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Focus Determines Attitude

What does your mind dwell on when it’s free to wander?  You need to realize that the things you focus your attention on go into your heart, and eventually, if not taken care of, will come out in your actions.

We’re now getting to the concluding thoughts in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.  There are some simple truths that we all need to follow.  No matter what our calling, these are all a part of God’s will for us.

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.  Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:15-18

The first is to treat others correctly.  Our human nature wants to retaliate when we’re wronged.  But that’s not the way of the Spirit.

The Greek language of this verse says to watch or stare at so that nobody pays back wrong for wrong.  It’s all about what you focus on.  If you stare at and rehearse what’s been done to you, then you’ll eventually try to “even the score”.

The problem with this is that it doesn’t solve anything.  The retaliation will simply get passed back and forth like a bad potato.  It’s God’s will for us to bring peace into these types of situations.  Only then will people notice that there’s a different Spirit in us than what’s normally in the world.

We’re also encouraged to always be joyful.  It’s a word that simply means to be glad.  Again, it’s all about what you focus your attention on.

There are those who say that they can’t be cheerful because they’ve had such a hard life.  We need to realize that very few people get through life with no pain.  Those who are miserable about their lives are focusing on the struggle.

Please understand, you may have had a hard life.  But the key word is LIFE.  You’re alive.  And in Christ, you have the hope of a great future.  Scripture is very clear that in Christ our past never determines our future – no matter how bad it looks.  You need to be dwelling upon God’s Word, His promises to you, and His ability fulfill His plan in you.

The next is to pray continually.  Paul is actually telling us to worship uninterrupted.  I think that this is one of the most important parts of being cheerful.

Paul doesn’t mean for us to continually be asking God for things.  That’s not the spirit of worshipful prayer.  He’s talking about being conscious of the fact that the Holy Spirit is constantly with us.

It’s like being with a close friend.  In a close relationship, nobody dominates the conversation.  And sometimes you don’t need to talk at all, you’re just glad that you’re experiencing something together.  That’s what true, uninterrupted worship is all about.

Finally, we’re to always be thankful.  Remember, we don’t have to thank God FOR everything, but IN everything there’s always something to be thankful for.  It might be as simple as thanking God for His presence with you.  If we focus on finding something to be thankful about, we’ll have a much better attitude about our situation.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9

It’s clear from Scripture that what we dwell on will determine our attitude, and what we receive from life.

Question: How has your thought life affected your attitude – both good and bad?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2017 in Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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The Leader’s Prayer

I’m continuing to post about Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church. He’s been very encouraged by the reports he heard about their strong walk with the Lord. It’s Paul’s desire to visit them again in the future.

Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
1 Thessalonians 3:10

According to Paul, it’s his constant, earnest, prayer that he would see them again. But I want you to notice that it’s not just about friendship. As great as their Christian walk is now, the apostle wants to see them increase their effectiveness.

They may be strong in their faith, but they’re not perfect. Paul wanted to spend the time necessary to impart what they need. It’s interesting to see that he included an example of how he’s praying for them.

Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
1 Thessalonians 3:11-13

There are three specific things that Paul is praying about. First – he wants the Lord to open up a way for him to return to Thessalonica.

This is an important truth. I don’t decide what I want to do for God. My schedule doesn’t belong to me. My time is the Lord’s and I use it as He directs. Paul wanted to be in the center of God’s will; hoping that it would lead him back to this church.

The second request that Paul prayed about, was that their love would increase. He already commended them on the fact that their faith and love were actively seen. Now Paul wants their love to increase to the point where it’s overflowing.

This is something that should be a prayer of our heart. This overflowing love literally means that you have excess or too much love than there are people to share it with. When you operate at this level, you’re truly walking in the love of Christ.

The final prayer that Paul has for this church is that their hearts would be established, immovable, and set fast in one direction. In that way he would know that they were able to go the distance in their faith.

That should be the desire of our hearts as well. That we stand strong in all the will of God.

I want to hear those words, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when I come before the throne of the Lord. To do that, I must have a heart that’s firmly established in Christ. No looking to the right or left. Never wondering what I may be missing out on in the world.

This prayer of Paul is even more important to serve as an example to us as church leaders. We need to have a heart for our people. It’s not just about teaching and preaching to them. Our desire should be for them to grow in maturity and to be able to stand strong in the Lord.

Never lose your vision for others; for their strength and establishment. Make that your prayer, just like the apostle Paul. Be a leader who sees their people through the eyes of Christ.

Question: What prayers do you bring before God for those in your care?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, The Church

 

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The Prayer of Faith for Healing

In my last post I talked about James’ view of divine healing in James 5:13-15. It’s clear that somewhere in that first few generations after Christ, something was lost. We’ve come a long way since then.

We’ve seen many men and women of God who were trusting God and speaking life yet died prematurely.

Now we seem to be resigned to the thought that when we pray over the sick, they’ll probably not be healed. Well, I for one am not content with the status quo. I want to see a new move of God in my lifetime. I believe that it’s here.

When I began to meditate on these verses, I started to ask things like; do I really know what it means to ‘pray over’ someone like James did? What did James mean by the prayer offered in faith? Did it sound even close to what we pray?

I know that we try to put faith into our prayers. We quote Scripture, hoping to get God to see our faith and move on our behalf. But is that what James is speaking about in his book?

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:16

I read this passage and I realize that there’s something missing. I also believe that it’s the foundation of the next move of God – the restoration of power to His church. The key is recorded in this very passage we’re looking at. James goes on to illustrate the prayer of faith that he’s talking about.

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
James 5:17-18

In these verses, James uses the prophet Elijah as an example to us. He tells us that this is the same type of prayer that will bring healing to the sick. Let’s take a look at the Scripture concerning Elijah’s prayer.

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
I Kings 17:1

James said that Elijah prayed and the rain stopped. This is the verse he was referring to. Have you ever prayed a prayer like this? Have you ever heard a prayer like this? As far as I can see, Elijah was talking to the king, not to God.

What was the prayer in this verse? We need to understand that not all prayers fit into the “dear God” category. In this encounter, even though Elijah was speaking to the king, he was invoking the name of the Lord over the situation. He was speaking in God’s place to the king.

How does this relate to healing the sick? Think about the ministry of Jesus. How did He pray for the sick? He worked the same way that we see the prayer of Elijah working. He didn’t ask for God to heal, instead He spoke to the sick.

“Pick up your mat and walk.”

“Go show yourself to the priest.”

“Go rinse your eyes in the pool.”

It was the same for the disciples. Remember how they prayed healing for the lame man at the temple gate. Peter said, “Silver and gold I don’t have. But what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus, walk!” They healed the sick in the same way that Elijah stopped the rain in Israel.

Please understand that I’m not saying to just go out there and speak healing to the sick. There are plenty who’ve tried that without 100% success. Instead, I’m talking about the assumption that’s present in all of these cases. It’s the necessary ingredient without which all of these examples would fall apart.

Think back to the prophet Elijah. What would cause him to speak in such a way to the king?

There’s an assumed chain of events that led to his standoff with the king. He was at home, in prayer, when suddenly he heard a Word from God. That’s the only explanation for the boldness he had before King Ahab. God spoke to him and said that the rain would stop when he delivered the message to the king.

This is the very example that James uses to illustrate healing prayer. The assumption is that to pray this kind of prayer, you must have heard from heaven. It’s based upon hearing a Word from God. That, my brothers and sisters, is the missing ingredient in our generation. We’ve lost our ability to hear from God on a regular basis.

I believe that the more time we spend in God’s presence, listening to His voice, the more healings and miracles will be seen in the church.

Question: What will it take for us to start hearing God’s voice again?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2017 in Faith, Healing, Prayer, Revival, Word of God

 

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Indonesian Testimony – Part 1

img_1935As many of you know, I just made a Vision Trip to the nation of Indonesia. A group of us were looking to partner with some church planters in that region. I’m going to take a few posts to talk about what we saw, did, and learned as we were on the island of Sumatra.

It was a very tiring trip. It took about 24 hours of travel time on three different planes. I found that it’s more exhausting sitting on a plane for six hours, than working at a job.

As I relate to you the stories about our trip, you’ll probably notice that I don’t mention any of the names of the people involved in the ministry there. That’s because Indonesia is a Moslem nation. Therefore, I don’t want the lives or ministries of these native workers to be in jeopardy. So they must remain anonymous.

Sumatra is the sixth largest island in the world. We arrived at the city of Medan. It’s the largest on the island with 13.5 million people.

What first hit me was the “lostness” of the area. It’s a very dark place, spiritually. There are many Moslem, Buddhist, and Hindu influences in their culture. Of course, that doesn’t include the native tribal religions.

As I looked into the eyes of the crowds of people bustling by me, I was hit by the look of resignation in them. The average salary there would only translate to a few hundred dollars a year in US currency. It’s as if they know that their situation is not ideal, but they don’t see any way out of it.

But there’s more to the people of Indonesia than that simple snapshot. They are very warm and hospitable to visitors. Whenever they shake hands in greeting, they lightly brush their chest with their right hand. This means, “welcome; meeting you brings joy to my heart”.

We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.
1 John 5:19

It was a strange experience being in a country with a people who so obviously need to know Jesus Christ as their Savior. What’s so unfortunate is that we don’t view the USA in the same way.

I realized that the same zeal that I expressed to reach the Indonesians must be carried over to the US. We may be more affluent financially, but spiritually we need an awakening. My prayer is that my time away helped to magnify my commitment to make Christ known in my field of ministry.

Because of the freedoms we enjoy in America, it’s so much easier to share the Gospel with those around us. Unfortunately, it’s also easier to put it off and wait for someone else to do the job.

It’s time for us to wake up to the fact that we’re no longer in a Christian nation. If we don’t proclaim Christ, then no one else will.

I invite you to pray for the people of Sumatra. Pray for the workers who are bringing Christ to that area in spite of great challenges. Over the next couple of posts I’m going to share some of their stories. My hope is that it will be an encouragement to you as you serve the Lord wherever you are.

Question: What short-term missions have you been involved with?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2017 in Missions, The Gospel

 

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Worship – The Place of Change

LightningI’ve been posting about the worship that takes place in the throne room of God. We enter that place as we pray in the spirit.

From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
Revelation 4:5

Here is another picture of what happens before the throne of God. We need to understand that the term seven spirits of God could also be translated as the seven-fold spirit of God. I believe that’s referring to the Holy Spirit.

Also around the throne we see flashes of lightning. We see this happening throughout the Bible when God’s throne is mentioned. Lightning, loud noises, and thunder. But when you read Scripture there are only certain times when this happens.

We see this taking place when God changes something. In Revelation, chapter 8, we see the prayers of the saints offered like incense before God. Then, as they were being offered to God, the following takes place.

Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
Revelation 8:5

What was taking place in Heaven started happening on earth. That’s because worship is a place of change. It’s in His presence that our lives are changed.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
2 Corinthians 4:16

The Apostle Paul understood this. When he wrote this, Paul was talking about himself and his ministry team. He knew that in the place of worship there could be daily change happening.

Just think about it; we can come into God’s presence for daily renewal.

We try so hard to be good. We fail. Then we keep trying to be better. We need to learn the truth of that old chorus…

“I am changed in the presence of an awesome God.”

Enter into God’s throne room through prayer in the spirit. Everything we need is there. It’s in His awesome presence that we find unity, peace, and a changed life.

Question: How has your life been changed in God’s presence?

Click here to see how you can help me plant a church in Indonesia.

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Revival – Getting There

SpeedRevival. Some Christians are praying for it. Many are hoping for it. But do we really understand what it will take to bring it about?

Throughout this blog I’ve shared what I believe the next great awakening of the church will look like. It will be about God’s people listening for, hearing and obeying God’s voice. Unfortunately, the “how” and the “when” are a mystery.

Getting from here to there is what the church should be majoring on right now.

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
Psalms 127:1

As an engineering student, I had to take a lot of math courses. I learned very quickly from Geometry, that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Well, that may work on paper, but in life it’s never that easy.

What’s the quickest way to get from Boston to New York? That all depends. Are you driving a car or flying in a plane? There are highways, rivers, cities, and other obstacles to think about.

In driving, the shortest route is not always the quickest. It’s the just like our spiritual walk. The difference is that only God sees the whole map. We have to trust Him to set the route for us.

In looking at the verse above, we don’t always think like that. Many times God gives us the blueprint, and we rush off and try to build the house without Him.

When God gave Moses the plans for the tabernacle in the wilderness, He didn’t stop there. The Lord told Moses who would do the work, where to get the supplies, how to move it, and how to use it.

Faith is all about letting God have His total way in our lives. In Hebrews, chapter 11, the Faith Chapter, it says this about Abraham leaving his home at God’s request.

For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:10

When we look to the Lord for our future, He doesn’t only want to be involved in the planning. What He wants to do in our life is too big for us to accomplish. God wants to be in on the building of it as well.

So, in talking about revival, it’s great to know where He wants us to get to. But it won’t come to pass without God’s working and power in our lives. That’s why we need to spend the time necessary to seek Him.

Spending time in the Holy Spirit doesn’t just reveal God’s plan to us. It opens the door for God to do a supernatural work in us and through us. That’s what a spiritual awakening is all about.

Question: How much time do you spend listening in God’s presence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Elijah and the Prayer of Faith

KeyI believe that there’s something missing in our Christian experience. That’s the foundation of the next move of God – the restoration of power to His church.

What is this principle that’s eluded us for so long? The good news is that the key is recorded in the very passage we’ve been looking at for the last few posts. James goes on to illustrate the prayer of faith that he’s talking about.

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
James 5:17-18

In these verses, James uses the prophet Elijah as an example to us. Remember that this is in the context of the prayer of faith for healing. James mentioned it three times in the previous verses. It’s clear from his comments – Elijah prayed and the rain stopped. He prayed again and the rain returned.

According to James, this is the same type of prayer that will bring healing to the sick. What are we missing? Let’s take a look at the Scripture concerning Elijah’s prayer.

But first, I need to make a disclaimer. Sometimes we, as believers, get all caught up in new prayer “formulas”. You need to be aware, right from the start, that I’m not putting forth a new wording for prayer. On the contrary, I am going to show you a new kind of lifestyle that will usher in the move of God’s power.

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”
I Kings 17:1

This verse is the only one in the Old Testament that shows the events surrounding Elijah and the rain stopping. James said that Elijah prayed and the rain stopped. This is the verse he was referring to.

Have you ever prayed a prayer like this? Have you ever heard a prayer like this? As far as I can see, Elijah was talking to the king, not to God.

What exactly was the prayer in this verse? We need to understand that not all prayers fit into the “dear God” category. The scope of prayer is a lot deeper than we can fathom sometimes.

In this encounter, even though Elijah was speaking to the king, he was invoking the name of the Lord over the situation. He was speaking, on God’s behalf, to the king.

Prayer, in its simplest form, is invoking the name of the Lord into a situation. That’s what Elijah did. He was speaking out a divine truth to the king.

In my next post we’ll see what’s so important about this kind of prayer.

Question: How does this compare to your thoughts about what a prayer should be?

© 2016 Nicolas Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2016 in Healing, Prayer, Revival, What's Missing?

 

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