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Category Archives: Encouragement

Work Your Field

In my last post, I talked about the demon-possessed man that Jesus set free.  The demons left the man and went into some pigs, which drowned themselves.  When the people of the area saw what had happened, they were afraid.

Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
Mark 5:17

When the power of God starts to bring change; people begin to resist it.  That’s been the case throughout all of history.

But there was one person who was glad about the change.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him.
Mark 5:18

This man had been released from his captivity.  He wanted to follow Jesus wherever He went.   God had a different plan for him.  This man was to stay in his home area.

Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him.  And all the people were amazed.
Mark 5:19-20

Too often the Lord’s people think that the only way they can do a big work for God is to be a pastor or missionary.  Maybe they look down on their abilities because they never attended a Bible college.

That’s never been the prerequisite for doing great things for the Lord.  All it takes is a knowledge of what Christ has accomplished in you.  If you understand God’s love for you, then you’re qualified to tell others.

It’s amazing how God takes us where we are, and increases our influence by His power.  This man was simply told to go to his family and share what Jesus did for him.  He was to explain to them the love of God.

I’m sure that’s where this man started.  But the grace of God couldn’t be contained in his little house.  He felt the drive to bring the Good News even further.

The word used in Scripture to describe him telling the Decapolis is the word for a town crier.  He proclaimed Jesus in the public square at the top of his lungs!  He wanted everyone to know how the Lord had changed his life.

In all of this, God had a plan that was being accomplished.  The people of this area started out being afraid and skeptical of Jesus.  They didn’t want him around.

But as this man started sharing his story, the mood began to change.  The people realized that the Messiah had come on the scene.  Their attitudes turned around.

How do I know this?  Two chapters after this, in Mark 7, Jesus returns to this area.  Instead of asking Him to leave, they bring the sick to Christ for healing.  This man prepared his region to receive Jesus.

So don’t ever think that your efforts for Christ are wasted.  Even if you seem to be in a small area, God can do a great work through you.  Just remain in His will, doing what He’s called you to do.

Question: What is God’s current assignment upon your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Encouragement, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Routines – Behind the Scenes

Have you ever been discouraged by the routines of life?  Every day seems to be the same.  Go to work, come home, eat, sleep, etc.  Some people find it hard to keep going when nothing new seems to be happening.

As believers, we need to realize how God works.  Many times He moves behind the scenes in unexpected ways.  Look at the life of Christ for an example.

Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.  He appointed twelve — designating them apostles — that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.  These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter); James son of Zebedee and his brother John (to them he gave the name Boanerges, which means Sons of Thunder); Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Mark 3:13-19

There were many times that Jesus needed to be alone.  He had to make the allowance to spend quality time with the Father.  Throughout His ministry, we see how the Lord would find a quiet place to pray.

That’s how Jesus was able to do all that He did.  He said that He saw it first in the Father’s presence.  Then He went out and did what He knew that the Father was already accomplishing.

Choosing His twelve disciples was no different.  When it came time to call the Twelve to a higher walk with Him, Jesus went up on a mountainside.  He had to get away from the city with all of its distractions.

He did this in order to distance Himself from the crowds.  His desire was that there be no politics or favoritism, only the Father’s will.

I’m sure, to the casual observer and maybe even to the disciples, it looked like any other ordinary day.  Jesus went up on the side of a mountain to pray.  They were used to seeing this in His ministry.  Little did they know that this prayer time was going to be life-changing.

All they could see was that they were walking with the Lord – day after day and week after week.  I’m sure that even the ministry of Jesus got into a daily rhythm.  The crowds, the miracles, teaching, eating and sleeping.  To the disciples, this might have started out being a day just like any other.

Then the disciples received the call to climb the mountain that day.  They probably didn’t even realize that with each step they were heading to new heights in the Lord.  They were now rising above their old lives.  This calling was bringing them to a new level.

Don’t ever get stuck in the hopelessness of the daily grind.  The Lord has greater plans for you than simply spinning your wheels.  Whether you know it or not, the Holy Spirit is at work in the background; preparing you for what’s to come.

In our walk with Christ, we should be open and ready to climb each new mountain of faith.  We must be found waiting on the Lord to hear a higher call to a new level in Him.  Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly when or where it will arrive.  It usually happens when we least expect it.

That’s why we should never fall into the trap of complacency.  God is always at work to do something new in us.  Keep the fire of your spirit burning and ready for each new calling.

Always start each new day in the Lord’s presence.  Approach His throne with eagerness and expectancy.  In that way, you will be ready to walk up that mountain to see a new work of grace performed in your life when the time is right.

Open your heart to the Lord today.  Come before Him with an earnest desire to hear His Word to you.   After all, today might be the day that you see His hand at work in a new way.

Question: What were the events surrounding the last great work the Lord did in your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2018 in Encouragement, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Religion – Keeping Up Appearances

I’ve come to the conclusion that God hates religion.  What do I mean by that?  To most people, when they think about the word religion, they mean a set of rules by which you live your spiritual life.

Christianity was never meant to be a religion.  God wants a personal relationship with His people through Jesus Christ.  We see a great example of this in the life of Christ as recorded by Mark.

One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.  The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”
Mark 2:23-24

In order to understand what’s happening in this verse, I first have to explain some Old Testament facts.  The Law of Moses provided for the needs of travelers as they were going from place to place.  It allowed them to pick grain from any nearby field and eat it as they walked along.

So Jesus and the disciples weren’t stealing anybody’s grain.  God’s Word made it clear that the edges of a field were for the travelers, widows, and orphans.  It was a part of God’s provision for those in need.

Then why did the Pharisees have such a problem with what they were doing?  It all revolved around their religious interpretation of the Law.  According to the Ten Commandments, no work was to be done on the Sabbath Day.  It was to be a day of rest and worship.

Here’s where religion becomes an evil tyrant.  The Law of Moses said to not work on the Sabbath, but it never defined what exactly constituted work.

The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law took it upon themselves to help God out.  Since the Lord obviously forgot to explain it, they went ahead and detailed out what exactly was forbidden on the Sabbath.

The Pharisees had lists of “illegal activities” for the Sabbath.  For instance: you could pick up a chair and move it across the room.  But you couldn’t drag it because that would make a line in the dirt (furrowing) which was work.

The fact that the disciples were picking grain – harvesting – was not allowed on the Sabbath.  That wasn’t God’s law, but man’s religious interpretation of it.

It’s interesting that the word they use, unlawful, is a word that means not right.  However, this word implies that what they were doing was not right by appearance.  It didn’t look right.  With religion, it’s all about appearance.  It’s how you look on the outside.

Jesus had an answer for them.

He answered, “Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?  In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat.  And he also gave some to his companions.”
Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Mark 2:25-28

The Lord uses the example of David.  The Law said that the bread in the Holy Place belonged to the priest.  He could do what he wanted with it.  It just didn’t look right for David and his men to eat it.  But the priest was ministering to someone in need.

The underlying principle is that the Sabbath was created for us to enjoy.  It was to give us a time of rest and refreshment in the presence of God.  It wasn’t made so that we could have one more religious rule.

Our God is a God of relationship.  A good relationship can never be based on a list of do’s and don’ts.  Religion is a form of slavery.  A relationship with Jesus Christ brings freedom and abundant life.

Question: How have you experienced the tyranny of religion?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2018 in Encouragement, Legalism, The Gospel

 

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Christmas Promise

Today is Christmas, so I decided to post some thoughts about the day.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 1:18

The verse tells us that this is how, or literally, this is the manner in which it happened.  There’s a pattern that the Lord uses in bringing about His will.  It’s important that we see it.

First, there was an unexpected pregnancy.  This is interesting.  The pregnancy wasn’t expected.  Yet the Messiah was foretold hundreds of years before.

Just like today. God promises things, and then we forget it…or write it off.  Israel was captured and conquered many times.  Would the fulfillment ever take place?

And yet, in the fullness of time…Mary was found to be with child.

There is a supernatural announcement.  Angels appeared to both Mary and Joseph on separate occasions.

God usually doesn’t do things in the dark.  He always announces His plans.  That’s why we need to be a people who not only pray – but listen.

When the birth was imminent, it was announced to shepherds and wise men.

Then it came to pass.  What God promises, will happen.  Even though we don’t always know the how or why.

Finally, when Christ was born, there was a reception of joy.  “Joy to the world…”  He who is born must be received and with that receiving comes great joy.

God wants to do the same in us right now.

My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…
Galatians 4:19

God’s work in us is a birthing process.  There’s a promise.  But then – an unexpected pregnancy.

I wonder sometimes; with all the prophecies about the Messiah in the Old Testament, did they think He would just appear out of thin air?

There are many great and precious promises God has for us.  We think the same thing sometimes…that they’ll just happen.  No, there’s a process.

It involves birth pangs.  There’s breathing, pushing, work, and sweat.  They come in waves, right up until the time they’re birthed in or through us.

When you think about Christ being born in a manger…think about the same process for His will being born in us.  Wait patiently for the fullness of time – then the rejoicing.

Have a very blessed Christmas as you celebrate what Christ has done!

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 25, 2017 in Encouragement, The Gospel

 

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Thanksgiving Leftovers

Today is the eve of the Thanksgiving Holiday.  So I’ve been reading and meditating on giving thanks to God.  Then I came across a verse that really struck me.

When you sacrifice a thank offering to the Lord, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf.  It must be eaten that same day; leave none of it till morning. I am the Lord.
Leviticus 22:29-30

In the Old Testament, the thanksgiving offering was to be eaten in one day.  There was to be nothing leftover.  I thought that was funny.  That’s because, in our generation, Thanksgiving is known for having the most leftovers.

This spoke to me of how we should thank God.

We thank God for His daily provision.  Think about the Israelites in the desert.  God provided manna for them.  He told them to only gather enough for the day.

Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”  However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.  So Moses was angry with them.
Exodus 16:19-20

It’s amazing how much things stay the same.  God tells us to trust Him.  “Give us this day our daily bread.”  We want all of our provision – today.  God wants to provide step by step – so we must look to Him in faith.

Our walk with God is step by step.  We want to know the whole plan.  I need to thank God for what I know and trust Him for what I don’t know yet.  That’s a lesson of faith.

We may know where He’s bringing us to, but not the exact path.

When it comes to our blessings from God, we like to keep the leftovers.  Think about all of the things we’ve prayed for.  Then think about all the answers to those prayers.  My first thought is, “They belong to me!”

No – they belong to God.

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:10

We want to keep everything God gives us for ourselves.  But that’s pretty selfish.

God’s grace to us is for others as well.  We want to keep it all for ourselves.  God wants to bless us AND make us a blessing.  We want to store it all up for our own usage.

That’s the difference between a river and a swamp.  The Israelites learned it when their extra manna got smelly and full of maggots.

Finally, our thankfulness prompts others to thank God.  God desires our thankfulness to overflow into the lives of others.  It’s like a river of blessing flowing into those around us.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
2 Corinthians 4:15

This is God’s will for us.  To overflow by the spirit.  We may still have leftovers this year.  But as we thank God remember not to hang on to the blessings that He wants you to move along.

Question: What are some blessings you can pass on to others?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Joyfully Thankful

In my last post, I finished my series on the book of Galatians.  Since we’re now approaching the Thanksgiving holiday, I feel like posting some things that would prepare our hearts.

At one point, the Apostle Paul prayed for the Colossian believers to have a knowledge of God’s will with spiritual wisdom and understanding.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Colossians 1:10-12

That’s a long sentence, but it has a great message for us.  We’re told that we should live a life worthy of the Lord.  Our lives should reflect His character since we’re called to live as His ambassadors.  But how is that to be accomplished?

It also says that we should please Him in every way.  This is the only place in Scripture that particular word is used.  It means to have the desire to please someone – to want to make them happy.

I realize that sometimes we make big mistakes and fall short of this goal.  It’s good to know that if the desire’s there, then the Lord is pleased with us.

However, it can’t just end with the desire to please Him.  This desire is not just an internal part of me; it has to be manifested in how I live.

According to Paul, it’s shown forth as I bear fruit, growing, and allowing His power to work in me.  And right along with this, I need to be joyfully giving thanks to the Lord.

Please understand that there are two ways we view life when faced with challenges that we can’t change.  The first is to tolerate them with grumbling and complaining.  The other is to come at them with the knowledge that God has full dominion over everything and everybody.

Looking at life’s problems in this last way allows us to rejoice that God’s power will work in us.  Then it will be evident to the world around us that God is still on the throne.

I love that phrase, “…joyfully giving thanks to the Father…”  Thanking God with joy is what we need in in the challenging situations that we face all the time.

But this kind of response will only happen as we spend time with Him.  Being in His presence allows us to be strengthened by His Spirit.  It gives us the knowledge and faith that Christ is in control.

The word translated giving thanks is a part of speech that indicates Paul is not just talking about Thanksgiving Day.  It’s all about a lifestyle of giving thanks to God continually.

Keep your thankfulness to God going throughout the year.  It will change your whole outlook on life.

Question: What are you thankful for this season?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2017 in Encouragement, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Advice for the Journey

It’s so easy to give up when times are tough.  That’s the difference between surface Christians and overcomers.  Which kind are you?  Only you can make the choice to keep going forward.  This is what it takes to make it to your destiny in God.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:9

There are times that I’ve felt like giving up.  Problems started closing in and it seemed like there was no way out.  But what I came to find out is that God never took His hand off of my life.  He was with me through the problems and brought me through them victoriously.  Here are some things I learned along the way.  I hope they’ll be a blessing to you.

Realize that God has a good plan for your life.  Whether we know it or not, God has us walking a good path.  He wants the best for us.  He knows what will fulfill us better than we do.  But we must continue to the end if we’re going to enter our destiny.

Know that everything worth having requires effort to obtain.  Sometimes the road we’re on seems rough and steep.  That shouldn’t stop us, however.  Struggles are a part of life.  If it were easy, everyone would be walking in the blessings of God.  It takes an attitude of perseverance to make it over the hills of life.

Keep your eyes on the finish line.  Don’t let your present hardship become the focus of your attention.  Keep your vision upon Christ and His plan for your life.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:2-3

That’s what can sustain you during the difficulties that you encounter.  If you can see the goal, then you know that it’s not over yet.  God will have the final word in your life.

Keep moving forward, no matter what happens.  I love to go out hiking.  But it doesn’t always turn out well.  There have been times that I’ve been injured on a hike.  It would have been very easy for me to let weariness and despair take over.  I felt very much like lying down on the ground and giving up.  I had to keep telling myself, “Keep putting one foot in front of the other – you’ll eventually come to the end.”

Understand that moving slowly is better than standing still.  This is probably the best advice I could give you.  No matter how slow you think you’re going, don’t give up.  You will make it!  Never look at your life in terms of a sprint to the finish.  You need to see yourself as being in it for the long haul.  The victorious finish of your race depends on it.

Maybe you’re going through a seemingly impossible situation right now.  Give it over to God in prayer, if you haven’t already done so.  It could be that you’ve taken the responsibility for the problem back to yourself.  Let go of it and allow God give you the strength you need to see it through.

Questions: Have you ever felt like giving up?  How have you found the strength to continue on?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Encouragement, Faith, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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