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Monthly Archives: March 2016

Cain’s Offering

GrapesAs I was reading the tiny book of Jude, I saw something that caught my interest. Jude is speaking about some false teachers who had secretly infiltrated the church.

In writing about them, he made this statement…

Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
Jude 11

When I saw that line – they have taken the way of Cain – something struck a chord in me and I knew I had to look deeper into it. I wanted to understand this because of the false teaching evident in the church today.

As I studied the life of Cain, I came to a conclusion. We’ve really misunderstood him. We call him evil and murderous. But I want to take a fresh look at him. I think that you’ll be surprised at what I found.

Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Later she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil.
Genesis 4:1-3

We know from the Bible that Cain was the firstborn. Abel came along later. What we don’t know is how much later. Actually, Adam and Eve had other children – many others. Some estimates say it could have been as many as 500 children during their lifetime.

In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord.
Genesis 4:3

Here is the first of a few things that caught my attention. As this story unfolds we are confronted by the fact that Cain loves God. Not only does he love God, but he’s grateful to God for the abundant harvest that he received.

Of course the growing conditions were ideal back then. I’ve heard some experts who said that the fruits and vegetables grew to enormous sizes before the flood. They were big enough that an ear of corn could be a meal for an entire family.

As a result, we see that Cain was a worshipper. He acknowledged that God was the source of his prosperity and brought an offering before Him. Then something happens that wasn’t expected.

…but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.
Genesis 4:5

God did not accept Cain’s offering. This brings me to a truth that many Christians have missed. Just because we offer the Lord something; that doesn’t mean that He’s obligated to accept it. God doesn’t have to accept our offerings, especially if He didn’t want it in the first place.

Too many people think that they’re impressing God with what they do, yet God never asked them to do it. They end up offering things to God that He doesn’t want. I want to take a few posts to look at Cain – and how to avoid taking his path.

Questions: Can you give a modern example of what Cain went through?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

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Posted by on March 14, 2016 in Spiritual Walk, The Church, Worship

 

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Life in the Blood

heart CrossIn my last post I talked about the relationship between the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and the blood of Christ. This is important to us because we are told from Scripture that we are cleansed from sin by the blood.

The big question is; how do we access the blood? Listen to what Jesus said about the blood.

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
John 6:53

Clearly the Lord says that our spiritual life is tied to His blood. What exactly is this blood that He’s talking about? I believe it’s about more than just taking the communion elements.

This goes along with teaching found in the Old Testament. The ancient Israelites were prohibited from eating an animal’s blood.

But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat.
Deuteronomy 12:23

As Jesus was teaching this to His followers, He brought out the meaning of what He was saying. In the same context as the above verse, the Lord said…

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
John 6:63

According to Jesus, the Spirit gives life. But the life is in the blood. It’s through the blood of Christ that we receive life.

Can you see it? Right now, the Holy Spirit is the life blood of the body of Christ. That’s what’s flowing through us. The Spirit of God is cleansing us and giving us His life.

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

It’s by the Spirit that we’re made clean from the sin nature. As a matter of fact, everything that blood does in a body, the Holy Spirit does in the body of Christ. He flows through us touching every part with His presence.

The impurities are removed and the life giving nutrients are brought to us. To remain in the Spirit is to remain under the blood. What an awesome truth!

I don’t have to “plead the blood” over my life. If I’m praying in the spirit, communing with the Holy Spirit, then I’m accessing the blood of Christ and all that it does for me.

Don’t neglect this marvelous provision that Christ bought for us on the cross. Remain in Him. Spend time in the Spirit. And watch the life-changing power of God work on your behalf.

Question: How has the blood of Christ changed your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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The Holy Spirit, the Word, and the Blood

cross 2Very often we like to talk about the Holy Spirit. But there’s a work of the Spirit that we don’t usually look forward to. But whether we like it or not, it’s important to let the Spirit have His way in us.

Look at what Jesus said in the section of the Gospel of John where He was talking about sending the Holy Spirit.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”
John 15:1-4

So when Christ talks about remaining in Him, He means that we continue to commune with the Holy Spirit. If that’s the case, then who’s doing the life-changing work in us? It must be the Holy Spirit’s job.

We may not like it, but the Spirit of God was sent to prune us to greater fruitfulness. Even the Apostle Paul understood this.

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

In the original Greek language this verse reads, God did not call us to be unpruned. No one in the kingdom of God should be unpruned. If we reject this work, then we’re rejecting the Holy Spirit. That’s probably why He gets grieved over us sometimes.

So it’s clear from the Gospel of John that the Spirit prunes every branch.

The Lord told the Disciples that they were already pruned because of the Word He spoke to them. How can that be the case? Jesus explained it to the disciples.

The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
John 6:63

They were pruned because Words Jesus spoke were Spirit and Life. So what exactly is it that prunes us? I want to look at one more verse to help us see an incredible truth.

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9:14

Here we see the Holy Spirit working together with the blood of Christ to cleanse us. This is a powerful work of God in us. It all works together for our righteousness.

We need to understand the interactions of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and the blood of Christ. In my next post we’ll look deeper into this life-changing aspect of God’s grace.

Question: How has your life changed since you let the Holy Spirit work in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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The Pattern of Faith and Obedience

ProfitI’m posting about the miracle of Jesus turning the water into wine. In my last article we saw that Jesus had not stepped into His role as Messiah yet. In this one instance He’s acting as God in the flesh.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
John 2:7-8

In this passage, Jesus is speaking as God – not man. The servants are hearing the Word of God. What will they do with what they hear?

Step one is easy. It takes no faith at all to fill the jars with water. That in itself must have taken a lot of time. Each jar held about 20 to 30 gallons. Drawing water from a well was time consuming.

It’s the same thing in our lives. The first part of faith is the easy stuff. We hear the Word of God to us. We accept it, meditate on it, and declare it.

Then comes step two, when you have to trust in the Word of God. The hard part for the servants was when Jesus told then to take this “water” to the master of the banquet for him to taste. They would have looked like fools if nothing had happened.

That’s why it’s important for us to continue to do what we know to do. We walk by faith in the Word of God. Even when it doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary is happening. It’s the obedience of faith that brings about the miracle.

Hearing God’s Word is not enough. We need to move ahead and walk in it. That’s the sign that we truly believe it. That’s when the world sees that Jesus is Lord.

Through this miracle, the disciples got a glimpse into who Jesus really was. He wasn’t just a good teacher with a message for Israel. He was God taking on flesh to reveal Himself to lost humanity.

That’s why the Gospel says…

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
John 2:11

The word first in this passage literally means the first in priority. It doesn’t mean the first in order – like 1, 2, 3. (Actually, the first miracle recorded by John was when Jesus saw Nathaniel under the tree before they met.)

What this verse is saying is that the miracle of turning the water into wine was the most important miracle of Jesus. It was through this that He revealed to the disciples that He was God. It proved to them that they could trust His Word.

When the Lord spoke to them, they knew that whatever He said would come to pass just as He said it would. We need to operate on that level of faith.

That’s how the words of Jesus are introduced to us in the Gospel of John. That’s why it’s so important for us to understand that John was writing to the church. It’s for God’s people to learn to walk the same way Jesus did.

The church needs to learn this lesson. If we want to see miracles to a greater degree it will require more than just church attendance. Listening to God’s Word is not enough. Hearing and obeying must become the pattern of our walk with God.

We need to be praying for the grace to hear and obey. Pray for the power of the Lord to be evidenced in us. The power to walk His road, hear His voice, and then to follow through on His instructions.

Question: What were the last instructions that you heard from the Lord that you need to obey?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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A Pattern of Trust

BlurDid you know that there’s a pattern to how we should trust God? Sometimes we could get it partly right and miss out on God’s best for us. I want to look at miracle that Jesus performed to illustrate this truth. It’s a miracle that’s very often misunderstood.

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”
John 2:1-4

There’s a truth here that we miss sometimes because we don’t understand John’s perspective. The Gospel of John was written so that believers could learn how to live and minister as Jesus did. We do a disservice to the Gospel by assuming that John was written to the unsaved – it wasn’t.

In this passage, Jesus literally said, “What is it with me and you? This isn’t my time.” Please understand – Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful to His mother. Because Joseph had passed away before this, Jesus was the head of his family as the oldest son. It was proper for Him to speak to Mary as her authority.

What did He mean that it wasn’t His time yet? If you check the time-line of Jesus’ life, you’ll find that He had just been baptized by John the Baptist. But He hadn’t gone into the wilderness to be tested yet. This is the last stop before the wilderness.

Then if it wasn’t His time yet; why did He perform the miracle? And what exactly was the miracle? His words are very important for us to understand what’s happening.

In actuality, Mary had as much to do with this as Jesus. It’s all about hearing from God and obeying. In this story, Mary is the one who heard from God. She felt in her heart that this need can be supplied by God.

Jesus basically said to her, “It’s not my hour. This is on you – you’re the one who heard from God. It’s your faith that’s going to do this.” In other words, Jesus was telling her, “You do what God tells you to do.”

What did the Father speak to Mary?

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
John 2:5

God the Father impresses Mary to deal with the servants directly. She tells them to do whatever Jesus instructs them. But remember, it’s not time yet for Jesus to act as the Messiah of Israel. That means that He had to operate from a different relationship.

In this event, we see one of the only places in the Gospels where Jesus operates as God in the flesh. In this case He is acting as God, not man. When He speaks to the servants, it’s the voice of God speaking to them.

It’s important for us to know this so we can learn how to respond to God’s voice. Remember I said there was a pattern to trusting God. The start is when God gives the vision. We find out what He can do through us.

But then, we have to follow the step by step instructions that God gives us. Hearing the vision – God wants to supply your need – is the easy part. It’s following through on the instructions to see the manifestation that’s the hard part.

That’s why I want to take a couple of posts to look at this event in the life of Jesus. I believe it will help us in our faith-walk.

Question: What are the things in your life that you’re trusting God for right now?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on March 4, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Climbing Higher

CliffAs the weather starts to get warmer, I begin thinking about the outdoors again. If you follow this blog, then you know that I enjoy hiking. There’s nothing I like better than spending a few days in the woods; hiking, praying, and meditating on the Word of God.

It seems that the more time I spend hiking, the more insight I get into those Scriptures that speak of our “walk” with God. Sometimes it’s an uphill climb.

Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.
Psalm 43:3-4

I think that it’s funny when I hear people talking about our emotions in terms of mountains. They say things like, “Some days you wake up on the top of a mountain, and some days you find yourself in the valley.”

I say that it’s funny for the following reason. I’ve hiked hundreds of miles of trails. I’ve spent countless nights in the woods. Yet I have never once fallen asleep in the valley and woke up on the top of the mountain.

There’s only one way to get to the mountaintop. That’s by putting one foot in front of the other, and continuing on the uphill climb.

If you want to ascend God’s holy mountain – to enter His presence – you must take His route. You won’t get there by accident. Unfortunately we’re incapable of following that path. It’s much too difficult a climb for us. It requires absolute perfection.

The Good News is that the Lord knows this and has provided a way for us. He has sent His Guide to us. We have access to the Light of His Spirit and the Truth of His Word. They’re what’s needed to bring us just as we are into the Lord’s awesome presence.

What I need to learn is that I’m not admitted into the presence of God because of my struggling to ‘be good’. It doesn’t have anything to do with me being a pastor or minister. I can enter His holy presence because of the work Jesus Christ did on the cross.

Now, because of His work, I can access the mountaintop through the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. This is a blessing we could have never attained to on our own.

It should be our daily oasis. Simply spending time in His light and His truth should bring refreshment to our soul and usher us before the Creator of the universe.

It’s up to us to pick the time and the place with the fewest distractions. We want our time with Him to be fruitful. It’s very important that you use this time to build your relationship with the Father. Enter His presence today and enjoy His company. Follow His truth and light to take you on the path up His holy mountain.

Question: What have you learned by spending time in God’s presence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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