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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 Signs

I’m continuing to look at Mark’s Gospel.  We’re now in the last chapter.  To many people, it’s a very controversial place.

Some versions of the Bible leave out Mark 16:9-20 altogether.  Others set them apart with a note that tells us that some of the most reliable manuscripts don’t have these verses.

Here’s my take on it, for what it’s worth.  Maybe I’m naïve or looking at the issue too simply.  I believe that if God is not powerful enough to protect His Word and keep it pure, then how can I trust Him to protect and watch over my life?

I see it as a matter of faith.  I believe that whatever the circumstances were that brought this section of Scripture to us; it was what God wanted to be recorded.  He could have stopped it from being placed there, but He didn’t.  So, I choose to believe that this was inspired by the Holy Spirit.

I know; there are some who take it out of context and use it as an excuse to do some strange things in the name of their religion.  But that doesn’t negate the truth of what’s written.

Jesus has just told His disciples to go out and proclaim the Good News of salvation to the world.  Some will not believe them, but others will, and they’ll be saved.

Now the Lord describes the signs that surround those who do believe.

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”
Mark 16:17-18

The problem is that if you don’t believe God works miracles through the church, you’ll have to find a way to get rid of this verse.  I believe that God wants to show His power through us as much today as in the early church.  We just need to position ourselves correctly.

The key phrase is “in my name.”  In other words, Jesus is telling them that they will do these miracles in His place.  If it’s something that the Lord would have done, then His followers could do it.

But there’s a catch.  How did Christ perform miracles?  He was clear that He only did what He saw of the Father.

This means that I can’t just decide on my own to pick up a snake, drink poison, or even heal the sick without hearing from the Father.  I need to spend time with the Holy Spirit.  I must develop a sensitivity to His voice.  Then, if I operate in obedience to what the Lord tells me, I’ll truly be functioning “in His name.”

That’s important.  I can’t just do what I want and tack “In Jesus’ name” to the end of it.  That gets me nothing.  I have to be operating under the authority and direction of the Lord to see the miraculous.

Do you want to see the signs, wonders, and miracles of those who believe?  Then spend quality time with the Holy Spirit.  He’ll train you to walk the way Jesus did.

Question: Why don’t we see miracles in our churches today as they did in the early church?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Fig Tree

I’m continuing to look at the Gospel of Mark.  In this section, Jesus is teaching His disciples about His Second Coming.  It seems that what Jesus taught is different than what many are teaching in our generation.

As He brings this teaching to a close, the Lord begins to summarize for His followers.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.  Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door.  I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.  Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Mark 13:28-31

Before He finishes this section of His teaching, Jesus emphasizes the certainty of His words.  It will take place as He said.  We will see it approaching just as we see the changes of the seasons.  If we are believers who are prepared to meet Christ, then this day will not take us unawares.

Let me add a note here.  Some teachers use this section to fix a date for the return.  They reason that the budding fig tree is when Israel became a nation again in 1948 or perhaps when the United Nations recognized them in 1965.  This line of thinking continues as they explain that a generation is 40-50 years.  That would have made the year of the return 1988, 1998, 2005, or 2015!

Jesus said that we wouldn’t know the day or the hour.  In reality, the word generation in the above verse could also be translated race.  Jesus could have merely been saying that, as a sign to prove the truth of His statement, the Jews would never be totally exterminated.  Considering the persecutions and the atrocities that have been committed against them, this is a miracle in itself.

The Lord then seals the certainty of what He says.  He contrasts the Word that He speaks to the natural heavens and the earth.

The earth and the sky that we see now are only temporary.  There will come a day when they’re changed by the Lord.

Right now, because of sin, everything is subject to decay – which, in terms of Physics, is the Third Law of Thermodynamics.  When Christ returns, He will make all things new – with no more decay.  I’m looking forward to that day with great anticipation.

His Word, however, will never change.  It is forever settled in Heaven.  I can put my trust in Christ, knowing that He will always bring about His revealed plan to completion.  That’s true whether we’re talking about world events or my personal life.

So, as we continue living in these last days before Christ’s return, let’s focus our hearts and minds on Him.  That’s how we’ll receive the strength and wisdom needed to be victorious until the end of this age.

Maranatha!  Even so, come quickly, Lord!

Question: How are you preparing yourself for the Lord’s return?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2018 in Return of Christ, Word of God

 

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Watching for the Signs

WorkI’m posting about supernatural signs. Specifically, we’re looking at the sign of the virgin birth of Christ.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

In my last post we saw that the Lord was dealing with an evil king of Judah named Ahaz. He refused to ask God for a sign when asked to by the prophet Isaiah.

Because of this act of disobedience, God Himself would choose the sign. This would be the sign that the Lord is victorious. You can do your own thing. But God will accomplish his will though you…or around you.

This sign was what God was going to accomplish. Basically what God said was, “You don’t want to know what I’m doing now so I’ll tell you something you’ll never see.”

Someday there will be a virgin. She will not be married and never had sex. Yet, miraculously, she will conceive and bear a son. His name – the designation of who He is – will be Immanuel. The Hebrew word Immanuel literally means with us is God.

Now let’s fast forward to the New Testament. A young woman named Mary is found to be with child. She’s a virgin. Her fiancé, Joseph, is confused. Then he’s visited by an angel with a message, exhorting him to marry her, because this is no ordinary child.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:22-23

Years of waiting were now fulfilled. The Messiah was soon to be born.

A supernatural sign brings hope to those trusting God. I’m waiting for a sign. The Bible says that when you see the sign of the Son of Man in the sky, stand to your feet and lift up your head for your redemption is here. That gives me hope.

I know that God is going to step into our world one day. Things aren’t going to go on like this forever.

There was a day when many were waiting expectantly for the Messiah. There were shepherds in the field watching their sheep. They heard the angelic announcement.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:14

These angels were giving glory to God in the highest place. On earth, they proclaimed peace, shalom to men of good-will. That literally means to those who have a will to do good. This message was to people who have God’s good (pleasing and perfect) will resting in them.

This is because; ultimately a supernatural sign brings glory to God. When I see the sign come to pass, I give God glory.

I want God’s will. He wants to show signs and wonders as He brings forth His will. Therefore, we need to work with Him. Expect God to speak. Expect Him to show up. Expect a miracle each day.

Question: What signs have you seen of the Lord working in and through you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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Ignoring the Signs

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAI’m posting about how supernatural signs fit into God’s plan. I talked about the signs that God has used throughout history – the sun, moon, stars, and rainbows.

The only time it’s a problem, is when we ask for a sign.

“God, if this is your will, let a bird start chirping.”

Asking for a sign is actually pretty dangerous. There are examples from Scripture that prove this out. Look at Gideon in the Old Testament. He asked God for a sign that he would be victorious in battle. God gave him the sign, but then cut his army down to 300 men. If you ask for a sign, then you’re required to show more faith.

In my last post we were talking about king Ahaz.

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”
Isaiah 7:10-11

God said to Ahaz that He would show him a sign. Ahaz just had to tell the Lord what it would be. I could think of some great signs that would convince me to move forward. What was Ahaz’ response?

But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”
Isaiah 7:12

Why would he respond like that? It does sound holy – but it was disobedient. When God tells you to do something and you say no, that’s the definition of disobedience – no matter how righteous you sound.

Remember from my last article that Ahaz wasn’t serving God. Part of Isaiah’s prophecy said that within 65 years, Israel would be shattered. In effect, Ahaz is saying NO to the entire prophecy.

What he does is to meet with the king of Assyria. He wants to make a treaty with them. He told them that he would give them Judah, and he would become one of Assyria’s vassals.

To show his submission to Assyria, Ahaz cleans out the gold and silver from the temple, and gives it as a gift to the king. The king of Assyria seems to be happy with this, then turns and conquers Israel, Judah’s rival.

In the prophecy, God said that He would defend Judah. Ahaz was saying, “No, I can handle this on my own. I don’t need or want your sign.”

What we need to realize is that a sign is the proof that God did the work. Someone far from the Lord doesn’t want any proof that God’s doing anything. Ahaz had a very religious way of saying, “I don’t need God.”

Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also?”
Isaiah 7:12

By his actions, Ahaz wearied God to the point of disgust. You know you’re in trouble when God is disgusted with you. That’s where the sign of the virgin birth comes in.

In my next post we’ll see how it fits in to God’s plan.

Question: What religious reasons do we use to excuse our disobedience these days?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on December 9, 2015 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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Dissipation, Drunkenness, Anxiety – Signs of the Times

TimingI just want to spend one more post on the teachings of Christ concerning His return. This is how Jesus closed this part of His End-Times teaching in Luke.

“Be careful or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you will be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:34-36

Jesus tells us that because of our knowledge of future events, our lives should be different from the world. We have a mission before us that’s time sensitive. Those things that hinder us from effectively preaching the Gospel of Christ must be put away.

The Lord spoke of dissipation. The Greek word literally means tossing-head. It was the common term for a hangover. We associate this term with drinking, but Jesus wasn’t limiting it to the use of alcohol.

Whenever we leave our calling to chase after the world, there’s a wasted period of time while we get back on track again. This is the period of our spiritual “hangover”. Too many Christians are living most of their lives in dissipation.

They’re either giving in to the desire for the things of the world or they’re trying to regain what they’ve lost. Don’t waste most of your life in dissipation.

Drunkenness, then, is the actual pursuit of worldly pleasures. You can become intoxicated on more that just alcohol. Power, money, sports, and a host of other distractions can rob you of your effectiveness in God.

Does that mean that all these things are sin? Absolutely not! But if you find yourself more involved in these temporary things than in your walk with God, then your priorities are messed up.

The third warning the Lord gives us is to beware of the anxieties of life. We’re not to be so overwhelmed by our cares that it hinders our walk with God.

When we spend most of our time worrying about finances, health, and relationships, we lose our desire to serve God faithfully. Jesus said that if you seek His kingdom and His righteousness first, then your needs would be taken care of.

Jesus said that the temptation to fall into these traps would come on all people – no exceptions. There will be no free rides. He’s warning us about the future so that we’ll be ready.

That’s why He said that if you’re watchful, awake, and alert, you could pray to escape some of these things. Literally it means to run away from. I believe that if we seek God’s wisdom, we’ll be protected from much of the pain that will come to the earth. Of course that means we need to listen for God’s voice of instruction, and then obey Him when He speaks.

I believe that the last days of this age are going to be the most exciting time period that any Christian could be a part of.

Question: What emotions does the thought of Christ’s return stir up in you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in Return of Christ, The Church

 

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Watching for the Return of Christ

telescopeI’ve been posting about the return of Christ as He taught it to His disciples. I believe that there will be a “weeding process” that takes place as we get closer to His return.

God will use His angels to make a visible distinction between His Church and the kingdom of darkness. Both the world and the church will have come to full fruition.

But before we finish this series of posts, I want us to take a look at the account given by Luke. He recorded some more detail about what Christ said on this occasion.

“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Luke 21:25-28

Jesus explains here that the nations are in perplexity because of all the events that can be seen taking place on the earth. Because of the weeding process just before the end, the entire world will know that something important is about to happen.

As believers, we’ll be prepared for the return of Christ. The unbelievers, however, will be apprehensive about what is ready to take place.

I believe that as we get closer to the end, it will become more and more obvious that the Lord’s coming is near. Then one day we’ll see the sign we’ve been waiting for.

If it’s daytime where we live, then we’ll see the sun going dark for no reason. If it’s night, then the moon will darken and the stars will look like they’re all falling from the sky.

Jesus prepares us with exactly what to do when we see the sign of Christ in the sky. Stand up and lift up your head because your redemption is here!

He’s obviously talking to the church in this section. It’s not some remnant of leftovers who “missed the rapture” seven years before. This is the sign for the body of Christ to recognize the Day of the Lord – the Resurrection Day.

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Matthew 24:32-35

Before He finishes this section of His teaching, Jesus emphasizes the certainty of His words. It will take place just as He said. We’ll see it approaching just as we see the changes of the seasons. If we are believers who are prepared to meet Christ, then this day will not take us unawares.

There’s no reason for fear or anxiety over what we see taking place on the earth. There should only be the excitement of anticipation over the return of our King.

Question: How do you prepare yourself for the events of the Last Days?

© Nick Zaccardi 2014

 
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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in Return of Christ, The Church

 

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