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Loving God

As Jesus was nearing the time of the cross, He was questioned by various religious leaders.  Some with good motives and others who were trying to trap Him in what He said.  There was one who seemed to want a real answer.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating.  Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
Mark 12:28

Jesus was always willing to answer those who asked a serious question.

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’”
Mark 12:29-30

The Lord gives this man the most important command of the Law.  It turns out that Jesus didn’t give him a rule to follow, such as sacrificing, tithing, or reading Scripture.  Instead, it was a command to know who God is and then knowing how to respond to Him correctly.

This is still a valid command for us today.  As Christians, we need to understand who it is that we serve and what it takes to show our love for Him.

Love God with all of your heart.  Your heart is the garden of your life.  It’s where you put things that you want to grow.

It’s the good soil that you should be planting the Word into.  Loving God with all your heart means that you will only plant things that will please God.

If I were a servant tending to a garden for my master, this would be simple to understand.  If my master hated green beans, then there would never be any green beans in my garden.  We should only be planting the things that please God in our hearts.

Love God with all of your soul.  That’s the seat of your decision making.  We show our love for God each day by the decisions we make.  Do we take God’s will into account when we decide what direction our lives will take?

Love God with all of your mind.  Your mind is the storehouse of your life.  Whether you remember it or not, everything that you see and hear is stored forever in your mind.  That’s why it’s so important to be careful gatekeepers of what we watch and listen to.

When the Lord walks through your storehouse, what does He see?  Are there things that are offensive to Him?  If so, then you can clean it up through repentance and faith in the cleansing power of the blood of Christ.

Love God with all of your strength.  I think that this is the one command that seals all of the others.  Without it, our love falls short.

That’s because your strength speaks of actually doing something.  You can’t say that you love without putting it into action.

I’ve heard people say, “I love God in my heart even though you don’t see it in my actions.”  Actually, that’s not real love.  Whether you’re talking about a human relationship or walking with God, love has to be shown by what we do.

It takes all of these together to make a complete love package.  Our heart, soul, mind, and strength must be working in unison.  It’s through these that we fulfill our greatest calling.

Question:  Why is this the most important command of Scripture?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on June 6, 2018 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Spiritual Believers

DoveIf we want God’s best, then we need to develop a rich spiritual life. Unfortunately, in this generation there are not many examples to follow.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

The phrase man without the Spirit is literally the soulish man in Greek. The New Testament actually speaks of three different kinds of Christians. This is one of those described.

First, there is the carnal or fleshly Christian. This is the type of believer who serves God according to the way he or she feels. If I feel like going to church, I’ll go. If not I’ll stay home. Their flesh is in control of every decision they make. Carnal Christians are very nominal at best.

Next there’s the soulish or natural Christian, depending upon the translation of the Bible you use. This kind of Believer serves God because he or she has made a conscious decision to serve Him. They have decided that the Lord’s way is best no matter what they feel like.

They will give their best for the Lord because they believe it’s the right thing to do. They serve the Lord with all of their soul. They are very strong in their faith, and they can accomplish a lot for the kingdom of heaven.

There is, however, another class of believer spoken of in the Word of God. That’s the spiritual Christian. He or she is the believer who lives their life by using their spirit to its fullest extent in their interaction with God.

This is the one that we either hear very little about or we mistake it for a soulish Christian who is doing great works for Christ. Over the years we have redefined many of the terms used in the Scripture. It’s time to straighten out the rough spots. In the above passage, Paul makes a clear distinction between a spiritual and soulish Christian.

According to Paul, the soulish person cannot understand life in the spirit. The Greek literally says the he does not have the power to accept them. The apostle actually uses the Greek word dunamis in this verse.

A soulish believer does not have the dunamis – the power – to receive the things that can only come by the Spirit. This person is left to rely upon earthly means of communication to receive what he needs from the Lord. This is because, as Paul writes, these things are spiritually investigated.

I want to take a few posts to talk about what Paul describes as a spiritual Christian.

Question: How far do you venture into your spiritual life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2016 in Prayer in the Spirit, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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A Soul at War

mhXQFuIHow healthy is your soul? I’m taking a few posts to talk about soul health and prosperity. Most people ignore the health of their soul. It’s just like the health of your body.

Some people just assume that they’re healthy. They go to the gym, but then smoke 2 packs a day. There are Christians who treat their soul the same way. Yet it’s the most important part of my being.

My soul determines who I am. It decides whether I listen to my spirit or my flesh. It’s important that my soul be healthy and attentive.

Your environment plays a big issue. What do you allow yourself to be exposed to? The Apostle Peter had this to say about Lot, Abraham’s nephew.

…for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard.
2 Peter 2:8

Because he moved into the wicked city of Sodom, Lot placed himself in a position of constant attack on his soul. Many of us do the same things. The movies we watch, the music we listen to, and the friends we spend time with all have an effect on us.

In Lot’s case, it caused him to compromise and eventually he lost everything he held dear. That’s because when we chase after the world system, it affects the health of our soul.

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
1 Peter 2:11

We need this attitude. The knowledge that this world system is not my home. I belong to a different Kingdom. I’m simply a stranger passing through. I live by a different set of laws.

The word abstain in the above verse literally means to keep your distance from. We need to understand that the closer we get to the world, the more we want what they have. These desires cause a conflict in our souls.

Unfortunately, it’s not a fierce fire fight that we can win with one decisive strike. No, instead it’s a constant siege. It wears down our strength little by little until we find ourselves in a position we never thought we would ever be in.

If you want to maintain the strength and health of your soul, then you’ll need to be careful how close you get to the world. Obviously, we can’t live like monks. We need to go to work, school, and other daily activities.

What we don’t need to do is adopt their standards. We can’t live by their lifestyles. Our foundation for living is in the Word of God and our strength is in the Holy Spirit.

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Psalm 62:1-2

That’s why time with the Lord is so important. It’s where we find rest from the constant siege of the world. As we remain in Christ, we find that our soul has the health we need to overcome in this life.

Question: How often do you find your rest in Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Prayer, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Your Soul is Important

MirrorIt’s important to keep our soul healthy and prosperous. Probably even more than the physical. That’s because what happens in your soul is the foundation for the rest of your life.

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (NKJV)
3 John 2-3

Soul prosperity is the basis for physical prosperity and health. Of course there are those who say that this is just a greeting. They teach that you can’t trust God to perform this in your life based upon this verse.

Wasn’t it the Holy Spirit who inspired John to write this? If so, then it should be applicable to my life. What about the Apostle Paul? When he greets the church by saying “Grace and peace through the Lord Jesus Christ,” does that negate the truth of it? The truth is that the blessings we experience in our Christian walk are directly tied to how our soul prospers. That brings up a question. What is my soul and how does it prosper? I want to post about this for a bit.

So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.
1 Corinthians 15:45-46

In the above passage, the word natural is the word soulish in the Greek. Right now we have inherited a soulish body from Adam. That means that our body responds to commands from our soul – which is our mind. It’s who you are. The soul includes your personality and all of your memories.

It’s the Greek word psyche. It’s where we get our English word psychology, which means the study of the soul. Your soul is the real you. That’s why the Scripture refers to people as souls.

When I speak or write, it’s your soul that I want to communicate with. I don’t just want to stimulate your eyes and ears. It’s the person on the inside that matters.

Even animals have souls – but they don’t have a spirit. That’s what sets us apart from them. Yet without using the spirit, our lives are not much better than the animals.

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.
Psalms 73:21-22

That’s what humanity is like without Christ. We end up storing up nuts like squirrels. Or constantly searching to mate, like dogs.

The fact is that if you want a good life with health and prosperity, then you need your soul to prosper. Our problem is that we usually don’t take good care of our souls. We let things slide and then wonder why our lives get messed up. I want to take a few posts to look at what it takes to get your soul in shape.

Question: What are the characteristics of a healthy soul?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Healing, Revival

 

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Cultivating Your Soul for Revival

agricultureEverybody says that they want revival. Few understand what it is or how it comes about. The spirit of revival starts in the lives of individuals before it ever sweeps the church.

What I’ve found is that there are five realizations that we must come to for revival to get a foothold in our lives.

King David understood this. The following is taken from Psalm 51. You may want to read it before looking at the rest of this article. It’s David’s cry for repentance after his sin with Bathsheba.

(Verses 1-5) Realization #1 – I’m not walking in the fullness of my calling. We need to take a long, hard, look at ourselves. No comparisons, no excuses, and no justifications. We must see the life that Christ has called us to live, compared to how we’re walking. This alone should drive us toward repentance.

(Verses 6-9) Realization #2 – Cleaning my life is something only God can do. It’s not enough to simply say that I’m sorry and then trying my best to do better next time. I must come to the point where I know I will never attain a godly life on my own. I need the power of the Holy Spirit working in me.

(Verses 10-12) Realization #3 – I WANT God to change me. Knowing that I need to change, and wanting it, is a big difference. There are too many believers that cry over their sin on Sunday, and then run back into it the rest of the week. We must cry out for the change that the Lord wants to accomplish in us. Change will only come when we open the door of our heart to the wind of God’s Spirit.

(Verses 13-15) Realization #4 – I must lead others to the point of revival by my example. The sad thing is that we like to wait for someone else to experience it first, before we jump in. It’s getting too late for that. The time is now. We desperately need revival.

“Start the work in me, Lord.”

That should be our attitude.

(Verses 16-17) Realization #5 – God doesn’t want my stuff, He wants me. We sometimes get the idea that it’s about what I can contribute to the Kingdom. It’s not your money, time or resources that God is looking for – He wants you. The Lord knows that if you willingly lay down your life at His feet, then anything else will be freely given.

The rest of the Psalm shows the move from personal to corporate revival. That’s what it’s all about. The only way to a move of God that sweeps through His church, is when He moves in the lives of individuals. The road to revival is an alignment of our attitudes with the Word.

Seek a revival in your soul that will lead to a waking up of God’s people.

Question: What is God seeking to change in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Revival, The Church

 

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Death – A God’s Eye View #prayerinthespirit

GravesIn my last post, I talked about the three parts of our being – body, soul, and spirit.  Knowing all of this, let’s move on to an understanding of just how our spirit operates.  To do this we must go back to the beginning when man was first created.

There are a few basic things that I have no Scripture for, but I have to take on faith, knowing what the Word of God infers.  First, I believe what Jesus said – that God desires true worshippers who worship Him in spirit and in truth.

Second, I believe that God created Adam to be absolutely perfect and that in this perfect state Adam communicated with God the way God wanted him to.  Because of these two beliefs I infer that Adam, in his perfect state, did not communicate with God using his flesh.

All of the interaction between God and Adam took place in the realm of the spirit.  I also believe, if you will stick with me for a moment, that the Scripture will bear this out.

And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Genesis 2:16-17

When I read this passage, I see Adam hearing in his spirit the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  He was warned that if he did ever eat it he would surely, definitely, absolutely, DIE.  My problem was this – when Adam ate from the tree, he didn’t die.  At least he didn’t die according to our modern society’s concept of death.

What I found was that we don’t understand what God means when He uses the word death.  We usually only see it from the earthly standpoint.  Just because our body stops functioning does not constitute death to God.

We are told in the letter to the Romans to “Count yourself dead to sin” (Romans 6:11).  Paul said that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (II Cor. 5:8)  This tells me that when my body stops working, I merely change residences.

To understand the events in the Garden, I need to know what God means when He uses the word death.  A careful study of the Word will prove that when God says that someone has died, it means that communication has stopped.  There is no longer any capability to interact with that person.

That’s why, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the father said, “My son was dead, but now is alive.” (Luke 15:24)  The prodigal was not physically dead, but the father could not communicate with him.  So, to the father, he was dead.

Even among Christians we’re told not to grieve like the world that has no hope.  We understand that when we attend the funeral of a fellow believer, the parting is only temporary.  Why do Christians grieve?  Because of a temporary loss of fellowship.

This concept is important to our subject.  In my next post, I’ll apply it to Adam’s situation.

Question: How does this view of death explain sin’s affect upon us?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Prayer, Prayer in the Spirit

 

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In the Spirit – A Special Time & Place

MeditationI’ve been posting about the intimacy that comes from worshipping God in spirit.  That brings us to another question. What does in the spirit mean?  It’s a common enough expression throughout the Word of God, but do we really know what it means?

On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet…
Revelation 1:10

This is the Apostle John describing what took place just as the Lord was about to show him the Revelation he recorded in the Scripture.  He went out of way to let us know that he was not just eating breakfast or reading the newspaper.  He was in the spirit.

It sounds like this is a special place.  Of course, that’s only logical.  Even in our natural lives intimacy with another person requires a special time and place.  A man could not be intimate with his wife in the stands at a hockey game.

In the same way, intimacy with God requires a special time and place – that is being in the spirit.

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.
Philippians 3:3

In this section, Paul is talking about those who were trying to place Old Testament rules on Gentile believers.  It’s about the overcoming church that he writes, “It is we who worship God in spirit.”  We are the ones who boast only in Christ.  True Christianity places no confidence in flesh.

The Scripture is clear that flesh and blood cannot worship at the level of the spirit.  The Biblical picture always shows that in worship, our flesh must be prostrate and silent.  That’s why we read things like, “I fell at His feet like a dead man.”

This means that my hands cannot worship God.  Neither can my mouth, my feet or my entire body.

Worship can only be an act of my spirit.  So, if I don’t understand how my spirit operates, then I really can’t understand true worship.

Let’s start with the basics.  God created us all in His image.  He is a three-part being – Father, Son, and Spirit.  God created us with the same three parts.  We have a body, a soul, and a spirit.

Our soul is who we are.  It’s the seat of our mind, memories, personality, and emotions.  My soul is the real me.  When I want to talk to you, it’s not your body I want to talk to, but your soul – the person inside the body.

Your soul is housed in a thing called your flesh or your body.  This is the part of your being that allows your soul to interact and communicate in the physical, natural realm.  It’s the part of you that can taste, smell, touch, hear, and see.

Unfortunately, this is the part of your being that’s marred by sin.  Because Adam chose the path of rebellion, the flesh now desires to be first place in your life.  This is what causes most of our trouble.

The third part of our being is our spirit.  This is the part of us that allows our soul to interact and communicate in the spiritual realm.  This is the dimension where God, angels and demons usually dwell.  It’s with your spirit that God desires to have fellowship with you on His level.

Question: Why is overcoming the flesh so important to the believer?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2014 in Prayer, Prayer in the Spirit

 

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