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Spiritual Restoration

Toward the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatian church, he begins to talk about some important issues for dealing with people.  The first is working with people who aren’t perfect.  I think we forget, sometimes, that none of us walks in the clouds.

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
Galatians 6:1

Paul talks about someone who’s had a side-slip.  Whether intentional or not, we sometimes see our past sinful life try to make an appearance.  That’s why God has us doing life together.

The Lord’s desire is always for restoration.  It’s not about guilt or condemnation.  When we experience a failure, there’s usually enough self-condemnation, so that we don’t need to add any more from the outside.

I believe that’s why the Holy Spirit wants restoration to be accomplished only by those who are spiritual.  Notice that He didn’t say that those versed in psychology, or those who’ve never sinned, should work with them.

The qualification is for those who are spiritual.  They spend time listening to the Holy Spirit.  It’s evident from their lives that they consistently produce the Fruit of the Spirit.  They’re the ones uniquely qualified to bring restoration.

But even spiritual people aren’t above being tempted.  Tempted to do what?  Paul goes on to talk about this temptation.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  Each one should test his own actions.  Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.
Galatians 6:2-5

In dealing with the weaknesses of others, there’s always a temptation to compare.  We end up comparing our strength with their weakness.  But that gives us an inflated view of ourselves.

It also makes it easier for us to begin judging others.  We start to criticize and condemn, instead of bringing the restoration of the Holy Spirit.

I think that an important part of this is understanding the difference between a burden and a load.  These are two very different words in the Greek.

The word burden simply means a weight – something heavy.  There are times where, because of what we’re going through, our life seems a little too tough to handle.  Spiritual people are a help during these times.  The law of Christ is their internal prompting by the Holy Spirit to bring encouragement during these times.

The word, load, on the other hand, speaks of an invoice or work-order.  That’s our God-given assignment.  No one can do that for us.  Mine is different than yours.  I can’t compare what I’ve been called to do with your calling.

There are people only you can reach and assignments only you can do the way the Lord wants them done.  So it’s not my job to take over because I think you’re inadequate.  If I truly am spiritual, then I’ll encourage and strengthen you so that you’re able to fulfill your unique destiny.

Comparison and condemnation have no place in the body of believers.  We’re here to fulfill the plan of Christ, not to please each other.

Spend time in the presence of the Lord and then be a blessing to those around you.

Question: What is a time that the Holy Spirit prompted you to be a help to someone else?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Posted by on November 3, 2017 in Encouragement, Legalism, Spiritual Walk

 

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Forgiveness and Restoration

JailIn my last post I started writing about what forgiveness is all about. We saw that it was God’s idea that culminated in Christ on the cross. Now the penalty of our sin is no longer demanded.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14

We were dead – the penalty of our sin was looming over us. But now, because of grace, if we’re in Christ and there’s no more penalty. I can look to becoming clean without worrying about the mistakes.

As good as this is, forgiveness is much deeper than that.

The second definition that I found in Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary reads, “To grant freedom from the penalty.”

That means that forgiveness cancels the penalty. But wait a minute. Isn’t ceasing to demand the penalty and freedom from the penalty the same thing?

NO!!! The first stops the demand. Freedom is needed when you’re reaping the penalty. Forgiveness stops the penalty in its tracks.

The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them.
1 Timothy 5:24

The problem is that not all sin has the same effect on our lives. Sometimes you reap the penalty here. Other sins will not bring a penalty until the judgment seat.

For example, the penalties associated with alcoholism can destroy your life right here and right now. The way is open for anyone to come to Christ as an alcoholic. But if all we had was the first definition – they would be on their way to Heaven, but their life would remain in shambles.

Our God is bigger than that. Because He grants freedom from the penalty, their life can be restored by the power of God.

We need to lay hold of this. Many times we find ourselves walking in penalties that we think we deserve. The forgiveness of the Lord stops the penalty. We don’t have to walk in guilt anymore. The blood of Christ removes the guilt.

…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 10:22

The writer makes a statement here that our hearts are sprinkled. Sprinkled with what? The blood of Christ that forgives us of our sin.

So the reality is that we’ve been forgiven by Christ on the cross. Now, in Christ, there’s no more penalty. We can have a clean conscience.

Unfortunately, as we look at the world around us, it seems that this forgiveness has very little effect in our society. That’s because there’s one more truth associated with forgiveness. It’s the part that makes all of the difference.

I’ll talk about that definition in my next post.

Question: In what ways has the forgiveness of God restored your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Are You Waiting for Something?

SurfIt’s been over 2000 years since the Lord walked the earth as a man. Isn’t it time for the church to walk in His footsteps? Paul and the other apostles understood what was needed.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:4

Consider how powerful the early church was. They turned their world upside down. They went forward in the power of the Holy Spirit to do exploits for God.

Blind eyes were opened. The lame and diseased were healed. Those imprisoned by sin were set free. Nothing could stop God’s Word.

Then, the blazing light of the church became a mere flicker of a spark. History even refers to it as the Dark Ages. Spiritual blindness, slavery to sin and superstition were the controlling factors in a majority of the “church”.

But even as we were in that condition, God started to call His people.   Actually, for the last 500 years or so God has been restoring His church. Since then, there have been 4 major moves of God – each rebuilding a lost element of our spiritual life.

The last of these was the Faith Movement. Whatever you may think about that move, two things were true. First, it was started by an act of the Holy Spirit. Secondly, it changed the face of the entire Christian church in America and around the world.

The way we pray, worship and the songs we sing are different because of the Faith Movement. Our very understanding of what it means to trust God has been taken to a higher level.

As I read Scripture, I can see that there’s still one more act of restoration on God’s agenda. We’re just now beginning to enter it. It’s a barely perceptible ripple on the horizon. But, for those with eyes to see, it’s right there. It’s time for us to get into position for this next move of God.

It’s like a surfer waiting for just the right wave to propel him forward. He watches the surface of the ocean. Then he sees it. It’s barely even a swell on the top of the water. But to that champion surfer, it’s a signal to point his board toward shore and paddle like crazy in order to catch the wave at the right moment.

That’s where we are, right now, in the Body of Christ. The swell is approaching. You have to strain to see it. But if you want to be right on the edge of it, to ride it home, you need to start positioning yourself right now.

That’s my passion, and the overriding focus of my ministry. I want to prepare God’s people for the next wave. I want to see the church rise up to its true place and function in the Spirit.

My prayer is that you read these posts with an open heart and receive what the Holy Spirit speaks to you. Let it change you, no matter the cost.

Make it your goal to be in position to flow in the new move of God. Let nothing move you out of the way. Determine to be a part of everything God has for this generation.

Questions: Do you feel the wind of change moving through the Body of Christ? Do you long for our experience to parallel that of the early church?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2015 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Old-Time Saint…Cutting Edge Ministry

BrideWhere is the Lord trying to take His church in this generation? What’s His end-game? Have you ever stopped to think about these things? The reason I think these questions are important is that it’s easier for me to cooperate with the Holy Spirit if I know where He’s leading me to.

In talking about husbands and wives, the Apostle Paul wrote about it. He said that this was Christ’s goal…

…to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Ephesians 5:26-27

It’s clear from this passage that God’s desire is to perfect the church. I must admit that sometimes I look at where we are and wonder how He could ever accomplish it. The simple fact is that I have to trust in God’s ability to do that which He’s promised.

Recently I was reading a biography of Charles Parham. He was quite a teacher who lived around the turn of the century (the 1900’s). I believe that his message was cutting edge, even by today’s standards.

Here’s a quote from this awesome man of God…

“At Christ’s Second Coming the Church will be found with the same power that the Apostles and the early Church possessed. The power of Pentecost is manifest in us. The Christian religion must be demonstrated. The world wants to be shown. Then let God’s power be manifest through us.”

These words resonate in my spirit. The church must become what we were meant to be. That’s the only thing that will turn this nation around.

In the past I’ve said that my ministry was all about seeing a revival in our generation. But as I reflect upon Parham’s words and the Scripture above, I’m starting to get a clearer picture.

I don’t merely want a revival like the many awakenings and movements that have happened in the past 100 years. I’m hungering for more than that. I want to see the church rise up to its full stature in Christ.

I don’t just want revival. I want complete restoration to what we’ve lost since the book of Acts. I want to see the message of Christ coming forth with power, signs and wonders. I want to see healings and miracles taking place on a daily basis in the lives of God’s people.

This is where I believe God is taking us to. He’s making us a radiant church – with His glory shining through us. He taking away our blemishes and our shame so that the world can see in us all that He is.

That’s my prayer…my goal…and all that my ministry is trying to reach toward. Make that your heart’s cry as well. And together, we can see God’s glory manifest through His church.

Question: What will it take for God to bring us to this level in Him?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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Walking with the Shepherd

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes we get the idea that we have to set the agenda for our lives. But that’s not the right way to live. It’s the Lord who should be choosing the path we’re on.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:1-3

Green pastures, quiet waters and right paths – what else could you ask for in a Shepherd? He knows the way ahead and he knows the needs of our hearts. There’s no one who’s more worthy of our trust than the Lord is.

In the real world sheep don’t get to choose their shepherd. They belong to whoever owns the flock. It’s not up to them to decide to leave one shepherd for another. But because of the work Christ did on the cross, we have the privilege of choosing Him no matter what our background might be.

The blessing is now ours to be led in the best possible way. We can walk along paths that will restore us rather than harm us. We have something that can feed our hungry souls and living water to refresh us.

Trust the Shepherd of your soul. He’s worthy of that trust. Realize that He wants the very best for you if you’ll just open up and receive it. There’s no greater place to be.

Of course there will be problems

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Psalm 23:4-5

The valley of the shadow of death – it definitely sounds like a place I’d rather avoid. As if that wasn’t enough, there are also the enemies. Sheep are defenseless against such predators as wolves and lions. The world can be a very evil and dark place sometimes.

Praise God that we have a Shepherd who knows the dark paths we must take. He’s been there and has come through victoriously. When I don’t know the road ahead, I can rest assured that He does.

I can be free from the fear of enemies. His rod and staff will be my protection. As a matter of fact, my enemy will have to watch as I feast at the table of the Lord. The Shepherd will bring me through, in spite of the enemy’s best-laid plans to destroy me.

When the burdens of life start getting me down – when I start getting discouraged – He’s right there to anoint me with the oil of His joy. He knows just how to refresh and invigorate me.

If you’re going through a hard time today; turn the problems over to Jesus. Let Him comfort, refresh and renew you.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23:6

His goodness is unmatched. He wants the best for your life. His plan for you is greater than you could have ever asked or imagined.

His love for you is deep and unchanging. Never think for a moment that you have to win, earn or work to receive His love. He showers it on you freely.

If you have never given Christ your all, then today is a good day to surrender. Commit everything you are and everything you have into His hands. He only wants the very best for you. Take the time right now to bow your heart and place your life in the hands of the Chief Shepherd.

Question: How has Christ been a Good Shepherd to you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2015 in Encouragement, Faith, God's Provision

 

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Getting Things in Order

SpotlightIn the last couple of posts I’ve been talking about how those of us in ministry run the risk of getting too busy. By that I mean we start to neglect our intimate times with the Lord. Specifically, what Christ said in the following verse.

“Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”
Revelation 2:4-5

What do you do if you find yourself in this condition? How do you get your spiritual life back on track?

The answer to this problem is clear from the Lord’s own words. The first step is to remember. Remember the height from which you have fallen. Think back to what your walk with the Lord used to be like. Allow a hunger to be birthed in you for the way it was. This will make the next step that much easier.

Step two is really the key to the whole process. Restoration always involves repentance. At this point, you may complain, “But I didn’t backslide – I still love the Lord, and I’m still doing the work of the ministry.” That’s probably very true. However, to God, the most important thing is your relationship with Him.

In any relationship, it’s not the fact that you love the other person that brings you closer. It’s the time spent communicating. If you haven’t deepened your walk with the Lord, through time in the Word and in prayer, then there needs to be repentance. I’m sure you already know that true repentance includes a 180-degree turn around to the right path. It’s time to renew your walk with Christ.

You also need to realize that if you ignore His call, you’re missing out on God’s best for your life. The words of the Lord in Revelation 2:3 above make it clear that if this condition is left unchecked long enough, then the church will suffer for it. Jesus said that He would remove the lampstand from its place.

It doesn’t sound fair that just because a church leader is out of relationship with the Lord, that the whole church can be dragged down with him or her. Unfortunately, that’s the way of spiritual things. Jesus said that if the blind lead the blind, they both fall into the ditch. The church will never progress beyond the depth of the leadership’s walk with the Lord.

At this point I have to pause, and give a special exhortation to pastors and teachers. Too often we fall into the rut of self-deception. Sermon and Bible Study preparation time is NOT the same as a personal time in God’s Word. Interceding for your congregation is not intimate, personal prayer time with the Lord.

In my experience I’ve found that many leaders substitute the work of the ministry for the walk of relationship. The key to renewing your first love is to cultivate your relationship with God in personal time with God’s Word and in prayer. Above all else, we should be deepening our relationship with our Lord.

Question: How have you struggled in setting aside time for intimacy with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2015 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Sonship Beats the Law

I’ve been posting about the Biblical principle of Sonship. In my last post I talked about Zacchaeus from Luke chapter 19. Jesus had just called him down from the tree and told him that He was coming to Zacchaeus’ home.

Zacchaeus had no idea what was about to happen.

So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’”
Luke 19:6-7

These two verses show us in a tangible way the difference between using the power of the law and the power of the Spirit. The law is always trying to block your way. It says that you must get yourself ready before you can abide with Christ. The religious people thought that there was no way that Christ should enter Zacchaeus’ home.

I’m writing this so that you’ll know for a certainty that it doesn’t matter how you start out. Your problems, failings and lack of commitment are all things of the past. You can start fresh by abiding with Christ today. The time to run to the Lord is before you try to fix yourself up. It’s only as you remain in His presence that you receive the power for changing your life.

Look at what happened to Zacchaeus.

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
Luke 19:8-10

Salvation had come to Zacchaeus’ house. We usually misunderstand what salvation is all about. If you can grasp its total impact in Scripture, salvation actually includes all of God’s life changing and restoring power. It was this power that was manifest in Zacchaeus’ life that day. His love of money dissipated in the light of the Spirit’s love.

But the more importantly, Jesus said that he, too, is a son. He may have gone his own way for a while, but Zacchaeus was loved by the Father. The Lord was clear that He came seeking Zacchaeus.

It’s an interesting perspective because Zacchaeus thought that he was seeking Christ. It’s just like our spiritual worship. If we will “bend forward to kiss” the Lord, then He will bend forward to kiss us.

The greatest ministry of Christ was that He came to seek and save that which was ruined. Right now the body of Christ in America is full of ruined sons. It’s time to seek the Lord.

What we’ll find is that in our seeking of Him it’s actually the Lord who’s seeking us. It’s time for us as believers not get saved, but to BE SAVED. We need to rise up to our rightful place and position of Sonship.

This can only happen as we see the importance of our relationship with the Father. This means that we understand how to relate as sons and daughters to our heavenly Father.

Question: How does Sonship change your view of who you are as a believer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in Faith, Legalism, Sonship

 

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