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Category Archives: Word of God

Understanding Brings More Questions

Have you ever noticed that the more you understand Scripture and your spiritual walk, the more questions you seem to have?  That’s normal.  Even the disciples of Christ experienced it.

In my last post, three of the disciples went with Jesus up a mountain and saw Him transfigured into His heavenly glory.  Then the Lord explained to them about His coming death and resurrection.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.  They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.
Mark 9:9-10

Of course, looking back to this time, the phrase “rising from the dead” seems pretty simple to understand.  That’s especially true since Jesus had already started preparing all of His disciples on this subject.

I think the problem is that none of them wanted to believe that the way to our salvation was for Jesus to physically die.  They were in denial about the literal meaning of what the Lord was saying.

But as they were discussing this, more questions were arising.

And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”
Mark 9:11

I think that’s funny.  They couldn’t accept the literal teaching that Jesus had to die.  And yet, they couldn’t grasp that Elijah’s appearing was symbolically fulfilled in the ministry of John the Baptist.  It’s amazing the way our minds work.

We always think along the lines that are most comfortable for us.  That’s why if we don’t like what a passage of Scripture is saying, we ask for peoples’ opinions about it.  Then, we go with the explanation that disturbs us the least.

Jesus answers their questions – both the spoken and unspoken ones.

Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things.  Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected?  But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.”
Mark 9:12-13

The Lord takes the time to explain about His ministry and the ministry of John the Baptist.  Why is this important to us?

I think that too many times we’re under the impression that you can never question God.  We’re told not to ask Him about what’s going on in our lives.  They say that it shows a lack of faith.

On the contrary, I see in the life of Christ a willingness to answer the tough questions.  We serve a big God.  He’s not intimidated by anything we may ask.

Of course, attitude is everything.  I’m talking about asking with a humble heart.  I’ve received answers to these types of prayers.

“Lord, why am I going through this?  Is there something in me that needs to change?”

“What do I need to do to grow in your grace?  How can I be more like You, Jesus?”

I’ve found that God usually answers these prayers.  But you have to be willing to accept whatever He tells you…even if it’s uncomfortable.

It blesses me to know that the Lord wants a conversational relationship with His children.

Question: What have you learned from asking God questions?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on April 13, 2018 in Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Asking the Wrong Questions

Did you know that the questions you ask tell a lot about who you are?  It can bring out your motives and prejudices.

As we continue to look at the life of Christ in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus now arrives back at His hometown of Nazareth.

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.  When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles!  Isn’t this the carpenter?  Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon?  Aren’t his sisters here with us?”  And they took offense at him.
Mark 6:1-3

Here Jesus is preaching in the synagogue He grew up in.  They were friends and family who probably knew Him His whole life.  They asked Him to preach on the Sabbath, so the Lord agreed.

Just like in other places, when He spoke, the power and authority of the Spirit were evident.  There was a life-changing quality in what He was speaking.

Unfortunately, people don’t want to change.  Even more so, they don’t want to admit that they need to change.  The result was that their emotional walls started to come up.

They were truly amazed at what Jesus was teaching.  But they had to justify why they didn’t receive it.

Notice what they do.  They focus on the man, not the Word.

“Where did this man get these things?”

After all, He’s one of us, and we don’t know these things.  They had to explain away the Lord’s teaching.

“I know His family.”

“I hired Him and His father to build my house.”

“Why does He think He’s so special all of a sudden?”

As they started thinking along this path, they were offended.  That’s an interesting word.  In the Greek, it’s a word picture of a trap-stick to catch small animals like birds.

This kind of thinking; looking at the person and not the message, is a trap that many fall into.  Many times we write preachers off because we don’t like their style of preaching or ministry.  But there’s a consequence to doing this.

Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”  He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.  And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mark 6:4-6a

In my last post, I talked about the importance of hearing the Word in divine healing.  Because of their familiarity with Jesus, they rejected His Word.  As a result, not many people were miraculously touched by the power of God.

It’s all about the Word.  That’s the difference between the people of Nazareth and Capernaum.

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.  The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.
Mark 1:21-22

It’s the Word itself that should amaze us.  Let’s learn this lesson.  Don’t look at the style of the preacher, but at the power and authority of the Holy Spirit using him.

Question:  When have you had to overlook a person in order to receive a message God had for you?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, Word of God

 

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Healing Faith

For the last couple of posts, we’ve been talking about the Synagogue ruler whose daughter was dying and the woman who needed healing from her bleeding.  Jesus agreed to go with the ruler to heal his daughter but was interrupted when the woman touched Him and was healed.

This incident is recorded in Mark 5:21-43.  It might be helpful to read through that section of Scripture before proceeding with this post.

This passage is a great example of what it takes to have faith for healing.  In times past, people were told that if you just had enough faith, you’d be healed.  That made it real simple.  As a minister, I could blame you if you’re not healed when I pray for you.

“Come back when you really have faith.”

That kind of thinking does great injustice to those who are seeking to be set free from their sickness.  The problem is that healing faith is always Word based.

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

In order for the sick to be healed, someone has to hear a Word from God.  Then as they move in faith – received from that Word – the healing takes place.  Even in the Old Testament, this was the case.

He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.
Psalms 107:20

A Word from God will inspire faith for healing.  Once it’s acted upon, the healing takes place.  That’s one of the reasons I like this section of Scripture.  It shows the power of this truth.

The woman in the above passage heard from the Holy Spirit that if she could just touch the edge of Jesus’ clothes, she would be healed.  Jesus confirmed this by saying, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.”

The synagogue ruler is the one who heard from God in that part of the story.  He knew in his spirit that if he could get Jesus to come to his house, then his daughter would be healed.

Sometimes it’s the faith of the one praying.  Remember the leper who came to Jesus and said, “If you are willing you can make me clean.”  It was the Lord’s faith that prompted Him to say, “…be healed.”  (Mark 1:40-42)

In another part of the Bible, we read about some men who heard from the Spirit that if they could just get their paralyzed friend in front of Jesus, he’d be healed.  They ended up cutting a hole through a roof to fulfill this Word.  Scripture records that when the Lord saw their faith He healed the sick person. (Mark 2:4-5)

In all of these cases and many more, somebody had to hear from the Father and walk in the faith they received.  It could be the sick person, the minister, a friend, or a family member.  That’s because faith is received through a Word from God.

That’s why it’s so important that we spend time in the Spirit.  We need to develop our sensitivity to the voice of the Lord.  I believe that only then will we see the power that was manifest in the life of Christ and in the church of the book of Acts.

Hearing from God.  That’s where the Lord is bringing His church to in our generation.  Let’s walk with His plan and cultivate our intimacy with the Holy Spirit.

Question: How many other Scriptures can you find that show this principle of receiving healing faith through a Word from God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2018 in Faith, Healing, Power of God, Word of God

 

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Fruit When You Need It

In the last few posts, we went through some of the parables of Jesus concerning the Word of God in us.  We saw how to plant it, cultivate it, and eventually see the manifestation of God’s Kingdom as a result.  As soon as He explains these parables, the Lord gives His disciples a vivid demonstration.

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.”  Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat.  There were also other boats with him.  A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.  The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!”  Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
Mark 4:35-39

This is a perfect illustration of hearing and obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit (the Word of God).  Jesus was asleep when the storm came up.  The boat was full of water.  They were all minutes from drowning.

There was no time for Jesus to fast and pray about the problem.  There were no friends He could call to pray for Him.  It was a “hear from God or die” situation.

Through His intimacy with the Father, Christ had sensitized Himself to hear the voice of the Spirit.  This was true even in a stress-filled moment.

He talked to the wind and the waves.  The fact is that you don’t speak to inanimate objects unless you’ve heard from God.  He had the assurance, before He spoke, that it would have an effect.

That’s why we need to plant the Word in our lives.  We need to keep the good soil of our hearts free from rocks and weeds.  Then we have the fruit of the Word when we need it.

Even a fool knows that you don’t wait until you want a salad to plant a garden.  You always plant with the expectation of a future harvest.  In this case, Jesus needed the harvest of the Word at that moment.  Because the Lord spent time in the Father’s presence, the power was there when needed.

This should be an example to us.  Without spending quality time with the Holy Spirit, we won’t have a sensitivity to the Spirit’s voice.  A relationship is only matured over time.

Too often I’ve seen disappointed Christians try to do what Jesus did.  They spoke to a situation, and nothing changed.  They get frustrated, angry, and disillusioned with the Lord.

The problem is that you can’t walk out in this type of faith without hearing from God.  You have to get to know how He speaks to you.  Then you need a track record of obedience to what you hear.  The disciples found that out the hard way.

He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”
They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this?  Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Mark 4:40-41

They missed the whole point, just like us sometimes.  Jesus clearly was saying that they could have handled the storm just like He did.  They came to the conclusion that Jesus was somehow different than they were.

Yes, He is the Son of God.  But He limited Himself to operating as a man under the Holy Spirit’s direction.  If we’re hearing and obedient, we should be doing the same works that the Lord did.

I believe that this is where the Lord is taking His church in our generation.  If we’re willing to spend the time learning to listen for His voice.

Question: How often do you spend in the spirit, listening for the Lord to speak to you?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2018 in Faith, Power of God, Prayer, Word of God

 

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Private Time Insight

Over the last few posts, we have looked at some of the parables of Jesus.  That section of Mark is summarized in the next verses.

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.  He did not say anything to them without using a parable.  But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
Mark 4:33-34

The understanding of this passage is actually very important to us as believers.  It holds the key to a greater depth of insight into the Lord’s work in our lives.

But first, we have to know what is meant by a parable.  According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary*, a parable is a “short, simple story designed to communicate a spiritual truth…in which truth is illustrated by a comparison or example drawn from everyday experiences.”

If we want to truly understand our walk with God, then we need to be able to draw spiritual truth from everyday experiences.  This is a big part of getting insight into the Word of God.

This was a big part of Jesus’ ministry to His disciples.  He spoke the parables to the crowds.  They observed the natural world examples.  But in private, the disciples were given the truths that these parables illustrated.

I’ve said it before; the ministry of Jesus to His disciples was equivalent to the ministry of the Holy Spirit to us today.  What Jesus did then, is what the Holy Spirit wants to do now, if we’re seeking and listening.  After all, most of the time the disciples asked the Lord to explain these parables to them.

We go through many different experiences in our lives.  How often do we ask the Lord to explain them to us?  Please understand, I’m not talking about the “Why me!” type of questions.  I’m talking about turning our daily walk into a learning time with the Holy Spirit.

Let me give you an example.  If you don’t already know it, I’m an avid hiker.  I love spending a week or more on the trail.  The fact is that walking is probably the most used illustration of spiritual truth in the Bible.

As I hike, I pray to, worship, and praise God.  I ask Him for wisdom and insight.  Along the way, the Lord has used my hiking experiences to give me tremendous insight into the Christian walk.  Many of the truths of Scripture directly coincide with walking long distances.

But probably the most important part of this whole discussion is the fact that this happened while Jesus was alone with His disciples.  The things that were in parable form were hidden from most people.  But the Lord wanted the disciples to understand them.

The word explained, in the above verse means to untie a knot.  It’s something that stays bound up unless you actively work at it.  In this case, it means spending time, in private, with the Holy Spirit.  It’s in those times that we can receive insight into our walk with God.

Do you seek to understand Scriptural truth from your daily activities?  Did you even know that this was available to you?  Spend quality time in God’s presence listening for His explanations of what you’ve been through.  It will open up your spiritual eyes.

Question: What spiritual insight have you gotten from your daily experiences?

*From Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2018 in Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Waiting for the Harvest

As we continue to look at Mark’s Gospel, we come to another parable of Christ.  This one is about a sower and his seed.  The earlier parable about a sower zeroed in on the different types of soil.  This one talks specifically about how the seed works.

This illustration explains our relationship to the Word of God.  Specifically, how it works as seed in our lives.  While I’m responsible to accept God’s Word into my life, there’s another aspect that I have no control over.

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like.  A man scatters seed on the ground.  Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.  All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.  As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Mark 4:26-29

One of the most important concepts for us to understand is that the Kingdom of God is all about the Word being planted.  This is a part of all that we do as believers.

As a pastor, my greatest assignment is to receive the Word in order to plant it again in the lives of those who hear me.  Along with that, every Christian needs to be planting the Word into the lives of those around them.

With this comes the realization that nothing I do will bring about the growth of that seed, once it’s been planted.  From then on it’s out of my control.  Once you plant the Word into the lives of your friends and family, it’s time to wait – and that can be the hardest part.

Sometimes we want to force them to produce fruit.  We try to convince and coerce.  That’s usually when we start to push them further away.  We need to learn to plant, then step back and let God provide the increase.

The Word, by its very nature, begins to grow below the surface.  It cannot be stopped, but neither can it be hurried along.  It goes at the pace God has set for it.  One thing is certain; it will produce the harvest that God intended it to bring forth.  This thought was echoed by the apostle Paul.

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.
1 Corinthians 3:6-7

We all have our part to play in the Kingdom of God.  Some of us plant the seed and some water it.  None of us can make it grow; that’s God’s department.  The only help we can give it, once it’s planted, is in the watering process.

In the natural, no farmer would think to dig up the seed, just to check if it started growing yet.  But there are many who are guilty of this – spiritually speaking.  How many spiritual crops have we missed because we didn’t simply leave the seed alone?

Once the Word is planted, it’s time to step back and leave it in the Lord’s hands.  Let Him do what only He can do.  Then we’ll see the harvest come by the power of God.

Question: When have you caused bigger problems by trying to force the Word of God to grow in someone?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2018 in Faith, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Ears to Hear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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