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Directing Your Thoughts

 

cross 2I’ve been posting about how our minds are renewed by the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. This was also evident in the life of Christ.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Luke 24:45

The word understand in this verse literally means to put together. The Lord opened up the minds of these disciples to put together all that was happening. This included the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ, as well as the Scripture that foretold it. They had to walk in a supernatural understanding in order to grasp what was happening.

We need this ability of the Holy Spirit in us to put together – understand and apply – all that’s in the Scripture. If I don’t cultivate my spiritual prayer life, then where will all of this understanding come from? We can receive these blessing nowhere else but from the spirit.

Paul understood this and tried to make it clear to his readers. In the following verse, the apostle is taking an Old Testament verse and revamping it for a spiritual people.

“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

What this verse actually says in the Greek is, “Who has known the mind of the Lord well enough to be knit together with Him.” But we hold, possess the mind of Christ.

What an incredible truth! In the spirit we have access to the mind of the eternal God. The big question is; will we lay claim to this gift by the spirit?

It’s clear that the Holy Spirit is needed in order to renew our minds. But this renewal is more than just accessing God’s knowledge. It’s much deeper than that.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…
Philippians 2:5

This means that the direction of our minds should be the same as Christ. This is evident in our current church experience. So many of our prayers seem to go unanswered. We think we’re praying “in the will of God.” But we don’t see anything happening.

Many times we don’t receive when we pray because we’re headed in a different direction than Christ. We want the blessings of God. We just want them for a different reason than He does.

We need to direct our mind like Christ. When the Lord walked the earth, His mind was directed by the Spirit. That’s what renewal is all about. It’s not just changing what we think about, but how we think.

This is a difficult thing to do in the natural. Actually it’s pretty close to impossible. Trying to get the mind to renew itself is a losing proposition. Instead, the best way is to activate our spirit in order to keep our mind Christ-centered.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Colossians 3:2

This would be quite a challenge for us to do in our own power. I know I can accomplish this temporarily. I wanted to see how long during the day I could make myself think about the things of God. I found it to be a lost cause. The littlest things would distract me and refocus my attention on the things of earth.

Prayer in the spirit, however, allows you to zero in on things above for an increasingly longer time. Your mind will begin to follow the lead of your spirit. You will begin to understand the things of the spirit like never before.

In this way your mind will start to become reset and refreshed. When this is taking place it goes a long way to changing how the outward man reacts to life. If we’re going to win the battle of the mind, then we must pray in the spirit regularly.

Question: How have you noticed your prayer life affecting your thought life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

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Clarity – The Result of Worship

ReflectionThis is my final post about the atmosphere of worship surrounding the throne of God in Revelation, chapter 4. I’ve been looking at the gemstones mentioned there.

Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
Revelation 4:6a

This one is a little different than the other gems we looked at. The first three conditions were what brought us to the place of worship. This atmosphere comes from, is created by, our time of worship.

When the word crystal is used we need to understand that it’s a catch-all term for any clear stones. Crystals can be anything from quartz to diamonds. They do have something in common – they’re all clear stones.

Worship brings about an atmosphere of clarity. There’s something about worship that helps you to see clearly.

The reason why is pretty simple. It’s because of who’s there with you in that place.

Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
Revelation 4:5b

The original language of this verse says that this is the seven-fold Spirit of God. That’s who you’re spending time with as you worship. Why is the Holy Spirit referred to as the Seven-fold Spirit? I believe that Isaiah was given the answer to this question.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord
Isaiah 11:2

It’s clear that these are the seven aspects of the Holy Spirit’s work in the church. This is how He reveals Himself. Getting to know the Holy Spirit in this light is what worship is all about.

When we spend quality time with the Holy Spirit, we’re with the Author of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and knowledge. Things become clear in His presence. The clouds lift and we start to see our lives and the world around us through the Lord’s eyes.

The problem is that if we don’t maintain this relationship, we start to forget what we’ve seen through Him. Our spiritual vision starts to get hazy.

This is probably why there’s not a lot of deep, intimate worship happening these days. Like any relationship it requires time and commitment. You have to press in to it. The good news is that the rewards are worth the investment.

Over the last few posts we’ve seen that the atmosphere around true worship consists of praise, ownership, holiness, and spiritual clarity. We get into trouble when we only want to cultivate a couple of them. We need them all operating in and through us.

Don’t miss the blessings of God’s Holy Spirit working through you. Create the atmosphere for true worship. Let the presence of God permeate your life.

Question: How has the worship of God changed your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2015 in Prayer, Revival, Worship

 

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The Return of Christ – Asking the Right Question

Question MarkIn my last post I started a series on the Return of Christ. I reviewed what the disciples had learned from Jesus up to this point.

Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call attention to the buildings. “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”
Matthew 24:1-2

The disciples are just like many of us – impressed by the massive structures man has built. It’s easy to look at the outside of things. We get the impression that the grander the work, the closer to God the ministry is. This is far from the case sometimes.

This is what Jesus was trying to relate to His disciples. They thought that these impressive structures were a sign of God’s favor. That may have been the case at one time.

At this time, because of the nation of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah, they were opening themselves up to destructive forces that would someday level these incredible buildings.

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Matthew 24:3

This question shows us incredible insight into the disciples’ thinking process. They liked to get Jesus alone when there were no crowds around to interrupt. That’s when they learned the most. Now, they needed some answers.

Many teachers, when they deal with this verse, explain that the disciples didn’t know what they were saying because they were clearly asking three different questions in one. That statement shows a lack of understanding about what Christ had already taught His disciples. Actually the disciples knew exactly what they were asking.

Throughout Jesus’ ministry He spoke of the end of the age when the righteous would rise to receive their reward. He also talked about the day of His coming, the Day of Christ, when He would reveal Himself to the nations.

The problem the disciples had was that the Lord never related these two events to each other. Were they two different events, or do they happen simultaneously?

To top it all off, now Jesus is talking about the temple being destroyed – something He had never mentioned before – and they wanted to know how it all fit together. They knew exactly what they were asking.

“Lord, You’ve told us about the resurrection. You’ve told us about Your coming, and now You’re telling us about the destruction of Jerusalem. Please, Lord, tie it all together for us. How will we know when these things are about to happen?”

One thing’s for sure – I’m glad they asked. After studying Christ’s teachings, I had the exact same question. I’m even more grateful that Jesus answered the question – in detail.

It’s the Lord’s answers that I will be posting about in this series.

Question: What would you have asked Jesus concerning His return?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Ministry, Return of Christ

 

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Choose Understanding

DimThe Bible talks a lot about understanding.  Unfortunately we live in a society that runs from it, because with understanding, comes responsibility.  Once I understand something, I’m responsible to walk in it.

The Jewish people were much the same as our world when it came to the ministry of Christ.  Because they rejected understanding, they lost out on a blessing.

For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.  Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.
Matthew 13:15

The fact is that understanding takes place in the heart.  The Greek word for understanding literally means to put together.  It’s in the heart that I begin to put together all the things that I’ve seen and experienced.

But that takes thought and meditation on your life.  Most people don’t want to do that.  They would rather just have a quick explanation about why things are the way they are.

“If I just had more money, I’d be happy.”

“If my parents had loved me more, my life would have turned out better.”

Understanding makes us responsible for our choices and responses.  That’s why it seems so hard to win the lost to Christ in our generation.

What happens if I try to plant the seed of the Gospel in a heart with no understanding?

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.  This is the seed sown along the path.
Matthew 13:19

Without understanding, Satan can snatch the seed right out of your heart.  The one receiving the Gospel must put it together with their whole life experience without Christ.  That’s why in this society, with the Word of God everywhere, many are rejecting the Gospel.

Our generation is taught to not understand.

“If it feels good, do it.”

Understanding protects the Gospel seed.  This should help us to minister in this society.  For instance, if someone says they’re an atheist, don’t just tell them what the Bible says.  They don’t want to understand it, so it will have no effect.

Instead, tell them, “I’m going to pray that God will make Himself real to you.  When He does, I’ll be there to talk to you about it.”  Then as you go through your day, continue in prayer for them.  This gives the Holy Spirit a chance to work on them.

As the Spirit of God starts to bring light into their experience, they’ll come to a point of decision.  Then it’s up to them whether they want to walk in their new found understanding.  That’s always the first step to God – choosing understanding.

Of course it doesn’t stop when we accept Christ as our Lord.  We must continue in it our whole lives.  It’s the basis for all we do in the Lord.

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Ephesians 5:17

Question: How did understanding play a key role in your salvation experience?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2014 in Ministry, Prayer, Word of God

 

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Do You Really Understand the Word of God? #wordofGod

Dry1The Gospel message hinges upon the giving and receiving of the Word.  How this takes place is of great importance.  We must understand the mechanics involved in the use of the seed of the Word.  If you want to be a successful farmer, then you must study the most excellent techniques.

The Lord told a parable about four different soil types.  He was talking about the human heart.  We must examine our hearts to see if they are conducive to an abundant harvest of the Word.

The first type of ground that Jesus talks about is the soil right by the road.  It’s the worst place to try and grow anything, whether you’re talking about the spiritual or physical garden.

“When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.  This is the seed sown along the path.”
Matthew 13:19

You will notice that this ground is by the road.  This is the busiest place.  All of the dirt and debris from the road is blown onto this soil.  It’s hard and lifeless.  The way Jesus puts it in the original is that these people hear the Word of the kingdom and do not put it together.  It doesn’t mean to understand in the traditional sense.

These are not people who don’t know the meaning of what’s being said.  On the contrary, they understand what the Word is saying; they just don’t want to see how it applies to their lives.  They don’t want to put it all together.

Then, because there is no root of application, it’s very easy for the enemy to come and remove the Word permanently from the person’s life.  It’s as if they had never heard it.

This means that if I want an abundant harvest, I need to do just the opposite.  Whenever I hear a Word from God, I need to assume that it applies to me.  I need to guard the Word that’s placed within my heart.  It must be precious to me.

It also tells me that I can’t live too close to the road.  The more I look at the world, and how it operates, the more I disagree with how the Word functions in me.  I must let the Word work on me and change me as the Lord wills.

That’s why Jesus told us of the importance of knowing our audience.  We have to be careful where we’re planting.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”
Matthew 7:6

There will always be those who have no regard for the Word of God.  They will hear, yet never apply it to their lives.  They allow the devil to steal it and it will never bear fruit in them.

Question: What is something that you have recently heard and applied from the Word of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2013 in Word of God

 

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God Bless the USA #Prayforrevival

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATomorrow is the Fourth of July.  Today I’m thinking about cookouts, flags, and fireworks.  Is that what being American is all about?

I’m grateful for having been born in the United States.  There’s been so much going on lately in this country, much of it is negative.  However, I continue to believe that the USA is still the best nation on earth.

We were founded upon Christian principles.  The question is; are we a “Christian Nation” anymore?  Does a Christian nation tell you not to pray in public?  Does a Christian nation tell you not to display Christian symbols where everyone can see them?

While it’s true that many Christians live in this country, we have to come to grips with the obvious.   The United States, as an entity, is no longer Christian.  As believers, we need to live understanding that fact.

When David became king of Israel, it was recorded that many groups came from all over that nation to join the ranks of his army.  It describes the weapons they used and their strengths.  There’s one group in particular that stands out to me.

…men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do – 200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command;
1 Chronicles 12:32

The only weaponry it tells about these men was their ability to understand the times and live their lives accordingly.  This should be a lesson to us in the United States.  The Apostle Paul echoes the same sentiment.

Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Ephesians 5:15-17

We are called to be just as Issachar was.  We need to be people of understanding.  We live in a nation where the attitudes are very quickly turning against any kind of Christian influences.

I don’t say that to scare us or sour our mood.  I’m trying to get us, as the people of God, to wake up to the fact that coasting along with the crowd is no longer an option.  We don’t live in a place where godliness is applauded and sought after.

We now live on an active mission field.  That means that our lifestyles should look more like missionaries than consumers.  God didn’t place us here at this time in history to merely bask in the pleasures of this society.  Church is not just a place where we celebrate our salvation.

We’re more than that.  The church in America should be a counterculture that is actively seeking to change people’s lives for Christ.

So, this Fourth of July, celebrate and enjoy the freedoms we have as Americans.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  But also, pray for the spiritual understanding that it takes to live for Christ in this generation.

Pray for, and actively seek, a revival in our land.

Question: How are you living counter to the culture around you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2013 in Prayer, Revival, The Church

 

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Choosing to Understand

Music SmokeWe live in a society where we have all but given up on understanding.  In many schools we’re taught how we need to think.  Don’t ask why, just agree.

We now have a generation of people who voice opinions, but don’t know why they have them.  The media is constantly telling us what we need to wear, listen to, and watch.  After all, “This is what everybody thinks.”

Scripture gives us a different perspective.

Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.  Though it cost all you have, get understanding.
Proverbs 4:7

As believers, we are told to seek wisdom and understanding.  We don’t just blindly follow the crowd.  There is a reason we are on the earth and it’s our job to find out why.

God has a plan for everyone’s life.  We’re not just random.  Life has meaning.  The problem is that most people are afraid to find out the meaning of life.  They would rather just “go with the flow.”

The issue is that wisdom and understanding will cost you something.  They bring responsibility with them and that’s what we’re really afraid of.

If we don’t understand, then we are not responsible for what we do.  That’s the key.  Understanding and the resulting responsibility requires self-control.

That’s the reason that many people choose atheism.  If there is a God, then I’m responsible to live under that understanding.  My actions will have to be controlled.

But there’s even more to it than that.

Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.
2 Timothy 2:7

Paul literally tells Timothy to apply your mind to understand.  Understanding takes initiative – it doesn’t just fall out of the sky.

The good news is that if we take this first step, then the Lord will give you the next level of understanding.  The word insight that Paul uses is the Greek word suneisis.  It means to put together.

The fact is that understanding puts truth together.  We have to do this with many truths if we are to live a fulfilled life.

For instance – there is a God, He will judge the world, and I will live forever someplace.  These are all truths that are important all by themselves.  But when I put them together by wisdom and understanding they take on a whole new level of importance.  Now my choices are more limited than when I thought there were no consequences.

That’s why understanding is the foundation of coming to Christ.  We have to put together our need and His provision.  Then I have to bring my actions – and faith – into line with my understanding.

Question: Do you actively seek wisdom and understanding from the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Encouragement, Prayer

 

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