RSS

Tag Archives: preaching

Asking the Wrong Questions

Did you know that the questions you ask tell a lot about who you are?  It can bring out your motives and prejudices.

As we continue to look at the life of Christ in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus now arrives back at His hometown of Nazareth.

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples.  When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed.
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles!  Isn’t this the carpenter?  Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon?  Aren’t his sisters here with us?”  And they took offense at him.
Mark 6:1-3

Here Jesus is preaching in the synagogue He grew up in.  They were friends and family who probably knew Him His whole life.  They asked Him to preach on the Sabbath, so the Lord agreed.

Just like in other places, when He spoke, the power and authority of the Spirit were evident.  There was a life-changing quality in what He was speaking.

Unfortunately, people don’t want to change.  Even more so, they don’t want to admit that they need to change.  The result was that their emotional walls started to come up.

They were truly amazed at what Jesus was teaching.  But they had to justify why they didn’t receive it.

Notice what they do.  They focus on the man, not the Word.

“Where did this man get these things?”

After all, He’s one of us, and we don’t know these things.  They had to explain away the Lord’s teaching.

“I know His family.”

“I hired Him and His father to build my house.”

“Why does He think He’s so special all of a sudden?”

As they started thinking along this path, they were offended.  That’s an interesting word.  In the Greek, it’s a word picture of a trap-stick to catch small animals like birds.

This kind of thinking; looking at the person and not the message, is a trap that many fall into.  Many times we write preachers off because we don’t like their style of preaching or ministry.  But there’s a consequence to doing this.

Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”  He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.  And he was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mark 6:4-6a

In my last post, I talked about the importance of hearing the Word in divine healing.  Because of their familiarity with Jesus, they rejected His Word.  As a result, not many people were miraculously touched by the power of God.

It’s all about the Word.  That’s the difference between the people of Nazareth and Capernaum.

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.  The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.
Mark 1:21-22

It’s the Word itself that should amaze us.  Let’s learn this lesson.  Don’t look at the style of the preacher, but at the power and authority of the Holy Spirit using him.

Question:  When have you had to overlook a person in order to receive a message God had for you?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 23, 2018 in Faith, Ministry, Power of God, Word of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Gospel of Power

As we continue our look at the Gospel of Mark, I want to pick up on the theme that Jesus traveled throughout Israel proclaiming the Gospel, the Good News, of the kingdom of God.  The first place we’re specifically told about is a village called Capernaum.

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.  The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.  Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are — the Holy One of God!”

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly.  “Come out of him!”  The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this?  A new teaching — and with authority!  He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.”  News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
Mark 1:21-28

The first thing I see is the amazement of the people.  There was something about how Jesus taught that was different from everyone else.

The other teachers they listened to were mostly scribes, who had no teaching authority of their own.  They would refer back to the writings of famous Rabbis of the past.  They would give long quotes adding no insight of their own.

That’s a far cry from hearing a teaching from the living Word of God.  The Lord didn’t need to fall back on what somebody else said.  He knew exactly what the desired result was when He inspired the Scripture.

Consequently, when they listened to Christ, their hearts were changed.  They understood that they were hearing from the mind of God Himself.

There was, however, an even greater demonstration of the authority in His words.  A man who was under demonic possession was delivered simply by the words that Jesus spoke.  No hype, no theatrics, just, “Be quiet and come out of him!”

It was visibly confirmed that the Gospel that Jesus preached was the true Word of God.  Please don’t get the idea that this was just something for the Lord to do.  This is what the Holy Spirit wants for all who preach and teach.  Listen to how Paul describes it.

I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done— by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.  So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.
Romans 15:18-19

I don’t believe that the Gospel – the Good News of Christ – can be fully proclaimed without the confirmation of signs, miracles, and healings.  This is how the early church grew.  It’s what the world around us needs to see.

But that requires us to spend time with the Holy Spirit; hearing His voice.  Then, we may walk in the authority that only comes from being in the presence of God.  This is where the Father is leading us in this generation.

Question: Why does a demonstration of power increase the effectiveness of the Gospel?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on December 11, 2017 in Ministry, Power of God, Revival, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Word Works

BibleI’ve been posting about the Word of God and how it imparts life to us. In my last article we saw how the Word of God will only benefit you if it’s received with faith. Faith itself is brought to us by the Word of God. How can I position myself to receive from the Lord?

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 2016

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 29, 2016 in Faith, Revival, Spiritual Warfare, Word of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Receiving God’s Word

BreadI’m posting about giving and receiving the Word of God as spiritual seed. I’ve talked about preaching and teaching being like a baker making a loaf of bread for those who listen. Jesus had something to say in this regard.

Meanwhile, when a crowd of many thousands had gathered, so that they were trampling on one another, Jesus began to speak first to his disciples, saying: “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”
Luke 12:1

On different occasions Jesus told His disciples to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. At that time they didn’t understand what He was saying to them. Later on they realized that the Lord was speaking about their hypocrisy.

This was not a warning that only applied to the disciples. We need to take care not to add our own baggage into the mix. If so, then we will corrupt the pure Word of God with our own pet doctrines. What we mix into the Word determines the spiritual climate of our churches.

For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Hebrews 4:2

This verse speaks to us about the similarity between us and Israel. It warns us about how we receive the Word. It literally says that the logos of their hearing did not benefit them. The only way it will is if we combine it with faith in the process of receiving it. The Word of God must be combined with your faith in order for it to be of benefit to you.

So, here we are. I’m doing my best to present you with the pure, clear, logos of God in this article. I want to give you life and nourishment through the Word of God. This is the logos of your hearing. There’s only one way that it will accomplish what was intended. That’s for you, the reader, to combine it with faith. But wait a minute! Where do you get this faith which you’re to combine with the Word?

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:17

Most of us have this verse memorized. Faith comes by hearing the Word. What it says in the Greek is that this faith comes by hearing the rhema of Christ. What is this? Is it a “catch 22”?

I present the logos to you, but the only way it will benefit you is if you combine it with the faith that only comes through rhema. What kind of circular logic is this? Actually, it’s a picture of the infinite wisdom of God. It’s better than anything you could ever imagine.

In my next post, which will finish this series, I’ll show how God wants to impart both logos and rhema into His people. But, more importantly, what we need to do to receive them.

Question: When have you heard a Word from God while listening to a human speaker?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 26, 2016 in Faith, Ministry, Word of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

God Confirming His Word

LightningThis is the third of six reposts. It was originally from 2013. It was a part of a series on the Word of God and its relation to Scripture.

To view the original series click here.

In that series I showed that the power of the early church was based upon their hearing from God. God spoke to them, they obeyed, and God confirmed His Word.

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 16:20

Scripture says that the Lord confirms His Word with the signs – healings and miracles – that accompanied it. What’s our problem? Do we serve a different God? Of course not. Is He still on the throne? That’s a dumb question.

We serve a God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Then what’s the problem? It should be clear to us. We’re trying to get God to confirm the Bible verses that we’re preaching, when all along He wants to confirm the Word that He speaks to us.

He never told us to go out and read the Scripture to people for them to be saved – He tells us to proclaim His Word. I submit to you that our society has heard enough Scripture – it’s everywhere.

They’re sick of hearing Scripture. Many unbelievers can quote as much of the Bible as some Christians. What the world is desperate for is a Word from God. That’s what’s going to change their lives. They can argue with the Scripture, but a Word from God will cut straight to their heart.

In our exuberance over the enormous availability of Scripture, we have taken it too far. It doesn’t seem to matter what anyone says. As long as there’s a Scripture verse attached to it, we call it the Word of God.

It doesn’t take much listening to Christian radio or cable channels to see that many preachers are using Scripture to support their own teachings and philosophies. Hear me well. They may be preaching Scripture, but they are NOT proclaiming the Word of God.

In these cases, God is under no obligation to confirm what they’re preaching. God doesn’t have to confirm a quote from the Scripture; He only endorses His Word – what He wants said at that particular time and place.

Please don’t think, based upon what I said, that I have no respect for the Scripture. I cannot live without it. Daily, I read, memorize, study, and meditate on the Scripture. I use it prayerfully. I expect and seek God to speak to me through the pages of my Bible.

The difference is that now I’m also listening for God to use other means as well. I want to hear God’s voice – however He wants to speak to me. I believe that this was the basis for the power in the life of Christ and in the early church. One of my goals in this blog is to share how this works in a practical way.

Question: Is it your desire to hear a Word from God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Are you Asking the Right Questions?

Question MarkWe live in an age of hero worship.  It seems that people are more inclined to follow those with the most glitz and showmanship.  It has, unfortunately, carried over into the body of Christ.

When it comes to the teachings we accept, how do we decide who to listen to?  We need to be asking the right questions.  This was something that was clearly portrayed in the ministry of Christ.

The following is taken from the Scriptural passage found in the Gospel of Luke 4:16-40.  You will want to read that first to understand what I share in this post.

In that section of Scripture, Jesus preaches at two different synagogues.  One was in His hometown of Nazareth, and the other in Capernaum.  In both cases He preached the same message.  Knowing that it was the Lord, I am assuming that both messages had the same level of anointing.

In spite of these similarities, only one of the towns, Capernaum, received a blessing out of the visit.  It is clear to see from the narrative, that the reason was the questions that they asked themselves as Jesus was ministering.

This is important to us because we are guilty of the same type of attitudes that these people had.  I believe that we have missed out on countless blessings because our attitudes got in the way.  What makes the difference?

Verse 22 shows the question the people of Nazareth were asking.  It demonstrates what they were focusing on.

They spoke well of Him.  They were amazed at the words from His lips.

“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

They were concentrating on who was speaking – was He all that they were expecting?

Capernaum was a different case altogether.  Verse 32 and 36 make it clear that they were amazed at His teaching.  They recognized that His Word had power and authority.  Who He was and what He looked like didn’t figure into their acceptance of the Word.

As a result, revival fell in Capernaum that day.  Demons were cast out and all the sick that lived in that area were healed (Verse 33-40).

We need to learn this lesson.  Sometimes the biggest show has the least anointing.  On the other hand – there are times God wants to perform great miracles through His “unknown servants”.

We need to be asking, “What is the anointing, authority, and power upon this Word.”  How big a following someone has shouldn’t figure into it.  It’s all about the spirit behind the message, not the person God is using.

If we keep this in mind, then we’ll find the blessing of God in some of the most unlikely places.  We will also open ourselves up to the miraculous.

Question:  Have you ever received a blessing from God’s unknown servants?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 18, 2013 in Revival, The Church, Word of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

America Needs the Gospel

FlagcrossIt’s hard to believe, but in reality the United States can no longer be called a Christian nation.  Yes, there are pockets of Christian majorities on various parts of the map, but overall the influence of believers is almost gone.  I believe this is because we have lost sight of the true message of the Gospel.

I was recently reading a post about 5 issues the church will have to deal with over the next ten years.  It was by Ed Stetzer, the President of Lifeway Research.  In it he made some startling statements that I may comment about from time to time.

The issue that caught my attention, was that the church of this generation needs a clear understanding of the Gospel.  It wasn’t many years ago that the flames of renewal and revival were sweeping across many parts of our nation.  How have we fallen so far from the message of Christ?

Where has the Gospel of Jesus Christ gone?  In many churches we are taught how to be “good people.”  There are messages on how to live a great life – overcoming depression and other negative qualities.  It’s almost as if the modern church has become a group emotional-therapy session.

Paul’s words should bring us a much needed wake-up call.

2 Timothy 2:8
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel…

We wonder why our impact on society has diminished.  This just might be the key.  The Gospel is not about New Year’s resolutions or turning over a new leaf.  It’s not even about wanting to be a better person, spouse, or parent.

The true message of the Gospel is not about what I do.  It’s all about what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.  He died, was buried, and He rose back to life on the third day.  The Lord accomplished this so that we could receive His life and become a new person in Him.

Anything less than that is not the Gospel.

In his post, Ed Stetzer made a statement that I have turned into a question in order to check myself.  As a pastor, I’m responsible for the message received by the people under my care.  I’m going to be accountable for what I preach to them each week.

The question I must ask myself is this: Would the message I’m preaching still be true if Jesus hadn’t died on the cross?  If so, then I’m not proclaiming the Gospel.  It might be good and helpful to the listener, but it isn’t the Good News of the Bible.  The Gospel is life-changing.

The church in America needs to return to the true Gospel message.

Question: How do you perceive a need for the Gospel in our generation?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,