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Revival Starts with Me (and You!) (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to be involved in some ministry events.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost some of my most read articles that I feel are important.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

Revival – a lot of people talk about it, but few understand it.  For the most part, we like the idea of revival, but lack the drive to see it through.  Like it or not, if we want to see revival in the church, then it needs to start in the individual.

A number of years ago I went through David’s experience with revival as recorded in Psalm 51.  To see the original series, click here.  I believe that it will give us the understanding we need to head in that direction.  The desire is up to you.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.  Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.  For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.  Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Psalm 51:1-5

The conditions surrounding the writing of this Psalm are very important.  David was the king of Israel.  His word was law.  One day, from the rooftop of his palace, he saw the wife of one of his generals taking a bath.  He was infatuated with her and eventually they had an affair that got her pregnant.

Since the general was away at the front lines, this would be an awkward situation unless it was taken care of quickly.  After a few failed attempts at a cover-up, David had the general assassinated.  He then took the “grieving widow” as one of his wives.  Now everything was fine and they could live happily ever after…or could they?

The prophet, Nathan, was given a Word from God about the situation.  He confronted David with the truth.  Psalm 51 is David’s response.  I’m glad to say that David was able to turn around and renew his walk with God.  By writing it in a Psalm, we can see the principles of personal revival.

In order for us to experience the joy of a personal revival, it always starts in the same place.  We must see the condition of our lives from God’s perspective.

Please understand me.  I realize that we’re righteous, by position, in Jesus Christ.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  I’m looking at the day to day condition of our physical walk with God.  Are we where we should be?  Am I living up to the high calling of God?

It seems that one of the most dreaded exercises for most Christians is to take a long, hard, look at themselves.  We must be brutally honest in our assessment – comparing ourselves with the example of Christ.  No whitewashing, no excuses, and no justifications.  I can’t compare myself with anybody else – after all, I can always find someone doing worse than me.

This then is the first step toward personal revival.  Taking inventory of your spiritual walk as a believer.  Finding and admitting those areas in which you fall short of your calling to walk as Christ did.

Only then you can truly seek God’s power to change you.  Let this be your prayer.  “God, help me to see myself as I really am before you.”  Then take the steps necessary to bring the revival of God into your life.

Question: Why do we hesitate to take a spiritual inventory of our lives?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2019 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Bad Examples

We’re continuing our look at the example of Israel.  The way they served God in the wilderness should be a sign to us of how NOT to do it.

There are three specific characteristics that Paul wants us to beware of.

We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did — and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.  We should not test the Lord, as some of them did — and were killed by snakes.  And do not grumble, as some of them did — and were killed by the destroying angel.
1 Corinthians 10:8-10

The first thing that you need to know is that we’re now under God’s grace.  I’m very glad that I was born on this side of the cross of Christ.  We don’t have to worry about plagues and destroying angels anymore.

On the other hand, just because God won’t immediately judge us, doesn’t change how strongly the Lord feels about these sins.  Participating in these activities is displeasing to God.  Our goal should be to live a life that’s well-pleasing before Him.

The first thing listed is sexual immorality.  I guess nothing changes.  That’s probably the biggest area in which Christians refuse to change.

This covers all sexual activity outside of a marriage relationship between a man and a woman.  Even pornography is included in this.

This is a huge stronghold in the lives of many believers, yet not many people talk about it.  Maybe they’re afraid that they may lose church members or followers.  But I can’t just gloss over it, because some of your future rewards depend upon the purity of your walk before God.

The next issue he talks about is testing the Lord.  This problem was recorded in the book of Numbers, chapter 21.   It was all about the people being impatient with the Lord.

When we pray, we want the answer right now.  With Israel, it got to the point where they accused God of sending them into the desert to die.  They also told Him that they hated the manna that God was providing for them.

Don’t fall into the trap of becoming impatient as you wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled.  It will develop ungratefulness for the things that the Lord is already doing in your life.  Rest assured that the Lord will fulfill His plan in you.

Finally, there’s a temptation for us to grumble about where we are in life.  This word means to speak a complaint in almost inaudible tones.

That’s something that used to really bother me as a pastor.  Someone would approach me and say something like, “Brother Joe is mad at you and has now left the church.  You need to talk to him.  He’s telling everybody mean things about you.”

The funny thing is that when I called Joe, he tells me, “Oh Pastor Nick, I’m not mad at you.  Who would say that about me?  I love your ministry.  I haven’t been in church because I have to take care of some family issues.”

Grumbling is when you voice your complaints to people who aren’t a part of either the problem or the solution.  You’re just looking for someone to tell you that you’re right and the other person is wrong.

Unfortunately, grumbling will open the door to the attack of the enemy.  Don’t give any ground to the devil.

The example of Israel is a negative one.  But they show us certain activities that the Lord hates.  He won’t kill you with a lightning bolt from heaven.  But your ministry will be hindered until you repent.

Question: Why is the walk of purity better, even though it’s a tougher road?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2019 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Keeping Your Distance

The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 5, is dealing with the matter of how carnal Christians are to be treated.  In many cases, we find ourselves off the track of God’s will in our generation.  There are times we either totally ignore sin in the church, or we kick people out of our fellowship.

As we’ve seen through these last few posts, Paul was not endorsing either of these options.  Instead, he tells mature believers to take authority over the situation in the spirit.

Now Paul shows us the way a carnal believer should be treated on a personal level.

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters.  In that case you would have to leave this world.  But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.  With such a man do not even eat.
1 Corinthians 5:9-11

Once someone has been identified as a carnal believer who has no desire for repentance, the work of restoration begins.  There must be intercession in the spirit for this person.  But that alone is not enough.

It’s the love shown to them that will draw them closer to God.  That’s why an understanding of this passage is so vital to church leadership.

The word, associate, in the passage literally means an intimate friendship.  It speaks of a mixing together of two lives.  It’s not referring to a casual acquaintance.

Paul is not telling us to cut all ties with this person.  Instead, we’re to love them back to the cross.  We can treat them in a friendly way without being best friends with them.  The goal is for them to desire a closer walk with God without their lifestyle or attitudes rubbing off on us.

The subject of eating together also needs to be addressed.  In our fast-paced society, meeting someone to discuss business over lunch has no intimate associations at all.  When Paul wrote this, eating together was a long process that usually meant a close, intimate friendship.

The key is that we’re not to develop an intimate friendship with carnal believers.  This goes right along with what Christ taught concerning those in unrepentant sin.  Look at what Christ says to do after repeatedly trying to restore this person.

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Matthew 18:17

I’ve seen people who use this verse to kick members out of their church.  Let’s understand what Jesus is saying here.

I think that I can sum it up in two simple questions.  How did Jesus treat pagans and tax collectors?  Did He shun and exclude them or did He spend time with them in order to bring restoration?  I think the answers are obvious.

The Pharisees judged people for their sins and had them expelled from the synagogue.  Jesus loved people and spent time with them to bring them nearer to God.  Would you rather your life imitate Christ or a Pharisee?

It’s time that the church started to deal with sin in a scriptural, Christ-like way.  Our goal should be healing and restoration for the body of Christ.

Question: How have you seen scriptural restoration exemplified?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2019 in Fellowship, Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Quick Repentance

I’ve been posting about the events surrounding the arrest of Jesus.  The focus now turns to Peter, who has been watching from a safe distance.  You may want to read Mark 14:66-72 before continuing in this article.

We find Peter in the courtyard, watching the Jews question the Lord.  Then, one of the servant girls notices him.

When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.  “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
But he denied it.  “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.
Mark 14:67-68

What a response!  This is the same man who vehemently said that he would die before denying Christ.  Why would he do this?

I believe that Peter is no different than any of us.  As he sat there watching the proceedings, he began to go over all of the possible outcomes in his mind.  He saw that it was the Pharisees’ intention to put the Lord to death.

His whole focus now became; how to save himself.  That was what his mind was dwelling on.  What makes me say this?

If you look at Peter’s answer to the girl, you see what I’m talking about.  What he gave as a response was actually a legal phrase.  It was what a witness would say in a trial if they hadn’t seen what they were being asked about.  He gave a well-thought-out answer.

Later on, the servant girl asked Peter a second and a third time if he was one of the disciples of Jesus.

He began to call down curses on himself, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
Mark 14:71

Peter actually goes to the point of calling down a curse upon himself if he were lying.  Notice that he never mentions Jesus by name, but calls Him “this man”.  He had definitely been rehearsing what he was going to say.

Then, suddenly, the truth of what he had done hits him.

Immediately the rooster crowed the second time.  Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.”  And he broke down and wept.
Mark 14:72

I don’t know why this happens.  When it comes to sin, we don’t realize the weight of it until after we’ve fallen.  Then we feel upset and guilty about it.  That’s the time to take care of it.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
2 Corinthians 7:10

Don’t wallow in guilt and regret.  As soon as you realize your sin, repent and be free of it.  God doesn’t need time to “cool off”.  The Holy Spirit is with you to bring forgiveness and restoration.  The quicker you repent, the quicker you can get back on your spiritual feet again.

Question: What has the Lord taught you about quick repentance?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2018 in Encouragement, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Four Common Worship Mistakes

Every weekend thousands of Christians around the world attend church.  They think that they’re worshipping God.  Unfortunately, in many cases, they’re doing just the opposite and God isn’t pleased with them.  Learn from their mistakes and offer true worship to the Lord.

I invite you to read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7, verses 1 through 20, which is the basis for this post. Here are the four worship mistakes commonly made by modern Christians.

Making sure the outside is cleaned up, and not the inside (Verse 14-15).  Most people get all washed and looking their best for a church service.  That’s just normal.  You want to look nice when you’re around others.

It’s far easier to hide the dirt that can accumulate on the inside.  As we live in and interact with the world, we can pick up thoughts and attitudes without ever knowing it.  Over the course of time, they can lead us off track in our Christian walk.

We need to continue in the repentance and forgiveness that only comes from time spent in the presence of Christ.  That’s where our true beauty should come from – a life that’s kept clean before God.

Saying all the right words, but not living them (Verse 6).  You may not want to hear this, but in every service, churches are attended by many liars.  How can I say that?  Think about the songs we sing.

“Lord, you are more precious than silver…Nothing I desire compares with you.”

Then, during the rest of the service, we’re thinking about what’s for dinner.  We sing passionately about how we would do anything for God or how deeply we want to know Him.  Yet, once we leave the church, we don’t think twice about it until next week.

In many cases we act like the fact that we’re singing the words, automatically makes it true.  To live a life of worship, our lives need to line up with our “Sunday personas”.

Preferring to follow a set of rules rather than cultivating a relationship with God (Verse 7-8).  Sometimes we get the idea that just because we don’t murder, cheat, steal, or do drugs, then we’re okay.  We read the Bible and pray for our needs every day because that’s what a Christian is supposed to do.

What about simply spending time in God’s presence because He’s God?  The Father wants us to get to know Him personally.  He wants to speak to our hearts and enjoy our fellowship.

Being a Christian isn’t just a choice to do good things.  It’s a living relationship with a holy God.  Worship is not a chore to complete.  We are to become worshippers.

Giving money in the offering rather than giving yourself to the Lord.  This is one of the biggest mistakes that we can make.  Thinking that we own everything except what we willingly give to God.

God is the Creator of Heaven and earth.  It’s all His.  It’s my responsibility to acknowledge that fact.  I am His.  My greatest act of worship is to willingly give myself to Him.  Only Christ is worthy to receive an offering like that.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
John 4:23

Don’t waste your life being a superficial believer.  Enter into a lifestyle of worship.  True worship is not a matter of what you do on Sundays, but who you are all week long.

Questions: What’s your definition of worship?  What worship issues have you had to deal with in your walk with God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2018 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church, Worship

 

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The Power of Guilt

In my last post, I talked about how Jesus sent His disciples to prepare the towns ahead of Him for His arrival.  As they went, they begin doing the same miracles as Jesus.  Word starts to circulate about the power of Christ and His team.

Finally, word reaches Herod, the ruler of the region.  Mark now begins to explain the relationship between Herod and John the Baptist.  You may want to read Mark 6:12-29 before you continue.

King Herod is an interesting person in Scripture.  He was actually only Jewish by religion, not birth.  He used this religious affiliation as a means to wealth, and political power.

When he heard about the ministry of John the Baptist, he was attracted to the message.  But like so many people, he only wanted to hear God’s Word until it meant that he needed to change.

At one point, Herod took his brother’s wife, Herodias, as his own.  She also happened to be his niece.  As a preacher of righteousness, John the Baptist had something to say about that.

For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.”
Mark 6:18

Herod found himself in a tight position.  He felt the conviction and power of John’s words.  On the other hand, he didn’t want to stop what he was doing.  Not knowing what to do, he had John arrested and put into prison.

But there’s more to the story…

So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him.  But she was not able to, because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man.  When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.
Mark 6:19-20

There was a conflict raging on the inside of him.  It was the tension between the knowledge of truth and a refusal to walk in repentance.

It’s sad to say, but many believers find themselves in this position.  They hear a message about God’s call to a holy life, but they want to hold on to their present lifestyle.  They try to quiet the inner voice of the Spirit by convincing themselves that they don’t have to accept the “message of condemnation.”

Please understand; a call to repentance is NOT condemnation.  Being condemned means that you’re given no chance to repent.

Eventually, through trickery and deceit, Herodias’ grudge turned into full-blown murder.  She had John the Baptist beheaded.  You may think that this was the end of it.  It wasn’t because guilt seems to have a life of its own.

It continued to eat away at Herod’s thoughts.  That’s why, when he heard about the works of Jesus and the disciples, all he could think about was John.

King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known.  Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”  Others said, “He is Elijah.”  And still others claimed, “He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.”
But when Herod heard this, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has been raised from the dead!”
Mark 6:14-16

So strong was the guilt he felt, that he actually believed that John had been raised from the dead.  It was consuming him.

Don’t allow guilt to work death in your life.  If repentance is needed, then handle it quickly.  Allow the life of Christ to bring renewal and restoration.

Question: What are some positive results of repentance that you’ve experienced?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2018 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Disciples and Fasting

As we continue to look at the ministry of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel, one thing we have to realize is that the Lord lived under the Old Covenant.  So there were times He had to make it clear that something new was coming.

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting.  Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”
Mark 2:18

That was an interesting question for the Lord.  It’s clear from Scripture that Jesus fasted.  In Jesus’ ministry, He taught what to do “when you fast.”  Jesus assumed that fasting would be a normal part of our lives.  Why didn’t He make His disciples practice this discipline?

Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them?  They cannot, so long as they have him with them.  But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.”
Mark 2:19-20

The Lord was basically telling them that fasting would change from Old Testament to New Testament.  He wanted them to start the New Covenant fast after the resurrection.

Under the Old Covenant, fasting was a way to humble yourself in repentance.  Now, in Christ, we fast in order to put down the flesh so that we can hear the voice of the Holy Spirit more clearly.  For a more detailed teaching on this subject…click here.

At this point, Jesus gives a description of the differences in parable form.  Those listening to His explanation probably didn’t understand what the Lord was talking about, but looking back, we can.

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment.  If he does, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse.”
Mark 2:21

The first thing He talks about is the outside – a garment.  In the ancient world, the way to repair your clothing was to take an old piece of cloth and use it to patch an old garment.

Under the Old Covenant, fasting was only a patch.  It was all about doing something to get God to listen to me.  I needed to patch things up.  So I humbled myself by fasting, wearing sackcloth, and covering my head with ashes.  I had to show how sorrowful I was for my sin.

There were times that people fasted just for show.  They wanted to look “holy”.  That’s when God would say things like, “Will I listen to you if you fast like that?”

According to Jesus, we don’t fast like the Pharisees or other Old Testament people.  Much of what they did was to impress people with their outward displays of religion.

If I try to patch things up with God under the New Covenant, I only make things worse.  It’s all about me being able to hear God’s voice clearly.

How, then, do I get God to hear me?  The truth is that I don’t.  In Christ, we have 24/7 access to the throne room of God.  There’s no condemnation; we can enter boldly into His presence.

Now, under grace, we’re a new garment and don’t need a patch.  But a new garment (back then) would always shrink with use.  Fasting under the New Covenant shrinks the outer garment.

That’s what we look for – the flesh to decrease.  As I fast, the voice of my flesh gets quieter.  So fasting forcefully puts down the flesh.

This is because under the New Covenant it’s about me hearing from God.  God hears me in Christ.  But I need to hear Him with my spirit when He speaks.

I don’t think it’s as much God not speaking, as me not listening.  Fasting helps drown out the noise of my flesh.  That’s why I believe that fasting should be a regular part of a Christian’s life.

Questions:  Do you fast?  How often?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2017 in Fasting, Spiritual Walk

 

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