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Tag Archives: spiritual walk

Our Example

I’m continuing to look at Paul’s teaching on how to handle the grey areas of sin – things that the Bible doesn’t specifically talk about.  We’re finding that it’s more about spiritual principles than a black and white list of do’s and don’ts.

He now begins talking about Israel under the Old Testament.

For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.  They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.  They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:1-4

Paul is now talking about the spiritual walk of the ancient Israelites.  Specifically, he tells us about those who were saved and walking with God, the same as we are.  The only difference is that their salvation was “on credit”.

They were looking forward to what God was going to do in Christ.  They didn’t know how or when it would happen.  We look back on the completed work of Christ and know all the details.

Just like us, in order for them to be saved, they had to walk by faith.  It wasn’t the observing of the law that saved them.  The sacrificial system was simply an ongoing observance to which they could attach their faith.

Paul shows us that they went through the same type of ongoing process that we have in our walk with Christ.  They had to undergo two baptisms – representing water baptism and the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

They were also provided with food (manna) and water through the wilderness.  It was only obtained through a daily act of faith in God.  Paul goes as far as to say that the rock from which the water flowed was an Old Testament manifestation of Christ.

Why is it important for us to know this?

Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.
1 Corinthians 10:5-6

Here are the facts.  Even though they were saved and in God’s kingdom by observing the law by faith, God wasn’t pleased with most of them.  Many of them ended up dying before seeing the fulfillment of God’s promise.

Paul tells us clearly that this was recorded in Scripture as an example to us.  We need to understand how this applies to our walk with the Lord.

I think that in the modern church, we’ve mixed up the concepts of God’s love and God’s pleasure.  God can love us unconditionally, yet at the same time be displeased with us.  We need to take this truth to heart.

I have three children.  There have been times that I was absolutely displeased with them.  But even at their worst, I loved them and would give my life to defend and protect them.

We have to understand that the law of sowing and reaping is a definite part of the New Covenant experience.  The Bible tells us that we can either sow to please our flesh or our spirit.  What we set our hearts on will determine the outcome.

There are many Christians that are in bad situations.  It’s not because God doesn’t love them or because He’s judging them.  Instead, they’re simply reaping the bad seed that they’ve planted.

This is Paul’s warning to us.  Don’t follow the bad example of Israel.  Set your heart on the good things of the Lord.

Question: How have you seen the results of sowing and reaping in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2019 in Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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Spirit Investigation

In my last post, I talked about the spiritual Christian.  We read a verse that the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church.

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

One of the last statements I made was that the things that are received from God are spiritually investigated.  You may wonder why I used the word, investigate, when the verse said discerned.

The Greek word that Paul used is a legal term that applies to what a judge does when he’s hearing the facts of the case.  It’s the investigation stage of the trial.  Paul tells us that there are things that can only be investigated in the spirit.

Paul goes further with this point.

The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
1 Corinthians 2:15

We’re told here that the spiritual man is able to use his spirit to investigate all things.  On the other hand, he cannot be investigated or figured out.  It’s funny when soulish Christians hear the teaching of a spiritual believer.  They have a hard time figuring the teacher out.

There have been many times that I’ve taught on things that I’ve received from the Spirit of God.  Frequently someone will come to me and tell me how it blessed them.  Then they’ll ask, “Where did you get that from.  I’ve read that verse a hundred times and never saw it.  What commentaries do you use?”

The soulish Christian just can’t wrap their brain around the fact that you can be taught directly by the Holy Spirit.  They think the only place to get good teaching is from the bookstore or a good commentary.

The fact is, there’s a higher lifestyle in the Lord.  A spiritual walk with God simply uses more of the power that He’s made available to us by His Spirit.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16

This verse sounds kind of disjointed in English.  The reason is that the translators couldn’t figure out why Paul was using the words that he used.  What he literally said was, who knows the mind of the Lord that we might unite or be knit together with Him?

That’s a very powerful question.  He then answers it by saying that we hold the mind of Christ.  The Holy Spirit who lives in us has access to the very mind of the Lord.  All the answers that we need are right within our grasp if we know the language of the Spirit.

One spiritual word from God could change the whole course of our life.  This is why we need to live daily in the spirit.  The gift of the Holy Spirit gives intimate access to the mind of God.  That’s why I’m such a proponent of prayer in the spirit.

It’s time for the body of believers to start walking in this great gift.  Only then will the church live up to its calling in Christ.

Question: How often do you access the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Step by Step

In my last post, I talked about a rich young man who came to Jesus.  He wanted a deeper walk with God.  In order for him to reach the next level in his spiritual life, the Lord instructed him to sell his estate, give the money to the poor, and then become a disciple.

The young man was saddened by this call.  His desire to keep the influence and position that his family wealth provided was too great.

Jesus then turns and comments to His disciples.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Mark 10:23

To understand this we must first recognize what Jesus is NOT saying.  The Lord is not saying that it’s hard for a rich man to be saved.  We need to realize that entering the kingdom and salvation are two different issues in the Scripture.

Look at what Paul said to the faithful disciples at a church he was visiting.

…strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.  “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Acts 14:22

Notice that Paul was including himself in this encouragement.  I believe that entering the kingdom of God is about walking in the power and authority of that kingdom.  There are some spiritual mountains that must be climbed in order to live at that level.

Jesus continued explaining it to His disciples.

The disciples were amazed at his words.  But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
Mark 10:24-26

Jesus had a way of using ridiculous exaggerations to make a point.  Camel’s hair was a common item used in sewing.  The thought of pulling the camel’s hair through a needle, while it was still on the animal, was an amazing word picture.

This caused the disciples to be even more incredulous.  They obviously didn’t understand the reference to the kingdom of God.  The problem of riches is that once saved, it’s very easy to rely on wealth to accomplish God’s work in you.

It takes the power of God to break that stronghold.  It’s not that a Christian has to be poor.  But we can’t rely on wealth to do what only the Lord can do.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Mark 10:27

In our weak humanity, we look for something to rely on that we can see.  Money is very deceptive that way.  It seems that with enough wealth, you don’t need anything else.  That is until you’re sick…or depressed…or unfulfilled in your walk with God.

We need to seek God on His terms, not ours.  Only He knows what will give us increase in the spirit.

Question: What’s the next step in your spiritual journey?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2018 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Unbelief is Transferable

Are you careful about whom you spend a lot of time with?  Who are your close friends?  Are they enhancing or hindering your spiritual walk?  Jesus makes it clear that those around you affect your ability to receive from God.

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him.  He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village.  When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
Mark 8:22-23

This is a very important Scripture, yet many read it without ever seeing the key issues.  The townspeople wanted to see this blind man healed, so they brought him to Jesus.  Look at Jesus’ response.

The Lord took his hand and brought him outside the city before He would minister healing.  Why would He do something like that?  By this simple act, the Lord was testifying against their refusal to trust Him as their Messiah.

How do I know this?  By Jesus’ own testimony.  At one point He denounced some of the cities that He visited.

“Woe to you, Korazin!  Woe to you, Bethsaida!  If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”
Matthew 11:21

They were looking for the Lord to heal this man.  What they didn’t want was for Christ to change their lives.  They didn’t want to accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

This attitude even had an effect on the blind man’s ability to receive his healing.  Jesus laid His hands on the man then asked if he could see.

He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes.  Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.  Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t go into the village.”
Mark 8:24-26

The first time Jesus touched him, the man only received a partial healing.  It took another touch for him to be completely healed.  Then, once healed, the man was told not to go back into the village.  He didn’t need to be around that kind of unbelief.  It would only hinder his future trust in Christ.

We need to take this to heart.  If that’s how it worked under Jesus’ ministry, then it’s the same today.  Who you spend most of your time with determines who you’re going to become like.  It’s very easy to pick up attitudes, whether good or bad.

Just like with the blind man, you can still receive from the Lord if you pick up the unbelief of others.  It just takes longer for the Holy Spirit to get you to the point where you’re in a position to receive.

If you want to progress spiritually, then spend more time with those who are walking in the truth of the Word.

Question: How have you experienced the attitudes of others affecting you?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2018 in Faith, Fellowship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Religion on the Attack

In my last post, we looked at how Jesus confronted the attack of religion against His ministry.  Today we’ll see another aspect of that battle.

Another time he went into the synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.  Some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath.
Mark 3:1-2

I always read this account with amazement.  I can’t fathom the thinking process of the Pharisees.

I understand that they were starting to be annoyed by Jesus’ ministry.  I even understand how they were looking for a way to discredit Him.  But to use healing as the vehicle, doesn’t make sense to me.

In my last post, I talked about the traditions that the Pharisees had to bring more detail to the definition of work.  They had a lot of man-made rules concerning healing.  It’s the work of a doctor to heal so no work of healing could be performed on the Sabbath.

For instance, it was illegal to drink wine on the Sabbath, if you had a toothache.  That’s because if the alcohol in the wine deadened the pain in your tooth, it would be considered healing.

That’s all well and good for a doctor.  But there’s a huge flaw in their argument when they apply it to the Messiah.

Jesus didn’t work to bring about a cure in the natural sense.  He was able to flow in the power of the Holy Spirit.  In Jesus’ ministry, it was God who healed the sick.

Jesus said to the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand up in front of everyone.”
Then Jesus asked them, “Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?”  But they remained silent.
He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.”  He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored.  Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus.
Mark 3:3-6

It’s obvious from the above details that the healing was supernatural.  Jesus did absolutely no work to accomplish it.

That tells me that religion is blind to everything but its own ends.  It claims that it’s trying to serve God.  The actual truth is that religion is bent on proving its own superiority over anyone else.

They claim that by keeping the Sabbath pure from work, they’re following God’s will.  God, on the other hand, healed this man; proving that He had no problem with healing on the Sabbath.  Religion actually has the audacity to say that they’re more holy than God!

Unfortunately, this kind of thinking even creeps into the church.  Paul describes it this way…

…having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.
2 Timothy 3:5

Religion couldn’t care less about the power of God in operation.  It’s the form that’s more important.  How you look and what others think about you.  Powerlessness is okay, as long as people think that we have a more superior walk of “righteousness”.

Unfortunately, it’s merely a form of self-righteousness.  It doesn’t impress God, and it doesn’t help those around us.

Our goal should be a spiritual walk.  Spending time in the spirit, listening for the voice of the Father, then, obeying what we hear.  That’s the example that Jesus leaves us with.

Question: Why do so many choose form over power?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 3, 2018 in Healing, Legalism, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Spirit and the Cross

We’re continuing our study through the book of Galatians.  Now that we’re in the final chapter, Paul is beginning to wrap up his teaching.

In this letter, he deals with the false teachers who said that you needed to come under the law in order to be saved. There were people trying to convince the church that Christ forgives your sin, but the law makes you acceptable to God.

Paul had an answer for these people that we need to take to heart in this generation.

See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!  Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.
Galatians 6:11-12

If our focus is on the outward behaviors, then we’ll avoid the cross at all cost.  In spite of this, we still want God’s grace to work in our lives.  We want to see God’s blessing on our finances, health, jobs, and family.

At that point, our mind tells us that there must be something we can do to obtain God’s blessing.  So we put ourselves under all kinds of rules and regulations in order to earn the grace of God.

Here’s why that approach doesn’t work.  Under the law, you can live for yourself by invoking a string of technicalities.  It’s the same thing the Pharisees of Jesus’ day would do.  You simply tell yourself, “I’m okay.  I go to church, read the Bible, and live a good life.”

In reality, these people want to avoid the fear of the cross.  The word persecuted in the above verse comes from a root word that means to run away or retreat.  That tells me that these individuals are cowards who have decided not to embrace the cross.  Instead of running from it, we must live in its shadow.

Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh.  May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:13-14

Instead of trying to avoid being worldly by our own willpower, we must embrace the cross.  Think about what Paul is saying here.  The world is nailed to a cross.  I’m nailed to another.  No matter how hard I try, I can’t get over to that other cross.  Neither can the world get to me.

That’s what we do to our flesh by invoking the power of the cross in our lives.  When we nail our flesh to the cross there’s a power that’s released to work God’s righteousness in us.  It’s not a struggle to keep pure, but reliance upon the Holy Spirit in us.

But we need to remember, we nail our flesh to the cross by the spiritual walk.  The more I pray in the spirit, the more my flesh is dealt with.

I can never crucify the flesh with its wants and desires by my will-power.  My flesh can’t change itself, no matter how good my intentions are.  It can only be accomplished by cooperating with the Holy Spirit.

This is the path to all that God has for you.  I’m talking about healings, increase, miracles and the provision of God.  It’s everything you need for life and godliness.

It will only come in its fullness as we embrace the pattern laid down by the Lord.  We must follow the path of the cross by a walk in the spirit.  Allow the Lord to work His pattern of salvation in us.  It’s the way to freedom in Him.

Question: What would the church look like if we all embraced the path of the cross?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Are We There Yet?

Do you ever get impatient because things seem to take longer to accomplish than you expected?  I’ve found that to be especially true in my spiritual life.  Why is that?

In my last post, I finished my look at the Fruit of the Spirit.  Now we’ll move on to the rest of the book of Galatians.

In this letter, Paul says something that I think we never fully understand what he’s implying.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
Galatians 5:24

The Apostle Paul makes this statement or others like it, throughout his writings.  But do we understand what he’s telling us?

We read that our sinful nature (also called our old self or the flesh) has been crucified.  Because of that truth, some have said that their old nature is dead.  But that’s not entirely true.

The trouble is that being crucified is not the same as being killed.  Crucifixion is a long, slow, agonizingly painful process.  It’s not as simple as being shot in the head.

To say that our old self is crucified means that it’s still hanging on to life.  It still has hope that you’ll change your mind and take it down from the cross.

Another problem we find is that the flesh, even while it’s being crucified, never stops talking.  It continues to try and exert influence over your actions.  Dealing with the old nature is never a one-time decision.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:5

The phrase put to death in this verse literally means to deaden.  This speaks about the process of making something dead rather than death itself.  Dealing with our flesh is an ongoing project.  It’s not something you can accomplish overnight.

I only wish that there was one prayer I could recite and be done with it.  The truth is that it’s an ongoing battle that will-power or good intentions alone will never win.  Then where does the victory over the flesh come from?

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…
Romans 8:13

This verse also talks about the process of putting something to death.  You can never kill the misdeeds of the flesh, but you can deaden them by the spirit.

Victory over the sinful nature can only be won in the spirit.  That’s one of the reasons that prayer in the spirit is so important.  The more time spent in God’s presence, the deader the influence of the flesh.

It’s unfortunate that so many people teach the will-power method.  They tell you to just choose not to do what the flesh wants.  You can usually tell who these people are.  The older they get, the more permanent the frown is on their face!

I, personally, want to be free from my sinful nature – but I want to walk in the joy of the Lord at the same time.  The answer is the walk of the spirit.  That’s why Paul sums it all up with the following statement.

Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25

Cultivate your spiritual walk.  That’s the only way to beat the sinful nature.

Question: What’s your experience with the walk of the spirit controlling the flesh?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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