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Category Archives: Faith

The Signs

I’m continuing to look at Mark’s Gospel.  We’re now in the last chapter.  To many people, it’s a very controversial place.

Some versions of the Bible leave out Mark 16:9-20 altogether.  Others set them apart with a note that tells us that some of the most reliable manuscripts don’t have these verses.

Here’s my take on it, for what it’s worth.  Maybe I’m naïve or looking at the issue too simply.  I believe that if God is not powerful enough to protect His Word and keep it pure, then how can I trust Him to protect and watch over my life?

I see it as a matter of faith.  I believe that whatever the circumstances were that brought this section of Scripture to us; it was what God wanted to be recorded.  He could have stopped it from being placed there, but He didn’t.  So, I choose to believe that this was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

I know; there are some who take it out of context and use it as an excuse to do some strange things in the name of their religion.  But that doesn’t negate the truth of what’s written.

Jesus has just told His disciples to go out and proclaim the Good News of salvation to the world.  Some will not believe them, but others will, and they’ll be saved.

Now the Lord describes the signs that surround those who do believe.

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Mark 16:17-18

The problem is that if you don’t believe God works miracles through the church, you’ll have to find a way to get rid of this verse.  I believe that God wants to show His power through us as much today as in the early church.  We just need to position ourselves correctly.

The key phrase is “in my name.”  In other words, Jesus is telling them that they will do these miracles in His place.  If it’s something that the Lord would have done, then His followers could do it.

But there’s a catch.  How did Christ perform miracles?  He was clear that He only did what He saw of the Father.

This means that I can’t just decide on my own to pick up a snake, drink poison, or even heal the sick without hearing from the Father.  I need to spend time with the Holy Spirit.  I must develop a sensitivity to His voice.  Then, if I operate in obedience to what the Lord tells me, I’ll truly be functioning “in His name.”

That’s important.  I can’t just do what I want and tack “In Jesus’ name” to the end of it.  That gets me nothing.  I have to be operating under the authority and direction of the Lord to see the miraculous.

Do you want to see the signs, wonders, and miracles of those who believe?  Then spend quality time with the Holy Spirit.  He’ll train you to walk the way Jesus did.

Question: Why don’t we see miracles in our churches today as they did in the early church?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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I Can’t Believe It!

Why do we find it so hard to believe God’s Word sometimes?  We trust Him for our salvation.  But what about other things like healing, provision, and protection?  Why do some obstacles look bigger than others?

When Jesus rose from the dead, we find that the disciples struggled with the same issues that we do.  You may want to read Mark 16:1-14 before continuing with this post.

The morning that Jesus rose from the dead, some women went to the tomb to finish the embalming process.  When they arrived, they found that the stone was rolled away from the entrance.  Even more astounding was the angel that was sitting inside the tomb, apparently waiting for them.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said.  “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified.  He has risen!  He is not here.  See the place where they laid him.  But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.'”
Mark 16:6-7

They received one of the most glorious messages in history.  But instead of the joy it should have brought them, it only made them afraid.  As a matter of fact, the next 6 verses tell of the most doubt-filled, unbelieving time in the lives of the Lord’s followers.

The women, themselves, were too afraid to tell anybody about what the angels had told them.  Mary Magdalene actually saw and talked to the risen Lord.  Yet no one would believe her.  Others saw and spoke to the risen Christ, but nobody believed them either.

Why is it so hard to believe that God can do the impossible?  It’s probably because we look at things through the eyes of our experiences.  That’s why we find it easy to believe God to heal our headache, but cancer seems too big an issue.

The Lord had something to say about it to the disciples.

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.
Mark 16:14

Jesus rebuked them for two things.  The first was unbelief.  That’s normal for us as humans.  There will always be a level of unbelief that resides in our flesh – even when we’re trusting God.

The key is in the next word that Jesus used.  The phrase, stubborn refusal is literally hard-hearted in the Greek.  They had closed their hearts to the truth.

We know that faith comes by hearing God’s Word.  The problem was that when they heard the Word of testimony from those who saw Christ, they refused to let that truth enter their heart.  If they had, it would have produced the faith that could overcome their unbelief.

We need to learn this lesson.  Open your heart to God’s Word.  Even if it sounds impossible.  Even if your experience tells you that there’s no way for God to accomplish it.  Put that Word into your heart and let it grow and produce the fruit of faith in your life.

Our God can do the impossible – we simply have to trust Him for it.

Question: What have you seen God do for you that you originally thought was impossible?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2018 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Setup

We’re continuing to look at the crucifixion of Christ as recorded in Mark’s Gospel.  In my last post, Jesus breathed His last and the curtain in the Temple was torn in two.  Now we see the witnesses around the cross.

And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
Some women were watching from a distance.  Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.  In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs.  Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.
Mark 15:39-41

This was not something that was done in secret.  There were many people surrounding the cross.  They watched as He gave His life.

Many of these people had placed their hopes in Christ.  Now that dream was gone.

Maybe they were all praying for a miracle as they watched everything taking place.  They could have hoped that at the last moment, angels would swoop down and take Jesus off the cross.  They watched and waited, but the Messiah stayed on the cross.

Now it was over.  There was nothing left to do but to take care of the body.  A member of the Sanhedrin stepped up and came out of the shadows.

It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath).  So as evening approached, Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body.  Pilate was surprised to hear that he was already dead.  Summoning the centurion, he asked him if Jesus had already died.  When he learned from the centurion that it was so, he gave the body to Joseph.
Mark 15:42-45

Joseph was a man who was highly respected.  He could have remained as a secret follower of Christ.  Instead, he summoned his inner strength and received the body of Jesus.

So Joseph bought some linen cloth, took down the body, wrapped it in the linen, and placed it in a tomb cut out of rock.  Then he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.  Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
Mark 15:46-47

Joseph did what he could to prepare the body for burial.  He even gave the Lord his own tomb that had never been used.  Once the body was laid to rest, the tomb was sealed.  It was finished.

At least that’s what everybody thought.  What went through their minds as they tried to sleep that night?  It seemed like God had failed them.

It’s like us sometimes.  We give God a time limit.  We think He needs to answer us by this time.  Then, when nothing happens, we get upset with God.

“Lord, I trusted You.  Why didn’t You answer my prayer?”

What we miss sometimes, is that God isn’t bound by our limits and weaknesses.  He can bring about His plan even after we think it’s too late.

The people of Scripture thought the same way as us.  Jesus is dead and buried in the ground.  There’s no way that He can save Israel now.

Understand this.  God always has a bigger plan than we can see.  It’s never too late for the Lord to turn things around.  Put your trust in Him and never waver in your faith.

We know how the story will finish!

Question: When has God answered your prayer even when you thought it was too late?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2018 in Encouragement, Faith, Power of God

 

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The Triumph of the Cross

For the last few posts, I’ve been talking about the crucifixion of Christ.  It always amazes me what He went through to purchase our salvation.  You may want to read Mark 15:25-39 before continuing with this post.

In this passage of Scripture, we see Jesus hanging on the cross.  The Messiah and true King of Israel, dying for the sins of mankind.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So!  You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” 
In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves.  “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!  Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”  Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
Mark 15:29-32

This scene holds an important truth.  The religious leaders are taunting and insulting the Lord.  They think that His desire is not to die.  After all, that would be the natural reaction of anyone being put to death.

The fact that Christ was enduring this with a greater goal in mind never figured into their thinking.  They were looking for Him to try and escape death.  The Lord saw His death as a means to an end.

This should speak to us.  When we know that God has called us to accomplish something, there will always be those who doubt and ridicule.  If we stand on God’s Word, however, these people can’t hinder our progress.

Scripture is clear that those who only think in the natural can never understand those who walk according to the Spirit.  The natural walk involves feelings and logic.  These don’t always work in bringing about God’s will.

At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”- which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
Mark 15:33-35

It’s clear that the religious leaders don’t even understand what He’s saying.  The Lord quotes a Messianic Psalm (Psalm 22:1) and they think He’s asking Elijah for help.  But in spite of the ridicule, unbelief, and pain, Christ endured it all to the final victory.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
Mark 15:37-39

The power that was released because of Christ’s obedience is beyond comprehension.  You need to realize that the curtain in the Temple was not a mere piece of cloth.  It was made of leather panels stitched together.  It was tested by placing it between two teams of oxen.  If they couldn’t tear it, then it was ready for the Temple.

In the same way, the power of God is released in us when we walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit.  There may be trials along the way.  There may even be people who ridicule and tell us we’re wrong to trust God.

Have faith in God’s Word and do what you’re called to do, then see the hand of God work mightily in your life!

Question: How have you been ridiculed for your faith in God’s Word?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2018 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Sowers and Reapers (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

At one time I did a series of posts about Jesus’ view of His ministry.  To see the original series, click here.

It occurred after Jesus had talked with the woman at the well.  The Lord told His disciples that He had food they didn’t know about. He was talking about finishing the Father’s will.

Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together.
John 4:35-36

In the natural, you can tell when the harvest is coming. You can tell how ripe the wheat is just by looking at it.

In the same way, there should be a spiritual sensitivity to when hearts are ready. It should be just as obvious to us that someone is ready to hear and receive the message of Christ.

One question that needs to be asked when we read this verse is; who is the reaper that’s receiving his wages? The answer should be obvious – it’s Christ!

The Apostle Paul talked about some of the same things.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe — as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
1 Corinthians 3:5-8

Usually, we think of this reward for our labor as future. But we need to remember what Jesus said. The reaper IS RECEIVING His wages. I HAVE food you don’t know about. The sower and the reaper can be happy together.

It sounds to me like there’s a reward in this life for fulfilling the Lord’s will. That’s something we need to think about.

Who was the sower that Jesus referenced? I believe that He was talking about the woman. Listen to what the townspeople said about her.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”
John 4:39

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
John 4:42

What was her reward? I don’t really know. It might have been children or a stable family of her own. We have to wait to find out about her in Heaven.

Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”
John 4:37-38

Which is harder – sowing or reaping? I think that it might be the sowing. Especially if we don’t see the fruit of the seed we plant into someone. Sometimes a soul that we spoke the Gospel to is brought into the Kingdom by someone else.

There’s no need to get jealous about it. It’s the Kingdom of God that’s increasing. Everything in our lives is all directly related to the principle of sowing and reaping.

The bottom line is that the Samaritans ultimately believed because they heard Jesus speak. It’s our job to bring people to a personal encounter with Christ. That’s where we receive great rewards.

Question: What are some Gospel seeds you have planted?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2018 in Faith, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Jehovah Jireh – The Mountain (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

Originally, this was the final post of a series about how Abraham positioned himself to receive God’s supernatural provision.  To go to the original series, click here.

At this point, we find Abraham with the knife raised, about to sacrifice his only son.

But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham!  Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said.  “Do not do anything to him.  Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Genesis 22:11-12

Abraham was able to come through this time of testing victoriously.  But there was something that always puzzled me.  God said, “Now I know that you fear God.”  I thought God knew everything, so why would He say that?

The Hebrew word for know is Yada, which means to know by seeing.  What God said was that now Abraham’s faith could be seen.  His fear of God was now obvious to everyone.

That’s the reason for trials and testing.  We may have faith quietly tucked away in our hearts.  Without works, it’s not yet a living faith.  It must be proved genuine.

It’s the trying of our faith that causes it to be seen by those around us.  That’s why Scripture tells us over and over again that without trials we’ll never become mature in Christ.

It was when his faith was tested, and proved genuine, that Abraham’s eyes were opened to the provision of God that was before him.

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.  He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.  So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide.  [Jehovah Jireh]  And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
Genesis 22:13-14

Jehovah Jireh – the God Who provides.  There are many who think this name is a promise of unbridled wealth.  They think that it’s all about their physical comfort.  What they fail to see is that Jehovah Jireh is a place of supernatural provision in Christ.

As I said in the first post of this series, it’s a spiritual mountain that must be climbed.  To get to that place in God, it will require the same thing from us that it did of Abraham.

It will take a life of immediate obedience to God, perseverance, speaking our faith, and a decision to give up everything for the cause of Christ.  That’s the real mountain that Abraham had to climb.  The physical mountain was easy in comparison.

As with all things in Christ, God has already provided everything we need for life and godliness.  The problem is that we need to position ourselves to receive the provision of God.

That’s the point.  Why do we want God’s blessing?  To accomplish His will or ours?

If you want Christ to be exalted in you, then you’re in a position to receive.

Question: What is God calling you to do that you need His supernatural provision for?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2018 in Faith, God's Provision, Spiritual Walk

 

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Faith + Love = Righteousness (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

At one time I did a series of posts about the parable of the Ten Virgins from Matthew 21.  To see that original series, click here.

In that series, I showed that the light is our righteousness shining into the darkness around us.  If righteousness is our light, then what constitutes the oil and the lamp? It’s the combination of the two that brings light. The relationship between them is what’s important.

Both must be present to produce light. You could have 100 lamps, yet with no oil, there’s no light. Conversely, you could have barrels of oil, yet with no lamp to burn it, there would still be no light. It’s only the combination of lamp and oil that will produce light.

You could say that the light is the oil expressing itself through the lamp. If the light is the manifestation of our righteousness, then we need to discover what the Scripture says about the source.

First, we must see how righteousness is described in the Word of God.

The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak.
Isaiah 59:15b-17

Here we see God Himself putting on the breastplate of righteousness. Most Christians don’t know that this armor was first seen in the Old Testament. It was not something that the Apostle Paul came up.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place…
Ephesians 6:14

So we can know for a certainty that righteousness is our breastplate. This is important because Paul also described it to the Thessalonian church.

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
I Thessalonians 5:8

In this verse, Paul is clearly referring to our spiritual armor. He even makes mention of the helmet of salvation. But instead of assigning righteousness as the breastplate, he says that faith and love are used in that role. Paul is telling us that it’s the combination of our faith and our love working together that completes our righteousness.

I believe that the lamp and the oil represent the operation of love and faith in our spiritual walk. If you go to my original series by clicking the above link, you’ll see a more detailed teaching about how they work together.

Question: How does the absence of either faith or love affect our walk with Christ?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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