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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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The Holy Spirit – Our Nourishment

FlyingI’ve been posting about the Holy Spirit as the Sent One to the church. I said that believing Him is what feeds our soul. Remember when Jesus met the woman at the well.

The disciples went off to the city to get lunch, and left Him alone. When they returned they saw that revival had broken out.

Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”
John 4:31-32

What did Jesus tell the people about this spiritual food that feeds your soul? Believe the one God has sent.

Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”
John 4:33-34

According to Jesus, His food was to do the will of the One who sent Him. That means He heard, believed, and obeyed the Father. But how did He hear from the Father; how did they communicate?

I think the answer is obvious – it was by the Holy Spirit. So, what’s required to finish the work? Continue hearing, believing, and obeying.

Now I want to look back to the crowd in Capernaum that I talked about in my last post. They started arguing with Jesus about this spiritual food. They told the Lord that if He would do a miracle they’d believe Him. Incredibly, these are the same 5000 that He had just miraculously fed with the loaves and fishes.

Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
John 6:32-33

We need to understand this. The bread of God is He who comes down from heaven. Who is the One from Heaven in our generation?

In talking about the prophets of old, Peter said…

It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
1 Peter 1:12

Who is now sent from heaven? It’s the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. He comes from heaven; He’s the spiritual bread to us. He’s the One who gives life to the world.

This is an important truth for us to grasp. It’s one of the main reasons the church is lacking in power these days. Without a deep relationship with the Holy Spirit, we’ll lack the spiritual nourishment – the vitality – to see God’s power work through us.

In my next post I’ll take this thought a step further.

Question: How have you been strengthened as you spend time with the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on July 15, 2015 in Power of God, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Sent One

BreadI’m taking some time to talk about the Holy Spirit and His work in us. In my last post I looked at the following verse.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
John 14:25-26

Notice that Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit was the one whom the Father will send in my name. It’s important to understand that the Spirit was sent to us from the Father.

At one point, just after He fed the 5000, Jesus was speaking to the crowd that was following Him.

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”
John 6:26-27

As He speaks, the Lord begins to tell them about spiritual food. He calls it food that remains to the point of eternal life. In other words, food that is eternally alive in you – always nourishing you. It doesn’t just leave your body after a day. That’s what we should be working for.

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
John 6:28

They knew He was talking about spiritual food so they asked what kind of work was required.

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
John 6:29

This is how you work for food that remains in you, bringing you eternal life. Believe in the one God has sent. Jesus could have said “believe in me”, “believe in my words,” or “believe in the Son of Man.” But He didn’t and there’s a good reason.

I’m a firm believer that Jesus meant what He said and said what He meant. Since He used a broader term – the one sent – it must be important.

At that point in history – Jesus was the revelation of God sent to Israel. But what about now…to us? Right now the sent one – the revelation of God sent to the world – is the Holy Spirit.

According to Christ, the work of God that feeds your soul is to believe the one that’s sent – the Holy Spirit. When He speaks I have to believe Him. That’s how I nourish my soul. That’s how I can receive spiritual food others have no concept of.

The Holy Spirit has been sent to us. We need a greater revelation of His work in us. In my next post, I’ll continue, taking this in more detail.

Question: What was the last thing you heard from the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2015 in Faith, Spiritual Walk

 

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Have You Been Taken By God?

PowerlessThere are some important truths that we can learn from the life of the patriarch, Enoch.

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.
Hebrews 11:5

This verse says that it was by faith that Enoch was taken. Faith is always a choice. It’s the decision to accept and believe something that I have come to understand about God.

We must choose to be taken by God. This is the first and most important choice of the any believer. As Christians, we have accepted the sacrifice of Christ. But very quickly after salvation it becomes obvious that God wants more than just a prayer and an offering.

This is what it means to be a living sacrifice. The Lord says to each one of us, “I want you. I have a purpose and a plan for your life.”

The Scripture says that Enoch was transported so that he did not see death. It’s clear that God doesn’t want us to see death at work in our lives.

Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.
Romans 6:13

Jesus Christ has brought us over from death to life. The problem is that sometimes, because of our flesh, we’re more comfortable with death. We allow things into our lives that are killing us.

There was a prerequisite to what Enoch experienced. Before he was taken, he was well-pleasing to God. This is one of our greatest blessings in Christ – the fact that today we can be pleasing to God. That’s why the writer talks about it in the next verse.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
Hebrews 11:6

This verse literally says that apart from faith you are powerless to please God. You can try to work to please God – but you’re powerless to accomplish it. The only thing to do is to choose to believe He exists, and then earnestly seek Him as the Rewarder of your life.

It is only because of these two choices that the Lord of the universe is well pleased with you. It’s because of your faith that He wants to take you as His own – if you’ll let Him. His desire is to transport you from death to life.

Just like with Enoch, God takes you out of your old life and brings you to a new place of blessing. In my next post I’ll talk about exactly where the Lord transports you to.

Question: Why is it important to know that my works have nothing to do with being pleasing to God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Faith, Power of God

 

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Is Your Faith Visible?

BeamAre people around you aware of your beliefs? Actually, they know more about what you believe than you do sometimes. What do I mean by that?

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
James 2:14

The truth about faith – your beliefs – is that it’s not so much what you talk about, but what defines your actions. It’s why you do what you do. It’s the choices you make and the path you pursue.

When I heard the truth about Jesus Christ, faith was birthed in my heart. Because it was a real faith, it prompted me to do something. I made the choice to publically accept Him as my Lord and Savior.

True faith is made visible in your actions.

In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
James 2:17

People can only see what you do and how you respond to circumstances. They only see your living faith. You may tell yourself that you believe certain truths, but if you don’t live them out, you’re only deceiving yourself.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.
James 2:18-19

Even in the case of demons, what they believe affects what they do. They may hate the truth, but it still causes them to tremble when they think about it.

You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
James 2:24

It’s only when what you believe and what you do line up that you can truly say this is your faith. That’s why Christianity is a counter-culture to our modern society. We live in an age where the lie is much more preferable to the truth.

The American way of life teaches us that it’s normal to believe one thing and then live a totally different lifestyle.

“I’m a Christian – but I can’t let that affect my politics.”

I’ve heard that on many occasions. According to Scripture, what do you truly believe? What you do shows your living faith.

The world system is based upon a foundation of self-deceit.

“I’ll trust you to do what you say – as long as I get it all in writing.”

“I’ll love you forever, but we need a pre-nuptial agreement, just in case.”

All of these, and more, are examples of how our present generation has left the truth and is in pursuit of a lie.

As the church of Jesus Christ – we are different! We must not be like the world. Our beliefs should affect our behavior. If they don’t, then what do we truly believe?

It’s time for us to stand up and live out what we believe.

Question: What are your beliefs in Christ that you find most difficult to live out?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2014 in Faith, The Church

 

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What does it take to be a Disciple? #discipleship

ClassGod wants us to walk in the full rights of sonship as His children.  This means that we’re walking in the authority and responsibility that comes with it.  To get to that point, we must undergo the process of discipleship.  What does that mean?

At one point in His ministry, Jesus was speaking to a crowd about why He came to the earth.

Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.
John 8:30

This was a good response.  There were believers sprinkled through the crowd, listening to His every word.  They were the ones that the Lord was focusing on as He continued.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32

Talking specifically to those that believed, He explained that faith is not the goal.  It’s merely the beginning of the journey.

Here in America we’ve gone through the “Faith Movement”.  Regardless of how you feel about it, this movement changed the entire face of the church.  But there’s still more that God wants to do in us.

What comes next is that little word that changes everything. IF!  Its conditional – “If you live, remain, dwell in my Word…”

The next step after faith is to live in God’s Word.  Its living in the Word that makes you a disciple.  There’s a difference in Scripture between believers and disciples.

When you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior, you become a believer.  The Holy Spirit takes up residence in you and you’re on your way to heaven.  Becoming a disciple is a whole other choice.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
John 15:1-3

This is the result of discipleship.  Once we know the truth – by remaining in His Word – we are set free from sin by that Word.

This is the foundation for all that we do in Christ.  It’s by the Word that the power of God is manifest in us.  What I’m talking about is the Word you hear as you’re intimate with Christ.

That’s how Jesus operated.  By remaining in the Father’s Word, He had 100% results.  The Lord could heal, walk on water, calm a storm, raise the dead, or feed five thousand.  All this because He remained in the Word He heard from the Father.

Question: What will it take for us to walk in this level of discipleship?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2014 in Faith, Revival, Word of God

 

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Is Your Tongue Your Problem?

DogI’ve been talking about Abraham’s example to us in receiving God’s blessing and provision.  In my last post I said that we needed to speak what we believe from our heart.  This is important because it’s usually our speaking that gets us in the most trouble.

Listen to the exchange that took place as Abraham was taking Isaac up the mountain.  All Abraham knew at this point was that God was asking him to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice.

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”  And the two of them went on together.
Genesis 22:7-8

I can only imagine how much pain this question caused Abraham.  I believe that there was a long pause while Abraham thought about how he could answer the boy.  It amazes me how simply the answer was formed.

In spite of his confusion, and without anger or bitterness toward God, he spoke the truth in faith and love.  This is a lesson we need to take to heart.

So many times we speak without thinking.  We especially run into trouble when we talk from the hurt and anguish we’re experiencing.  We say many things that we wish we could take back.

That’s why one of the secrets to positioning ourselves to receive God’s blessing is to watch what we say when we’re hurting.  James understood this truth.

Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
James 3:5-6

James is looking at this from a negative perspective.  Controlled by the spirit, the tongue can set your life on course for God’s blessing.  Controlling the tongue is one of the hardest things we’re called to do, yet it’s one of the most important.  What we say can set the emotional foundation for our eventual success or failure.

How we speak, especially in times of confusion and pain, will have a lasting effect on both us and those around us.  Is what you’re saying building up or tearing down God’s work?

We must choose to keep a watch over our tongues.  If needed, we can go to the Lord in repentance for things that may have been said in hurt or anger.  We can ask for His strength to take control of this unruly member of our body.

If we will spend time in the Lord’s presence and meditate upon His Word, then there will be a greater chance that truth and love will come out during stressful times.

Question: When have your words either helped or hurt the situation you were in?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Faith, God's Provision

 

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