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Your Heart Determines Your Vision

heart CrossI’m posting about walking in God’s vision for your life. Specifically, I’m looking at insights from Nehemiah. As Israel was returning from captivity, he heard a report that Jerusalem was badly in need of restoration.

As a response, Nehemiah spent time in the Lord’s presence seeking His plan. We saw in my previous posts that this is where spiritual vision is born.

The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
Nehemiah 2:4-5

This is the question that needs to be answered. What is it that you want? Do you even know what you want – really?

So often we find ourselves asking God for things that we’re incapable of handling correctly. There are churches seeking God to save hundreds of people. The problem is, that if 30 people were saved, they’re not ready to handle discipling, teaching and counseling them all.

Nehemiah knew that he had to seek God to find out what it was that he really wanted. He had the favor of the king. That was the equivalent of a blank check from a billionaire. That was a big responsibility.

We need to realize that our vision is what we truly want. That’s why seeking the Lord for it is so important.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

Many people quote this verse and apply it incorrectly. First of all, the word delight means to be pliable, soft, yielding to God. If your ministry to the Lord is delight-driven, then you’re open to following wherever He leads.

If that’s what’s on the inside of you, then God will give you heart desires. Please understand this. He will NOT give you what your heart desires. He will put desires into your heart that line up with His plan for you.

That’s what will propel you forward in your walk with Christ. As you spend time with Him, you will begin to delight in His ways. Then, over time, you will start to desire what He desires. You’ll be seeing the world through the Lord’s eyes.

That’s what it takes to walk in God’s vision for your life. It’s an impartation of His heart into yours.

Question: How have your desires changed by spending time with the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2016 in Ministry, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Let it Burn

forestI’ve been posting about how the Word of God can ignite a fire in our hearts. The question I want to answer today is; why would I want this?

As I look out across the body of Christ in our generation, I see a very interesting phenomenon. The strength of God’s people seems to be higher than it’s been for a long time.

People attend churches where the times of worship are deeply moving. The preaching of the Word is anointed. This is especially true with the accessibility of great men and women of God over the internet. From what I hear, prayer is an important part in the lives of many believers.

What bothers me is that in spite of this spiritual strength, the church as a whole is having almost no impact on society. Yes, I know there are individual local churches that are bringing increase into God’s kingdom – but a great many are not. If anything, it looks like God’s people want what the world is offering them.

This places us firmly in the category of being double-minded. Let the Scripture be our judge.

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
James 1:6-8

This is where we find ourselves. We have a seemingly deep spiritual walk, yet we lack the power of God. It’s because with our focus on both Christ and the world, we end up double-minded.

Our cry to God should be the same as the man who came to Christ on behalf of his son who needed deliverance.

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Mark 9:24

I recently watched a special about forest fires. I learned that not all forest fires are bad. Sometimes there are small fires that burn up all the little leaves and twigs on the forest floor.

That’s a good thing, because if it doesn’t happen regularly this debris can pile up and start a huge fire later on. That kind of raging fire can destroy the whole forest.

What floored me was that the documentary called these little ones, “cleansing fires.” Then they made a statement – “We need cleansing fire!” It wasn’t a preacher who said that, but I found myself saying “amen” to a TV documentary.

Over time, as we live in the world, doubts and distractions build up in our lives without us ever knowing it. Over time, if left unchecked, they could destroy our walk with God. We need the cleansing fires of the Holy Spirit to burn away this accumulation of junk on a regular basis. This clears the way for the power of God to manifest in my life.

We must spend time in the Holy Spirit. We must hear His Word to us. Then as we meditate on that Word, we fan it into flame allowing it to consume all the deadwood of doubt that’s been piling up in our heart.

Question: What do you consider regular time with the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

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Igniting the Fire

Fire DangerIn my last post I started talking about the followers of Christ in Luke 24. They were discouraged and double-minded concerning Jesus’ death. After encountering the risen Lord everything changed.

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:32

They said that their hearts burned within them. In order to understand what happened we need to go back to that point. According to the men, it was when Jesus talked with them on the road. Let’s look at what He said to them.

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Luke 24:25-27

As they were walking along the road Jesus explained the Scripture to them. What would you give to have an experience like that? It turns out that you can.

The word explained that’s used in this verse is very special. It’s the word that’s normally translated as interpretation; as in the spiritual gift of interpretation. This explanation that Jesus gave them was no boring lecture. It was an anointed Word straight from the Spirit of God.

That’s what will ignite the fire, not only in those early saints, but in us as well.

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?
Jeremiah 23:29

God declares to us that His Word is like a fire. That’s the Word that Jesus proclaimed to these men on the road to Emmaus. As He spoke to them, the Lord lit a fire in their hearts.

We can have this same experience today. As we spend time in the presence of the Lord, we must have a listening ear. When we hear a Word from the Holy Spirit it will ignite a fire in our heart.

My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue…
Psalms 39:3

God’s Word to us starts the fire burning. But as we meditate on it, the flames increase until it is all consuming.

I’ve heard people pray for God to “send the fire.” It’s not a matter of Him sending it, but of us receiving it. We need to hear a Word from God to get it kindled in our heart. Then meditate on that Word in order to heat it up.

Question: What has the Lord spoken to you lately by His Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on September 2, 2015 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Is Your Heart Burning?

FireWhen Christ rose from the dead, He began showing Himself to groups of His followers in various places. At one point two of them were walking from Jerusalem to a town called Emmaus. They had an encounter with the risen Lord.

At first they didn’t recognize Him. Later, once they knew who they’d been with, they discussed it.

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:32

Recently, as I was reading this passage, I felt the Holy Spirit urging me to study this more deeply. I want to take a couple of posts to talk about what I learned as I meditated on these “burning hearts”. I believe that it will help you in your walk with the Lord.

Let’s start at the beginning. If this is about their hearts, then how did they begin the process? This is an important question.

As I said before, they didn’t know at first that they were talking to Jesus. He asked them why they looked so sad. They were amazed that there was a person who they thought had no idea of what had just taken place in Jerusalem.

“What things?” he asked.
“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.”
Luke 24:19-21

This is one of the most amazing confessions of faith AND unbelief that I’ve ever seen! On the one hand they saw in Christ the power of the Word of God. They were inspired to place their hope in Him as the Redeemer of Israel.

Yet at the same time they were walking in defeat, believing that there was nothing more to hope for. It was over. The chief priests and rulers destroyed the dream.

In this condition, they were what James called double-minded.

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.
James 1:6-8

Being double-minded doesn’t mean that you doubt everything. You’re trusting God for some things, while doubting others. You may trust God to save your soul, yet not believe that He wants to provide for your needs.

That’s the place that many Christians find themselves in today. They know what God’s Word says, yet they have no idea how to apply it to their lives. They’re hoping that God will do something in them, while at the same time they expect nothing to happen.

This is where the burning hearts come in. In my next post we’ll see the Lord’s remedy for this double-minded dilemma.

Question: When have you found yourself both trusting and doubting God at the same time?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2015 in Faith, Revival

 

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Spiritual Surgery

 

surgeryI’ve been posting about how we deal with our old sin nature. In my last post I said that water baptism was the first step in this process. Through it we identified with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:11

Here Paul tells us that in the same way we trusted Christ in baptism, we must count or literally inventory ourselves dead, indeed, to sin.

This goes right along with our baptism. In verse 3 of Romans chapter 6 we were baptized into His death. Now in verse 11, there’s something that Paul is hoping you’ll move into by faith. Paul describes this step to the Colossian church.

In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
Colossians 2:11-12

This is what we want to concentrate on – the putting off of the sinful nature. According to Paul, this is a surgical procedure that can only be done by Christ.

It isn’t a work I can perform. It doesn’t matter how much will-power I put forth. Only Christ, Himself, can bring it to pass in my life. I must submit under the blade of the divine Surgeon.

There are two prerequisites to this surgery. The first is baptism and the second is faith in the power of God. This means that I can’t look to myself and how well I can obey God. It’s all about how much I trust His power working in my life. How much am I willing to surrender to Him?

It’s the same as in the natural world. If I don’t trust the surgeon in a medical procedure, then I will not allow them to put me under the anesthesia.   I’ll only let someone I trust have that much power over my body. Do we trust Christ enough to consent to His life changing work in us?

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 2:29

There’s another key point to this work of Christ in us. It can only be done in the spirit. It’s not something that I can physically accomplish. Neither is it a choice that I make in my mind.

The change is required in my heart. The old self has to be removed. How can my sin nature remove itself? It would never willingly choose to do that.

To get the old sin nature out of our heart requires outside assistance. That’s why it’s a work that only Christ can do, and it must be a spiritual work.

It’s for this reason that an understanding of the Word of God as a sword is so important.

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

The sword of the spirit is the scalpel that performs the work in our heart. In the past I’ve emphasized that the things of the spirit can only be received through prayer in the spirit. This is the work that needs to be done in us. It’s a work that must be done in the spirit. Only prayer in the spirit will accomplish the change that’s necessary in our hearts.

In order for God to do this work in us, we must yield ourselves to Him. As in any surgery, we must willingly go under the knife if our healing is to take place. This is true for our spiritual surgery as well.

Question: How has Prayer in the Spirit changed your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Have You Been Gospel Approved?

ApproveIn my last post I talked about the true Gospel. I said that it was more than just words, but included the demonstration of the power of the Holy Spirit. Why is there so little of the whole Gospel of Christ being presented in our generation?

The same letter of Paul that we looked at last time gives us the answer to this question.

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

In the last post we saw that Paul understood the true Gospel as including power, the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, and deep conviction. That might have been surprising to some. But I believe his words in this verse would totally shock many preachers if they understood their significance.

According to Paul, you need to be approved by God to preach this Gospel. Actually it’s deeper than that. He said that you need God’s approval even to be entrusted with this Gospel.

Is this what’s taught in Bible schools? I don’t think so; at least I’ve never heard it taught. In my experience preaching the Gospel is simply coming up with a Scripture for an opening text. Then we apply it to the need for the hearers to “get saved.”

Where’s the power? Where’s the confirmation of the Holy Spirit, and the deep conviction? I believe that there’s too much unapproved Gospel being preached these days. That’s why many have written off Christianity as a dead horse that needs to be removed from society.

How do you become approved to be entrusted with the true Gospel? The answer to this is why there’s so little of it in our generation. It’s not about college degrees or denominational accreditation. No, it’s much deeper than that.

Paul makes it clear that this approval can only come from God. Furthermore, the test takes place in your heart. It’s what Jesus talked about in the parable of the sower.

“Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop — thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.”
Mark 4:20

The test is in your heart – where you hear and plant the Word. This requires time in the presence of the Lord. It means that we have a listening ear toward the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Then, when Gods sees the quality of the crop produced by the Word planted in our heart, He grants His approval. Then we see the manifestation of the Word of God when we present the Gospel. Then the lives of the hearers are changed by that powerful Word from God.

Question: How would churches be different if we sought the approval of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2014 in Anointing, Ministry, Power of God, Word of God

 

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Change Where it Counts

PowerlessI’m taking a few posts to approach the subject of personal revival.  We’re using the example of David in Psalm 51 as our guide.  So far we’ve seen that we need to examine ourselves, and go to God for His forgiveness and cleansing.  But the work doesn’t stop there.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Psalm 51:10-12

According to Scripture, it isn’t enough just to wipe the slate clean.  Especially if you head right back into the pigpen.  What we need is to change our direction.  In order to do this, the renewal must take place on the inside.

All my wants and desires spring from my heart.  That’s where the purifying work of the Lord needs to access.  I must allow Him to make my heart pure – that His desires would become my desires.  That’s the only way to achieve lasting changes.

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalms 37:4

I’ve heard people comment on this verse.  They said that whatever you desire, the Lord will give you.  That’s not what the Psalmist is trying to convey to us.

What he’s saying is that if you delight in God – if you take pleasure in Him – then He will place the desires into your heart that line up with His.  I want to desire the same things that God desires.  So I let Him do the work in my heart.

There’s another work that must be done as well.  I need to feed my spirit on the Word of God.  Only when my inner man is healthy and strong can I maintain the purifying work of God in my life.  My spirit is the greatest ally I have against the flesh.  It’s with my spirit that I can access the Holy Spirit and the power of the Lord.

Always remember that God loves us with an everlasting love.  He’ll never leave or forsake us.  If we want His cleansing process in our lives, then He’ll be there to do the work.  After all, He’s the only one with the ability to totally change our lives.

Let Him do that work in you today.  Give the Lord free reign to rearrange your life and priorities.  Let Him give you new purpose and direction.  Say “yes” to the life changing power of the Holy Spirit.

Question: How do I open my heart for God to place His desires in me?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Power of God, Revival, Word of God

 

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God’s Approval #theanointing

SpotlightI’ve been talking about walking in the anointing of God.  In my last post I discussed being well pleasing to the Lord.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
Ephesians 5:8-10

This verse tells us that we should live the way a child of the light should live.  The fruit of the light is the evidence that we’re walking in the light.

This passage literally says that as children of the light, we need to test and approve what is well pleasing to the Lord.  The more we walk in His light – the more we learn about pleasing Him.

It’s by pleasing the Lord that we secure the anointing.  That’s a key concept that many miss out on.

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.
1Thessalonians 2:4

I’ve asked this before.  Where is your heart set?  Who are you trying to please?  Your anointing (God’s approval of your ministry) is resting on that answer.  It’s not about how much you want it; instead, it’s wrapped up in the direction your heart is taking you.

May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.  Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21

What we have to realize is that in our own power we can never be well pleasing to God.  It only comes from time spent in His presence.  Only God’s power can secure our anointing.

We have to position ourselves to receive His power that works through us.  We have to be driven to walk in the anointing.

This means that we have set our heart on it.  It’s all about getting close enough in the spirit, to find out what’s well pleasing to Him.  It’s the only way to get ourselves in the position to receive.

In the final analysis it can only be accomplished by His power at work in us.

So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
2 Corinthians 5:9

Be driven to please God.

Question: What is God calling you to do that will require His power to accomplish?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2013 in Anointing

 

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Where is Your Heart Pointing? #theanointing

Snow HeartIn my last post I used Christ as our example for preparing ourselves for the anointing.  I talked about being driven in the spirit.  How far are we willing to go to see God work through us?

…and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Luke 3:22

Think about the Father’s testimony of the Son.  We’re all sons and daughters of God.  We’ve been adopted into His family.  Beyond that, we’re all loved.

I believe that the key term here is well pleased.  We have to come to this understanding.  We don’t just want God to be pleased, but well pleased.

Sometimes we learn more by negative examples.  Israel had a problem in this area.

Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.  Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.
1 Corinthians 10:5-6

They did not make it their goal to be pleasing to God.  If we’re going to go beyond their failure, then we must set our hearts on securing the anointing.  Whatever you set your heart on is what you are driven to do.

Have you set your heart on things?  Some people are driven to make money.  What’s the driving force of your life?  Some want position or fame.  Have you set your heart on power with God?

What you’ve set your heart upon determines what you’re driven to do.  Your heart is the driving force in your life.

Paul was driven.

Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air.  No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:26-27

Paul literally says that I will give my body a black eye, if I have to, in order to obtain the prize.  The prize is the anointing of power.

Peter understood the power of being driven.

Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To him be glory both now and forever!  Amen.
2 Peter 3:17-18

All around us are those who are driven for self.  It looks very tempting.  Their rewards are instantaneous.

The blessings of a heart after God are long-term.

Drive yourself to grow in grace.  Increase your knowledge of the Lord.  That’s the road to the anointing of power.  Drive yourself down that path.

Question: How do you seek to be well pleasing to God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2013 in Anointing

 

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Are You Distracted? #wordofGod

WeedI’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.
Mark 4:18-19

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

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2013 in Word of God

 

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