: Where do you fit into the body of Christ? How do you actively participate in the Kingdom of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2015 in Encouragement, Fellowship, The Church

 

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It’s Not Magic

PowerlessThis is the final post in a series about spiritual warfare. Specifically talking about the helmet and the sword of the spirit. They correspond to the power and authority of the Holy Spirit at work in us.

We need to understand that in God’s kingdom power flows through authority.

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Matthew 8:8-9

The centurion understood the principles of power and authority. Just say the WORD. He knew what it meant to be under authority. Notice that he didn’t say that he was a man in authority. It was because of the authority he was under that he could say, “Do this,” and see it happen.

So if we say, “Be healed,” and nothing happens; what’s the problem? I think it’s an issue of authority and power.

To use power we must line up with authority. We sometimes think that the subject of authority and submission is not a big deal. Things like…

Where I go to church. How I respond to leadership. Where do I fit in ministry? Or even submission within the family.

And I agree. These aren’t a big deal. They don’t cause us to lose our salvation. Unless you want to walk in the power of God.

One of the hallmarks of this generation of Christianity is a lot of talk and no power. We even have a lot of faith and no power.

We sometimes think that if we can say the right words, we’ll receive our miracle. The truth is that the reason the words work is because you’re correctly lined up under authority.

I’ve heard people say, “The Word doesn’t work.” Please understand, the Word of God is not a magic spell like in the movies. That may be what we want the Word to work like.

There’s no magic in the words. The authority and power rests in God. Unless we correctly align with Him, we have no power and authority that activates the Word.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
1 Corinthians 4:20-21

We have to realize this truth. Talk is not enough. If you want power – you must be in position. You need to get yourself rightly aligned under the authority of God.

God’s church needs to walk in this right now. There’s no time to waste. We need the power of God. That’s what will change lives and usher in a harvest of souls in our generation.

Question: How do I align myself under God’s authority?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Building for the Unseen

FoundationThis is the final post in a series about the faith of Noah. He’s one of the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews, chapter 11. It says of him that he was warned about the unseen, and built for the future by faith. This is the same thing that each of us is called to do.

If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
1 Corinthians 3:12-15

How we build our lives will be shown for what it really is. After the final tally, some will have no building. The work of others will be burned up. I want to be of the company of those who have a work that lasts.

For this to happen, I must take care how I build, knowing that it’s for eternity. Remember what was said about Noah.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
Hebrews 11:7

Look at his results. The choice that he made was far-reaching. In most cases, our choices affect so many others.

First of all we see that it saved his family. He had to take care in how he built. In the midst of the storm they were walking on floorboards that might have been laid down 50 years before. His work had to last.

I might think that when I tithe it only affects me. But that’s not entirely true. It will have an effect upon my children and grandchildren.

The last part of the verse literally says that he condemned the world (system). Every day that we live by God’s standards proves that the world system is wrong. Because of this, I don’t fear what they fear. I don’t have to worry about how the economy is going to affect me or what kind of germs I’m being exposed to.

Just like Noah, we are heirs of righteousness. Please understand that righteousness is the complete package of grace that Christ purchased for us. This includes our healing, prosperity, joy, peace, goodness, and so much more.

By taking care how I build, I put myself in a position to receive from God. There may be things in my life that are not seen yet, but I’m getting into position. We need to make the choice to build for the unseen.

Questions: What are you trusting God for that you haven’t seen yet? How are you building for it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2014 in Faith, Word of God

 

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Sonship – Position vs. Walk

Different AnointingIn my last post I talked about women and sonship. Now I want to talk about sonship in a more general way.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:15-16

This is a great truth of the New Covenant. When we came to Christ and received His salvation, we also received the Holy Spirit within us. At that point we were adopted into the family of God.

This is the foundation for the concept of sonship. But we need to understand it. In listening to what a lot of people are teaching, it sounds like a son is a son is a son. There’s no difference in any of our relations to God.

While the relationship of a son to a father is constant, what we fail to realize is that the dynamics of that relationship change over time. The Bible speaks about different levels of sonship. There are Greek words for adoption, son, infant, toddler, child, and fully matured adults. We miss the full impact of the Gospel when we treat all the levels of our relationship with God as the same.

In the original language of the above verse, the Holy Spirit was called the Spirit of Adoption. The concept of adoption into the family of God is very important for the believer. The word adoption literally means to place in the position of a son. When we received Christ as our Savior, and He placed His Spirit within us, we were brought immediately into the position of a son of God.

Remember – Jesus Christ is THE only begotten Son of God. However, we have been placed into the position of a son of God. This gives us all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the family of God. At that point we’re saved from our sin and on our way to Heaven. But we have to realize that we’re only in the very early stages of our relationship with the Father.

Knowing your position in Christ is important. We are placed in the position of being righteous before God. This means that we can come into His presence at any time, for any reason.

We have also been placed into the position of being holy before God. That means that we have been set apart by God for His purposes. This is great news, because in my own works I could never even hope to attain to such a high calling.

The problem comes in when we fail to understand that there is a vast difference between the position of righteousness and holiness – and the walk that is characterized by those qualities. I cannot assume that I’m living a holy life just because God calls me holy by position. The Apostle John makes it clear as he talks about the walk of righteousness.

Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
1 John 3:7

Many are being led astray in this generation, thinking that because they have been placed in the position of righteousness, it also means that they are walking in righteousness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your position and your walk are two different things.

It is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to make the position of righteousness and holiness a present reality in our daily walk.

Question: How does the walk of righteousness differ from the position?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Sonship, The Church

 

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Are You Positioned for the Anointing? #anointing

OilWhen all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too.  And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Luke 3:21-22

In the past, I have posted about the anointing of God upon our lives.  We receive God’s anointing when we are chosen by God for a specific task.  We’re then anointed to complete it.

What we see from Scripture is that the Spirit follows the anointing.  At Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit came upon Him in power.  That was His anointing for ministry.

At the same time there was a voice from heaven (The Father) confirming this calling.  My question is; how did He get to this point?  The answer will help me in my walk with God.

And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.
Luke 2:52

Wisdom is the application of what you’ve learned.  Stature speaks of physical growth.  The word favor is the grace of God.  These are very important points for us to learn.

Have you ever thought about it in these terms before?  Jesus had to grow in grace.  But the key word is grew.  That Greek word literally means to drive forward as if by beating.

Jesus was driven to grow in grace and wisdom.  Of course He did have an advantage over us.  He was perfect and He had a photographic memory.  The Lord only had to hear the Scripture once and He remembered it.

The key is that when He heard Scripture He was driven to enter into the grace of it.  This should be the same for us.

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you.  Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.
1 Timothy 4:14-15

Paul tells Timothy, a young pastor, to be diligent and give himself totally the callings that were placed upon his life.  Paul explains to Timothy the reason for this.  It literally says, so that your driving forward may be a light to all.

We must drive ourselves to secure the anointing.  To walk in our callings will take drive and determination.  It will not just happen by accident.  It’s a spiritual battle.  But, through the power of God, we will be victorious.

Question: What does it mean to drive yourself forward in grace?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2013 in Anointing

 

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Power is Agreement with Christ #powerofGod

LightningMy last post talked about positioning yourself to flow in God’s power.  It all comes down to the truth that agreement with Christ is the place of power.  Do we always agree with Him?  Or do we make excuses?

“You can’t know God’s will for certain.”  “He may not want to heal.”  After all it can’t be our fault.  We feel there’s nothing wrong on our end so it must be God’s decision not to manifest His power.

In some cases we’re more like the Pharisees than we want to admit.  Jesus explained their problem to them.  I believe that it’s our problem as well.  We need to hear the Lord, and meditate on His words.

You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.  These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.
John 5:39-40

Many believers spend a great deal of time pursuing the study of Scripture.  There are radio and cable channels devoted to the study of the Word of God 24/7.

Just like Jesus said to the Pharisees, many of us think that by them we possess life and power.  We believe that if we just know the Word enough, it will increase our faith to the point where nothing will be impossible for us.

The Scripture is given to testify about Christ.  It was NOT given to grant us access to power or life.  Jesus Christ is the grand focus of the Word.  It’s IN HIM that we have power and life.

Our problem is that we refuse to go to Christ to have access to power and life.  Jesus said, “I have come that you would have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)  Power rests solely in Christ.  If we don’t abide in Christ, then we don’t have access to the power.

The very Scriptures that we recite, confess, and memorize are telling us who Christ is and what He’s done.  This should cause us to run to Him.  Instead, we embrace the Word and think that it will give us power.  It’s so much easier to live for ourselves and quote promises, then to abide in Christ.  That requires spiritual effort, and we like to look for the shortcuts.

This is the instant generation.  We want everything now without any waiting.  By constantly using our credit cards we will give away our future for a momentary pleasure.  We have to have everything now.

Well, this is something that’s impossible to get instantly.  It requires the work of an intimate relationship with God.  Power flows from Christ to us if we’ll do what it takes to position ourselves to receive it.  It’s time for the church to wake up and view relationship with Christ as the priority of the hour.

Question: Are you willing to wait in God’s presence rather than seek for instant success?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2013 in Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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Are You Positioned to Receive Spiritual Power? #powerofthespirit

PlugI’ve been posting about how Christ walked and ministered in the power of God.  It’s all about how He positioned Himself to receive it.

A good example of this is found in a parable that the Lord told to His disciples.  We usually call it the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-collector.  They were both in the temple praying next to each other.  The Lord lets us in on what they were saying.

The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
Luke 18:11-12

We read this, but we don’t take it to heart.  We know how it ends and who the Lord commends.  But do we really listen to the prayer of the Pharisee.  If we look closely at it, it sounds like a prayer that a modern Christian would offer up, filled with good confessions.

“I thank you that I’m the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath. I thank you that because I tithe you will rebuke the devourer and open the windows of heaven so that I cannot contain your blessing.”

His prayer was filled with good confessions and it was all true.  He was different than the tax-collector.  He did fast and tithe.  The problem was that he had no power.

But the tax collector stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Luke 18:13

Which prayer produced life changing power?  Christ was clear about it.

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:14

It’s obvious, from the Lord’s perspective, that the person who dealt with relationship tapped into God’s power.  The Pharisee was focused on self.  The tax-collector was dealing with that which separated him from God.

Is the power of God about what I’ve done or what the Holy Spirit wants to accomplish in and through me?  When I go before God, my telling Him what I’ve done doesn’t impress Him.  It will never move Him to work through me.

It’s only as I work on my relationship with Christ that I’ll see the changes necessary.  If you want to flow in the power of God, then your relationship with Him is the positioning agent.  It’s not about what you’ve done, but what He is able to do in you.

Questions: How well are you positioned for the move of the Holy Spirit?  What do you need to do to make it better?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Ministry, Power of God, Prayer, Revival

 

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