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The Locked Up Church

LockedIn my last post I talked about the picture of the church that the Lord gave me from Acts, chapter 16. In that passage, Paul and Silas are in prison, chained up, in the dark. Yet they were praying and singing as if nothing were unusual.

I said that much of the church is in that condition today. We go on praising God every Sunday, yet having no effect on the world the rest of the week. How did we get into this position?

I believe that it’s because we didn’t heed the warning that Christ gave us during His ministry.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.”
Luke 21:34

Here Jesus tells us of three weights that can hinder us from fulfilling our destiny. They are called dissipation, drunkenness, and anxieties. We will never reach our true potential in Christ if we try to run with these hindrances.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1

We are warned to throw off the things that hinder. Probably the worst is dissipation. We allow the best parts of our life to be dissipated.

The world has so many distractions these days. Classes we could take, recreational opportunities, athletic events, and entertainment. All of these things, in and of themselves, add to our enjoyment of life. They’re good things.

“Everything is permissible for me” – but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me” – but I will not be mastered by anything.
1 Corinthians 6:12

Yes, they are all good things, permissible things, but they’ve become the masters of our lives. They dictate our schedules. They tell us what we can and can’t do for God.

We fill up our time with all these good things. Then, more often than not, God gets the leftovers. Our leftover time, strength, and resources.

What happens when God says, “I want you to take a week to meet together and experience my work of revival in you.”?

“Sorry, that won’t work for me. I have a class on Monday night. Tuesday is my bowling league. Thursday I have to get the kids to their Karate lessons. I just can’t make it out to weekday meetings.”

Where does all the time go? Dissipation. We have allowed the distractions of the world to dissipate the time that should belong to the Lord. Our schedules have become mastered by the good things of the world.

In this way the church has become a prisoner to our permissible things. We are in chains and in the dark. We need to be set free by the power of God.

Question: What will it take to shatter these chains from the church?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Revival, The Church

 

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Grace and Destiny

Jet Plane to NowhereWe talk a lot about the grace of God. As believers we’re always praying for grace. Many seem to be always running around seeking God’s grace. Why is that? How we answer that question is very important.

Why do you want the grace of God in your life? Is it another way of saying, “I want God’s blessing on my life.”?

I’ve heard grace defined in many different ways. God’s unmerited favor. The enabling power and presence of God. All we need for life and godliness. They’re all good descriptions, but they leave out a key ingredient – purpose.

There’s always a reason attached to the grace of God. Listen to how the Apostle Paul explains it.

Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.
Romans 1:5

In this short verse I see three elements of grace. They speak not only about what God wants to bless us with, but how He wants us to use what He freely gives us. We need to take these to heart as we seek to manifest God’s grace.

Through Him and for His Name’s Sake – He doesn’t give us His grace so that we can spend it on our pleasures. It’s about His agenda on the earth. What does the Lord want to accomplish through me? That’s where His grace comes to the forefront.

I need to pick up this attitude. I receive His grace so that His name will be magnified in my life.

We Received Grace and Apostleship – Grace and calling go hand in hand. Seeking God’s grace without finding your calling in Christ is worthless. It’s through His grace that you fulfill your purpose.

It’s the Lord’s grace that brings you into your destiny – what you were created for. Without that knowledge, you’re simply living from problem to problem. Instead of always seeking grace to get over the next obstacle, find the direction that the Holy Spirit is leading you to.

To Call People from among All the Gentiles – Paul was aware that God’s grace had pinpoint accuracy. He was called to bring the Gospel of Christ to the Gentiles. That’s why God poured His grace on Paul’s ministry.

It’s the same for us. As we grow in Christ, we need to fine tune our calling. Who am I called to reach? What are my gifts and abilities? As you begin to answer these questions, you find that perfect position of grace that you’re called to walk in.

Be careful to always heed Paul’s warning…

As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.
2 Corinthians 6:1

That means that I don’t receive the grace of God for no purpose. Grace is always attached to destiny. Our walk today must be with an eternal focus. That’s what the Lord’s grace is all about.

Question: How have you seen the grace of God active in your life and ministry?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2014 in God's Provision, Ministry

 

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8 Keys to Receiving Answers from God (Part 2) #answeredprayer

PhoneThis is the second of two posts about how to receive answered prayers.  The Scriptures say that we can ask anything from God.  But few people know the requirements to these passages.

In my last post I talked about the first 4 requirements.

5. Your asking must be in the name of Jesus.

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.  You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
John 14:13-14

Too often we think of this in terms of a spiritual formula.  We pray whatever we want, then say “In Jesus’ name” at the end.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  We’re representatives of Christ.  This means that we’re asking on behalf of Christ.  We are praying what He would be praying in the same situation.

6. You must remain in Christ.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
John 15:7

This one is all about relationship.  Many want to know how to get all their prayers answered while living for themselves.  That will never happen.  The closer my relationship with Christ is, the more I pray according to His will.  Then I see the answers because they’re in His will.

7. You must be bearing spiritual fruit.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
John 15:16

Spiritual fruit are a sign of maturity.  The more of the Word of God we plant in our life, the greater the harvest.  It’s the same in the natural.  I don’t know any children who get everything they ask for.  Maturity breeds answered prayer.

8. Your asking must be with a clear conscience.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.
1 John 3:21-22

Too often we know what God is calling us to do, but we ignore it.  When our conscience is not clear before God, we are open to the enemy’s accusations.  It’s hard to trust God when we are under the cloud of a guilty conscience.  That’s why a repentant life is so important.

When we operate in the calling of God it’s His good pleasure to supply what is needed to complete our destiny.  That’s the true secret to seeing our prayers answered.

Question: What’s the relationship between the will of God and answered prayer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2013 in Prayer

 

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8 Keys to Receiving Answers from God #answeredprayer

SONY DSCIt’s hard to believe that the stores are gearing up for Christmas already.  We’re getting close to the time of year where many people are asking for things.  As believers, we understand that it’s not about things, but Christ.

Still, there are things that I’ve asked God for.  One question that many people ask is; how do you receive answers to prayers?  Many look to God like a big Santa Claus in the sky.  We pray for things, and then get upset if we don’t get what we prayed for.

I believe that God wants to give good things to His children.  Over and over in the Bible it says to ask anything and it will be given to you.  Actually, if you read the Scripture, there are 8 requirements to asking anything and receiving what you asked for from God.

1. Your asking requires faith.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mark 11:24

This is the one we all seem to know about.  You need to trust that God is able to perform what you’re asking.  This is not an “I hope so” kind of faith.  It’s knowing that God is big enough to take care of your need.

2. Your asking requires the right motives.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:3

This is an important point.  Why am I asking God for this?  Many times it’s because I want the pleasure it will bring.  Life is not all about me.  I live for God.  It’s about pleasing Him, and fulfilling His call on my life.  Is that my motivation?  To get answers to prayer, I need to check my attitudes and desires.

3. Your asking requires lining up with God’s will.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.
1 John 5:14-15

This one is only met with maturity.  I need to be seeking God’s will.  This will only come by time in the Lord’s presence.  I have to lay my will on the altar and seek His ways.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to work in me is how I have the assurance that I’m asking according to His will.

4. Your asking requires agreement.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
Matthew 18:19

This is an important part.  I’m not talking about getting someone to agree to pray with you.

“You pray with me for a new house and I’ll pray with you for a new car.”

It doesn’t work like that.  It means coming together in unity with others who know the Word of God.  Then, based upon the Word, they agree with you on the above three points.  They see by your witness that you have the faith to trust God for it, your motives are correct, and it’s God’s will for your life.

In my next post I’ll give the final four keys to answered prayer.

Question: Do you have some testimonies of answered prayers?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Prayer

 

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Are You Positioned to Receive Spiritual Power? #powerofthespirit

PlugI’ve been posting about how Christ walked and ministered in the power of God.  It’s all about how He positioned Himself to receive it.

A good example of this is found in a parable that the Lord told to His disciples.  We usually call it the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax-collector.  They were both in the temple praying next to each other.  The Lord lets us in on what they were saying.

The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”
Luke 18:11-12

We read this, but we don’t take it to heart.  We know how it ends and who the Lord commends.  But do we really listen to the prayer of the Pharisee.  If we look closely at it, it sounds like a prayer that a modern Christian would offer up, filled with good confessions.

“I thank you that I’m the head and not the tail, above only and not beneath. I thank you that because I tithe you will rebuke the devourer and open the windows of heaven so that I cannot contain your blessing.”

His prayer was filled with good confessions and it was all true.  He was different than the tax-collector.  He did fast and tithe.  The problem was that he had no power.

But the tax collector stood at a distance.  He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Luke 18:13

Which prayer produced life changing power?  Christ was clear about it.

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 18:14

It’s obvious, from the Lord’s perspective, that the person who dealt with relationship tapped into God’s power.  The Pharisee was focused on self.  The tax-collector was dealing with that which separated him from God.

Is the power of God about what I’ve done or what the Holy Spirit wants to accomplish in and through me?  When I go before God, my telling Him what I’ve done doesn’t impress Him.  It will never move Him to work through me.

It’s only as I work on my relationship with Christ that I’ll see the changes necessary.  If you want to flow in the power of God, then your relationship with Him is the positioning agent.  It’s not about what you’ve done, but what He is able to do in you.

Questions: How well are you positioned for the move of the Holy Spirit?  What do you need to do to make it better?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Ministry, Power of God, Prayer, Revival

 

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Are You Addicted to the Ministry? 5 Symptoms

PillsI normally don’t use the KJV in my posts, but this verse gives me a lot to think about.

I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
1 Corinthians 16:15

What was it about Stephanas and his family that caused Paul to describe them as addicted?

I looked up some facts, not from Christian sources, but from the American medical community.  How do they describe addiction?  You may think you’re “all in” for the Lord.  How does what these doctors say stack up to your experience?

You need an increased level to maintain the feeling.  Are you feeling tired and burned out by what you do for God?  Or are you hungering to go deeper with Him?  Addiction means that the amount you’re doing now doesn’t satisfy you the way it used to.  You want more, greater, and higher dosages in order to stay fulfilled.  I believe that’s the excitement of the ministry.

You are obsessed with the ministry.  What’s your thought life like?  When you’re not actively involved in your calling, are you still thinking about it?  Addiction means that it’s constantly in the back of your mind.  You continually think about ways to improve and increase what you’re doing for the Lord.

Even in recreation times, a thought, word, or something you see will trigger an image of what you could be doing to further the Kingdom.  Thinking about it is uncontrollable.

You are continually sneaking “quickies” throughout the day.  Addiction to the ministry is a lifestyle.  Do you find yourself sharing about Jesus at the mall, school or workplace?  Are you prone to spontaneously be a blessing to people around you, simply for the enjoyment of it?  Maybe you find yourself praying for people as soon as you hear about their need.  This is a sign of an addiction to Christ and His ministry.

You undergo a change in your appearance.  Does the knowledge that you represent Christ change how you present yourself to others?  Does the fact that you’re God’s ambassador to the world make a difference in how you live?  The more we become addicted, the more radical the change.  How much has your ministry affected you?

You are in “denial” – you continue deeper even though others may argue against it.  Some people may say that you’re doing too much for God.  After all, look at the lifestyle of most believers.  “God will let you get away with a lot less commitment.”  Arguments like these don’t even faze you.  You want to touch as many people as you can for the Gospel.

You may like to think that you’re addicted – after all, it sounds good.  But the truth is, unless you’ve come to the place I’ve just described, it’s only wishful thinking.  Hey, don’t get mad at me – this is what the American medical community says about it.

If you find that you’re not addicted and you want to be – my next post will be about the 5 steps to becoming addicted!

Question: How has addiction to the ministry affected your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2013 in Encouragement, Ministry

 

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