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Thanksgiving Bread – The Spirit and the Word #thanksgiving

BreadUnder the Old Testament law, many different types of offerings were to be presented to God.  Some were called Fellowship Offerings because they were given simply out of love for God.  An offering of thanksgiving was one of these Fellowship Offerings.

If he offers it as an expression of thankfulness, then along with this thank offering he is to offer cakes of bread made without yeast and mixed with oil, wafers made without yeast and spread with oil, and cakes of fine flour well-kneaded and mixed with oil.  Along with his fellowship offering of thanksgiving he is to present an offering with cakes of bread made with yeast.
Leviticus 7:12-13

There are four different kinds of bread that were associated with this offering.  The common elements in all of them are flour and oil.  I believe that they correspond to the word and the spirit.  This is central to thanksgiving since everything I receive from God is through the Word and by His Spirit.

The first bread is cakes of bread without yeast and mixed with oil.  The term “unleavened” comes from a root which means to greedily devour because it is sweet.  It was made with flour mixed with oil.  To make these today, we would use shortening or butter.  They would be more like shortbread or butter cookies.

Sometimes the word is sweet to me.  I devour it greedily.  It satisfies my inner longing and refreshes my spirit.  I’m thankful for the Word of God that lifts me up.

The next bread is the wafer – literally, a matzah.  This matzah cracker was to be anointed with oil.  The matzah is very dry and pierced at regular intervals throughout the cracker.

Sometimes the Word pierces me, like a sword.  It’s in times like this that God is doing surgery on me.  The Bible teaches that faithful are the wounds of a friend.  I need it because this is the place of the anointing.  I’m thankful for the Word of God that corrects me.

Another bread is made with fine flour and cooked in oil.  Fine flour is like our bakery flour.  When we cook something in oil, we call it deep fried – like fried dough or donuts.

This one is brought about in the heat of the spirit.  It takes the fire of the Holy Spirit, heating up the Word to produce change in my life.  A prophet said to God that Your Word is like a fire in my bones.  This fire pushes you to action.  Christ has said that He wants you either cold or hot.  Lukewarm just won’t cut it.  I’m thankful for the Word of God that fires me up to action for the Lord.

The last bread of the thanksgiving offering is made with yeast.  Yeast usually speaks of our imperfections.  It amazes me that God will entrust His divine Word to imperfect humans.  The Lord gives me a word to share with others.  If I were God…it would never happen.

But He knows best.  He gives us a word to share, even in our humanity.  This is something that my imperfect life can give to others.  I’m thankful that Christ lets us represent Him by His Spirit.

Thank God.

Question: What are you thankful to God for at this moment?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Encouragement, God's Provision, Word of God

 

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The Place of Signs and Miracles

One WayI believe that signs and miracles are a part of the true Gospel.  Without them, it’s difficult to impact the unbeliever.

The Apostle Paul refers to this truth throughout his writings.

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

Paul tells us how he led the Gentiles to obey God by announcing the Gospel and making disciples.  Notice, that he accomplished this by what he SAID and DID.  It was through the power of signs and miracles.  The difference between a sign and a miracle is that a sign is a miracle that confirms what you say about God.

The key issue is that by operating in this way, Paul fully proclaimed the gospel.  I believe that just talking about Christ is not the whole Gospel.  The Bible is clear that the kingdom of God is “not a matter of talk but of power.” (I Corinthians 4:20)

Last week I asked, what is it about the Gospel that we’re ashamed of ?  I used some illustrations.  If I won a new car I would call you over to look at it.  If I got a promotion at work, I would immediately show you my new business cards.  How is that different from the spiritual Good News?

I believe it’s because we have reduced the Gospel to clichés.  “Jesus loves you.”  “Jesus wants to bless you.”  “God loves you and I do too.”

The problem is that there’s no demonstration.  It’s not like the new car or the promotion at work because I offer you no proof of what I’m saying.

Based upon Scripture, if there’s no demonstration, then there’s no Gospel.  Many are ashamed because all they can do is tell about Jesus.  Some can’t even see the proof in their own lives because of the lack of power.  It makes many believers feel like charlatans when they share the Good News.

It seems we’ve lost the original Good News.  We don’t understand the power of God and we don’t understand the Gospel. The two go hand in hand.

Without the Good News, there’s no need for the demonstration of power.  Some American Christians want the power without proclaiming the Good News.  The fact is, that without the message of the Gospel there’s no need to demonstrate healing, prosperity, joy, freedom from depression, or anything else the Lord has provided for us through the cross.  I’m striving to spur the church on to get hungry to experience the full Gospel.

That’s why Paul could say that he had fully proclaimed the Gospel of Christ.  Not only did he tell about Christ, but he also demonstrated the love and power of the Lord.

Question: How can we return to the true Gospel?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2013 in Power of God, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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How We Water Down the Gospel

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADo we proclaim the same Gospel as the early church did?   Is there something missing from our experience that would make a big difference?  I believe that we’re lacking one of the greatest aspects of the Gospel.  We need to return to this truth if we’re going to impact our generation for Christ.

In my last post I talked about the need to announce the Good News of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.  In today’s post I want to explain exactly what that means.  Here’s one of the verses I looked at last time.

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.  You know how we lived among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

I have heard people explain this verse by saying, “The hearers were convicted by the Holy Spirit.  That’s the power Paul’s talking about.”  I simply can’t agree with that kind of thinking.  Paul said that the Gospel came to them with power AND the Holy Spirit, AND deep conviction.

Even the very word conviction that Paul used was a Greek word that means many assurances.  It was something that could be seen and experienced by the unbelievers receiving the Good News.

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

As you can see, I’m not using some isolated verse without context.  This teaching runs throughout the New Testament.  The Good News must be demonstrated.  That demonstration can only be energized by the power of God.  It is beyond our human ability to walk on that level if we rely upon our own strength, wisdom, and knowledge.

I fear that too many Christians allow their faith to rest on man’s wisdom, because they have never seen a demonstration of the power of God.  There are so many believers that have never seen a healing or a miracle.  They have never heard an anointed prophecy or someone speaking in the heavenly language.  There are Christians that have never witnessed someone delivered from demonic possession or oppression.

As a result the Good News, in most cases, has merely become an intellectual debate.  On many occasions, what we call the Gospel today, is void of any power to change the direction of a life impacted by it.

The church needs to do what it takes to once again walk in this life-changing power.  In short – we need revival.  We must admit that we’ve lost something along the way and allow the Lord to make the necessary adjustments.

Questions: Do you think the modern “American Gospel” has the same impact as the early church?  If not, what must we do to change?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Power of God, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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Why Are We Ashamed of the Gospel?

Good NewsDo you find yourself hesitant to share your faith with the people around you?  Do you get flustered when asked about what you believe or your opinion on religious matters?  Many Christians find themselves in this condition.  I believe that the answer is found in Scripture.

In the past I posted about the power of God.  I defined it as the ability to produce change in the life of the believer.  This access to the life-changing power of God is vital to see the move of the Spirit in our lives and churches.

There is, however, an important ingredient that we very often trip over.  I am talking about the Gospel.  This is something that’s very misunderstood among Christians.  It’s extremely important to see the Gospel for what it is because it directly relates to the power of God.  I want to take a few posts to look at these factors.

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

We probably all know by now that the word Gospel in the Bible is a Greek word that literally means the Good News.  What is this Good News?  According to the verse above, it’s the power of God to save everyone.  That’s the Good News in a nutshell.  God is powerful enough to save all who come to Him.

Because of this truth, Paul wrote, “I am not ashamed” of this Good News.  But that statement leads us to a thought provoking question.  If I am ashamed of it, is it really the Gospel?

Think about this illustration for a moment.  You were just promoted to Vice President of your company and your salary was doubled.  Would you be too ashamed to tell anyone about that good news?  If you had just won a new car, would you be too ashamed to speak about that?

When it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I have to ask, what is it that we’re ashamed of and why?  Is it even the Good News that we’re talking about?  These are the issues I want to deal with over the next few posts.

My goal is to make you hungry for the true Gospel.  It really is the power of God to save those who believe it.  It carries with it the life-changing ability of God.  If we could only understand the truth about this Good News it would change the way we approach the world.

Question: Why do you think we get uneasy sharing our faith with others?

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2013 in Power of God, The Gospel

 

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How to be a Good Witness

I am hoping to wrap up my talk about faith with this post.  I hope that by now it’s obvious that faith is an on-going process of discovery and response.  It’s how we continue to grow in our walk with Christ.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  This is what the ancients were commended for.
Hebrews 11:1-2

Actually, even though I usually like the NIV, it’s not really a good translation of verse 2.  The KJV is a little closer in saying that the ancients “obtained a good report.”  Literally, the verse says that in faith, the elders witnessed.

We must go from being a discoverer to a witness.  Let’s talk about our good friend Christopher Columbus again.  In my last post I talked about him coming to the New World and discovering America.  At some point he returned home.

At that point he has become a witness of what no one else in Europe has ever seen.  He tells anyone who would listen, “I’ve seen a New World.  I’ve discovered a land that no European has ever been to before.”

In the same way, faith is your witness.  Every time you see something new about Christ, you choose to respond to it.  You believe this new truth and embrace it.  As you begin to put your confidence in it, you become a witness to this truth.

In the last post I used the example of hearing for the first time that Christ is the Healer.  The Holy Spirit makes it real to you through the discovery of faith.  You then go out and begin to share with others that Christ is the healer, even if you’ve never been healed.

It’s not a matter of, “Well, the pastor preached about it so I guess it’s true.”  On the contrary – it’s on the inside of you.  Then, when you need it, it’s there to heal you.

If you lay hold of each new truth, you will continue to trust Christ even if the enemy tries to knock your faith out of your hand.  That’s why it’s so important that we see faith as a walk and not just an event.

The fact is, “we walk by faith and not by sight.”  It’s time for believers to pick up their shields and move forward.  Then, we must never back down, but respond in faith to each new discovery of the Word of God.

Question: How has your faith in Christ brought you through in your hard times?

© Nick Zaccardi 2012

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2012 in Faith

 

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