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The Law of Freedom

MirrorIn my last post I talked about the need to hear a Word from God. We have to spend the time listening for his voice. But it doesn’t just end there.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
James 1:23-24

Once you’ve heard from the Holy Spirit you need to follow through on what He spoke to you. This goes beyond simply thanking Him for speaking. There has to be a fulfillment of the assignment.

I like the illustration that James gives us here. It’s important for us to understand just what he’s saying to the church.

In my last post I talked at length about the Word of God being more than just Scripture, but God speaking to us. As James continues on that theme, he starts to give us more detail. We can’t ignore the implications of what he’s teaching.

When I read the Bible, I know that it’s the same for everybody. The life of Jesus, the teachings of the Apostles, and the histories don’t change from generation to generation. The truths that we read are timeless, and apply to everyone for all time.

A mirror is a completely different piece of equipment. What I see in a mirror is not at all what you would see. As a matter of fact, what I see when I first wake up in the morning is nothing like what I see as I’m preparing to go to bed.

Every time I look into the mirror, it’s a unique experience. That’s another reason why this has to be about our time spent with the Holy Spirit – hearing His voice. Whenever we spend quality time in the presence of God it should be a one-of-a-kind encounter.

What I need to hear from God today, may be about something totally different than what He speaks to me tomorrow. The Lord wants to work in us and in the lives of those around us. For that to happen, I need to hear from Him on a consistent basis.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:25

Listen to what James calls this encounter. The perfect law that gives freedom. There’s absolutely no way he could be talking about the Old Testament here. Paul said almost the same thing in his letters.

Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:15-17

It’s obvious that freedom can only come through the Holy Spirit. He wants to speak a word that’s tailor made to the situations we’re facing. I believe that hearing and doing what the Spirit speaks to us is the perfect law that gives freedom.

It’s through time spent in the Spirit that God writes His law on our hearts. That’s where we find the freedom to live for Him without hindrance.

Question: What was the last thing the Lord spoke to you about?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

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Healing Principles – The Word

BeamI’m taking a few posts to talk about the Biblical principles surrounding divine healing. I believe that God wants to use the church to the same degree that Christ healed the sick when He walked the earth. The problem is that we don’t understand all of the things involved.

One big key to healing is found in the book of James.

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
James 5:14-15

I feel that in this modern age we really don’t get what James means by the prayer of faith. I get the impression that we think it’s all about quoting the Bible and tacking on “in Jesus name” at the end. James has a whole different perspective.

Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
James 5:17-18

The example he uses is Elijah stopping the rain from falling in Israel. What would cause him to do something like that? There’s an assumed chain of events that led to his famous prayer.

He was at home, in prayer, when suddenly he heard a Word from God. That’s the only explanation for the boldness he had. God spoke to him and said that the rain would stop when he delivered the message to the king.

This is the very example that James uses to illustrate healing prayer. The assumption is that to pray this kind of prayer, you must have heard from heaven. It’s based upon hearing a Word from God.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

This verse literally says that faith comes by hearing the rhemaWord of God. That’s the Word that God Himself speaks to us. But in order to hear this Word, we have to spend time in His presence listening to His Spirit.

That’s what we find so hard to do in this generation. We want everything to come instantly. No waiting on the Lord in prayer. We just want the perfect spiritual formula that will assure us the answer every time we pray it.

Unfortunately that’s not how God operates. Over and over again in the Scripture we see that healing is associated with receiving a Word from God.

He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.
Psalms 107:20

If we want to see more healings in the body of Christ then we have to do it His way. We must spend more time in prayer and prayer in the spirit. That’s how we will position ourselves to hear from God. Faith will rise within us. Then the Word of healing that we speak will be powerful and effective.

Question: How have you seen divine healing operate through God’s people?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2015 in Faith, Healing, Prayer, Word of God

 

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Hearers and Doers of What?

Letter“Don’t just be a hearer, be a doer.” I’ve heard that exhortation many times, and in many situations. What does it really mean? It was first spoken by a pastor hundreds of years ago.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
James 1:22-24

James was the Pastor of the church in Jerusalem at the very start of the church age. Hundreds of people were being saved every week and the body of Christ was growing at an incredible rate.

I believe that he wrote this book as a sort of handbook for new believers. It was something they could continue to refer to as their walk with Christ matured.

I also believe that this was the first New Testament document to have been written. Before any of the Gospels or the letters of Paul, we have the book of James. But that’s where my questions begin. What does he mean by the term Word of God?

Over time, we’ve come to assume that when the Bible says Word of God, it’s talking about itself. Is that a correct assumption? After all, the New Testament wasn’t written yet.

On top of that, the normal believer of that day had no access to the Old Testament. It wasn’t until the invention of the printing press that the Bible became available to the average Christian. This brings me to my original question – hearers and doers of what?

The answer to this is also the destiny God has for His people right now. I’m talking about hearing a Word from God Himself. The early church had no other choice for knowing what to do. They had to seek the direction of the Holy Spirit.

The key here is the word listen. James isn’t talking about reading the Bible. He’s assuming that God’s people are spending time in the Lord’s presence listening to Him. The word he uses is actually an intense form of listening – giving your total attention to the one speaking.

One of our biggest problems in this generation is that we’re not even listeners yet. James is not talking about listening to a great sermon and then trying to be a good person. He’s looking for someone to deepen their relationship with the Father.

We can’t be a doer of God’s Word until we actually spend some time listening to the Holy Spirit. The Lord has so much He wants to share with us. There’s a great deal we need to hear if we would just take the time in His presence.

This is the lesson that the modern church needs to learn. God wants to speak to us. He wants us to hear a Word from His Spirit. Then we can walk in it and know that we will see God’s hand at work in us and in those around us.

We need to spend time listening – then doing.

Question: What would the church look like if we truly listened to God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2014 in Revival, Word of God

 

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The Word of the Cross

Cross SunsetAs believers, most of us know that the goal is to walk in maturity. What I’ve found is that in order to understand the road to maturity, we must first understand the significance of the cross.

Usually when we think about Christ, and all that He accomplished for us, we mention the cross but immediately focus on the resurrection. Don’t get me wrong, the resurrection of Christ was the most important event in all of history. It sealed our redemption. Without the risen Lord, we would still be dead in our sins.

Our problem is that we usually don’t give the cross a second glance. We sometimes downplay the cross. We’ve become too familiar with it. We see crosses everywhere. It has become the most recognized symbol of Christianity.

But do we really understand its significance in our growth process? I want to take a few posts to show you some things that seem to have gotten lost along the way.

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel — not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:17-18

When I meditate upon what Paul is saying in this passage, it causes me to take a step back. Paul said that Christ did not make me an apostle to baptize. This statement should capture our attention.

The apostle was not sent out to make converts. That wasn’t his goal and it shouldn’t be ours. In some circles this needs to be emphasized.

We’re not in the Kingdom of God to “get people saved.” We’re simply here to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ. How people respond to the message is up to them. The only thing I’ll be judged on is how accurately I gave that message, not on how many believed it. I think this distinction is lost on many believers.

However, there is a deeper truth here than just to preach the Gospel. We must preach this Good News without emptying the cross of its power. By expressing the Gospel through my human wisdom and reasoning, I lose the power that is resident in the cross. That’s why I need to hear a Word from God, and preach that Word.

The Word of the cross has the power to save. But it’s how we understand this statement that makes all the difference. Remember, being saved is not a one-time thing. It’s an on-going process. That’s why the Word of the cross is for those who are being saved.

I need the saving power of God on a daily basis. This is the power that saves me from my sinful actions, sickness, poverty, depression, and a whole host of other issues I have to deal with in my old nature. The message of the cross speaks to all of these and brings victory. It’s because we have watered down the message of the cross, that we have such battered down church in our generation.

When we give the Word of the cross a back seat, we miss out on the victory that God has made available to us. That’s why I feel it necessary to write about the cross of Christ for a little while. My hope is that it will help us in becoming more like the Lord.

Question: What do you see as significant about the cross?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Power of God, The Church, Word of God

 

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Looking for the Holy Pause

 

AttentionA while ago I posted a series of articles about hearing a Word from God. I said that this was the missing ingredient in the church today. I believe that it’s the restoration of this truth that will be the basis of the next move of God.

With that in mind, I’m drawn to the book of Acts where this principle is at the forefront of the activities of the early church. It’s important to see how they operated in it if we’re to go in that direction.

As I read this account of the church’s infancy, I’ve learned to look for what I call “the holy pause.” These are the times where the believer is taking the time to hear from God concerning their next move. Most of the time, we read right over these important moments without giving them a second thought.

One place this is evident is when Peter and John were going to the Temple at the time of prayer. At the gate was a man who had been crippled from birth.

When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Acts 3:3-5

Did you see it? Peter and John paused to stare at the man. Why? They had been to the temple every day for a long time. They had seen this crippled man on many occasions. Why did they stop to stare at him on this particular day?

It was because at that moment the Holy Spirit was arresting the Apostle’s attention. They were pausing to hear what the Spirit was speaking to them. Then, having heard from God that it was this man’s time to be healed, they spoke the words that changed his life forever.

A similar event took place in the life of Paul.

In Lystra there sat a man crippled in his feet, who was lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking. Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed and called out, “Stand up on your feet!” At that, the man jumped up and began to walk.
Acts 14:8-10

When the verse says that Paul saw that he had faith, it literally means that Paul perceived the man’s faith. After all, faith is not something that can be seen with your eyes – it’s an internal decision.

How long did Paul look at the man? We’re not told. But it was long enough for the Holy Spirit to speak the Word of healing to the Apostle.

We need to learn this truth if we’re to see the manifestation of the Spirit in our ministries. We need to learn to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit working in us. This takes time in His presence.

In our generation we want the quick working of God. Unfortunately, the greater the manifestation of God in your life, the more time you must spend in prayer before the Lord. We need to learn the lesson of the Holy Pause.

Question: What are some other examples of this holy pause in Scripture?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Prayer, What's Missing?, Word of God

 

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Do You have Room for the Word? #discipleship

WeedsIn my last post I talked about what Jesus said that it means to be His disciple in John, chapter 8.  It requires us to remain in His Word.  Our response to this truth is an issue today.

Even though Jesus was speaking to those who believed in Him, their response was surprising.  They were offended that He said they needed to be set free.

“We’ve never been a slave to anything or anyone.”

“You’ve gone too far, Jesus.”

“I know you are Abraham’s descendants.  Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word.”
John 8:37

Jesus knew that they were believers.  The problem was that they had no admittance, pass, designated space for His Word.  Because they wanted to justify themselves, their minds rejected what Christ was telling them.  Later in His teaching, Jesus explained why this happened.

Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.
John 8:43

He literally said that it was because they did not have the power to hear my logos.  In order to let the Word of God work its change in our lives, we need to draw upon the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul even wrote about it.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

It’s the Holy Spirit who helps us to hear God’s Word.  But don’t get the idea that it’s an easy thing.  The state of the modern church, pastors included – proves just the opposite.  Think about what Christ taught concerning the difficulties involved in discipleship.

And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:27

That doesn’t sound very convenient.  Picking up something that points to the death of my flesh.  Then, as if that’s not enough, I have to watch closely to where Christ is moving, and follow in His footsteps.

It’s no wonder that in the current version of Christianity, we use the word “disciple” to mean anyone who has received salvation.  We need to get back to the radical discipleship that Jesus taught.

In my next post I’ll talk about just how inconvenient this is.

Question: How far are you willing to be inconvenienced for Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in Ministry, Revival, Word of God

 

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Thanksgiving Bread – The Spirit and the Word #thanksgiving

BreadUnder the Old Testament law, many different types of offerings were to be presented to God.  Some were called Fellowship Offerings because they were given simply out of love for God.  An offering of thanksgiving was one of these Fellowship Offerings.

If he offers it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering he is to offer cakes of bread made without yeast and mixed with oil, wafers made without yeast and spread with oil, and cakes of fine flour well-kneaded and mixed with oil.  Along with his fellowship offering of thanksgiving he is to present an offering with cakes of bread made with yeast.
Leviticus 7:12-13

There are four different kinds of bread that were associated with this offering.  The common elements in all of them are flour and oil.  I believe that they correspond to the word and the spirit.  This is central to thanksgiving since everything I receive from God is through the Word and by His Spirit.

The first bread is cakes of bread without yeast and mixed with oil.  The term “unleavened” comes from a root which means to greedily devour because it is sweet.  It was made with flour mixed with oil.  To make these today, we would use shortening or butter.  They would be more like shortbread or butter cookies.

Sometimes the word is sweet to me.  I devour it greedily.  It satisfies my inner longing and refreshes my spirit.  I’m thankful for the Word of God that lifts me up.

The next bread is the wafer – literally, a matzah.  This matzah cracker was to be anointed with oil.  The matzah is very dry and pierced at regular intervals throughout the cracker.

Sometimes the Word pierces me, like a sword.  It’s in times like this that God is doing surgery on me.  The Bible teaches that faithful are the wounds of a friend.  I need it because this is the place of the anointing.  I’m thankful for the Word of God that corrects me.

Another bread is made with fine flour and cooked in oil.  Fine flour is like our bakery flour.  When we cook something in oil, we call it deep fried – like fried dough or donuts.

This one is brought about in the heat of the spirit.  It takes the fire of the Holy Spirit, heating up the Word to produce change in my life.  A prophet said to God that Your Word is like a fire in my bones.  This fire pushes you to action.  Christ has said that He wants you either cold or hot.  Lukewarm just won’t cut it.  I’m thankful for the Word of God that fires me up to action for the Lord.

The last bread of the thanksgiving offering is made with yeast.  Yeast usually speaks of our imperfections.  It amazes me that God will entrust His divine Word to imperfect humans.  The Lord gives me a word to share with others.  If I were God…it would never happen.

But He knows best.  He gives us a word to share, even in our humanity.  This is something that my imperfect life can give to others.  I’m thankful that Christ lets us represent Him by His Spirit.

Thank God.

Question: What are you thankful to God for at this moment?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Encouragement, God's Provision, Word of God

 

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