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Are You a Disciple of Christ, Really? #discipleofChrist

ClassWe use the term disciple very casually these days.  Many are of the opinion that just being a Christian automatically makes you a disciple.  It that the truth?  Let’s see how it worked for the first disciples who came to Christ.

The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.  When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.  Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” 

They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?”
“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour.
John 1:35-39

There are some things that this passage can teach us about what it means to be a disciple.  We see two men who were following John the Baptist.  Then they were pointed to the Messiah.  That’s when their lives were changed.

A disciple follows Christ.  There’s no way around that.  The word follow implies that they took the same road as Christ. Many teach that a disciple is a student.  I’ve attended enough classes to know that not all students aspire to be like their teachers.  A student wants to learn what’s being taught.  A disciple wants to become what the teacher is.

A disciple comes near to Christ.  Jesus asked these men, “What are you seeking?”  Their response, in the original Greek, was amazing.  They replied, “Where is your dwelling place?”  Being a disciple is all about what you’re seeking.  Many say that they’re pursuing God.  But in reality they’re only after the things God can give them.  A disciple simply wants to be near Christ.

A disciple wants to experience Christ.  These men went to the Lord’s house and spent time with Him.  Hearing about Him isn’t enough.  What are you seeking?  Facts and figures about what God has done?  Or do you want to meet with Him and experience His home?

A disciple lives in Christ.  This is what truly defines a disciple.  Do you want to live in Him?  Jesus made this point very clear.  When most Christians are asked about it, they usually reply, “Of course I’m a disciple.”  The real issue is; what are you seeking?  Anything other than His dwelling place and you’re not a disciple.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 8:31-32 NKJV

Abide in Him.  Let His word abide in you.

Question: What steps are you taking to be a disciple of Christ?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

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Posted by on October 23, 2013 in Encouragement, Revival

 

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A Last-Days Deception

103_A_BonusPhotoThis post is the last in a series about our relationship to the Word of God.

The Book of Revelation mentions synagogues of Satan (Revelation 2:9).  These are places where the teaching of Scripture was done by satanic influence.  I need the Holy Spirit to help me interpret the Bible.  Yet, there are those who listen to the demon’s view of it.

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
1 Timothy 4:1

There are those who teach the Bible, but not the Word of God.  This is a great deception.  Of course no one would listen if a minister got up and said, “Satan says to do this.”  But if he reads a Scripture verse and puts a demonic twist to it, the church seems to fall for it most of the time.

Just because someone quotes Scripture doesn’t mean that what they’re preaching is of God.  I need the discernment of the Holy Spirit to protect me from false teaching.  How can I tell the difference between Satan’s teaching, man’s teaching, and the true Word 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 16:20

This verse literally says that the Lord was a co-worker with them.  They did their work – proclaiming the Word of God.  God 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.

When Satan quoted the Bible to Jesus (Luke 3:9-11), he used it to try and convince the Lord to jump off the highest point of the Temple.  If Jesus had jumped, would God the Father have confirmed that “word”?  Of course not.

Just because I quote the Bible, it doesn’t put God under any obligation to confirm it.  Even if I’m preaching from a text on healing, there’s no confirmation unless it’s a Word God wants preached at that moment.

There are questions I need to ask myself.  Is God working with me?  Am I proclaiming the Word of God for these people?  If the answer to both of these is “yes”, then I can expect a move of God.

We may not like it, but the truth is plain and simple.  If there are no signs following, then it wasn’t the Word of God that was preached.

When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said.
Acts 8:6

Scripture is very clear as to relationship between the preaching of the Word, and the response of the hearers.  When the Word of God is confirmed, there is a supernatural manifestation that draws people’s attention.

America needs a revival of hearing the Word of God.  It will only come from those who have received and planted the Word into their lives.

Questions: How hungry are you for a revival to sweep our nation?  Are you willing to seek God for it?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2013 in Revival, The Church, Word of God

 

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Scripture Without the Word of God

Dry2In my last post I talked about those who minister without the Word of God.  We are experiencing an epidemic of this in our American Christian experience.  Jude wrote about this problem almost 2000 years ago.

These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm – shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted– twice dead.
Jude 1:12

This rebuke describes a growing segment of the church.  What an appropriate editorial on many of the “ministers” we see on Christian cable and radio.

Jude describes them as shepherds who feed only themselves.  They preach messages that excite people in order to keep their cash flow going strong.  They’re clouds and wind with no rain – autumn trees with no fruit.

If there’s no fruit, then there are no seed to plant.  But that doesn’t matter.  With no rain they couldn’t water them either.

It’s a sign of the times that we live in.  There’s an abundance of the Bible being preached in America these days.  How much of it is a Word from God?  How much of it speaks what God wants said to this generation for this time in history?  How much planting and watering is being accomplished?

For the amount of Scripture being sent through the airways and over the internet, there is very little fruit to harvest.

“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.  Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.”
Amos 8:11-12

The prophet Amos predicted the days when there would be a famine of the Word of God.  What is a famine?  It’s usually a dry weather pattern.  As a result there’s no rain, no crops, and no new seed.  This must go on for years to qualify as a famine.

During the time of spiritual famine that Amos wrote about, Israel had many synagogues.  These were places where the Scripture was taught.  There were people teaching the Scripture all over Israel.  Scripture reading abounded – but not the Word of God.

It grieves me to look at the United States in light of this Scripture.  We are in that exact same place.  An abundance of the Bible is being preached and taught from every possible media outlet.  Yet for all of this, the church of Jesus Christ is, for the most part, marginalized.

We need to hunger and thirst for a revival of the Word of God in us.  Of course we need Scripture as our foundation – to keep us on track.  But we must seek God Himself so that we can receive the Living Word to burn within us.

Questions: What could America look like with an abundance of the Word of God going forth?  What could your life be like?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Revival, Word of God

 

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Living Saved – Past, Present & Future

GalaxyIn my last post I talked about how the work of salvation was started in your life.  But that’s not the end of it.  The Word has a greater job to do in you.

Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
James 1:21

James is writing to the church in this passage of Scripture.  As I’ve stated before, I believe that the book of James was the first New Testament Scripture to be written.  If that’s true, then the Word he refers to could not be the Bible, since that was unknown at this point in church history.

What James is telling us is that the Word has been planted in us and is continuing to grow in us.  It’s there to change us.  Actually, what he says in the original Greek, is that this seed has the power (dunamis) to save your soul.  James is telling us to allow the seed of the Word to do its job, the saving of our souls.

Wait a minute!  I thought that if I accepted Christ, then I’m saved already.  The answer to that is an important one.  Yes, you were saved from sin and hell.  If you died right now you would go to heaven to be with the Lord.

However, in the broadest sense, salvation is not a one time thing.  It’s ongoing.  I’m saved (from sin and hell), I’m being saved (from the effects of sin in me), and I will be saved (from my flesh).  It’s this ongoing process of salvation that James is writing about.

Salvation itself is a package deal.  It includes everything that Christ paid for on the cross.  That same Word that brought me over from death to life also works God’s health and provision in me.  But for this to work, it has to start in my soul and work its way out.

That’s why the Word is called a seed.  Much of its work is done in the unseen places, below the surface.  Then, as it continues its work, it bursts out into the sunlight to bring the work in my life to completion – the bearing of fruit.

The question may arise – where does the seed come from?  The answer is simple.  It comes from the processes of the Spirit.  The seed grows, produces the plant and then the fruit.  The fruit itself contains more seed.  That seed is then planted in new ground to produce even more – and the cycle continues.

So, in reality, the seed comes from those who at one time received the Word, allowed it to grow, and then brought forth fruit.  The seed comes from someone who accepted the Word.  According to the parables of Christ, there can be 30, 60, or even 100 times what was originally sown.  God wants an abundant harvest.  The greater the harvest, the greater the next planting will be.

Question: How much has your life changed since you first made Christ Lord of your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in Word of God

 

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God’s Seed in You

SeedIn many of my posts I talk about the relationship between the Word of God and the Scripture.  The Bible is the written Word of God.  But we also need to hear the Word from the Holy Spirit.  This is where the power of God intersects with our lives.

For a few posts I want to write about how the Word of God relates to us.  The Bible teaches that we must correctly handle the Word of Truth.  In order to do that I must be studying the Scripture – the written record of God’s Word – so that I can handle the Word I receive from God today.

In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.
Acts 19:20

The Bible uses many terms in relation to the Word of God.  It uses language such as spread, increased, grew, reached and multiplied.  In the above verse we’re told how.  The verse says in this way.  If you read through this nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts you’ll get a taste for the effects of the Word.

We see the gifts of tongues and prophecy being manifested.  There was boldness in preaching.  Handkerchiefs and aprons that touched Paul were taken to the sick and they were healed.  Demonic spirits were confronted and expelled.  There was widespread repentance such that a group of new believers burned the equivalent of $5,000,000 worth of satanic sorcery books.

That’s the way the Word of God is described as growing.  Literally, the above verse says that the Word became a force to be reckoned with.  The Word of God is alive and it grows.  That’s the aspect that I want to discuss in this series of posts.

For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
1 Peter 1:23

We’ve been saved by the living Word of God.  That Word is a seed that’s growing inside of us.  It will never decay or diminish.  It’s there forever.

Somewhere along the line somebody spoke God’s Word to you.  It doesn’t matter whether they used the Bible or not – you heard a Word from God that changed your life.  It might have been a Bible verse, a word of prophecy, or a statement of divine truth.  Either way, you received it, it grew inside of you, and eventually you accepted Jesus Christ and were born again.

That’s how the Word of God starts its work in you.  The fact that you’ve established Christ as your Lord and Savior is proof that the Word has taken residence in you.  Now it’s up to us what we do with that seed.

Question: What was the Word of God that brought salvation into your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2013 in Word of God

 

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Are you Asking the Right Questions?

Question MarkWe live in an age of hero worship.  It seems that people are more inclined to follow those with the most glitz and showmanship.  It has, unfortunately, carried over into the body of Christ.

When it comes to the teachings we accept, how do we decide who to listen to?  We need to be asking the right questions.  This was something that was clearly portrayed in the ministry of Christ.

The following is taken from the Scriptural passage found in the Gospel of Luke 4:16-40.  You will want to read that first to understand what I share in this post.

In that section of Scripture, Jesus preaches at two different synagogues.  One was in His hometown of Nazareth, and the other in Capernaum.  In both cases He preached the same message.  Knowing that it was the Lord, I am assuming that both messages had the same level of anointing.

In spite of these similarities, only one of the towns, Capernaum, received a blessing out of the visit.  It is clear to see from the narrative, that the reason was the questions that they asked themselves as Jesus was ministering.

This is important to us because we are guilty of the same type of attitudes that these people had.  I believe that we have missed out on countless blessings because our attitudes got in the way.  What makes the difference?

Verse 22 shows the question the people of Nazareth were asking.  It demonstrates what they were focusing on.

They spoke well of Him.  They were amazed at the words from His lips.

“Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

They were concentrating on who was speaking – was He all that they were expecting?

Capernaum was a different case altogether.  Verse 32 and 36 make it clear that they were amazed at His teaching.  They recognized that His Word had power and authority.  Who He was and what He looked like didn’t figure into their acceptance of the Word.

As a result, revival fell in Capernaum that day.  Demons were cast out and all the sick that lived in that area were healed (Verse 33-40).

We need to learn this lesson.  Sometimes the biggest show has the least anointing.  On the other hand – there are times God wants to perform great miracles through His “unknown servants”.

We need to be asking, “What is the anointing, authority, and power upon this Word.”  How big a following someone has shouldn’t figure into it.  It’s all about the spirit behind the message, not the person God is using.

If we keep this in mind, then we’ll find the blessing of God in some of the most unlikely places.  We will also open ourselves up to the miraculous.

Question:  Have you ever received a blessing from God’s unknown servants?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2013 in Revival, The Church, Word of God

 

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How God Confirms His Word

LightningI’ve been posting for a while on the Word of God and its relation to Scripture.  In my last post I showed that the power of the early church was based upon their hearing from God.  God spoke to them, they obeyed, and God confirmed His Word.

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 16:20

Scripture says that the Lord confirms His Word with the signs – healings and miracles – that accompanied it.  What’s our problem?  Do we serve a different God?  Of course not.  Is He still on the throne?  That’s a dumb question.

We serve a God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Then what’s the problem?  It should be clear to us.  We’re trying to get God to confirm the Bible verses that we’re preaching, when all along He wants to confirm the Word that He speaks to us.

He never told us to go out and read the Scripture to people for them to be saved – He tells us to proclaim His Word.  I submit to you that our society has heard enough Scripture – it’s everywhere.

They’re sick of hearing Scripture.  Many unbelievers can quote as much of the Bible as some Christians.  What the world is desperate for is a Word from God.  That’s what’s going to change their lives.  They can argue with the Scripture, but the Word of God will cut straight to their heart.

In our exuberance over the enormous availability of Scripture, we have taken it too far.  It doesn’t seem to matter what anyone says.  As long as there’s a Scripture verse attached to it, we call it the Word of God.

It doesn’t take much listening to Christian radio or cable channels to see that many preachers are using Scripture to support their own teachings and philosophies.  Hear me well.  They may be preaching Scripture, but they are NOT proclaiming the Word of God.

In these cases, God is under no obligation to confirm what they’re preaching.  God doesn’t have to confirm a quote from the Scripture; He only endorses His Word – what He wants said at that particular time and place.

Please don’t think, based upon what I said, that I have no respect for the Scripture.  I cannot live without it.  Daily, I read, memorize, study, and meditate on the Scripture.  I use it prayerfully.  I expect and seek God to speak to me through the pages of my Bible.

The difference is that now I’m also listening for God to use other means as well.  I want to hear God’s voice – however He wants to speak to me.  I believe that this was the basis for the power in the life of Christ and in the early church.  One of my goals in this blog is to share how this works in a practical way.

Question: Is it your desire to hear a Word from God?

© Nick Zaccardi 2013

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Word of God

 

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