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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 Spirit-Fruit: Gentleness

In today’s post, I’ll be talking about the fruit of gentleness as found in Galatians 5:23.   Many people associate gentleness with weakness.  In actuality, just the opposite is true.  According to Scripture, it’s impossible to be gentle if you’re weak.  You must be walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I don’t think anyone would accuse Jesus of being weak.  He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.  Yet this is what it says about Him as He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey…

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, ‘See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'”
Matthew 21:4-5

The question is; was that the best the Lord could come up with to ride into Jerusalem?  If it was…if all He could come up with was a donkey, then He was pretty weak.  The fact is that Jesus had the power to break through the heavens, coming down from the clouds on a white stallion.

Even though the Lord has great power, He chose not to use it on that occasion.  This is the true spirit of gentleness.  Look at how it operated in the Apostle Paul’s life.

There were some people in the Corinthian church who were opposing Paul’s authority.  He gave them an interesting choice in his letter to them.

What do you prefer?  Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?
1 Corinthians 4:21

There would be no reason for Paul to threaten them with the “whip” of apostolic authority if he didn’t have any.  The truth is that the apostle had the authority needed to put them in their place.  Yet, his desire was to not have to use it.

So if we were to define gentleness according to its use in Scripture, I’d say that it’s placing my power, under God’s control.

This is the hardest thing to do sometimes.  That’s especially true when I know that I’m in the right.  I want to bring the full weight of my scriptural authority down on their heads.  Unfortunately, that’s usually not the best idea.  I need to be led by the Holy Spirit in my responses to people.

This is why I must spend time in the spirit.  I need to be able to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in all the situations I’m going through.  This is true for all church leaders.

Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
2 Timothy 2:25-26

That’s because the goal is not to prove that I’m right or that you’re wrong.  The ultimate objective is a life that is turned around for God’s glory.  Many times, by our arrogance, we win the battle, yet lose the war for the hearts of people.

We may have proved our case, but they were never set free from the devil’s bondage.  True gentleness allows for the working of the Holy Spirit in people’s lives.  So we need to listen and obey His voice, even when our tendency is to defend ourselves.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
Galatians 6:1

This teaching is found throughout the Scriptures.  Gentleness brings restoration.  When you cultivate the spirit of gentleness, you’re participating in drawing someone back to Christ.  Spend time with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to produce this fruit in you.

Question: What was a recent time that you saw God’s gentleness operating through you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Spirit Overcomes Flesh

FlyingIn my last post we saw how the spiritual walk, specifically prayer in the spirit, will bring change from the inside out. This truth is also brought out in other parts of the Scripture.

No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
Romans 2:29

This is another piece of that same puzzle. Our outside will never change unless we have a change of heart. The problem is that our heart itself is very deceptive. We can’t always trust what we’re feeling.

That’s why true change can never be imposed upon it from the outside, by the written code. It must come from the inside, by the power of the spirit. Isn’t it great to know that your spirit can change your heart?

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
Galatians 5:16

Our new knowledge of the power of prayer in the spirit should give us a whole new insight into what this verse is actually saying. Many times, when people quote this verse, they’re using it as a weapon.

I’ve heard people say things like, “Look at how that person lives, and they call themselves a Christian. They’re walking in their flesh so they must not have the Holy Spirit in them. They can’t really be saved.”

This isn’t a verse that Paul gave us to test whether a person is saved or not. This is a passage of Scripture to tell us how to receive the power we need to walk in victory over the flesh. The only way you’ll have the power you need to not gratify the flesh, is to live your life in the spirit.

You cannot do it by exercising the will power of your soul, or even disciplining your body. This means that you spend time praying in the spirit, communing with God in the realm of the spirit. That’s where we access the power to overcome the desires of the flesh.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

This is one of the most popular passages with many Christians. Unfortunately many believers have no clue what this section is actually saying.

What is fruit? Fruit are those yummy balls of sweet goodness that hang from various kinds of trees. How do they get there? Does the tree have to sweat and fret and work hard to push them out? Does a tree try and fail and get frustrated and try again to do better?

Of course not! Fruit are a natural result of being an apple tree. They are produced simply because the tree is healthy, and has access to everything it needs (air, minerals, water, and sunshine).

This is something that most Christians miss. They think that producing the fruit of the spirit only comes by hard work and a lot of will-power. That’s not what God intended. The fruit mentioned here will not be produced by reading the Bible or going to church.

They will not even come by will power or guilt. These things are the fruit of the SPIRIT. Why would we then think they would be the product of our works, will power, or trial and error?

The fruit of the spirit are the natural product of a life lived in the realm of the spirit. As our spiritual relationship with the Lord grows, then so will the fruit. They will not be from our strength.

In my next post, I’ll give some examples of how this works.

Question: Why is it impossible for our flesh to discipline itself?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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A Pharisee Comes to Jesus

HandsI’ve been posting about how Scripture describes the born-again experience. It’s deeper than simply reciting the “Sinner’s Prayer.” It’s about clothing ourselves with Christ by the power of the spirit.

There’s only one way to put on the new man. Unfortunately, it’s also a concept that the church has pushed to the side in many instances.

To understand it, we’ll now look at the most recognizable Scripture concerning the concept of being born again.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”
John 3:1-2

We need to look at a conversation between Jesus and a young man named Nicodemus. To understand what takes place, we must look at the background. First of all, this event is only recorded in the Gospel of John. That’s an important point.

All of the other Gospels were written to the unsaved people groups of world. Matthew was written so that the Jews would see Jesus as their promised Messiah. Mark was written so that the Romans would understand that Christ was the conquering servant-king. Luke was written so that the Greeks would know that perfection can only be found in Christ.

John, on the other hand, had a totally different purpose. It was inspired by the Holy Spirit to give the church a deeper view of Christ Jesus, the Living Word, God taking on flesh. This is important for us to realize in grasping what’s being said. It’s a story that directly applies to the church – those who are already saved and want a more intimate knowledge of Christ.

The second thing we find out is that this man, Nicodemus, is a Pharisee. Often, the Pharisees get an undeserved bad reputation in Christian circles. Of all people that lived back then, the Pharisees were the closest to us in doctrine.

They believed that God took notice and acted in the affairs of men. They believed the Scriptures as the infallible Word of God. They knew that there was a spiritual realm that included the demons as well as ministering angels. They also believed that there would be a resurrection day at the end of the age. It’s unfortunate that the few who hated Jesus are the ones who get all of our attention.

Nicodemus was his own man. Think about the facts of the situation. He begins by calling Jesus Rabbi. This was a term that literally meant my great one. It was reserved for those who you felt were an example to you. It implied that I want to be like you. So it’s significant that a Rabbi is calling Jesus a Rabbi.

Furthermore, Jesus, Himself commends Nicodemus. In verse 10 of this chapter Jesus calls him the teacher of Israel. Obviously the Lord was pleased with his work.

Another event of note is the fact that when Christ was taken down off the cross it was Nicodemus who prepared the body for burial. (John 19:38-40) This was unheard of. You would never see a Pharisee handling a dead body on the eve of the Passover feast.

The only conclusion I can draw from this is that Nicodemus is a believer. He is someone trusting in Christ and looking for the next step in the process. We need to listen carefully to the teaching of Christ in this conversation.

In my next post we’ll see exactly what Jesus said was needed for Nicodemus to reach the next phase of his walk with the Lord.

Question: How would you counsel someone who wanted to progress to their next step in Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Christ Our Example

JesusI’m posting about Christ as the Baptizer in the Holy Spirit. In my last article we saw how Jesus manifested the power of the Spirit. How else did this power reveal itself?

The Lord healed the sick, but they did that in the Old Testament as well. Here are some other manifestations of the Spirit in His life.

One time, when dealing with the Pharisees, we’re told…

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?”
Mark 2:8

The Holy Spirit gave Christ the supernatural knowledge of what the Pharisees were thinking.

Another time, when the Lord went to the grave of His friend, Lazarus, the Scripture gives us some insight.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
John 11:33

Literally this verse says that He groaned in the spirit and was stirred up. That’s the same thing the Word says about us. (Romans 8:26) We’re told that the Spirit uses groans that cannot be put into words. I believe one of the secrets to His power was His sensitivity to the move of the Spirit within Him.

In His ministry, Jesus sent out 72 men to go throughout Israel and preach. One day they came back and reported what happened.

At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”
Luke 10:21

The literal Greek of this verse will probably offend the legalistic, churchy crowd. It reads that Jesus jumped for joy, danced, and spun around in the Spirit. Many folks do not want to hear that Christ danced in the Spirit, but that’s exactly what He did. I believe that it happened on more than one occasion.

Let’s look at one more example. Once when Jesus preached in the wilderness, it started to get late. He sent the disciples across the lake in a boat. Then He dismissed the crowd.

After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them…
Mark 6:46-48

Christ saw the disciples. Miles away, at night, and in a storm. He didn’t see this with His physical eyes. It was revealed to Him by the Holy Spirit as the Lord prayed up on that mountain.

These are the same manifestations we see in believers who are baptized – immersed in the spirit. We should be doing the same things that Jesus did.

But in order for this to happen, we have to walk the same walk. We need the power of an immersed life.

Question: How would our evangelism be different if we walked as Christ did?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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Sonship Beats the Law

I’ve been posting about the Biblical principle of Sonship. In my last post I talked about Zacchaeus from Luke chapter 19. Jesus had just called him down from the tree and told him that He was coming to Zacchaeus’ home.

Zacchaeus had no idea what was about to happen.

So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’”
Luke 19:6-7

These two verses show us in a tangible way the difference between using the power of the law and the power of the Spirit. The law is always trying to block your way. It says that you must get yourself ready before you can abide with Christ. The religious people thought that there was no way that Christ should enter Zacchaeus’ home.

I’m writing this so that you’ll know for a certainty that it doesn’t matter how you start out. Your problems, failings and lack of commitment are all things of the past. You can start fresh by abiding with Christ today. The time to run to the Lord is before you try to fix yourself up. It’s only as you remain in His presence that you receive the power for changing your life.

Look at what happened to Zacchaeus.

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Luke 19:8-10

Salvation had come to Zacchaeus’ house. We usually misunderstand what salvation is all about. If you can grasp its total impact in Scripture, salvation actually includes all of God’s life changing and restoring power. It was this power that was manifest in Zacchaeus’ life that day. His love of money dissipated in the light of the Spirit’s love.

But the more importantly, Jesus said that he, too, is a son. He may have gone his own way for a while, but Zacchaeus was loved by the Father. The Lord was clear that He came seeking Zacchaeus.

It’s an interesting perspective because Zacchaeus thought that he was seeking Christ. It’s just like our spiritual worship. If we will “bend forward to kiss” the Lord, then He will bend forward to kiss us.

The greatest ministry of Christ was that He came to seek and save that which was ruined. Right now the body of Christ in America is full of ruined sons. It’s time to seek the Lord.

What we’ll find is that in our seeking of Him it’s actually the Lord who’s seeking us. It’s time for us as believers not get saved, but to BE SAVED. We need to rise up to our rightful place and position of Sonship.

This can only happen as we see the importance of our relationship with the Father. This means that we understand how to relate as sons and daughters to our heavenly Father.

Question: How does Sonship change your view of who you are as a believer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in Faith, Legalism, Sonship

 

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