RSS

Category Archives: Prayer

The Voice of the Spirit

As we continue through Mark’s Gospel, it’s now the day of the Last Supper.  The disciples have no idea what’s about to take place during this feast.  All they know is that the Passover needs to be celebrated.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you.  Follow him.  Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’  He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready.  Make preparations for us there.”
Mark 14:12-15

To understand the importance of this passage, you must first understand the relationship between Christ and His disciples.  At that time, the role of Jesus to His disciples was the same as the Holy Spirit is to us today.

Remember that Jesus told His followers that He would send another Counsellor to lead and guide them.  The Holy Spirit wants to lead us in the same way that the Lord led His disciples.  That’s why it’s so important for us to develop sensitivity to the voice of the Spirit.

It’s sad that so many Christians think that God no longer works in this way.  I personally believe that the Holy Spirit still desires to operate through the church.  It’s the manifestation of the Gifts of the Spirit that will draw unbelievers to a saving knowledge of Christ.

In this instance, Jesus is functioning in the gifts of Prophecy and the Word of Knowledge.  Notice how specific His instructions are.  I believe that the Holy Spirit will be just that detailed with us if we’ll place ourselves in a position to hear Him.

What was the response of the disciples to this astounding instruction?

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them.  So they prepared the Passover.
Mark 14:16

This simple statement shows the trust that had developed between Christ and His followers.  There was no question or hesitation.  They just went and did exactly as they were told.

So often we find two different extremes in the body of Christ these days.  The first is that some Christians come up with elaborate stories of what the Holy Spirit “told” them.  Then, a few days later the “spirit” tells them something that sounds just the opposite.

On the other hand, I’ve heard people who feel impressed to do or say something.  They don’t follow through on it.  Then, when it’s too late, they realize that they’d heard from the Holy Spirit and missed the opportunity for a blessing.  (I’ve been guilty of this more than once.)

We need to spend quality time in the spirit.  That’s where trust and sensitivity are developed.  I believe that’s why the disciples had an easier time hearing from the Spirit once Christ had ascended.  They simply transferred their focus to the voice of the Spirit.

Spend the time necessary to learn to hear and obey the Spirit.  I believe that’s where the Lord is leading His church in this generation.  It’s through hearing and obeying that we’ll see the end-time harvest of souls before the return of Christ.

Question: What can you do to develop a listening ear in the spirit?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 18, 2018 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Prepared to Wait

As we continue our study of the Gospel of Mark, Jesus is closing His End-Times teaching with His disciples.  These are His concluding statements.  They’re important for us to hear and understand.

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on guard!  Be alert!  You do not know when that time will come.  It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.”
Mark 13:32-34

He starts by saying that the exact day and hour will be a mystery.  Even Christ, when He took on our humanity, did not retain that knowledge of when that day would be.  Of course, now in His glorified state, Jesus knows when He will return.

His first command to the disciples and us is to watch.  The word literally means to be sleepless.  I don’t believe that the Lord means physical sleep in this verse.  It’s our spiritual eyes that we must keep open.

Too many of God’s people seem to be blind to what’s happening in the spirit.  They go to church for an hour or two a week and expect that this will provide them with everything they need to know.  I wish that were true.

We need intimacy with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis.  That’s the only way to remain spiritually alert and vigilant in these Last Days.

 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back — whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn.  If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping.  What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
Mark 13:35-37

Jesus is explaining to us a little bit of His time frame here.  Even though He never tells us exactly when He’ll return, He gives us some hints to help us be ready.  He doesn’t want us to be taken by surprise.

Jesus tells us the most important hint as we wait for His return.  He says that He will come when you don’t expect it.  Please be careful when reading the words of Jesus here.  Many miss the whole point of what He says.

Notice that it will not be a surprise because He comes before you expect Him.  What’s going to throw people off is that He’ll arrive later than they thought it would be.  That’s what He’s emphasizing in this verse.  The Lord said that it could be as late as midnight, the early hours of the morning, or even dawn.

What if I said to you, “Can I come over to your house tonight?”?

“Sure,” you reply and you wait for me to show up.  7 o’clock, 8 o’clock and 9 o’clock go by.  At that point, you’ll probably shut the porch light off.  At 10 o’clock you might be in bed.  At 11 o’clock you’ll definitely be in bed.  If I then bang on your door at 3 o’clock in the morning, I’m sure you wouldn’t even get out of bed to answer the door, even though I told you I was coming.

That’s what Jesus is saying.  He’s telling us that He’s coming later than we think.  There will be a time when people think that Jesus should be here by now, but He’s not.  We could call that “prophetic midnight”.

If you’re one of the people who believe that He’s going to be here at this prophetic midnight, you might be disappointed.  We’ve got to be careful.  Most of Christianity is expecting Him to come before certain prophetic events occur.  Jesus said, “I’m going to come later than you think.”

As a matter of fact, what you’re going to find, is that whenever Christ warns us about being ready, He always qualifies it by saying that He’ll come later than we’re expecting.  Jesus said that if the servant knew when the owner was coming he’d be ready.  We need to be spiritually awake and alert no matter what the future holds.

Question: What do you do to remain spiritually alert?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Hung by the Tongue

As we continue to study the Gospel of Mark, it’s getting closer to the time of the cross.  The Pharisees are trying to trap Jesus in His words.  They’re sending delegations of teachers to Him for the purpose of tripping Him up.

Later they sent some of the Pharisees and Herodians to Jesus to catch him in his words.  They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity.  You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?  Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”
Mark 12:13-15a

This is an interesting group that came to Jesus.  Pharisees and Herodians.  The Pharisees wanted national independence for Israel.  The Herodians were very comfortable under Roman rule.  They expected that no matter what Jesus answered, someone would be offended.

But Jesus knew their hypocrisy.  “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”
Mark 12:15b

The key word here is hypocrisy.  It’s really the Greek word for stage acting.  Jesus knew that these men were simply playing a part; what they said about Him was not meant in reality.  If they really believed what they said about Him, they would have been followers of Christ.

If you think about it, it’s actually something we should take seriously in our generation.  It seems pretty easy for us to say things like, “Jesus is my Lord.”  Every week we sing lyrics that say, “Jesus, you are my whole life.  I give my all to you.”

We need to ask ourselves; do we really mean it, or are we just playing a part – our Sunday morning acting personas?  That’s what it means to be a hypocrite.  It means that under certain, public conditions, we say things that are not true in our daily lives.

“No!  I’m not trying to deceive anyone.  I’m just singing the words that they put on the screen.”

Remember, Jesus said that we would have to give an accounting for every careless word spoken (Matthew 12:36).  I believe that includes the careless words we sing too.

They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this?  And whose inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him.
Mark 12:16-17

This is the truth that we all need to hear.  If we live in the world, then there are obligations that come with it – taxes, jobs, expenses, and other things as well.  The Lord knows about these.

The problem comes in when we voluntarily obligate ourselves to the world.  In our generation, we take on too many things that leave no room in our schedules for the plan of God.

We don’t have time for spiritual things because of that night class, soccer practice, movie night, or the hundred other things clamoring for our attention.  We can binge watch twelve episodes of our favorite TV show but have no time for intimate prayer with the Holy Spirit.

According to Jesus, we need to get our priorities straight.  The time is now for the people of God to live as though Jesus Christ truly is our whole life.  Then we’ll see the hand of God manifesting the power that they had in the early church.

Question: How do you reorder your schedule to make more time for developing your spiritual life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Church Politics

As we continue through the Gospel of Mark, we come to an interesting encounter between Jesus and the religious leaders of Jerusalem.

They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him.  “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked.  “And who gave you authority to do this?”
Mark 11:27-28

On the surface, this may sound like a reasonable request.  After all, the leaders of Israel need to make sure that Jesus is the legitimate Messiah of the Jewish people.  But, as always, attitude is everything.

Authority is basically the permission to do something.  It must always be delegated from someone who has it.

In the Lord’s case, it should have been fairly obvious.  Who gave Him permission to heal the sick, open blind eyes, or raise the dead?  There’s only one place that authority could have come from – God the Father.

The Lord gets right to the heart of the matter.

Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question.  Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.  John’s baptism — was it from heaven, or from men?  Tell me!”
Mark 11:29-30

The leaders of Israel wanted to look like they were experts in judging spiritual matters.  So Jesus turns it around.

“If you want to investigate my spiritual credentials, then let’s see how well you’ve done in the past.”

The Lord used what should have been a real easy test.  John the Baptist led the nation back to God in repentance and a true change of heart.

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’  But if we say, ‘From men’ . . . .” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.)
So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
Mark 11:31-33

This discussion cuts right to the bottom line of the problem.  Did they talk about John’s lifestyle or the message He preached?  No!!  Their only concern was the result of what they would answer.

This is politics in its purest form.  Truth takes a backseat to my image.  It’s about how people will perceive me based upon my answers.  That type of attitude gets no response from God.

Jesus said, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.”
Mark 11:33

There are too many churches that fall into this category in our generation.  God’s will has nothing to do with their decisions.  It’s all about who’s in power, and what they personally want to accomplish.

We need to get back to our roots as believers.  Being a people of prayer who want to see God’s desire done in our lives.  It’s not how big I build my kingdom, or how many people think I’m the best.  I need to see God’s kingdom increase on the earth.

One thing is for certain, spirituality and politics don’t mix very well in the government of Christ.

Question: Why does the will of the majority not always equal the will of God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 28, 2018 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Faith, Prayer, and Forgiveness

In my last post, we saw that true faith is based upon a Word from God, with God as the object of that faith.  As the Lord was explaining this to His disciples, He makes a very interesting statement.

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
Mark 11:25

This statement confuses a lot of people.  They don’t know what this has to do with believing and receiving from God.  It also causes some people to ask, “If I don’t forgive someone, does that mean that I’ll not be saved?”

There’s a big reason for all this confusion.  It stems from our modern concept of the word, forgive.  Our generation has no idea what the scriptural word means.

When we say that you need to forgive someone, it’s a watered down version.  We mean that you need to tell the person that you’re not mad at them anymore.  Everything’s okay now and our relationship can move on from whatever caused the problem.

The biblical word for forgive has nothing to do with the above.  It literally means to pick up and throw away.  It’s like what you do with your trash.  You throw it out to the curb.  Then it’s removed, never to be seen again…ever.

With that understanding, now we can look at what Jesus is saying to His disciples.  Remember, the Lord is talking about standing in prayer.  This is about believing God for the desires that He’s placed in our hearts.

When you’re in that place of prayer, you’re having an intimate time with the Lord.  At this time, the Holy Spirit brings to your attention that you’ve placed a roadblock between you and another person.  It could be for any reason, but usually, it’s for a perceived hurt against us.

At that point, the Lord simply wants us to remove that wall that we’ve erected.  I realize that this is not an easy thing to do.

“Lord, I remove the issue that I have been holding against him or her right now.  From here on out, with your power, I’ll treat them like it never happened.”

This goes against our human nature.  That’s especially true because it has nothing to do with the other party’s desire (or lack of desire) for forgiveness.  It’s all on my part.

But understand, there’s a blessing that comes from this.  It paves the way for God to remove anything blocking His blessing from getting to me.

The word translated as sin, in the above verse, is the word side-step.  You’re on the right path following Christ.  But you made a misstep.  You haven’t lost your salvation.  You don’t have to “get saved” all over again.

However, there is something that could be keeping you from receiving all that God has for you.  In Christ, God dealt with all of your sin before you were ever born.  Now He’s asking you to do the same thing for a fellow human being.

If you’ll remove the thing that’s blocking you from blessing them, then He will remove the thing blocking your blessing.  I think that it’s well worth the trade.  Of course, in our flesh, we might not agree with that.

This is why we need the power of the Holy Spirit working in us.  It’s also why the Lord said that it needed to be done while we were standing in the place of prayer.

So, if there’s anything the Lord’s dealing with you about, take care of it quickly, and let the blessings flow freely again!

Question: How has God’s forgiveness changed your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Faith from the Word

In my last post, we saw how Jesus upset the religious leadership by clearing out the marketplace that was set up in the Temple.  It angers people when you mess with their cash-flow.

The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
When evening came, they went out of the city.
Mark 11:18-19

Jesus and His disciples then went to Bethany for the night and returned to Jerusalem the next morning.

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.  Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look!  The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
Mark 11:20-21

Two posts ago (What’s Your Season?) I talked about Jesus cursing the fig tree.  Now we see the result of what Jesus did that day.  The disciples were amazed at how the tree had died so quickly.

It’s important for us to understand the explanation that Jesus gave to the disciples.

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.  “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Mark 11:22-24

This is one of those verses that are often misunderstood.  I’ve heard people reading into it.  They make it sound like Jesus is saying that God will give you whatever you want as long as you can believe you’re going to get it.  That’s not what Jesus is saying here.

His first and most important statement is – HAVE FAITH IN GOD!  The Lord always has to be the object of our faith.  My faith cannot be toward what a preacher says (and that’s coming from a preacher!), or what you read in a book.

Listen carefully, because I’m about to make you mad at me.  We are not even to make the Bible the object of our faith.  It’s the Word of God that points to God as the object of faith.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

When I hear God’s Word, it inspires me to trust God.  When the Scripture tells me that by the stripes of Jesus I’m healed…my faith is not in that Bible verse, it has to be toward Christ my Healer.  Too often our faith is misplaced.  It has to be toward God.

Another thing we misunderstand is that Jesus is talking about hearing from the Holy Spirit.  He didn’t curse the fig tree because He was in a bad mood that day.  The Holy Spirit instructed the Lord to do that for an object lesson for His disciples.

Jesus clearly said that this faith, or doubt, is in your heart.  He’s not talking about you simply deciding that you want a new car, so you start believing that you’ll receive it from God.  The Lord is talking about believing Him for a desire that God has placed in your heart.

True faith will always come from a Word from God and will have God, Himself as the object.  Then you’ll see the manifestation of your request.

Question: How is faith in your heart different than a “head-faith”?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 23, 2018 in Faith, Power of God, Prayer, Word of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Is a Clean Heart Enough?

We’re continuing our look at Mark’s Gospel.  Specifically, the last week before the cross.  Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Passover feast.

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there.  He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts.
Mark 11:15-16

Obviously, Jesus was upset by what He saw going on in the Temple.  The courts were like a city marketplace.

The Law of Moses said that if you lived far away from Jerusalem, you could sell your offering animals at home.  Then, when you journey to Jerusalem for the feast, you could use that money to buy the animals on site.  God was making it easier for the Israelites to serve Him.

Then man gets involved.  The priests determined that you can’t use regular money to buy animals for sacrifice.  You have to use special Temple coins – hence the money changers.  But they sold these coins at a premium.

So if you wanted to give your full offering of animals for the sacrifice, it would cost you double what they were worth.  That’s the thievery that Jesus was talking about.  The Temple had become a place where greed and self-interest was the driving force.

Jesus showed the passion He had for the true worship of God.  There was no place for these attitudes in the courts of the Lord.  He tried to teach them the lessons that they should have already known.

And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?  But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.'”
Mark 11:17

It’s sad that many religious Christians only apply this by saying that they’ll never have a flea market or fair on church property.  That’s not the point.

In spite of our religious language, local churches are no longer God’s house.  We, as God’s people, are now the temple of the living God.  The question isn’t, “What are we allowing on church property?”  It’s about what I’m allowing into my life.

Please understand that my heart – the sanctuary – may be clean.  But what about the outer courts?  That’s what my body is involved in.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
Psalms 100:4

The courts are where you prepare to worship.  It’s the outer part of our lives that we let the thieves do their work.

Sometimes we get so distracted by too many things in our schedule.  Then we have no time for worship.  We miss out on the blessings of fellowship with the Father.

Thanksgiving and praise are things that I have to make my flesh do.  I have to actually make the time for these pursuits.  Once I’ve entered into the place of praise, the courts, then I’m ready to pour my heart out to God.

Christ is passionate about you becoming a “house of prayer.”  Don’t let it get to the point where your “distracting tables” need to be overturned.   Spend the time needed in thanksgiving and praise so that you’re truly prepared to enter His presence with no distractions.

You’ll be glad that you did.

Question: How do outward distractions affect your inner peace with God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 21, 2018 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,