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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 Biggest Mistake

We’re continuing to look at the Gospel of Mark.  At this point, the Pharisees are trying to trip up Jesus in His words.  They’re not doing very well at it.

In Mark chapter 12, verses 18 through 27, a group of Sadducees come to question the Lord.  You may want to read this section of Scripture before continuing in this post.

As a religious sect of Israel, the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection of the dead.  They also don’t believe in angels, demons, or miracles.

This group came to Jesus with an insane question about seven brothers who all had the same wife.  This happened because each brother died and the wife was passed down to the next oldest brother.

They asked Jesus who the wife would be married to in the resurrection.  They thought that this proved the resurrection was simply a foolish idea.

The Lord has a way of getting right to the heart of the matter.

Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?  When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.  Now about the dead rising — have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the bush, how God said to him, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?  He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.  You are badly mistaken!”
Mark 12:24-27

This group of Sadducees had found a way to live for themselves and still sleep soundly at night.  They decided that there was no resurrection and, therefore, no judgment, heaven or hell.  They didn’t have to worry about any consequences for their actions.

Jesus didn’t pull any punches with them.  He told them exactly what they needed to hear.

The word, error that Jesus used means to roam around.  They’re not on the right path.  They’ve decided to go off on their own way.

The Lord then shows them the clear teaching of Scripture.  The Bible plainly shows us the fact of the resurrection again and again.  These men had chosen to ignore it for their own selfish purposes.

It’s important that we hear what the Lord is saying. There are many issues where we’re guilty of missing the truth.

Jesus tells us the underlying reasons why we leave the path of God’s truth.  First, we don’t know the Scripture.  That’s the knowledge that comes from experience.  We get in trouble because we don’t want to apply the Scripture to our personal lives.

The second issue is just as important – not knowing the power of God.  We have to understand that God is powerful enough to accomplish anything that He says in His Word.

It’s our humanity that looks at our experience and comes up with all kinds of excuses for our lack of power.

“My cousin prayed and believed God for a healing, but he died.  So healing isn’t for everyone.”

Truly, I’m sorry for those who are not healed when they pray.  But that still doesn’t change what the Scripture says, or God’s power toward those who believe.  Throughout Scripture, we’re told that Jesus paid for our healing on the cross.

“I don’t believe that prayer in tongues or miracles are for today.”

Again, that doesn’t change the Word or God’s power.  Jesus clearly said that His disciples couldn’t bring the Gospel to the world without this experience.  Are you really going to tell me that we don’t need this power in our lives today?

We need to get back to a true understanding of both the Word of God and the power of God.

Question: How has the Scripture and God’s power played an important role in your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Receiving the Blessing

Have you ever thought about what it takes to receive God’s blessing?  Many go forward in meetings wanting to be prayed over for a blessing.  Do you know that how you receive it is the most important part?

Jesus understood this and it was a part of His ministry.

People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.
Mark 10:13-14a

To understand this principle we’ll look at an incident in the life of Christ.  There were some parents who wanted Jesus to bless their children by laying His hands on them.

The disciples were going to have none of that.  After all, no one wants a group of rowdy children running around the Messiah.  It’s not dignified!

When He saw what His disciples were doing, the Lord got angry.  The Greek words of this verse imply that He was bent out of shape.  Jesus loved having children around Him.

He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.  I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”
Mark 10:14b-15

The Lord then says some interesting things.  He tells us that there’s something that everyone needs to do like a child.  That is to receive the kingdom of God.  As a matter of fact, Jesus said that if you don’t receive it first, you can’t enter the kingdom.

That’s because, to a child, the word of an adult is absolute truth.  If you tell them that you’re going to take them for Ice cream at 6:00, then they’re waiting by the door at 5:50.  It’s their ability to accept as truth whatever is spoken to them that Christ is commending.

It’s also the basis for receiving anything in God’s kingdom.  It’s the assumption that God’s Word is total truth before we even hear it.

I think this is where we get in trouble sometimes.  We hear God’s Word.  We wonder if it sounds possible or not.  Then we try to work up the faith to believe the Word.  That’s not how it should be.

Paul understood this principle.

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:4-5

When God’s power is being demonstrated in the church, I begin to see just how powerful He is.  The understanding of that power gives me the assumption that whatever God says, He can perform.  After that, walking in faith isn’t a problem.

These children were ready to receive whatever the Lord had for them.

And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
Mark 10:16

When the Scripture says that Jesus blessed them, it literally means that He spoke a blessing over each one.  I believe that the Lord spoke a personal Word of prophecy over each child.  He was looking forward to what each one was called to accomplish in his or her life.

As children, each one was able to believe the Word spoken to them and they received it in perfect faith.  That’s what we need to do if we want to see the blessing of God active in our lives and ministries.

Question: What blessings have been spoken over your life in the past?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2018 in Faith, Power of God, Prayer, Word of God

 

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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

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

 

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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

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

 

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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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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, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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