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God’s Armor – Using the Belt of Truth

In my last post, I showed that the Belt of Truth was the piece of armor that protects our minds.  When we memorize Scripture, that seed is stored in our mind.  We want it protected so that it can be planted to produce a good crop for the Lord.

How do I use this piece of armor?  Paul talked about our spiritual weaponry in his second letter to the Corinthian church.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5

In this battle to protect the seed, I need to make my thoughts obedient to Christ.  That’s the goal.  I don’t want weeds affecting my harvest.

Jesus warned His disciples about the same things.

“Be careful,” Jesus said to them.  “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Matthew 16:6

We need to watch what we let into our minds – the things that we dwell on and rehearse.  We can’t just swallow everything.  There’s a lot of religious talk out there that sounds good.  The real question is; does it line up with God’s Word?

The fact is, the more of God’s Word that we desire, the more the enemy will try to water it down.  Guarding this is the most important thing you can do if you want a fruitful life.

Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care.  Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith.  Grace be with you.
1 Timothy 6:20-21

Paul warned his spiritual son, Timothy, that he needed to guard the Word that had been deposited in him.  Paul literally tells him to avoid those who have crossed the line with their empty words and conflicting theories of how they think God should do things.

The Greek people had a word that they used for this kind of person.  It meant someone who just babbled on and on.  The idiom they used literally translates as a seed-picker.

Are you letting the “seed-pickers” into your life?  You need to be buckling the Belt of Truth around the loins of your mind.  Let God’s Word be a filter to stop the wrong things from getting in.

When we hear something that could affect how we serve God; it should cause a question to rise up.  Is this truth, or is it someone’s opinion?  I don’t want to be found trying to please God based on an opinion.

Please understand that I’m not talking about stray thoughts.  We all have them and there’s not much we can do about them.  But those are thoughts that are not stored yet.  I’m talking about the ones that we continue to dwell on.  They need to be passed through the filter of the Word.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32

I’ve heard people quote this verse many times…usually out of context.  Jesus was speaking to believers here.  He explains to them that if they dwell, live in, His Word, they are truly His disciples.

As Christ’s followers, it’s only as we remain in His Word that we will know the truth.  And it’s that truth that will set us free.

The more we immerse ourselves in God’s Word, the more freedom we can walk in.  We will also have a great supply of spiritual seed to plant for the increase of God’s kingdom.

Question: How do you guard what’s stored in your mind?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Truth in Titles

We’re continuing to look at Paul’s view of the “grey areas”.  Those activities that the Bible doesn’t talk about, but we debate whether or not they’re sinful.  Specifically, he’s talking about buying and eating meat that has been offered in a pagan sacrifice.

So far, he’s given us two principles.  The pagan temples have no power, so the meat itself is not sinful.  On the other hand, there are those who are weak and may feel guilty about it.  They must be protected.

Now Paul begins talking about a third principle.

Am I not free?  Am I not an apostle?  Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?  Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?  Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you!  For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 9:1-2

To begin this thought, Paul talks about his ministry.  He is free in Christ.  He has had an encounter with the risen Lord.  He works tirelessly for God, and the Corinthian church is a result of that ministry.

It is, however, important that we hear and understand what he says about this ministry.  Paul is very clear that he’s an apostle of Christ.  The important key is that being an apostle is a ministry and not merely a title.

I believe that there are too many people today with the title of “Apostle”.  Paul shows us that it’s the work you’re doing that confirms your apostleship.  If you’re not doing the ministry of an apostle, then you’re not an apostle.

There’s another, deeper issue that we need to see.  Paul didn’t go out and have business cards printed with the title, apostle.  He didn’t introduce himself as “Apostle Paul”.

You have to realize that you’re only an apostle to those who have been affected under your ministry.  Paul understood that he was not an apostle to everyone.  It wasn’t a title of honor, but a description of his ministry to certain churches.

We live in a generation where so many people are title conscious.  If you don’t have a title, then you have no credibility.

“Where did you go to school?  What’s your title?  Who conferred it on you?”

Do you understand that in the body of Christ none of these things make any difference?  Don’t tell me what you want to be called; show me what you’re doing for Christ.  That’s the bottom line.

As a pastor, I’ve submitted to the apostles that the Lord’s brought into my life.  They had an effect on me and my ministry.  I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for their ministry.

The funny thing is that only one of them ever publically referred to himself as an apostle.  The one who did only used it in meetings where those under his ministry were present.

Instead of trying to impress people with our titles, we should be striving to advance the kingdom of God.  It’s the work that distinguishes you as an apostle or any other ministry gift.  It’s by their fruit that you recognize them.

Always keep this in mind as God advances you in your calling.  Let the results of your ministry be the proof of your credentials.  In that way, God receives the glory and not men.

Question: What happens when someone claims a ministry gift that isn’t proved by their walk with God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Transmitting the Truth

In my last post, we saw how the Thessalonian church pressed into a mature walk with Christ.  It’s something that we need to learn in our present generation.  Paul commends them for it and exhorts them to continue.

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
2 Thessalonians 2:15

Paul tells these believers to stand firm and unmovable in the truth that they’ve received.  The word translated, teachings, is a special word.  It means something that’s been transmitted or passed down from one to another.

The things that they were taught were not invented by Paul.  They were transmitted from God the Father to Christ, then Christ to His apostles, and finally from the apostles to the church.

The unfortunate thing is that, in many cases, we’ve either stopped teaching them or watered them down in our generation.  Personally, I want to see them restored in our lifetime.  That’s the goal behind this blog and my ministry.

Notice that this passage tells us that the church received this through both the spoken and written Word.  This will require us to spend time in the Lord’s presence.  As great as the Scripture is, we need both God’s written and spoken Word to fulfill our calling in Christ.

I like the encouragement that Paul gives at the close of this passage.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

We’re told that if we stand firm in the Lord’s grace, we have eternal encouragement.  That’s important.  It’s speaking about the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

The word, encouragement, is the same word Jesus used in calling the Holy Spirit the Comforter.  In our modern terminology, it means to be a coach.  If we remain in God’s presence, we have an eternal Life-Coach.

Here’s some more good news.  This Coach does not only deal with your physical life, but He can coach your heart as well.  I don’t know about you, but I need the internal coaching more than the outer.

Because of this, our words and our actions will be produced by an overflow of God’s grace working through us.  I believe this is what the world desperately needs to see in the church.

This is what will draw people to the cross of Christ.  It’s only when the Holy Spirit is active in us that the Gospel is energized to that extent.  We need to get back to the pattern that was originally transmitted to the church.

Question: What differences do you see between the early church and our modern church experience?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2018 in Encouragement, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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The Truth or a Lie

In my last post, I talked about the rise of satanic activity in the Last Days before the return of Christ.  The enemy’s kingdom will perform many impressive miracles – counterfeits of the true miracles of God.

The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

That’s what’s happening when people go to witch doctors, shamans, or psychic healers.  It’s the same when people go to “faith healers” that don’t use the name of Jesus.

They’ll say that it’s the power of love that’s going to heal you.  No, it’s the power of Satan.  No matter what they call themselves, whether it’s healer, shaman, or witch doctor; without Christ, they rely upon the power of the devil.

Satan also knows what’s going on.  His servants are watching pretty much everyone.  He knows that your boss just got done interviewing a blonde for the secretarial position.  Then you go to a psychic on Friday.

“I need a relationship in my life.  Do you know if I’m going to meet anyone soon?”

The psychic then consults with her “spirit guides.”  (demons)

“The spirits tell me that you’re going to meet a blonde on Monday.  A lovely blonde is coming into your life.”

So you walk into work on Monday.

“Look at that.  They were right.  They really can predict the future.”

No, they just have a good communication system.  It has nothing to do with predicting the future.  Only God knows the future.  He knows it ahead of Satan.

If Satan had known the future the way that God does, he wouldn’t have crucified Jesus.  He would have seen that one coming a mile away.  The fact is, he’s very limited, but he plays really good tricks and mind games.  Paul does his best to warn us so we can be ready for them.

Along with the miracles of Satan, there will be every sort of evil that deceives those that are perishing.  At first glance, we might feel sorry for them.  If they’re being deceived then they don’t know what they’re doing.  How can they be held accountable?

But the Scripture goes on to say that they perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  That’s why God allows the miraculous, powerful delusion of Satan.  They’ve already chosen not to believe the truth of God’s Word.  The reason why they were deceived is that they didn’t want the truth.

So God said if you don’t want the truth, let Me give you something to believe in.  I’ll allow you to believe this lie if you’d rather.  Never get the idea that they’re perishing because they didn’t know.  They’re perishing because they refused to believe the truth.  And when the lie came along, they found it so much more comfortable.

I don’t know why people would rather embrace the lie.  I’ve seen and read about some of the crazy things that people do as they try to get healing, fame, and money.  Why don’t they just trust Jesus?  They probably stumble over it because it’s too easy.

They’d rather fly around the world and go see a doctor in Hong Kong who has them take special herbs that cost $500,000, but they won’t trust Jesus.  I don’t understand it.  They get a lie instead, and that’s what kills them.

As believers, we need to stand our ground in trusting the truth of God’s Word.  That’s what will see us through in these perilous times.

Question: How far have you seen people go in order to refuse the truth?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Biggest Mistake

We’re continuing to look at the Gospel of Mark.  At this point, the Pharisees are trying to trip up Jesus in His words.  They’re not doing very well at it.

In Mark chapter 12, verses 18 through 27, a group of Sadducees come to question the Lord.  You may want to read this section of Scripture before continuing in this post.

As a religious sect of Israel, the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection of the dead.  They also don’t believe in angels, demons, or miracles.

This group came to Jesus with an insane question about seven brothers who all had the same wife.  This happened because each brother died and the wife was passed down to the next oldest brother.

They asked Jesus who the wife would be married to in the resurrection.  They thought that this proved the resurrection was simply a foolish idea.

The Lord has a way of getting right to the heart of the matter.

Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?  When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.  Now about the dead rising — have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.  You are badly mistaken!”
Mark 12:24-27

This group of Sadducees had found a way to live for themselves and still sleep soundly at night.  They decided that there was no resurrection and, therefore, no judgment, heaven or hell.  They didn’t have to worry about any consequences for their actions.

Jesus didn’t pull any punches with them.  He told them exactly what they needed to hear.

The word, error that Jesus used means to roam around.  They’re not on the right path.  They’ve decided to go off on their own way.

The Lord then shows them the clear teaching of Scripture.  The Bible plainly shows us the fact of the resurrection again and again.  These men had chosen to ignore it for their own selfish purposes.

It’s important that we hear what the Lord is saying. There are many issues where we’re guilty of missing the truth.

Jesus tells us the underlying reasons why we leave the path of God’s truth.  First, we don’t know the Scripture.  That’s the knowledge that comes from experience.  We get in trouble because we don’t want to apply the Scripture to our personal lives.

The second issue is just as important – not knowing the power of God.  We have to understand that God is powerful enough to accomplish anything that He says in His Word.

It’s our humanity that looks at our experience and comes up with all kinds of excuses for our lack of power.

“My cousin prayed and believed God for a healing, but he died.  So healing isn’t for everyone.”

Truly, I’m sorry for those who are not healed when they pray.  But that still doesn’t change what the Scripture says, or God’s power toward those who believe.  Throughout Scripture, we’re told that Jesus paid for our healing on the cross.

“I don’t believe that prayer in tongues or miracles are for today.”

Again, that doesn’t change the Word or God’s power.  Jesus clearly said that His disciples couldn’t bring the Gospel to the world without this experience.  Are you really going to tell me that we don’t need this power in our lives today?

We need to get back to a true understanding of both the Word of God and the power of God.

Question: How has the Scripture and God’s power played an important role in your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Who are You Listening to?

I love the Lord.  But does it really make a difference what I watch, the music I listen to, or the internet sites I go to?  Even though it was written 2000 years ago, Paul’s letter to the Galatians still speaks to us today.

You were running a good race.  Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?
Galatians 5:7

You were running a good race – past tense.  That sounds ominous.  The question is; how are you going to finish?  After all, it’s not about how you started off your race, it where you finally end up.

Paul sees that these people had left the path.  The problem is that it doesn’t take much.  You could be only one degree off course, but after traveling in that direction for a while, you could be miles away from your planned destination.

They had let someone cut in on them.  They allowed somebody to lead, who wasn’t supposed to.  Because of that, they were losing the truth.

The word, obey, literally means to be convinced, assured or confident in.  So what Paul was saying is that by listening to this person, they were losing confidence in the truth they originally received from the Apostle.  Why was this happening to them?  Could it happen to you?

That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.  “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.”
Galatians 5:8-9

The issue is that now there are two signals being followed.  There’s the One who calls us – the Holy Spirit.  But there’s also someone trying to take us in a different direction.  This is where we start leaving the path.

The problem starts when we don’t listen with a critical ear.  What do I mean by that?  I’m talking about being convinced that Scripture and what the Holy Spirit has taught me is the truth.

Unfortunately, there are Christians who will hear something different.  Then their first thought is, “It sounds logical.  I wonder if that’s true.  I’ll have to think about that.”  When you think like this, you’ve allowed someone to cut in front of you.

Critical thinking doesn’t allow for that.  When you hear a teaching that doesn’t line up with the Word, you immediately label it as a lie.  You can then, through prayer and the study of Scripture, receive insight and understanding as to exactly why this teaching is not the truth.

Paul talks about this in regards to the spiritual weapons we’ve been given.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5

This is what has to happen with the lies that bombard us each day.  The media provides a constant stream of ideas that, left unchecked, will ruin our faith.  We must be on our guard to protect the truth that we’ve received.

I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view.  The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.
Galatians 5:10

The truth beats the lie every time.  I believe that these Galatian Christians came back to their senses after hearing the truth in this epistle.  I also believe the same for us.  Being forewarned is being armed and ready.

Question: How is a half-truth worse than a total lie?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2017 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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To Tell the Truth

We live in an age where we’re told that truth is relative. It’s not the same for everyone. When this is the norm, lies are a regular part of our society.

Think about the internet. Anyone can say whatever they want – about any subject they like. It can be true or untrue with seemingly no consequences.

“Of course it’s true; I read it on the internet.”

I’ve heard people say that; and maybe you have too. We laugh and roll our eyes, because we know that if it’s on the internet, you have to check it out from more than one source.

That makes for a very skeptical society. It makes me wonder how we, as believers, need to handle the truth. James had something to say about it almost 2000 years ago.

Above all, my brothers, do not swear — not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.
James 5:12

It seems that every day we have to sift through lies and half-truths. It’s like the call I get regularly to inform me that my name was selected to receive a free vacation. Even though I know that I didn’t enter any drawing. The good news is that it would have only cost me $600 to claim my “free” vacation. Lucky me!

Even the media is falling into this type of hype. The accusations of “fake news” seem to be a regular occurrence. Personally, I like watching the weather reports. People laugh at me because I’ll keep one of the weather networks on in the background sometimes.

You would think that weather reporting is above this type of accusation. Not anymore. Throughout the evening, the teaser for the nightly news is, “Can we be expecting another big blizzard?” So I watch the news only to find out that the answer is, “No, the storm’s going out to sea.”

Why am I saying all of this? Am I just some old guy complaining about society? Absolutely not! It’s a warning to us that we can’t let these types of lies, half-truths, and hype be a part of our walk with God.

When we speak, it needs to be the truth. So much so, that we don’t feel the need to convince others to trust us. God’s people should have a reputation of speaking the truth.

Jesus said the same thing to His followers.

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Matthew 5:33-37

The enemy has to go to great lengths to convince people to believe a lie. When we do the same with the truth, it makes people question whether they should believe us or not.

Don’t make the truth you’re speaking sound like a lie. Testify for Christ honestly, and with integrity. Then allow the Holy Spirit to do the convincing and convicting. I’ve found that this is the best way to present the truth.

Question: How have you seen people present the truth in a form that sounds untrue?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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