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My Will or His?

In my last two posts, I talked about the manifestations of the Holy Spirit.  Not everybody believes that they’re still active today.  How do you feel about walking in the power of these gifts?

I think that in many cases, we don’t want the attention that they’d bring to us.  People would start to question how we were able to do some of these things.  Then we’d have to explain ourselves.

But, in actuality, isn’t that what we’re called to do in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  What better way of getting someone’s attention, than seeing the power of God firsthand.

I think it’s sad that we’ve turned this Scriptural truth into a theological debate.  Why not just step out in faith and see what happens.

It’s probably because there’s a deeper issue.  Paul gives us some insight into it.  He concludes his list of the manifestations with the following statement.

All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
1 Corinthians 12:11

The first thing I see is the word “all”.  They are all the work of one and the same Spirit.  The same Spirit who gives wisdom also gives tongues.  We need to understand the significance of this.

Right now there are churches who want to pick and choose what they’ll accept.  The same church that would ask me to pray for wisdom in a situation would throw me out if they knew I prayed in tongues.

How could we possibly say that God is the same yesterday, today and forever if we think some of these are temporary?  We need the power of God to be evident in all generations.

I’ve heard some say that the Gospel needed this power temporarily to kick start the church.  Now that the church is in place, our testimony is all that’s needed.  I submit to you that our testimony – without the power – is getting us nowhere.

The next important phrase is that the Holy Spirit gives them…just as He determines.  It’s not up to me to determine what God will or will not do.  Let the Holy Spirit be free to move however He determines.

That’s what bothers me the most about this subject.  There are people who get upset at me for simply believing that all of these are still in operation today.  Why not just let me live in my fantasy world?

Why not let me go my merry way believing that God will impart His wisdom to me when I need it (which He has!).  Why not let me go on believing that God can use me to pray for the sick and see them healed (which He has!).

Don’t they know that if I want to be used of God to heal someone, and it’s not God’s will, then no matter how hard I pray nothing will happen?  But if God still heals then…

So I have a challenge.  Feel free to use it with anyone you know who doesn’t believe in the manifestations.

I simply challenge those who think they’re not for today to pray a simple prayer.  “Holy Spirit, if these gifts are still in operation in the church today, please manifest them in me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.”

That should be no problem.  If you’re right in thinking they’re not for today, then you’re just speaking into the air.  Nothing will happen.

But, if my hunch is correct, they won’t pray this.  Because in many cases these people want to be in control of their lives.  They don’t want the Holy Spirit messing things up by making them an undeniable witness to the power of God.

We need the power of the Holy Spirit to confirm the Gospel that we preach.  Without it, we’re simply in a philosophical debate with other religions.

Keep your spiritual life strong.  Expect the Holy Spirit to show up at just the right time.

Question: Why do many in the church shy away from the power of the Holy Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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One Witness Can Change a Community

We are continuing in our study of the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus is going from place to place sharing the Good News and the power of God.

Then Jesus left the vicinity of Tyre and went through Sidon, down to the Sea of Galilee and into the region of the Decapolis.  There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged him to place his hand on the man.
Mark 7:31-32

On the surface, this seems like something that happened wherever Jesus went.  People were always asking Him to heal their sick.  But if you’ve been following this blog, you know that this is a special case.

This is not the first time the Lord has been to the region of the Decapolis.  The first time was recorded in Mark chapter 5, verses 1-20.

It seems that the people of this region do a lot of begging.  They begged Jesus to heal this deaf man.  During their first encounter with Christ, it was a different story.

In chapter 5, the Lord and His disciples met a demon-possessed man in a graveyard.  He was taken over by a legion of demons.  Jesus cast the demons out and they entered a herd of pigs.  Immediately, the pigs ran into the lake and drowned themselves.

When the people of the area saw what happened, they begged Jesus to leave.  As He was going, the delivered man begged Jesus to take him with the disciples.  Instead, the Lord told the man to stay and tell what had happened to him.

Now, some time has passed.  On the basis of one man’s testimony, the spiritual climate of the area had changed.  Instead of asking Jesus to leave, they wanted Him to minister there.

After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears.  Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue.  He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means, “Be opened!”).  At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.
Mark 7:33-35

The Lord graciously brought healing to this man.  It doesn’t talk about it in the passage, but I’m sure that the Good News of the Messiah was proclaimed throughout that whole region.

Then, as He’s leaving, the Lord gives different instructions.

Jesus commanded them not to tell anyone.  But the more he did so, the more they kept talking about it.  People were overwhelmed with amazement.  “He has done everything well,” they said.  “He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Mark 7:36-37

What a turnaround.  Instead of hostility to Christ, they are now amazed at who He is.  Now they all have the testimony that the Lord does all things well.

This all happened because one man did what the Lord called him to do.  He gave testimony to God’s work in his life.

Never get discouraged about the darkness around you.  Remember that one person’s testimony for Christ can change everything.

Heed the words that the Lord originally told this man in chapter 5.  “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”

Question: How has Christ shown His love to you?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2018 in Healing, Power of God, The Gospel

 

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Work Your Field

In my last post, I talked about the demon-possessed man that Jesus set free.  The demons left the man and went into some pigs, which drowned themselves.  When the people of the area saw what had happened, they were afraid.

Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.
Mark 5:17

When the power of God starts to bring change; people begin to resist it.  That’s been the case throughout all of history.

But there was one person who was glad about the change.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him.
Mark 5:18

This man had been released from his captivity.  He wanted to follow Jesus wherever He went.   God had a different plan for him.  This man was to stay in his home area.

Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”  So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him.  And all the people were amazed.
Mark 5:19-20

Too often the Lord’s people think that the only way they can do a big work for God is to be a pastor or missionary.  Maybe they look down on their abilities because they never attended a Bible college.

That’s never been the prerequisite for doing great things for the Lord.  All it takes is a knowledge of what Christ has accomplished in you.  If you understand God’s love for you, then you’re qualified to tell others.

It’s amazing how God takes us where we are, and increases our influence by His power.  This man was simply told to go to his family and share what Jesus did for him.  He was to explain to them the love of God.

I’m sure that’s where this man started.  But the grace of God couldn’t be contained in his little house.  He felt the drive to bring the Good News even further.

The word used in Scripture to describe him telling the Decapolis is the word for a town crier.  He proclaimed Jesus in the public square at the top of his lungs!  He wanted everyone to know how the Lord had changed his life.

In all of this, God had a plan that was being accomplished.  The people of this area started out being afraid and skeptical of Jesus.  They didn’t want him around.

But as this man started sharing his story, the mood began to change.  The people realized that the Messiah had come on the scene.  Their attitudes turned around.

How do I know this?  Two chapters after this, in Mark 7, Jesus returns to this area.  Instead of asking Him to leave, they bring the sick to Christ for healing.  This man prepared his region to receive Jesus.

So don’t ever think that your efforts for Christ are wasted.  Even if you seem to be in a small area, God can do a great work through you.  Just remain in His will, doing what He’s called you to do.

Question: What is God’s current assignment upon your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Encouragement, Ministry, The Gospel

 

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Jesus Describes Himself

JesusJesus reveals Himself to the church in many different ways. It all depends upon what we need to see. Look at how He describes Himself to the pastor (angel, messenger) of a church in a town called Laodicea.

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.”
Revelation 3:14

The Lord reveals Himself in three ways. First, He shows Himself as the Amen. The literal translation of that word throughout the New Testament is so be it.

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
II Corinthians 1:19-20

It’s through Christ that the Amen is spoken to all the promises of God. So many times we don’t understand why promises seem to be delayed.

Our first response is, “Well, maybe it’s not God’s will for me.” Scripture is clear. If you’re in Christ you already have the yes and the so be it.

It’s no longer a matter of if, but of God’s timing – which, by the way, seems to be on a different level than our timing. Just remember, when it comes to His revealed will as recorded in His Word, we need unwavering faith to trust in Him no matter what the situation looks like.

He also reveals Himself as the Faithful and True Witness. He’s the One we can totally rely upon. He’s the only One worthy of putting your complete faith and trust in.

Not only is He true and genuine, the Lord is truth, the Word of God made flesh. It’s important, however, to understand how He’s a witness. What is it that the Lord is a witness to? The answer to that question makes all the difference.

God, whom I serve with my whole heart in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
Romans 1:9-10

Over and over again in the New Testament we’re told that God is a witness to all that we do. We may be able to hide our activities from other people, but not from God. This should give us a motive to serve God with all of our hearts.

This is because the Lord is our attorney at the judgment seat. Granted, that in Christ we will not be in danger of Hell, but our rewards are dependent upon His testimony. Remember this – He is the faithful and true Witness. He will not whitewash your actions or cover up your wrong doings.

The testimony of Christ will be perfectly correct and accurate. If you want your rewards to be great, then you must live your life at the highest level for the Lord.

Finally, He shows Himself to be the Ruler of God’s creation. Everything was made by Him and for Him. He is the Origin and Source of the universe.

Therefore, the Lord is also the Owner. He has complete sovereignty over all there is. We must acknowledge that He’s in charge and we are not. It’s God’s plan that we follow His lead and not seek after our own petty desires.

Question: What are the ways in which Christ revealed Himself to you in your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2016 in Faith, Power of God, Spiritual Walk

 

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One Jesus – Different Calls

Different AnointingI like reading about the disciples in the Bible. They’re recorded as real people. They’re not shown to us like some kind of spiritual superheroes, but people just like us. I want to take some time to talk about a couple of them and their first encounter with Jesus.

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
John 1:43-45

In the past I’ve talked about how Andrew came to Christ. Then he went off and called his brother, Peter.

Today I want to introduce you to some new people. That’s because everyone is different.   Everybody’s story is different.

Why and how they come to Jesus is always unique to that person. So we have to realize that disciples of Christ are all different. Each of us is special in our own way. You cannot be me and I cannot be you.

It’s interesting to see that Jesus sought Philip out – Jesus went to Philip and literally said, “Walk my road.”

It turns out that Philip was from the same town as Andrew and Peter. They were from a place called Bethsaida, which means house of fish or fishing house. Think about what kind of a place would have a name like that? Who comes from there? We know that Peter and Andrew, as well as James and John were all fishermen.

Philip didn’t fit that mold. The name Philip means horse lover. Obviously Philip was his own person. He was different and he didn’t care. Yet, even though he was different, his response to Jesus was the same.

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote — Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
John 1:45

“I have to tell someone.”

When it came to Andrew, he went to Peter to tell him what he had found. This is absolutely amazing because Scripture clearly says that in this case, Jesus found Philip. This tells me a truth that we all need to understand.

Christ calls everyone differently. He made us all different, and attracts us to Himself in different ways. The Lord told Peter, “I’ll make you a fisher of men.” How do you fish? Do you use the same technique or bait for everything?

No! Depending upon where you’re fishing, or what you’re trying to catch, there are many different kinds of bait, lures, and techniques.

We have to remember this in our walk with the Lord. Everyone responds differently to the Gospel message. That’s why we need to be led by the Spirit. In that way, each individual can see Christ as their PERSONAL Savior.

Question: What first attracted you to come to Jesus?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2016 in Ministry, Spiritual Walk, The Gospel

 

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Are You a Spiritual Explorer?

Grapes“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Luke 11:9-10

This is a verse that we like to quote a lot.  But, I want to know if it’s real to us.  Do we understand the importance of seeking?  And in all of our seeking, are we searching for what’s truly important?

I’m reminded of the children of Israel as they waited on the doorstep of the Promised Land.  They selected 12 “spies” who were instructed to search out the land and come back with a report.

So they went up and explored the land…When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes.  Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.  That place was called the Valley of Eshcol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there.  At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.
Numbers 13:21-25

God had promised this land to Israel.  Now they were seeing it for the first time.  They roamed up and down the whole area.  Needless to say, they were very impressed with what they saw.  The fruit was unmatched anywhere else.  It was truly a blessed land that awaited them.

Their exploration of the land should be an example to us.  We need to search out both the Scripture and the Mind of God to know our inheritance in Christ.  It’s very important that we see what God has in store for us.  Without that knowledge, we can’t go before God in faith to believe for the things that we need.

It’s unfortunate that most Christians have no idea the magnitude of the blessings there are in serving the Lord.  They live their whole lives never knowing that God’s grace is sufficient for them.  I believe it’s time for the church to live the abundant life that we were called to.  This, more than anything else, will be an incredible witness to our generation.

That’s why the time you spend in the presence of the Lord is so important.  Take the time each day to read the Bible, pray, and pray in the Spirit.  That’s how you search out the things God has prepared for you.

As the Holy Spirit speaks to you, be quick to lay claim to the promise, blessing, grace, or strength that He offers.  Walk each day in the faith that only comes through a living relationship with the Life-Giver.

Question: How intensely do you explore your “promised land”?

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Faith, Prayer, Revival

 

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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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