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Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Good Advice?

“Stick to what you’re working at.  Concentrate on what you’re doing.  Don’t get side-tracked.”

That sounds like good advice.  And it is…most of the time.  However, we have to come to the realization that good advice doesn’t always line up with the will of God for you.  And, God’s will doesn’t always sound like good advice.

That’s what happened from time to time in the ministry of Jesus.  I’m talking about an incident that took place when He got off a boat near the Sea of Galilee one day.  You can find it in Mark 5:21-43.  You may want to read that passage before continuing with this post.

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake.  Then one of the synagogue rulers, named Jairus, came there.  Seeing Jesus, he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying.  Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.”  So Jesus went with him.
Mark 5:21-24

At this point in His ministry, the Lord was gathering crowds wherever He went.  Today was no exception.  But these were not simply people who were following Him.  They were expecting something from Him.  They wanted Jesus to heal them or set them free from demonic oppression.

I don’t know how I would have been able to handle it.  Crowds of people suddenly running up to me, screaming for my immediate attention.  Yet Christ was able to keep His composure through all of it.

All at once, the sea of people parted.  Someone who was well-known and respected by the community was coming forward.  The elder in charge of their local synagogue was in desperate need of a healing for his daughter.

Jesus agrees to go with him and they start heading in that direction.  Then, as they’re proceeding, an interruption takes place.  People are pressing in all around Him, yet the Lord stops and looks around.

At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him.  He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
Mark 5:30

“Wait a minute, Jesus.  Let’s do one thing at a time.  There’s someplace else we need to be.”

That might have been my thought when this happened.  But then, I would have been out of the will of God.  There was a bigger purpose than I could see.

The reason that Jesus could go through situations like this, unflustered, was because of His intimacy with the Father.  Time spent in God’s presence allowed Him to have a great sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

That might be one of the reasons why we get ourselves into trouble when unexpected things pop up.  We react with the best of our understanding.  Many times it’s our limited knowledge that fouls things up.

The Lord could hear and obey the voice of the Spirit, even in a stressful situation.  He could know which requests to accept, and which to ignore.  This was true even when from the outside it looked like the wrong plan of action.

We know, from the end of this passage, that Jesus was proven right by His decisions.  He remained in God’s will through the whole encounter.  We need to cultivate this same intimacy with the Holy Spirit.  I believe it will help us to see God’s plan unfold on a daily basis.

I will probably be talking about this passage over the next few posts.  There are some good lessons that we can glean from it.

Question: How do you cultivate personal intimacy with God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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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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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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Light – The Blessing of Discipleship

We’re continuing to deal with the subject of parables in the Gospel of Mark.  One of the questions that many have is; why did Jesus speak in parables?  Why didn’t He simply state the truth in plain language?  That’s a good question.

The disciples wondered about it too.  Here’s a verse we looked at a few posts ago…

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.  He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you.  But to those on the outside everything is said in parables…”
Mark 4:10-11

The word translated secret in this verse is a special word.  It refers to a mystery that you’re not privy to until you’ve joined the group.

Jesus is talking about the secret of the kingdom of God.  It’s something that you won’t understand until you’re actually a member of it.  Once you’re in the kingdom, you can handle the knowledge.

The Lord then went on to explain the parable of the sower.  We looked at that over the last few posts.  He then explains about the kingdom secrets.

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed?  Instead, don’t you put it on its stand?  For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.”
Mark 4:21-22

This question sounds like a no-brainer.  The very purpose of a light is to reveal what’s in the dark.  If you want to remain in darkness, then just don’t bring in the light.  There’s no sense in hiding it.

This statement by Jesus was supposed to be an encouragement to the disciples.  He wanted them to continue to ask questions about His teachings.  There were even times that the Lord asked them, “Do you understand what I just said?”

At that point in history, Jesus was the Light of the world.  He was the one revealing the things of the Father to those in Israel who would listen.

In essence, He was telling the disciples, “You have the light with you right now.  I’m here for a reason.  Let me reveal to you the things that may seem hidden.  I want you to know the secrets of the kingdom.”

The things that had been concealed for ages past were not meant to be kept secret forever.  It was time for those with the faith to trust the Messiah to hear these truths.

But it gets even better than that.  This is a Word to us as well.  Whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.

That’s the job of the Holy Spirit in us.  He’s the One who teaches us all the things we need to understand in our walk with God.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”— but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

We don’t have to walk around in the dark.  We have the light of the Holy Spirit within us.  Time spent with the Spirit is time spent in the light.  Use this great blessing that we’ve been given.  Walk in the light of the Lord.

Question: What are some things that the Holy Spirit has revealed to you in the past?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Are You in the Weeds?

I’m posting about the different kinds of soil that Jesus said was contained in our hearts.  Today’s post is about someone with very good soil.  It produced bountifully.  The problem was that it wasn’t producing fruit.

Instead, it raised a great crop of thorns and thistles.  Then the few good plants that sprung up were choked out before they produced anything.

Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.
Mark 4:18-19

These believers get further along than the other groups.  They believe the Word and actually let it take root in their lives.  Their problem is that they let other things grow right along next to it.

The first weed Jesus mentions is the distractions of this age, in the original Greek.  What a description of the modern Christian – DISTRACTED!

It’s not that we’ve turned our backs on God.  On the contrary, we want God’s best – His Word and His grace.  The trouble is that we want the world’s best as well.  We’re getting distracted by the things of the world.

Another weed the Lord talks about is the delusion of wealth.  When we think of wealth, it tricks us into believing that it can supply all of our needs.  The truth is that wealth can only obtain material possessions.

Wealth can never satisfy the longing of our souls.  If it could, you’d never hear of a wealthy person committing suicide.  The thing we need to put into perspective is that only the things that come from the Word of God are truly able to fulfill our lives.

The third weed that grows next to the Word is simply, desires.  What the verse implies is that this is a desire for the things that were given up in order to follow after God.  When we start looking back at these things with longing in our hearts, it’s a sure road to failure.

Please understand that it’s not doing the former things that cause the trouble, it’s the desire to do it.

The biggest thing that the Christians of this generation need to realize is that you can’t have it all, no matter what any televangelist will tell you.  You can’t have the power of God manifest in you, as well as everything your flesh desires.

It’s a well-known principle of farming.  When weeds and valuable crops are allowed to grow in the same space, it’s the weeds that will win out every time.

But when our life is unfruitful, we’re so quick to blame God.

“Oh God, I planted the Word.  Why is there no harvest?  Why have you failed me?”

I’m here to inform you, it wasn’t God who failed.  Everything grew as God ordained it to.  It was the weeds in your life that choked out the Word before it was able to produce fruit in you.  That’s why there was no harvest.

Part of the farming process is to keep the ground free of weeds.  Intimate time spend in the Spirit is what’s required.  Then the ground will be free and clear.  At that point, you can expect an abundant harvest.

Question: How are you keeping your heart free from the weeds?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Are You in the Family?

At one point in the Lord’s ministry, His family thought that He was pushing Himself too far.  They decided to have an intervention.

Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat.  When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.”
Mark 3:20-21

They obviously had no understanding of the Holy Spirit’s leading.  Sometimes there are assignments that go beyond your normal abilities.  It’s during those times that you receive supernatural strength for the moment.

Look at the Lord’s response.

Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived.  Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him.  A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”
“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.
Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Mark 3:31-35

There is a truth here that not a lot of people want to hear.  We’d like to assume that as long as you prayed the sinner’s prayer, all believers are equal.  But that’s not what the Bible teaches.  We achieve certain levels based on the criteria laid out in Scripture.

One of those titles is sons and daughters of God.  We want to believe that this applies to everyone.  It doesn’t.  Jesus makes it clear that whoever does God’s will is family.

This implies something.  It means, first of all, that you seek God’s will for your life.  Then, you spend the time it takes in God’s presence to hear and know the Lord’s will.  Finally, you walk in obedience to what you’ve heard.

Maybe you think that I’m just taking this verse out of context.  On the contrary, this truth is taught throughout the Scripture.  Paul understood this very thing.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Romans 8:13-14

You have to be pursuing this in the spirit.  It’s not a work you can do by simply deciding that it’s true.  It requires us to remain in Christ.  In that way we allow the Holy Spirit to complete His work in us.

Our problem is that we don’t want to remain.  We want the freedom to live for Christ some of the time, and for ourselves at others.  We want to go in and out as we please.

Jesus talked about this in another place.

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.
John 8:34-35

The original language of this verse reads, the servant does not remain in the house forever.  You can’t serve two masters.  When you try to serve both yourself and the Lord, you end up going in and out of the house.  You miss out on God’s best – the blessings of sonship.

Make it your goal to seek, hear, and obey God’s will for your life.

Question: What’s the next step in God’s plan for you right now?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2018 in Prayer, Sonship, Spiritual Walk

 

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Denying the Holy Spirit

In my last post, we saw that Jesus’ family was concerned that He was overworking Himself, while the Pharisees were accusing Him of being demon-possessed.  Being led by the Holy Spirit doesn’t always follow the logical path.  How did the Lord respond?

So Jesus called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.”
Mark 3:23-26

The first thing that Jesus does is to point out how utterly illogical the Pharisee’s accusation is.  What possible reason would Satan have to drive out his own kingdom?

This is especially true since it was Jesus who would be getting the credit for it.  Their argument made no sense; it just exposed how jealous they were of Christ’s ministry.

The Lord goes on to explain exactly what He was doing through these miracles.

In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can rob his house.
Mark 3:27

The fact is that Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work.  Israel had been downtrodden, conquered, and oppressed for so many years that most of the Jews had lost hope.  Through His miracles, the Lord was showing them that God still loved them.

Christ was single-handedly pushing back the darkness of the enemy.  He was taking back what rightfully belonged to the kingdom of God.  He was proof that the enemy can never stop the Spirit of God.

But the next statement the Lord makes has caused quite a bit of confusion.

“I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them.  But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.”
He said this because they were saying, “He has an evil spirit.”
Mark 3:28-30

One problem is that we lose sight of His first statement.  It is clearly spoken.  All the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven.  By the way, the word blasphemy simply means a hurtful statement made against someone.

According to Jesus, there’s nothing that can’t be forgiven.  However, His second statement reveals some very dangerous ground.  The literal Greek reads that the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit does not hold forgiveness, but is ensnared in perpetual sin.

The first thing I see is that to speak hurtfully against the Holy Spirit, you must already know that it’s the Holy Spirit you’re speaking against.  The Pharisees were not just making a mistake about what was happening.

They knew that the Spirit of God was at work.  They knew that it was the Holy Spirit who was setting free those who were being oppressed by the devil.  They were trying to exalt themselves by discrediting Jesus by means of theology.

Jesus is telling them that the trap of this behavior is that you’re denying the only One through whom you can receive forgiveness.  It’s not that they couldn’t be forgiven, as much as it was that they didn’t want forgiveness.

By denying the Holy Spirit’s work, they’re speaking against the very One who could save them.  That’s a condition that can entrap you into an everlasting sin.

Question: How grateful are you for the Lord’s forgiveness?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Legalism, Ministry, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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