Four Common Worship Mistakes

Every weekend thousands of Christians around the world attend church.  They think that they’re worshipping God.  Unfortunately, in many cases, they’re doing just the opposite and God isn’t pleased with them.  Learn from their mistakes and offer true worship to the Lord.

I invite you to read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7, verses 1 through 20, which is the basis for this post. Here are the four worship mistakes commonly made by modern Christians.

Making sure the outside is cleaned up, and not the inside (Verse 14-15).  Most people get all washed and looking their best for a church service.  That’s just normal.  You want to look nice when you’re around others.

It’s far easier to hide the dirt that can accumulate on the inside.  As we live in and interact with the world, we can pick up thoughts and attitudes without ever knowing it.  Over the course of time, they can lead us off track in our Christian walk.

We need to continue in the repentance and forgiveness that only comes from time spent in the presence of Christ.  That’s where our true beauty should come from – a life that’s kept clean before God.

Saying all the right words, but not living them (Verse 6).  You may not want to hear this, but in every service, churches are attended by many liars.  How can I say that?  Think about the songs we sing.

“Lord, you are more precious than silver…Nothing I desire compares with you.”

Then, during the rest of the service, we’re thinking about what’s for dinner.  We sing passionately about how we would do anything for God or how deeply we want to know Him.  Yet, once we leave the church, we don’t think twice about it until next week.

In many cases we act like the fact that we’re singing the words, automatically makes it true.  To live a life of worship, our lives need to line up with our “Sunday personas”.

Preferring to follow a set of rules rather than cultivating a relationship with God (Verse 7-8).  Sometimes we get the idea that just because we don’t murder, cheat, steal, or do drugs, then we’re okay.  We read the Bible and pray for our needs every day because that’s what a Christian is supposed to do.

What about simply spending time in God’s presence because He’s God?  The Father wants us to get to know Him personally.  He wants to speak to our hearts and enjoy our fellowship.

Being a Christian isn’t just a choice to do good things.  It’s a living relationship with a holy God.  Worship is not a chore to complete.  We are to become worshippers.

Giving money in the offering rather than giving yourself to the Lord.  This is one of the biggest mistakes that we can make.  Thinking that we own everything except what we willingly give to God.

God is the Creator of Heaven and earth.  It’s all His.  It’s my responsibility to acknowledge that fact.  I am His.  My greatest act of worship is to willingly give myself to Him.  Only Christ is worthy to receive an offering like that.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
John 4:23

Don’t waste your life being a superficial believer.  Enter into a lifestyle of worship.  True worship is not a matter of what you do on Sundays, but who you are all week long.

Questions: What’s your definition of worship?  What worship issues have you had to deal with in your walk with God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on March 16, 2018 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church, Worship


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The Drawing Power of the Holy Spirit

Social media is a powerful tool.  It can turn someone into an overnight sensation.  This type of communication wasn’t even imagined in ancient Israel, yet the ministry of Jesus grew in a huge way.

When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there.  As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus.  They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.  And wherever he went — into villages, towns or countryside — they placed the sick in the marketplaces.  They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.
Mark 6:53-56

There are some things about this passage that amaze me when I read it.  The first thing I see is that immediately, the crowds recognized Jesus.

There were no newspapers or TVs.  Most of us know what the major celebrities look like.  We’ve seen their pictures in many places.  But back then, nobody had a picture of Him.  Yet as soon as they saw Him and His disciples, they knew exactly who they were.

Another thing I notice is that word spread quickly.  People literally ran throughout that whole region, telling that Jesus had arrived.  I’ve never witnessed this type of behavior.

At one point, part of a major motion picture was being filmed in our town.  Nobody ran through the streets announcing the arrival of the stars and camera crews.  It came and went without a lot of people even noticing.

But the notoriety of Jesus went even further than that, especially when it can to the sick and infirm.  If they couldn’t walk to see Jesus, there were those who were willing to carry the sick people.  In some cases, they were carried for miles.

Because of this, hundreds of people were arriving where the Lord was expected to show up.  They were waiting for Him even though there was no guarantee that they would be ministered to.

Then, when Christ was walking through, they begged Him to simply let them touch His clothing.  They didn’t want a special meeting.  They weren’t waiting for an altar call.

“Just walk close enough so I can reach out to you.”

Jesus understood the working of the Holy Spirit.  It wasn’t a carefully crafted media blitz.  It was the Father pulling on the hearts of the people.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John 6:44

The results were overwhelming.  Everyone who touched Him experienced the Lord’s healing power.

Think about it.  They were healed simply by touching Jesus’ clothes as He walked by them.  He felt no need to dramatically lay hands on them so that all would know who it was that performed the miracle.

The Lord had no need for self-promotion.  He walked through the crowd getting as close to as many as He could in the time given to Him.  I believe that’s one of the reasons that the Holy Spirit could work so powerfully through Him.

We need to spend time in His presence.  In that way, we can pick up the same heartbeat that He had.  Then the Holy Spirit can work in us to that same degree.

Question: How differently would we minister if we had the Lord’s heart?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on March 14, 2018 in Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Walk


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God’s Watchfulness

We’re continuing to look at the Gospel of Mark.  In my last post, we saw that after sending the disciples off and dismissing the crowds, Jesus went up on a mountainside to pray and seek the Father.

He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.   About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake.  He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost.  They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.
Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid.”
Mark 6:48-50

The disciples didn’t know that the Lord could be up on the mountain praying and watching over them at the same time.

We sometimes think that God isn’t watching us.  Or maybe He’s simply ignoring us.  The truth is that the Lord not only knows where you are, but He also knows the quickest route to get to you.

There seemed to be no way for Jesus to be in a position to help the disciples.  That is until He started walking across the water.

He took the quickest path to the boat.  Remember, the things that keep us down don’t bind the Lord.  He knows how to show up in your time of need.

The disciples weren’t looking for Him to appear.  As a matter of fact, it seems that they were more afraid of the Lord walking on the water than they were of the storm.

If you’re going through a storm today, don’t be afraid, Christ is nearby and ready to help you.  Make sure you place yourself in a position to receive His help.  Don’t fear His solution more than your problem.

Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down.  They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.
Mark 6:51-52

The weather is something you and I can’t control.  Every part of the USA has some kind of natural dangers that occur regularly.   Most of what you encounter in these conditions is out of your hands, all you can do is prepare for it, and do your best to survive through it.

Even worse, are the spiritual and emotional storms that we face.  Many times they come upon us with no warning at all.  These upheavals can sometimes ruin the rest of our lives.

The good news is that no matter what you face in life, you’re never alone.  When the disciples struggled to cross the lake they were never out of the Lord’s protection.

It’s good to know that when danger arises, He can walk on water to rescue you.  Only He has the power to still the storm you’re going through and never break a sweat.

The trouble with the disciples was that they had not understood all that they saw in Jesus up until that point.  Scripture says that their hearts were still hard.  They should have been able to expect the Lord to show up when they needed Him.  Instead, they end up completely amazed that they were able to survive the ordeal.

Remember that the Lord can make a way for you when the path seems hopeless.  Never forget to acknowledge His protective care over your life.  Even in your darkest time, expect the Lord to show up and guide you to a safe haven.  Yield to Him today and let Him direct you to your destiny in Him.

Question: How has God rescued you from an “impossible” situation in the past?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on March 12, 2018 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God


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The Place of Clarity

Many people ask how they can get direction and insight from God.  The fact is that God always wants to speak to us; we just need to be in the position of hearing Him.  As we continue in Mark’s Gospel, we’ll see how Jesus heard from the Father.

Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.  After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
Mark 6:45-46

As I read the Gospels, I find that Jesus loved the mountains.  He went there often to seek solitude and to pray.  I don’t think that the disciples ever realized the importance of this part of the Lord’s ministry until after the resurrection.

There were many times where the best thing for Him to do was to dismiss the crowds and to send away His disciples in order to be alone with the Father.  This was one of those times.  He had just ministered to thousands of people.  That can be very draining no matter who you are.

When the Lord took on flesh and blood, He chose to live as one of us.  Because of this, Jesus was bound by the same physical limitations that we are.  He learned that you can’t just keep giving out to others.  You must also take something in that can recharge your own spiritual batteries.

It was in these mountains of prayer that Jesus was able to renew His Spirit.  He would seek the Father’s face and by the Spirit, hear the plan for the road ahead.  In that way, He could fulfill the work He was called to do without burning Himself out doing it.

How do I know that the Lord would hear from God in this way?  Scripture makes it clear.

When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land.  He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.
Mark 6:47-48a

I think that we miss the importance of this verse sometimes.  This was a direct communication between the Lord and the Father.

It had gotten dark.  The disciples were a couple of miles away, in a storm, and it was night time.  Yet the Bible clearly says that Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars.  If it were daylight, He might have seen a tiny dot out on the lake.

This was obviously something shown to Him in the Spirit.  That’s what happens in the place of solitude and prayer in the spirit.

What most people don’t understand about this is that being alone in the presence of God is the mountain of clarity in the spirit.  As a matter of fact, if you read through Scripture, the defining characteristic of mountaintop experiences is clarity of vision.

Jesus had to climb to get there.  It involved work.  It’s the same for us.  It’s not easy setting aside a regular time to seek the Father.  But the rewards are a clear view of the Lord’s plan for our lives.

That needs to be a lesson for us.  If Jesus needed this time with the Father, how much more should we be seeking the presence of the Lord in our daily lives?  Take the time necessary today to renew and refresh yourself in the presence of the Lord.  You’ll be glad you did.

Question: What’s the last thing God showed you when you spent time in His presence?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi


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What Does Your Ministry Need?

What are the priorities of ministry?  What can we learn from the way Jesus handled the day to day logistical challenges?

In my last post, we saw Jesus teaching the crowds in a very remote location.  Now it’s getting late and there are some needs that must be addressed.

By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late.  Send the people away so they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”
Mark 6:35-36

The first thing that happens is that the disciples see and recognize the need.  That’s the easy part.  Ask anyone what’s wrong with the church and they’ll tell you what it needs.

Notice the response.  It wasn’t the disciples’ problem.  The people needed to fix it.  If they were hungry, then the crowd needed to go out and find something to eat.

That’s the attitude of many people today.  “If they would do what they were supposed to do, the church would be better.”

Notice how Jesus turns that whole attitude around.

But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”
Mark 6:37a

That’s the response of a good leader.  Turn the responsibility over to the ones who are sensitive to the need.

“Pastor, this church needs a Men’s Ministry.”

“I totally agree.  When do you plan on starting it?”

I don’t think the disciples were prepared for that type of answer from the Lord.  It caught them off guard.

They said to him, “That would take eight months of a man’s wages!  Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”
Mark 6:37b

Here’s where most ministries lose sight of the true vision.  The disciples immediately make it a resource problem.  Their first reaction was to throw money at it to make it go away.

But first – here’s an aside for those who think ministers of the Gospel should live in poverty.  The disciples DID NOT say, “We don’t have the money to feed them.”  They asked if Jesus wanted them to spend that much cash on the crowd.

In our economy, think about how much it would cost to buy 5000 fast food value meals.  Jesus had that much money on Him at the time.  But I digress.

According to Christ, it wasn’t a money problem, but a Word problem.  How did the Father want this need met?  Too often we ask for money before we seek the Holy Spirit to provide a miraculous solution.

Verses 38 through 44 of Mark chapter 6 tell us of the way Jesus heard from heaven and met the needs of over 5000 hungry people.  This is how we should be ministering to those around us.  We must spend time in the Spirit, and then walk out what we’ve heard from the Father.

Too many times I hear, “If we don’t get the donations, then we can’t do what God has called us to do.”  Personally, I serve a God who’s bigger than the donations.  He can make a way with or without the money.

We need to learn to be listening for His voice.  That way we keep in step with not only what the Lord is leading us to do, but how exactly He wants it accomplished.

Questions: Has God ever worked His plans through you without money?  How did He bring it about?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on March 7, 2018 in Faith, God's Provision, Ministry, Prayer


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Sheep Without Shepherds

In my last post, we saw Jesus going off to a solitary place with His disciples.  They were in need of some rest after a particularly stressful time.  After they were leaving, some people discovered where the Lord and His team were going to.

But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.  When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  So he began teaching them many things.
Mark 6:33-34

Jesus and His disciples wanted a break from ministry.  Apparently, a few hours sailing on the lake was enough to lift their energy levels.  When He saw the crowds, Jesus was ready and willing to bring them God’s Word.

What impresses me the most is that it wasn’t out of obligation.  He didn’t minister because He was the Messiah and that was His job.  There was an inner pressure that was initiated by His compassion for the crowds.

It’s important to note how the Lord viewed these people.  He saw them like sheep without a shepherd.  That’s important.  They had shepherds assigned to them in the synagogues.  But for all intents and purposes, it was as if they had none.

That got me thinking about our generation.  As I look out across Western Christianity, I see the same problem.

Yes, we have people that we refer to as pastors (shepherds), and I’m one of them.  But I’ve been noticing a trend that gives me a cause for concern.  In our society, many believers are like sheep without a shepherd.

What do I mean by that?  Right now there’s an attitude in the body of Christ that we don’t need or want shepherds.  We want teachers who will tell us about living for God.  What we don’t want is a shepherd who will lead us in the right paths – and warn us not to take the wrong paths.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
2 Timothy 4:3

The Apostle Paul saw it on the horizon.  He spoke about it to a young shepherd named Timothy.  We’re living in the fulfillment of this.  We want to surround ourselves with teachers, not shepherds.

When somebody teaches, I become the judge.  I decide whether or not to apply what I hear.  After all, no one’s going to tell me what I have to do.  God loves me, no matter how I decide to live my life.

The truth is that God does love you.  You may even be on your way to heaven.  But is that really what your life is all about?

We’re called to be the light of Christ in this dark world.  We’re the ones with the message of hope and salvation to those who are lost and dying.  When we live for ourselves, we miss the whole point of why the Lord placed His Holy Spirit in us.

When we live as sheep without a shepherd, then we’re on dangerous ground.  The enemy is able to pick us off, one by one.  That’s why so many Christians have the same problems as the world.  We should be living at a level that’s so much higher.

Make it your goal to place yourself under a God-assigned shepherd who will speak God’s word into your life.

Question: How has following a God-given shepherd protected you from an attack of the enemy?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi


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Time Out

What’s your view of leisure time and vacations?  There are some, especially in the ministry, who ignore it.  I’ve talked to pastors who actually see it as a matter of pride.

“I haven’t taken a vacation in over 20 years!”

But is that a good thing?  Is it even what the Lord wants for His people?

We’re continuing to look at the ministry of Jesus as recorded in Mark’s Gospel.  Hopefully, you’ll agree that Jesus should be the example to us of the best way to serve God.

In my last post, we learned about the events surrounding the death of John the Baptist.  He was the one called by God to announce the arrival of the Messiah.  But not only was he a colleague in ministry, he was also Jesus’ cousin.

Hearing about the death of John must have grieved the Lord.  It’s always painful when a close family member dies.  Even more so knowing that it was a murder based on the message he was preaching.

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.
Mark 6:30

It was also during this time that the disciples were returning from their mission.  Jesus had sent them to the towns He was headed to so they could make the plans necessary for their journey.  There was a lot of activity surrounding Him.

What was the Lord’s response to all of this happening?

“Okay guys, we need to really work hard now.  No time to slow down.  We need to push through this!”

No, Jesus had a plan of action to make it through this hard time.  It’s a plan that many would disagree with.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”  So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.
Mark 6:31-32

Jesus knew all about the stresses of ministry.  He also knew that the human body and emotions can only take so much before it stops working properly.  That’s why He announced to the disciples that it was time to take a vacation.

You need to hear this, especially if you’re the type of person that doesn’t take any time off.  Our bodies were created with the need for rest and relaxation from time to time.  Jesus walked this out.

The word translated as rest means to pause.  They weren’t ending the ministry.  They were simply taking a few days to stop what they had been doing.  Their minds and bodies needed a break.

The demands of ministry can be very great at times.  We are surrounded by an incredible need that, on our own, we have no ability to help.  This pressure builds up over time.  If we don’t deal with it properly, there will be a breakdown of some sort.

It’s God’s will that you take a break from work and ministry from time to time.  In that way, you can refresh yourself.  Your mind stays clearer and you can be more sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit.

Too many of my friends in the ministry have burned out and left their positions.  I have seen a few mental, spiritual, and physical breakdowns.  That’s not a part of God’s plan for you.

Follow the example of Jesus.  Take the time needed to renew yourself on a regular basis.  It will make a big difference in your spiritual life.

Question: What do you do for extended relaxation?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on March 2, 2018 in Encouragement, Ministry, Spiritual Walk


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