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How God Confirms His Word (Repost)

I’m taking a couple of weeks to do some hiking and praying off in the woods.  While I’m gone I’ve felt that I should repost my Top 10 most read articles.  Some of you have been following me long enough to have read them already.  If so, my prayer is that they will again be a blessing to you.

I firmly believe 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’s 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 the Word of God will cut straight to their heart.

In our exuberance over the enormous availability of Scripture, we’ve 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’re 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 to be 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: How strong is your desire to hear a Word from God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on August 13, 2018 in Daily Thoughts

 

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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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Faith from the Word

In my last post, we saw how Jesus upset the religious leadership by clearing out the marketplace that was set up in the Temple.  It angers people when you mess with their cash-flow.

The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.
When evening came, they went out of the city.
Mark 11:18-19

Jesus and His disciples then went to Bethany for the night and returned to Jerusalem the next morning.

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.  Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look!  The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
Mark 11:20-21

Two posts ago (What’s Your Season?) I talked about Jesus cursing the fig tree.  Now we see the result of what Jesus did that day.  The disciples were amazed at how the tree had died so quickly.

It’s important for us to understand the explanation that Jesus gave to the disciples.

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.  “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Mark 11:22-24

This is one of those verses that are often misunderstood.  I’ve heard people reading into it.  They make it sound like Jesus is saying that God will give you whatever you want as long as you can believe you’re going to get it.  That’s not what Jesus is saying here.

His first and most important statement is – HAVE FAITH IN GOD!  The Lord always has to be the object of our faith.  My faith cannot be toward what a preacher says (and that’s coming from a preacher!), or what you read in a book.

Listen carefully, because I’m about to make you mad at me.  We are not even to make the Bible the object of our faith.  It’s the Word of God that points to God as the object of faith.

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

When I hear God’s Word, it inspires me to trust God.  When the Scripture tells me that by the stripes of Jesus I’m healed…my faith is not in that Bible verse, it has to be toward Christ my Healer.  Too often our faith is misplaced.  It has to be toward God.

Another thing we misunderstand is that Jesus is talking about hearing from the Holy Spirit.  He didn’t curse the fig tree because He was in a bad mood that day.  The Holy Spirit instructed the Lord to do that for an object lesson for His disciples.

Jesus clearly said that this faith, or doubt, is in your heart.  He’s not talking about you simply deciding that you want a new car, so you start believing that you’ll receive it from God.  The Lord is talking about believing Him for a desire that God has placed in your heart.

True faith will always come from a Word from God and will have God, Himself as the object.  Then you’ll see the manifestation of your request.

Question: How is faith in your heart different than a “head-faith”?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2018 in Faith, Power of God, Prayer, Word of God

 

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Are You Wandering?

The last exhortation from the book of James is very important. He deals with an issue that’s prevalent in our generation. It’s about those who wander from the truth.

My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
James 5:19-20

James is dealing with a number of issues in this passage. The first is the fact that a Christian can wander from the truth. The word, wander means to roam or rove around.

In the natural, wandering takes place when we get distracted by something. When I’ve gone hiking, there have been times when I’ve gotten distracted and missed a turn in the trail. A couple of times I had to do a fair amount of backtracking before I got to where I should have been.

That’s why this Greek word can also mean deception.   Deceit is when I knowingly try to distract you from the truth. The question is; how does this wandering manifest itself in a spiritual setting?

One day, Jesus explained this very concept to the Sadducees, who were trying to prove to the Lord that there would be no resurrection.

Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.”
Matthew 22:29

The word, error, in this verse is the same word wander that James used. Jesus was telling these priests that they had wandered from the truth because of two problems. They’re the same two things that cause modern believers to miss out on God’s best.

The first, was not knowing the Scriptures. This was an interesting thing to say to the Sadducees, since they had huge portions of Scripture memorized. They had to know all the books of Moses by heart just to qualify for the priesthood.

The problem was that they only knew about the Scripture. The word that Jesus used was a knowing by experience. These priests knew what the Bible said, they just didn’t want to apply it to their lives. Without the application of Scripture, we’re merely wandering around hoping to stumble upon God’s best for us.

The second thing that causes us to wander is not knowing the power of God. That’s probably the greatest hindrance in our generation. In many church circles we’re relying upon secular corporate models or clever programming to grow our churches.

In many cases, if the Holy Spirit showed up on Sunday morning, we wouldn’t know what to do with Him. In some churches He’d be escorted out the door, in others He’d be told to sit quietly in the corner. The last thing they want is to see the power of God active in their services.

I believe that the goal of God’s people is to see, and experience the power of God actively in their lives. In my opinion, that’s what the world needs to see. More than structures or programs, it’s the power of God that will bring them to repentance and salvation.

I want to see a new move of God in my generation. But for that to happen, we need to stop being distracted by the world around us. In other words, we need to stop wandering from the truth.

By focusing on experiencing the truth of Scripture and experiencing the presence of God we can once again see the Lord’s best manifest in us. As a result, there will be a great harvest of souls when they see the hand of God actively working in our lives.

Question: How much time do you spend actively applying Scripture to your life and seeking God’s presence?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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The Law of Freedom

MirrorIn my last post I talked about the need to hear a Word from God. We have to spend the time listening for his voice. But it doesn’t just end there.

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
James 1:23-24

Once you’ve heard from the Holy Spirit you need to follow through on what He spoke to you. This goes beyond simply thanking Him for speaking. There has to be a fulfillment of the assignment.

I like the illustration that James gives us here. It’s important for us to understand just what he’s saying to the church.

In my last post I talked at length about the Word of God being more than just Scripture, but God speaking to us. As James continues on that theme, he starts to give us more detail. We can’t ignore the implications of what he’s teaching.

When I read the Bible, I know that it’s the same for everybody. The life of Jesus, the teachings of the Apostles, and the histories don’t change from generation to generation. The truths that we read are timeless, and apply to everyone for all time.

A mirror is a completely different piece of equipment. What I see in a mirror is not at all what you would see. As a matter of fact, what I see when I first wake up in the morning is nothing like what I see as I’m preparing to go to bed.

Every time I look into the mirror, it’s a unique experience. That’s another reason why this has to be about our time spent with the Holy Spirit – hearing His voice. Whenever we spend quality time in the presence of God it should be a one-of-a-kind encounter.

What I need to hear from God today, may be about something totally different than what He speaks to me tomorrow. The Lord wants to work in us and in the lives of those around us. For that to happen, I need to hear from Him on a consistent basis.

But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.
James 1:25

Listen to what James calls this encounter. The perfect law that gives freedom. There’s absolutely no way he could be talking about the Old Testament here. Paul said almost the same thing in his letters.

Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:15-17

It’s obvious that freedom can only come through the Holy Spirit. He wants to speak a word that’s tailor made to the situations we’re facing. I believe that hearing and doing what the Spirit speaks to us is the perfect law that gives freedom.

It’s through time spent in the Spirit that God writes His law on our hearts. That’s where we find the freedom to live for Him without hindrance.

Question: What was the last thing the Lord spoke to you about?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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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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Good News for You

Good NewsI’ve been posting for a while about the importance of Scripture. This will be my last article in this series.

Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
Acts 8:35

The final installment about the place of Scripture in our lives is one of my favorite subjects. It should bring great joy into our Christian walk. That’s the fact that the Bible delivers to us the Good News.

This is the basis for the New Covenant – the fact that there’s good news. The rules of the Old Covenant were canceled by the blood of Christ. There’s now no testimony against me. I can now walk as a son of the living God. This is great news!

It’s good news for the world as well. No longer do you have to become a member of the nation of Israel to join God’s family. No longer do you have to observe the religious rituals performed again and again with no permanent change. Now you can come as you are to the cross of Christ and find forgiveness – once and for all.

I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.
Romans 1:16

This verse shares even more good news. Every other religion on earth shows their adherents how to strive for perfection or acceptance from their god. That’s what separates all other world religions from Christianity.

The Bible starts from the assumption that nothing we do can make us acceptable to God. He took it upon Himself to provide the way to His presence. That’s the way of Christ. He’s the One responsible to perfect me, if I’ll just trust Him to do the work.

Because of what Christ did on the cross, I now have access to the Spirit of God in a way only dreamed of in the Old Testament. The power of God is now active in my life because of the resurrection of the Lord. I can have fellowship with Him. I can talk to Him and He talks to me. That’s the abundant life Jesus came to bring us.

The Scripture is my guidebook to this new life in Christ. It shows me how to walk by the spirit. That’s why I need to study it daily. I need the insight of the Holy Spirit as to how my walk with God is to develop.

Over the last ten posts, we’ve seen that the Bible shows us how to walk in the power of God. It also teaches us the things that hinder us. We learn what strengthens our walk as well as receiving encouragement in the hard times. Truly this is good news!

Question: What new insights have you gained through this series?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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