I’ve been posting about the link between forgiveness and revival. I think that it’s clear from Scripture that the spiritual battle is not only fought on the ground. There’s a higher aspect to it.
In my last post, I talked about Daniel’s prayer while in Babylon. As he was praying and interceding on earth, the angels were warring in the sky. If we want a breakthrough in our nation, then there must be a spiritual battle.
As in any war, it requires strategy. It’s not just about politics. It’s not even about me sharing the Gospel with someone. We’re in a spiritual war.
Another lesson that we need to learn is that it’s not just up to individuals. In an army, soldiers don’t just wake up and say, “I’m going to go out and fight today.”
“I’m going to do warfare today.”
That doesn’t work in the natural, so why do we think that it has a lasting effect in the spiritual?
Understanding forgiveness will give us a view of the whole war. We are so intent on our individual fight. When that happens, we get self-absorbed and that’s the exact opposite of being humble.
In warfare it’s imperative that I know what the enemy’s objective is in attacking us. What’s our objective in the spiritual war, as the body of Christ?
Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Jesus said this to His disciples after the resurrection. “In the same way that the Father sent me…” Jesus’ objective was to destroy the works of the evil one. How can we do that? There’s only one way – the same as He did.
And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
The victory comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, there needs to be forgiveness – the picking up and removal of sin. Sin is that which misses the mark. We are to heal society by forgiveness principles. The principles of sin removal.
In actuality, the word, forgive, is not in second half of the above verse. The word used is seize, take hold, dominate, or arrest.
When we deal with society, sin and people in sin, there are two objectives. The first is to remove sin. This means getting someone saved and/or healed. It might even be getting a godly law passed.
The other objective, if people refuse the Good News, is to arrest sin. We can take dominion over it in the Name of Christ.
“This far and no further.”
Then, we can push it back in the spirit. In my next post I’ll wrap up this subject showing what I believe is God’s way to overcome evil and bring about revival in our nation.
Question: What are the evils that need to be arrested and pushed back in our nation?
© Nick Zaccardi 2013
Tags: angels, destroy the works of the evil one, forgiveness, good news, Holy Spirit, missing the mark, politics, power of the Holy Spirit, revival, Scripture, sharing the Gospel, sin, society, spiritual battle, spiritual warfare, strategy, war in heaven
I’m posting about the link between revival and forgiveness. In my last post we looked at II Chronicles 7:14, which said that God’s people have the responsibility to pray and seek the face of God. Then God would hear, forgive, and send healing and revival to our land.
Yes, revival really is up to us. The Bible says, “If my people, called by My Name will do what’s necessary.” Then we would see the healing of God on our land. This is an important concept for us to learn.
The land and God’s people are linked. This has always been true. When Israel was going into captivity, God told them pray for Babylon to prosper. If things go well for the nation that we live in, then they’ll go well for us.
It’s a very selfish thing for us to only seek God’s blessing for ourselves. We need to care about the people around us. We are the only ones who can intercede for our nation. That’s where revival starts.
We need to understand the principles of how forgiveness relates to revival. Daniel understood the concept.
“Give ear, O God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For your sake, O my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
This kind of repentance takes humility. Daniel was righteous. He wouldn’t eat the king’s meat and he kept himself pure. Of all Israelites, Daniel had the least to repent of. Yet he is crying out for forgiveness. We have to understand that he wasn’t asking for people to be forgiven, but for the nation.
Nations need forgiveness. I’m not talking about the people, but the nation itself. Throughout the Bible we see that God treats nations like people.
Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
Nations are judged by what they allow or don’t allow. Just because a nation says something is legal, doesn’t make it right. So if my nation is allowing things to be done that are evil, then God’s people need to intercede for forgiveness. This is where true revival is birthed. It comes to pass when we take responsibility for our nation.
It’s up to God’s people to pray for forgiveness for their nation. This is where the battle for the USA will take place. It’s in the place of prayer. We need to be interceding for our nation. Then we’ll see the hand of God moving on the hearts and lives of those around us.
Question: What do we need to repent of for our nation?
© Nick Zaccardi 2013
Tags: America, America needs forgiveness, blessing, blessing of God, forgiveness, God's people, intercede, intercede for our nation, intercession, our land, pray for forgiveness, pray for revival, prayer, responsibility, revival, take responibility, true revival
America needs a spiritual revival. That’s beyond question. I believe that it’s coming. But we as God’s people need to prepare ourselves for it. I want to take a few posts to deal with an issue that I think is important for us to understand in this generation.
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14
The outcome of this verse is to forgive their sin and heal their land. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that these two concepts are linked with each other. If we want to be positioned for revival, then we must grasp how the forgiveness of God figures into it. In this post I want to talk about some principles of forgiveness.
Forgiveness was God’s idea. Human beings would have never come up with this concept. It was God who first approached us and told us that forgiveness was possible. Only after seeing His example, could we try and forgive others in the same way He forgave us.
True forgiveness is freedom. When we sin against God or another person, we place ourselves under the curse of divine judgment. My sin has a penalty that must be paid.
We have watered down the scope of forgiveness. Forgiveness ends the demand for the penalty. Then it goes even further and frees us from the payment of that penalty. Then, because of what Christ did on the cross, that sin is totally and permanently removed from my record! Now that’s freedom!
Forgiveness is a process. There’s a definite flow of events in order for forgiveness to take place. First there is the sin that brings the need for forgiveness. Then, forgiveness itself must be purchased. In our case God purchased it by the precious blood of Christ.
The next steps are on my part. First, I have to humble myself, admit what I have done, and turn from my sin. That’s what true repentance it.
Next, I have to receive the forgiveness that was purchased for me. This is probably the most overlooked step of the whole process. Only when all of these things are accomplished can I step into the freedom of forgiveness.
There’s a link between revival and forgiveness. Sometimes we miss the blessing because we don’t see the big picture. America is in need of a great change. We need revival.
We think the problem is that when we tell others about Christ, they don’t want to listen. We need to see the scope of revival. In the verse above we’re told that it comes when God’s people pray.
Revival comes when the church humbles itself. Literally this Scripture says we need to search out, seek, and strive after the presence of God. Only then will forgiveness and revival break out.
In the next posts I’ll deal with how and why forgiveness and revival work together.
Question: How often do you specifically pray for revival in our nation?
© Nick Zaccardi 2013
Tags: America, America needs revival, coming revival, forgive, forgive their sin, forgiveness, freedom, heal their land, humble, penalty of sin, positioned for revival, pray for revival, receiving forgiveness, repentance, revival, revival forgiveness connection, USA
We use the term disciple very casually these days. Many are of the opinion that just being a Christian automatically makes you a disciple. It that the truth? Let’s see how it worked for the first disciples who came to Christ.
The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.
There are some things that this passage can teach us about what it means to be a disciple. We see two men who were following John the Baptist. Then they were pointed to the Messiah. That’s when their lives were changed.
A disciple follows Christ. There’s no way around that. The word follow implies that they took the same road as Christ. Many teach that a disciple is a student. I’ve attended enough classes to know that not all students aspire to be like their teachers. A student wants to learn what’s being taught. A disciple wants to become what the teacher is.
A disciple comes near to Christ. Jesus asked these men, “What are you seeking?” Their response, in the original Greek, was amazing. They replied, “Where is your dwelling place?” Being a disciple is all about what you’re seeking. Many say that they’re pursuing God. But in reality they’re only after the things God can give them. A disciple simply wants to be near Christ.
A disciple wants to experience Christ. These men went to the Lord’s house and spent time with Him. Hearing about Him isn’t enough. What are you seeking? Facts and figures about what God has done? Or do you want to meet with Him and experience His home?
A disciple lives in Christ. This is what truly defines a disciple. Do you want to live in Him? Jesus made this point very clear. When most Christians are asked about it, they usually reply, “Of course I’m a disciple.” The real issue is; what are you seeking? Anything other than His dwelling place and you’re not a disciple.
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:31-32 NKJV
Abide in Him. Let His word abide in you.
Question: What steps are you taking to be a disciple of Christ?
© Nick Zaccardi 2013
Tags: abide, abide in Christ, become like Christ, Christ, Christian, disciple, disciple of Christ, dwelling place, experience Christ, follow Christ, His dwelling, Jesus, live in Christ, Messiah, near Christ, same road, seeking, word, word of God
Have you been starving your inner man? Spiritual victories require a healthy soul.
The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, as well as large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. With the dough they had brought from Egypt, they baked cakes of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.
Israel was about to leave Egypt. Moses, the man of God, had warned them days before that they would need to depart quickly. In order to accomplish this, they took along dough made without yeast.
I’ve shared in the past that I like to get away now and then to hike and pray in the wilderness.
I’ve learned a lot of spiritual lessons along the way. It comes as no surprise that one of the most important hiking supplies is food. Thru-hikers walking the Appalachian Trail plan “food drops” to be waiting for them at strategic post offices along the route. This way they can easily resupply along the way.
One Friday night in a shelter, I met a young man who was out of food and money. This was a big problem for him even though he had a supply box waiting at a nearby post office. Ahead of him was a full day’s walk to the post office (which closed at noon on Saturday). This was compounded by the fact that this particular Monday was a holiday. That would be three days without food.
I happened to be at the end of the section I was hiking – so I was able to bless him with a ride to pick up his drop before the post office closed. Needless to say, he was very grateful.
That got me thinking of a spiritual application. The Word of God is our spiritual bread. There are many Christians who try to hike the road of life with only one or two meals a week.
So often we wonder why the obstacles of life take such a toll on us. We blame God and ask why it’s so hard to serve Him. All the while we live in spiritual starvation.
We need a constant diet of God’s Word if we’re to be victorious. In the same way that we can’t be healthy without nutritious food, we can’t live for God without a diet of His Word.
Please don’t neglect this vital nourishment.
Question: What do you do to keep well fed in the spirit?
© Nick Zaccardi 2013
Tags: bread, food, food for the journey of life, hard serving God, healthy soul, inner man, obstacles, spiritual bread, spiritual food, spiritual starvation, victorious, victory, word of God
Over the past few posts we’ve looked at the parable of the seed planted in different soils. The message Christ was focusing on should be clear. In order to prepare my heart for a great harvest, I must come to the realization that the Word of God must be the single crop in my heart.
This is what Scripture means by being single-hearted. When you have a single crop of the Word planted in your life, you’ve set yourself up for a plentiful harvest.
We have a spiritual epidemic across our nation. There’s an abundance of the Word of God, with very little fruit being produced. It’s time to weed out these distractions from the good, rich soil of our hearts. What we need is the mindset of a farmer when it comes to the Word of God.
“But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
It’s clear from this verse that in order to see the harvest, I must understand the Word – see that it applies to my life. I have to go beyond the person who lives too close to the road.
“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
This literally says that I must hold it down fast; keep it secure in my heart. It has to take root deeply in my life. I must go beyond those who have rocky soil.
Mark’s Gospel adds that we have to accept the Word. (Mark 4:20) This means to associate with, delight in. If you delight in a crop, you’re going to keep it free of weeds. You don’t want anything choking it out.
The bottom line is that you must persevere. In actuality it’s never easy to keep a farm or a garden. It always requires tending.
I must come to the point where I acknowledge that the Word of God is everything to me. It’s the same principle as in the physical world.
In the past I’ve had a garden. The fresh tomatoes, peppers, and squash were a welcome sight throughout the summer and fall. I could proudly say, “This eggplant came from my garden.” Here’s the difference – I wasn’t a farmer. I enjoyed the fresh vegetables grown in my garden, but I didn’t need them to survive.
A true farmer, on the other hand, lives by what he grows. His livelihood is tied to the crops that he produces. His new car is a result of the crops he harvested. The renovations to his home are a result of the harvest. Everything he has is tied up in his ability to produce a bountiful crop.
We must pick up this same mindset in regards to the Word of God. We live by the Word. Everything we need for life and godliness is all tied up in the Word. How I relate to the Word determines my destiny.
Hopefully, you can see by Christ’s teaching that it’s not just a matter of getting the seed into the ground. You can be planting huge amounts of seed and never see a single piece of fruit if you’re not following the basic principles of spiritual farming.
It’s all about getting the right seed into the right ground, then persevering to make sure that the seed can grow and produce fruit unhindered.
Question: How do you cultivate a “farmer’s mindset”?
© Nick Zaccardi 2013
Tags: abundance, abundant harvest, Christ, delight, destiny, farmer, fruit, fruit of the Spirit, harvest, Jesus, parable, perseverance, persevere, plant, plant the word, seed, single hearted, take root, the abundant life, weeds, word of God, word planted
I’m posting about the different kinds of soil that Jesus said was contained in our hearts. Today’s is about someone with very good soil. It produced bountifully. The problem was that it wasn’t producing fruit.
Instead, it raised a great crop of thorns and thistles. Then the few good plants that sprung up were choked out before they produced anything.
Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
These believers get further along than the other groups. They believe the Word and actually let it take root in their lives. Their problem is that they let other things grow right along next to it.
The first plant Jesus mentions is the distractions of this age, in the original Greek. What a description of the modern Christian – DISTRACTED! It’s not that we’ve turned our backs on God. On the contrary, we want God’s best – His Word and His grace. The trouble is that we want the world’s best right along with it. We’re getting distracted by the things of the world.
Right along with that is the delusion of wealth. When we think of wealth, it tricks us into believing that it can supply all of our needs. The truth is that wealth can only obtain material possessions.
Wealth can never satisfy the longing of our souls. If it could, you would never hear of a wealthy person committing suicide. The thing we need to put into perspective is that only the things that come from the Word of God are truly able to fulfill our lives.
The third plant that grows next to the Word is simply desires. What the verse implies is that this is a desire for the things that were given up in order to follow after God. When we start looking back at these things with longing in our hearts, it’s a sure road to failure.
Please understand that it’s not doing the former things that causes the trouble, it’s the desire to do it.
The biggest thing that the Christians of this generation need to realize is that you can’t have it all, no matter what any televangelist will tell you. You can’t have the power of God manifest in you, as well as everything your flesh desires.
It’s a well-known principle of farming. When weeds and valuable crops are allowed to grow in the same space, it’s the weeds that will win out every time.
We’re so quick to blame God.
“Oh God, I planted the Word. Why is there no harvest? Why have you failed me?”
I’m here to inform you, it wasn’t God who failed. Everything grew as God ordained it to. It was the weeds in your life that choked out the Word before it was able to produce fruit in you. That’s why there was no harvest.
Question: How are you keeping your heart free from weeds?
© Nick Zaccardi 2013
Tags: are you distracted, Christ, delusion, desires, distracted, distractions, flesh, good soil, harvest, heart, Jesus, parable, power of God, thistles, thorns, unfruitful, wealth, weeds, word of God
I’m posting about the different “heart soils” in Luke 8. Today I’ll deal with the rocky soil. This is about rocks with only a thin layer of dirt to cover them. The seed germinates and springs up quickly. But just as quick, the sun comes out, scorches the plant, and it withers and dies.
Jesus explained the spiritual application this way.
“Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.”
This verse literally says is that these people receive the Word in the middle of joy. It sounds like camp meeting to me. There’s excitement in the air. The whole atmosphere of the meeting is charged with a heavenly joy. It’s easy to believe in a place like that.
We’re not talking about people who don’t believe what they hear. They believe it’s for them. The problem is that what has sprung up so quickly, also withers just as quick. What is it that withers?
For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:24-25
What withers is the glory of man. This type of person hears the Word and believes that it’s “all about me.” That’s why there’s all the joy and excitement. They think that the Word is for my blessing, health, and prosperity. Forget about what God’s ultimate purpose is. It’s me that’s important.
The Lord says that in this rocky heart there is some faith exhibited for a while, but it doesn’t last long. Eventually trials and testings will come. When this happens, Jesus literally says that they will become offended. Why does Christ use this word?
When I go through a time of testing, I realize that it’s not all about me. I get offended that I’m not the center of all the attention. I don’t want the spotlight on Christ and what He’s trying to accomplish in me. I want the priority to be my comfort and happiness. The result is that I get offended and walk away from the Lord and His plan for my life.
If I want my heart prepared for an abundant harvest, I must assume that the Word of God spotlights Jesus Christ. I must desire to know His heart. There are many who read the Bible and pursue God only for what they can get from Him. The big question on their minds is, “What’s in it for me?”
Instead, we should be focusing on God’s eternal purpose – to draw all humanity into His kingdom. The blessings of God are great, but they’re not an end in and of themselves.
God has promised us prosperity, but it’s to finance the spread of the Gospel. God has promised us health and healing, but it’s so that we can minister the Good News of His love to the best of our ability.
All the promises of God should be viewed through the filter of God’s will and plans. That’s what’s missing in the shallow faith of rocky soil. We need to keep our hearts clear of the rocks of self-centeredness.
Question: How is God working through you to bring about His purpose?
© Nick Zaccardi 2013
Tags: abundant harvest, blessing, blessing of God, Christ, faith, glory of man, God's purpose, health, Jesus, joy, no root, offended, offense, parable, prosperity, rocky heart, setting yourself up for offense, soils, trials testing, trust
The 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.”
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.”
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
Tags: abundant harvest, along the path, application, apply, busy, gospel, Gospel message, harvest, heart, put it together, seed, seed of the word, soil, soil of your heart, understand the word of God, understanding, word of God
Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm…
From time to time I try to get away to the wilderness and get alone with God. A couple of weeks ago I felt a prompting of the Spirit, so I spent three days hiking on the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire. I’m glad that I did.
The presence of the Lord was very real during that trip. I had some great prayer times with Him. But there is one thing that happened that I want to share in this post.
My plan was to start out early and park my car at the ending point of the hike. I had made arrangements with a taxi company to meet me there and take me to where I was to start. As I sat in my car, waiting for the cab to arrive, it started to lightly drizzle.
According to the weather, it was only a 20% chance of rain first thing in the morning, then clear skies later. Since there was no cell phone reception to call off the taxi, and I figured it would clear up soon, I decided to go forward with my hiking plans.
I put on my rain gear and took the taxi to the start of my hike. It started off fine. Under the cover of the forest, the slight rain didn’t even make it down to where I was walking.
However, the further I hiked up the mountain, the less cover there was. Then it happened – the sky opened up and I found myself in a torrential downpour. I had to scramble across slippery rocks, on the edge of a cliff, in the rain.
At one point the trees cleared for a bit giving me an incredible view. (That’s the picture I took at the top of this post.) It was at that moment that the Spirit of the Lord became wonderfully real to me. I had no choice but to stop, right where I was and worship God.
As I looked around, standing on the rocks on the side of a mountain, dripping wet in a rainstorm, I had the funniest thought. I told the Lord, “God, You even make rainstorms magnificent!”
It was an experience to remember. The sound of the rain and wind in the mountains. The sight of the clouds racing past me as I stood level with them. The expanse of the mountains and trees around me.
It all combined to inspire awe toward my Creator. I realized in that moment that I was experiencing something that few people ever will. Actually, few people would ever choose to be there!
In our Christian walk, if you desire to do great things for God then you will go through a spiritual storm. But in the middle of that challenge, know that the Holy Spirit is with you. If you turn the downpour into a chance to praise God, you’ll know the wonder of His presence with you.
Questions: Are you going through a spiritual battle at this time? Will you choose to give God praise during the tough times?
© Nick Zaccardi 2013
Tags: Appalachian Trail, awe, challenge, hiking, Holy Spirit, mountain, praise God, praise Him in the storm, praising God in the storm, presence of God, presence of the lord, rain, Spirit of the Lord, spiritual battle, spiritual challenge, spiritual storm, voice of God, wilderness, worship God