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Replacing Power with Talk

As we continue through First Corinthians, Paul shows his frustration with the church leaders who insist on doing things their own way.  They had an inflated view of themselves.

Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you.  But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have.  For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.  What do you prefer?  Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?
1 Corinthians 4:18-21

Paul’s words to us are very clear.  When it comes to power in the kingdom of God, we better do more than just talk.  The problem is that much of what’s called power in the kingdom today is just that – talk.  The first step toward walking in the power of God is to understand what true power is all about.

Let’s start by looking at things from a natural perspective.  When we talk about power it’s usually in the context of electrical power.  We use phrases like power lines, power plant, and power outages.  We think of electricity as being a form of power.  This can help us to understand spiritual power.

Simply put, the definition of power is the same whether you’re talking about electricity coming into your house, or the power of God to heal the sick.  The International Edition of the Webster Comprehensive Dictionary defines it in the following way:

“Power is the ability to act.  It is the property of a thing that is manifested in effort or action, by virtue of which that thing produces change.”

Let me boil it down for you.  True power is the ability to produce change.  Change is the keyword.  It takes power to transform water at room temperature into hot water for a cup of tea.  It takes power to get a one-ton car to go from 0 to 60 miles per hour.  It takes power to transform a body from sickness to health.  It takes power to change a liar into a saint.  It takes power to replace guilt with innocence.

If we understand this correctly, then the verse above should bring new understanding.  It’s our assignment in the Kingdom of God to produce change.  It’s not about how well you can speak about it.  Change is the priority.  Is the church producing change?

You have to remember that this passage was written when Christians were the people who were “turning the world upside down”.  In light of this, how powerful is the kingdom of God today?  In order to answer that we must ask, how much change is being produced in the church today?

The unfortunate answer is – not much.  In many churches around the country, few are being healed, set free from sins, or seeing great growth in their spiritual lives.  It seems that we’ve become masters of talking as if there’s power in our lives.

We say things like, “That was a powerful message.”  Or, “We had a powerful service last night.”  I’ve also heard, “She has a powerful anointing to sing.”

But if no one leaves the service changed, then there was no power manifested in the service.  There are plenty of unsaved actors and singers that can evoke an incredible emotional response from their audience, but that’s not power.  People weeping during the service is no indication of any power.

We’ve learned to cover over our powerlessness by calling emotionalism power.  The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter how many people wept, how many chills ran down your spine, or how many people were slain in the spirit.  If no one was changed, then there was no power.

Do you want to walk in the true power of God?  Then you need to stop talking about it, and admit your lack – if that’s the case.  We need a true, Biblical knowledge of what it is and how to use it.  We need to seek God for a touch from His hand.  That’s where true change – true power – originates from.

Question: What does a church look like that’s walking in the power of God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on February 22, 2019 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Lukewarm Confession

How could a church that’s not lacking any spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 1:7) have so many problems?  That’s the question that rises up in me when I read Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.  As we go through this letter, the answer now becomes obvious.

Already you have all you want!  Already you have become rich!  You have become kings — and that without us!  How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!
1 Corinthians 4:8

I love Paul’s attitude, it’s a lot like mine sometimes.  He has humor with an edge of sarcasm.  There are times that this is needed to wake people up from their lethargy.

Paul exposes their faulty mindset.  They felt that they had all they wanted.  They felt that they were rich.  They felt that they no longer had any need of Paul’s apostolic ministry to their church.

For anyone who’s read the book of Revelation, this should sound very familiar.  There was a church to which Jesus Christ dictated a letter through John.  It was situated in the town of Laodicea.

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
Revelation 3:17

Here’s the problem.  They have a good confession, but they were self-deceived.  Please understand, I believe in and practice the memorization and confession of the Word of God.  It’s Scriptural and needed to bring maturity.

The problem arises when we deny the reality of our present situation.  For instance, if I’m sick, I can acknowledge my sickness BUT confess Christ as my Healer.  I can speak the Word that says I’m healed because of the wounds of Christ.

Usually, people only deny that they’re sick because they’re afraid to admit it.  But if you never acknowledged your sickness, how can Christ get the glory for your healing?

“We don’t need you, Paul.  We have all we need. We’re rich.  We’re ruling and reigning.”

The whole time, it was obvious to all outside observers that the church of Corinth was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.  I’m glad that Jesus gave John the diagnosis in the opening of His letter.

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Revelation 3:15-16

Most people don’t understand what being lukewarm refers to.  It’s a stubborn refusal to tap into the power of God’s kingdom.

It takes power to raise water from room temperature to boiling.  It also takes power to transform room temperature water into ice.  It requires no power to remain lukewarm.

There’s a subtle deception that many believers have fallen victim to.  That’s exalting their “good confession” over Christ Himself.  It’s not your confession that heals you – Christ is your Healer.

The reason we confess God’s Word is to change us.  I want to renew my mind so that it conforms to God’s Word.  Confession reprograms my internal computer.

When I start having faith in my confession, rather than in Christ, then I’m on the road to becoming lukewarm.  I need to see my need for Christ.  He is the Supplier for all that I need for life and godliness.

You don’t need to deny the situation you’re in.  But just the same, confess what God’s Word says about your situation and look for Christ to show up and bring about the change that’s needed.

Question: How does the confession of God’s Word renew your mind?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2019 in Faith, Healing, Power of God, Word of God

 

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Mere Men in the Kingdom of Power

I’m continuing my study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  As we go forward, we need to see each part within the whole context.  Without an understanding of the first two chapters, we will not fully grasp the rest of his exhortations.

In my last post, we saw that the Corinthian church was described as spiritual infants.  Paul continues to explain his reasoning.

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?
1 Corinthians 3:2-3

Paul describes the teaching he gave them as milk.  Nothing substantial; nothing deep.  It was just the basics.

When I’m hungry, I want something that I can chew.  I’m not the type of person who can survive very long on a liquid diet.  It’s the same for me with the things of the spirit.

I want to hear a message that I have to think and pray about.  I want to be able to apply it to my life so that it will bring change.  I’m not into nice, forgettable sermons.

According to Paul, their problem was that they were not ready for spiritual meat.  That literally meant that they did not have the power (dunamis) to receive it.  That kind of power can only come from the Spirit.

In the first two chapters, we’re told that the soulish man can’t receive things from the spirit.  It only happens when you spend time in the spirit.

However, the problem was worse than that.  This church was not even at the level of being soulish.  The word used for worldly is actually the word, carnal in the Greek.

They were trying to serve God by the desires of their flesh.  This was borne out by the fact that their meetings were full of jealousy and quarreling.

These two words are important to our understanding.  The first means that you have an emotional attachment to what you desire.  The other means that you’re willing to get very defensive about your opinion.

Because of all this, Paul lets them know that they aren’t acting as the people of God.  Instead, they’re behaving like the world; mere men.

In the world, you have to fight for what you want.  In an organization, that means debate, politics, leverage, and in some cases downright bullying.  That’s what Paul was seeing in the church at Corinth.

This is why he laid down his foundation at the beginning of the letter.  Through the spirit, we have access to the mind of Christ.  It’s not about what I think is best, it’s the Lord’s agenda that matters.

Mere men decide what they want by a combination of logic and emotion.  Spiritual people, on the other hand, spend time in the spirit accessing God’s thoughts.

If they were truly spiritual, they would concentrate on prayer in the spirit.  This would include both public and private prayer times.  Then they would hear from the Holy Spirit.

When that happens, you find that strife ceases.  If you’re truly hearing from the Spirit, then the Lord will speak the same word to each person.  It’s easier to walk in unity when you’re all hearing from God.

I think that a lot of the division and strife in modern church meetings could be done away with if we spent more time listening to the Holy Spirit.  Our goal should be to move in the direction of God’s plan over and above what we desire.

Question: How have you seen unity resulting from believers praying together?

2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Planting

In my last post, I talked about receiving God’s power through prayer in the spirit.  I realize that this is a controversial teaching in the body of Christ.  There are many who don’t believe that it’s for all Christians.

Many say, “I don’t want it.”  They choose not to receive this gift of God.  The truth is that this gift is vitally important for the church to do its job.  That’s why the enemy would do anything to convince us that it’s not for the church today or not for you personally.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

Prayer in the Spirit is extremely important to our spiritual health.  I believe that this is how we receive the seed of God’s Word in us.  It’s needed to conceive the seed God wants to place into our lives.

In the above verse, we see that your mind can’t conceive what God has planned for you.  That word is how the translators handled two words in this passage.  They are the words, placed upon, and rise up.

Think about how seeds work in a field.  The seeds are placed upon, sprinkled over, the soil.  Then the water and sun work to activate them so that the new plant rises up from the dirt.  It happens the same way in our lives through the Holy Spirit.

Spending time in the Spirit allows God to plant His seed in us.  Things we could never even imagine that He’s planned for us.  They enter into the good soil of our hearts.  Some of these seeds can only be activated by prayer in the Spirit.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8

We need to understand that there’s a sowing and reaping in the spirit.  Prayer in the Spirit is not just for the conception of the seed.  It must be continued so that the harvest may be brought forth in due time.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:8

That’s why I’m such a proponent of prayer in the Spirit.  I’ve seen what it’s done in my life and in others who practice it regularly.  There’s no substitution for this work of the Lord in us.  It’s the power of God actively working in us to bring about His plan for us.

I don’t know how anyone could fully serve God without it.  I couldn’t imagine my life without this gift. Don’t neglect it.  Spend time praying in the Spirit and allow the seed of God to germinate and take root in your heart.  It will change everything.

Question: How has prayer in the Spirit changed your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Gospel Power

Do we proclaim the same Gospel as the early church did?  Is there something missing from our experience that would make a big difference?  I believe that we’re lacking one of the greatest aspects of the Gospel.  We need to return to this truth if we’re going to impact our generation for Christ.

I’ve been posting a series about the message of the cross and its effect on our Christian walk.  I believe that it’s the foundation for walking in the power of the Spirit.

Never get the idea that the men and women of Scripture were somehow larger than life.  They had challenges and weaknesses just like you and me.

I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.
1 Corinthians 2:3

The Apostle Paul even admits his insecurities in ministering to the city of Corinth.  The big question is; did that hinder God from working through him?

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

The wonderful truth is that God’s work in us goes beyond our abilities.  It doesn’t matter if I’m struggling on the inside.  If I’m willing to move forward in faith, I’ll see God’s hand in operation.

The fact is that the Good News must be demonstrated.  That demonstration can only be energized by the power of God.  It’s always beyond our human ability to walk on that level if we rely upon our own strength, wisdom, and knowledge.

I fear that too many Christians allow their faith to rest on man’s wisdom because they’ve never seen a demonstration of the power of God.  There are so many believers that have never seen a healing or a miracle.

They’ve never heard an anointed prophecy or someone speaking in the heavenly language.  There are Christians that have never witnessed someone delivered from demonic possession or oppression.

As a result, the Good News, in most cases, has merely become an intellectual debate.  On many occasions, what we call the Gospel today, is void of any power to change the direction of a life impacted by it.

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.  You know how we lived among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

As you can see, I’m not using some isolated verse without context.  This teaching runs throughout the New Testament.

I’ve heard people explain this verse by saying, “The hearers were convicted by the Holy Spirit.  That’s the power that Paul’s talking about.”  I simply can’t agree with that kind of thinking.  Paul said that the Gospel came to them with power AND the Holy Spirit, AND deep conviction.

Even the very word conviction that Paul used was a Greek word that means many assurances.  It was something that could be seen and experienced by the unbelievers receiving the Good News.

The church needs to do what it takes to once again walk in this life-changing power.  In short – we need revival.  We must admit that we’ve lost something along the way and allow the Lord to make the necessary adjustments.

Questions: Do you think the modern “American Gospel” has the same impact as the early church?  If not, what must we do to change?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2018 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, What's Missing?

 

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The Mystery – Christ Crucified

Do I want to be a disciple – an imitator – of Christ?  Do I want to learn the path of life from His example?  If not, then the cross is a word I push off to the corners of my Christian walk.

How do you turn all this around and get the victory?  The Word of the cross is what makes the difference.  There’s just one problem with this kind of thinking.  We don’t like the cross.  It makes us nervous.  It sounds too much like sacrifice.

This isn’t the first time the church has had to deal with this issue.  Paul wrote about it 2000 years ago.

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.  For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:1-2

This is a totally different approach to ministry than what we see today.  Paul said that he didn’t arrive on the scene with great, persuasive words of wisdom.  Instead, he preached a simple message – Christ crucified.

That was it.  Not the risen Lord, not the King of Heaven, not Christ the Healer, or seated at the right hand of the Father.  Only the crucified Savior, which he calls the testimony about God.

The Greek word for testimony in this verse literally means mystery.  Scripturally, a mystery is something that wasn’t understood until God actually accomplished it.

That’s what Christ did on the cross.  The Old Testament saints had no concept of how God would use the cross to provide our salvation.

No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
1 Corinthians 2:7-8

It was a secret that God kept hidden away long before our age began.  Even Satan, as intelligent as he is, couldn’t conceive of how God would save us.  If he even had a hint of the power of the cross, the enemy would never have crucified the Lord.  The working of the cross was the greatest mystery of all time.

But wait! Does this mean that it’s a mystery to us?  Of course not.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

This is a mystery that God wants to reveal to us.  If we can grasp what happened on the cross, then it will have the power to totally transform our lives.  This is the message for those who want to participate with the work of God’s ongoing salvation in their lives.  It’s for those who desire to be disciples of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

This is how we’ve gotten so far astray in our nation.  Many of us spend most of our time seeking God for things.  We follow Him for healings, joy, and prosperity.  Yet, we don’t realize that all of these things are available in the person of the crucified Savior.  We need to seek a relationship with the One who has the power to completely save us from the effects of sin.

As we continue this series in First Corinthians, we’ll see how to walk in this power.

Question: Why does this generation seem to avoid teaching about Christ crucified?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2018 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Three Components of God’s Wisdom

In his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul is laying out the basis for walking in the power of God.  According to the apostle, it’s through the Word of the cross that this power is accessed.

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God — that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.  Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:30-31

Never forget that all the power we need for life and godliness is from one source.  It’s all because we’re in Christ.  It has nothing to do with how good I am, or how faithful I’ve been to God.  It’s His work, only, that’s given me this blessing.

We know from the rest of this chapter that the cross was the supreme revelation of the wisdom of God.  When I grasp what happened there, I can embrace and walk in the power of God.  Of course, we have to wait until chapter 2 to see what it takes to lay hold of this wisdom.

But for now, Paul gives us a description of what are the major components of this wisdom.  There are three specific parts to how God operates in us.

The first is His righteousness.  Simply put, righteousness is being seen as right or correct in God’s eyes.  Because of what Christ did on the cross, we can be seen as righteous no matter what our past is like.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21

Because I’m in Christ, God the Father sees the righteousness of Christ, rather than my personal failures.  That allows me into His presence, where my life can be changed, daily, into the walk of righteousness.

Next is holiness.  This is the description of anything that has been made clean and consecrated for God’s use.  In the Old Testament, everything used in the Temple had to be made holy.  Giving us a position of holiness was another work that Christ did on the cross.

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith…
Colossians 1:22-23a

By trusting in what Christ did on the cross, I’m now seen as holy; set apart for God’s personal use.  This is an important truth because nothing impure or unholy can enter God’s presence.

On my own, I have no holiness to offer.  Because of this, I would have no right to come into God’s presence.  The problem is that I can only be made clean in His presence.

Now, because I’m seen as holy in Christ, I can come before God without any accusation.  In that way, I can be purified to live a life of holiness in Him.

The third part of God’s wisdom is redemption.  This is probably the greatest gift of all.  It’s what the enemy never saw coming.  Redemption means that on the cross, Christ made the complete payment to buy us out of slavery to Satan and the world.

Righteousness and holiness would have been little help to us if we were still under the authority and control of sin.  Because of the work of Christ on the cross, we are free to serve God as a part of His kingdom.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…
Ephesians 1:7

The wisdom of God is the most wonderful part of our life with God.  In the next few posts, we’ll see how Paul says that we can access it in our walk with the Lord.

Question: What blesses you the most about God’s wisdom?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2018 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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