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The Triumph of the Cross

For the last few posts, I’ve been talking about the crucifixion of Christ.  It always amazes me what He went through to purchase our salvation.  You may want to read Mark 15:25-39 before continuing with this post.

In this passage of Scripture, we see Jesus hanging on the cross.  The Messiah and true King of Israel, dying for the sins of mankind.

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So!  You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” 
In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves.  “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!  Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.”  Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
Mark 15:29-32

This scene holds an important truth.  The religious leaders are taunting and insulting the Lord.  They think that His desire is not to die.  After all, that would be the natural reaction of anyone being put to death.

The fact that Christ was enduring this with a greater goal in mind never figured into their thinking.  They were looking for Him to try and escape death.  The Lord saw His death as a means to an end.

This should speak to us.  When we know that God has called us to accomplish something, there will always be those who doubt and ridicule.  If we stand on God’s Word, however, these people can’t hinder our progress.

Scripture is clear that those who only think in the natural can never understand those who walk according to the Spirit.  The natural walk involves feelings and logic.  These don’t always work in bringing about God’s will.

At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”- which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”
Mark 15:33-35

It’s clear that the religious leaders don’t even understand what He’s saying.  The Lord quotes a Messianic Psalm (Psalm 22:1) and they think He’s asking Elijah for help.  But in spite of the ridicule, unbelief, and pain, Christ endured it all to the final victory.

With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
Mark 15:37-39

The power that was released because of Christ’s obedience is beyond comprehension.  You need to realize that the curtain in the Temple was not a mere piece of cloth.  It was made of leather panels stitched together.  It was tested by placing it between two teams of oxen.  If they couldn’t tear it, then it was ready for the Temple.

In the same way, the power of God is released in us when we walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit.  There may be trials along the way.  There may even be people who ridicule and tell us we’re wrong to trust God.

Have faith in God’s Word and do what you’re called to do, then see the hand of God work mightily in your life!

Question: How have you been ridiculed for your faith in God’s Word?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on September 7, 2018 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Warfare

 

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Courage Under Fire

How bold are you when you see trouble coming in your future?  Are you willing to stand your ground and face it head-on?  Or, like so many, do you simply ignore it and hope that it goes away?

As we look at the life of Christ in the Gospel of Mark, we see His time with the disciples at the Last Supper.  Keep in mind that because this is the first of the gospels to be written, the Holy Spirit only inspired Mark to give the “bare bones” of what happened at this meal.

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve.  While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me — one who is eating with me.”
They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely not I?”
Mark 14:17-19

Mark shows us the disciples’ reaction to the revelation that one of their own would betray Christ.  The word, betray, in this verse means to surrender over.  Somebody was going to turn the Lord in to the authorities.

The effect was that they were distressed by this knowledge.  It hurt them.  In one sense, most of them felt that they would never do such a thing.  On the other hand, Jesus had never been wrong in any of His predictions.  The reality of the situation was overwhelming.

The men with Jesus must have felt a great grief come over them.  But in spite of this emotional upheaval, it’s not the disciples that I want to concentrate on.  It’s the attitude of Christ that we need to examine.

“It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me.  The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him.  But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
Mark 14:20-21

The Lord reveals that it is indeed one of His twelve closest friends who will do this deed.  It would be someone who is in fellowship, eating at the same table.  In that culture, sharing a meal was one of the most intimate things that friends did.

Jesus makes it clear that this would not turn out well for the betrayer.  There will come a time when he will wish he had never been born.  His guilt will eventually destroy his life.

But it’s the statement Christ makes about Himself that really gets my attention.  He said that He would go just as it was written about Him.

That word, go, in the Greek, means to lead oneself.  He was stating that He was more than willing to walk the road that was laid out for Him in the Scripture.

Jesus knew what was ahead.  The cross was not taking Him by surprise.  He saw it and was progressing toward it with boldness and conviction.  That had always been the goal of Christ’s ministry on earth and nothing would prevent Him from accomplishing it.

We need to walk in that same conviction when it comes to following the will of God for our lives.  Too often we let the problems, challenges, and distraction of life sidetrack us from the straight and narrow path.

We must realize that the spiritual struggle can only be won with the Lord’s strength operating through us.  Time spent in His presence will assure us the victory.  So we won’t need to fret over the challenges we see coming down the road toward us.  Stand strong in the Lord!

Question: How has time in the Lord’s presence helped you to overcome the obstacles of life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Voice of the Spirit

As we continue through Mark’s Gospel, it’s now the day of the Last Supper.  The disciples have no idea what’s about to take place during this feast.  All they know is that the Passover needs to be celebrated.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you.  Follow him.  Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’  He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready.  Make preparations for us there.”
Mark 14:12-15

To understand the importance of this passage, you must first understand the relationship between Christ and His disciples.  At that time, the role of Jesus to His disciples was the same as the Holy Spirit is to us today.

Remember that Jesus told His followers that He would send another Counsellor to lead and guide them.  The Holy Spirit wants to lead us in the same way that the Lord led His disciples.  That’s why it’s so important for us to develop sensitivity to the voice of the Spirit.

It’s sad that so many Christians think that God no longer works in this way.  I personally believe that the Holy Spirit still desires to operate through the church.  It’s the manifestation of the Gifts of the Spirit that will draw unbelievers to a saving knowledge of Christ.

In this instance, Jesus is functioning in the gifts of Prophecy and the Word of Knowledge.  Notice how specific His instructions are.  I believe that the Holy Spirit will be just that detailed with us if we’ll place ourselves in a position to hear Him.

What was the response of the disciples to this astounding instruction?

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them.  So they prepared the Passover.
Mark 14:16

This simple statement shows the trust that had developed between Christ and His followers.  There was no question or hesitation.  They just went and did exactly as they were told.

So often we find two different extremes in the body of Christ these days.  The first is that some Christians come up with elaborate stories of what the Holy Spirit “told” them.  Then, a few days later the “spirit” tells them something that sounds just the opposite.

On the other hand, I’ve heard people who feel impressed to do or say something.  They don’t follow through on it.  Then, when it’s too late, they realize that they’d heard from the Holy Spirit and missed the opportunity for a blessing.  (I’ve been guilty of this more than once.)

We need to spend quality time in the spirit.  That’s where trust and sensitivity are developed.  I believe that’s why the disciples had an easier time hearing from the Spirit once Christ had ascended.  They simply transferred their focus to the voice of the Spirit.

Spend the time necessary to learn to hear and obey the Spirit.  I believe that’s where the Lord is leading His church in this generation.  It’s through hearing and obeying that we’ll see the end-time harvest of souls before the return of Christ.

Question: What can you do to develop a listening ear in the spirit?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2018 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Knowing and Doing

I’ve been posting about how James exhorts us to keep watch over our speaking. Today we will deal with how submitted we are to God. It’s a passage of Scripture that, I think, is usually misunderstood.

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
James 4:13-14

In order to understand this passage, you need to see the assumptions that James is making. He’s speaking to believers who have no care about God’s will for their life. How do I know this?

First of all, they say “we will” go there, we will buy and sell, and we will make money. They’re saying all of this without ever knowing what’s really going to happen. They didn’t go on this trip because they felt the Lord impressing them to go. It was all about their desire.

This is clear from the next verses.

Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
James 4:15-17

When James says that you boast and brag, it literally means that you rejoice in your self-confidence. That’s the key to what he’s speaking of; SELF confidence. When we’re confident in what we can achieve, we usually forget about God and His desire for our lives.

One of the problems in translating is that there’s not much punctuation in the original Greek. There’s sometimes more than one way to read a verse depending on which word you emphasize. I believe that, in the context of what James is saying here, a better way of reading the first line is, “Instead, you ought to speak if it’s the Lord’s will, and live, and do this or that.”

It’s all about spending time with the Lord, knowing His will, and then speaking about what He’s told us to do. If you’re going to do something, do it because you feel led of the Holy Spirit.

I think that makes more sense in light of the last sentence in the above passage. I don’t believe that James is just adding some random thought about doing good. It’s all a part of the same exhortation.

You need to know that you’re in the center of God’s will. Of course, that’s why many choose not to seek God’s will. They’re afraid that it won’t agree with what they want to do.

Once you’ve spent the time and effort to know God’s plan for your life, you can’t simply ignore it. The Holy Spirit would continue to remind you and draw to complete your calling. Some people feel that it’s better just to do what they want and never ask God.

Many people make doing their own thing sound holy. They say, “I’m going to do this, God willing.” What they mean is, “This is what I want to do and I hope God doesn’t stop me from doing it.” At least that’s what I meant when I used to say that.

The key is that we need to know what God wants us to do before we start doing it. If God wants it accomplished, then it’s blessed without me even asking for a blessing. If it’s not God’s will, it won’t be blessed no matter how hard I pray for it.

Spend quality time in God’s presence. In that way you’ll know that what you’re doing is of God. You can then walk in the assurance that everything you put your hand to will be blessed.

Question: What has the Lord called you to accomplish for Him?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Ministry, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Holy Spirit Guidance

GPSI’m posting about how the closer we walk with God – the more He shows us of Himself. This is key if we truly want to know Christ.

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

I want to know Christ. Our vocabulary is watered down sometimes. We talk about how long we’ve known Christ, but we mean how long we’ve been saved. Our salvation and truly knowing Christ are two separate issues entirely.

When you walk with Christ for the purpose of knowing Him better, things start to take place.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

You will not walk in darkness. In other words, the Holy Spirit will begin to guide you every step of the way. You don’t have to wander around through life. The direction to go will be clear.

This is how Jesus lived and ministered when He was with the disciples.

Then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light.”
John 11:7-10

The Lord was led by the Spirit in all that He did. He didn’t go somewhere just because it was expected of Him. On the other hand, He didn’t stay away because of a fear of being killed.

Fear of the future is one of humanity’s greatest fears. We worry about what’s ahead all the time. But if we walk with Christ, listening to the voice of His Spirit, then we need not fear.

If the Spirit is leading, then He’s also protecting.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.
Psalms 138:7

That’s why we need to cultivate a close relationship with the Holy Spirit. He’s our guide through all the uncertainties of life.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
Isaiah 30:21

I love this verse. In it I see the Holy Spirit as my “Life GPS”. We can’t afford to live without His presence.

Question: What was the last guidance you received from the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2016 in Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Walk of Sonship

 

FallenI want to take a few posts to talk about the concept of sonship. I want to begin this study by reminding you of the Scripture we looked at regarding the power of the Spirit. We talked about this verse when we dealt with how praying in the spirit brought about a change in the way you live. Indeed, both miracles and the walk of righteousness come from spending time in the spirit.

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…
Romans 8:13

At that point I was only looking at the concept of righteousness. Now I want to move on to the next verse which brings us deeper into this truth.

…because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
Romans 8:14

The Word of God is clear. Those who are led by the Holy Spirit are sons. Understand this – if you’re saved, then the Holy Spirit is leading you. As a matter of fact, the Spirit of God is leading even if you’re not following. He’s gently waiting for you to catch up with Him. Why is this?

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:26-29

Now, reading this, I find it interesting that Paul tells us that we’re of the seed of Abraham, and not Moses. Abraham followed God in a walk of faith that worked righteousness in him. He allowed himself to be led by God. So Abraham operated as a son of God. This is because “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:15-17

This is an incredible truth. Sonship is how we explain the relationship of “ever increasing glory”. Because the Holy Spirit is working in us, leading us from glory to glory, we are seen to be sons of God.

Please understand that even though we are adopted as sons of God, Jesus Christ is THE only begotten Son of the Father. We are not equal in position or authority to Him. He is the Head of the Church. That needs to be made clear.

However, even in our position as adopted children, Sonship is a position of power. This is because the Holy Spirit Himself testifies that we are sons. He does this as He bestows the power of God upon us. As the Spirit does His work in us, we have the likeness of Christ ever-increasing in us.

Question: How is the relationship of Sonship different than that of a slave?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2014 in Power of God, Sonship

 

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Is Christ Really Our Example? #Christourexample

JesusI am posting about how Christ walked in the power of the Spirit.  He’s our example for a life of victory over the power of the enemy.

You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Acts 10:37-38

This was the theme throughout the ministry of Christ.  Whoever sought help to escape the enemy’s grasp was set free by the Lord.  The reason He could accomplish this is because His anointing was based upon the power of the Holy Spirit.  By the way, this is the same Holy Spirit who’s now resident in us.

So, the big question is why was He able to heal?  Was it because of the Old Testament promises that spoke of healing?  No, it was because God, the Holy Spirit, was with Him.  What we need to come to grips with is the fact that God wants to heal.  He doesn’t want anyone bound by the power of the enemy.

So we can see clearly that Jesus’ power was from the Spirit, not from the law.  It’s vitally important that we understand this truth.  This is the key.

To aid in our realization of this we’ll look at the best example that the Gospel record gives us.  We will go to the section of Scripture where the devil and Jesus have their first battle – in the wilderness.  The accounts of both Matthew and Luke, together, show the fullness of what happened during this time in Jesus’ life.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert…
Luke 4:1

The first thing that we see is that the Lord Jesus allowed Himself to be led by the Spirit.  That means that this encounter wasn’t an accident.  This event was part of the strategy for victory over sin.

…where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
Luke 4:2

When Jesus went into the wilderness His intention was to meet with the Father.  His desire was to fast and pray for the ministry He was about to begin.  In order to do this, Jesus fasted for forty days.

This brings up an interesting question.  How important to us is walking in God’s power?  How far are we willing to go to obtain it?  Are we willing to do a long term fast?  Spend time in the wilderness, away from all distractions, seeking God?  In most cases I see believers who live for themselves and are simply “trusting God for a breakthrough.”

If we want to see the results of Christ, we need to walk His walk.

Question: How far are you willing to go to walk in the power of God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2013 in Legalism, Power of God

 

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