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The Voice of the Spirit

As we continue through Mark’s Gospel, it’s now the day of the Last Supper.  The disciples have no idea what’s about to take place during this feast.  All they know is that the Passover needs to be celebrated.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you.  Follow him.  Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’  He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready.  Make preparations for us there.”
Mark 14:12-15

To understand the importance of this passage, you must first understand the relationship between Christ and His disciples.  At that time, the role of Jesus to His disciples was the same as the Holy Spirit is to us today.

Remember that Jesus told His followers that He would send another Counsellor to lead and guide them.  The Holy Spirit wants to lead us in the same way that the Lord led His disciples.  That’s why it’s so important for us to develop sensitivity to the voice of the Spirit.

It’s sad that so many Christians think that God no longer works in this way.  I personally believe that the Holy Spirit still desires to operate through the church.  It’s the manifestation of the Gifts of the Spirit that will draw unbelievers to a saving knowledge of Christ.

In this instance, Jesus is functioning in the gifts of Prophecy and the Word of Knowledge.  Notice how specific His instructions are.  I believe that the Holy Spirit will be just that detailed with us if we’ll place ourselves in a position to hear Him.

What was the response of the disciples to this astounding instruction?

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them.  So they prepared the Passover.
Mark 14:16

This simple statement shows the trust that had developed between Christ and His followers.  There was no question or hesitation.  They just went and did exactly as they were told.

So often we find two different extremes in the body of Christ these days.  The first is that some Christians come up with elaborate stories of what the Holy Spirit “told” them.  Then, a few days later the “spirit” tells them something that sounds just the opposite.

On the other hand, I’ve heard people who feel impressed to do or say something.  They don’t follow through on it.  Then, when it’s too late, they realize that they’d heard from the Holy Spirit and missed the opportunity for a blessing.  (I’ve been guilty of this more than once.)

We need to spend quality time in the spirit.  That’s where trust and sensitivity are developed.  I believe that’s why the disciples had an easier time hearing from the Spirit once Christ had ascended.  They simply transferred their focus to the voice of the Spirit.

Spend the time necessary to learn to hear and obey the Spirit.  I believe that’s where the Lord is leading His church in this generation.  It’s through hearing and obeying that we’ll see the end-time harvest of souls before the return of Christ.

Question: What can you do to develop a listening ear in the spirit?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on July 18, 2018 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Four Common Worship Mistakes

Every weekend thousands of Christians around the world attend church.  They think that they’re worshipping God.  Unfortunately, in many cases, they’re doing just the opposite and God isn’t pleased with them.  Learn from their mistakes and offer true worship to the Lord.

I invite you to read the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7, verses 1 through 20, which is the basis for this post. Here are the four worship mistakes commonly made by modern Christians.

Making sure the outside is cleaned up, and not the inside (Verse 14-15).  Most people get all washed and looking their best for a church service.  That’s just normal.  You want to look nice when you’re around others.

It’s far easier to hide the dirt that can accumulate on the inside.  As we live in and interact with the world, we can pick up thoughts and attitudes without ever knowing it.  Over the course of time, they can lead us off track in our Christian walk.

We need to continue in the repentance and forgiveness that only comes from time spent in the presence of Christ.  That’s where our true beauty should come from – a life that’s kept clean before God.

Saying all the right words, but not living them (Verse 6).  You may not want to hear this, but in every service, churches are attended by many liars.  How can I say that?  Think about the songs we sing.

“Lord, you are more precious than silver…Nothing I desire compares with you.”

Then, during the rest of the service, we’re thinking about what’s for dinner.  We sing passionately about how we would do anything for God or how deeply we want to know Him.  Yet, once we leave the church, we don’t think twice about it until next week.

In many cases we act like the fact that we’re singing the words, automatically makes it true.  To live a life of worship, our lives need to line up with our “Sunday personas”.

Preferring to follow a set of rules rather than cultivating a relationship with God (Verse 7-8).  Sometimes we get the idea that just because we don’t murder, cheat, steal, or do drugs, then we’re okay.  We read the Bible and pray for our needs every day because that’s what a Christian is supposed to do.

What about simply spending time in God’s presence because He’s God?  The Father wants us to get to know Him personally.  He wants to speak to our hearts and enjoy our fellowship.

Being a Christian isn’t just a choice to do good things.  It’s a living relationship with a holy God.  Worship is not a chore to complete.  We are to become worshippers.

Giving money in the offering rather than giving yourself to the Lord.  This is one of the biggest mistakes that we can make.  Thinking that we own everything except what we willingly give to God.

God is the Creator of Heaven and earth.  It’s all His.  It’s my responsibility to acknowledge that fact.  I am His.  My greatest act of worship is to willingly give myself to Him.  Only Christ is worthy to receive an offering like that.

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
John 4:23

Don’t waste your life being a superficial believer.  Enter into a lifestyle of worship.  True worship is not a matter of what you do on Sundays, but who you are all week long.

Questions: What’s your definition of worship?  What worship issues have you had to deal with in your walk with God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2018 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church, Worship

 

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Healing Faith

For the last couple of posts, we’ve been talking about the Synagogue ruler whose daughter was dying and the woman who needed healing from her bleeding.  Jesus agreed to go with the ruler to heal his daughter but was interrupted when the woman touched Him and was healed.

This incident is recorded in Mark 5:21-43.  It might be helpful to read through that section of Scripture before proceeding with this post.

This passage is a great example of what it takes to have faith for healing.  In times past, people were told that if you just had enough faith, you’d be healed.  That made it real simple.  As a minister, I could blame you if you’re not healed when I pray for you.

“Come back when you really have faith.”

That kind of thinking does great injustice to those who are seeking to be set free from their sickness.  The problem is that healing faith is always Word based.

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

In order for the sick to be healed, someone has to hear a Word from God.  Then as they move in faith – received from that Word – the healing takes place.  Even in the Old Testament, this was the case.

He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.
Psalms 107:20

A Word from God will inspire faith for healing.  Once it’s acted upon, the healing takes place.  That’s one of the reasons I like this section of Scripture.  It shows the power of this truth.

The woman in the above passage heard from the Holy Spirit that if she could just touch the edge of Jesus’ clothes, she would be healed.  Jesus confirmed this by saying, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.”

The synagogue ruler is the one who heard from God in that part of the story.  He knew in his spirit that if he could get Jesus to come to his house, then his daughter would be healed.

Sometimes it’s the faith of the one praying.  Remember the leper who came to Jesus and said, “If you are willing you can make me clean.”  It was the Lord’s faith that prompted Him to say, “…be healed.”  (Mark 1:40-42)

In another part of the Bible, we read about some men who heard from the Spirit that if they could just get their paralyzed friend in front of Jesus, he’d be healed.  They ended up cutting a hole through a roof to fulfill this Word.  Scripture records that when the Lord saw their faith He healed the sick person. (Mark 2:4-5)

In all of these cases and many more, somebody had to hear from the Father and walk in the faith they received.  It could be the sick person, the minister, a friend, or a family member.  That’s because faith is received through a Word from God.

That’s why it’s so important that we spend time in the Spirit.  We need to develop our sensitivity to the voice of the Lord.  I believe that only then will we see the power that was manifest in the life of Christ and in the church of the book of Acts.

Hearing from God.  That’s where the Lord is bringing His church to in our generation.  Let’s walk with His plan and cultivate our intimacy with the Holy Spirit.

Question: How many other Scriptures can you find that show this principle of receiving healing faith through a Word from God?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2018 in Faith, Healing, Power of God, Word of God

 

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Private Time Insight

Over the last few posts, we have looked at some of the parables of Jesus.  That section of Mark is summarized in the next verses.

With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand.  He did not say anything to them without using a parable.  But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.
Mark 4:33-34

The understanding of this passage is actually very important to us as believers.  It holds the key to a greater depth of insight into the Lord’s work in our lives.

But first, we have to know what is meant by a parable.  According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary*, a parable is a “short, simple story designed to communicate a spiritual truth…in which truth is illustrated by a comparison or example drawn from everyday experiences.”

If we want to truly understand our walk with God, then we need to be able to draw spiritual truth from everyday experiences.  This is a big part of getting insight into the Word of God.

This was a big part of Jesus’ ministry to His disciples.  He spoke the parables to the crowds.  They observed the natural world examples.  But in private, the disciples were given the truths that these parables illustrated.

I’ve said it before; the ministry of Jesus to His disciples was equivalent to the ministry of the Holy Spirit to us today.  What Jesus did then, is what the Holy Spirit wants to do now, if we’re seeking and listening.  After all, most of the time the disciples asked the Lord to explain these parables to them.

We go through many different experiences in our lives.  How often do we ask the Lord to explain them to us?  Please understand, I’m not talking about the “Why me!” type of questions.  I’m talking about turning our daily walk into a learning time with the Holy Spirit.

Let me give you an example.  If you don’t already know it, I’m an avid hiker.  I love spending a week or more on the trail.  The fact is that walking is probably the most used illustration of spiritual truth in the Bible.

As I hike, I pray to, worship, and praise God.  I ask Him for wisdom and insight.  Along the way, the Lord has used my hiking experiences to give me tremendous insight into the Christian walk.  Many of the truths of Scripture directly coincide with walking long distances.

But probably the most important part of this whole discussion is the fact that this happened while Jesus was alone with His disciples.  The things that were in parable form were hidden from most people.  But the Lord wanted the disciples to understand them.

The word explained, in the above verse means to untie a knot.  It’s something that stays bound up unless you actively work at it.  In this case, it means spending time, in private, with the Holy Spirit.  It’s in those times that we can receive insight into our walk with God.

Do you seek to understand Scriptural truth from your daily activities?  Did you even know that this was available to you?  Spend quality time in God’s presence listening for His explanations of what you’ve been through.  It will open up your spiritual eyes.

Question: What spiritual insight have you gotten from your daily experiences?

*From Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Copyright © 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2018 in Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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The Pattern – Caught not Taught

FireI’ve been posting about the Scriptural pattern of living. In my last installment, I talked about allowing God to be involved in our daily lives. If you aren’t interested in the Lord being a part of all that you do, then you’ll never reach your full potential in Christ.

Assuming that you’re reading this because you want to grow in your Christian walk, let’s look at this pattern.

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:13

Here the Apostle Paul tells the young pastor, Timothy, to continue teaching what was passed on to him. Walking with Christ is not all about some new, exciting fad of teaching. We’re not to go around with itching ears looking for the latest wind of doctrine.

The truths associated with walking out our faith remain constant. Methods, technology, and cultures may change, but our focus must always be upon Christ Himself. The Holy Spirit’s role in the church never changes.

Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.
Philippians 3:17

This verse brings to light one of the biggest problems in the church of our generation. The pattern of living is not something that can merely be taught. To really understand it, you have to watch someone who’s living it out.

Jesus Christ exemplified what it meant to walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. The twelve apostles were privileged to watch the Lord and be immersed in that lifestyle. After the resurrection and the receiving of the gift of the Spirit they could walk out what they saw in Him.

It’s clear from Scripture that the same power, authority, and obedience to the Spirit were evidenced in their lives. The miraculous was an everyday occurrence in their ministries.

Even the next generation after the original twelve retained much of that walk. They saw the lifestyle of the apostles and reaped the same results. Unfortunately, the further from the cross we progressed, the more of this knowledge and experience was lost.

At this point in Christianity, God is restoring much that was lost. However, there are very few believers who exemplify the very lifestyle of Christ. It must be relearned from the basics.

There’s no other way for us to pick this up. We must read and study what we can from the pages of Scripture. Then, spend the time necessary with the Holy Spirit to learn how to hear and obey His voice.

That’s why time in the spirit is so important. If I’m to ever live like Christ in this generation, it will be as I’m trained at the Savior’s feet. There’s no quick fix to attain the abundant life.

Question: How important is it for believers to live and minister like Jesus?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Are You Walking with God?

BeamOne of the most important concepts for any believer to grasp is walking with God. The fact is that God wants relationship. Do we respond to the Lord on that level?

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

We see this all through the Bible – in both the Old and New Testaments. God wants to walk and converse with His people.

We see it in the life of Adam; the first man. God would meet with him and they would walk together in the garden. Even after all these years, God is still looking for someone who’s willing to walk with Him.

I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.
Leviticus 26:12

This is the cry of God’s heart. It’s one of the greatest privileges that we have as Christians. To be able to relate to the Creator of the universe.

And yet, only a small percentage of people avail themselves to this great offer. It’s probably because in our human nature we want things our way. Oh, yes, I want the blessing of God on my life. But I want them on my terms.

Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?
Amos 3:3

This is the big problem of walking with God. It happens over and over in our Christian experience. Walking together requires agreement.

It doesn’t matter whether I’m walking with other believers or the Lord Jesus. The two of us have to be in agreement. The thing about God is; He’s not going to change His attitude about anything. I’m the one who’ll have to change in order for us to agree.

That’s why it’s all about relationship. It’s a growing process. There has to be a level of trust that’s only built up over time.

I don’t learn to trust God by hearing one sermon and making a decision. It only comes through quality time spent with Him in His presence. It’s developed as we do life together – the Lord and me.

There’s a lot we need to understand about relationships. They’re always a learning experience. Relationships grow and mature over time. When it comes to relating with God, there are aspects to it that only He can teach us.

Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
Psalms 86:11

The more we allow Him to show us, the closer our walk with Him becomes. But for this to take place we have to give Him our undivided attention. Time spent in the Spirit is never wasted. It reaps eternal dividends.

I want to talk about this important concept for a couple of posts.

Question: What are some things that you’ve learned in your walk with Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2016 in Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Worship

 

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