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The Word Confirmed

This will be my final post dealing with the Gospel of Mark.  It closes with an important key to the power that was evident in the early church.

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.  Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.
Mark 16:19-20

This verse literally says that the Lord was a co-worker with them.  They did their work – proclaiming the Word of God.  Then the Lord did His part – confirming the Word that was proclaimed.  Miracles were commonplace.  As the disciples went out, the Word of God spread, and there were signs and wonders everywhere they went.

Here’s the foundation for the power that was manifest through them.  The Bible says that when they went out, they preached the Word.  How do you see this in your mind’s eye?  What did they do, specifically?

Do you picture them walking into town, calling a meeting, and then saying, “Turn with me in your Bibles to John 3:16.”?  That’s how we do it; but did they preach that way?

If you know your history, then you understand that nothing could be further from the truth.  When this verse was written about them, they had no Bibles.  They couldn’t preach Scripture.

“Wait a minute, Pastor Nick, they had the Old Testament.  They could use that to preach.”

First of all, most Christians of that day only knew a smattering of Old Testament Scripture.  Secondly, they would have no access to an Old Testament “Bible”.

The Scripture was written on scrolls with painstaking detail.  In order to afford a copy of the Scriptures, you would need to be the equivalent of a multi-millionaire.  Then if you did purchase it, you would need a storage space the size of a small living room to house it.  Let’s face it; the normal Christian had no access to a Bible.

Yet, we’re told that they “preached the Word” wherever they went.  What is the Word that they preached?  The answer is simple – they preached what they received in their intimate times with the Lord.

As they did, an amazing thing happened.  The Lord began confirming what they had heard from Him.

I think that part of our problem is that we’ve become spoiled by an abundance of the availability of Scripture.  Bibles are everywhere.  I personally have about 20 Bibles.  That doesn’t even take into consideration all of the Bibles I have access to online.

Please understand what I’m saying.  This proliferation of Scripture is a great thing.  The availability and accessibility of the Bible to all people is a wonderful blessing.

You would think that with so much Scripture around, there would be more salvations, healings, and miracles.  Instead, what we see is a greater rise of worldliness – even among God’s people.

The problem is not that we need more Scripture.  What we do need is more of the Word of God.  The more I hear from God, the more power I have to live for God.

This is how Jesus, the Apostles, and the early church lived out their faith.  The Holy Spirit confirmed that they had heard from Him.  Signs, wonders, and miracles were common.  God’s people need to get back to that intimate place where they not only know the written Word but are also hearing a Word from the Lord, Himself.

Question: How would the face of Christianity change if a majority of believers were hearing from God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on September 19, 2018 in Power of God, Prayer, Revival, Word of God

 

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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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Planting the Word

Our Supply in GodI’ve been posting from First Thessalonians. In my last article we saw how Paul was a spiritual father to those he ministered to. Because of that, the people were more willing to receive from his ministry.

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13

God is a co-worker with us and it’s His job to confirm His Word with signs and wonders. When receiving the Word of God, that’s the mindset I must bring with me. I want to hear from God. He’s using a human being to distribute this Word, but I want what God has for me.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
2 Corinthians 9:10

This verse explains what God provides for us. Even though the context is talking about finances, Paul makes it clear that the scope is far greater by calling it the harvest of your righteousness.

One major principle is that God provides bread for food. That’s the logos of God. It’s the Word that can give you immediate benefit. It’s readily digestible and palatable.

There’s also another major truth found here. It deals with sowing. If you’re a sower – you want the long-term benefits of the Word of God – then you’re seeking rhema from God. God is willing and able to drop the grain of rhema into your spirit.

The key is that you must be seeking this blessing. It doesn’t happen by accident. You need the attitude that says, “Sure, I hear Pastor Nick preaching, but I want to receive a Word from God.”

God desires to give His Word in all of its forms to anyone that will listen and receive. By the power of His Spirit, He gives both at the same time. God sends the digestible logos of preaching right along with the raw rhema from the mouth of God Himself.

Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Galatians 3:5

This question that Paul asks summarizes the entire scope of this teaching. Paul literally asks how does God fully supply you with His Spirit and activate His miraculous power in you? That’s the question of the hour. It’s what the church desperately needs to learn and lay hold of. It’s what the world is dying to see in operation.

I believe that it’s this truth that will usher in the end time harvest of souls before the coming of the Lord. The answer that Paul gives is that the Spirit is given and His power is activated in you by the hearing of faith.

This is where the power of God resides. It’s not a work of the law. It only comes as I hear His voice and let it inspire faith in me. This is the foundation for the miraculous. God and I as co-workers.

He’s looking for someone who’ll listen for His voice. It’s time for the church to enter that intimate place with the Lord. Only then will we see the glory of God released through His people.

Question: What’s your mindset while hearing the Word preached or taught?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2017 in Faith, Power of God, Word of God

 

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Are We Hearing?

AloneWhen you hear the term Word of God, what comes to mind? I’ve been posting from the first chapter of the book of James – the first New Testament Scripture to be written. Our understanding of the Word makes a difference in how we view what James is saying.

I’m convinced that when James talks about the Word, he’s not talking about Scripture, since the New Testament hadn’t been written yet. He’s talking about hearing a Word from God, either through your spirit in prayer or by anointed preaching and teaching.

I believe that it was this truth that made the difference in the lives of those early believers. I also believe that the next move of God in the church will be the restoration of our ability to hear a Word from Him on a consistent basis.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
James 1:22

This verse follows right on the heels of James telling us to accept the Word planted in us, which can save us. Now we’re told how to accept it.

The key word in this verse is listen. The word he uses is hearing – one of the five senses. Notice that he didn’t say we were not to merely read the Word. This is a Word that has to be heard.

There’s another point that we gloss over. If this is the first Scripture of the New Testament, and if James was referring to Old Testament Scripture when he talked about the Word; then he’s telling us to do what the Old Testament says.

That would mean we were to continue the sacrificial system and all the Law of Moses. We know for a fact that this goes against everything that Christ accomplished on the cross.

So when James tells us not to deceive ourselves, that’s not really our problem. Many believers aren’t even hearing a Word from God, let alone hearing and not doing.

The normal Christian thinks that it’s the job of the pastor, teacher, or minister to hear from God. It’s never been God’s plan to have an exclusive club of special people who hear His voice. God even made that clear to Israel.

“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
Exodus 19:5-6

God’s plan was for all His people to be His priests. It wasn’t until Israel became afraid at the foot of Mt. Sinai, that they told Moses not to let God speak to them anymore. The Lord wants a people who will hear, listen, and respond to His voice.

We wonder sometimes why there was such a manifestation of the miraculous in the early church. It’s not because God changed His way of operating. It’s because His people stopped listening to His instructions.

When we spend time in God’s presence, we hear the Holy Spirit speaking to us. Then, when we follow through on what we’ve heard, we enter the realm of miracles. We start to see the power of God active in us on a consistent basis.

I believe that this is where the Lord is leading His church in our generation. Be a part of what God is doing. Spend quality time in His presence, listening for His voice.

Question: How much time do you spend before God just listening for His voice?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Where’s the Power?

PowerWhere is the manifestation of the power of God in the church today? It grieves me to see the state of powerlessness that we accept as normal in our generation. I read the Book of Acts and see a world shaken by the testimony of the saints. Healing, prophecy, and miracles were common events. Where’s the power?

I think about the days of revival that have burned throughout this nation’s history. From the Great Awakening to the Charismatic Renewal, there have been many outpourings of God’s strength. How did we lose what was gained? Why are there so few churches that portray the full ministry of Jesus? It drives me to my knees to find an answer. Where’s the power?

When I pray over the sick and few are healed. When I see so many in my congregation burdened with financial need. When I stand with those who are bound by habitual sins that never seem to break. This and more causes me to cry out “Oh God, where’s the power?”

We have become very adept at explaining away and excusing our lack of power. We proclaim that we want to see the power of God at work. But, we continue to do the same thing over and over while expecting different results. That’s insanity. If we’re to experience a new result, we must step out in a new direction. I want this blog to be a catalyst for that kind of change in the body of Christ.

Please understand, I’m not so foolish as to think that God has left us. I don’t believe that He’s stopped working on the earth. No, I believe that if there’s a problem it rests on the human side of the equation. My quest is to find the solution for that problem.

I began to pray and study the Scripture concerning power. God started dealing with me about the major issues that are hindering the flow of His power through us. These hindrances include attitudes and teachings that we have allowed to creep into the church. Many of them sound good on the surface, but they’re short circuiting the power of God in our lives.

I did a lot of repenting over my foolishness as I uncovered new truths that have been ignored in the Word. We, as the church, have been majoring on things that make us fail to draw on the power of the Lord. I believe that now is the time for us to re-examine our ways. It’s time to set our spiritual feet upon the correct paths.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…
Acts 3:19

If your desire is to see a manifestation of the power of God in your life, then be prepared for some major changes. Some of the things the Lord brought before me in Scripture challenged the very core of what I thought I believed. But I decided to try it His way rather than continuing in my own ineffectiveness. It’s a choice you’ll have to make if you intend on walking in power.

Question: Is there anybody out there hungry for revival?

© Nicolas Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on June 20, 2016 in Power of God, Revival, The Church

 

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The Prayer of Faith?

cross 2Divine healing is a controversial subject these days. Even among those who believe that God heals, there seems to be a discouragement surrounding it. I think we need to see what church life was like under the original apostles.

Based upon my studies, I believe that the book of James was the first of the New Testament to be written. James was the Senior Pastor of the church of Jerusalem. His book deals with the basics of living for Christ.

I’ve found that the book of James is a Holy Spirit inspired training manual for new believers. In it, James deals with many foundational issues. Toward the end he deals with divine healing. He uses very strong language to get his point across.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.
James 5:13-15

It seems to me that there are not many who teach healing out of this passage anymore. It’s far too radical for modern Christianity – even among “Faith Churches”. James is very bold in his declaration of the place of healing in the church.

He asks, “Is any one of you sick?” This is not reserved for only the strong in faith. This is not limited to those who have been “confessing their healing” for months. This is clearly written to anyone who’s sick.

He leaves no wiggle room for doubt in God’s purpose. There’s no mention of God wanting to heal some and leaving others sick in order to teach them something.

He states this in no uncertain terms. Not “maybe”, “sometimes”, or “in most cases”. He says, “The prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.” He even repeats himself for emphasis, “The Lord will raise him up.”

More than that, he goes on to use the exact same wording for the forgiveness of sin. Would anyone ever doubt the forgiveness of the Lord? Would you ever add, “if it’s God’s will,” to a prayer for forgiveness?

You would never entertain the thought that if someone confessed their sin to God, they may or might not be forgiven, depending on God’s will for their life. Yet, in context, healing is portrayed with the same level of certainty.

As a matter of fact, James is so emphatic in the Greek, that I would be afraid to ask him about it if I had the chance. I could only imagine how that meeting would go. I can see myself sitting in his office asking him, “What should I do if I pray over someone for healing and they’re not healed?”

I am concerned that he would look me straight in the eye, and with a serious tone, say to me, “Then you need to get saved.”

Question: Do you have any experience with divine healing? Should it be more evident in the church?

© 2016 Nicolas Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2016 in Faith, Prayer, Revival, What's Missing?

 

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The Pattern of Faith and Obedience

ProfitI’m posting about the miracle of Jesus turning the water into wine. In my last article we saw that Jesus had not stepped into His role as Messiah yet. In this one instance He’s acting as God in the flesh.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
John 2:7-8

In this passage, Jesus is speaking as God – not man. The servants are hearing the Word of God. What will they do with what they hear?

Step one is easy. It takes no faith at all to fill the jars with water. That in itself must have taken a lot of time. Each jar held about 20 to 30 gallons. Drawing water from a well was time consuming.

It’s the same thing in our lives. The first part of faith is the easy stuff. We hear the Word of God to us. We accept it, meditate on it, and declare it.

Then comes step two, when you have to trust in the Word of God. The hard part for the servants was when Jesus told then to take this “water” to the master of the banquet for him to taste. They would have looked like fools if nothing had happened.

That’s why it’s important for us to continue to do what we know to do. We walk by faith in the Word of God. Even when it doesn’t look like anything out of the ordinary is happening. It’s the obedience of faith that brings about the miracle.

Hearing God’s Word is not enough. We need to move ahead and walk in it. That’s the sign that we truly believe it. That’s when the world sees that Jesus is Lord.

Through this miracle, the disciples got a glimpse into who Jesus really was. He wasn’t just a good teacher with a message for Israel. He was God taking on flesh to reveal Himself to lost humanity.

That’s why the Gospel says…

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
John 2:11

The word first in this passage literally means the first in priority. It doesn’t mean the first in order – like 1, 2, 3. (Actually, the first miracle recorded by John was when Jesus saw Nathaniel under the tree before they met.)

What this verse is saying is that the miracle of turning the water into wine was the most important miracle of Jesus. It was through this that He revealed to the disciples that He was God. It proved to them that they could trust His Word.

When the Lord spoke to them, they knew that whatever He said would come to pass just as He said it would. We need to operate on that level of faith.

That’s how the words of Jesus are introduced to us in the Gospel of John. That’s why it’s so important for us to understand that John was writing to the church. It’s for God’s people to learn to walk the same way Jesus did.

The church needs to learn this lesson. If we want to see miracles to a greater degree it will require more than just church attendance. Listening to God’s Word is not enough. Hearing and obeying must become the pattern of our walk with God.

We need to be praying for the grace to hear and obey. Pray for the power of the Lord to be evidenced in us. The power to walk His road, hear His voice, and then to follow through on His instructions.

Question: What were the last instructions that you heard from the Lord that you need to obey?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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