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Monthly Archives: March 2014

Our Legacy of Giving Out Bread

agricultureI’ve been posting about hearing God’s Word, and using it to bless others. There are plenty of examples in Scripture. One of them was a man named Philip. He was just a normal believer who wanted to serve God.

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.”
Acts 8:26

The Bible says that an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip. The word angel is the Greek word messenger. It was the angel’s job to communicate God’s plan to Philip. How did he do it? We’re not told.

Did the angel physically appear to Philip? Did he speak in an audible voice? Or was it just an impression that Philip got, that he needed to walk down the southern road? There’s no way of knowing.

What we do know is that Philip obeyed the instruction of the angel. Because he did what the Word of the Lord told him to do, salvation was brought to a high official of Ethiopia.

We can also look at the life of the Apostle Peter. One day he was minding his own business, praying on the roof of the house he was staying at. Suddenly, out of nowhere, he receives a vision from God.

A blanket is let down from Heaven with all kinds of unclean animals in it. He hears a voice that tells him to take them and eat them. He replies that he would never do that because they’re unclean. Then the voice tells him not to call unclean, what God has made clean. This happened three times while he was on the roof.

At that point he had no idea what God was trying to say to him. Why take this time to explain that unclean animals had become clean? Personally, I’m happy about this because I enjoy BBQ ribs. But God’s intent was not to simply increase our menu. There was a deeper issue He was trying to prepare Peter for.

While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them.”
Acts 10:19-20

Peter’s attitude about Gentiles was not where it should have been before the revelation of the unclean animals. God had to prepare Peter’s heart in order to get the Good News to the Gentiles.

Sometimes we need to be prepared to hear the Word of God to us. That’s why it’s so important to remain in the presence of God. This Gentile family needed to receive the Bread from Heaven. There was nowhere else for them to get it, except from the Apostle Peter.

God had to give the Word of truth to Peter so that he could then pass it on to these Gentiles. Because of Peter’s faithfulness to the Word, many were saved and salvation was opened up to all nations and people groups.

Right now, God is looking for a people who are willing to spend time with Him to hear His voice. Then, once we’ve heard from Him, we go out into the world and accomplish His objectives for His glory. This is the ministry that we should be performing as a continuation of what Christ did when He walked the earth.

Question: What have you heard from God that could be a blessing to others?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Ministry, Prayer, Word of God

 

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Are You a Messy Eater?

DinnerI’ve been posting about going to God for the needs of others.

Do you remember, in Scripture, when Jesus was approached by a Canaanite woman on behalf of her daughter?  She asked for healing and the Lord seemed to give her a hard time.  He even went as far as calling her a dog – the Hebrew term for a Gentile.

He didn’t do this to be mean, but to prove a point to His disciples.  He wanted them to see how great her faith was regarding Christ.

Because she pressed in, her daughter ended up being healed.  Look at the exchange between Christ and the woman.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
“Yes, Lord,” she said, “but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith!  Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.
Matthew 15:26-28

There are some very important truths contained in this passage.  First note that Jesus called healing the children’s bread.  It’s right for the children to eat.  God does not view healing as a privilege, but a necessity.  I talk about healing in another series of posts.

What I want you to see at this point is that when Jesus walked the earth, Israel had an “all about us” attitude concerning the blessings of God.  They were very selfish concerning the Word and the promises of God.

This is interesting since they wasted most of what they received.  They rejected the ministry of Christ even though He was trying to lift them up to a greater walk with God.

It’s a principle we see played out over and over again.  The simple fact is that children are very selfish with their food.  I see it all the time.

Because of this, whenever we have a church dinner, we tell parents of small children to accompany them to the food table.  Without parental control, a child will load his plate up with the food he likes without thought to whether there’s enough for others, or even if he’s able to finish it all.  He just wants to see it all on his plate.

Many times we’re the same way in our walk with the Lord.  We’re very selfish concerning the Word of God.  We want every blessing of Scripture to be all about us.  Then we’re like selfish children who play with their food and end up wasting most of it.

In the above passage, the world is illustrated as dogs that are hungry, and circling the table where the children are eating.  They’re desperate.  They’re coming from a place where there’s a famine of the Word of God.  Even the crumbs of what we have will be satisfying to them.

It’s time for us to stop looking at everything as revolving around our own needs and wants.  We must begin to see that our ministry is to those around us.  We must start to receive the Word of God as mature saints.

Then be ready to minister this grace to the hungry world.

Question: What spiritual gifts do you possess that could help those around you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in God's Provision, Ministry, Prayer

 

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Asking, Seeking, and Knocking…For Others

DoorI’ve been posting about how we go to God for the needs of others.  Let’s continue looking at the parable in Luke, chapter 11.

“I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
Luke 11:8-10

Listen carefully to the reasoning as to why the man was given bread.  It was NOT because of friendship or need.  It was because of boldness.  It was because the friend was willing to go to the neighbor’s house in the dead of night and pound on his door.

Other people who lived around started to wake up when they heard the commotion.  They looked out their windows to see how this man would respond.  It was only when it became a matter of his reputation in the community, that this man responded by supplying bread.

Our God is not going to be pressured because you’re begging Him for provision.  You can’t gain His sympathy by magnifying the need.  These things don’t affect God.

What He’s looking for is someone who’s willing to publicly declare the Word of God before men.  He’s looking for boldness.

The important part is found in verses 9 and 10.  This is the section that tells us that if we ask, it will be given, if we seek, we will find, and if we knock, the door will be opened.  Our normal thoughts are that this is all about me getting what I want from God.

In this context, Christ is speaking about going before God on behalf of the needs of others.  It’s about meeting the needs of those around us.  People we meet everyday – at our jobs, in our schools, and in the stores.

They all have problems they’re facing each day.  Most of them have no access to God except through us.  We must throw out this idea that the blessings of God are only for me and a chosen few.  It’s God’s desire to bless the world through His people.

You don’t have to convince me that God wants to bless believers; that’s beyond question.  What I want to open our eyes to is the world around us that’s in need.  They need a Savior, a Healer and a Provider.  All of these things are found in Christ.

It’s up to us to take this message to the world.  Not just by saying, “God loves you.”  But by actually bringing the power of Christ into the lives of the hurting people around us.

Take the time to go before the throne room of God with the needs of others.  Trust God to perform miracles in those you pray for.  If you hear a Word from God for them, then act on it.

We must be God’s hands extended to the world.

Question: What are the specific needs you know about the people around you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in God's Provision, Ministry, Prayer

 

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God is Our Supply

Our Supply in GodIn my last post I started talking about a parable of Jesus found in Luke, chapter 11.  In the Lord’s teaching, a man is looking for bread from his neighbor at midnight.

This parable is about going to God on behalf of the needs of others.  Let’s compare this neighbor to what we know about God.

“Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’”
Luke 11:7

The first thing this neighbor says is, “Don’t bother me.”  The word bother comes from a root word that means to cut.  We know from the Scripture, that Jesus Christ was cut and bruised for me.

He bore my sicknesses and diseases.  He took upon Himself everything that would hurt or harm me.  This neighbor may not want to help, but the God I serve is ready, willing, and able to meet the needs of those I’m praying for.

The next thing he said was, “The door is shut and locked.”  How does this compare to what Christ has done for us?

I know your deeds.  See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Revelation 3:8

The Lord is the One who opens the door before us.  I know that I can go forward boldly because of His work in my life.  If I seek God’s path, then I’m assured that the door stands open before me.

No matter what the circumstances look like in the natural, my advancement does not rely upon the hand of man, but on the power of God.

The neighbor also declared, “My children are with me in bed.”  Of course, this is how many Christians would like to picture their relationship with God.  We want to be cozy in our room – “us four and no more.”

This is not a picture of the God we serve.  Christ has clearly commanded us to go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone who would listen.  God wants us to be a blessing to those around us.  We are to be salt and light in this dark generation.

The neighbor’s last statement was probably the most important of all, when looking at the comparison with Christ.  The man said, “I have no power to rise and give you anything.”

Jesus Christ proved that He was the One with power enough to do all of God’s will.

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life– only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.”
John 10:17-18

All power in Heaven and earth was committed to Christ.  He had the power, not only to lay down His life, but to then rise from the dead three days later.  He has proven Himself victorious over sin and the grave.
Unlike this neighbor, Christ has everything I need to be an abundant blessing to those around me if I will go to Him for supply.

Question: What are the needs of others that you are currently seeking God for?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in God's Provision, Ministry, Prayer

 

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Don’t Be Selfish with the Bread of Life

SharingIn my last post I talked about the Word of God as bread.  I want to continue that discussion by looking at a parable that few ever teach about.  We need to see how the bread of the Word applies to our daily lives.

Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and he goes to him at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have nothing to set before him.’
“Then the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me.  The door is already locked, and my children are with me in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’
I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs.”
Luke 11:5-8

This parable brings to light an incredible truth.  Listen carefully to what the man is asking for.  He’s seeking bread.  But the important fact is the reason he wants it.

Is he hungry?  Does he have no money to buy bread?  Absolutely not!  These are not the reason he needs bread so desperately.

According to the man, a friend of his was on a journey and has come near to him.  He opened his home to the friend but has no bread to place before the friend.

According to Scripture, every human is on a journey.  We are all traveling from total spiritual darkness to maturity in Christ.  We are all at different places along this path.

What this man was saying is, “My friend’s path brought him into my sphere of influence.  I need to help him become what God wants him to be.”

The man was not seeking the bread of the Word for himself.  He was seeking a Word that would meet the need of someone else.  This is something the church needs to hear.  It seems that much of the time we are self-absorbed.

We are always seeking things for ourselves.  We seem to think it’s all about my healing, my prosperity, and my blessing.  We need to follow the example of Christ.  Most of what He sought the Father for was bread that He could give to others.

Notice the humility.  My friend has come to me and I have nothing of my own that could meet his need.  This is an admittance of our total dependency on God.

I’m trusting God to meet someone else’s need.  But I want Him to send the supply through me.  This requires us to admit our inability apart from the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

When you spend time in the presence of the Lord, remember to think of others.  Listen for a Word that could be a help to them as well as yourself.

Question: How have you helped others along their road to maturity in Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2014 in God's Provision, Ministry, Word of God

 

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The Bread of Life – Breakfast of Champions

BreadAt one point in their time with the Lord, the Disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray.  Here is one line of the prayer Jesus taught them.

“Give us each day our daily bread.”
Luke 11:3

This prayer of Jesus is not only applicable in the physical, but also in the spiritual.  If earthly bread is necessary for life, how much more is the Word of God needed to nourish our inner man?  God is looking for a people who will feed daily upon His spiritual bread – the Word of God.

You should notice that this prayer is not in the form of a question.  Christ is not asking the Father for bread.  Bread, in this context, is something that is already supplied and on hand.

It’s a grocery item that is already in the cupboard.  When my children get up in the morning, they don’t ask my permission to eat.

“I’m going to eat breakfast now.”

That’s the adult attitude.  You’re up.  You’re going to work.  You need a good breakfast before you leave the house.  When you’re ready to eat you go to the pantry, the place of supply, and get what you need for the day.

It’s the same in the spiritual.  God’s Word to us is always available.  He expects us to seek Him daily for a Word from Him.

When Jesus taught this prayer, He also taught the truths that it encompassed.  Different Gospel writers recorded the various teachings.  Matthew and Luke gave us what the Lord taught concerning the bread.

“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
Matthew 7:9-11

This is the attitude that the Father has toward a child who asks for bread.  In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 11, we see this same teaching, but Luke uses the Holy Spirit as the gift.

There’s no question in the mind of Christ.  If you ask God for a daily Word, you will receive.

This is the desire of God’s heart.  He wants His people derive their nourishment from His hand.  We have the ability to go to the presence of God each day for the Word we need to live victoriously.  That’s what Jesus did.

Questions: Did you go to God for your spiritual breakfast today?  What did you receive from Him?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2014 in Prayer, Word of God

 

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Warning: Legalism is Addictive

PillsIn my last post, I talked about hearing from God and receiving vision for your life and ministry.  This is important, because under the New Covenant, believers need to be hearing from God.

I’m so glad that whenever I pray, God hears me in Christ.  But I also need to hear Him when He speaks.  I don’t think it’s as much God not speaking, as it’s me not listening.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus made a startling statement that many have overlooked.  But first, let’s look at the context.

“And no one pours new wine into old wineskins.  If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined.  No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins.”
Luke 5:37-38

In this parable the old wineskins stand for those who walk in legalism.  Once wineskins were used, they became empty, used up, dry, and unyielding.

That’s a good description of many of the Pharisees Jesus had to deal with.  They had nothing on the inside to give that would bless others.

In the natural, new wine is unfermented grape juice.  As it becomes wine, it produces gasses that pressurize the skins.

Old, dry and unyielding wineskins would burst under that internal pressure.  You can’t live for God like that.

A New wineskin – one that’s unstretched, oiled, soft, and pliable – is ready to be used in this process.

As we get that new wine of the Holy Spirit in us, it starts to ferment.  There is a spiritual pressure that builds up.  That’s what brings growth.

Now you’re hearing from God and something is being poured into you.  The pressure is building.  You have something to give and pour out into someone else.

Listen to Jesus’ next statement.

“And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’”
Luke 5:39

Once you get a taste for legalism, you don’t want the new work of the Spirit.  Why is that?  Simply put, legalism is intoxicating and addictive.

Legalism strokes my ego.  “Look at what I’m doing for God.  I read my Bible and pray every day.  I go to church every week.  I’m better than most.”

This “intoxication” with self-righteousness will put us to sleep, spiritually speaking.  We don’t feel the need to hear from God.  We can live the way we want as we perform our minimal church obligations.

Basically, we can live for God without being changed by the Spirit.  That’s the deception of legalism.

I want to be prepared to hear His voice.  This requires that I allow the Holy Spirit to work His change in me – to stretch my outer man sometimes.  It may feel uncomfortable, but it’s worth it to see the Lord working through me.

Question: How far are you willing to be stretched by the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Legalism, Prayer

 

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