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Tag Archives: Scripture

Are You Wandering?

The last exhortation from the book of James is very important. He deals with an issue that’s prevalent in our generation. It’s about those who wander from the truth.

My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
James 5:19-20

James is dealing with a number of issues in this passage. The first is the fact that a Christian can wander from the truth. The word, wander means to roam or rove around.

In the natural, wandering takes place when we get distracted by something. When I’ve gone hiking, there have been times when I’ve gotten distracted and missed a turn in the trail. A couple of times I had to do a fair amount of backtracking before I got to where I should have been.

That’s why this Greek word can also mean deception.   Deceit is when I knowingly try to distract you from the truth. The question is; how does this wandering manifest itself in a spiritual setting?

One day, Jesus explained this very concept to the Sadducees, who were trying to prove to the Lord that there would be no resurrection.

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”
Matthew 22:29

The word, error, in this verse is the same word wander that James used. Jesus was telling these priests that they had wandered from the truth because of two problems. They’re the same two things that cause modern believers to miss out on God’s best.

The first, was not knowing the Scriptures. This was an interesting thing to say to the Sadducees, since they had huge portions of Scripture memorized. They had to know all the books of Moses by heart just to qualify for the priesthood.

The problem was that they only knew about the Scripture. The word that Jesus used was a knowing by experience. These priests knew what the Bible said, they just didn’t want to apply it to their lives. Without the application of Scripture, we’re merely wandering around hoping to stumble upon God’s best for us.

The second thing that causes us to wander is not knowing the power of God. That’s probably the greatest hindrance in our generation. In many church circles we’re relying upon secular corporate models or clever programming to grow our churches.

In many cases, if the Holy Spirit showed up on Sunday morning, we wouldn’t know what to do with Him. In some churches He’d be escorted out the door, in others He’d be told to sit quietly in the corner. The last thing they want is to see the power of God active in their services.

I believe that the goal of God’s people is to see, and experience the power of God actively in their lives. In my opinion, that’s what the world needs to see. More than structures or programs, it’s the power of God that will bring them to repentance and salvation.

I want to see a new move of God in my generation. But for that to happen, we need to stop being distracted by the world around us. In other words, we need to stop wandering from the truth.

By focusing on experiencing the truth of Scripture and experiencing the presence of God we can once again see the Lord’s best manifest in us. As a result, there will be a great harvest of souls when they see the hand of God actively working in our lives.

Question: How much time do you spend actively applying Scripture to your life and seeking God’s presence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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The Law of Freedom

MirrorIn my last post I talked about the need to hear a Word from God. We have to spend the time listening for his voice. But it doesn’t just end there.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
James 1:23-24

Once you’ve heard from the Holy Spirit you need to follow through on what He spoke to you. This goes beyond simply thanking Him for speaking. There has to be a fulfillment of the assignment.

I like the illustration that James gives us here. It’s important for us to understand just what he’s saying to the church.

In my last post I talked at length about the Word of God being more than just Scripture, but God speaking to us. As James continues on that theme, he starts to give us more detail. We can’t ignore the implications of what he’s teaching.

When I read the Bible, I know that it’s the same for everybody. The life of Jesus, the teachings of the Apostles, and the histories don’t change from generation to generation. The truths that we read are timeless, and apply to everyone for all time.

A mirror is a completely different piece of equipment. What I see in a mirror is not at all what you would see. As a matter of fact, what I see when I first wake up in the morning is nothing like what I see as I’m preparing to go to bed.

Every time I look into the mirror, it’s a unique experience. That’s another reason why this has to be about our time spent with the Holy Spirit – hearing His voice. Whenever we spend quality time in the presence of God it should be a one-of-a-kind encounter.

What I need to hear from God today, may be about something totally different than what He speaks to me tomorrow. The Lord wants to work in us and in the lives of those around us. For that to happen, I need to hear from Him on a consistent basis.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:25

Listen to what James calls this encounter. The perfect law that gives freedom. There’s absolutely no way he could be talking about the Old Testament here. Paul said almost the same thing in his letters.

Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:15-17

It’s obvious that freedom can only come through the Holy Spirit. He wants to speak a word that’s tailor made to the situations we’re facing. I believe that hearing and doing what the Spirit speaks to us is the perfect law that gives freedom.

It’s through time spent in the Spirit that God writes His law on our hearts. That’s where we find the freedom to live for Him without hindrance.

Question: What was the last thing the Lord spoke to you about?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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Are We Hearing?

AloneWhen you hear the term Word of God, what comes to mind? I’ve been posting from the first chapter of the book of James – the first New Testament Scripture to be written. Our understanding of the Word makes a difference in how we view what James is saying.

I’m convinced that when James talks about the Word, he’s not talking about Scripture, since the New Testament hadn’t been written yet. He’s talking about hearing a Word from God, either through your spirit in prayer or by anointed preaching and teaching.

I believe that it was this truth that made the difference in the lives of those early believers. I also believe that the next move of God in the church will be the restoration of our ability to hear a Word from Him on a consistent basis.

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

This verse follows right on the heels of James telling us to accept the Word planted in us, which can save us. Now we’re told how to accept it.

The key word in this verse is listen. The word he uses is hearing – one of the five senses. Notice that he didn’t say we were not to merely read the Word. This is a Word that has to be heard.

There’s another point that we gloss over. If this is the first Scripture of the New Testament, and if James was referring to Old Testament Scripture when he talked about the Word; then he’s telling us to do what the Old Testament says.

That would mean we were to continue the sacrificial system and all the Law of Moses. We know for a fact that this goes against everything that Christ accomplished on the cross.

So when James tells us not to deceive ourselves, that’s not really our problem. Many believers aren’t even hearing a Word from God, let alone hearing and not doing.

The normal Christian thinks that it’s the job of the pastor, teacher, or minister to hear from God. It’s never been God’s plan to have an exclusive club of special people who hear His voice. God even made that clear to Israel.

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
Exodus 19:5-6

God’s plan was for all His people to be His priests. It wasn’t until Israel became afraid at the foot of Mt. Sinai, that they told Moses not to let God speak to them anymore. The Lord wants a people who will hear, listen, and respond to His voice.

We wonder sometimes why there was such a manifestation of the miraculous in the early church. It’s not because God changed His way of operating. It’s because His people stopped listening to His instructions.

When we spend time in God’s presence, we hear the Holy Spirit speaking to us. Then, when we follow through on what we’ve heard, we enter the realm of miracles. We start to see the power of God active in us on a consistent basis.

I believe that this is where the Lord is leading His church in our generation. Be a part of what God is doing. Spend quality time in His presence, listening for His voice.

Question: How much time do you spend before God just listening for His voice?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Good News for You

Good NewsI’ve been posting for a while about the importance of Scripture. This will be my last article in this series.

Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
Acts 8:35

The final installment about the place of Scripture in our lives is one of my favorite subjects. It should bring great joy into our Christian walk. That’s the fact that the Bible delivers to us the Good News.

This is the basis for the New Covenant – the fact that there’s good news. The rules of the Old Covenant were canceled by the blood of Christ. There’s now no testimony against me. I can now walk as a son of the living God. This is great news!

It’s good news for the world as well. No longer do you have to become a member of the nation of Israel to join God’s family. No longer do you have to observe the religious rituals performed again and again with no permanent change. Now you can come as you are to the cross of Christ and find forgiveness – once and for all.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Romans 1:16

This verse shares even more good news. Every other religion on earth shows their adherents how to strive for perfection or acceptance from their god. That’s what separates all other world religions from Christianity.

The Bible starts from the assumption that nothing we do can make us acceptable to God. He took it upon Himself to provide the way to His presence. That’s the way of Christ. He’s the One responsible to perfect me, if I’ll just trust Him to do the work.

Because of what Christ did on the cross, I now have access to the Spirit of God in a way only dreamed of in the Old Testament. The power of God is now active in my life because of the resurrection of the Lord. I can have fellowship with Him. I can talk to Him and He talks to me. That’s the abundant life Jesus came to bring us.

The Scripture is my guidebook to this new life in Christ. It shows me how to walk by the spirit. That’s why I need to study it daily. I need the insight of the Holy Spirit as to how my walk with God is to develop.

Over the last ten posts, we’ve seen that the Bible shows us how to walk in the power of God. It also teaches us the things that hinder us. We learn what strengthens our walk as well as receiving encouragement in the hard times. Truly this is good news!

Question: What new insights have you gained through this series?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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Relationship Over Rules

RulesIn my last post I talked about the fact that the Bible isn’t meant to be a rule book. The Old Testament law teaches us that a set of rules could never bring us closer to God.

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. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Colossians 2:13-15

This verse makes it abundantly clear that on the cross, Christ cancelled – obliterated, blotted out – the rule book. God no longer wants us to follow Him by rule, but by the Spirit.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
1 Corinthians 15:56

This verse tells me that all of Satan’s so called power comes from the law. His only mode of attack is to enforce the law. That’s the power of his weaponry.

This verse also shows the basis of how Christ could disarm the demonic forces. On the cross, Christ obliterated the power source of the enemy. Satan’s kingdom is now an army of unloaded guns.

The only power they have is the power we give them, by subjecting ourselves, once again, to the law. That’s the trouble with our human nature. We all want rules. We’d rather someone tell us, “do this”, than to spend time with the Father and seek His will.

The verse we looked at in my last post showed us that following the apostles teaching as a rule opens us up to the sin of pride. Paul said that’s why they were talking arrogantly against one another. Pride is the sin that caused the devil to fall from the place he was created for.

Don’t let subjection to the law ruin your walk with God. The tendency of using the Bible as a rule-book causes many divisions and problems in the Body of Christ.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Colossians 2:16-17

Using the Bible as a rule book causes most of the arguments we see between believers. We get so passionate about our own pet rules. It’s all talked about in this verse.

Believers argue about what Christians can or cannot eat and drink. There are controversies over whether or not to celebrate Christmas; or whether to worship God on Saturday or Sunday. None of these issues have any place under the New Covenant.

The reality is that God wants a relationship with His children. He’s not looking for robots. The Lord wants us to seek time with Him so that He can teach us to follow Him.

I realize that I’ve had to deal with this subject very quickly here. But I’m sure I’ll get back to it again in future posts.

Question: What divisions have you seen in the church over what the “rules” are?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2016 in Legalism, Scripture Series, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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What the Bible is Not

BiblesIn the past few posts I’ve talked about the many ways that we use the Bible. In all of these things – teaching, convicting, correcting, training in righteousness, and warning – the Scripture is useful to us. But at this point I think it is necessary to give a disclaimer.

Actually it’s a warning from Scripture itself. Believers are sometimes guilty of using the Bible in ways God never intended. Hopefully we can learn from the mistakes of others.

Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.
1 Corinthians 4:6

At the beginning of this letter to the Corinthian church, Paul rebukes the people for the many factions that were splitting their fellowship. He tells them not to go beyond what’s written. Literally that means not to over think the Scripture. Their problem was that they were basing their divisions on the apostles themselves.

“I follow Peter.” “I follow Paul.” “I follow Apollos.”

What does that mean? It’s clear that they were basing their lives upon certain doctrines that each apostle might have emphasized. Today, most of us realize that different ministers have specialties in their preaching.

Some tend to emphasize faith, some grace, while others are strong in Godly financial issues. There are also different personalities and teaching or preaching styles. That’s the way it should be. Diversity among the ministry gifts is a positive thing.

What the Corinthian church was doing, was making it an “either or” type of decision. Instead of receiving the blessing from each teacher’s particular ministry, they followed one certain apostle exclusively. In essence they were saying, “I only follow Paul’s rules.”

The Christian walk is not a matter of whose rules I follow. We’re not to over think what’s written. God never intended for the church to turn the Bible into a rule book. Yes the Old Testament contains many rules, but our doctrine must always pass through the cross to filter out the things that don’t apply to us.

If we could please God by following a set of rules, then we wouldn’t need Christ to die for us. The fact is that rules are not enough, no matter how good they are. In my next post I’ll show, from Scripture, exactly why this is true.

Question: Have you ever had a problem keeping the rules?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2016 in Scripture Series, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Warning!

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMany times I’ve been asked, as a Pastor, why the Old Testament is even important to us. Many believers don’t ever read it. They say it’s too bloody and violent. Grace hadn’t been fully accomplished yet, so there are many instances where we see God’s wrath. Why read that kind of stuff anyway?

In today’s post, I want to continue talking about the importance of Scripture in our walk with the Lord. We must let the Bible take its rightful place in our daily lives.

At one point in his letter to the Corinthian church, Paul used ancient Israel as an example of how not to serve God. In telling them about how God dealt with the Jews, he mentioned some of their rebellions as well as the judgments they received.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
1 Corinthians 10:11

This verse makes it clear that the things that happened under the old covenant, especially the negative things, are a warning to us. The Greek word for warning in this verse means to place in our minds – in other words, the Lord is trying to grab our attention.

This is because we’re quickly approaching a time in history when all things will be fulfilled. The goal line is before us. We’re about to witness the final days of this entire age.

Because of that, we’re at a point in time that requires a different kind of walk from God’s people. We can’t live the way they did in ages past – that will not work for us.

Israel saw and heard incredible things – yet they fell away. We need to take this to heart. Even though we’re under grace, the message of the Old Testament is still important to us. No, we won’t come under judgment as Israel did. But the fact remains, God still hates the same lazy attitudes that He hated back then. He still loves the mindset that’s passionate for His will.

Israel didn’t know the great lengths that the Father would go to in order to save us and bring us into His family. They didn’t know about Christ dying on the cross. We do.

How much more should we embrace all that God has for us – both the responsibilities and the glories? The examples of Scripture warn us to be careful.

Even though we will not come under the judgment of the world, we may still lose some of our rewards if we live for ourselves. Salvation is based on grace; rewards are based upon obedience. Scripture is a warning to us that disobedience will always be dealt with. If you want all the rewards the Lord has set aside for you, then heed the warnings of Scripture.

Question: How have the warnings of Scripture kept you out of trouble?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2016 in Scripture Series, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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