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Whose Authority?

I’ve been posting about Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. Now we’re going to get into a new area as we start chapter 4.

Just to remind you, I’m going through the New Testament in the order it was revealed to the church by the Holy Spirit. The first four books, James, 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, and Mark, are the foundation stones of our walk with Christ.

Because of this, there are a lot of “firsts” in these writings. In this post I’m going to deal with an important first principle. It’s one that’s almost lost in our modern church experience. I believe that God wants to restore it in this generation.

Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-2

Before I get started into the main subject, I want you to see that God’s desire is always for our growth. Whatever we’ve learned and implemented in the past, it must always increase more and more each year. We want the life of Christ to become increasingly brighter all the time.

The principle that we need to understand is that of authority and submission. These are two subjects that most people don’t want to deal with in the church. That’s usually because it’s not done in a Scriptural way.

In these verses, we see the first time that a church leader talks about his authority in Christ. It’s the foundation for the relationship between leaders and followers in the body of Christ.

When Paul says that we instructed you, it literally means you received instructions from us. I believe that there’s a big difference in those two phrases.   Paul didn’t just talk to them, they actually took what he said seriously; and applied it to their lives.

He taught them how to live in such a way that it pleases God. To please God means that you evoke a positive emotional response from the Lord. Some of our modern teaching gives us the wrong ideas.

The fact is that God loves us and wants us as His children at all times. However, not everything we do brings a good emotion to the Lord. When I operate outside of His will, He’s not smiling happily saying, “That’s My boy!” There are plenty of Scriptures that implore us not to grieve the Holy Spirit within us.

On the other hand, our present church culture usually doesn’t want to be instructed on how to live for God. It’s okay to suggest to us some things, but don’t tell me what I need to do. I’ll decide for myself what I will and won’t do in my life.

By this time, you might think that I’m simply talking about being obedient to church leaders. Nothing could be further from the truth. This lack of submitting to instruction has a lot to do with our present leadership.

I call your attention to the second verse above. The word instructions is actually the word commands; like in the military. They’re not optional.

Here’s the important point that I don’t want you to miss. The word authority is not in the original Greek verse. Paul actually says; you know what commands we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

Please understand that Paul is not saying that Jesus gave me the authority to tell you what to do. Unfortunately, that’s how many leaders incorrectly interpret it. Then the leaders try to force people to do their will.

On the contrary, Paul was saying that he spent quality time in the presence of the Lord. He then heard from Christ certain commands that he was to pass on to the church. And that’s where, I believe, we’ve missed it.

We need leaders who are willing to do what it takes to hear a Word from God. People don’t need to hear my opinion on how to live for Christ. They need to hear from Christ, Himself. That’s where God is bringing His church to in our generation.

Question: How have you seen the effect of leaders operating in their own authority?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

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Resistance is not Futile

I’m continuing to post from the book of James. He’s been telling us about how to humble ourselves before the Lord. This is important, especially when confronted by the enemy.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

Causing the devil to run away sounds great. But I’ve had people come to me and tell me, “I tried resisting and the enemy kept pestering me. This verse doesn’t work.”

Things like that happen because we take things out of context. The enemy doesn’t flee simply because you resist. There’s more going on in this verse that you need to apply.

The first thing James says is for us to submit ourselves to God. That word, submit, means to place under. Its usage is like what happens in the military when a soldier takes his orders from a superior officer.

When we find our place in the kingdom of God, under submission to Christ – our Commander in Chief – we can then resist effectively. The devil flees because heaven is backing me up, not because I’m resisting on my own.

The Apostle Paul tells us pretty much the same thing.

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

The word stand in this verse is the same word as resist that James used. We need to stand our ground and resist the devil. We’re told that if we do this, in submission to the Lord, the enemy will flee. But I’ve found that it’s the time frame between the resisting and the fleeing that gives us the most problem.

Why would the devil ever flee from us? After all, we’re not that strong compared to him.

This is a great lesson that the church needs to hear. So many people give up when things get hard. Some of us are under the impression that working for God should be all hearts and flowers.

Why then does Paul use the analogy of a warrior, fully armed, and dressed for battle? The fact is that there are spiritual forces that don’t want us to succeed in our service to the Lord. The victory comes from knowing that it’s the Holy Spirit giving you strength, and not giving up.

We need to learn how to stand in the center of opposition. The ancient Romans knew how to do this. It was the secret to the success of their army. Each of the Roman soldiers was taught how to defend a 3-foot square of ground from an invading army. When they fought together, there was no way to break through their lines.

We need to get it into our heads that the only way to victory is to move forward in the Lord. Backing up WILL NOT get you out of the battle. It will only make you have to fight to regain that ground later.

But the thing about this verse that gives me the most trouble is when Paul says, “when the day of evil comes.” Not “if”, not “there might come a time when problems arise”. He tells us in a straight forward way that this day is coming whether you’re ready or not. So the best thing to do is prepare now.

The word that both James and Paul used for stand literally means to stand in opposition to. We must be prepared for the enemy to oppose us.

The phrase after you have done everything actually translates after you have fully accomplished your work. When you have done everything you were assigned to do by the Lord, then it’s time for the Holy Spirit to take over. One thing I’m certain about. The enemy is no match for the God I serve!

So, being forewarned with the knowledge that the day of evil is coming, we need to be ready. We must be fully armed and prepared to stand our ground in Christ. Then we will see the victory of God manifest in our situation.

Question: What are you going through right now that will require you to stand your ground?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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It’s Not Magic

PowerlessThis is the final post in a series about spiritual warfare. Specifically talking about the helmet and the sword of the spirit. They correspond to the power and authority of the Holy Spirit at work in us.

We need to understand that in God’s kingdom power flows through authority.

The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Matthew 8:8-9

The centurion understood the principles of power and authority. Just say the WORD. He knew what it meant to be under authority. Notice that he didn’t say that he was a man in authority. It was because of the authority he was under that he could say, “Do this,” and see it happen.

So if we say, “Be healed,” and nothing happens; what’s the problem? I think it’s an issue of authority and power.

To use power we must line up with authority. We sometimes think that the subject of authority and submission is not a big deal. Things like…

Where I go to church. How I respond to leadership. Where do I fit in ministry? Or even submission within the family.

And I agree. These aren’t a big deal. They don’t cause us to lose our salvation. Unless you want to walk in the power of God.

One of the hallmarks of this generation of Christianity is a lot of talk and no power. We even have a lot of faith and no power.

We sometimes think that if we can say the right words, we’ll receive our miracle. The truth is that the reason the words work is because you’re correctly lined up under authority.

I’ve heard people say, “The Word doesn’t work.” Please understand, the Word of God is not a magic spell like in the movies. That may be what we want the Word to work like.

There’s no magic in the words. The authority and power rests in God. Unless we correctly align with Him, we have no power and authority that activates the Word.

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
1 Corinthians 4:20-21

We have to realize this truth. Talk is not enough. If you want power – you must be in position. You need to get yourself rightly aligned under the authority of God.

God’s church needs to walk in this right now. There’s no time to waste. We need the power of God. That’s what will change lives and usher in a harvest of souls in our generation.

Question: How do I align myself under God’s authority?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Warfare

 

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The Road to Advancement

ProfitI’ve been posting about Abraham as our example of the obedience that’s born in our faith. It’s not always pleasant, but God has a great destination prepared for us.

I said in my last post that God usually calls us to leave something before calling us into a new and better place. Unfortunately, laying hold of that better place is based upon our obedience. That’s why Jesus made the following statement.

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14

There are many who don’t want to go out in order to go into a new place. We are sometimes so satisfied with the good – we don’t want the excellent.

If we want the inheritance that God has destined us for on earth, then there are two attitudes we need to learn. These are the attitudes that energize our obedience to Christ. In today’s post, I want to talk about the first of these.

By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
Hebrews 11:9

The original Greek of this verse is very interesting. It says that by faith Abraham lived near the promised land as if it were another’s property. This is an important lesson to learn, especially those in leadership positions. We understand obedience from serving in another’s ministry.

At one point in my Christian walk I was under a great man of God named Pastor Anthony Spero. He’s the one who trained me in the ministry. There were things he asked me to do that I liked, and other things – not so much.

What I didn’t realize at that time, was that as I submitted under his ministry, God was doing a work in me. All that time I worked under him, not knowing that the place God was bringing me to was a pastorate of my own.

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”
Luke 16:10-12

You can’t advance in the Kingdom of God without obedience. We get the idea that because this isn’t mine, who cares if I do a good job or not. This is especially true at work or church. I didn’t know it, but when I was putting out the trash as a teenager, God was preparing me to be a husband and father.

We need to pick up the attitude of Abraham. The ability to see my submission to authority as preparation for the authority God wants to entrust me with. My future advancement is based on my present obedience.

Question: What are the areas of obedience that God is currently using in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Faith, Leadership, Ministry

 

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Understanding the Kingdom of God #kingdomofGod

CastleThere are some things about the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ that I think we’ve lost sight of.  I want to take a few posts to take a detailed look at the Gospel of Luke, chapter 17.  There are some very surprising things that Jesus said in that text.  But first, He had to correct the Pharisees’ view of the kingdom.

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
Luke 17:20-21

The Pharisees were always looking for an occasion to accuse Jesus.  They wanted to find something against Him.  So they came up with this question.  When is the kingdom coming?  They knew that the Messiah was supposed to establish the kingdom.  So they decided to see how smart He was.

Please understand what these men were doing.  They didn’t want to believe in Him.  They weren’t looking for the arrival of the kingdom of God.  They were just looking for a chance to test the Lord and to trick Him into saying something that would open Him up to some accusation.

How does Jesus respond to their question?  In dealing with these men, He turns the tables on them and gives them an answer that refers to the spiritual kingdom instead of the physical.  The Lord’s exhortation to them is that you will not find it by careful observation.

They first needed to understand what “kingdom” means.  A kingdom can be any place.  A king-dom is the domain, or place of dominion of a king.  It’s any place or person over which the King has authority.

So, if the King of kings has authority in your heart, that’s where the kingdom of God is.  Wherever the King has authority to rule is where the kingdom has been established.  The kingdom of God could be among you or in you.  It all depends upon whether or not you have received the King.

If you’re submitted to the King, you’re a part of the kingdom.  If you’re not submitted to the King, then you are not in the kingdom and the kingdom is not in you.  Instead, you will find that the kingdom of God is among you, just like in the parable of the weeds and the wheat (Matthew 13:36-43).

The wheat is a part of the kingdom, the weeds aren’t.  Jesus was explaining the same concept to these Pharisees.  He gives them the spiritual truth even though it wasn’t what they wanted to hear.  They were asking Him for the physical manifestation of the kingdom.

The same applies to us today.  Many believers want to receive the blessings of the kingdom without submitting to the King.  We need to learn that you can’t have one without the other.

Question: What does it mean to be submitted to Christ as King?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2013 in Return of Christ

 

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The Garden of Prayer – Part 2

Matthew 26:39
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

This is one of the most simple yet profound prayers in the Bible.  It is during these times of struggle that we dispense with the “religious protocol” of prayer.  We forget about the intricate prayer charts or King James English.  Our goal is to get right to the heart of the prayer – HELP!!!

It was no different for Jesus.  He wasted no time on introductions.  However, there is one difference between His prayer and many of ours. This is seen in His attitude.  Rather than trying to convince the Father to work out His plan in an easier way, our Lord immediately bowed His knee to the revealed will of God.

This is the example we need to follow.  How often do we try to convince God to do things our way?  Instead, our goal should be to learn the kind of submission that brings us right into the center of God’s will for us.

Are there things that God wants you to do that you are having a hard time yielding to?  Take this time to follow Christ’s lead.  Surrender your whole life to God.  Submit yourself by saying, in your own way, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.”  Make this time today your garden of Gethsemane with the Lord.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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