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Spiritual Warfare – The Personal Struggle

In many instances in the Scripture, our personal spiritual walk is described as a battle.  Light vs. darkness; Heaven vs. hell; good vs. evil.  We need to know how to live with this truth.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:17-18

In this verse, Paul is talking about the authority and power of God.  He wants to work these through us.  There’s a battle raging on the earth right now.  Unfortunately, many don’t even care about it.  Do you?

The last sentence of this quote is very important.  It literally says, attending to this with all persistency and petition around all the saints.  The emphasis is that this is encompassing all the saints.

The battle is all around you whether you want it or not.  That’s why the apostle uses such strong language in his exhortation.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-13

Think about the church today.  Picture the body of believers as an army standing before hell’s gates.  Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church.  The question is; are we that victorious church that the Lord was talking about?

We should be, and in some areas, there are local churches that have the enemy on the run.  But that’s not the case everywhere.  Are all the believers in their spiritual armor?  Are all believers even willing to fight this spiritual battle?  I don’t think so.

What about the enemy’s kingdom?  Are they ready?  Absolutely.  They understand what’s at stake and they’re in it for the long haul.  They won’t give in without a fight.

Right now the arrows of the enemy are flying all around us.  If you remember, I’ve said that arrows are the first strike weapon.  The truth is that you don’t have to be in the fight to be hit by an arrow.  That’s why believers are encouraged to take the spiritual armor seriously.

How do you take the stronghold from the enemy?  First, you put on the armor and pick up your shield.  Behind the gates are the prisoners that need to be set free.

Understand this, as you approach the gates the fight goes from general to personal.  It gets to the point where it’s one on one.

Paul is not talking to all believers in this letter, but to the faithful.  That’s who I’m talking to as well.  The believers who want to make a difference in the world around them.

For the next few posts, I want to talk about this personal spiritual battle that we face on a daily basis.  I’ll use Christ as our example of how to live an overcoming lifestyle.

Question: How is your life affected by the spiritual battle?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God’s Armor – The Sword of the Spirit

Today I want to begin looking at the Sword of the Spirit.  It’s the second of the pieces that we receive.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:17

It goes without saying that the sword is an offensive weapon.  Everything so far has kept the enemy from hurting you.  This piece actually hurts the enemy and does damage to his kingdom.  If we’re going to walk in the victory that God has ordained for us, then we need to understand what this weapon is and how to use it.

First, we need to know what it’s not.  The Sword of the Spirit is not the Bible.  The Bible does not hurt the enemy.  As a matter of fact, the devil has the Bible memorized and he quotes it when it suits his purposes (Matthew 4:5-6).

The Sword of the Spirit is a rhema-word from God.  It’s a Word I need to receive directly from God.

We serve a God who speaks to His people.  But we need to be in a position to hear what He’s saying to us.  I must spend the time needed to be listening in His presence.

That’s why it’s important that we understand this is a received weapon, along with the helmet.  The fact is that the Holy Spirit has to train us to use this weapon.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

There are many Scriptures that talk about our need to be approved.  For the most part, we ignore them.  Then we wonder why the church seems to have no power.

The word approved means that there has been an inspection.  More than that, the inspection has been passed and the one tested has been certified.  There needs to be training.

The phrase that’s translated as correctly handles actually means to make a straight cut.  We need to be able to make a straight cut with the Word of truth.  This verse is talking about the logos-word of God.

It’s the logos-word that trains us to use the rhema-word.  For in-depth teaching on the differences between the logos, rhema, and graphe word of God, click here.

The fact is, if you can’t make a straight cut with the logos-word, then you’ll not be given permission to use the rhema-word.  We must be approved to use the sword.  It’s not some spiritual toy that we can take out and play with whenever we want.

The question is, how do I become approved to use this sword?

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.  Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
James 1:19-21

This verse tells us that anger, man’s passion, will never win the war against evil.  It’s the humble acceptance of the Word that rids us of evil.  At least that’s how it’s written in Greek.

James goes on to tell us how to prepare.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.
James 1:22

These verses from James are all talking about the logos-word.  If I can’t hear and obey God’s logos-word to me, then I’m not ready for His rhema.

If I want to walk in the greater things of God, then I first need to be faithful in what I’ve already received.  That’s the key to a victorious Christian walk.

Question: What’s the last thing you knew that the Holy Spirit was speaking to you?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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What’s Your Season?

We are now looking at the week before Christ’s death on the cross as recorded by Mark.  Jesus is in the area of Jerusalem and a lot is going on.  He spends the evenings in Bethany where some friends live.

Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple.  He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.
Mark 11:11

Right after His triumphal entry into the city, the Lord goes to the Temple area and looks around.  I don’t think it was just a casual observing.  He was listening to the Father’s voice instructing Him what He was to do next.

Jesus must have been grieved by what He saw going on in the Temple.  As the feast of Passover was approaching, Jerusalem was the center of all the activity in Israel.  People were coming in from all over the world to worship here.

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry.  Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit.  When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs.  Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.”  And his disciples heard him say it.
Mark 11:12-14

This is one of those events in the life of Christ that many people ask about.  They don’t understand what’s happening or why Jesus cursed the tree.

Let’s work our way through it.  Jesus was in Jerusalem, watching the outward, lifeless trappings of religious people.  They were going through the motions, not because they were worshipping God, but because they were following the rules.

Jesus probably spent the next morning in prayer, as was His custom.  He heard the Father’s heart, breaking over the condition of His people.

As He and His disciple start heading back to the city, they’re hungry and ready for some breakfast.  Seeing a fig tree off in the distance, they’re checking to see if it has any fruit.  After all, it has plenty of leaves.

There’s one slight problem.  The Bible tells us that it’s not the season for figs.  Why would Jesus be upset at the tree if that’s the case?

This whole incident was a life-lesson for the disciples.  In many places in Scripture, Israel is likened to a fig tree.  Messiah had arrived on the scene.  It was the time for them to be producing fruit for the kingdom of God.

Instead, all Jesus saw was empty religion.  Everything was just for show.  A lot of leaves, but no fruit.

Many in Israel were starving, spiritually.  Yet those who were in leadership did nothing to fill the longing of their souls.  The priests of Israel were mostly just feeding their own egos.

What about us?  How do we apply this to our lives?  We need to hear the exhortation the Paul gave to Timothy.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage — with great patience and careful instruction.
2 Timothy 4:2

It doesn’t matter what season you’re in.  The time to produce fruit is when there’s a need.  That’s why we must always prepare.

Prayer, meditation on the Word, and intimate times with the Lord make us ready to produce kingdom fruit.  Don’t follow empty religion – all leaves and no fruit.  Time in the Lord’s presence prepares us for blessing others, whether we feel like it or not.

Question: When was a time that you produced fruit “out of season”?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2018 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Fellowship – In Step with the Spirit

Jet Plane to NowhereIn my last post I started to look at our fellowship and unity. We saw that to operate in these we must fix upon each other. We also saw that the revelation of God is the glue that holds us together.

We originally looked at a verse in Amos, chapter 3. Further down in that chapter we’re told how God operates.

Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.
Amos 3:7

This goes right along with the truth that revelation keeps us together. God’s desire is to always let His people know what’s coming on the earth. He wants us to be prepared to minister.

This is something many believers don’t understand and are not looking for. God wants to reveal His plans to us. But is that really the case? Look at these Scriptures…

The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
Psalms 25:14

This literally says that the Lord has a secret consultation with those who fear Him. So it’s not just for prophets, but for anyone who fears the Lord.

…for the Lord detests a perverse man but takes the upright into his confidence.
Proverbs 3:32

This is the portion of the righteous, to be in the Lord’s confidence. He wants to share with us exactly what He’s going to do. But is that a New Testament truth?

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

This verse is not talking about things prepared for us after we die, but things that will take place during our lives. Jesus Christ, Himself, spoke of this aspect of the Holy Spirit.

But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
John 16:13

This is how the Lord wants to deal with His church. He desires to keep us together and in unity by showing us what’s coming on the horizon.

But if this is our portion, then why do we seem to be groping around in the dark. Many times we’re either in one ditch or the other. Too far in front, or lagging way behind what the Spirit is doing. It often seems like the body of Christ is like a crowd of people simply walking down the street with no purpose or direction.

This ability to see what God’s doing only comes through time spent in quietness before Him. He will not speak to us if we’re not listening.

The only way to keep the unity of the spirit is to keep in step with the Holy Spirit. But keeping in step with Him requires us to fix upon the Spirit of God. It requires time in His presence.

If we want God to confide in us, we need to be found in that intimate place with Him. Then, as we keep in step with what Christ is doing, we’ll keep in step with each other.

Question: How often do you spend quiet time with the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2016 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Let Yourself be Stretched

BandsI’ve been posting about the place of fasting in the believer’s life. In my last article we saw that there was a difference between fasting under the Old and New Covenants. The New Covenant fast is so that you put down your flesh to better hear from God.

We don’t seem to hear the voice of the Lord as well as they did in the early church. I don’t think it’s as much God not speaking, as me not listening. Fasting helps me drown out the noise of my flesh.

But Jesus gave another parable…

“Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Matthew 9:17

The Old Testament fast is likened to old wineskins; empty, used up, dry, and unyielding. They have nothing of value on the inside.

In that culture, new wine was unfermented grape juice. The fermentation process produces gasses that pressurize the skins. Old, dry and unyielding bags would burst. You can’t live for God like that.

A new wineskin was made of unstretched leather. Then it was oiled to make it soft and pliable. That’s the job of the Holy Spirit in us – to prepare us to receive God’s Word.

Then we get that new wine in us. It starts to ferment, the pressure builds up and the wineskin stretches.

That’s another reason why fasting is so important to us. Fasting increases the inner man. When you fast, there’s a spiritual pressure that builds up.

You’re hearing from God and something is being poured into you. The pressure is building. Now you have something to give.

You’re now able to pour out into someone else. Then the pressure is released – for a little while anyway.

By fasting you have something on the inside that stretches the outside. I don’t know what God wants to do this year, but I want to be prepared to hear His voice.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Matthew 4:1-2

Just before Jesus started His public ministry He went on an extended fast. He knew that He was going to be tempted and tested. In order to prepare Himself, He fasted.

Do you think you’ll be tested this year? What are you going to do? How will you enter the test? Prepared? Or not? How will you answer the enemy?

The truth is that fasting prepares us for the battle ahead. I don’t know what’s coming. But I know this; the enemy is good at predicting it based upon what he sees lining up in the spirit world.

We don’t see it. We have to rely upon what we hear from God. Are we going to have a Word from God for our generation? That’s what’s needed.

I want to be prepared to face 2016 and all it holds. The blessings, callings, testings – everything. So I fast to hear from God. Enter into the blessing that fasting brings.

Question: How will you incorporate fasting into the New Year?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2016 in Fasting, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Prepared in the Evil Day

 

ClockI want to see revival in the church. It’s obvious from what’s happening around us that we need it. The real question is; do we want it? And more than that, are we willing to do what it takes to lay hold of it?

Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

I used to teach that inanimate things couldn’t be evil or good. After spending some time studying this verse, I realized that I was wrong. Things like days and money can be evil. It’s actually talked about throughout the New Testament.

Maybe you might think that not all days are evil. After all, there was intense persecution of the church back then. That was Paul’s day he was talking about.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father…
Galatians 1:3-4

One of the reasons that Christ went to the cross was to rescue us from this present evil age. That’s the time we live in.   The age he’s talking about stretched from Paul’s day to the time when Christ returns to establish His Kingdom. If the age is evil, then all the days of that age are evil.

We live in evil days. Paul also talked about this in regard to the armor of God.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:13

We need to be constantly walking in the spiritual armor. This is our protection from the evil age. This is not an option, or something that only needs to be done once in a while.

Jesus went to the cross to provide us with more than just a one-time salvation. His work is ongoing in our lives. He provided us with the armor we need to rescue us from this present evil age. We don’t need to be affected by it.

When will the evil day come? Every time you wake up in the morning. That’s why God’s armor is so important. The evil day is not on its way, it’s here.

As God’s people we should be prepared for what’s ahead. We are the ones who should be walking in victory over the challenges that face the world around us.

We need to spend time in the presence of the Lord. That’s where our strength is. In Him and in the power of the Holy Spirit, I have everything I need to face the evil days ahead of me.

How else could I walk in victory? If every day is evil, then in Christ every day is a victory through Him who gives me strength.

Question: How does this evil age manifest itself in our generation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Warfare

 

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