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The Cross in Our Generation

In my last post, we saw Jesus explaining to His disciples the need to give up their human, fleshly way of thinking.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Mark 8:34

Remember, the Lord had just called Peter an accuser and told him to “get behind me.”  Now Jesus uses that exact same word and says “if anyone would get behind me…”  Getting behind Jesus, following Him, requires taking up your cross.

What does Jesus mean by this?  I’ve heard people use it in a lot of different ways.  Sometimes they’ll use this term in talking about an ongoing illness, or even their spouse.

“That’s just my cross that I have to bear.”

Is that what it’s all about?  I don’t think so.  Carrying a cross is a sign that you’re about to die.  Very soon you’re going to be laying down your life.

In the next few verses, Jesus makes it clear what He’s talking about.

“For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.  What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?  Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Mark 8:35-37

The Lord is speaking about giving up the temporary in order to gain the eternal.  The word, life, that He uses here is the actual word for soul.  It’s the seat of who you are as a person; your personality, likes, dislikes, desires, and experiences.

We have to lay all of that down if we’re going to experience God’s destiny for our lives.  That’s the only place where we can experience true fulfillment.  It’s the kind of life where we can look back a million years from today and say that it was all worth it.

But there’s more to it than just that.  There’s a tougher part that needs to be laid down.

“If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Mark 8:38

I believe that this speaks directly to where we are as God’s people at this point in history.  The word, generation, could also mean a people group.  So Jesus is talking about being ashamed of what He does or says in the midst of an adulterous people group.

Hear what He’s saying.  In order to be adulterous, you have to be in a covenant relationship.  The Lord isn’t talking about the unsaved here.  He’s talking about those who want to follow Him within a church that’s following after the world’s way of living.

There’s a huge segment of the church today that’s ashamed of what Christ does and says in the Scripture.

“Oh, no, we don’t talk about that subject in our church.  We don’t want to offend anybody.”

I thought that the Good News of Christ is that we are headed in the wrong direction – eternity separated from God because of our lifestyle.  But now because of what Christ did on the cross, we can be reconciled to God and CHANGED by the power of the Holy Spirit placed within us.

Father God, I pray that you give your people the boldness to proclaim Your message and to accomplish Your work.

Question: How have you experienced shame over the ministry or teachings described in Scripture?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2018 in Ministry, Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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The God Who Runs

Heart CellHave you ever felt like God was mad at you?  Maybe you’ve been keeping away from the Lord or His people because you’re ashamed of something you’ve done.  That’s not the way to go.

There’s a parable Jesus told about a son who, because of his choices, distanced himself from his father.  When he hit rock bottom, he decided it was better to go home, no matter what the consequences were.

So he got up and went to his father.  But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
Luke 15:20

Most people agree that Jesus was telling this parable about His Heavenly Father.  The young man in question who took an early inheritance and blew it all on wild living.  He ended up in poverty, and became a servant who was feeding hogs.

Finally he came to his senses and thought about what life was like in his father’s house.  Even the servants were eating better than he was at that moment.

The young man decided to humble himself and return home.  He had spent his inheritance and was now willing to simply be a one of his father’s hired servants.

He then made the long journey home.  What would he find there?  What would be the response of the father he had so humiliated by his leaving?

How would we write the story?  A father standing, arms folded, with a stern “I told you so” written across his face.  Would he listen in silence to the young man’s plea, only to say, “We’ll see how you act over the next few months.”  Maybe there would be outright rejection.

We always seem to project these natural, human, responses onto our loving Father God.  I’m so glad that He doesn’t treat us the way we treat each other.  I’m even more thankful that He doesn’t treat me the way I deserve to be treated.

Because of the work Christ has done, all I need to do is start heading in His direction.  It’s at that point the He runs to be with me.  There’s no condemnation, no probation, and no judging.  He only brings acceptance and forgiveness with Him.

Maybe you’ve done some things that you think are hard to forgive.  Maybe you’ve been a long time away from God.  It doesn’t matter.  Return to the Lord and He’ll run to you.  You can be restored in an instant because of the love of the Father.

Trust Him.  He’s the God who runs.

Question: How have you experienced the love and acceptance of God the Father?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Encouragement, Prayer, Revival, The Gospel

 

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Revival and the Anointing #anointing #revival

FireThis is the last post in a series I’m writing about the anointing.  It seems that the church is under the impression that just because we have the Holy Spirit in us, we have the same anointing as Jesus.  Hopefully, based upon my last few posts, you understand why that’s not the case.  We need to seek God’s approval to walk in His power.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

We’re now in a position to understand what Paul was telling Timothy in this verse.  Do your best – be diligent – to present yourself to God as one anointed.  When you’re approved before God there’s no need to be ashamed.

This is a big problem among God’s people in our generation.  We’re full of boldness when we’re in praise and worship.  But on the job or at school it’s a different story.  We keep our faith inside, not wanting to “offend” anyone.  That’s foolishness, since every other group will openly declare what they believe to be true.

It all comes down to power.  I want to say to those I work with, “God loves you.  He will change your life.  He’ll heal you and bless you.”  But I worry that if they let me pray with them, nothing will happen.  Furthermore, I’m not healed and my life isn’t blessed.  What if they ask me about that?  I’d rather just keep quiet and avoid the embarrassment.

The church needs to be on its knees seeking the approval for ministry.  Then, when the anointing is upon us, we will not worry about what the world or our friends think.

I believe that the next great revival will involve the church coming to an understanding of this truth.  But we will have to attain to a certain level of intimacy before the Lord will manifest His anointing in us.  This is probably going to be the hardest move for the church to enter into.

I don’t think it will come as a wave, but as individuals begin paying the price for God’s approval.  Then, they must show up at the place and time of their anointing.  It could be a big or small meeting.  It will not matter as long as it’s God’s appointed place.

Do what it takes to secure your anointing.  Follow the example of Christ.  Seek intimacy with the Father.  Then, as the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart, walk in obedience to His voice.

Question: What could happen if the whole church walked in the anointing of the Lord?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2013 in Anointing, Revival, The Church

 

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The Place of Signs and Miracles

One WayI believe that signs and miracles are a part of the true Gospel.  Without them, it’s difficult to impact the unbeliever.

The Apostle Paul refers to this truth throughout his writings.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18-19

Paul tells us how he led the Gentiles to obey God by announcing the Gospel and making disciples.  Notice, that he accomplished this by what he SAID and DID.  It was through the power of signs and miracles.  The difference between a sign and a miracle is that a sign is a miracle that confirms what you say about God.

The key issue is that by operating in this way, Paul fully proclaimed the gospel.  I believe that just talking about Christ is not the whole Gospel.  The Bible is clear that the kingdom of God is “not a matter of talk but of power.” (I Corinthians 4:20)

Last week I asked, what is it about the Gospel that we’re ashamed of ?  I used some illustrations.  If I won a new car I would call you over to look at it.  If I got a promotion at work, I would immediately show you my new business cards.  How is that different from the spiritual Good News?

I believe it’s because we have reduced the Gospel to clichés.  “Jesus loves you.”  “Jesus wants to bless you.”  “God loves you and I do too.”

The problem is that there’s no demonstration.  It’s not like the new car or the promotion at work because I offer you no proof of what I’m saying.

Based upon Scripture, if there’s no demonstration, then there’s no Gospel.  Many are ashamed because all they can do is tell about Jesus.  Some can’t even see the proof in their own lives because of the lack of power.  It makes many believers feel like charlatans when they share the Good News.

It seems we’ve lost the original Good News.  We don’t understand the power of God and we don’t understand the Gospel. The two go hand in hand.

Without the Good News, there’s no need for the demonstration of power.  Some American Christians want the power without proclaiming the Good News.  The fact is, that without the message of the Gospel there’s no need to demonstrate healing, prosperity, joy, freedom from depression, or anything else the Lord has provided for us through the cross.  I’m striving to spur the church on to get hungry to experience the full Gospel.

That’s why Paul could say that he had fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ.  Not only did he tell about Christ, but he also demonstrated the love and power of the Lord.

Question: How can we return to the true Gospel?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2013 in Power of God, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Why Are We Ashamed of the Gospel?

Good NewsDo you find yourself hesitant to share your faith with the people around you?  Do you get flustered when asked about what you believe or your opinion on religious matters?  Many Christians find themselves in this condition.  I believe that the answer is found in Scripture.

In the past I posted about the power of God.  I defined it as the ability to produce change in the life of the believer.  This access to the life-changing power of God is vital to see the move of the Spirit in our lives and churches.

There is, however, an important ingredient that we very often trip over.  I am talking about the Gospel.  This is something that’s very misunderstood among Christians.  It’s extremely important to see the Gospel for what it is because it directly relates to the power of God.  I want to take a few posts to look at these factors.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Romans 1:16

We probably all know by now that the word Gospel in the Bible is a Greek word that literally means the Good News.  What is this Good News?  According to the verse above, it’s the power of God to save everyone.  That’s the Good News in a nutshell.  God is powerful enough to save all who come to Him.

Because of this truth, Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed” of this Good News.  But that statement leads us to a thought provoking question.  If I am ashamed of it, is it really the Gospel?

Think about this illustration for a moment.  You were just promoted to Vice President of your company and your salary was doubled.  Would you be too ashamed to tell anyone about that good news?  If you had just won a new car, would you be too ashamed to speak about that?

When it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have to ask, what is it that we’re ashamed of and why?  Is it even the Good News that we’re talking about?  These are the issues I want to deal with over the next few posts.

My goal is to make you hungry for the true Gospel.  It really is the power of God to save those who believe it.  It carries with it the life-changing ability of God.  If we could only understand the truth about this Good News it would change the way we approach the world.

Question: Why do you think we get uneasy sharing our faith with others?

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Power of God, The Gospel

 

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