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The Place of Clarity

Many people ask how they can get direction and insight from God.  The fact is that God always wants to speak to us; we just need to be in the position of hearing Him.  As we continue in Mark’s Gospel, we’ll see how Jesus heard from the Father.

Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd.  After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.
Mark 6:45-46

As I read the Gospels, I find that Jesus loved the mountains.  He went there often to seek solitude and to pray.  I don’t think that the disciples ever realized the importance of this part of the Lord’s ministry until after the resurrection.

There were many times where the best thing for Him to do was to dismiss the crowds and to send away His disciples in order to be alone with the Father.  This was one of those times.  He had just ministered to thousands of people.  That can be very draining no matter who you are.

When the Lord took on flesh and blood, He chose to live as one of us.  Because of this, Jesus was bound by the same physical limitations that we are.  He learned that you can’t just keep giving out to others.  You must also take something in that can recharge your own spiritual batteries.

It was in these mountains of prayer that Jesus was able to renew His Spirit.  He would seek the Father’s face and by the Spirit, hear the plan for the road ahead.  In that way, He could fulfill the work He was called to do without burning Himself out doing it.

How do I know that the Lord would hear from God in this way?  Scripture makes it clear.

When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land.  He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.
Mark 6:47-48a

I think that we miss the importance of this verse sometimes.  This was a direct communication between the Lord and the Father.

It had gotten dark.  The disciples were a couple of miles away, in a storm, and it was night time.  Yet the Bible clearly says that Jesus saw the disciples straining at the oars.  If it were daylight, He might have seen a tiny dot out on the lake.

This was obviously something shown to Him in the Spirit.  That’s what happens in the place of solitude and prayer in the spirit.

What most people don’t understand about this is that being alone in the presence of God is the mountain of clarity in the spirit.  As a matter of fact, if you read through Scripture, the defining characteristic of mountaintop experiences is clarity of vision.

Jesus had to climb to get there.  It involved work.  It’s the same for us.  It’s not easy setting aside a regular time to seek the Father.  But the rewards are a clear view of the Lord’s plan for our lives.

That needs to be a lesson for us.  If Jesus needed this time with the Father, how much more should we be seeking the presence of the Lord in our daily lives?  Take the time necessary today to renew and refresh yourself in the presence of the Lord.  You’ll be glad you did.

Question: What’s the last thing God showed you when you spent time in His presence?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Preparation is Everything

When you think about the ministry of Jesus, what’s the picture you get in your mind?  Do you think that He simply wandered around Israel with no objectives, preaching as He walked along?  As we continue to study the Gospel of Mark, we’ll start to see the logistics involved in the Lord’s ministry.

Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.  Calling the Twelve to him, he sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits.
Mark 6:6b-7

Jesus’ work in Israel is starting to grow.  Larger crowds are coming to hear Him speak.  At the same time, the number of disciples is increasing.  At this point, the Lord probably has about 20 people in His group all traveling with Him.

We sometimes get the idea that life was somehow easier in the ancient world.  In actuality, they had some of the same challenges that we have in our modern society.

It’s always easier when one or two people are traveling together.  Food and lodging aren’t too tough to find along the way.

But now Jesus is moving around with a group of twenty.  Think about it.  That’s not something that could just be done without any prior preparation.

After all, there were no restaurant chains along the highway.  There were no big name hotels with 800 numbers to book in advance.  They had no arenas that could schedule a huge event with advanced ticket sales.

Jesus needed some of His disciples to do the advance work in the cities He was heading to.  They needed to let the towns know that the lord was on His way there.  Then they had to report back as to where they would sleep, get food, and what would be the best place to preach when they arrive.

Later on in His ministry, as the team grew to over a hundred, Christ had 72 workers who did this job.  (Luke 10:1)  Jesus never had the attitude of, “We’ll just figure it out when we get there.”  It’s sad that many churches and ministries have no vision other than to hold meetings, and then just see what happens.

The Lord never took that approach.  He even instructed the disciples as to how they were to accomplish their objectives.

These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff — no bread, no bag, no money in your belts.  Wear sandals but not an extra tunic.  Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town.  And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, shake the dust off your feet when you leave, as a testimony against them.”
Mark 6:8-11

Contrary to what some teach, this is not Jesus laying the groundwork for a poverty mentality among His ministers.  This was the vetting process for the towns Jesus was about to pass through on His intended course of travel.

By taking nothing with them, they were testing whether or not a town was ready for the full ministry of the Messiah.  If they were not willing to supply the needs of two lone travelers representing Christ, then they weren’t worthy of the tremendous blessing that would be given to their town when Jesus arrived.

That’s why it’s important to pray, seek God’s direction, and make plans for how your ministry will progress.  It doesn’t just happen by accident.  You have to put some legs on the dreams and visions God has placed in your heart.

Question: What’s the next step you have to do to prepare for what God has in your future?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2018 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, Spiritual Walk

 

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Vision Brings the Puzzle Together

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is my last post in a series about having God’s vision for your life. There’s a verse that people often quote when talking about vision.

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.
Proverbs 29:18

In one of my previous posts I made the point that vision gives you movement and direction. Because of this truth, there’s a result that many are not pleased with. The fact is that vision limits your options.

Sanballat and Geshem sent me this message: “Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.” But they were scheming to harm me; so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?”
Nehemiah 6:2-3

It’s the limitations of the vision that kept Nehemiah out of trouble. We need to learn this same lesson.

If I’m headed north, I shouldn’t be going south on the highway. This is what trips us up the most in our walk with God. Many Christians are spiritually paralyzed because of it.

We have a way of looking at all the parts of our life separately. We think that our job, our family, our schooling, etc. have no relation to each other. We see all the parts as individuals; but they’re not. Everything we do affects the whole.

Think of your life like a 200 piece puzzle with 300 pieces in the box. Some of the pieces look like they go together, while others look totally different. The picture on the box cover is God’s vision for you.

That’s why we need His understanding to put it all together. In order to take this mess and make the picture out of it you need to see the completed picture. Then it becomes obvious which pieces don’t belong.

How does knowing God’s plan bring me to the destination? Here’s an example. God’s vision for my life is that I become debt free. Will buying this new Smart TV on credit get me there?

That’s what I meant when I said that vision will limit your options. It’s like that for every area of your life. Knowing God’s vision for your life helps you make good decisions.

We should be a people who seek God. Then, as He speaks, we can walk in His plan for our lives. That’s how the world will see something different in us.

Question: How have God’s limits on your life turned out to be a blessing?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on January 8, 2016 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Your Heart Determines Your Vision

heart CrossI’m posting about walking in God’s vision for your life. Specifically, I’m looking at insights from Nehemiah. As Israel was returning from captivity, he heard a report that Jerusalem was badly in need of restoration.

As a response, Nehemiah spent time in the Lord’s presence seeking His plan. We saw in my previous posts that this is where spiritual vision is born.

The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it.”
Nehemiah 2:4-5

This is the question that needs to be answered. What is it that you want? Do you even know what you want – really?

So often we find ourselves asking God for things that we’re incapable of handling correctly. There are churches seeking God to save hundreds of people. The problem is, that if 30 people were saved, they’re not ready to handle discipling, teaching and counseling them all.

Nehemiah knew that he had to seek God to find out what it was that he really wanted. He had the favor of the king. That was the equivalent of a blank check from a billionaire. That was a big responsibility.

We need to realize that our vision is what we truly want. That’s why seeking the Lord for it is so important.

Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

Many people quote this verse and apply it incorrectly. First of all, the word delight means to be pliable, soft, yielding to God. If your ministry to the Lord is delight-driven, then you’re open to following wherever He leads.

If that’s what’s on the inside of you, then God will give you heart desires. Please understand this. He will NOT give you what your heart desires. He will put desires into your heart that line up with His plan for you.

That’s what will propel you forward in your walk with Christ. As you spend time with Him, you will begin to delight in His ways. Then, over time, you will start to desire what He desires. You’ll be seeing the world through the Lord’s eyes.

That’s what it takes to walk in God’s vision for your life. It’s an impartation of His heart into yours.

Question: How have your desires changed by spending time with the Holy Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2016 in Ministry, Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Having Vision Means Change is Ahead

SpotlightI’m posting about entering this New Year with vision. It comes from spending time in the Lord’s presence. Then, having heard from the Holy Spirit, you begin to see what could be – what should be – what must be.

Vision is the destination. It’s where God is bringing you. But it comes with responsibility.

As soon as you see your destination, this vision requires movement and direction.

Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”
Habakkuk 2:2-3

We are probably all familiar with this verse of Scripture. Many times in the past I’ve posted about the need to write down what God speaks to you. This brings clarity of purpose.

When you have spiritual vision, you can move forward more quickly. Those two words I mentioned – movement and direction – speak of CHANGE. That’s what usually scares us.

In Ezekiel’s day there was a proverb among the people.

“Son of man, what is this proverb you have in the land of Israel: ‘The days go by and every vision comes to nothing’?
Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to put an end to this proverb, and they will no longer quote it in Israel.’ Say to them, ‘The days are near when every vision will be fulfilled.’”
Ezekiel 12:22-23

The problem is; if you don’t move forward with God’s plan, then nothing happens. God doesn’t do anything without a channel. By seeing where God wants to bring you, it should motivate you.

It should be our desire to move forward in the Lord’s grace. So we spend quality time hearing His voice to the church. Then, we set our course to accomplish what we’ve already seen. That’s how Jesus operated.

It should be our goal for 2016, to do whatever it takes to bring about God’s plan for our lives.

Question: What do you know that the Lord wants to do through you this year?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2016 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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Entering the New Year with Vision

2016As we start this New Year of 2016, I wish God’s best for you. As the people of God, we know that we have His blessing and favor upon us. But we need to continue walking in His vision for our lives.

I want to take a few posts to talk about our spiritual vision. It’s important to spend quality time in the Lord’s presence to understand where He’s taking us and what He wants us to accomplish.

The Jewish leader, Nehemiah, knew some things about vision as he helped the children of Israel to return to their homeland after the Babylonian captivity.

Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem.
They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.”
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.
Nehemiah 1:2-4

Nehemiah saw what was presently happening in Jerusalem. He knew that what was happening was not God’s best. The broken down wall and burned out buildings needed to be restored.

What was his response to this news? He spent time with the Lord. That’s where vision is born.

It’s especially easy to receive God’s imparted vision when you’re dissatisfied with what is. That’s because vision is the burden that comes when you see what is in contrast to what could be.

Vision always demands change. So Nehemiah mourned, fasted, and prayed. He did this so that God could work the necessary changes in him first of all.

That’s why not everyone wants the Lord’s vision for their lives. Vision calls for change and that change must work on me first.

I cannot accept this work of the Holy Spirit until I want to see a change. If I’m content with my present circumstances, then I won’t seek God with fervency. That’s what it will take to be a child of God with vision.

Question: What do you see that needs to change in your life personally and in the church?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2016 in Prayer, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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6 Signs of Missing God’s Rest

WomanIn my last post, I started talking about resting in the Lord. That’s God’s provision for His people. He desires us to enter into that place of peace.

But what happens if we ignore this invitation? Let’s look at the symptoms of a life lived outside of God’s rest. The Lord explained it to Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land.

Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. In the morning you will say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening, “If only it were morning!” – because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see.
Deuteronomy 28:65-67

This passage plainly tells us the symptoms of a life lived outside of God’s resting place. These symptoms include:

An anxious mind. The words he uses here are literally a trembling and fearful heart. The future should never cause anxiety in the hearts of God’s people. Do you have fear in your heart about the future? Are you constantly worried about what you see coming at you? Then you need to enter God’s rest.

Weary eyes. These are eyes that fail to see what God has for you. The Word of God is clear about the many things that were purchased for us on the cross. We need to constantly remind ourselves of these things. Weary eyes means that you have no vision for your life based upon the Word. You seem to be longing for something more. Do you have a lack of vision?

A despairing soul. This literally means a soul that’s in mourning. Mourning takes place as a result of experiencing loss. When something or someone dear to us is taken away, we enter a state of mourning. Do you always feel as if you lost something along the way? God’s answer is to enter His rest.

Constant suspense. This actually means that you are always doubting. Is God’s purpose hidden from you? Do you doubt that He can bring about His desire for you?

Dread day and night. This is talking about constant fear over the future, with no assurance in sight. Do you fear that your life will have no impact or meaning?

Depression. That’s the final step in this process. You can’t wait for evening to go to bed. Then, sleep eludes you and you can’t wait for morning. Do you battle with depression? Does it rob you of your will to go on?

If you have these symptoms at work in you, then you need to understand and enter God’s rest. The Word is clear. God has so much He wants to shower upon you.

That’s why I felt the need to start this series. Many believers, either through a lack of understanding or disobedience, fail to see God’s blessing in their lives. They miss out on resting in the Lord.

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
Hebrews 4:1

In my next post I’ll show the results of a life resting in Christ.

Question: How has resting in Christ helped you to overcome these problems?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2015 in Encouragement, Faith, Revival, Spiritual Walk

 

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