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Touching Christ

Why is it so important that I become intimate with Christ?  Many believers spend their whole lives and never seek His presence.  Everything I need is found in Christ.  So, if I can get close to Him, I’ll be equipped to get into the flow of the Lord’s anointing.

The flow of power.  As we continue looking at Mark’s Gospel, we see a woman who figured this out before any of Jesus’ disciples did.  She had a sickness in her body that none of the doctors of her day could heal.

One day she heard that Jesus was coming to her town. When she heard this, the Holy Spirit quickened faith on the inside of her.  She soon had a plan to see Him because she knew that if she could just touch the Lord, she would be healed.

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

As soon as the woman touched Him, Jesus realized that power had flowed out from Him.  That’s a great revelation.  As it is in nature, so also in the spirit.  Power has a flow associated with it.  It can travel from one person to another.

Making contact with Christ.  This is an astounding truth to grasp onto.  True power flows from Christ to those who touch Him.  This means that it’s available to me.  If I can just touch Him – make contact with Him – then I can receive His power in my life.  That would change everything.

Think about it.  What would this mean to you?

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
2 Peter 1:3

Everything changes.  Everything means everything!!!  This verse explains that God’s power touches all that pertains to this life – finances, healing, etc.  But just as important it includes my spiritual life – godliness.

The fact of the matter is that true power changes everything that it touches.  The question this creates is; do we want everything to change?  Do we want our world to turn upside-down?

This is what trips us up most of the time.  We only want certain changes, not all of them.  We want our finances to change for the better.  We want our body to be healed.  But…then again, do I really want to watch less TV and have a deeper prayer life?  This power affects it all.  That’s why we hesitate to go for it.

In order to walk in the manifestation of God’s power, I have to be open for everything to change.  It’s an all or nothing proposition.  I have to come to God with the expectation that my whole life will change when He touches me.

Question: How much change are you willing to go through for God’s power to be manifest in your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on February 19, 2018 in Power of God, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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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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Work Your Field

In my last post, I talked about the demon-possessed man that Jesus set free.  The demons left the man and went into some pigs, which drowned themselves.  When the people of the area saw what had happened, they were afraid.

Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
Mark 5:17

When the power of God starts to bring change; people begin to resist it.  That’s been the case throughout all of history.

But there was one person who was glad about the change.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him.
Mark 5:18

This man had been released from his captivity.  He wanted to follow Jesus wherever He went.   God had a different plan for him.  This man was to stay in his home area.

Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him.  And all the people were amazed.
Mark 5:19-20

Too often the Lord’s people think that the only way they can do a big work for God is to be a pastor or missionary.  Maybe they look down on their abilities because they never attended a Bible college.

That’s never been the prerequisite for doing great things for the Lord.  All it takes is a knowledge of what Christ has accomplished in you.  If you understand God’s love for you, then you’re qualified to tell others.

It’s amazing how God takes us where we are, and increases our influence by His power.  This man was simply told to go to his family and share what Jesus did for him.  He was to explain to them the love of God.

I’m sure that’s where this man started.  But the grace of God couldn’t be contained in his little house.  He felt the drive to bring the Good News even further.

The word used in Scripture to describe him telling the Decapolis is the word for a town crier.  He proclaimed Jesus in the public square at the top of his lungs!  He wanted everyone to know how the Lord had changed his life.

In all of this, God had a plan that was being accomplished.  The people of this area started out being afraid and skeptical of Jesus.  They didn’t want him around.

But as this man started sharing his story, the mood began to change.  The people realized that the Messiah had come on the scene.  Their attitudes turned around.

How do I know this?  Two chapters after this, in Mark 7, Jesus returns to this area.  Instead of asking Him to leave, they bring the sick to Christ for healing.  This man prepared his region to receive Jesus.

So don’t ever think that your efforts for Christ are wasted.  Even if you seem to be in a small area, God can do a great work through you.  Just remain in His will, doing what He’s called you to do.

Question: What is God’s current assignment upon your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Encouragement, The Gospel, Ministry

 

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Are We Lion Tamers?

As we continue our walk through Mark’s Gospel, we now come to chapter 5.  It begins with Jesus encountering a demon-possessed man who lived in the tombs.  Because of the length of the passage, I can’t show it all here.  I suggest that you read Mark 5:1-17 before proceeding.

In this section of Scripture, we see a man tormented by the enemy.  Night and day he would be crying out in agony and cutting himself with rocks.  When people tried to bring him into custody, the demons would give him the strength to break any form of shackles.

The description that Mark gives is very interesting.  Look at what verse 4 tells us.

For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet.  No one was strong enough to subdue him.
Mark 5:4

The word, subdue, in this verse literally means to tame, like a wild animal.  Many people enjoy going to a zoo or a circus to see a wild animal show.  They watch as the lion tamers guide their huge cats around the ring.

I think this is how we get into trouble sometimes.  This man was under the control of the devil’s power.  Yet there were people trying to tame him.

They were just like many Christians today who are trying to tame the enemy’s kingdom.  They want it to work for them.  They think that they can receive all of the benefits of the world, with none of the hurts.  I wish that were true.

The Bible teaches that the enemy is not to be played with.

Be self-controlled and alert.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8

The goal of the enemy is to destroy your life.  But he can’t do it with a frontal assault because we’re protected by the power of God at work in us.

However, if he can get us to lay down our spiritual armor, then we’re open to his attack.  If it suits his purpose, the enemy can pretend to be tamed long enough for us to feel secure in playing with him.  Yet, we don’t realize that we’re walking right into his trap.

The principles of the kingdom of God and seeking to be a friend of the world don’t mix.  You have to choose one or the other.  Straddling the fence will bring your life to ruin.

The Lord understood how to handle the work of the devil.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
1 John 3:8b

Our goal should be the same as that of Christ.  We should live to set the captives free.  All the while we must watch ourselves so that we’re not captivated by the world.

The power of God did more than just tame the demon-possessed man.  He was set free and his life was totally renewed by the power of God.  That’s the type of victory we should be seeking in our generation.

But it will require us to spend time in the Father’s presence just as Jesus did.

Question: What are some areas that you see the need for Christ to set people free?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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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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The Mustard Tree

In looking at the parables of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, we will continue with the Parable of the Mustard Seed.  This will give us some insights into how the kingdom of God should be growing.

Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it?  It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground.  Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade.”
Mark 4:30-32

First, let me say that unless you know the region, this parable can’t be understood properly.  There are a few different species of “mustard” that are common around the world.  The one that can grow into a tree is not the one where we get the yellow goop for our hot dogs.

The seed for the mustard tree is tiny.  This speaks of the small origin of the church.  Jesus Christ was one man.  But He wasn’t just a man.  He was God made flesh.

When He was planted; the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection birthed an eternal kingdom.  But that’s one of the keys.  For this plant to grow, it has to be planted under just the right conditions.  That’s why Jesus had to emphasize over and over that in His ministry, everything had to be fulfilled according to the Father’s plan.

Another thing about this plant – it germinates quickly and grows slowly, but steadily.  God’s kingdom is unstoppable.  Many have tried to put an end to it, without success.  That’s because it’s a kingdom born and nourished in the spirit.  God is at work in the lives of His people.

As I said earlier, this isn’t the mustard we think of in talking about condiments and seasonings.  However, the leaves and fruit of this tree are edible and have a slight, mustardy flavor.  So animals and people can derive nourishment from it.

That brings me to my last point.  The mustard plant is very hardy.  Once it takes root, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to remove.  Because of this fact, the mustard tree is used throughout the Middle East and Africa for land reclamation.

Because it thrives in hot, arid climates; it can turn deserts into habitable places again.  And isn’t that one of the mandates of God’s plan?  We are to bring life to the dead places around us.

Of course, not everybody sees it that way.  Because it’s so hard to remove, people either view the mustard plant as a beneficial tree or a troublesome weed.  Some spend a lot of time and resources to remove it.

That’s how the church is described sometimes.  Paul had this to say about it.

For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.  And who is equal to such a task?
2 Corinthians 2:15-16

As for me, I’m grateful to be found in the kingdom of God.  As I continue; I look forward to His grace, power, and blessing that he desires to manifest through His people.

Question: How have you experienced the unstoppable growth of God’s kingdom?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2018 in Power of God, The Church

 

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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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