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Category Archives: Prayer in the Spirit

Spirit Over Flesh

Spirit Over Flesh

As we’ve been going through the book of Romans, we’ve seen that the Holy Spirit is responsible for accomplishing the change that’s needed in our lives. Having this access to God, through the Holy Spirit, is a very powerful thing. It affects our lives in a number of ways if we’re willing to walk in it.

According to the Apostle Paul, this knowledge should have an effect on us.

Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation — but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.

Romans 8:12

This verse literally says that we don’t owe anything to the flesh. We’re under no obligation to keep it happy and comfortable. To have the best life, I must cultivate my spirit.

I talk a lot about the need to pray in the spirit. When I pray in the gift, I build up my most holy faith (Jude 1:20). This is the faith that’s resident in my spirit. It’s a faith that goes beyond what I know about the Scripture or the situation I’m in.

There are times when there may not even be a Biblical verse that covers my situation. What do I do then? I pray in the Spirit. This helps me to trust God when there seems to be no earthly reason to put my faith in Him. It’s a faith that goes beyond what my mind can understand.

This is the kind of faith that’s needed to allow the changes to take place in me.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live…
Romans 8:13

This is a very interesting verse. If you just skim through it you’ll miss what it says. We need to remember what Paul has taught us thus far.

We understand, according to the Scripture, that we’re dead to sin and alive to God. Elsewhere in Romans we’re told to count ourselves dead.

This is based upon the truth that we were crucified with Christ, and this death separates us from the dominion of sin. That’s NOT what the above verse is telling us about. This verse is very different because it contains the word, “if”. This verse is telling us something we either could do or we could choose to ignore.

There’s a battle that rages in my being. Even though I’m saved, my flesh is still subject to its sin nature. I find that even though I’m dead to sin in Christ, I continue to fall to the temptations that come before me. Paul wrote about this struggle that we all face. How do I overcome this dilemma?

Many people try differing methods to bring about the victory. Some try to live right in their own strength. I’ve found that if I live trying to use my flesh to overcome my flesh, by shear will power, I’ll fail miserably. The above verse tells us that if I use my flesh, then death will reign in me. The problem is, to use a computer term, there’s a virus in the software.

The good news is that I can use the power of God’s network. I can use my spirit to put to death the misdeeds of the flesh. This is a truth that we’ve missed in the modern church. You can use your spirit to change your flesh.

In simple terms, you can download God’s anti-virus program and it will change the way you live. This is a powerful change because you’re allowing God to change you from the inside out.

We have to come to the understanding that I can take authority over the flesh by the power of the spirit. This is the key to a whole new level of living.

Question: How has prayer in the spirit changed the way you live?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Pleasing to God

Pleasing to God

As we continue on in the book of Romans, Paul shows us the clear choice that we’re faced with.

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

Romans 8:6-8

The choice laid before us is death vs. life and peace. It’s clear from Scripture that this has always been the choice throughout history.

We need to understand that peace is the total blessing of God. In opposition to that, the mind focused on the flesh is hostile toward God. Therefore, it cannot submit to God’s law because it doesn’t have the power to submit.

It’s a simple fact that a mind focused on the things pertaining to the flesh cannot please God. That’s because God isn’t impressed by our rules, feelings, logic, or will-power.

What exactly does the Bible say about pleasing God?

On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

This verse makes it clear. The only way to please God is through the condition of our heart. If that’s the case, than what does it take to have a heart that’s pleasing to the Lord?

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…

Colossians 1:9-10

It takes spiritual wisdom and understanding in order to please God. On top of that, we must bear fruit. I assume he’s talking about the fruit of the spirit. These are not things that can be accomplished by our mind or our flesh.

This was evident in the life of Christ.

So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”

John 8:28-29

This is the foundation of how Jesus pleased the Father. He spoke as He was taught by the Father. That means His wisdom and understanding came from a spiritual source. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit the same way He wants us to walk.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.

1 John 3:21-22

When John says that we obey His commands; what’s he talking about? Is it the Ten Commandments or the Sermon on Mount? No, it’s the spiritual instructions we receive as we spend time in the presence of God.

That’s what pleases the Lord. It’s all about our spirit-walk. According to the verse in Romans, above, without my spiritual walk, I do not have the power to please God. Don’t neglect the most important part of your relationship with God. Spend some intimate time with the Holy Spirit.

Question: What has the Holy Spirit impressed you to do lately?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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A Testimony of God’s Work

A Testimony of God’s Work

As we continue through the book of Romans, I’ve been talking about the spiritual walk. As we pray in the spirit, we’re affecting the natural. We looked at a few verses that tell us that it’s through the spirit that we overcome the flesh.

There are those who spend their entire lifetime trying to master the fruit of the spirit by their own strength and will power. I’ve found that those who are able to do this are easy to spot. The older they get, the deeper the frown etched on their faces.

They’re quick to tell you how hard it is to stay committed to the Lord. Doing this work on your own is very detrimental to your joy and I don’t recommend it for long periods of time.

Another observation actually had me upset at God for a long time until I understood what was really going on in the spiritual realm. The problem is that sometimes we have an experience in God and try to explain it based upon our observances instead of searching the Word. I’m thinking specifically about my grandparents, who were the first in our family to receive Christ.

Back when they first immigrated to America from Italy, they were rough, unlearned people. At that point, an evangelist came from Chicago to Boston to bring the Gospel to the Italian community. That’s when my grandparents heard the Good News and submitted their hearts to Christ. The church I grew up in was the Italian Pentecostal Church that grew from that evangelist’s work.

Growing up, I heard all the stories of how God moved in those days. I heard about the power, the healings, and the miracles. I learned all about the righteous lives that these “old folks” lived. Their conversion became legendary.

“If we would only live like they did…”

This is why I was upset at God. I was told that when they were saved, they were really saved. Their lives were changed instantly. There was suddenly no more profanity, stealing, or fits of rage. They began walking in love, joy, peace and the rest of the gifts.

I knew my grandparents well enough to know that what was said about their lifestyle was true. They lived close to God. They loved like Jesus did. They evangelized everyone they met.

That’s what upset me. I felt that I had been short changed in my salvation experience. I wanted to know why I was still wrestling with my sin. Why did their lives change so radically, and mine seemed to be a never ending process?

What I was taught about this did little to help me. I was told that God just works differently in different people. Some people He cleans up in an instant and in others the Lord takes His time. I just resigned myself to the belief that I was one of those that would take a long time to see the changes occur in my life. All this, because we based our theology on observation rather than the Word of God.

Here’s what actually happened to my grandparents, based on what we’ve just learned from the Scripture. When they heard the Good News of the Savior, they submitted to His Lordship in faith. They were saved and immediately baptized in the Spirit with the evidence of their prayer language.

Then they began to attend meetings on almost every day of the week. Some of these were services and some were prayer meetings. Here’s the key. No matter what kind of meeting it was, they always spent hours praying in the spirit.

I know from watching her, that my grandmother prayed hours a day. By observation, people saw that when someone was saved and baptized in the Spirit, their life changed. It seemed to be instantaneous.

But looking back, I can see through the filter of the Scriptures, what really changed their lives was that they spent hours a week praying in the Holy Spirit. There was not one particular work of holiness – it was the ongoing process of putting to death the misdeeds of the body through prayer in the spirit.

Then, over the course of time, the prayer meetings stopped being attended by the next generation. Instead of using the power of the Spirit, they learned to serve God using will power alone. Holiness became a thing of the past, “the stuff of legends”.

We just looked back and said, “Those old Italians knew how to serve God.” What they learned was that power was only accessed in that secret place of intimacy with the Holy Spirit. This is how we must receive the power as well. To the extent that we worship God in His language, at His level, we will experience His power.

At one point the Lord impressed us to start having a prayer meeting only for prayer in the spirit. We met for one hour a week to pray in our heavenly language. During that time I observed that people who spent even moderate amounts of time praying in the spirit started to change at an incredible rate.

The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace…
Romans 8:6

The good news is that you don’t have to know how it works for it to affect you. But, you do have to walk in it for the effects to be realized. Don’t just use the gift of the heavenly language as a once in a while plaything. It’s the access key to the release of the power of God in your life. You should use this gift daily. If you choose to do this, your life will never be the same.

Question: How have you seen the effects of praying in the spirit?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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In Step with the Spirit

In Step with the Spirit

As we continue through Paul’s letter to the Roman church, I’ve been talking, in detail, about the mind controlled by the spirit.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:5

In my last post, I ended by talking about how the fruit of the spirit are a result of the seed planted in our spirit. This is accomplished through prayer in the spirit.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

It just seems obvious to me that to get fruit, you must sow seed. Scripture is clear that you reap what you sow. So we must sow to the spirit.

This means that we stop sowing to the flesh, which is trying to follow the law in our own power. We also need to spend more time sowing to the spirit through prayer in the spirit.

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Galatians 5:24-25

This verse literally tells us that to live by the spirit, we need to march in rank with the spirit. Please understand, Paul had a rich spiritual prayer life. He was mature in the Lord. If we want his results, then we need to follow his pattern. It’s this prayer life that crosses us over into maturity.

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh.

Philippians 3:3

When Paul wrote this, there were those who pushed an outward practice of self-righteousness. They mandated circumcision for believers. In the apostle’s teaching, he totally denied this practice. The “we” in this verse refers to those who have been taught and trained by Paul.

Paul says that we are the truly set apart to God. We are the ones who have had the sin removed by a circumcision of the heart. But, most importantly, we worship by the Spirit of God.

It’s not about whose flesh worships God. And, it’s not those whose mind chooses to worship God. It’s those who worship by the spirit. They are the ones who have had the influence of the flesh removed.

The Greek word Paul used for confidence means to be convinced by argument, to pacify, conciliate, consent to, or rely on. That’s our biggest problem and weakness from the flesh. It’s only removed through the spirit.

Some people want to know why I push prayer in the spirit so much? I believe it’s the key to our freedom. Life lived in the spirit sets us free from the constant mind battles.

We need to lay hold of our freedom in Christ. To do this we must follow the same pattern as the early church. That means quality time praying in the spirit.

In my next post, I’ll give a testimony of what I’ve experienced in setting out on this path.

Question: How often, if ever, do you pray in the spirit?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Planting in the Spirit

Planting in the Spirit

I’ve been taking a few posts to talk about setting our minds on the things of the spirit. Paul told us that was the key to overcoming the desires of the flesh.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:5

I ended the last post by showing that our New Covenant ministry brings life and righteousness. That is, if we minister this life-giving covenant correctly. How exactly does it bring bring about God’s righteousness in us?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18

It comes by spending intimate time with the Holy Spirit. It’s by the Spirit that we’re transformed. That’s the point I’ve been consistently trying to make. Our strength and will-power have nothing to do with it.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

Galatians 5:16-18

Don’t turn this around like so many self-righteous believers do.

“If you can stop gratifying the flesh, you will be walking in the spirit.”

Absolutely not!!! The Pharisees were not anywhere near walking in the spirit. Yet, they had an almost perfect track record in regards to outward sin.

Legalism is not the answer. The Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount don’t change you. It’s living by the spirit that brings righteousness.

According to this verse, if you “spirit-walk” you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh. What is this spirit-walk? Obviously it doesn’t involve my flesh or my mind.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.

1 Corinthians 14:14

Do you really hear what this verse says? When my spirit prays, my mind bears no fruit. And, for sure, my flesh bears no fruit.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Galatians 6:7-8

The Bible is clear; you reap what you sow. Actually, the original Greek does not have the words, please, in it. It tells us that if you sow to your flesh, you reap destruction from your flesh.

If, on the other hand, you sow to your spirit, you reap eternal, perpetual life.

How do I reap perpetual life? By sowing into my spirit. I believe that’s talking about prayer in the spirit. It’s my spirit praying and bringing me into God’s presence. That’s how I sow into my spirit.

This is made abundantly clear if you read Galatians 5:19-23. In that passage you can clearly see the difference between the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the spirit. I believe that prayer in the spirit is the key to seeing this fruit in our lives.

Question: How much of the Fruit of the Spirit is evident in your life?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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It Starts in the Mind

It Starts in the Mind

We’re continuing our study through Romans. Paul is explaining how to apply the victory God’s given us over the flesh. Following a set of rules is not enough.

For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man, in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:3-4

Once again Paul repeats the fact that the law was powerless because it was weak through the flesh. Now for the Good News. The Son of God came resembling sinful flesh. Christ may have looked like a normal human being, but His flesh had no sin nature.

By His life, the Lord pronounced a sentence against sin in the flesh. He did this for a reason. So that the righteousness of the law would be fulfilled, completed in us. So, is this righteousness totally completed in all of us? Not exactly.

Paul qualifies it by saying that righteousness is only fully completed in those who don’t walk after the flesh, but who walk after the spirit.

We need to understand that Paul isn’t talking about the position of righteousness here. Anyone in Christ is righteous in the eyes of God. Many people are confused over this point. This position of righteousness gives us total access into God’s presence.

There is, however, another level to righteousness. That’s the walk of righteousness. This is what Paul is referring to.

He tells us that we can’t attain to a fully completed walk of righteousness by working with the flesh. Trying to follow a set of rules – right and wrong, good and evil. This doesn’t work.

The only road to victory is by cultivating our spiritual walk. This includes things like prayer in the spirit and renewing the inner man. The fact is, that if you cultivate the spirit walk, God will never hold you accountable for the written law.

Paul goes on to explain further.

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.

Romans 8:5

Simply put, if you’re all about concentrating on the flesh, then your life is flesh driven. If, on the other hand, you direct your mind toward the spirit, you’re cultivating a spiritual walk.

So, in essence, it all starts with the mind. This is the key and I want to go into this in more detail. But, to do so we need to understand how the Apostle Paul viewed himself.

As I’ve said before, many people erroneously think that Paul was always falling into sin. They base that on some of the things he said in chapter 7. They miss the fact that he was merely speaking from a baby Christian’s perspective.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

1 Corinthians 13:11

Paul definitely sees himself as a spiritual adult. To get there, he had to progress like anyone else. That means he had to go through infant-hood, childhood, and adolescence.

There are no free rides in the body of Christ. Paul is perfectly suited to show us the road to maturity. He actually writes about it in many of his letters. In my next post, I want to look at Paul’s description of this spiritual journey.

Question: Why is our mindset so important in the Christian walk?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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God’s Word in Your Heart

God’s Word in Your Heart

In my last post, we saw from the book of Romans, that an immature believer will begin to agree with God’s law. They’ll see it in contrast to the sin that continually enters their life.

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law…

Romans 7:21-22

We have to realize that we’re not responsible for the desires of the flesh. They’ll always be there. But, as we begin to delight in God’s Word, we possess the keys to victory over the flesh.

The second sentence in this verse says that, I rejoice with myself over God’s law in my inner man. What’s Paul talking about here? He mentions it elsewhere in his writings.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

2 Corinthians 4:16

In the context of Second Corinthians, chapter 4 (check it out), Paul is talking specifically about himself and his team. Unfortunately, this verse is not true of all believers.

We know from his writings that Paul spent time in the spirit each day, renewing the inner man. We have to come to the realization that our inner beings are important. Too many believers ignore this basic fact.

The pharisees had this same problem. Jesus rebuked them for it.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”

Matthew 23:27-28

As God’s people, we can’t just let the flesh be the strongest part of our being. We live in a society where our flesh is being fed and nurtured on a daily basis. We must also strengthen our inner man.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being…

Ephesians 3:16

It’s through the Holy Spirit that our inner man is strengthened. This power flows from the Holy Spirit to our spirit to our heart. This is what we need to overcome the flesh and the sin nature.

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

Psalm 119:11

This is more than simply memorizing Scripture. We need to spend time in the Lord’s presence hearing a Word from Him. That’s where change comes from.

This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.

Hebrews 8:10

The important question is; who will do the writing on our hearts? The obvious answer is, God, by His Holy Spirit, not me by my memorizing.

So, getting back to Romans, I rejoice with myself on the inside. My heart and spirit rejoice together as God by His Spirit writes His law on my heart. That may not stop the flesh from wanting something different. But, it gives me new strength to walk in victory.

Question: How have you experienced an increase of God’s Word written on your heart?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Rules vs. Spirit

Rules vs. Spirit

In my last post we started to see that legalism is really a form of hypocrisy.  We’ll never be able to follow a set of rules, even if we’re the ones who came up with them.

Now Paul continues by talking about those who follow God without even knowing the rules.

Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised.  If those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised?  The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker.

Romans 2:25-27

Paul uses circumcision as a picture of following a law.  That’s because it was the outward sign of the covenant for the Jews.  No God-fearing Jew would ever let their infant go without being circumcised.

The problem is that you can have the sign of the covenant without obeying the terms of the covenant.

A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.  No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.

Romans 2:28-29

It’s not enough to only deal with the outward.  Our outside will never permanently change unless we have a change of heart. The problem is that our heart itself is very deceptive. We can’t always trust what we’re feeling.

That’s why true change can never be imposed upon us from the outside, by the written code. It must come from the inside, by the power of the spirit. Isn’t it great to know that your spirit can change your heart?

It’s important to know that, right from the start, Paul explains that change is by the Spirit and not by following rules.  Even something like circumcision, which was a part of God’s law to the Jews, has no power to bring about change.

In this letter to the Romans, Paul is bringing us to the realization that we can only serve God acceptably through the spirit.  It’s something that’s consistent through all his writings.

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

Galatians 5:16

Understanding the power of prayer in the spirit should give us insight into what this verse is actually saying. Many times, when people quote this verse, they’re using it as a weapon.

I’ve heard people say things like, “Look at how that person lives, and they call themselves a Christian. They’re walking in their flesh so they must not have the Holy Spirit in them. They can’t really be saved.”

This isn’t a verse that Paul gave us to test whether a person is saved or not. This is a passage of Scripture to tell us how to receive the power we need to walk in victory over the flesh. The only way you’ll have the power you need to not gratify the flesh, is to live your life in the spirit.

You cannot do it by exercising the will power of your soul, or even disciplining your body. This means that you spend time praying in the spirit, communing with God in the realm of the spirit. That’s where we access the power to overcome the desires of the flesh.

It’s never about following rules.  It’s always about submitting to the Holy Spirit.

Question: Why is it impossible for us to simply follow a set of rules?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Form of Religion

The Form of Religion

In my last post we started looking at Paul’s view of religious people.  We saw that it’s foolish to rest on a set of rules rather than the work of the Holy Spirit.

Paul continues…

…if you are convinced that you are a guide for the blind, a light for those who are in the dark, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of infants, because you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth…

Romans 2:19-20

Remember, when talking about religious people, I’m referring to those who choose religion over relationship with Christ.  They’ve convinced themselves about a number of things.

They see their lifestyle as superior to those around them.  They view others as blind, in the dark, mindless, and infantile.  On the other hand they view themselves as a guide, a light, an instructor, and a teacher.

That’s the unfortunate attitude of legalism.  By constantly judging the lives of others, you have a huge blind spot concerning your own walk.

Let me say this to all the godly teachers reading this.  There’s nothing wrong with being called to teach or guide others into the truth.  It’s all about your attitude.

My calling is to be a pastor and teacher in the body of Christ.  But, I’ve learned over the years that there’s a fine line that I have to walk.

My job is to help people to know and understand God’s Word.  I endeavor to show how the Scripture applies to your life.

That’s as far as it goes.  I have to realize that I cannot change anybody’s life.  It’s the job of the Holy Spirit to do that.  If anyone is blessed, it’s because of the Lord working in their life through the Word.

I might be the one you see speaking or writing.  But, I want it to be the Spirit teaching and guiding you.  Like I said, it’s all about the attitude.

However, I think there’s an important point that we miss in the above passage.  It has to do with the words that were used in translation.

When Paul says, you have in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth, it gives the wrong impression.  The word, embodiment, is actually a word that means a form or appearance.  Following a set of rules only appears to be a logical way to serve God.

Unfortunately, we’re told that it’s not the best way.  In talking about what people would be like in the last days, Paul makes this comment about them.

…having a form of godliness but denying its power.  Have nothing to do with them.

2 Timothy 3:5

Simply following a set of religious rules is a form without the substance.  These rules are like a jail cell.  Can we say that a car thief has changed just because he’s in jail?  Absolutely not!  It’s just that there are no cars available for him to steal.

It’s the same with a set of rules.  As long as my will-power is intact, it appears that I’ve changed.  However, when opportunity and weakness get the better of me, I show what’s really on the inside.  I need the true change that only comes from the work of the Holy Spirit in me.

Don’t allow empty religion to get the better of you.  Spend some time becoming more intimate with the Lord through His Holy Spirit.

Question: how do you overcome the temptation to be religious?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Weakness + Grace = Power

In my last post, we looked at God’s answer to Paul’s weakness.  It’s something we need to apply to our own lives today.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

It all comes down to the grace of God.  We have to understand that this grace is everything God is working in us.  It’s the power He bestows on us whether we realize it or not.

What I also need to hear is that His power works perfectly in my weakness.  That goes contrary to what many people believe.

We sometimes get the idea that my weakness diminishes how God’s power can work in me.  That’s a lie we need to fight against.  If I had no weaknesses, I could never see the power of God at work in me.

That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10

What Paul is saying here comes from years of experience walking with Christ.  He’s found that all of these challenges are really good things.  They’re invitations for the power of God to show up in your life.

Later on in this letter, Paul explains it in more detail concerning Christ.

For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power.  Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.
2 Corinthians 13:4

Here Paul equates the crucifixion with weakness.  That tells me that all the challenges we face are a part of the dying process in our flesh.

Spiritually speaking, we need to take them to the cross of Christ and leave them there.  Then, we look to the Lord with expectancy that His power will show up at just the right time.

That’s also why I need my mind to be renewed by the Word of God.  Instead of fear and doubt clouding my vision in times of trouble, I need to see things the way Paul does.  I must realize that problems and weaknesses are the preludes to my most powerful victories.

This means that I have to rely totally on the Holy Spirit of God at work within me.  After all, that’s why God chose to place Him in our lives.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
Romans 8:26

Nothing can replace time spent praying in the spirit.  It will change our attitudes and ultimately our situations.  It gives God permission to change our weaknesses into His power.

Question: How do you view the challenges of life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 

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