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Tag Archives: presence of the lord

Have You Been Gospel Approved?

ApproveIn my last post I talked about the true Gospel. I said that it was more than just words, but included the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. Why is there so little of the whole Gospel of Christ being presented in our generation?

The same letter of Paul that we looked at last time gives us the answer to this question.

On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4

In the last post we saw that Paul understood the true Gospel as including power, the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, and deep conviction. That might have been surprising to some. But I believe his words in this verse would totally shock many preachers if they understood their significance.

According to Paul, you need to be approved by God to preach this Gospel. Actually it’s deeper than that. He said that you need God’s approval even to be entrusted with this Gospel.

Is this what’s taught in Bible schools? I don’t think so; at least I’ve never heard it taught. In my experience preaching the Gospel is simply coming up with a Scripture for an opening text. Then we apply it to the need for the hearers to “get saved.”

Where’s the power? Where’s the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, and the deep conviction? I believe that there’s too much unapproved Gospel being preached these days. That’s why many have written off Christianity as a dead horse that needs to be removed from society.

How do you become approved to be entrusted with the true Gospel? The answer to this is why there’s so little of it in our generation. It’s not about college degrees or denominational accreditation. No, it’s much deeper than that.

Paul makes it clear that this approval can only come from God. Furthermore, the test takes place in your heart. It’s what Jesus talked about in the parable of the sower.

“Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop — thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”
Mark 4:20

The test is in your heart – where you hear and plant the Word. This requires time in the presence of the Lord. It means that we have a listening ear toward the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Then, when Gods sees the quality of the crop produced by the Word planted in our heart, He grants His approval. Then we see the manifestation of the Word of God when we present the Gospel. Then the lives of the hearers are changed by that powerful Word from God.

Question: How would churches be different if we sought the approval of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in Anointing, Ministry, Power of God, Word of God

 

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Shut the Door and Hear from God #prayer

DoorAs a pastor, I’ve been asked from time to time; how do you hear from God?  Is that a question in your life?  Is it something you’re struggling with?  This post may help you overcome in that area.

Cell phones have changed the way our society works.  We no longer have to wait until we’re home to place a call or check our messages.  In one way it makes things a little easier for people to connect.

But there are some downsides as well.  Have you ever gotten a call from someone who’s standing on a busy street corner?  They’re trying to have an intelligent conversation with you, but all you can hear are traffic, sirens, and the roar of people in the background.

It’s gotten to the point where I’ve had to tell them, “Wait until you’re inside with the door shut, then try calling me back.”

What does this have to do with hearing from God?  Everything!!!

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.  Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Matthew 6:6

This was how Jesus operated.  On many occasions in the Gospels, we see Him going to a secluded location and spending time in prayer.  He’s our example.  There’s no question that the Lord heard and obeyed the voice of the Father.

That brings to mind an interesting question.  The Son of God had to close the door on distractions in order to hear from the Father.  What makes us think that the distractions all around us will have no effect on our prayer life?

Jesus had no cell phone, internet, TV, or IPad to distract Him.  With all these things, screaming for our attention, we have to find a quiet place.

You’re inability to hear from God might not be so much about spiritual deafness as much as it’s “listening overload.”  There might be so many things coming at you all the time that you can’t recognize which is the voice of God.

You need to close the door on distractions if you want your prayer time to be productive.  Learn to spend quality time in the presence of the Lord.  Then, just be quiet for a while and hear what the Holy Spirit is speaking to you.

Questions: Where do you go to spend time with the Lord?  How do you close the door on distractions?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2014 in Prayer

 

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Praising God in the Storm #praiseHiminthestorm

StormThen the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm…
Job 40:6

From time to time I try to get away to the wilderness and get alone with God.  A couple of weeks ago I felt a prompting of the Spirit, so I spent three days hiking on the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire.  I’m glad that I did.

The presence of the Lord was very real during that trip.  I had some great prayer times with Him.  But there is one thing that happened that I want to share in this post.

My plan was to start out early and park my car at the ending point of the hike.  I had made arrangements with a taxi company to meet me there and take me to where I was to start.  As I sat in my car, waiting for the cab to arrive, it started to lightly drizzle.

According to the weather, it was only a 20% chance of rain first thing in the morning, then clear skies later.  Since there was no cell phone reception to call off the taxi, and I figured it would clear up soon, I decided to go forward with my hiking plans.

I put on my rain gear and took the taxi to the start of my hike.  It started off fine.  Under the cover of the forest, the slight rain didn’t even make it down to where I was walking.

However, the further I hiked up the mountain, the less cover there was.  Then it happened – the sky opened up and I found myself in a torrential downpour.  I had to scramble across slippery rocks, on the edge of a cliff, in the rain.

At one point the trees cleared for a bit giving me an incredible view.  (That’s the picture I took at the top of this post.)  It was at that moment that the Spirit of the Lord became wonderfully real to me.  I had no choice but to stop, right where I was and worship God.

As I looked around, standing on the rocks on the side of a mountain, dripping wet in a rainstorm, I had the funniest thought.  I told the Lord, “God, You even make rainstorms magnificent!”

It was an experience to remember.  The sound of the rain and wind in the mountains.  The sight of the clouds racing past me as I stood level with them.  The expanse of the mountains and trees around me.

It all combined to inspire awe toward my Creator.  I realized in that moment that I was experiencing something that few people ever will.  Actually, few people would ever choose to be there!

In our Christian walk, if you desire to do great things for God then you will go through a spiritual storm.  But in the middle of that challenge, know that the Holy Spirit is with you.  If you turn the downpour into a chance to praise God, you’ll know the wonder of His presence with you.

Questions: Are you going through a spiritual battle at this time?  Will you choose to give God praise during the tough times?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 

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Do You Know the Two Anointings of Music?

Did you know that the Bible speaks about how we should aim our singing?  There are two goals we should direct our music toward.

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, praise his name;
proclaim his salvation day after day.
Psalms 96:1-2

The first should be pretty obvious.

Our music can be directed toward God in the praise of His glory.  This is an important part of our relationship with the Lord.  Singing His praises transports us into His presence.

I get so upset when believers view the praise and worship time as merely the “warm-up act” for the pastor’s preaching.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  As we sing praise and thanksgiving to God, we are brought into a deeper spiritual place.  We become more open to the move of the Holy Spirit.

Praising God in song is an important part of a spiritual walk.

The second aim of music may surprise some of you.

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord…
Ephesians 5:19

Our music can be directed toward each other.  There are many people (and I used to be one of them) that dislike the use of songs that are not directed toward God.  This verse clearly shows the necessity of both types of music.

There are times when we need to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to one another.  Why is that so important?

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

It’s through music that the Word of Christ can live richly in you.  Singing music that’s directed at each other is a form of teaching and admonishing.  As we sing, we learn.

This is an incredible truth.  When my children were small, they learned all the states and their capitals because they were put to music. How much more important is it to get the Word into our hearts?

Through music, the Word of Christ can enter our lives and stay with us.  That’s why I’m so adamant about not singing songs that contain bad doctrine.  Too many Christians believe error because they learned it in their music.

We give praise to our God.  We teach and admonish each other.  Both of these can and should be done through the music of God’s people.

Question: Is there a song that opened up your eyes to a spiritual truth?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on November 30, 2012 in Encouragement, Music, The Church, Word of God

 

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Wandering

Psalm 107:4-9
Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.  They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.  Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.  He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.  Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

Many times I read the news of someone who is missing in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Being lost in the wilderness is a frightening experience.  When this happens, there is no course of action that is worse than wandering aimlessly.  The best thing to do is either to stay put and wait for help, or to walk downhill and down stream.

As we look around at our society, we see many people who are wandering aimlessly with their lives.  Without a compass or a direction for their soul, they live and die without ever reaching their destiny.  It should be the number one priority to find your purpose in life.

This is why quality time with the Creator is so important in the life of a believer.  It gives you the chance to set your heading with the Word of God and through prayer.  Only by finding your God-given destiny will you be assured of living a life that means something.

Don’t allow yourself to live a life of wandering.  Go before the Lord today and seek His plan for your life.  Obtain vision from His hand.  Live a life that reaps eternal benefits.

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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Attitudes

Jonah 4:3-5
“Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But the LORD replied, “Have you any right to be angry?”
Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city.  There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city.

If you haven’t noticed – sometimes our attitudes stink.  There are times when we are mad at God, just like Jonah.  He was upset because God was not going to destroy the city of Nineveh.

I have found the same things to be true in my experience.  God doesn’t always carry out my plans the way I want Him to.  He seems to never even consider my timetable.

Jonah found out how devastating it is when we desire God to do something that’s not in His will for our lives.  Jonah’s response was to run away to a lonely hillside.  Once there, he erected a shelter and waited.  In spite of his attitude, God met with him there.  Although the Lord didn’t say what Jonah wanted to hear, He was able to redirect some of Jonah’s thinking.

Maybe you have an attitude toward God about some things that have (or haven’t) happened in your life.  These could be bad news, life altering events or unfulfilled dreams.  Whatever they consist of, take them to the Lord.

Use your time in His presence to really wait before Him for an answer.  Spend some quality time before the Lord.  Let God redirect and refocus your life.  Only then can you overcome the problems of the past and make a fresh start.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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Awesome God

I Kings 19:11-13a
The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.  After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.  After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.  And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

There are many natural disasters reported in the news these days.  There’s bad weather, mudslides, earthquakes, and forest fires, just to name a few.  No matter what part of the country you live in, you need to be prepared to handle the threatening situations that can occur.

Unfortunately, we tend to blame God for all the bad stuff in life.  A tornado wipes out a trailer park, so we call it “an act of God.”  We figure anything that powerful, like floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes must be His doing.

The simple truth is that these things are not the work of God.  He is not the God of death and destruction, but the God of love.  His desire is to win the hearts of men and women through His gift of salvation.  He wants relationship with His creation.

We should be listening for that “gentle whisper” that speaks to our heart.  He uses this method to draw us to Himself.  Instead of seeking Him in the destructive forces of nature – seek to hear Him in the stillness of a quiet place.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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