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Faith Experiments

As we continue through First Corinthians, Paul is still laying down principles for handling the “grey areas” of sin.  These are the things in society that the Bible doesn’t specifically speak about as being right or wrong.

Paul makes an interesting observation.

No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

In order to understand what Paul’s saying here, we need to grasp the concept of temptation.  I think that we misunderstand this sometimes.

The Greek word translated as tempt and temptation has a few different English words associated with it.  In other passages of Scripture, it’s translated as test and trial.  It literally means putting to proof by experiment.

This tells me that temptation is simply a faith experiment.  It’s a test designed to see if you really believe what you say that you believe.

James, chapter 1, tells us that it’s these faith experiments that develop godly character in us.  They’re things that we all go through.  God allows things to cross our path that will bring out and expose our faith in Him.

James also tells us that God doesn’t use evil to test us.  It’s the enemy that tries to get us to fall into sin by putting evil across our paths.

You probably don’t look forward to trials and temptations.  I don’t.  But they’re going to be a part of our lives until the Lord returns.

Paul’s statement above is a bright ray of hope.  It’s a promise we can cling to.  God will not allow me to go through anything that He and I can’t handle together.  The key is that I need to be looking for the exit door.

That’s the reason for his next statement.

Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.
1 Corinthians 10:14

Idolatry is anything that you place above God in your life.  Whatever or whoever you’re willing to rearrange your life or your schedule for is the one you’re serving.  Make sure that it’s Christ.

That’s an important key for testing these grey areas.  It might not specifically be called sin in Scripture.  But if it’s keeping you from serving God wholeheartedly, then you need to flee from it.  Or at least put it in its proper place in subjection to Christ.

We need to take inventory of our lives.  Just because something isn’t evil doesn’t mean that it’s not hindering your walk with the Lord.

Paul tells us that God gives you the ability to put your life into order.  You’re able to overcome the trials and tests in your life.  Allow the work of the Holy Spirit to bring you to your destiny in Christ

Question: What areas of testing and temptation are you going through right now?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2019 in Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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What’s in Your Heart?

heart CrossI’m posting about the tests that we face as believers. We were looking at Abraham as our example. The Old Testament actually says that God tested Abraham.

These are tests that are designed by God show how far we’ve progressed in our faith. All of God’s people have to experience these from time to time. How does this testing process work?

We were looking at the account given in Hebrews 11.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”
Hebrews 11:17-18

In any testing, it all starts with God’s Word to us. This verse literally says that the direction was; it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.

God promised Abraham uncountable seed in his future. When Isaac was born, God made it clear that the promise would be fulfilled through Isaac. That’s what this kind of testing is all about.

Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.
Deuteronomy 8:2

This verse says that God wanted to know by seeing what was in your heart. In other words, the test was to get what was in your heart to manifest in your actions. In that way we’ll see our heart the way God sees it.

The big question that the test wants answered is; will you obey? We are tested concerning God’s will.

The enemy, on the other hand, will tempt us to test God. Remember Jesus being tested in the wilderness. The enemy tried to get Him to turn stones into bread in order to test God. Jesus responded with God’s Word – “It is written…”

Unfortunately, Israel didn’t get this truth as they were going through their testing.

They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved.
Psalm 78:18

It’s interesting that in most cases – Abraham, Israel, and the Lord Jesus – much of the testing took place in the wilderness. How do we handle our wilderness experiences?

We may not go through a physical desert, but we go through problem times that challenge our faith. That’s the kind of testing that brings out what’s in our hearts. What you’ve been putting in will begin to manifest in your walk.

I’m going to get into this a little deeper in my next post.

Question: What did you learn about your heart during your last spiritual test?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Test and the Offering

ClimberHave you ever noticed that sometimes faith seems to take you in the wrong direction? We have to accept things that look, in the natural, like we’re headed away from what God has promised us. This was illustrated in the life of Abraham.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.
Hebrews 11:17-19

As we walk with God, we must first of all trust Him. As we do this, we see Him at work in our lives. We begin to receive blessings from His hand. Our lives start to change for the better.

It starts out small at first, but the more you put your faith in the Lord, the more grace you experience in your walk. So in this post, I’m talking about those who have received from God.

Now that you have begun to see God’s power at work in your life, you would think that things start to become easier. You would be wrong.

Abraham trusted God for many years in order to receive his son, Isaac. It required him to go through a lot of hardship and even some mistakes along the way. But God was faithful, and Abraham received the child of promise.

Then something totally unexpected happened. Just like us, Abraham’s faith needed to be tested. We’ve probably all heard the story of Abraham offering up his son Isaac on the altar. But do we understand how deep this test really was?

The Bible puts it very simply. By faith Abraham…when tested…offered. This is a powerful truth that every believer needs to understand. It wasn’t just for Abraham. When we’re tested, there’s something we need to offer.

When you begin to receive God’s promises, there’s a spiritual line that you cross. Like it or not, you enter a new level of testing. Unfortunately, many Christians don’t understand what testing is all about.

In the New Testament, the Greek word translated as test is that same word translated as tempt in other sections. The translators use either test or tempt based upon the context in which it’s used.

For instance, Satan tempts in order to entice us to do evil. God, on the other hand, tests us in order to bring us to a new level of walk with Him.

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone…
James 1:13

Scripture is clear; God never uses evil in His testing process. God tests us by a call to a new level of obedience. Usually it’s something that we’ve never done before. It often brings us outside of our comfort zone.

In order to pass this test, we must offer something He gave us. So God doesn’t start testing you in this way, until you are receiving from Him. I want to take a couple of posts to talk about this testing process. It’s important for every believer to understand this in order to progress to their God given destiny.

Question: What’s the greatest test that you have faced in your Christian walk so far?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Passing the Test

ApproveTesting – the very sound of that word is discomforting to most believers. Did you know that how you respond to testing, tells a lot about your walk with God? It’s a part of the Lord’s growth plan for our lives. We should be cultivating a positive attitude toward His guidance in this area.

Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Feast was near. When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
John 6:3-6

When God tests us, it’s for our benefit. If there’s anything we know about testing; it’s both necessary and unavoidable. Even with this knowledge, it’s still not something we look forward to. One thing we need to realize is that testing is God’s way of reinforcing to us that we’ve learned a lesson of faith.

In the above verse, we see that it was Philip’s turn to experience this kind of test. The Lord asked Philip where the provision was to come from to feed a huge crowd of people. It’s interesting to note that Jesus already knew what He was going to do.

When God tests us, He already knows the outcome. We don’t like to admit it, but we have a very limited knowledge of things. Because of this, we need to firmly rely on God. He already knows the plan. We need to go before Him and seek His mind in the situations we find ourselves in.

This should be very encouraging to us. God is never taken by surprise. He doesn’t have to come up with a solution to our problem ‘on the fly.’ I just need to be in a position where I’m listening for His voice to take me through victoriously.

We must go to God for the plan to pass the test. Instead of always trying desperately to figure out what to do, we need to admit that we don’t know what needs to be done. Then we’re in the best position to let God guide us in the right path. Instead of going off on our own, we should seek to find out from God what it is that He has already decided to do.

Spend some time today seeking God’s wisdom and guidance for the tests ahead. Let Him reveal to you the only plan for your life that will bring about miraculous results. Yield yourself to that which God has already decided to do in your life. Then He’ll get the glory for it.

Question: How has God’s wisdom helped through a difficult test?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2016 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Prayer

 

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Battle Tested

mhXQFuII’m taking a few posts to talk about the spiritual battle we’re a part of. I believe that the church needs to develop a warrior mentality. In the natural world, soldiers don’t live with civilians. They live set apart, and they see themselves as set apart.

By looking at the example of Christ, we can see what this battle is all about.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 4:1

In my last post we saw that we’re to fight this spiritual battle with all persistency and petition around all the saints. The fight is not in the center of the saints where the “praise party” is going on. It’s on the edges – in the prayer closet – in the private places.

Notice that Jesus was not in the city or with His disciples when the devil attacked. It was in the place of prayer and fasting. That’s the true place of warfare.

So often I’ve heard worship leaders, in the midst of a great time of praise and worship, proclaim, “We’ve got the enemy on the run!” Far from it. During those times the church is in the mess hall, far from the battle. Warfare occurs when we’re in private.

The Scripture is clear that Jesus was tempted by the devil. It’s important to know what this means. We think of tempt as Satan trying to get us to fail. The actual Greek word means a test, proof, or examination.

Temptation is merely asking, “Are you the real thing?” When you pick up the shield of faith, are you for real? Are you just repeating something you heard, or does it come from your heart?

This is important for believers to understand. Whenever we grasp a new concept in Christ it must be added to our faith. It can’t simply be something we give lip service to. We have to be willing to live it out.

The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
Matthew 4:3-4

We need to see that the first attack is personal. Who are you in Christ? Are you going to cater to your flesh or to the spirit?

This is why you need your helmet and sword. You have to walk in the authority of your position in Christ. You must understand the power of the Word of God in you. That’s the only thing that will counter this attack.

That’s why you need to know who you are in Christ. What’s your calling in the kingdom of God? The battle is all about who you’re going to trust for your needs. Of course, that means we know the difference between wants and needs.

Jesus could have answered “Yes” to the devil’s challenge. The question is; where did the Lord’s response come from? Was it the Bible that said “no”? Was Jesus merely quoting Scripture?

No, this came up from His Spirit. It was the overflow of a heart that was full of God’s Word. That’s where we get the strength for overcoming the enemy’s schemes.

The fact is the Word is more important than bread. We have to come to grips with this. What’s the Word more important than in your life? It might not be a bad thing that you have to push aside in place of the Word of God to you. It’s this response from our heart that proves we’re the “real thing” during the times of testing.

Question: How have you been tested lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2015 in Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Christ’s Example – Trusting the Promises or God? #promisesofGod

Bible1In my last post I showed that Christ refused to be tempted to claim a promise.  This is the opposite of what many believers do today.  We’re trusting God to provide things we don’t even need just because we found a convenient Scripture to “stand on.”

Paul talked about this in his letter to Timothy.  Paul warned Timothy about people…

…who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.  But godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:5b-6

I believe that there’s something inherently wrong with a message that continually focuses on my happiness, my comfort, and my pleasure.  It’s true that God loves us and wants the best for us.  I also believe that there is a scriptural prosperity that God wants for His people.

But I also believe that many have taken this too far.  As a result, God’s people are spending too much time, prayer, energy and “faith” running after the things of the world that they think will satisfy them.  At the same time, they ignore the work of the Kingdom of God.  As a result, they never lay hold of what will ultimately fulfill the desires of their souls.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.  For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Matthew 4:5-6

Again, the enemy tried to use a promise to tempt the Lord.  He wanted Jesus to prove that God was protecting Him, by throwing Himself off the roof of the temple.  Satan uses this same strategy on us as well.  Of course, the results are usually different when we’re involved.

How do you respond when you’re tempted to test God?  Do you trust Him or not?  There’s no need to put God to the test.  He’s already proven Himself in Christ.  We need to follow the example of Jesus, who once again did not take the bait that the devil put before Him.

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Matthew 4:7

This usually turns out very differently when the devil runs this scenario before us.  We love to do foolish things, then “trust” God to get us out of the mess.  We spend our money on movie tickets, CD’s, video games, and new cars.  Then, when we can’t pay the bills, we “trust God” for the money.

How foolish!  Don’t you realize that the money you spent on your toys was the money God provided for your bills?  But we just sit back in bitterness and say, “I tested God and He failed me.”

As the people of God, we need to get our lifestyles back in line with the Word of God.

Questions: How do our faith and our actions work together?  How do they oppose each other sometimes?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2013 in Faith, Power of God

 

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The Five Warning Signs of Ungodliness

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAUngodly.  The word usually makes us think of the unsaved.  The problem is that there are many ungodly Christians that are totally unaware of their condition.  Are you one of them?  Check out what the Bible says about it.

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you — unless, of course, you fail the test?
2 Corinthians 13:5

Paul tells us that we are to examine our lives.  This word literally means to scrutinize how we live.

Do you know Christ is in you?  Most Christians understand this concept.  They realize that Christ is in them.  When they asked Him to be the Lord of their lives, Christ made their heart His home.  Most believers will pass this test.

Does it matter to you?  This is where the test starts to get tough.  It’s surprising that many who belong to Christ really don’t give Him a second thought.  They go throughout the day without ever acknowledging Him.

It seems that they’re oblivious to the fact that Jesus is accompanying them wherever they go.  He’s a silent listener of every conversation.  If this was a reality to us, we would probably behave much differently.

Do you want to know God’s will?  Not only is Christ with us at all times, but He has a plan for our lives.  The question really comes down to; whose will is more important – mine or the Lord’s?  Many don’t want to know God’s will for their lives because they’re afraid it will interfere with their plans.

Do you want to accomplish God’s will?  Knowing God’s will is not the end of it.  What we really need to do is accomplish it.  Not only is Christ with us wherever we go, He expects us to represent him and His kingdom to the world.  What many don’t realize is that unless we answer “yes” to this question, God will not reveal His will to us.

Are you seeking God’s approval?  This is the final and greatest test of godliness.  Who are we seeking to please?  Are we after our own pleasure?  That of our friends or family?  The Bible is clear that unless we’re “God-pleasers” our lives will be worthless – there will be no reward at the end.

How do these questions play out in your life?  A “no” to any of the highlighted questions should be a warning that you’re in danger of ungodliness.  If so, then repent of it and move on with the Lord.

It’s time for God’s people to live like they truly understand the Lord’s presence in their lives.

Question: What signs of godliness do you see in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2013 in Encouragement, Faith

 

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