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Open Hands

In my last post, we saw how hard it is for the rich to walk in the full power of the kingdom of God.  They must first overcome the temptation to depend upon wealth to fulfill their calling.  Now the disciples continue with this topic.

Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”
Mark 10:28

Peter seems to always be the one who speaks up, usually without thinking first.  I read what he says, but I don’t know if I totally agree with it.

The fact is that Peter still owned a home.  It’s clear that they went back there from time to time (Matthew 8:14).

He didn’t give up his business either.  Peter, along with Andrew, James, and John, went right back to fishing after the death of Christ (John 21:3).

I think that Peter was looking at himself as being a little better than he actually was.  His boasts were usually just words.  If you remember, he also boasted that he would never deny the Lord.

Jesus, however, didn’t argue with them.  He simply explained the kingdom principle of true giving.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields — and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
Mark 10:29-31

Jesus is helping them to understand the truth of giving and receiving.  I don’t know if they really understood it yet.  I know that many in the body of Christ don’t understand it in this generation.

Some concentrate on giving, while others look for how to receive.  The truth is that the giving and receiving are always tied together.  Paul explained this to the Philippian church.

Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only…
Philippians 4:15

This is a very rich statement.  I don’t think the translators did it justice.  What Paul actually says, in the original Greek, is that no one participated in the Word of giving and receiving except for them.  That’s an interesting phrase – the Word of giving and receiving.

This doesn’t mean that we have to give everything away in order to please God.  What it does mean is that I place everything that I have and all that I am into the Lord’s hand.  I let Him know that whatever, whenever He asks, I will give without hesitation.

In our hearts, we have given everything over to God.  All that I have is available for His use.

The good news is that when my hands are open before God, they’re ready for two things.  With open hands, I can give, and with open hands, I can receive.

Don’t be self-deceived.  The Lord’s last statement about the first and the last apply to this.  Peter thought he was in line to receive.  Many run to the front of the “receiving line” thinking they’ll get something from God.

Jesus taught that giving and receiving was a package deal.  Put your life and all you have in the Lord’s hands.  Then you can trust Him to provide all that you need.

Question: What have you been intentional about turning over to the Lord for His use?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on May 4, 2018 in God's Provision, Spiritual Walk

 

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Blessed to be a Blessing

Come to JesusWhat does it mean to be a blessing? We use the word a lot, but do we really understand it? I want to take a couple of posts to talk about our ability to bless others.

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
Hebrews 11:20

Mature believers don’t just seek to be blessed, but to be a blessing. It’s a choice that has to be made. It’s by faith that we choose to be a blessing to others.

We use the word bless very loosely in the body of Christ.

“God blessed me with a parking space.”

We seem to think that anything good that happens is a blessing. That’s the modern church definition. But when you read the Bible, that thought will hide the truth about the blessing.

There are two opposites in Scripture, and we need to understand both of them. I’m talking about blessing and cursing.

Let’s start with blessing. What exactly does the word bless mean. In the Old Testament it’s the Hebrew word Barak. It means to kneel, which emphasizes the receiving aspect. In the New Testament, the Greek word Eulogeo is used. It means a well spoken word; and relates to the giving of a blessing.

One thing that we have to realize is that the blessing is always spoken. The actual word, bless, means to endue with power for success. That’s a tall order – to be a blessing to someone. How can I do that?

In Scripture we’re told to do everything in the Name of Jesus. It’s in His powerful name that we have what we need to bless others.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From the house of the LORD we bless you.
Psalm 118:26

If you have the name of the Lord, then you’re already blessed. It’s an event that has taken place when you made Christ the Lord of your life.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
Ephesians 1:3

The good news is that I’m not looking for God’s blessing. According this verse, He has already blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heaven in Christ.

We know Scripture tells us that we can do all things through Christ. We have to remember this. We’ll never get that done on our own. We are blessed in order that we might be a blessing to others.

Getting back to what I said above. Now that we know what a blessing is, we can understand it better. A good parking space is not a blessing – it’s actually the result of the blessing that’s upon our lives.

This is the basis for blessing others. I can only bless those around me if I know that I am truly blessed. It takes blessed people to bless people.

Question: How has the blessing of God been evident in your life lately?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2016 in Ministry, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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8 Keys to Receiving Answers from God #answeredprayer

SONY DSCIt’s hard to believe that the stores are gearing up for Christmas already.  We’re getting close to the time of year where many people are asking for things.  As believers, we understand that it’s not about things, but Christ.

Still, there are things that I’ve asked God for.  One question that many people ask is; how do you receive answers to prayers?  Many look to God like a big Santa Claus in the sky.  We pray for things, and then get upset if we don’t get what we prayed for.

I believe that God wants to give good things to His children.  Over and over in the Bible it says to ask anything and it will be given to you.  Actually, if you read the Scripture, there are 8 requirements to asking anything and receiving what you asked for from God.

1. Your asking requires faith.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mark 11:24

This is the one we all seem to know about.  You need to trust that God is able to perform what you’re asking.  This is not an “I hope so” kind of faith.  It’s knowing that God is big enough to take care of your need.

2. Your asking requires the right motives.

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
James 4:3

This is an important point.  Why am I asking God for this?  Many times it’s because I want the pleasure it will bring.  Life is not all about me.  I live for God.  It’s about pleasing Him, and fulfilling His call on my life.  Is that my motivation?  To get answers to prayer, I need to check my attitudes and desires.

3. Your asking requires lining up with God’s will.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.
1 John 5:14-15

This one is only met with maturity.  I need to be seeking God’s will.  This will only come by time in the Lord’s presence.  I have to lay my will on the altar and seek His ways.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to work in me is how I have the assurance that I’m asking according to His will.

4. Your asking requires agreement.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.”
Matthew 18:19

This is an important part.  I’m not talking about getting someone to agree to pray with you.

“You pray with me for a new house and I’ll pray with you for a new car.”

It doesn’t work like that.  It means coming together in unity with others who know the Word of God.  Then, based upon the Word, they agree with you on the above three points.  They see by your witness that you have the faith to trust God for it, your motives are correct, and it’s God’s will for your life.

In my next post I’ll give the final four keys to answered prayer.

Question: Do you have some testimonies of answered prayers?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on November 15, 2013 in Prayer

 

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Is Your Tongue Your Problem?

DogI’ve been talking about Abraham’s example to us in receiving God’s blessing and provision.  In my last post I said that we needed to speak what we believe from our heart.  This is important because it’s usually our speaking that gets us in the most trouble.

Listen to the exchange that took place as Abraham was taking Isaac up the mountain.  All Abraham knew at this point was that God was asking him to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice.

Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”  And the two of them went on together.
Genesis 22:7-8

I can only imagine how much pain this question caused Abraham.  I believe that there was a long pause while Abraham thought about how he could answer the boy.  It amazes me how simply the answer was formed.

In spite of his confusion, and without anger or bitterness toward God, he spoke the truth in faith and love.  This is a lesson we need to take to heart.

So many times we speak without thinking.  We especially run into trouble when we talk from the hurt and anguish we’re experiencing.  We say many things that we wish we could take back.

That’s why one of the secrets to positioning ourselves to receive God’s blessing is to watch what we say when we’re hurting.  James understood this truth.

Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.  The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
James 3:5-6

James is looking at this from a negative perspective.  Controlled by the spirit, the tongue can set your life on course for God’s blessing.  Controlling the tongue is one of the hardest things we’re called to do, yet it’s one of the most important.  What we say can set the emotional foundation for our eventual success or failure.

How we speak, especially in times of confusion and pain, will have a lasting effect on both us and those around us.  Is what you’re saying building up or tearing down God’s work?

We must choose to keep a watch over our tongues.  If needed, we can go to the Lord in repentance for things that may have been said in hurt or anger.  We can ask for His strength to take control of this unruly member of our body.

If we will spend time in the Lord’s presence and meditate upon His Word, then there will be a greater chance that truth and love will come out during stressful times.

Question: When have your words either helped or hurt the situation you were in?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 5, 2013 in Faith, God's Provision

 

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