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Spiritual Warfare – Know Your Enemy

I’m continuing to look at the conflict between Adam and the devil.  It’s recorded in the title deed to earth (Revelation 6:1-2).  In my last post, we saw that the objective of the enemy was to take peace from the earth.

When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!”  Then another horse came out, a fiery red one.  Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other.  To him was given a large sword.
Revelation 6:3-4

As I’ve said previously, red is the color of sin.  Sin is missing the mark of God’s perfect will.  This is the enemy’s mode of transportation.  Questioning God’s will is the way he does things.  That’s his way of fighting the war and we need to be ready for it.

The Scripture tells us that he has some weaponry.  It’s a large sword.  Throughout the Bible, we find that words are a sword.

Please understand that the enemy’s sword is NOT living and active.  It’s not the sword of the spirit.  It has no authority behind it to pull down strongholds.

All the enemy starts with is a large sword – big words.  All he has is words.  No power, no authority, just talk.  On the surface, it doesn’t sound like he has much to work with.

As a matter of fact, when you compare it with what Adam was given, spiritual bow and arrows, the devil should have no hope of victory.  Adam has the authority of God to shut down the enemy before he even gets started.

Think about it.  We have a contest between two warriors.  One has a bow and arrows.  The other is approaching from the distance with only a sword.  Who would you expect to come out on top?

Personally, I would put my money on the archer every time.  However, a quick look at Genesis, chapter 3, will show that things don’t always turn out as they should.

Adam foolishly let the enemy get close enough to use his words.  The Scripture makes it clear that Adam was with Eve when the enemy attacked (Genesis 3:6).  Yet during the entire exchange, he kept his bow out of sight.

The enemy went to work questioning God’s Word and will for mankind.

The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'”
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Genesis 3:2-5

At that moment, through Adam, mankind succumbed to the enemy’s lies.  We’ve been caught in the consequences of that act ever since.

Know your enemy.  Understand his way of attacking.  We’ve been given life and victory in Christ.  Don’t let him convince you otherwise.

If the devil can convince you that the blessings of God are not for you, then he can steal your peace and everything else that goes with it.  Find out what God says about you and meditate on that.  It will give you the strength you need to walk in victory.

Question: What lies has the enemy used to try and stop you from receiving God’s best?

©2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2019 in Spiritual Warfare, Word of God

 

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Hung by the Tongue

As we continue to study the Gospel of Mark, it’s getting closer to the time of the cross.  The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus in His words.  They’re sending delegations of teachers to Him for the purpose of tripping Him up.

Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words.  They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity.  You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?  Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
Mark 12:13-15a

This is an interesting group that came to Jesus.  Pharisees and Herodians.  The Pharisees wanted national independence for Israel.  The Herodians were very comfortable under Roman rule.  They expected that no matter what Jesus answered, someone would be offended.

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy.  “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”
Mark 12:15b

The key word here is hypocrisy.  It’s really the Greek word for stage acting.  Jesus knew that these men were simply playing a part; what they said about Him was not meant in reality.  If they really believed what they said about Him, they would have been followers of Christ.

If you think about it, it’s actually something we should take seriously in our generation.  It seems pretty easy for us to say things like, “Jesus is my Lord.”  Every week we sing lyrics that say, “Jesus, you are my whole life.  I give my all to you.”

We need to ask ourselves; do we really mean it, or are we just playing a part – our Sunday morning acting personas?  That’s what it means to be a hypocrite.  It means that under certain, public conditions, we say things that are not true in our daily lives.

“No!  I’m not trying to deceive anyone.  I’m just singing the words that they put on the screen.”

Remember, Jesus said that we would have to give an accounting for every careless word spoken (Matthew 12:36).  I believe that includes the careless words we sing too.

They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this?  And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.
Mark 12:16-17

This is the truth that we all need to hear.  If we live in the world, then there are obligations that come with it – taxes, jobs, expenses, and other things as well.  The Lord knows about these.

The problem comes in when we voluntarily obligate ourselves to the world.  In our generation, we take on too many things that leave no room in our schedules for the plan of God.

We don’t have time for spiritual things because of that night class, soccer practice, movie night, or the hundred other things clamoring for our attention.  We can binge watch twelve episodes of our favorite TV show but have no time for intimate prayer with the Holy Spirit.

According to Jesus, we need to get our priorities straight.  The time is now for the people of God to live as though Jesus Christ truly is our whole life.  Then we’ll see the hand of God manifesting the power that they had in the early church.

Question: How do you reorder your schedule to make more time for developing your spiritual life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Hurtful Words

I’ve been looking at how we need to keep a tight rein on our tongue. This is what much of the book of James is about. It’s from our tongues that we can see our faith and maturity – or lack of them.

Your tongue also shows how well you’re able to relate in the body of Christ.

Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you — who are you to judge your neighbor?
James 4:11-12

James is telling us not to speak against our brothers and sisters. That means it’s all about attitude. Where is your heart focused on?

I’ve heard people speaking evil things in regards to someone. When challenged about it they say, “I’m not gossiping. Everything I’m saying is the truth.”

According to James, truth is not the issue. The question is whether you’re saying something that will hurt that person. What’s the goal of your statements? Are to trying to make them look good or bad in the eyes of others?

The greater context of James gives us more insight into this. When he says that speaking against your brother is speaking against the law, he’s not talking about the Old Testament. In this book, James keeps referring to the perfect law that gives freedom.

When you slander your brother, you’re speaking against the grace of Christ Jesus. When you stand in judgment over someone, you’re saying that God’s grace is ineffective in their life. You’re taking on the role of the Holy Spirit and that’s a dangerous place to be.

James tells us that there’s only one qualified Judge. But in this case, He’s the same one who saves. His blood not only forgives, but can change someone from the inside out. Instead of talking against this person, you should be praying for their growth and blessing.

But there’s a greater danger that you enter when you use your words to hurt others.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Luke 6:37-38

I think it’s funny that we use these words of Jesus to apply to our money most of the time. Especially since it’s obvious that Jesus used them in relation to our words. He is giving us a warning in light of the law of sowing and reaping.

It’s clear that the Lord is talking about our words in this section. The same words you give will be given back to you – good measure, shaken together, and running over. This is true whether it’s words of judgment, condemnation, or forgiveness.

If you walk in grace and mercy toward others, you’ll find that you receive more in your daily life. When you sow grace, you receive grace. By your words you can set yourself up for the blessing of God. Just make sure your words are a blessing to others.

Question: How have you spoken a blessing into the lives of others?

Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2017 in Fellowship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Is Your Tongue Your Problem?

DogI’ve been talking about Abraham’s example to us in receiving God’s blessing and provision.  In my last post I said that we needed to speak what we believe from our heart.  This is important because it’s usually our speaking that gets us in the most trouble.

Listen to the exchange that took place as Abraham was taking Isaac up the mountain.  All Abraham knew at this point was that God was asking him to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice.

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”  And the two of them went on together.
Genesis 22:7-8

I can only imagine how much pain this question caused Abraham.  I believe that there was a long pause while Abraham thought about how he could answer the boy.  It amazes me how simply the answer was formed.

In spite of his confusion, and without anger or bitterness toward God, he spoke the truth in faith and love.  This is a lesson we need to take to heart.

So many times we speak without thinking.  We especially run into trouble when we talk from the hurt and anguish we’re experiencing.  We say many things that we wish we could take back.

That’s why one of the secrets to positioning ourselves to receive God’s blessing is to watch what we say when we’re hurting.  James understood this truth.

Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
James 3:5-6

James is looking at this from a negative perspective.  Controlled by the spirit, the tongue can set your life on course for God’s blessing.  Controlling the tongue is one of the hardest things we’re called to do, yet it’s one of the most important.  What we say can set the emotional foundation for our eventual success or failure.

How we speak, especially in times of confusion and pain, will have a lasting effect on both us and those around us.  Is what you’re saying building up or tearing down God’s work?

We must choose to keep a watch over our tongues.  If needed, we can go to the Lord in repentance for things that may have been said in hurt or anger.  We can ask for His strength to take control of this unruly member of our body.

If we will spend time in the Lord’s presence and meditate upon His Word, then there will be a greater chance that truth and love will come out during stressful times.

Question: When have your words either helped or hurt the situation you were in?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Faith, God's Provision

 

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God Words – Awesome

Have you seen anything awesome lately?

Psalm 47:2
How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!
(NIV)

I have been thinking lately about our language.  Particularly, the words we use.  Words that have become commonplace in our everyday speech patterns.  I wonder about them.  Now I want to give my humble opinion about what I call God words.  These are words that really can only be applied to God and His works.

The first I thought about was the word awesome.  It’s a word I hear used all the time – about everything.

“Awesome cookies.”

“That movie was awesome.”

“You did awesome on that test.”

Is that really how this word should be used?  I looked it up in the dictionary. Under awesome it said, “Inspiring awe.”  That didn’t help too much.  What’s awe?  The dictionary said, “Reverential fear, dread mixed with veneration.”  Now tell me, does that really describe a cookie?

I am reminded of a trip I took as a chaperone of high school students.  Some of them were city kids who had never been away from home.  At one point we took them to see the Grand Canyon.  When the view suddenly opened up, there was silence.  These students who were always laughing and joking about everything were standing there with their mouths dropped open, unable to speak.  That is awe.

The next time you hear or use the word awesome, let it remind you of its true meaning and the awesome God that we serve.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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