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Monthly Archives: January 2018

Ears to Hear

We’re looking at some of the parable of Jesus that Mark’s Gospel records for us.  We should have the insight to understand what the Lord was speaking about.  These particular parables have to do with our handling of God’s Word to us.

“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Mark 4:23

God has placed His Holy Spirit within us.  It’s because of His ministry that we can hear God’s voice.  If we draw on His power, we’ll understand and walk in the Word.  Because of this, we must be careful as to our handling of that Word.

“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued. “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you — and even more.  Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”
Mark 4:24-25

This is one of those sections of Scripture that we sometimes misapply.  Because it sounds like others verses that talk about money, we miss the connection to the Word of God.  This directly applies to hearing God’s Word.

The word, consider, means to look carefully into something.  We need to be discerning listeners.  When we think that God is speaking to us, we need to consider it very carefully.  We don’t want to lose anything that He has for us.

This is important because the measure – the container – that we use will determine how much we receive.  This verse is using the illustration of holders.  If I use a 1-liter bottle, then the most I can take with me is one liter.

If God wants to give me a gallon of understanding, but I’m only prepared to receive a quart, then I’m going to miss out on some of the things He wants to accomplish in me.  I must be ready and willing to receive God’s whole message; not just the parts I like.

Too often we like the blessings that He promises to send our way.  But the things that He’s calling us to change seem to go right over our heads.  We need to retain and carefully consider the Lord’s whole message to us.

When we receive what God gives us, then He’ll be faithful to send even more.  The final statement above literally says that he who holds on to it will be given more.  Consequently, he who doesn’t hold on to it will lose what he had been given previously.

This goes right along with a warning Christ gives us in the book of the Revelation.

“I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”
Revelation 3:11

We need to be careful listeners of God’s Word.  We should be cultivating our ability to hear the Holy Spirit when He speaks to us.  Then we won’t find ourselves learning the same lessons again and again.

Be prepared to accept the whole message that God speaks to you.  Then, carefully retain it, meditate on it, and protect it until it is fulfilled in you.  That’s the kind of disciples the Lord is actively seeking.

Question: What’s the last message that you’re sure the Lord spoke to you?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Light – The Blessing of Discipleship

We’re continuing to deal with the subject of parables in the Gospel of Mark.  One of the questions that many have is; why did Jesus speak in parables?  Why didn’t He simply state the truth in plain language?  That’s a good question.

The disciples wondered about it too.  Here’s a verse we looked at a few posts ago…

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.  He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you.  But to those on the outside everything is said in parables…”
Mark 4:10-11

The word translated secret in this verse is a special word.  It refers to a mystery that you’re not privy to until you’ve joined the group.

Jesus is talking about the secret of the kingdom of God.  It’s something that you won’t understand until you’re actually a member of it.  Once you’re in the kingdom, you can handle the knowledge.

The Lord then went on to explain the parable of the sower.  We looked at that over the last few posts.  He then explains about the kingdom secrets.

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed?  Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?  For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.”
Mark 4:21-22

This question sounds like a no-brainer.  The very purpose of a light is to reveal what’s in the dark.  If you want to remain in darkness, then just don’t bring in the light.  There’s no sense in hiding it.

This statement by Jesus was supposed to be an encouragement to the disciples.  He wanted them to continue to ask questions about His teachings.  There were even times that the Lord asked them, “Do you understand what I just said?”

At that point in history, Jesus was the Light of the world.  He was the one revealing the things of the Father to those in Israel who would listen.

In essence, He was telling the disciples, “You have the light with you right now.  I’m here for a reason.  Let me reveal to you the things that may seem hidden.  I want you to know the secrets of the kingdom.”

The things that had been concealed for ages past were not meant to be kept secret forever.  It was time for those with the faith to trust the Messiah to hear these truths.

But it gets even better than that.  This is a Word to us as well.  Whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.

That’s the job of the Holy Spirit in us.  He’s the One who teaches us all the things we need to understand in our walk with God.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

We don’t have to walk around in the dark.  We have the light of the Holy Spirit within us.  Time spent with the Spirit is time spent in the light.  Use this great blessing that we’ve been given.  Walk in the light of the Lord.

Question: What are some things that the Holy Spirit has revealed to you in the past?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Think like a Farmer

Over the past few posts, we’ve looked at the parable of the seed planted in different soils.  The message Christ was focusing on should be clear.  In order to prepare my heart for a great harvest, I must come to the realization that the Word of God must be the single crop in my heart.

This is what Scripture means by being single-hearted.  When you have a single crop of the Word planted in your life, you’ve set yourself up for a plentiful harvest.

We have a spiritual epidemic across our nation.  There’s an abundance of the Word of God, with very little fruit being produced.  It’s time to weed out these distractions from the good, rich soil of our hearts.  What we need is the mindset of a farmer when it comes to the Word of God.

“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

It’s clear from this verse that in order to see the harvest, I must hear the Word with understanding – seeing that it applies to my life.  I have to go beyond the person who lives too close to the road.

Luke records this in a little more detail.

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”
Luke 8:15

This literally says that I must hold it down fast; keep it secure in my heart.  It has to take root deeply in my life.  I must go beyond those who have rocky soil.

According to Mark’s Gospel, we have to accept the Word.  This means to associate with, delight in.  If you delight in a crop, you’re going to keep it free of weeds.  You don’t want anything choking it out.

The bottom line is that you must persevere.  In actuality, it’s never easy to keep a farm or a garden.  It always requires tending.

I must come to the point where I acknowledge that the Word of God is everything to me.  It’s the same principle as in the physical world.

In the past, I’ve had a garden.  The fresh tomatoes, peppers, and squash were a welcome sight throughout the summer and fall.  I could proudly say, “This eggplant came from my garden.”  Here’s the difference – I wasn’t a farmer.  I enjoyed the fresh vegetables grown in my garden, but I didn’t need them in order to survive.

A true farmer, on the other hand, lives by what he grows.  His livelihood is tied to the crops that he produces.  His new car is a result of the crops he harvested.  The renovations to his home are a result of the harvest.  Everything he has is tied up in his ability to produce a bountiful crop.

We must pick up this same mindset in regards to the Word of God.  We live by the Word.  Everything we need for life and godliness is all tied up in the Word. How I relate to the Word determines my destiny.

Hopefully, you can see by Christ’s teaching that it’s not just a matter of getting the seed into the ground.  You can be planting huge amounts of seed and never see a single piece of fruit if you’re not following the basic principles of spiritual farming.

It’s all about getting the right seed into the right ground, then persevering to make sure that the seed can grow and produce fruit unhindered.

Question: How do you cultivate a “farmer’s mindset”?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2018 in Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Are You in the Weeds?

I’m posting about the different kinds of soil that Jesus said was contained in our hearts.  Today’s post 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 weed 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 as well.  We’re getting distracted by the things of the world.

Another weed the Lord talks about 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’d 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 weed 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 cause 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.

But when our life is unfruitful, 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.

Part of the farming process is to keep the ground free of weeds.  Intimate time spend in the Spirit is what’s required.  Then the ground will be free and clear.  At that point, you can expect an abundant harvest.

Question: How are you keeping your heart free from the weeds?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Seeds in a Rocky Place

I’m posting about the different “heart soils” in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4.  Today I’ll deal with the rocky soil.  This is about rocks with only a thin layer of dirt to cover them.  The seed germinates and springs up quickly.  But just as quickly, the sun comes out, scorches the plant, and it withers and dies.

Jesus explained the spiritual application this way.

Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time.  When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
Mark 4:16-17

This verse literally says that these people receive the Word in the middle of joy.  It sounds like a camp meeting to me.  There’s excitement in the air.  The whole atmosphere of the meeting is charged with a heavenly joy.  It’s easy to believe in a place like that.

We’re not talking about people who don’t believe what they hear.  They believe it’s for them.  The problem is, that what has sprung up so quickly, also withers just as quick.  What is it that withers?

For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”  And this is the word that was preached to you.
1 Peter 1:24-25

What withers is the glory of man.  This type of person hears the Word and believes that it’s “all about me.”  That’s why there’s all the joy and excitement.

They think that the Word is for my blessing, health, and prosperity.  Forget about what God’s ultimate purpose is.  It’s me that’s important.

The Lord says that in this rocky heart there is some faith exhibited for a while, but it doesn’t last long.  Eventually, trials and testings will come.  When this happens, Jesus literally says that they will become offended.  Why does Christ use this word?

When I go through a time of testing, I realize that it’s not all about me.  I get offended that I’m not the center of all the attention.  I don’t want the spotlight on Christ and what He’s trying to accomplish in me.  I want the priority to be my comfort and happiness.  The result is that I get offended and walk away from the Lord and His plan for my life.

If I want my heart prepared for an abundant harvest, I must assume that the Word of God spotlights Jesus Christ.  I must desire to know His heart.  There are many who read the Bible and pursue God only for what they can get from Him.  The big question on their minds is, “What’s in it for me?”

Instead, we should be focusing on God’s eternal purpose – to draw all humanity into His kingdom.  The blessings of God are great, but they’re not an end in and of themselves.

God has promised us prosperity, but it’s to finance the spread of the Gospel.  God has promised us health and healing, but it’s so that we can minister the Good News of His love to the best of our ability.

All the promises of God should be viewed through the filter of God’s will and God’s plans.  That’s what’s missing in the shallow faith of rocky soil.  We need to keep our hearts clear of the rocks of self-centeredness.

Question: How is God working through you to bring about His purpose?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2018 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Seeds on the Street

Our Supply in GodIn today’s post, I’m continuing to talk about the parable of the sower.  The disciples didn’t understand it when Jesus gave it to the crowds.  So when they were alone, they asked Him about it.

Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable?  How then will you understand any parable?  The farmer sows the word.”
Mark 4:13-14

In His explanation of the parable, Jesus makes it clear that He’s talking about ministry.  Specifically; sowing the Word.  The Word He’s talking about here is the Greek word, logos.  Logos refers to the Word that is spoken in preaching or teaching.  For detailed posts about this truth, click here.

The Lord is giving an in-depth look at what happens when the Word is ministered.  There are various groups of people who hear the Word.  The effect is different in each group.

The first group Jesus deals with is what He calls those along the path.

Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown.  As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.
Mark 4:15

The question is; who are these people?  The path is a ribbon of hard-packed earth.  It has been trampled by generations of traffic.  It’s dry, hard, and unyielding.

These are people who have absolutely no interest in hearing from God.  They just happen to be in earshot of someone who’s speaking on God’s behalf.  The message isn’t directed at them, but they happen to hear it.

Why is this the case?  Simply put; there’s not a farmer on earth who would intentionally sow his seed on the road.  That should be the case in the spiritual realm as well.

That’s why understanding the different types of people in this parable should be important to ministers of the Gospel.  There should be some discernment that goes along with the ministry of the Word.

I know that there are those who feel they need to preach to everyone within earshot.  But that’s just the opposite of what Jesus taught.  The seed of the Word is precious.  It shouldn’t be wasted on unproductive ground.

Listen to how the Lord explained it.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.  If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”
Matthew 7:6

That being said, what CAN we do about people in this condition?  I’m in no way saying that we should write them off as unreachable.

The fact is that a road can be turned into a fruitful field – but it requires a lot of work.  These people need to be prayed for.  But I’m not talking about a simple, “God, please open their eyes. Amen.”

In order to make them ready and able to receive a Word that could save them, they require someone to intercede for them.  This may include spiritual warfare to break up their hardened heart.  Turning a path into good soil requires time and effort.

The church needs willing intercessors who can take on this responsibility.  Are you one of them?

Questions: Who do you know that may be a person on the path?  How can you pray for them?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2018 in Ministry, Prayer, The Gospel, Word of God

 

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How to Miss God’s Best

As we continue through the Gospel of Mark, we now come to one of the more popular sections.  It’s when Jesus teaches the parable of the sower and the seed.  The parable itself is contained in Mark 4:1-9.  You may want to look it up and read it before going on with this post.

There are a lot of important truths in this section.  So I’m going to spend a number of posts on it.  Apparently, the disciples didn’t understand the meaning of the parable.  Later, when they were alone with Jesus, they asked Him about it.

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.  He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you.  But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'”
Mark 4:10-12

To understand what Jesus is saying here, we need to know His role in the lives of the disciples.  Christ was to the disciples, who the Holy Spirit is to the church.  He was the One leading, training, guiding and teaching them.  So how the Lord worked with the disciples is how the Holy Spirit works with us now.

The goal of Jesus with His disciples was to bring them into an understanding of the kingdom of God.  His words are spirit and life.  Jesus tells us that by not accepting His Word, there are three consequences.  Unfortunately, I see these very things at work in much of the church today.

Ever seeing but never perceiving.  The word used for seeing is the generic word, to look at.  The word, perceiving, means to know by seeing or to experience.  This is talking about those who see what God has done for them but never experience it.

There are many Christians who spend lots of time confessing their position in Christ.  But they never do what it takes to cross over into the manifestation of it.  It only comes about by hearing and obeying the Lord’s voice.

Ever hearing but never understanding.  Hearing simply means to listen with your ears.  That’s the easy part.  Plenty of people do that every week in church services.

Understanding is on a higher level.  The word literally means to put together.  That’s where we usually miss out.  I need to know how to apply what I’ve heard to the area of my life that needs it.

Again, that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in.  If I’m not listening to His instruction, then I’ll never see the changes take place that will move me forward in my Christian walk.

Otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven.  This is obviously the most important part.  But it’s totally dependent upon perceiving and understanding.  What exactly does this mean?

The word, turn, means to turn around and start walking in the opposite direction.  That’s good, but it’s the forgiven part that most of us miss the depth of.  Our understanding of forgiveness is very shallow compared to the Scriptural concept.

When we think of being forgiven, it means that we did something wrong and now it’s okay.  This is not what the Greek word indicates.

The word, forgive, in the Greek, means to pick up, remove, and throw away.  This brings a whole new view of what’s happening in this verse.

When we perceive, understand, and obey a word from God, it causes us to turn around.  Then, at that point, things start dropping off and being removed from our lives.  Things like habitual sins, sicknesses, lack, and depression.

Hopefully, as we continue looking at this parable, we’ll learn to walk in this truth and experience God’s best for us.  If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, take the opportunity now so that you won’t miss an installment.

Question: What is your current level of experiencing God’s best in your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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