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Category Archives: Spiritual Walk

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 Pain of the Cross

Before He ever went to His cross, Jesus told us that we each need to carry our own cross.  What does that mean to us?  I believe that the events surrounding His crucifixion, give us some insights.

A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.
Mark 15:21

The first thing we see is that in His weakened state, the Lord was physically unable to carry the full weight of His cross.  So a man named Simon was made to carry it.

Nobody volunteers to carry a cross.  He had to be forced to do it, and it wasn’t even Simon’s cross.

We may not want to do it, but carrying our cross is a choice every believer has to make.  It’s a daily decision.  It’s not some situation that we find ourselves in.

I’ve heard some women say about their husband, “You’re my cross that I have to bear.”  That’s absolutely not what’s meant by carrying the cross.  It’s all about a daily choice to deny the flesh and follow the leading of the Spirit.

They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).  Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.
Mark 15:22-23

The next thing I see is that the cross involves pain.  Besides its other uses, myrrh was a painkiller.  Condemned criminals were given it to take the edge off of the pain they were about to endure.  Jesus refused it, taking the full pain of punishment for us.

The fact is that when we deny the flesh, there’s pain involved.  Maybe not physical pain, but there is a great discomfort in refusing the way of the “old man”.  A large part of that is the knowledge that at any point we could choose to stop the discomfort and give in to the temptation of sin.

To my knowledge, there’s no painkiller available to stop the discomfort of denying the flesh.  I wish that there was.  I believe that Christ refused the myrrh to identify with our suffering.

And they crucified him.  Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
Mark 15:24

Finally, the cross involves loss.  Jesus had to watch while others took things that belonged to Him.  That’s also a part of what happens when we deny the flesh.

Our present generation has recently coined a new term – FOMO.  It stands for a Fear Of Missing Out.  In our age of everyone being connected to each other – we constantly know what all our friends are doing.  We know where they are, what they’re eating, and what they’re feeling.

When we decide to deny the flesh and follow the Spirit, it always comes with the fear that we’re going to miss out on the enjoyment of the world.  If I follow Jesus, then I’m not going to have as much fun as my friends.

That’s a choice you have to make.  It depends on whether you want fun or fulfillment.  Do you want a life you can look back on and say, “That was worth living!”?

Please understand; I’m not saying that there’s no fun as a believer.  My life is full of good times.  But the good times in Christ come without the baggage of regret.  Sometimes the hardest choices bring the greatest rewards.

Carrying your cross – it goes against human nature – but you’ll find that it’s worth the pain.

Question: What does carrying your cross mean to you?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2018 in Encouragement, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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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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Authority and Sonship (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.

One of the most important truths in Scripture is the principle of Sonship. We’ve been given this position by adoption into the family of God.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Luke 11:9-10

I’ve heard many people preach on this verse. For the most part, we take it out of context and miss what it’s really saying. Indeed, we’re told that we have the power to receive answered prayers, to find that which is hidden, and to open doors that seem impenetrable.

But we must ask; what is this authority based upon? If we would just read the next few verses, we’d see that Jesus gives us the guidelines for this type of power.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:11-13

It’s obvious that Jesus is talking about the authority of Sonship in this passage. He tells us that we’re asking for the Holy Spirit. It’s the Holy Spirit that then confers upon us the Spirit of Sonship. Once that’s in place, and I’m walking as a mature son, then I’m free to ask, seek, and knock as led by the Spirit of God.

In many cases, our trouble is that we don’t ask for the Spirit. We want to do it our way. We want what our earthly desires are prompting us to seek for. Then we end up begging God for a snake or a scorpion. It’s no wonder why we don’t get most of what we pray for.

The simple fact is that true authority resides in the correct use of mature sonship. There was another time in Jesus’ ministry when He was talking about being a disciple. He said that if you were truly His disciple, then the truth would set you free.

The religious community – those who continued to rely upon the power of the law – were outraged. “We are sons of Abraham, and have never been a slave to anyone,” they replied.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 8:34-36

I’m sure that the Pharisees and the teachers of the law had no clue what the Lord was talking about when He said this. To us, however, it should be rich in meaning. The words of Christ tell me that Sonship is a position of freedom.

We’ve been set free because of the authority of Christ. We are no longer under the bondage of sin, the world or the devil. What we need is the maturity to walk in it.

Question: What does it mean to be free in Christ?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2018 in Power of God, Prayer, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Jesus Christ – The Life-Giver (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.

One of the subjects that I love to teach is the Second Coming of Christ. Today, I want to look at the key to it all – resurrection. That was the first track of teaching that Jesus brought to His disciples.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 5, we have the first recorded mention that Jesus makes of the end times. I find it amazing that even though this is where Jesus started, I’ve never heard anyone else begin here. As a matter of fact, in this blog, I talk about a lot of Scripture not commonly taught as pertaining to the Second Coming of Christ.

In this section of Scripture, persecution is starting to arise because of the things Jesus is saying and doing. The Pharisees don’t like the way Jesus is ignoring their religious traditions. Among other things, He’s healing on the Sabbath.

In this chapter, the Pharisees were starting to have a problem with the Lord. They didn’t like the fact that Jesus made himself out to be God in the flesh. According to the Old Testament, that’s who the Messiah was meant to be.

Jesus couldn’t lie about who He was. Of course, this didn’t sit well with the Pharisees, who wanted all the praise for themselves. They didn’t want to hear who the Lord was, because it meant that they would have had to submit their will to His.

In spite of their unbelief, the Lord starts to explain some things to them.

Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it.”
John 5:19-21

Jesus is telling this group of unbelieving Pharisees that He does the same work as the Father. The Father can raise the dead so He can raise the dead. This is the basis for our trust in Christ. He’s the Life-giver. If I want to live an abundant life, then there’s nowhere else I can turn to.

Elsewhere, Jesus says emphatically that He is the Resurrection and the Life. Our hope must be firmly planted in Him. He’s the source of our life.

The next few verses tell us that Jesus has the same authority as the Father. Disrespect of the Son is disrespect of the Father who sent Him. That’s why any study about the Return of the Lord must start with His teaching. If I contradict His word, then I’m the one who’s wrong. His teaching is the basis for all others.

Question: What place of authority does the teaching of Christ have in your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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