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Growing in Love

Growing in Love

We’re continuing through Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. He’s been teaching about our growth from infancy to maturity. This is where the Lord wants to bring us to.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Ephesians 4:15-16 NIV

This passage is key to our growth as God’s people. It shows some things that we really need to concentrate on in our generation.

The first thing I see is pretty obvious. We need to be speaking the truth. But, the word Paul uses here is important. This word for truth also contains the thought of it being unconcealed truth. If we only tell half the truth, is it really the truth?

In our generation, we have a problem with many of the Scriptural teachings. We stay silent because we don’t want to “rock the boat” of society around us.

We miss the key. This verse literally says that we speak the unconcealed truth, BUT, IN LOVE. That’s the important part. So often we either stay silent or we speak the truth as if it were a baseball bat to knock people around.

Once we know the truth, we need to seek the wisdom of God for how to present it. The Lord loves all people. His goal is always relationship and restoration. Unfortunately, there are many Christians who portray hatred and judgment.

We need to walk the narrow path that Jesus exemplified so wonderfully in His life in earth. He was able to tell someone, “I’m not condemning you, but you need to leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11)

It’s obvious from these two verses that the important part is our love. We need to be speaking in love. But the body of Christ also has to be growing in love.

The language here is important for us to understand. It literally speaks of the body parts being joined and forced together. That’s an important concept for us to lay hold of. Especially after COVID, there are so many people who have left church and never returned.

We all need to be active members of the body of Christ. What do I mean by that? I’ve talked to many people, especially those who are of younger generations than me. (I’m 66 years old)

Many younger believers have left organized churches because of their frustration with “big box” religion. They don’t like seeing all of the money being poured into salaries and building maintenance. I get that.

However, the commands of Scripture still stand that we need to be meeting together, in-person, as the body of Christ. I don’t know what the church of Jesus Christ (not the denomination) is going to look like in ten years. We’re going through a time of transition right now.

But, there needs to be a meeting together. Whether that turns out to be in homes, like the first century church, or coffee shops, libraries, etc. Somehow we must come back together, face to face. That’s what we’re being called to do.

The passage above give us the result that each part is doing its work. We’re all called to some work for the Lord. The fact is that you’ll only find it when you know where you’re attached to the body. That’s the progression. Speaking the truth in love – joined and forced together – finding the work you’re called to do.

My prayer is that you’ll seek God for His wisdom. That’s what we need in the times we find ourselves in. Knowing the Scripture and applying it properly are two parts of the whole. It takes time spent with the Holy Spirit to live above the problems of the world around us.

Question: Where do you find yourself in the above passage?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Love and Power

Love and Power

I’m continuing my look at Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church. In my last post, I started talking about Paul’s prayer in chapter 3, verse 14. The apostle goes on to tell them a little more of what he prays for them. We need to take it to heart as well.

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge — that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17b-19 NIV

This section of Scripture is absolutely loaded with truth. It even contains a couple of repetitive themes which are always important to understand.

But let’s start at the goal line. What is actually being prayed for in these verses? I see two things that the church is striving for. They are power and the fullness of God. Even in this generation, I hear prayers going up for these two blessings.

They’re both very much needed in the body of Christ today. We need to see the power of God manifest in the miraculous. That would definitely draw many people to Christ.

The same is true with the fullness of God. We need everything He has to offer us. We need the Lord’s wisdom, authority, strength, and boldness. We have to start walking as Christ did. That’s what will get the attention of the world.

The question is, what will it take to walk in the power and fullness of God? For that we need to start from the beginning of this section of Scripture. This literally says that we need to have our roots and our foundation in love.

That’s where it all starts. We have to begin with a love-walk. Please understand that I’m not just talking about a modern cultural “luv ya” kind of love. It needs to be a love that takes root deep in our hearts.

That’s where Paul’s prayer for power comes in. God’s people are always praying for power. We want the power for healing and miracles. We want the power of the Lord to increase our finances and give us influence with those in authority.

We all want the life changing, victorious power of the Holy Spirit to be at work in us. What exactly was Paul’s desire for the power of God to do in their lives? It’s actually something that I never hear the modern church pray for in regard to power.

He wanted the supernatural power of God, so that they could grasp the love of God. That’s how absolutely beyond our experience this love is. It takes the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit to grasp it.

That’s the first piece of repetition. Paul wants them to know something that goes beyond knowledge. Obviously, that’s beyond my ability.

So, in short, I cannot love God without knowing God. (God is love) I cannot know God and His love without His power at work in me. He has to reveal His love to me. Why is that so important? That’s the next step in the process.

Paul is clear as to why he wants them to know God’s love in a supernatural way. So that they may be filled with the fullness of God (The other repetition). Here’s another interesting thought I had. As I said, I’ve heard many believers pray for the fullness of God’s power in them. Yet, I never heard them pray for the power to understand and know His love. Maybe that’s why the church in America is not where it should be. We want power without love.

Christ is our example. Power and love in perfect unity and balance. That’s what we must seek. Press into the power. Seek the power to grasp the love of God. Only then will you be truly equipped to walk in the fullness of what God has for you.

Question: How does God’s love qualify you for His power and fullness?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Redeemed

Redeemed

Continuing in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church, we see a revelation of the calling we’ve been given. This is about who we are in Christ.

…to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Ephesians 1:6-8 NIV

It’s all about the grace of God. He doesn’t hold back. He gives to us freely and abundantly. Why? Because God sees us in Christ – the One He loves so dearly.

This verse shows us more of our “in Christ” realities. First, we have redemption because of the blood of Christ shed for us. That’s an important concept for us to grasp.

The word, redemption, means to gain back by paying the full ransom that’s demanded. We were sold to the kingdom of Satan by our ancestor, Adam. There was no way for us to gain our freedom on our own.

But God, in His love and justice, took our place as Christ Jesus. The shedding of His innocent blood was the payment needed to set us free. Now we are able to enter the kingdom of God. I can now serve God in a way I could never do on my own.

But, if that was all the Lord accomplished, then I would still have the black cloud of my sin hanging over my head. I would be weighed down by the guilt and shame of it all. Praise God, Christ even dealt with that.

This passage says that our sins are forgiven. That word means to pick up and permanently throw away. I don’t need to think about them or grieve over them anymore. They are done and gone.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalms 103:11-12 NIV

It’s a good feeling to know that God will never bring up my past once it’s under the blood of Christ. We’re the ones who do the remembering and think we’re no good. We need to start seeing ourselves as the Father sees us.

This was all a part of God’s plan for humanity. In His foreknowledge, He knew that Adam would fall short of God’s expectations. So, before the world was ever created, God had a plan to rescue and redeem us back to Himself.

According to the above verses, the Lord did this with all wisdom and understanding. Wisdom is the application of knowledge in order to solve a problem. God knew what would happen, and His wisdom came up with a solution before it ever became an issue.

He also saved us by His understanding. This is a word that means to think deeply about your plans and opinions.

God didn’t just save us as one of many things on His agenda. The whole of His being – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – were all actively striving for the goal of man’s redemption.

Never think that you’re of little importance to God. He loves you with everything He has and is. He thinks more highly of you than you think of yourself. That’s why it’s so important for us to see ourselves the way He does.

Never lose sight of this fact. You’re a part of the body of Christ on earth. You’re a member of the One He loves dearly.

That’s why I like the book of Ephesians so much. You can’t read it without seeing how great the power of God is that’s at work in us.

Question: How do you keep your past failures from affecting your future?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2023 in Encouragement, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Love Pressure

Love Pressure

In my last few posts about the book of Romans, I’ve been talking about the power of God at work in us.  We’ve seen that there’s a process that begins when it’s initiated by our faith in God.  It brings us from faith to an experience of God’s glory.

Paul continues this thought.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Romans 5:5

Paul now brings us to the greatest power in the universe – love.  That’s the place the Holy Spirit is bringing us to.  His desire for every believer is for us to walk in love.

Love is the spiritual pressure placed upon us to produce change.  It was what compelled Christ to minister the way He did.

Actually, I can’t think of any more powerful force in all of life other than love.  For the love of God, or another person, we’ll do things that we might never have done under ordinary circumstances.  Love is a driving force in many of the things we do.

God’s love that He pours into our hearts is the source of our spiritual power.  The same love that drove Christ forward is now placed within us.  When we had no power, God saved us by the death and resurrection of Christ.  He has plugged us into His power source.  The very love that pressures Him can now drive us forward to bless others.

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

It’s Christ’s love that should empower everything that we do.  We need to take inventory of what drives and motivates us.

Do you feel a pressure that drives you to reach out to the lost?  Does love compel you to be a blessing to those around you even when you don’t feel like it?  Do you have a compassion for those who are in need?  If not, then you haven’t tapped into the love of Christ.

It’s so easy to say, “I love the lost and I want to see them saved.”  But if there’s little or no pressure to do something about it, then that’s a sign that there’s little or no manifestation of God’s love.  The verdict is simple, no love, no power.

If you want to see this principle in action, just look to the early church in the book of Acts.  They felt the pressure of God’s love to the point where they were willing to die, if necessary, to bring salvation to those around them.

In my last post, I talked about our faith being proved as genuine.  I believe that walking in the love of God is one of the proofs of a genuine faith.

We don’t talk very much about God’s approval of life and ministry.  We seem to think that we can just do what we please and ask God to bless it.  After all, we’re doing it for the Lord.

No.  On the contrary, it’s God’s standards that we need to aspire to.  It’s found again and again in Scripture, if we look for it.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15

We must do what it takes to live in intimacy with the Lord.  Only in this way will His love increase in our hearts.

Question: How much of the pressure of Christ’s love do you feel within you?

© 2021 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2021 in Anointing, Faith, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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Our First Calling

Our First Calling

We’re continuing to go through Paul’s letter to the believers in Rome.  In the introduction of this epistle, he talks about the goal of his writing.

And you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:6-7

The first thing Paul does is to make it clear who’s doing the calling.  He literally says that they are called by Jesus Christ.  That brings me to an important point.

Most people read Scripture without ever thinking about the words being used, or the order we find them.  For instance, many believers think that the names “Jesus Christ” and “Christ Jesus” are synonymous and interchangeable.

While I agree that they both refer to the same person, it’s also important to understand their differences.  They speak a lot about what the writer is trying to get across to us.

The name, Jesus, speaks of His earthly body, while Christ refers to His eternal divinity.  So when they’re put together an important union is formed.  It’s all about the Lord’s high priestly office.

Usually, the name Jesus Christ is used when the writer is emphasizing something that’s directed from man to God.  The name, Christ Jesus, directs the emphasis from God to man.

In this passage we are called by Jesus Christ.  That tells me that the emphasis is man to God.  Jesus is calling us so that we can approach God through His work in us.

That’s what this letter to the Roman church is all about.  Paul is taking them on a journey from the outskirts of God’s grace to the inner circle of maturity in Christ.

The next two things Paul talks about are applicable to all people.  That’s the fact that they’re all loved by God and they’re all called to be holy (saints).

This is important because God’s calling is based upon His love for us.  God loves everyone and desires all to come into His salvation.  Unfortunately, not everyone accepts His invitation.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the Lord loves them anyway.

Everyone is also called to be holy – set apart to God.  I explained that term a couple of posts back.  The Lord wants everyone to be a part of His household.  That’s because we’ll never truly be satisfied until we discover our true purpose for living in Christ.

That brings us to the final two parts of what the book of Romans is majoring on.  Paul wants to see them operating in the grace and peace of God.

These are two very important aspects of our walk with God.  Grace is the vertical portion.  We look to God by faith in His Word.  The Lord then responds to our faith by pouring out His grace upon us.

Peace is the horizontal aspect of our spiritual life.  There are many believers who don’t understand this concept.  Peace is that open relationship between God’s people.

It also deals with all the blessings God has provided for me.  This includes, but isn’t limited to, healing, provision, encouragement, and protection.  What we don’t understand about this is that all of these blessings come through other people – the horizontal.

If I’m in need of resources and pray to God to supply my need, these things don’t just fall out of the sky.  They come from other people.

So if I build walls between myself and other Christians, I’m cutting myself off from potential supplies.  I’m also destroying my chance of passing on God’s blessings through my life to others.

We’re all called to come near to God.  That’s where we receive the grace and peace needed to fulfill our earthly ministries.

Question: How have you seen God’s grace and peace at work in your life?

© 2020 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Walking with the Shepherd

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASometimes we get the idea that we have to set the agenda for our lives. But that’s not the right way to live. It’s the Lord who should be choosing the path we’re on.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:1-3

Green pastures, quiet waters and right paths – what else could you ask for in a Shepherd? He knows the way ahead and he knows the needs of our hearts. There’s no one who’s more worthy of our trust than the Lord is.

In the real world sheep don’t get to choose their shepherd. They belong to whoever owns the flock. It’s not up to them to decide to leave one shepherd for another. But because of the work Christ did on the cross, we have the privilege of choosing Him no matter what our background might be.

The blessing is now ours to be led in the best possible way. We can walk along paths that will restore us rather than harm us. We have something that can feed our hungry souls and living water to refresh us.

Trust the Shepherd of your soul. He’s worthy of that trust. Realize that He wants the very best for you if you’ll just open up and receive it. There’s no greater place to be.

Of course there will be problems

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Psalm 23:4-5

The valley of the shadow of death – it definitely sounds like a place I’d rather avoid. As if that wasn’t enough, there are also the enemies. Sheep are defenseless against such predators as wolves and lions. The world can be a very evil and dark place sometimes.

Praise God that we have a Shepherd who knows the dark paths we must take. He’s been there and has come through victoriously. When I don’t know the road ahead, I can rest assured that He does.

I can be free from the fear of enemies. His rod and staff will be my protection. As a matter of fact, my enemy will have to watch as I feast at the table of the Lord. The Shepherd will bring me through, in spite of the enemy’s best-laid plans to destroy me.

When the burdens of life start getting me down – when I start getting discouraged – He’s right there to anoint me with the oil of His joy. He knows just how to refresh and invigorate me.

If you’re going through a hard time today; turn the problems over to Jesus. Let Him comfort, refresh and renew you.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Psalm 23:6

His goodness is unmatched. He wants the best for your life. His plan for you is greater than you could have ever asked or imagined.

His love for you is deep and unchanging. Never think for a moment that you have to win, earn or work to receive His love. He showers it on you freely.

If you have never given Christ your all, then today is a good day to surrender. Commit everything you are and everything you have into His hands. He only wants the very best for you. Take the time right now to bow your heart and place your life in the hands of the Chief Shepherd.

Question: How has Christ been a Good Shepherd to you in the past?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2015 in Encouragement, Faith, God's Provision

 

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Are You a “High-Voltage” Christian?

In my last two posts I’ve been talking about the power of God at work in us.  We have seen that spiritual power relates very closely to natural power.  Just as power in the physical universe produces change, God expects His power to change us and those around us.

We also saw that the first component of this power is love.  This relates to voltage in the realm of science.  Love is the spiritual pressure placed upon us to produce change.  It was what compelled Christ to minister the way He did.

Actually, I can’t think of any more powerful force in all of life other than love.  For the love of God, or another person, we will do things that we might never have done under ordinary circumstances.  Love is a driving force in many of the things we do.

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5:5-6

Here is the source of our spiritual power.  The same love that drove Christ forward is now placed within us.  When we had no power, God saved us by the death and resurrection of Christ.  He has plugged us into His power source.  The very love that pressures Him can now drive us forward to bless others.

As I said before, our power can be measured. Let’s use our spiritual volt-meter.  Do you feel a pressure that drives you to reach out to the lost?  Does love compel you to be a blessing to those around you even when you don’t feel like it?  Do you have a compassion for those who are in need?  If not, then you haven’t tapped into the love of Christ.

It’s so easy to say, “I love the lost and I want to see them saved.”  But if there is little or no pressure to do something about it, then that’s a sign that there’s little or no love voltage.  The verdict is simple, no love, no power.

If you want to see this principle in action, just look to the early church in the book of Acts.  Spiritually speaking, they should’ve had a sign over their door which read “Danger High Voltage”!  They felt the pressure of God’s love to the point where they were willing to die, if necessary, to bring salvation to those around them.  We must do what it takes to live in intimacy with the Lord.  Only in this way will His love increase in our hearts.

Question: Do you ever feel the pressure of Christ’s love within you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2012 in Power of God

 

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