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Seeds on the Street

Our Supply in GodIn today’s post, I’m continuing to talk about the parable of the sower.  The disciples didn’t understand it when Jesus gave it to the crowds.  So when they were alone, they asked Him about it.

Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t you understand this parable?  How then will you understand any parable?  The farmer sows the word.”
Mark 4:13-14

In His explanation of the parable, Jesus makes it clear that He’s talking about ministry.  Specifically; sowing the Word.  The Word He’s talking about here is the Greek word, logos.  Logos refers to the Word that is spoken in preaching or teaching.  For detailed posts about this truth, click here.

The Lord is giving an in-depth look at what happens when the Word is ministered.  There are various groups of people who hear the Word.  The effect is different in each group.

The first group Jesus deals with is what He calls those along the path.

Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown.  As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them.
Mark 4:15

The question is; who are these people?  The path is a ribbon of hard-packed earth.  It has been trampled by generations of traffic.  It’s dry, hard, and unyielding.

These are people who have absolutely no interest in hearing from God.  They just happen to be in earshot of someone who’s speaking on God’s behalf.  The message isn’t directed at them, but they happen to hear it.

Why is this the case?  Simply put; there’s not a farmer on earth who would intentionally sow his seed on the road.  That should be the case in the spiritual realm as well.

That’s why understanding the different types of people in this parable should be important to ministers of the Gospel.  There should be some discernment that goes along with the ministry of the Word.

I know that there are those who feel they need to preach to everyone within earshot.  But that’s just the opposite of what Jesus taught.  The seed of the Word is precious.  It shouldn’t be wasted on unproductive ground.

Listen to how the Lord explained it.

“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.  If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.”
Matthew 7:6

That being said, what CAN we do about people in this condition?  I’m in no way saying that we should write them off as unreachable.

The fact is that a road can be turned into a fruitful field – but it requires a lot of work.  These people need to be prayed for.  But I’m not talking about a simple, “God, please open their eyes. Amen.”

In order to make them ready and able to receive a Word that could save them, they require someone to intercede for them.  This may include spiritual warfare to break up their hardened heart.  Turning a path into good soil requires time and effort.

The church needs willing intercessors who can take on this responsibility.  Are you one of them?

Questions: Who do you know that may be a person on the path?  How can you pray for them?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on January 19, 2018 in Ministry, Prayer, The Gospel, Word of God

 

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How to Miss God’s Best

As we continue through the Gospel of Mark, we now come to one of the more popular sections.  It’s when Jesus teaches the parable of the sower and the seed.  The parable itself is contained in Mark 4:1-9.  You may want to look it up and read it before going on with this post.

There are a lot of important truths in this section.  So I’m going to spend a number of posts on it.  Apparently, the disciples didn’t understand the meaning of the parable.  Later, when they were alone with Jesus, they asked Him about it.

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables.  He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you.  But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!'”
Mark 4:10-12

To understand what Jesus is saying here, we need to know His role in the lives of the disciples.  Christ was to the disciples, who the Holy Spirit is to the church.  He was the One leading, training, guiding and teaching them.  So how the Lord worked with the disciples is how the Holy Spirit works with us now.

The goal of Jesus with His disciples was to bring them into an understanding of the kingdom of God.  His words are spirit and life.  Jesus tells us that by not accepting His Word, there are three consequences.  Unfortunately, I see these very things at work in much of the church today.

Ever seeing but never perceiving.  The word used for seeing is the generic word, to look at.  The word, perceiving, means to know by seeing or to experience.  This is talking about those who see what God has done for them but never experience it.

There are many Christians who spend lots of time confessing their position in Christ.  But they never do what it takes to cross over into the manifestation of it.  It only comes about by hearing and obeying the Lord’s voice.

Ever hearing but never understanding.  Hearing simply means to listen with your ears.  That’s the easy part.  Plenty of people do that every week in church services.

Understanding is on a higher level.  The word literally means to put together.  That’s where we usually miss out.  I need to know how to apply what I’ve heard to the area of my life that needs it.

Again, that’s where the Holy Spirit comes in.  If I’m not listening to His instruction, then I’ll never see the changes take place that will move me forward in my Christian walk.

Otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven.  This is obviously the most important part.  But it’s totally dependent upon perceiving and understanding.  What exactly does this mean?

The word, turn, means to turn around and start walking in the opposite direction.  That’s good, but it’s the forgiven part that most of us miss the depth of.  Our understanding of forgiveness is very shallow compared to the Scriptural concept.

When we think of being forgiven, it means that we did something wrong and now it’s okay.  This is not what the Greek word indicates.

The word, forgive, in the Greek, means to pick up, remove, and throw away.  This brings a whole new view of what’s happening in this verse.

When we perceive, understand, and obey a word from God, it causes us to turn around.  Then, at that point, things start dropping off and being removed from our lives.  Things like habitual sins, sicknesses, lack, and depression.

Hopefully, as we continue looking at this parable, we’ll learn to walk in this truth and experience God’s best for us.  If you haven’t yet subscribed to this blog, take the opportunity now so that you won’t miss an installment.

Question: What is your current level of experiencing God’s best in your life?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Gospel of Power

As we continue our look at the Gospel of Mark, I want to pick up on the theme that Jesus traveled throughout Israel proclaiming the Gospel, the Good News, of the kingdom of God.  The first place we’re specifically told about is a village called Capernaum.

They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach.  The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.  Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are — the Holy One of God!”

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly.  “Come out of him!”  The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this?  A new teaching — and with authority!  He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.”  News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
Mark 1:21-28

The first thing I see is the amazement of the people.  There was something about how Jesus taught that was different from everyone else.

The other teachers they listened to were mostly scribes, who had no teaching authority of their own.  They would refer back to the writings of famous Rabbis of the past.  They would give long quotes adding no insight of their own.

That’s a far cry from hearing a teaching from the living Word of God.  The Lord didn’t need to fall back on what somebody else said.  He knew exactly what the desired result was when He inspired the Scripture.

Consequently, when they listened to Christ, their hearts were changed.  They understood that they were hearing from the mind of God Himself.

There was, however, an even greater demonstration of the authority in His words.  A man who was under demonic possession was delivered simply by the words that Jesus spoke.  No hype, no theatrics, just, “Be quiet and come out of him!”

It was visibly confirmed that the Gospel that Jesus preached was the true Word of God.  Please don’t get the idea that this was just something for the Lord to do.  This is what the Holy Spirit wants for all who preach and teach.  Listen to how Paul describes it.

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

I don’t believe that the Gospel – the Good News of Christ – can be fully proclaimed without the confirmation of signs, miracles, and healings.  This is how the early church grew.  It’s what the world around us needs to see.

But that requires us to spend time with the Holy Spirit; hearing His voice.  Then, we may walk in the authority that only comes from being in the presence of God.  This is where the Father is leading us in this generation.

Question: Why does a demonstration of power increase the effectiveness of the Gospel?

© 2017 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2017 in Ministry, Power of God, Revival, The Gospel

 

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A Teaching Testimonial

As we come near the end of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he begins to give some short exhortations.  I find this next one to be of particular importance.

Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor.
Galatians 6:6

I’m obviously partial to this one because I’m an instructor in the Word of God.  Many times teachers never find out the effects that they have on someone’s life.

That’s because teaching is a cumulative process.  Changes in those being instructed don’t happen overnight.  Each new concept received, brings a tiny step forward.

Over time, these little pieces add up to a life that’s been brought to a new place in Christ.  That’s why we need to periodically take stock of where we are in our Christian walk.  Then, when we see where we are in our progress, we take note of where we learned these things from.

This verse tells us to communicate the good things we see in our lives with the ones who instructed us.  In that way, the teachers will be encouraged that their work was not in vain.

I remember my Sunday School teachers from when I was young.  One of them, Brother Jerry Citro, had a great impact upon my life.

I had just “graduated” into the Junior High Boys’ class.  We were a group known for always clowning around.  But Bro. Jerry loved us and worked with us.

One Sunday morning, he made an announcement to the class.  He told us that for the next few weeks, he wouldn’t be teaching us.  Instead, we would each take a turn teaching to our peers.  It should go without saying that this got quite a negative reaction from the class, but that’s the way it would be.

For the next few weeks, the class was pretty boring, to say the least.  The students either didn’t remember that it was their turn, or didn’t care.  I remember sitting in class listening to students reading the workbook to us.

Then it came to my turn.  I made a decision that I didn’t want to look foolish by not preparing anything.  So at some point during the week I read the lesson and wrote down some notes.  I also prayed for God’s help, since I had never done anything like this before.

That’s when it happened.  I got up in front of the class to teach.  My stomach was in knots.  But at least I had prepared something.

I don’t remember anything I said or taught that day.  I do remember that Bro. Jerry had a big smile as he thanked me for teaching at the end of the class.  I also remember that a couple of my friends came to me afterward and told me how much they enjoyed my talk.

As I look back on this experience, I realize it was that day when I first had the thought that maybe God wants me to teach.  If Bro Jerry had not made us participate, would I even have made it to where I am today?

Brother Jerry has since gone on to his reward in Heaven.  I have no doubt that he heard the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

But there’s something that brings me joy in all of this.  That’s the fact that on more than one occasion, I was able to communicate to him just how big a role he played in my ministry.  Every life I affected with the Word of God can be traced back to his faithfulness.

We need to be aware of the “Brother Jerry’s” in our lives.  I’ve had many more teachers that changed my life.  All of them should be thanked and made to understand their effect on us.  Don’t neglect this vital part of receiving God’s Word.

Question: Who are the teachers that have affected your life the most?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2017 in Encouragement, Ministry, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Spirit-Fruit: Faith

As we continue our look at the Fruit of the Spirit, the next that we’ll talk about is faith.  I know that in many translations of the Bible, they call it faithfulness.  But the actual Greek word used in Galatians 5:22 is faith.

Before we continue, there’s something that we need to understand.  There are two types of faith.  The first is a mental assent.  That’s where I hear a statement and decide to believe it.  That kind of faith is resident in my mind.

This mind-faith is not the fruit of faith talked about in Galatians.  That faith-fruit is produced in us by the Holy Spirit.  It’s cultivated by time spent in the presence of the Lord.  This is what I’m posting about today.

This kind of faith goes beyond my understanding.  That’s because it didn’t start with me.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2

If Christ is the Author, then I can’t take can’t credit for it.  That’s especially true if this is perfect faith.  I only know half the story, so my mind can only believe what I see and understand.  I need a faith that doesn’t rest on what’s visible.  That’s the perfect faith given by the Spirit.

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

This verse tells us exactly how we receive this faith.  Unfortunately, our modern “Christianese” church language veils the truth.  This verse is NOT talking about simply reading the Bible and getting faith from it.

According to the Greek text of this verse, faith comes through the hearing of rhema.  The word, rhema, is used in Scripture to describe the spoken word of God.  It’s a Word that we hear directly from the Holy Spirit.  (For a detailed teaching on this, click here.)

The only way to receive the fruit of faith is through the spirit.  I need to spend time with Him, listening to the voice of the Spirit speaking to my spirit.  That’s how this faith is transferred from Christ to me.

Unfortunately, many of the Bible translators don’t understand this either.  They have a hard time handing verses where this process is described.

Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Galatians 3:5

In this verse, the phrase because you believed what you heard; is literally because of the hearing of faith.  The fruit of faith is heard in the spirit.  It’s also the faith needed to see a manifestation of the miraculous.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit…
Jude 20, NKJV

The Apostle Jude understood this fact.  He knew that our most holy faith – the faith resident in our spirit – was only built up by prayer in the spirit.  That time spent in God’s presence is where perfect faith resides.  Through prayer in the spirit, we can make the transfer of faith from the Lord to us.

Don’t rely merely on your own, imperfect, human understanding.  Let the Spirit of Faith impart His fruit into your life.  It will change how you look at the world.

Question: What was a recent time that you saw God’s faith operating through you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 

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The Spirit-Fruit Goodness

Our Supply in GodI’m taking a few extra posts to look at the Fruit of the Spirit.  The next one to see is goodness.  As with the others, goodness is not merely about being good.

Just to remind you, all of these fruits are the result of cultivating our spiritual walk.  It’s time spent with the Holy Spirit that causes these to grow in us.

We can’t just go by society’s definition of the word.  What’s important is how God defines it and uses it in Scripture.

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…
Colossians 1:10

In this verse, Paul talks about bearing the fruit of goodness.  But what we find is that he prayed for something that needed to happen first.  What was required for the Colossian people to walk in goodness?

Paul tells us in the previous verse.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Colossians 1:9

In order to walk in the fruit of goodness, you must lay hold of the knowledge of God’s will for you.  That will never come through your own human intelligence.  You must tap into the wisdom and understanding that only come through the Spirit.

In other words, if you’re not hearing from God, then there’s no way you can do good – at least by the Lord’s definition.  To God, doing good is doing His will.

Jesus described this very thing in one of His parables.  At one point He described the Word of God as the seed planted in many different types of soil.  The seed in good soil flourished and produced an abundant harvest.

Listen to how Jesus explained this parable to His disciples.

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
Luke 8:15

According to Christ, there are three distinct activities that are a part of a good heart – a life that consistently produces goodness.  The first is the most important, and that is to hear the Word of God.  If you’re not hearing the Word, then you can never go on to produce the fruit.

The second part is just as important.  Once heard, you must retain it.  That literally means that you hold fast to it, you lock it down into your heart.  This means that you meditate on it.  You rehearse it and think about it until it becomes second nature to you.

The third thing that has to happen is that you continue holding fast to that Word.  This requires perseverance.  Day after day; month after month; even when it doesn’t look like anything is happening in the natural.

Then, as we remain in the Word of God, that change begins to take place and we receive an abundant harvest.  The Greek phrase for producing a crop is that we become fruit-bearing.

I don’t know how anyone who reads these verses can say that to bear the Fruit of the Spirit you just need will-power.  That won’t get you anywhere.  The fruit can only be produced by the Holy Spirit working in you.

Do you want to produce what the Father describes as good works?  Then spend time in the presence of the Lord with a listening heart, then guard that word, and allow the Spirit to bring them forth in you.

Question: What was a recent time that you saw God’s goodness operating through you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2017 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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Planting the Word

Our Supply in GodI’ve been posting from First Thessalonians. In my last article we saw how Paul was a spiritual father to those he ministered to. Because of that, the people were more willing to receive from his ministry.

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13

God is a co-worker with us and it’s His job to confirm His Word with signs and wonders. When receiving the Word of God, that’s the mindset I must bring with me. I want to hear from God. He’s using a human being to distribute this Word, but I want what God has for me.

Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
2 Corinthians 9:10

This verse explains what God provides for us. Even though the context is talking about finances, Paul makes it clear that the scope is far greater by calling it the harvest of your righteousness.

One major principle is that God provides bread for food. That’s the logos of God. It’s the Word that can give you immediate benefit. It’s readily digestible and palatable.

There’s also another major truth found here. It deals with sowing. If you’re a sower – you want the long-term benefits of the Word of God – then you’re seeking rhema from God. God is willing and able to drop the grain of rhema into your spirit.

The key is that you must be seeking this blessing. It doesn’t happen by accident. You need the attitude that says, “Sure, I hear Pastor Nick preaching, but I want to receive a Word from God.”

God desires to give His Word in all of its forms to anyone that will listen and receive. By the power of His Spirit, He gives both at the same time. God sends the digestible logos of preaching right along with the raw rhema from the mouth of God Himself.

Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?
Galatians 3:5

This question that Paul asks summarizes the entire scope of this teaching. Paul literally asks how does God fully supply you with His Spirit and activate His miraculous power in you? That’s the question of the hour. It’s what the church desperately needs to learn and lay hold of. It’s what the world is dying to see in operation.

I believe that it’s this truth that will usher in the end time harvest of souls before the coming of the Lord. The answer that Paul gives is that the Spirit is given and His power is activated in you by the hearing of faith.

This is where the power of God resides. It’s not a work of the law. It only comes as I hear His voice and let it inspire faith in me. This is the foundation for the miraculous. God and I as co-workers.

He’s looking for someone who’ll listen for His voice. It’s time for the church to enter that intimate place with the Lord. Only then will we see the glory of God released through His people.

Question: What’s your mindset while hearing the Word preached or taught?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2017 in Faith, Power of God, Word of God

 

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