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Wisdom is not Enough

In my last post, we saw that in the message of the cross of Christ we find the power to live for God.  When we try to do things in our own power, we end up short-circuiting God’s plan for us.  Look at how Paul describes it.

For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
Where is the wise man?  Where is the scholar?  Where is the philosopher of this age?  Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
1 Corinthians 1:19-20

Scripture makes it clear that we have to leave man’s wisdom out of the equation.  I hate to say it, but many of our church methods in this generation are man-made.  I think that’s why we see a church with a split personality.

On one hand, many churches are growing and have deep, meaningful worship times.  Preaching is as powerful as it’s ever been.  Yet in spite of all this, God’s people seem to be having almost no impact on the society around us.

That’s because the power that results in change is resident in the message of the cross.  Without that Word, everything remains at the comfort level of the world.

The above passage mentions three kinds of people.  There’s the wise man.  That’s the person who is well versed in human wisdom.

Then there’s the scholar.  The literal word that Paul used for this is a scribe.  They were the professional writers of that day.

Finally, he talks about the philosopher.  The Greek word for this means a debater.  These were people who merely discussed things for a living.

Together, this is a lethal combination for the church.  When those who follow the current thinking and trends of society, professional writers, and debaters come together to give direction to the church, then we’re headed for trouble.

Please understand – none of these things are evil in and of themselves.  But when we ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit and totally rely on our wisdom, the kingdom of God will not advance.

In the above passage, Paul quoted a verse from Isaiah the prophet.  I think it’s important to note the verse just before the one he gave us.

The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.  Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”
Isaiah 29:13

I can look at society and see the trends and wisdom of corporate America.  Then, I can logically come up with a plan to reach the lost, based upon this information.  But without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I simply have “rules taught by men.”

It’s time that the church moves away from the world’s methods.  Yes, we need to know what’s happening in society.  We need to understand the trends and changes around us.  (After all, I am working at an online ministry!)

However, without quality time spent in the presence of God – it will have no impact.  We need a Word from God – that’s where change takes place.  Allow the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to guide you in your ministry.

Question: What are some differences between God’s wisdom and the world’s?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Three Main Functions of the Mind (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

I enjoy studying teachings about the subject of Creation vs. Evolution.  I believe there’s a very important issue involved that no one seems to talk about.

We’ll start by looking at a passage from the book of Hebrews.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Hebrews 11:3

Actually, it all boils down to one key phrase – we understand.  What does it mean to understand?

The Bible talks about three basic concepts that deal with how the mind functions.

The first is knowledge.  Knowledge is the accumulation of facts and it’s the easiest to acquire.  We go to school or read books and get knowledge.

The next is wisdom, and that’s a little bit tougher to get.  Wisdom is the application of knowledge to solve problems.  The only way to get wisdom is through experience or time spent in God’s presence.

The third and most important function is understanding.   Understanding involves direction.  It looks for the eventual outcome of a line of thinking.  It tries to put together all the facts, and asks, “Where does the path I’m on take me?”  This process exercises the mind to its greatest potential.  It’s hard work and sometimes brings unexpected results.

Because of this, most people will not seek understanding.  Yet seeking is the only way to obtain it.  You must choose to understand.

Understanding, then, is exercising the mind to see the entire picture of life.  It looks at how everything fits together.  This is what our society desperately needs.

Unfortunately, most school systems teach us NOT to understand.  Everything is about the present.  Does it feel good right now?  Instead of understanding, they seek explanations – as long as these explanations fit into their worldviews.

There’s an unfortunate outcome to this kind of living.

Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
Psalm 32:9

Our modern society displays the truth of this verse.  The less understanding you possess, the more you need to be controlled.

We frequently hear people complain, “There are so many new and complicated laws now.”  What does that tell you?  I believe that we’re training a generation how not to understand.

The ability to seek understanding is the basis for a clear direction in life.  It’s got to be the starting point.  Without direction, there’s no reason for self-control.

This is why the creation-evolution debate is so emotional.  It involves issues that affect the very core of who we are and how we view our existence.

Question: How is a lack of direction displayed by our present society?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 15, 2018 in Encouragement, Spiritual Walk

 

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Will We Ever Learn?

Every once in a while someone will ask me, “Why do I keep facing the same problem over and over?”  We know that the problems we face are trials or tests.  When we get the same test again and again, it’s a signal for us to take a spiritual inventory.

The disciples of Christ had a similar experience.  A remote place, no resources, and a hungry crowd of people.

During those days another large crowd gathered.  Since they had nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.  If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance.”
His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?”
“How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked.
“Seven,” they replied.
Mark 8:1-5

History repeats itself.  This is the same scenario that we saw in Mark chapter 6, verses 35-44.  Jesus had been teaching the crowd.  It was getting late.  They were all hungry.

There is one noticeable difference.  In chapter 6, the disciples had to search the crowd to know how much bread they had.  At this time they came to Jesus already knowing the answer.

My first thought is to rebuke the disciples for not learning the lesson when Jesus fed the five thousand.  But then my next thought is, how long it takes me to learn the lessons God is trying to get across to me.  It seems like, at least in my case, I don’t learn them the first time around.

Jesus had to show them, once again, the supernatural provision of God.

He told the crowd to sit down on the ground.  When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so.  They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them.  The people ate and were satisfied.  Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  About four thousand men were present.  And having sent them away, he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the region of Dalmanutha.
Mark 8:6-10

The trials that we face are testing us.  They come along to see if we’ve learned the lessons God is showing us.  He’s teaching us to trust Him.  When we manifest that faith, we pass the test.

James explains the procedure to us.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
James 1:2-3

That means if we face the same test over and over, then we’re not learning the lesson correctly.  It’s time to pray for wisdom to see what we’re missing.

Our goal should be to know the Lord more intimately.  The more we know Him and His desires for us, the better prepared we’ll be for the upcoming tests.  Instead of being frustrated by the repeated testing, let it drive you into the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Let our great Teacher mentor you for the challenges ahead.

Question: What was a lesson that took you a few times to get right?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2018 in Encouragement, Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Two Kinds of Wisdom

Did you know that your life shows where your wisdom comes from? It either comes from Heaven, or the world and the devil. Do you know the difference?

The book of James explains it to us.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
James 3:13-16

We all want a good life. But do we want to do what it takes to receive the wisdom for it? And more than that; do we want to walk in the wisdom from heaven?

A good life shows that you’ve learned how to tap into Heaven’s resources. That means you’re spending time with the Lord. Then, you’re listening to and obeying the instructions of the Holy Spirit.

That’s what James means by the humility that comes from wisdom. You’ve humbled yourself before God, knowing that His plan for your life is better than yours. His destiny for you is worth whatever it takes to get there.

The wisdom of the devil – which is usually what the world operates in – is all about self-promotion. It sounds good in a logical way, but the focus is too narrow. It’s all about me; what’s best for me, what will make me happy, and how I can accumulate the most toys.

When we live a life that’s self-absorbed, we end up in disorder and doing things that we never thought we would – evil things. The word disorder literally means confusion. When I spend my life going after the things I want, I eventually learn that I didn’t really want what I thought I wanted. Now that’s confusing!

If we want a life that we’re pleased with – a good life – then we need to walk in the wisdom of God.

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
1 Corinthians 2:6-7

Here’s the problem. The wisdom of Heaven is hidden. You can’t find it by careful thought and study. It’s only found in God’s presence. Quality time with Him, listening to His voice, will impart it to us. Then, as we walk in what we’ve heard from God, things around us will start to change. It will become evident that we walk in God’s wisdom.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:17-18

These are the marks of a life walked out in God’s wisdom. To walk in God’s wisdom is to walk in peace. You can even walk into a situation where there’s all kinds of confusion and problems, and by the wisdom of the Lord, bring peace. That’s what it means by the word peacemaker.

Heaven’s wisdom changes the atmosphere around you. That’s a good life. Walking in wisdom and making peace wherever you go.

Question: How has God’s wisdom brought peace into your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2017 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Double Minded

WaveIn my last post we saw that maturity requires the wisdom of God. Without His wisdom, there will be areas of lack in our lives.

James tells us that all we need to do is ask God, and He’ll give us His wisdom in abundance. But there’s a requirement for us to receive it.

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
James 1:6-8

According to Scripture, there must not be any doubt that God will provide. This passage is actually a very detailed look at what doubt is and how it functions.

First, the word doubt in the Greek actually means to thoroughly judge, discern or discriminate in the decision making process. As a matter of fact, this word could be good or bad in Scripture, depending upon the context.

Jesus said that we should discern the signs of the times (Matthew 16:2-3). We should be able to judge disputes between believers (1 Corinthians 6:5). We must discern the Lord’s body during communion (1 Corinthians 11:29). Prophecy should be judged by the listeners (1 Corinthians 14:29).

The problem comes in when we try to judge God’s Word. It’s not up to us to decide whether God means what He says or not. His Word is truth. It doesn’t matter what things look like from our perspective.

The next thing I see is that the person who doubts is like a wave on the ocean. But it’s not just any wave. It’s a wave that’s specifically formed by the wind blowing across the water. That kind of wave only moves in the direction that the wind is blowing.

If I only trust God when the wind of circumstance is blowing in a favorable direction, that’s a very shallow faith. It’s up to random chance whether it will take me to God’s best or not. Most likely, you’ll never get there.

This person is also called double-minded, or literally double souled. It’s like you have a split personality. When you’re around God’s people it seems like nothing’s impossible. But in the middle of the struggle, you lose all hope.

According to James, this person is unstable in all he does. That literally means that the road he’s taking has no permanent direction.

Think about it. What if the road I took to work each day comes out at a different place each time I drove on it. That’s what life is like as a doubter. You never know where you’re going to end up, spiritually speaking.

We need to trust God’s Word no matter what things look like around us. Abraham learned this lesson, and he saw God’s power at work.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.
Romans 4:20-21

So if you need God’s wisdom – if you lack in any area of your life – then you can trust Him for it with all your heart. Don’t try to decide whether it’s for you or not. Jesus Christ already paid the price for it. Receive God’s wisdom without any doubt.

Question: What are some doubts that you’ve had to overcome in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2017 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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What You Really Lack

Question MarkI’ve been looking at the path to maturity in the book of James. I want to talk in a little more detail about the result.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:4

This is obviously something that James believes that we can attain to. But in understanding the words that he uses, it goes against what many people preach.

I believe that God’s Word is truth. That means that no matter what people say, I have to trust that God’s way is correct.

What do I mean by all this? Simply that the word James uses for complete is a compound word. It means having your whole allotment. It speaks about everything that God has for us.

God wants us to be mature, receiving everything that Jesus paid for on the cross. But James doesn’t leave it at that. He goes on to repeat himself by coming at it from the opposite direction.

He says that as a mature believer you lack nothing. That literally means that there is not even one thing missing.

As I said in the first post of this series, the Book of James was the first Scripture that the Holy Spirit gave to the church. I find this amazing. The very first thing that the Spirit reveals to His church is that He wants us mature…AND…that there’s no lack in the walk of maturity.

Why is it that so many Christians seem to be missing out on God’s best? I think that it’s because we don’t know what we’re really lacking. We’re under the impression that we need things, or money. But that’s not the lack – according to Scripture.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5

Immediately after telling us that we should lack nothing, James tells us what to pray for. If there’s an area of need in our lives, then the deficiency is in our wisdom. At the point where we lack wisdom, there will be a material need.

This is clear from what Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, wrote.

Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.
Proverbs 3:13-16

You can sum up this passage by saying that if you possess Godly wisdom, then you don’t need anything else. Finances, a home, a good job, friends, and much more will be available to you if you can walk in the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

The reason should be obvious. Wisdom is the ability to make the right choices based upon the knowledge you’ve received.

We live in an age where we have all the knowledge we need, right at our fingertips. We can search out any answer we require on Google. The problem is that knowledge by itself doesn’t guarantee our success. You need to know what to do with it. That’s why God promises us His wisdom.

I’m so glad that there’s no qualification on the Lord’s promise of wisdom. Anytime, anywhere, I can ask Him and receive the wisdom I need.

If you lack anything, then it’s time for a new strategy. Instead of praying for “stuff”, ask God for the wisdom you need. Then be listening for His voice to guide you in the right paths.

Question: How has God’s wisdom helped you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2017 in God's Provision, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Be Wise

EmeraldI’m posting about how David’s mighty men are an example to us of spiritual warfare. I’ve been talking about The Three. Today I’ll move on to a man named Abishai.

Abishai the brother of Joab was chief of the Three. He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three. He was doubly honored above the Three and became their commander, even though he was not included among them.
1 Chronicles 11:20-21

Abishai did the same things that the three did. What made him so different that they decided to put him in the lead? I believe that it was the wisdom that they saw in him.

In talking about wisdom and understanding, Solomon said…

Esteem her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you.
Proverbs 4:8

He had ability in the area of understanding that they recognized. He was probably someone they went to for counsel and advice. In any case, because what they saw in him, they were willing to follow him.

That shows me that the mighty are people of wisdom and understanding.

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.
1 Timothy 5:17

This sounds the same as what we see in the life of Abishai. Double honor is even found in the body of Christ. That’s why we must spend time in the Lord’s presence to seek wisdom and understanding. That’s the only place it can be found.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5

Without God’s wisdom we’re flying blind. Many times in ministry we come to important decisions. That’s when we must seek the Lord. Very often we find that the most logical choice is not what God wills.

It turns out that human wisdom and the mind of Christ can be worlds apart. The question is; do we want man’s best, or God’s best? I would much rather God get the glory for an outcome that I could never have accomplished on my own.

To be mighty in spirit is to operate in wisdom and understanding. We need to let the Holy Spirit work His plan in us.

Question: How has God’s wisdom helped you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2017 in Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Spiritual Warfare

 

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