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Monthly Archives: August 2020

Spiritual Demolition

As we continue through Second Corinthians, Paul is beginning to talk about the spiritual warfare we find ourselves in.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
2 Corinthians 10:4

Paul is very clear that we don’t fight on the same level as the rest of the world.  We don’t use fleshly weapons or tactics.  The battle is spiritual.

He says that our weapons are powerful through God.  As believers, all of us should be demolition experts.

The spiritual tools we have can totally demolish any spiritual stronghold or castle that has been erected against the knowledge of Christ.  Nothing can stand against us if we’re walking in the spirit.

What exactly are these strongholds that we should demolish?

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5

The first thing we see is the demolition of arguments.  That word literally means logical computations.  This could be a part of the war that goes on within us – between our flesh and our spirit.

The fact is that we like to figure things out on our own.  While it does work some of the time; it doesn’t always work in the kingdom of God.  The Lord’s will doesn’t always seem logical to us.

We think that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.  Sometimes God takes us around the walls a few times before they fall.

The next thing that is demolished is every pretension.  That word means a high place or a barrier.

So our spiritual weapons have the power to pull down anything that rises up as a barrier to the knowledge of God.  This should be one of our most important tools in evangelism.

How could you ever hope to bring people the Gospel?  We must first tear down the barriers stopping them from receiving it.  It’s not accomplished by logic, but by spiritual warfare.

The final thing that our weapons do is very important.  They take thoughts captive at spear point.  That’s the literal translation of this section.

In doing this, they make our thoughts take seriously our obedience to Christ.  It forces our thoughts in line with God’s Word.  It should be very clear by now what this weapon is.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

I believe that the church should be using the spiritual weapons we’ve been given.

Question: How have you seen God’s Word change a life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Nature of Spiritual Warfare

We’re continuing our walk through Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.  He has spoken very boldly to them on a variety of topics.

He knew that there were some critics in that church.  He knew what their response would be to some of his teachings.  He now wants to pre-empt their comments.

By the meekness and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you — I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” when away!  I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.
2 Corinthians 10:1-2

He gets right to the heart of the matter.  These people have a worldly mindset.  They view the church the same way they would see any secular organization.

It’s not the same.  The church is not an organization, but an organism – the body of Christ on earth.  As such, we live by a whole different set of standards.

That also puts us in the middle of a spiritual conflict between us and the world.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
2 Corinthians 10:3

We’re in a battle. Not against people, but unseen spiritual forces. Do we really understand the nature of this conflict?

I’ve heard Christians use the term spiritual warfare in many different contexts. Does our teaching line up with Scripture? That’s what matters.

At one point the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and made a statement I found hard to accept. What I heard on the inside was, “Do you realize that there’s been no spiritual warfare for hundreds of years?”

How can this be true? I hear people say they’re doing spiritual warfare all the time. We sing about it. We preach about it.  Eventually, I was able to understand what the Spirit of God was trying to get across to me.

In the above verse, the phrase, wage war, literally means to serve in a military campaign. This is where our definition of spiritual warfare falls short. Our skirmishes are not warfare.

According to the Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary, war is “a contest between or among nations…carried on by force or with arms.” That’s where we miss it. War is between nations, not individuals.

For instance, what if I got upset about some things that Canada is doing (I’m not!). What if I then covered myself in weaponry, Rambo style, then walked to the border of Canada and declared that I was going to war against them. How long do you think that “war” would last?

As crazy as that sounds, that’s what many believers do in the spirit. Then they call what they’re doing spiritual warfare.

We need to realize that true spiritual warfare will not take place until the church wakes up from its sleep. Then, in the spirit, we must begin to pull down the strongholds of Satan. This is not just the job of one or two bold Christians. It’s something that the Lord is calling us all to take part in.

We can either spend our time complaining about our society or doing something that will make a difference. Time on our knees before God will bring great change on the earth. Prayer, fasting, intercession, and prayer in the spirit are what it will take to bring revival to our land.

Question: What’s your part in this spiritual battle?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2020 in Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Warfare, The Church

 

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Giving Results in Thanksgiving

I’ve been posting about the outcome of a lifestyle of giving.  What’s the result of walking regularly in the grace of giving?

We’ve seen how God increases the seed and the harvest of those who sow into His kingdom.  Now Paul continues this thought.

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11

I know there are many who get upset when you talk about God’s abundant financial blessings on the lives of giving Christians.  But, I have to be true to what the Bible says.

This verse literally says that in everything you will be made wealthy.  Of course, in context, he’s talking about sowers.  But this is a verse that you cannot deny or explain away.  It says what it says.

There’s more to it than just getting wealthy.  According to the above verse, there’s a point that this wealth is taking you to.  The purpose of this blessing is to bring you to generosity in all things.

God doesn’t want to bring you a financial blessing just you can sit on a fat bank account.  He wants you to do something with it – be generous with others.

Then, there’s an even further result.  As you bless others, thanksgiving will go up to God.

So there’s a test you can take.  If you have wealth, is it the source of thanksgiving to the Lord?  If not, then you’re not using your finances correctly.

Paul goes on to elaborate on this.

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.  Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.  And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.  Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:12-15

I really need to tell you what Paul means when he says it’s the service that you perform.  He uses very detailed Greek words.  He is actually saying that this is a liturgy of servanthood.

Giving generously is actually a spiritual exercise.  It’s a part of the mature Christian walk with Christ.

The apostle tells us that it’s the proof of your obedience to God.  It shows that your confession of Christ as Lord is not just lip service.

It becomes obvious to all who see you that God is bestowing upon you this grace of giving.  It’s not from your own abilities or actions.  It’s His power working through you.

Thanksgiving to God will be multiplied as others begin to follow your example of giving.  This is truly a great gift to walk in.

Question: How have you experienced God’s blessings?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2020 in God's Provision, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Growers and Consumers

We’re continuing to go through Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church. He’s talking about the grace of giving and the rewards associated with it.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
2 Corinthians 9:10

Paul gives us a good description of the God we serve.  He shares a few important pieces of information.

The first thing he says is that God completely supplies.  He’s not a partial God, but one who does the whole work needed.

The Lord supplies seed to the sower.  That begs the question; what is a sower?  A sower is not someone who puts a few tomato plants in his backyard.  A sower is a farmer whose livelihood depends upon the crops that he sows in the ground.

A sower is someone who is regularly sowing.  They have a lifestyle of planting good seed into good soil.  They also water, weed, and watch over what they sow.

The good news is that God supplies seed for those who are sowers.  Whatever it is that you sow regularly, God will keep you amply supplied.

The next thing Paul says is that God supplies bread for food…or, literally, eating.  That’s for spiritual consumers.  They simply take.  They expect God to do everything for them without putting anything into His kingdom.

Jesus did say we could pray for our daily bread.  But that’s daily.  It’s for people who only want enough to survive.

I believe that the best choice for any Christian is to become a sower.  The rest of the verse is for them.  Someone who’s eating their daily bread has no need for a storehouse of seed.  That’s for those who are intent upon planting.

The Lord promises to increase your storehouse and your harvest.  The more you plant, the more He’ll give you.

But there’s more. The Greek word for increase and enlarge is a word from which we get our English word, choreograph.  In other words, if you’re a sower, God will choreograph things in such a way, that you’ll get more seed and a greater harvest.

That’s why it’s always better to be a sower than a consumer.  The promises of God are better.  What’s more, you’ll live a more fulfilling life.  You’ll be sowing blessings into the lives of many people around you.

Here’s the way Jesus said it…

“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 6:38

That’s how to live in order to be a blessing and be blessed at the same time.

Question: How have you reaped the rewards of giving?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2020 in God's Provision, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Liberality of God

We’ve been looking at Paul’s view of giving.  He’s talked about sowing and reaping as well as giving from the heart.  Now he’ll show us the results of giving into God’s work.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:8

This is an incredible promise to us.  It describes the attitude of God toward His faithful children.

I know that a lot of Christians don’t like to hear this teaching.  They believe in a God of “just enough”.  They’re trusting God for just enough so they can get by.

That’s actually the most selfish attitude you could have.  You’re only thinking of yourself.

The truth is that God wants to abundantly bless you.  Not so that you can have all kinds of stuff you never use.  God wants to bless you so that you can be a blessing.

Look at how Paul describes our God.  The first thing he tells us is that God is powerful enough.  All power in heaven and earth belongs to Him, and He can use it however it pleases Him.

The Lord uses that power to cause all of His grace to super-abound toward us.  Please remember that grace is not some ethereal cloud around us.  Specifically, grace is God’s response to our faith. (Romans 5:1-2)

That word, super-abound, is important.  It means to be in excess in quantity and/or quality.  In other words, God wants to give you an excessive amount of His grace – that’s more than you’ll need in your situation.

However, God has a reason that He gives you too much of His grace.  He has an ulterior motive.  The Lord wants you to do something.  In everything you do, at all times, He wants you to super-abound in the good work you’re doing.

That means God wants you to do excessively good works.  He wants you to go over and above what people expect.  Then, when people ask why you’re doing this, you can point to your excessively super-abundant God.

I know that there are some people who would say, “Wait a minute.  The verse says ‘all that you need’.  I told you God only gives you what you need.”

No!  You took the verse out of context.  It says that God gives you all you need to do your good works excessively.  Paul illustrates this with an Old Testament quote.

As it is written: “He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”
2 Corinthians 9:9

The word, scattered, in this verse means to disperse liberally.  It implies that God is scattering to the point where it appears to be wasteful.  That’s the God we serve.

If you’re a giver seeking to please and obey God, then He will faithfully and liberally supply all you need.  Not just to bless you, but so you can bless others as well.

Question: How have you been a blessing to others lately?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2020 in Faith, God's Provision, Ministry, Power of God

 

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The Heart of Giving

We’re continuing to study Paul’s exhortations concerning the grace of giving.  In my last post, we saw the principle of sowing and reaping.  Now we’ll move on to the next truth.

Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
2 Corinthians 9:7

This is another verse I’ve heard people use for their own agendas.  They explain to me that they can decide to give whatever they want…or nothing at all.  Is that what it’s really saying?

First of all, in the original text, the only place the word give appears is at the end of the verse – the word giver.  It’s also important to note that the beginning of this verse is not so easy to translate.

The Greek word translated as decided is only used this once in the entire New Testament.  I realize that all the major translations use words such as decided, purposed, and determined.  But in actuality, this word is pregnant with meaning.

It’s more than a simple decision.  It means to prioritize what you’re deciding to bring forth from your storehouse.  I understand why that phrase is hard to place into this verse and still have it be readable in English.

I think what Paul is trying to get across is that each person should bring forth what is the priority of their heart.  That puts a whole different spin on it.  That’s because what comes out of our heart is in direct relationship to what we’ve put into it.

In telling His disciples about how to recognize people by their fruit, Jesus said the following…

The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.
Luke 6:45

In the context of this verse, Jesus is relating this to how someone speaks.  But I believe, based on how the Lord worded the principle, that this could be applied to any area of life.  It fits right in with what Paul was saying to the Corinthian church.

That’s why the apostle tells us that our giving should not come from grief or distress.  We’re not buying a blessing from God to relieve our problems.  I’m not giving because someone made me feel guilty.

I give because of what’s planted in my heart.  I continually put God’s Word into it.  Then, the Holy Spirit has something to work with when it’s time to give.  I hear from the Lord and I give from the overflow of what’s in my heart.

That’s the best way to be a cheerful giver.  This means that you feel good about what you give.  In that way, you will both be a blessing, and be blessed by this grace of giving.

Question: how you seek God when it’s time to give an offering?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2020 in Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Sowing and Reaping

As we continue through the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul gives us more principles concerning the grace of giving.  He will now deal with some truths that have a greater application than simply your money.

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
2 Corinthians 9:6

Here we have the principle of sowing and reaping.  It’s taught a lot in the body of Christ.  We mostly hear it before offering time.

In the context of Paul’s letter, he’s definitely applying it to money.  But we have to realize that it has a much greater range than that.

I think that one of our problems is that much of our teaching centers around the English reading of this verse.  Most of what I’ve heard can be boiled down to “if you plant a lot, you’ll reap a lot.”

However, that’s not what I get when I read it in the original Greek.  The word for sparingly means to keep back, avoiding excess.  It also means to be cautious and wary.

Contrast that with the word for generously.  It means to have a blessing attitude.  It implies that you give in such a way that it’s a blessing to the one who receives it.

This verse on sowing and reaping is more about your attitude in giving.  It has nothing to do with the amount you give.  Jesus brought this truth to light when He saw a widow put a penny into the offering.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything — all she had to live on.”
Mark 12:43-44

The word Jesus used for more, means more in amount.  Effectively, what the Lord said was that this widow planted more seed then the others who put in more money.  It was her attitude that made the difference.

That’s because it’s all about obedience.  I never want anybody to give simply because there’s a need.  I want you to pray and then give what the Lord prompts you to give.

It’s all about what the Lord wants you to invest in His kingdom.  When He urges me to give, how could I ever be cautious about it?  Why would I try and hold something back?

I want the blessing of God in my life.  I want to see a return on what I invest in God’s work.  Granted, it’s not always in the form of money, but it’s always good.

Some might complain about my attitude.  They say that I shouldn’t give expecting a blessing in return.

The fact is that I would give in obedience to the Holy Spirit’s leading whether He blessed me or not.  But, because the Lord tells us that we’ll reap, I’ll look for His hand at work in my life.  Then, when I see the harvest of what I sowed, I’ll give God all the thanks and the praise.

Question: How have you experienced sowing and reaping in your spiritual journey?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2020 in Faith, God's Provision, Spiritual Walk

 

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Principles of Giving

Paul is continuing to coach the Corinthian church in the giving of offerings.  It’s good advice for us as well.

There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints.
2 Corinthians 9:1

The first thing we see is that giving is a part of our servanthood.  Jesus said that if you want to be great in God’s kingdom, then you must be the servant of all.  (Mark 10:42-45)

A part of my service to the kingdom is fulfilled as I use my money to help others.  I might not be able to be physically present to help them.  But by giving my finances, I can help to relieve some of their burdens.

For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.  But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be.
2 Corinthians 9:2-3

What you’ll find is that some believers are quicker to give than others.  Some people take a little longer to reach that decision.  That’s okay, as long as we’re all obedient to the Lord’s prompting.

The fact is, those who are quicker to give are an encouragement to those who need more time to think about it.  When they see the zeal of others, it stirs them to action.  Then, the blessing of service increases.

The word, eagerness, in the above passage is literally forward-passioned.  You are passionate about seeing God’s kingdom advance.  When you give, it’s not simply about the money.  It’s moving in answer to the call of God to advance His work.

For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we — not to say anything about you — would be ashamed of having been so confident.  So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
2 Corinthians 9:4-5

Finally, we must always be prepared to give.  Be open to the Holy Spirit.  Let Him move your heart.

At one point I was stopped at a red light and I saw a panhandler coming towards me.  I felt the Spirit urging me to give. As I fumbled with my seatbelt trying to get to my wallet, eventually the light turned green before I could get the money out.

I felt bad about it.  Now I make sure that I have some money in the compartment between the seats so that if it happens again, I’ll be ready.

We need to be people who want to serve not just with our time, but our money as well.

Question: How prepared are you when the Spirit prompts you to give?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Chosen for Service

We’re continuing to look at the offering that Paul is collecting for the needy churches of Judea.  He’s now informing the Corinthian church, who exactly will be taking this gift to Jerusalem.

This is found in 2 Corinthians 8:16-24.  You may want to read that passage before continuing with this post.

In this section of Scripture, we see three men.  One of them we know well, the other two are anonymous.  But they all possess a high degree of integrity.

I want to look at the way Paul describes them.  It should be something that we all strive to be like.  They definitely exemplify those who church leaders look for to advance in their calling.

The first of these men is Titus.  He was probably the leader of the group.  He was saved and trained up under Paul’s ministry.  It’s obvious that Paul treated him as a son.

One of the major parts of Titus’ attitude was a willingness to do anything Paul asked of him.

For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.
2 Corinthians 8:17

As I read through Paul’s Corinthian letters, it seems to me that this church was not an easy one to work with.  In many regards, they seemed pretty arrogant about themselves.

“We don’t need your help.  We know what we’re doing.”

Yet, in spite of all that, Titus was enthusiastic to go to them as Paul’s representative.  This earnest willingness to do whatever it takes is a great asset in any ministry.

Next, we have an unknown brother.

And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel.
2 Corinthians 8:18

This is someone who most people praised for his service.  This means that his service to the Gospel was an obvious thing.  He could always be counted on to help out.  It goes on to say that all the churches wanted him in particular to be a part of this “offering detail”.

Finally, there was a third man that was a part of this team.  Look at Paul’s description.

In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you.
2 Corinthians 8:22

He has a big plus; he’s passionate.  That’s what the word, zealous means.  The church needs people of passion.

We need to get emotional about those things that stir the heart of God.  When this man thought about the need in Judea, he was moved with compassion.  Then he heard about the fact that there were Greek churches who wanted to help out financially.  This moved him to action.

It’s leaders like this who should be examples to us of how to live our best for Christ.

Question: What leaders have affected you the most in your walk with Christ?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Financial Equality

We’re continuing to look at Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s talking to them about money and the giving of offerings.

As I’ve said, the churches of Judea were experiencing a famine and Paul wanted the Gentile churches to help out in this time of need.  He now explains a principle that we all but ignored in the modern church.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.
2 Corinthians 8:13-14

What Paul says here is that he doesn’t want one part of the body of Christ at ease and relaxed while another part is under great pressure.  He wants to see an equal sharing of God’s work.

Unfortunately, we don’t see this in the church today.  Actually, it’s not been seen for a very long time.  In most cases, it’s every church for themselves.

Throughout the church, there are believers who could care less about the work of God.  They’re about going to work and making money.  They feel their part is attending church most weeks and giving a little something in the offering.

The way the world is right now, it’s time for the church to wake up.  We need to get back to the priority of sharing Christ.

At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need.  Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”
2 Corinthians 8:14-15

This verse says that your surplus will supply their deficit.  I praise God for churches who see beyond their own four walls.

Too many ministries have taken on the structure and attitude of corporate America.  American greed is at an all-time high.

The head of the company makes more money than they could spend in 10 lifetimes.  While their employees have to take on multiple jobs just to survive.

It shouldn’t be that way in the church.  We’re here to make Christ known.  What does the world see when they look at us?

There are ministry leaders across the country with multiple homes, cars, motorcycles, and jets.  At the same time, there are ministries that are struggling to survive.  What message does that send to the world?

What am I trying to say?  As much as it depends on us, we should be a giving people.  We should also seek to be a part of a ministry with open hands.  Giving is a part of the lifeblood of the church.

Question: What is your attitude toward the giving of offerings?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2020 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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