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Who Are You Following?

As we continue in our study of First Corinthians, Paul has begun talking about agreement in the body of Christ.  We’ll now see why he brought up that subject.

My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.  What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
1 Corinthians 1:11-12

When will we learn that among the followers of Christ, there’s only one true God?  There may be a multitude of teachers and methods of teaching, but we serve the same Lord.  2000 years later, and we still fall into the same trap.

Different denominations within Christianity still quarrel over the small details of the faith.  We all have a brand of teaching that we enjoy.

There’s nothing wrong with being different.  That is, as long as we believe in the fundamentals – Jesus Christ, God made flesh, the One who died, rose from the dead, and is Lord of all.  We believe that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, but my teaching is not the only way to know Christ.

Paul had to deal with this in the Corinthian church.

Is Christ divided?  Was Paul crucified for you?  Were you baptized into the name of Paul?  I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.  (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.)
1 Corinthians 1:13-16

In these questions, Paul is asking about a fundamental truth.  Who is the focus of our faith?  Is it our teacher, or Christ Himself?  The answer should be obvious.

Paul now makes one of his most powerful statements.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
1 Corinthians 1:17

The impact of this verse is all but lost on many in the church today.  In effect, Paul is saying, “God did not call me to simply convert people to Christianity.  I am not using my superior wisdom to get people to make a logical choice to follow the teachings of Christ.”

Paul was commissioned by God to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Hearts were to be convicted.  Lives were to be changed and made new.

The Gospel is not about convincing people that they need to begin following the teachings of Christ.  It’s giving them the choice to become a new person in Christ.  It’s a call to leave the kingdom of this world to become a citizen of the kingdom of God.

Human wisdom has no power to change a life.  But in the cross, we find the power of transformation.  Paul makes that abundantly clear.

It’s unfortunate that the cross is preached so rarely in our generation.  It’s actually the foundation of life on a higher level.  In the next few posts, we’ll see how Paul describes it.

Question: What is the place of agreement for all believers?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on December 3, 2018 in Power of God, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Are You Tired?

ClimberI don’t know about you, but sometimes I just get tired. Tired of the battles, the problems of life, and everything that society throws at me. It’s times like that when I need to seek the encouragement of the Word of God.

Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joy.
Colossians 1:11

The Apostle Paul understood how to live victoriously in spite of all the stuff that was happening around him. He knew where to go to receive strength in his time of need.

One of the things that the Holy Spirit desires to do in us is to build us up in our inner man. He wants to give us the power we need to stand our ground for Christ.

This life is very draining on people. I don’t believe that there’s any such thing as an easy life. Of course, as the saying goes, the grass is always greener in someone else’s yard. We look at other people and think that they have it so easy.

The reality is that we’re all different. We all see life from a different perspective. The things that you find difficult to deal with, I don’t have any problem with. And some of the things that trip me up, you don’t struggle with at all.

The simple fact is that everyone needs an abundance of endurance, patience, and joy. Those are the qualities we seem to lose so easily. Yet that’s exactly what the Lord wants to bring into our lives.

Apart from the Holy Spirit we would give up too soon. I want to see the finish line and cross it with strength. I don’t want to barely finish then collapse in exhaustion.

Finishing strong requires me to rely on His strength for my life. I must come to the realization that without Him I can do nothing.

It’s a humbling experience to tell the Lord that you need Him. But that’s why Scripture teaches that if you humble yourself before Him, He will exalt you.

That’s why we need to run to God’s Word. The verse above is especially encouraging. I’m so glad that the apostle didn’t say, “Being strengthened with some power according to my best efforts.”

When I draw on the power of the Spirit, I have access to all power – all the power I need overcome in every area of my life. This power isn’t based upon what I can do. It’s all because of the Lord’s unlimited resources. He’s the One I look to for help.

Draw on the power of the Holy Spirit today. Spend quality time in His presence and watch what the Lord can do in a life that is yielded before Him. Make use of His promises. Let Him grant to you His endurance, patience, and joy.

Question: How have you seen the difference between living in your power vs. the Holy Spirit’s?

©Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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Society, Revival, and Forgiveness

JailI’ve been posting about the link between forgiveness and revival.  I think that it’s clear from Scripture that the spiritual battle is not only fought on the ground.  There’s a higher aspect to it.

In my last post, I talked about Daniel’s prayer while in Babylon.  As he was praying and interceding on earth, the angels were warring in the sky.  If we want a breakthrough in our nation, then there must be a spiritual battle.

As in any war, it requires strategy.  It’s not just about politics.  It’s not even about me sharing the Gospel with someone.  We’re in a spiritual war.

Another lesson that we need to learn is that it’s not just up to individuals.  In an army, soldiers don’t just wake up and say, “I’m going to go out and fight today.”

“I’m going to do warfare today.”

That doesn’t work in the natural, so why do we think that it has a lasting effect in the spiritual?

Understanding forgiveness will give us a view of the whole war.  We are so intent on our individual fight.  When that happens, we get self-absorbed and that’s the exact opposite of being humble.

In warfare it’s imperative that I know what the enemy’s objective is in attacking us.  What’s our objective in the spiritual war, as the body of Christ?

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!  As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
John 20:21

Jesus said this to His disciples after the resurrection.  “In the same way that the Father sent me…”  Jesus’ objective was to destroy the works of the evil one.  How can we do that?  There’s only one way – the same as He did.

And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
John 20:22-23

The victory comes through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Then, there needs to be forgiveness – the picking up and removal of sin.  Sin is that which misses the mark.  We are to heal society by forgiveness principles.  The principles of sin removal.

In actuality, the word, forgive, is not in second half of the above verse.  The word used is seize, take hold, dominate, or arrest.

When we deal with society, sin and people in sin, there are two objectives.  The first is to remove sin.  This means getting someone saved and/or healed.  It might even be getting a godly law passed.

The other objective, if people refuse the Good News, is to arrest sin.  We can take dominion over it in the Name of Christ.

“This far and no further.”

Then, we can push it back in the spirit.  In my next post I’ll wrap up this subject showing what I believe is God’s way to overcome evil and bring about revival in our nation.

Question: What are the evils that need to be arrested and pushed back in our nation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2013 in Power of God, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Continuing in Power #powerofGod

PowerI have been posting about how Christ was tempted in the wilderness.  By the power of the Holy Spirit, He overcame all the assaults of the enemy.  But there’s more to the story than just the devil’s defeat.

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.  Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
Luke 4:13-14

The story goes on.  After the devil had done everything he knew to do, he was finished.  The enemy had totally drained his battery.  He had to leave for a while to recharge.

Jesus, on the other hand, didn’t miss a beat.  He’d been fasting in the wilderness for 40 days.  Then the Lord experienced a spiritual battle the likes of which we’ve never seen in our lives.

Was He drained?  Did he have to recuperate?  Absolutely not!  Jesus Christ came out of the wilderness experience just as powerful as when He entered 40 days before.

We need to walk in this kind of power.  But in order to do this we must let go of our reliance upon the promises and start acting like spiritual adults.  We need to truly tap into the full potential of the power of the Holy Spirit who is at work within us.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being.
Ephesians 3:16

Without a doubt, this is the key – the Holy Spirit living within us.  Being led by the Spirit is the earmark of a son.  We must remain in Christ if we are to access this potential.  Christ is our example.

I don’t know why we’ve turned it around and made it all about us.  As if we have the power to change anything.  We think that if we find the right promise or confess the right Scripture verse, then a miracle will happen.  Maybe if we put together the correct formula of words in a prayer the power will manifest.

What’s the secret of how Christ consistently walked in the power of the Spirit?  It wasn’t confessions or formulas.  It was the time He spend remaining in the Father’s presence.  He prayed, He listened, and He obeyed.

It’s time for us to learn this lesson.  We need to stop looking for an easy way to tap into the Spirit while continuing to live for ourselves.  I need to submit to the Lord’s agenda for my life.  Time in the presence of God is the only thing that will bring about this transformation.

Question: What would have to change in order for you to spend more time in the Lord’s presence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Power of God, Prayer

 

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How God Opened My Eyes to Legalism #legalism

GlassesToday I want to start a new series of posts about how Jesus walked in the power of God.  But, before I do, I want to share a personal testimony about a trial I had to go through in order to receive this truth from the Lord.

Years ago, the church I pastored was running over a hundred on Sunday morning.  The ministry was flourishing and my family was able to obtain a mortgage on our own house.  It was a nice, little home on a quiet street – just what we always wanted.

Suddenly, the bottom dropped out.  My wife lost her job.  The mortgage payments doubled.  Through a series of moves and other events, the congregation went down to about 30 people.  To make a long story short, we went through a bankruptcy, lost the house, and now live in an apartment owned by my parents.

I don’t say all of this so you will feel bad for me.  I don’t regret it.  Many good things came out of it.  One of them was a Word from God.

This was one of the lowest times of my life.  On many occasions I cried out to God asking Him why this was happening to me.  One day, while I was in this state, I distinctly heard the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart.  He asked me what my problem was.

As I started asking Him why He allowed my finances to dry up, the Lord asked another question.

“Why should I provide for your finances?”

I was a little taken back by the question, but I was ready with my answers.  I went through all the Scriptures I knew about the promises that God would supply my need.  Malachi 3:10-12, II Corinthians 8-9, Philippians 4:19, and many others.  These Scriptures were why I expected Him to bless my finances.

What the Holy Spirit asked next totally floored me.

“So you’re standing on the law to receive your financial blessing?”

I was speechless.  I sat in silence for over an hour.  I refused to believe that I was legalistic.  But I had no other explanation.

I trusted the Scripture instead of the God of the Scripture.  I was like the Pharisees that Jesus got upset at.

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

The Lord started showing me, on that day, that I had fallen victim to an epidemic in the church.  Many believers are doing everything they can to fulfill the promises.  They’re trying to work for the blessings of God.  If you use the promises in this way, then you’re running on the power of the law.  You’ll never reach the full potential God has for you.

In this new series I want to show how Christ operated – as one submitted to God and controlled by the Holy Spirit.

Question: What is your view on the promises of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God

 

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Anointing and Calling #anointing #theanointing #calling

MeditationI’m posting for a while on how to walk in our anointing.  In my last post we saw that the power of the Holy Spirit follows the anointing.  Today, I want to start getting into some details that we may have missed along the way.  If I can find the key to the anointing, then the rest will fall into place.

It’s interesting to note that anointing is only mentioned 13 times in the New Testament.  Of those, it’s only referred to as a spiritual anointing for us 6 times.  There’s a reason for so little mention in the N.T.  It comes from an ancient practice in the Old Testament.  If we can understand that usage, then we’ll have a good foundation for understanding the anointing in us.

Anointing was a ceremony of pouring oil on something or somebody.  It was used for a lot of things.  Personally, I don’t care about how to anoint cooking pots.  What relates to us is the usage with prophets, priests, and kings.  I want to know how anointing brings power.

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel?  Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem.  I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
But Samuel said, “How can I go?  Saul will hear about it and kill me.”
The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.’  Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
1 Samuel 16:1-3

God told Samuel to go and anoint a new king over Israel.  He gave Samuel a Word – Go to Bethlehem.  He told Samuel that He would show him what to do when he got there.

Once in Bethlehem, Samuel went to the house of Jesse as instructed.

Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.
1 Samuel 16:5

According to the Word of the Lord he was given, Samuel invited – called them – to come the sacrifice.  In actuality, he was calling them to come to the anointing of the new king of Israel.

It should be clear from this passage that anointing involves calling.  The two go hand in hand.  To reject your calling is to reject the anointing God has for you.

God has called you to do a great work for Him.  The anointing is what enables you to walk in the power to fulfill that calling.  Anointing is not a license to do whatever you want with God’s power.  It equips you to fulfill God’s plan in your life.

Question: What is God calling you to do at this point in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Anointing, Power of God, Revival

 

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