RSS

Tag Archives: Christ

Which Denomination is the Best?

In my last post, I talked about the path to leadership in the kingdom of God.  It requires a servant’s heart.  Today, Jesus will continue teaching along those lines with His disciples.

He took a little child and had him stand among them.  Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Mark 9:36-37

We need to understand what the Lord is talking about in this passage.  In the past, I’ve heard it misapplied all over the place.

Jesus is talking to His disciples.  These are the people He has set apart for the leadership of the church.  They were also specifically chosen to minister to Israel – God’s covenant people (Matthew 10:5-6).  So the Lord is talking about receiving a covenant child in His name.

As the disciples are listening to Him, they have an “Aha! moment”.  They realize that Jesus is not just talking about physical children.  They’re beginning to understand His teaching style.  They apply what He says to an incident that recently happened to them.

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
Mark 9:38

They remember telling someone to stop driving out demons in the name of Jesus.  But their reasoning is important to us.  The Greek verse literally says that the disciples told him to stop because he did not follow us.

Notice that it wasn’t because he didn’t follow Christ, but that he didn’t follow the disciples.  We know from the last post that they had a high opinion of themselves.  After all, they gave up everything to follow Christ.  This man, who was driving out demons, didn’t.

On the other hand, even though he didn’t give up everything to follow Jesus, he had the evidence of the power of God operating in his ministry.  He also must have understood a lot of the Lord’s teachings.  People were being delivered as he preached Christ.

This is where we are at our point in history.  Many Christian denominations are a part of the spiritual landscape before us.  What did the Lord say about this?

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said.  “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.  I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward.”
Mark 9:39-41

By saying this, Jesus has settled the matter of denominations.  Do all of them follow Christ to the same degree?  Obviously not.  But that’s not the issue.  The question is; are they operating in the name of Jesus?

Jesus is telling His disciples that you don’t have to be a super-apostle, trained by Jesus Christ, Himself, in order to get a reward.  If you’ve trusted Christ for your salvation, and your calling is as simple as giving water to someone, you’ll have a reward for fulfilling that calling.

We may not all be in the same denomination, but we must all receive each other in the name of Jesus Christ.

Question: How have you learned to respect other believers who don’t worship as you do?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 20, 2018 in Fellowship, Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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

 
1 Comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Getting Behind Christ

As we continue to study the Gospel of Mark, we see the Lord bringing His disciples to a deeper level of knowledge about Himself.

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.  He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
Mark 8:31-32

Jesus began to explain to the disciples that the Messiah must undergo rejection by Israel.  Then, He needed to die on the cross, be buried and three days later, rise from the dead.

Peter was obviously upset by this.  He was so taken back by hearing about the Lord’s death that he totally missed the part about rising from the dead.  He began to rebuke Jesus for His “negative confession.”

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter.  “Get behind me, Satan!” he said.  “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Mark 8:33

No, Peter was not possessed by the devil at this time.  The Greek word, satan, means accuser.  Jesus was not calling Peter the devil, but describing his actions.  (Actually, the devil would have enjoyed seeing Jesus die.)

In his statement, Peter was accusing Jesus of being out of the will of God for his life.  Peter was placing himself on the same level as Christ, telling Him what He should be doing.

That’s why the Lord told him to get behind me.  In other words, you’re not my peer; get back in line following me where you belong.  He explained that Peter was not thinking like God thinks, but like men think.

Jesus took this as a teachable moment.

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.  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?  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 8:34-38

Christ makes it clear that in following Him, we have to give up our fleshly, human way of thinking.  Ministry in the kingdom of God is not based on what I think is best for God.  It’s about what He thinks is best.

Too often we’re guilty of giving God our opinion of what should be done.  Then, we run off with our plans and seek God’s blessing on it.  We then get frustrated wondering why it has no effect.

Instead, we need to seek the Holy Spirit to change the way we think.  We need our minds to be renewed.  Because if I can think the way God does, then I’m going to want His perfect will.

This is important.  I won’t need to seek His will; I’ll know it because I want what He wants.  Then it will be blessed – not because I prayed for God to bless it, but because it’s already anointed by God.

That’s why we need to spend quality time in the Lord’s presence.  But not spending all our time seeking things and answers to problems.  We must desire to know Him better – His thoughts, His will, and His heartbeat.

Question: What’s the difference between seeking God’s will and seeking God’s heart?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Importance of the Unseen

Over the last few posts, we can see that the disciples following Jesus seemed to be pretty slow in their trust of the Lord.  They have a hard time applying what He did in the past, to their present challenges.  Of course, that’s our problem sometimes as well.

I’ve found that the questions Jesus asks are just as important as His teachings.  It draws out what’s really going on inside of us.  He wants to activate the faith that may be lying dormant within us.

For this reason, He asks the disciples some questions.

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi.  On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
Mark 8:27-28

This is an interesting conversation between the Lord and His followers.  Jesus asks them who the crowds think He is.  In reading the original Greek, it sounds like their initial answer is, “John the Baptist.”  Then they added that some say Elijah or another lesser known prophet.

That’s funny when you think about it because Jesus was baptized by John.  They were seen together on a few occasions.

This actually shows us how society works.  When someone becomes famous, and people start to recognize their name, it’s as if they had never existed before that moment.

When Jesus was baptized by John, He probably stood in line like everyone else.  Even though John recognized who the Lord was, to the casual observer, Jesus was simply one of many being baptized that day.

They didn’t see Jesus studying and meditating on the Scripture for His first 30 years.  They didn’t see the hours of fasting and prayer over His future ministry to Israel.  They never knew about the 40 days He spent in the wilderness being tested.

The foundation of the house is the most important part, yet it’s the part rarely seen in the completed structure.  That’s why there can be no shortcuts in the preparation seasons of our ministry.  It’s frustrating to realize it, but most will never know the hard work that went into what people eventually see in public.

The disciples knew the reality.

“But what about you?” he asked.  “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”
Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
Mark 8:29-30

They were finally able to voice what they had been thinking inside.  It was no longer a question; could this be the Messiah?  Now it was a definitive statement.

We need to follow the example of Christ.  Are you believing for God to accomplish something extraordinary through you?  Then don’t look for the shortcuts.

Don’t become so frustrated that you drop out during your season of preparation.  Continue to do what you know to do.  Allow the Lord to bring you to the place you need to be in Him.  Then, at the appointed time, you’ll see the manifestation of God’s Word to you.

Question: What are you believing God to bring about in your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

One Witness Can Change a Community

We are continuing in our study of the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus is going from place to place sharing the Good News and the power of God.

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.  There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.
Mark 7:31-32

On the surface, this seems like something that happened wherever Jesus went.  People were always asking Him to heal their sick.  But if you’ve been following this blog, you know that this is a special case.

This is not the first time the Lord has been to the region of the Decapolis.  The first time was recorded in Mark chapter 5, verses 1-20.

It seems that the people of this region do a lot of begging.  They begged Jesus to heal this deaf man.  During their first encounter with Christ, it was a different story.

In chapter 5, the Lord and His disciples met a demon-possessed man in a graveyard.  He was taken over by a legion of demons.  Jesus cast the demons out and they entered a herd of pigs.  Immediately, the pigs ran into the lake and drowned themselves.

When the people of the area saw what happened, they begged Jesus to leave.  As He was going, the delivered man begged Jesus to take him with the disciples.  Instead, the Lord told the man to stay and tell what had happened to him.

Now, some time has passed.  On the basis of one man’s testimony, the spiritual climate of the area had changed.  Instead of asking Jesus to leave, they wanted Him to minister there.

After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears.  Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue.  He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”).  At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
Mark 7:33-35

The Lord graciously brought healing to this man.  It doesn’t talk about it in the passage, but I’m sure that the Good News of the Messiah was proclaimed throughout that whole region.

Then, as He’s leaving, the Lord gives different instructions.

Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone.  But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.  People were overwhelmed with amazement.  “He has done everything well,” they said.  “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Mark 7:36-37

What a turnaround.  Instead of hostility to Christ, they are now amazed at who He is.  Now they all have the testimony that the Lord does all things well.

This all happened because one man did what the Lord called him to do.  He gave testimony to God’s work in his life.

Never get discouraged about the darkness around you.  Remember that one person’s testimony for Christ can change everything.

Heed the words that the Lord originally told this man in chapter 5.  “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

Question: How has Christ shown His love to you?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 23, 2018 in Healing, Power of God, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Healing Priority

There are those who don’t believe that Jesus paid the price for all to be healed.  That goes against everything that the Lord and His disciples taught in the New Testament.  This incident in the life of Christ is an example of how Jesus viewed it.

Jesus left that place and went to the vicinity of Tyre.  He entered a house and did not want anyone to know it; yet he could not keep his presence secret.  In fact, as soon as she heard about him, a woman whose little daughter was possessed by an evil spirit came and fell at his feet.  The woman was a Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia.  She begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter.
Mark 7:24-26

Here we see that a Gentile woman had a daughter with a demon, manifesting itself through a serious sickness.  When she heard that Jesus was in her area, she went to Him.  The woman was desperate for her daughter to be healed and she begged Jesus to do something about it.

“First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”
Mark 7:27

In Jesus’ response, the Bible literally says that it’s not proper etiquette, not right in appearance to give her the children’s bread.  Of course, God never worried about surface appearances.  Jesus had no problem eating with tax-collectors and prostitutes.

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”
Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”
She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone.
Mark 7:28-30

Some of the other Gospel writers say that the little girl was healed from that moment.  Many people use this for an example of supernatural healing, but there’s more going on than meets the eye.  Some teachers look at this and say that the daughter was healed because the woman had great faith.  So, therefore, it takes great faith for healing.  NO!!!!  We sometimes miss the whole point.

According to Jesus, healing is the children’s bread.  In this response, we can see God’s priority.

Did you hear what the Lord said in verse 27, above?  First, fill up the children with all they want to eat.  In other words; first heal the church, then the world.  So in this statement of Christ, we see two kinds of healing.

The first is a covenant healing which is by right.  I’m not trying to be arrogant when I say this.  He calls us His children.  Parents obligate themselves to feed their children.  God decided to do it this way.  It’s all a part of a normal faith relationship.

The other healing is for those outside the covenant, by special faith.  This is because it originally takes faith to enter the covenant.  A majority of Jesus’ ministry was covenant healing.

The sick person came to the Lord, He laid hands on them, and they left healed.  There was no stirring up of their faith required – He just did it.

That’s because healing was a part of the covenant that God’s people had entered into.  A quick search of the words heal and healing will show the many places that God promises to heal His people in the Old Covenant.

At this point, we’ve entered a Better Covenant.  Through the blood of Christ, we have the fulfillment and not just the shadow.  How much more does the Lord desire to bring healing to those who are in Christ?

As I’ve said before, the church needs a greater understanding of Jesus Christ the Healer.  For a fuller explanation of divine healing, click here.

Question: How do you see the New Covenant as being better than the Old?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
1 Comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Heart of the Matter

Many people worry about how others see them.  They want to make sure that they’re doing and saying the right things.  They want to be acceptable in their particular circle of friends.

In my last post, we saw that you can’t just go through the motions of worship if you want to please God.  It has to come from the inside.  The Lord explained it to the crowd that had gathered around Him.

Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this.  Nothing outside a man can make him ‘unclean’ by going into him.  Rather, it is what comes out of a man that makes him ‘unclean.'”
Mark 7:14-15

That concept was totally foreign to the Jewish people.  They were taught that there were things that could make you unclean simply by touching them.

But that gives you a false sense of security.  If you haven’t touched any unclean things, you were okay.  Along with that, if you’ve observed all the prescribed ceremonies, then you were spiritually strong.

Jesus saw things from a different perspective.

After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable.  “Are you so dull?” he asked.  “Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him ‘unclean’?  For it doesn’t go into his heart but into his stomach, and then out of his body.”  (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods “clean.”)
Mark 7:17-19

Jesus makes it clear.  It’s what we put into our hearts that determines where our life is headed.  When we eat or drink something, the usable parts are digested and distributed in the body.  The waste products are expelled.

The heart, on the other hand, is the storehouse of our being.  What we place in there may last a long time.  Then, when we least expect it, those things in our heart my spill out.

He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean.’  For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.  All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.'”
Mark 7:20-23

We need to understand what Christ is teaching us here.  You can’t just decide not to sin anymore.  As someone who grew up in church, I can tell you from first-hand experience that this doesn’t work.  I’ve personally made this decision many times throughout my life.

That’s because sin is not birthed in your mind.  It’s an overflow of what you’ve been storing in your heart.

If you want to stop sinning, then you need to spend time in the Lord’s presence.  That’s where our hearts are purified.  It’s all about the cleansing work of the Holy Spirit in us.  Because in the same way that sin in our hearts will eventually manifest itself, righteousness will do the same thing.

Let the Spirit put God’s desires, direction, and passions on the inside of you.  Then, when your heart starts to spill over, it’s the fruit of the Spirit that people will see.

Question: How have you seen God’s Word overflow from your heart when you didn’t expect it?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 19, 2018 in Legalism, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,