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What Are You Known For?

In my last post I talked about the way the Thessalonian believers imitated Paul’s lifestyle. They were commended for it.

But as we read further in Paul’s letter to them, we find out even more. This lifestyle, living for God, wasn’t a private thing. They weren’t just “closet Christians”. Here’s what Paul said about them.

And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia — your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
1 Thessalonians 1:7-10

All over the region, people were talking about how the Thessalonians had received the Gospel. Of course, it was a Gospel that included a demonstration of God’s power. They allowed it to get into their hearts and change their lives.

The first thing that we see is that they were turned around. They had formerly been worshipping idols, but now they are servants of God. It takes the power of God to make that kind of change.

Serving idols is easy. As a matter of fact, our culture is full of idolatry. No, not the carved images, but we serve man-made idols. There are those who worship the gods of education, finance, entertainment, or sports.

The thing about idolatry is that it makes you feel good about what you can do. You can compare yourself to those around you.

“Look at me! I’m smarter than you.” “I’m more athletic than you.” “I’ve got more money than you.”

The reason it’s hard to turn to God from this is because it requires a whole new mindset. Once I turn to Christ, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God. It’s not about what I can do, but what the Lord is doing in me.

When we serve idols, we’re actually serving ourselves. In the kingdom of God we serve Him. God sets the agenda for us.

The secret to their faithfulness was that they kept their eyes on Jesus. Part of Paul’s testimony about them was that they were actively waiting for Jesus. With their focus on Him, they were able to serve with joy.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Romans 12:11

The word zeal means to be very eager to serve the Lord. I think that’s what’s missing in the lives of many believers. They have no eagerness to serve God. Why is that?

According to this verse, it requires spiritual fervor. The word translated as fervor literally means to be boiling over. It requires power to heat water to the boiling point. Left to itself it remains at room temperature – lukewarm.

If we will spend time with the Holy Spirit, then His power will be at work in our spirit. He can give us that spiritual fervor that we need to serve God with true zeal.

Then, just like the Thessalonian believers that Paul commended, our faith will become known to all those around us.

Question: How “hot” is your spiritual life right now? What can you do to increase it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on May 17, 2017 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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What is the Gospel – Really?

In my last post we began looking at the second Word that the Holy Spirit gave to the church. It was Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. Today we’ll look at an important “first”.

It’s always good to note the first time a word is used in the Scripture. It helps us to understand what the Holy Spirit means when He uses it elsewhere in the Bible. Sometimes preachers call it the “law of first use.”

Do you have any idea the first place in the New Testament when the word Gospel is used? I’ll give you a hint; it’s not in the Gospels. That’s because the Gospels weren’t the first books written. The Gospel of Mark was probably the fourth book written; which is close, but not the first to use that word.

Actually, the word Gospel is first used in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. This was the first of Paul’s epistles. He was writing to a young church he started with only a brief stay in the city of Thessalonica. Here’s what he wrote them in the opening verses of his letter.

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

That’s a very interesting comment to make. The first time the word Gospel is used in the Scripture, it means more than just words. It’s a complete presentation of the power of Christ. Paul is very clear in saying that it’s not just words, but also includes power, the Holy Spirit, and conviction.

It’s unfortunate that in our day there are those who think the Gospel is simply a cleverly crafted message designed to convince a sinner to get saved. When we believe that, we’re only working with a small part of the Gospel. For it to be the true Gospel of Jesus Christ there must also be a demonstration of power.

If I’m going to demonstrate something, then I need to know what it is. In natural terms, power is the ability of something to produce change. If nothing changes, then there’s no power.

Paul tells us here that when the true Gospel came forth – things changed. It’s not like many of our meetings today where we say, “That was a powerful message.” By we simply meant that we were stirred emotionally or felt goose bumps.

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

As you can see, I’m not using some isolated verse without context. This teaching runs throughout the New Testament. The Good News must be demonstrated. That demonstration can only be energized by the power of God.

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

The Gospel has to be a Word from God, not just a convincing argument. When I speak what God is saying, then the Holy Spirit is free to confirm the message. People are convicted by the Word and their lives are forever changed.

We need to get back to being a people who spend time listening to their God. Then, once we’ve heard His voice, we need to step out and speak what He’s saying to us. This is the true essence of the Gospel. This is what will change our society for Christ.

Question: What would church look like where the true Gospel was preached?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2017 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, The Gospel

 

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Called to be Mighty

strongTough times call for tough people. That’s especially true in the body of Christ. More than ever we need to draw upon the power of the Holy Spirit to bring about God’s plan in our nation.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ephesians 6:10

I am prompted to meditate on David and the men who were drawn to him as he was being hunted by King Saul. It was quite a group who joined him.

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.
1 Samuel 22:1-2

According to the Bible, the men who came to David were basically fed up with the way things were. They were distressed, in debt, and discontent.

The fact is that God is still looking for some angry people. He needs people with attitude.

“This is not the way it should be.”

That’s what God is doing in the church right now. He’s cultivating this attitude. This nation needs to change. The church needs to change. I need to change.

I want to take a couple of posts to look at some of the men who came to David. The ones termed his mighty men.

Of course, that was for a physical battle. Right now we’re in a spiritual battle for the hearts and minds of those around us. It goes without saying that the Lord needs mighty women as well.

By the way, maybe you disagree with that statement – and don’t believe that it’s a woman’s place to be mighty. If that’s you, then please note that in Proverbs 31, the word usually translated virtuous, is the exact word mighty used with David’s men.

Out of the 600 or so men who eventually joined with David, only 30 were called mighty. Think about it; 600 people knew what God was doing in Israel. 600 aligned themselves with God’s plan. These men joined David’s fight, and committed themselves to see God’s will carried out.

But of all those men, only 5% were termed mighty. When it comes to God’s kingdom, I want to be on the cutting edge. I want to be in the mighty category. It’s my hope that you want that distinction as well.

Most of Israel was clueless as to what was happening around them at that time. It’s the same in our generation. Much of the church has no idea about the spiritual climate, or what God is planning on doing.

Then again, many are like the 600. They’re onboard with what God is doing, but they’re just following orders. Then there were the 30 mighty men; but even with them we mostly only know their names.

We’re only told the details about five of these men. That’s less than 1%. That’s where we should desire to be. We should strive to be in the upper echelon of God’s warriors.

When my time on earth is done, I want my angels to talk about me. I want them to have some exciting war stories to share with their friends.

“Let me tell you about the guy we were watching. More than once we had a fight on our hands. It was always exciting being with him.”

In my next post I’m going to begin talking about what it takes to be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Who are these mighty men, and what did it take for them to accomplish great things?

Question: How far are you willing to go to advance the cause of Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Passing Down the Blessing

FallenI’m posting about our call to be a blessing to those around us. I started by looking at this verse in Hebrews…

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
Hebrews 11:20

This is an interesting verse because in actuality Esau was Isaac’s favorite. He was the one that Isaac wanted to give the family blessing to. But in the final analysis, it was Jacob who went further with God and His plan.

When you talk to someone; do you know their heart? That’s why we want to be a blessing to everyone around us. We have no way of knowing what it could mean in their lives.

There is, however, another aspect of blessing that we sometimes miss. It’s a very important concept for us to understand.

And without doubt the lesser person is blessed by the greater.
Hebrews 7:7

The phrase without doubt means that this truth is absolute under all conditions. We need to realize that a true blessing can only travel down-line. It could pass from a parent to a child, a teacher to a student, or a pastor to a church. That means that a true blessing is only a part of a relationship where there is submission and obedience.

It’s very important that we understand that the blessing is passed through lines of authority. Even though we may say in church-speak , “he blesses me,” we really only means that he makes me happy.

A true blessing, the endowment with power for success, must come from an authority. And that brings us to the other side of the coin – cursing. By curse, I’m not talking about using foul language. Cursing is the opposite of blessing; it’s the endowment of power for destruction in a situation.

With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
James 3:9-10

What’s true for the blessing is also true for the curse. It can only travel down-line through lines of authority. That’s why I’m not worried about what people say to me…or about me.

Some people get all upset and anxious over the careless words of others. Someone might say something like, “You look like you’re coming down with something.”

I’ve heard people get very upset and respond, “Don’t speak death over me!”

The fact is that I don’t have to worry. Only my authority can curse me, and I’m confident that they won’t.

Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse does not come to rest.
Proverbs 26:2

I don’t have anything to fear from the curse. I’ve been set free in Christ. Anybody can say what they want to me or about me – my life is under God’s protection.

Enough about the curse. The point is that as far as we’re concerned we should be speaking blessing and life into the people God has placed us over.

This includes the unbelievers around us. You do realize that in Christ, we’re in a higher place than they are. If we spoke more blessings into them, they would probably be more open to the Gospel of Christ.

As believers, we should be a people who are known for the blessings that come from being around us.

Question: What was the last blessing that you spoke into the life of someone else?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2016 in Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Word of Life – Its Three Forms

Bible1Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4

We know from Scripture that the Word of God is like seed received into our hearts. How do we receive this life? To answer that question, we’ll go to the beginning of the Gospel of John.

I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life.
John 6:47-48

This is vital to our understanding of how to receive life. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life. That’s the theme of the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel. The Lord sums it up in this way.

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
John 6:63

This is the bottom line. In order to walk in the abundant life we must live by every Word of God. Christ is the Living Word – the personification of the Word of God. His Word is spirit and life. It’s a life that can only be received by the spirit. This is the foundational truth of how the Word works in us.

First, we must understand the key to grasping the Word of God. I’m speaking of the two Greek words, logos and rhema. These two words are both translated as “word” in the English, which makes it very hard to see the contrasts without a basic knowledge of the original language. My goal in this series is to bring out the truths contained in these two important words.

A lot of teaching has gone forth in the Faith Movement concerning logos and rhema. Some of it has been good, and some has been a little off. I want our foundation to be solid, so I ask you to read this with an open heart.

Some have mistakenly taught that logos refers to the written Word while rhema is the spoken word. In actuality, the Greek word graphe refers to the written Word. It’s usually translated “writings” or “Scripture”.

In the Bible, both logos and rhema are only referred to as spoken. They’re never read. Graphe is always read and never spoken.

What you’ll find in a careful study of logos and rhema is that they’re almost always indistinguishable from one another. According to Scripture, both of them are alive. Both endure eternally. Both contain creative power. Both are referred to as the sword of the spirit. Both logos and rhema can manifest the power of God.

It’s the differences, however, that I’m going to focus on. The first principle of the Word is found in Matthew 4:4 above. The word used in that verse is rhema. We must live on rhema. This is the source of our life.

The next important truth is found in John 6:63 above. That verse also uses the word rhema. Only rhema is given and received in the spiritual realm. It’s the form that spiritual life takes in order to be transferred from one to another.

You may be wondering why this study of linguistics is so important. I’m now going to put it all together for you so that you can see the beauty of God’s Word in all of its forms. We’ve heard the teaching that the Word of God is like a seed. Think about it as a grain of wheat. In the world, wheat is called the “staff of life.” That makes it a wonderful illustration for the Word.

In my next post I’ll use this view of the seed to explain how God uses His Word to impart life to His people.

Question: How much time do you spend listening to the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Power of God, Word of God

 

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Power Walking

JogIt seems that I talk a lot about the power of God in these posts. I believe that God is restoring His church to a walk of power in our generation. Here’s something to consider in talking about this power.

First of all, let me remind you what true power is all about. Power is the ability to produce change. If there’s no change, then there’s no power. There’s no way around it. If the power of God is manifest, then lives are changed.

As I begin to walk in this power, something new begins to happen. As my life begins to change, I start to get the world’s attention. They begin seeing something working in my life that’s beyond my ability.

It’s this very change that will attract people to Christ. At that point I will not need to convince them how awesome the Lord is – they’ll see it for themselves.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…
Colossians 1:10-11

This is a very interesting section of Scripture. It tells us to walk worthy of the Lord. That should be the desire of every Christian. How does Paul describe this worthy way of life?

The first two indicators are pretty much self-evident and are the ones that are always emphasized. They are bearing fruit and growing in our knowledge of God.

But what about the next line? One of the ways we’re to live a worthy life is to be strengthened with all power according to His glorious might. To live worthy of the Lord is to walk in power.

We’re not to just talk about power. We must demonstrate the power of the living God. In order to do this I must know Him in His power. So I must be in an intimate relationship with Him. Only then will I experience His power flowing through me.

That’s where we miss it sometimes. We want the easy way.

“Just give me a prayer formula that always works.”

It’s not a formula, but intimacy with the Holy Spirit. That’s how we access the power of God in our lives. We have to take the time to build a relationship with Him.

This is what the world needs to see in us. Not a bunch of people who merely talk about how good God is. They need to see His goodness, power, and love in action. That’s what will draw people to Christ in these last days.

Paul summarizes this concept.

To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Colossians 1:29

That was Paul’s priority, to know Christ in the riches of His power. This leaves me with a choice. Now that I know what true power is…do I want it? If I do, then I need to plug into the source – Christ Himself.

Question: Am I willing to do whatever it takes to walk in God’s power?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2016 in Power of God, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Why We Choose Talk Over Power

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

For a couple of posts I’ve been talking about the power of God. In my last article, we learned that the definition of power was the ability to produce change. If there’s no change taking place in our lives, then no power has been manifest. The simple fact is – when God shows up, things begin to change.

You have to remember that the above passage was written when Christians were the people who were turning the world upside down for the Gospel. In light of this, we must ask ourselves; how powerful is the kingdom of God today?

There are those who might get mad at me and say that you can’t quantify the power of God. That’s because we like to spiritualize things that we don’t understand. There’s an easy way to tell how much of the power of God is being released in our lives and ministries. You simply take into account how much change is being produced.

The unfortunate answer is – not much. In a lot of churches around the country not many are being healed, set free from sins, or seeing great growth in their spiritual lives. The problem is that we’ve become masters at using talk over power.

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.”

The fact is, we come to church on Sunday mornings and sing a host of songs about the power of God. Then we sit back and think that because we just sang about it, somehow that means we’re walking in it. If there’s no change, then our power is just words.

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

We’ve learned to mask our powerlessness by calling the release of emotion “power”. The bottom line is – no matter how many people wept, no matter how many chills ran down your spine, no matter how many people were slain in the spirit – if no one was changed, then there was no power.

Don’t get me wrong. There are churches around the country where the power of God is manifest at every meeting. People’s lives are being changed daily. But that’s not the norm in America.

If we’re ever to see the real move of God, then we must first come to grips with the truth. We have to desire change. To be hungry for God’s power is to be hungry for change. We must admit our need for God to do His work in us.

Question: Have you seen the power of God at work? If not, are you hungry for change?

© Nicolas Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2016 in Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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