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Are You in the Family?

At one point in the Lord’s ministry, His family thought that He was pushing Himself too far.  They decided to have an intervention.

Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
Mark 3:20-21

They obviously had no understanding of the Holy Spirit’s leading.  Sometimes there are assignments that go beyond your normal abilities.  It’s during those times that you receive supernatural strength for the moment.

Look at the Lord’s response.

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived.  Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.  A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Mark 3:31-35

There is a truth here that not a lot of people want to hear.  We’d like to assume that as long as you prayed the sinner’s prayer, all believers are equal.  But that’s not what the Bible teaches.  We achieve certain levels based on the criteria laid out in Scripture.

One of those titles is sons and daughters of God.  We want to believe that this applies to everyone.  It doesn’t.  Jesus makes it clear that whoever does God’s will is family.

This implies something.  It means, first of all, that you seek God’s will for your life.  Then, you spend the time it takes in God’s presence to hear and know the Lord’s will.  Finally, you walk in obedience to what you’ve heard.

Maybe you think that I’m just taking this verse out of context.  On the contrary, this truth is taught throughout the Scripture.  Paul understood this very thing.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Romans 8:13-14

You have to be pursuing this in the spirit.  It’s not a work you can do by simply deciding that it’s true.  It requires us to remain in Christ.  In that way we allow the Holy Spirit to complete His work in us.

Our problem is that we don’t want to remain.  We want the freedom to live for Christ some of the time, and for ourselves at others.  We want to go in and out as we please.

Jesus talked about this in another place.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.  Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.
John 8:34-35

The original language of this verse reads, the servant does not remain in the house forever.  You can’t serve two masters.  When you try to serve both yourself and the Lord, you end up going in and out of the house.  You miss out on God’s best – the blessings of sonship.

Make it your goal to seek, hear, and obey God’s will for your life.

Question: What’s the next step in God’s plan for you right now?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on January 15, 2018 in Prayer, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Spirit-Fruit: Joy

I’m continuing my look at the Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23.  Today we’re going to talk about joy.  It’s another word that we take for granted because of the world’s usage of the word.

When we think about being joyful, most people equate it with being happy.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  True joy has no connection at all with being happy.

The words happy and happen come from the same root word.  When something just happens it’s a random occurrence.  We get happy because something good happens.  Joy, on the other hand, has nothing at all to do with what’s happening around us.

The textbook definition of joy is to be calmly happy or well-off.  The fruit of joy goes a little further than that.

We need to understand God’s definition of joy.  Jesus talks about receiving His joy in John chapter 15.  It doesn’t take much reading to see that the main emphasis of that chapter was for us to remain in Christ.

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
John 15:4

Here Jesus talks about remaining in Him and bearing much fruit.  So the fruit of joy must be included in that.  But what, specifically, about remaining in Him brings us joy?  The Lord goes on to talk about it with His disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.  Now remain in my love.  If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
John 15:9-11

It’s a wonderful thing to be in Christ.  But there’s another step to take if you want His joy.  You have to cultivate that love relationship with Him.  That’s remaining in His love.

When you’re in a relationship with someone, then you know your place in that love.  In a relationship, I love you, and I know that you love me.  That’s what this joy is all about.

The joy of the Lord is the assurance from the Holy Spirit of who I am in Christ.  It’s knowing who Christ is, and who I am in Him.  If I’m in the Healer, then I’m healed.  If I’m in the Provider, then I’m provided for.

It’s the sense of well-being that springs from knowing who I am in Christ.  It doesn’t matter what comes my way.  If something bad happens; that doesn’t change the fact that I’m in Christ and He’s already provided the answer for it.

James understood this fact.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
James 1:2-3

Why is a trial counted as joy?  Because it will show off the truth that I’m in Christ.  It will display who He is and why I trust Him.  What I’m going through will cause others to trust the Lord the way I do.

A great example of this was the Macedonian Christians that Paul bragged about.  When he was collecting an offering for the poor, he didn’t expect much from them, because they weren’t very wealthy.

Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:2

Extreme poverty and rich generosity really shouldn’t be used to describe the same people.  That is unless they know who they are in Christ.  That makes all the difference.  That’s the fruit of Joy.

Question: What was a recent time that you saw God’s joy operating through you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2017 in Encouragement, Faith, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Missing Ingredient – A Word from God

Different AnointingI’m posting about what’s missing in the church of our generation. Why do we not see the power manifest in the early church? I believe that it’s because we’re not hearing from God the way we should be.

It’s the same thing that Jesus manifested as He ministered throughout Israel. He was very clear about how He walked in this divine power.

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
John 5:19

Jesus heard from the Father. That’s the secret to how He could minister the way that He did. It’s the reason why He could heal the sick or walk on water.

It’s also the reason why Peter could boldly say, “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, walk.” He had heard from the Father. He had already seen this crippled man walking with his spirit.

This experience is what the church of Jesus Christ desperately needs today. We must hear from God. The world needs us to hear from God.

Only then will they see the ministry of Jesus exemplified in us. Only then will they be drawn to the preaching of the cross for salvation. It’s imperative that we once again bring our walk with God to this level.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
John 15:7-8

In this passage Jesus is plainly talking about hearing a Word from God. In the original it says that if you are at home in Me [Jesus] and My words have a home in you, you can ask whatever you wish.

To many Christians this means, “If you memorize the Bible, I’ll give you whatever you want.” How did we ever get so far away from God’s intent?

If Christ was referencing the Bible in this section, it would have been impossible for the disciples to obey it. There were no Bibles for the first generation of believers. They had to rely upon hearing from the Father just as Jesus had done.

As much as I love the written Word of God, I think that we’ve used it to insulate ourselves from the Author. Why spend time seeking to hear God’s voice through the Spirit, when I can open up the Bible and read it for ten minutes?

Yes, we need to read, study, memorize and confess the Scripture. But it’s just as important to hear the Holy Spirit’s spoken Word to us. That’s where the power for the miraculous comes from.

It’s time for the church to once again depend upon a Word from God in order to walk in His power. I believe that this is the next great move of God in His people. He wants to restore to us the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. That’s what will bring about the end-time harvest of souls.

I’m about to say something that will probably make you mad at me, but it’s true none the less. The world doesn’t need any more Scripture. They’re sick of hearing Scripture. What they desperately need is a Word from God.

Who will bring it to them, if not the church? We need a Word from heaven. The first few drops of rain are falling. Will you get yourself into position to receive this anointing? The time is now to prepare.

Question: What does your spirit speak to you about this truth?

© 2016 Nicolas Zaccardi

 

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The Challenge

ClimberIf you’re not facing any challenges, then you’re not living up to your full potential in Christ. That statement is true, whether we want to hear it or not. As much as we’d like a nice easy road, that’s not what the Lord promised us.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Many Christians would rather bury their heads in the sand than face the truth. We’re in a battle. We’re fighting for the souls of the men and women around us. Most of them are not even aware of what’s really going on in the spirit.

The good news is that Christ has already won the victory. We’re simply a part of the clean-up crew. We’re here to enforce the Lord’s victory on the enemy’s kingdom. We’re to open up the prisons and bring healing to the scarred and hurting – spiritually speaking.

It’s not all about my agenda and what I want to accomplish. I need to yield my life to the will of Christ. After all, He’s the Commander and Chief. He’s the one who gives us our marching orders.

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

I might be dating myself, but one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies is The Matrix. It had an interesting concept. Because they lived in a virtual world, if they needed to know Karate, they could just download it into their brain. If they needed to fly a helicopter, they could download that knowledge.

It’s too bad that doesn’t work for us – even though some Christians try that technique in their spiritual lives. We sometimes think that we can do our own thing, then when we get into trouble, we can pray.

Many people find out too late that this strategy doesn’t work very well. I can’t wait for the enemy’s attack, then suddenly learn to resist him. The time to prepare is before the problem.

The “secret” to overcoming is in knowing where our strength comes from. We’re told to be strong in the Lord. That’s where we prepare for the struggle.

That’s why it’s so important to remain in Christ. We need to be a people of prayer, even when everything seems to be going smoothly along. It’s when we’re spending time in the Spirit that we’re downloading the weaponry needed to overcome our future challenges.

I’m only ready for the problems of life if I am resting in the Lord. It’s His mighty power that will sustain me. Take the time to draw from the Lord’s ability. Be strong in His mighty power.

Question: How can God’s power help you in the challenge you’re facing right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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The Holy Spirit, the Word, and the Blood

cross 2Very often we like to talk about the Holy Spirit. But there’s a work of the Spirit that we don’t usually look forward to. But whether we like it or not, it’s important to let the Spirit have His way in us.

Look at what Jesus said in the section of the Gospel of John where He was talking about sending the Holy Spirit.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
John 15:1-4

So when Christ talks about remaining in Him, He means that we continue to commune with the Holy Spirit. If that’s the case, then who’s doing the life-changing work in us? It must be the Holy Spirit’s job.

We may not like it, but the Spirit of God was sent to prune us to greater fruitfulness. Even the Apostle Paul understood this.

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

In the original Greek language this verse reads, God did not call us to be unpruned. No one in the kingdom of God should be unpruned. If we reject this work, then we’re rejecting the Holy Spirit. That’s probably why He gets grieved over us sometimes.

So it’s clear from the Gospel of John that the Spirit prunes every branch.

The Lord told the Disciples that they were already pruned because of the Word He spoke to them. How can that be the case? Jesus explained it to the disciples.

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

They were pruned because Words Jesus spoke were Spirit and Life. So what exactly is it that prunes us? I want to look at one more verse to help us see an incredible truth.

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:14

Here we see the Holy Spirit working together with the blood of Christ to cleanse us. This is a powerful work of God in us. It all works together for our righteousness.

We need to understand the interactions of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and the blood of Christ. In my next post we’ll look deeper into this life-changing aspect of God’s grace.

Question: How has your life changed since you let the Holy Spirit work in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Sonship is about Relationship

 

 

CrossI’ve been posting about our position of Sonship from the Scripture. In my last post I talked about the freedom we have as sons and daughters of God.

But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.
Hebrews 3:6

This is another important part of our position as sons in God’s house. It must never be forgotten that Sonship is a position of relationship. In this relationship Jesus Christ is the eldest Son OVER the house. He’s the One from whom and through whom all power and authority flows. Never forget this.

There’s a beautiful example of the power of Sonship that occurred during Jesus’ ministry.

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd.
Luke 19:1-3

Here we see Jesus entering the town of Jericho. There was a man there who wanted to see Jesus. The problem is twofold. First of all he’s a tax-collector. While that’s a respectable job in our society, that wasn’t the case back in ancient Israel.

The closest I can come to showing you how people felt about Zacchaeus is by comparing him to a modern day drug dealer. That’s the perception that the average Israelite had toward this profession. He was a man both hated and feared by most of the townspeople.

Yet, the Bible says that he was seeking to see Jesus. The reason it was a problem to him was because he had a small stature. Because of this, and the fact that the crowd wouldn’t let him through, Luke states that he did not have the power to see Jesus.

So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
Luke 19:4

Notice how he handled the situation. We should learn from him in our walk with the Lord. He saw where Jesus was headed and went in that direction so he could meet the Lord when He got there.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
Luke 19:5

The words of Christ are very important. He literally said to Zacchaeus, “I must abide, remain, dwell with you today.” This is the very call that Christ is making to each one of us. It’s His heart’s desire that we make our dwelling place with Him. That’s where we find the power that can transform everything.

In my next post I will wrap up this series by showing how the story of Zacchaeus beautifully illustrates our position as sons and daughters of the Lord.

Question: How does Sonship change your view of yourself?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Power of God, Sonship

 

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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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