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God’s Armor – The Shield of Faith

In talking about God’s Armor, the next piece we’ll see is the Shield of Faith.  That’s probably one of the most preached about in our generation.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:16

There are some assumptions being made in this verse.  Paul says that this is in addition to the pieces already talked about. This assumes that you’re already standing firm in the Word, walking in righteousness, and prepared to do God’s will.

We can stand firm in just these.  What we have to realize is that when we take up the shield, we’re going from defense to offense in the spiritual battle.  Up until this point, your goal is to keep the enemy from harming you.

You add the shield so that you can now defeat the enemy.  You take up the Shield of Faith because you’re now going into the part of the battle where the arrows are flying.

Please understand that I’m not talking about saving faith.  You’ve already trusted Christ for that.  I’m also not talking about faith in the promises of God.  I’m looking at using faith in the middle of the battle as a shield.

It’s your protection against the flaming arrows of the evil one.  This means that there’s more than just one arrow headed in your direction.

That brings me to the word, shield, itself.  The Greek word used in this verse is not the little one that looks like a trashcan cover.  Get that picture out of your mind, even though most of the illustrations for the Christian armor look like that.

The word Paul uses comes from the word door.  That’s because this shield is as big as a door.  The soldier could hide behind it and be totally protected from these arrows as long as he stayed there.

That tells me that faith protects my whole life.  So far, the armor has protected my mind, my heart, and my will.  This piece protects everything else.

This shield protects me from evil.  What kind of evil?  I’m talking about the random evil that’s flying in the front lines.  The archers on the wall loose a volley of arrows against those who are advancing.  These are simply flying to take out whoever they can hit.

You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day…
Psalms 91:5

If the enemy can hit our flesh with evil, then our flesh will take us out of the fight.  We’ll end up battling our own sin nature instead of defeating the devil’s kingdom.

However, there’s one more purpose of the shield other than for protection.  In the Roman army, everybody’s shield was painted differently.  They did this because your shield identified your family.  Members of the same family had the same design on their shields.

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

The fact is that we’re now in God’s family.  This verse tells us that we can show it by our outspokenness.  When we walk in faith, we can boldly declare our expectation in Christ.  In that way, we show what family we belong to.

This is the shield that protects us from evil.  In my next post, I’ll talk about how to use and apply this piece of armor.

Question: How has God shielded you from the enemy’s attacks?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2019 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare

 

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The Start of Spiritual Warfare

For the past few posts I’ve been talking about the first spiritual battle between Adam and the devil.  We saw that Adam was given all the authority he needed to defeat the enemy.  Instead, he allowed the devil to use words in order to deceive him into disobeying God’s Word.

In that defeat, there were some important changes that happened.  First and foremost, Satan became the legal owner of planet earth and everything in it.  Mankind became slaves.

There was another event that most people don’t realize.  If you remember, Adam was given a bow and arrows as his spiritual weaponry (Revelation 6:1-2).  When he was defeated by the enemy, he was stripped of these weapons.  It’s clear from Scripture that they are now in the enemy’s hands.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Ephesians 6:16

This verse is especially important knowing that these arrows originally belonged to Adam.

That tells me that in the garden, when Adam fell, mankind was stripped of all spiritual armor and weapons.  Humanity was defenseless against the spiritual forces of evil.

A third result of Adam’s defeat was the entrance of sin into the world system.  When Adam knowingly chose to disobey God, he picked that which was imperfect.  At that moment he stepped out of God’s perfect will for his life.

In both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible the word, sin, literally means to miss the mark.  Perfection, what we were created for, is the bullseye.  No matter how hard we try, we miss the target.  That’s the word picture of what sin is.  It’s missing the mark of God’s will.

That brings me to the start of the ongoing spiritual war that we find ourselves in.  Our number one battle is not against the enemy, even though that’s a part of it.  The toughest battle we face is within our own being.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
Hebrews 12:4

The writer of Hebrews tells us that we’re at war against sin.  It’s that part of human nature that wants to do something other than God’s will.  Our flesh always seems to want to choose the imperfect.

This explains a lot about the Old Testament.  People often ask why there were so many sins that had the death penalty attached.  The answer is simple.  With no spiritual weapons, the only way to fight sin was in the natural.

How do you stop the spirit of adultery from spreading?  Under the Old Testament we would have no way to combat it in the spiritual realm.  The only way to stop the spirit of adultery was to put to death the adulterer.

That also explains why whole nations had to be totally destroyed.  The nation of Amalek, for example, had sold itself out to the enemy.  In that case, their sin had to be eradicated by a physical war.

This is why we have to be careful in how we apply Old Testament Scriptures.  Things have changed since then.  That’s why I feel that God is leading me to talk about the history of spiritual warfare.

We need to understand where we are today.  There are some principles that we can learn from the Old Testament, but our battle is on a different level.

Over the next few posts I hope to explain not only where we’ve come from, but how we can walk in the victory Christ has won for us.

Question: What is your biggest difficulty in your battle against sin?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Spiritual Warfare – A Strong Start

As I said in my last post, I’m beginning a series on the spiritual battle that we find ourselves in.  There are a number of things that we misunderstand about it.  Hopefully, I can help to clear up some of these issues.

To start this subject, I want to take us through the history of spiritual warfare, as recorded in Scripture.  To do that, I’m going to look at some verses that people don’t normally associate with this topic.  I just ask you to stick with me; it will become clear as we go along.

The first place I want to take you is to the throne room scene in Heaven.  In the book of Revelation, we see Christ (the Lamb) taking up a scroll that’s sealed with seven seals.  That’s found in Revelation, chapter 5.

I believe that this scroll is the title deed to planet earth.  Christ is given it as a call for Him to return as King since He paid for it with His blood on the cross.

As with any deed, it should record the major events of the property in question.  It would contain the owners, liens, and rights of way that have been enforced during its history.  The deed to earth is no exception.

That being said, in Revelation, chapter 6, we see the Lord breaking these seals and opening the scroll.  What’s recorded on it is very important to our discussion.

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals.  Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!”  I looked, and there before me was a white horse!  Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
Revelation 6:1-2

Over the years, I’ve heard a lot of conjecture about this verse.  Some say that it’s talking about Christ, the church, or the devil.  Unfortunately, if you read the description carefully, you’ll find that none of these will match perfectly.

There is one person, however, that fits all the requirements of this verse.  Look at the description.

He carries a bow.  In the ancient world, that was the “first-strike” capability of any army.  The archers could do a lot of damage before the enemy even got close.

He was also given a crown.  That’s talking about God-given authority.  Along with that, he had a destiny to conquer something.  And don’t forget that he rides a white horse – that stands for purity.

With all of these descriptions, I think that the single most important fact is that he’s the first person listed on the title deed to the earth.  As far as I can see, there’s only one person this could be.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Genesis 1:27-28

Here we see the start of it all.  Adam is created perfect, pure, and righteous.  He has authority to rule and is commissioned to subdue, or conquer, the entire earth.  He’s to bring everything on earth under the rulership of God, the Creator.

As the first created human, he’s also in a unique position.  Because of his authority under God, he can protect the earth from any invader.  He has been given “first-strike capability.”

In Adam, the human race was given a strong start.  Things looked very promising.  There’s no enemy that could defeat God’s anointed ruler.  At least that’s what it looked like in the beginning.

In my next post, we’ll see how that turns out.

Question: How are we like Adam, with the authority God has given us in Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Spiritual Battles – A New Direction

Now that I’ve finished going through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, I feel a change is coming.  At least for a while, I’m going to interrupt my walk through the New Testament.

I believe that the Holy Spirit is leading me to deal with some issues that the church of our generation needs to hear.  God is leading His people into a new level of ministry.  We need to prepare ourselves.  But if we don’t know what’s coming, how can we be ready?

God is also doing some new things in me, personally.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of these.  Hopefully, as you stick with me, this blog will continue to be a blessing to you.

The first topic I want to tackle is that of the spiritual battle that we find ourselves in.  I don’t think that we fully understand the scope of this struggle.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:12-13

We’re told in Scripture, that we’re in a spiritual battle.  The struggle is real.  Yet many believers choose to ignore this warning.

All too often we wait until the enemy knocks us down before we try and activate our spiritual weapons.  By that time it’s usually too late.  Then we fall to our knees, crying out to God, to save us from the situation we find ourselves in.

It’s time we realize that the kingdom of the enemy doesn’t take a holiday.  The devil doesn’t look at you and say, “Oh.  You’re on vacation.  I guess I’ll leave you alone this week.”

We need to be constantly aware of our spiritual life.  Serving God is a 24/7 activity.  Paul describes it perfectly to Timothy, his son in the ministry.

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer.
2 Timothy 2:3-4

How often do we view our walk with the Lord in these terms?  When I bowed my knee to Christ, at that point, I was no longer a “civilian.”  I was now a part of a kingdom that is structured much like the military – only on a spiritual level.

Chasing after the world is the same as getting involved in civilian affairs.  It takes our focus off the marching orders that the Lord has given us.  We need to be under the command of the Holy Spirit.  That’s where our allegiance should attach itself to.

I believe that understanding the spiritual war we’re in is an important aspect of being a Christian.  Beginning with my next post, I’ll be talking about this subject.  I’m going to speak about this in great detail.  I’ll even deal with the history of this struggle from Adam to the church.

My desire is that you’ll be prepared for any attack that the enemy might bring against you.  Our victory is found in Jesus Christ alone.  Never forget that the battle has been won before you even step foot on the field.

Question: What spiritual battles have you faced in the past?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Fight or Flight

We’ve been looking at Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane just before His trial.  Now, He’s about to be arrested.  You may want to read Mark 14:42-51 before continuing with the rest of this article.

The Lord knew that His captors were approaching.  He woke up His disciples and went to meet the officials.  It’s interesting to see how the disciples reacted.

Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.
Mark 14:47

We know from the other Gospels that this verse is referring to Peter.  A fisherman wielding a sword.  I’m surprised that he didn’t hurt himself!  The best he could do was to cut the ear off of an unarmed servant.

When the other disciples saw the futility of resisting, they all ran away.  One of them, when he was grabbed, left without any clothing.  It was the normal, human fight or flight reaction.

The Lord knew where He was headed.  He was looking forward to the victory He was going to accomplish on the cross.  So, instead, I want to talk about what was happening with the disciples.

What they did was the normal reaction that’s built into all of us.  When we see trouble coming, our entire being begins to prepare to either fight or run away.  God placed that in our DNA in order for us to protect ourselves in emergency situations.

The problem is that there’s a spiritual side that many of us fail to grasp.  In the spiritual battles that we face, there are times that we need to apply the lessons of “fight or flight”.

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:13

I think Scripture is clear that the first choice is to stand your ground.  We need to prepare ourselves spiritually so that we don’t fall back into our old ways.  If you’re strong in the Lord and understand your place in Christ, then stand and fight that spiritual battle.

But what about those who aren’t in that position?  They’ve tried to fight the enemy and merely “cut off a servant’s ear”.  They haven’t put on their holy armor.

Many believers find themselves in spiritual struggles with no hope of victory.  They’ve resigned themselves to falling backward for the rest of their lives.  There is another choice.

Look at what Paul advised a young pastor who he was mentoring.

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
2 Timothy 2:22

Some of the worst problems we face are when the old man tries to reassert itself.  The sins that we thought were long gone are suddenly calling to us again.

This is especially true of addictive sins.  Drug, alcohol, and sexual addictions are a few areas that never seem to let up on their assaults.  What do you do if your spiritual strength is not enough to overcome?  Should you just give in?  Absolutely not!

There is a time to flee.  Get out of the situation that’s causing the temptation.  You must leave the environment that weakens your defenses.  There’s nothing shameful about a strategic retreat.  It gives you the ability to strengthen your position for the next battle.

Question: When have you needed to flee from an overpowering situation?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Fasting and Preparation

In my last post, I talked about Jesus’ view of fasting.  There was a change from the Old to the New Testament fast.  The Lord explained it in parable form.

Last time, we looked at the parable of the patches.  Christ also gave another parable concerning the difference between the Old and New Covenant fast.

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.  If he does, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, he pours new wine into new wineskins.”
Mark 2:22

The Old Covenant is the old wineskins that the Lord is referring to.  It’s empty, used up, dry, and unyielding.  It has nothing on the inside to give life.

New wine is unfermented grape juice.  During the fermentation process, it produces gasses that pressurize the skins.  A dry and unyielding wineskin will burst under the pressure of this reaction.  You can’t live for God like that.

A new wineskin; unstretched, oiled, soft, and pliable, is ready to receive the new wine.  We get that new wine of the Holy Spirit in us when we’re saved.

As we spend time in the Lord’s presence, it starts to ferment; it creates a pressure on the inside, and we start to grow.  That’s the second part of this process.

Fasting increases the inner man.  There’s a spiritual pressure that builds up.  Because you’re quieting your flesh, you begin hearing from God.  Then, as you spend time with the Holy Spirit, something is being poured into you.

The pressure is building.  Now you have something to give that will cause God’s grace to flow through you.  Now you can pour out into someone else.

When you walk in your calling, the pressure released – for a little while.  Now you have something on the inside that stretches the outside.  I don’t know what God wants to do in the months and years ahead, but I want to be prepared to hear His voice.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Matthew 4:1-2

We find that just before Jesus started His public ministry He went through a time of tempting and testing.  What did He do to prepare for it?  He fasted.

Do you think you’ll be tested in the coming year?  What are you going to do?  How will you enter the test?  Prepared or unprepared?  How will you answer the enemy?

The fact is, fasting prepares us for the battle.  We don’t know what’s coming.  But I know this; the enemy is good at predicting it based upon what he sees lining up in the spirit world.

We don’t see it.  We have to rely on what we hear from God.  Are we going to have a Word from God for our generation?  That’s what’s needed.  I want to be prepared to face whatever lies ahead.  The blessings, the callings, the tests – everything.  So I’ll fast in order to hear from God more clearly.  I hope you will too.

Question: What are the things that God’s preparing you for in 2018?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2017 in Fasting, Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Bodyguard

HandsThis will be my last post in a series about spiritual warfare as seen through the eyes of David’s mighty men. In my last article I talked about Abishai, who was a giant killer, just like David. Now we’ll learn a little more about him.

He was held in greater honor than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.
2 Samuel 23:23

He wasn’t the same type of fighter as The Three. He probably didn’t hang out with them. They liked a good battle with uneven odds. He liked to go one on one with a giant. The good news is that we don’t have to all be the same.

When David saw his ability, he put Abishai over his bodyguards. And that’s the last big point I want to make. The mighty in spirit protect their leaders.

In the body of Christ, it seems like we’ve picked up the world’s spirit. Many times we treat church leaders the way we treat government officials. We gossip and joke about them. Sometimes we out rightly ignore them.

I believe it’s because we don’t understand the body of Christ. In reality, a pastor or church leader is not a commander, a president, or a king.

Personally speaking, when I hear from God, usually it’s when I’m minding my own business. I never wanted to enter the ministry when I was young. But when I wasn’t expecting it, the Lord spoke to my heart.

“Son, I’ve given you a gift of being able to take my Word and explain it with simplicity. You make My Word accessible to a lot of people. So I’m going to wrap you up as a gift to My church to help them attain to my calling on their lives.”

It wasn’t my plan. It’s actually all about your call and abilities. God has called me to encourage you, through the Word, to fulfill God’s calling. That’s all I’m able to do. That’s all any church leader is able to do.

What you do with me is totally up to you. You can choose to listen, ignore, blame, or talk about me. Of course you could also choose to receive my counsel and to pray for me. My prayer is that you decide on the second route.

That’s because those who lead are under greater attack from the enemy. People in church leadership need intercessors to go to war for them. It’s vital that there are those who are committed to protect their leaders daily in prayer.

We need spiritual bodyguards. It’s time to get some back at their posts in this generation. Are you a mighty bodyguard? Do you pray regularly and consistently for those over you in the body of Christ?

Where do you fit in as a mighty one? After all, you’re all called to be one. Are you content to simply be a part of the 600? Or do you aspire for more – to be part of the 30, the three, or the one?

Question: How often do you pray for church leadership?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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