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Category Archives: Prayer in the Spirit

Power to Witness

Power to Witness

This will be my last post from the Gospel of Luke. He ends his view of the life of Christ with some important words. It’s the great “take away” from his Gospel.

You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

Luke 24:48-53 NIV

Here we see the final interaction between the Lord and His disciples. The torch was being passed. It was now up to the apostles to bring the message of repentance and forgiveness to the world.

They were to go out and tell of everything the saw and heard under the Lord’s ministry. That’s a big assignment. They probably felt unprepared for such a task. Just like we do sometimes.

I like the fact that at His departure, Jesus blessed them. But it’s more than that. As He ascended into heaven, Christ continued to bless them. That tells me that the blessing is continual – even to us – as we proclaim the Good News.

However, there’s more that we need to see in this event. Luke gives us more details about it in his second volume – the book of Acts.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 1:4-5 NIV

The Lord makes it clear that something had to be done in their lives BEFORE they could go out and evangelize the world. They needed the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. That is the baptism, or immersion, in the Holy Spirit.

We sometimes get confused by this. The truth is that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is different from the infilling of the Holy Spirit. This is evident in the fact that the disciples were already filled with the Spirit before they were baptized (John 20:22). This took place after the resurrection and before the ascension.

Just before He left this earth, Jesus once again made this clear to the disciples.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

This is a part of receiving God’s power into your life. It’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes up residence within you when you’re saved. But the baptism is the immersion in the Holy Spirit.

I believe that this is one of the most important steps in the Christian walk. It opens us up to the power of God working in us. If we want all that God has for us, then we need to actively seek this baptism.

I know there are some who teach that this is no longer necessary for us as believers. But that doesn’t seem right to me.

The apostles walked with Jesus Christ for over three years. They heard His intimate teachings. They watched His life in public and in private. Yet, even they needed something more than just the teachings of Scripture.

How much more do I need the manifestation of the power of God in my life. Here I am, 2000 years after these things took place. I need the power of God activated in me. That’s what will get the attention of the world. It will draw them to the life changing power of Christ.

Question: How much of God’s power does it take to be a true witness of who Christ is?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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An Open Mind

An Open Mind

As we’re nearing the end of our study through the Gospel of Luke, we’re seeing the events surrounding the risen Christ. In my last two posts, I talked about His encounter with some of the disciples along the road.

They returned to Jerusalem to tell the others that Christ had risen. You may want to read Luke 24:33-45 before continuing.

As they talked together, the Lord appeared in the room with them. They were still confused and doubting what was happening. Jesus explained that everything was foretold by Scripture.

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.

Luke 24:45 NIV

The word understand in this verse literally means to put together. The Lord opened up the minds of these disciples to put together all that was happening. This included the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ, as well as the Scripture that foretold it. They had to walk in a supernatural understanding in order to grasp what was happening.

We need this ability of the Holy Spirit in us to put together – understand and apply – all that’s in the Scripture. If I don’t cultivate my spiritual prayer life, then where will all of this understanding come from? We can receive these blessing nowhere else but from the Spirit.

Paul understood this and tried to make it clear to his readers. In the following verse, the apostle is taking an Old Testament verse and revamping it for a spiritual people.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16 NIV

What this verse actually says in the Greek is, “Who has known the mind of the Lord well enough to be knit together with Him.” But we hold, possess the mind of Christ.

What an incredible truth! In the spirit we have access to the mind of the eternal God. The big question is; will we lay claim to this gift by the Spirit?

It’s clear that the Holy Spirit is needed in order to renew our minds. But this renewal is more than just accessing God’s knowledge. It’s much deeper than that.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus…

Philippians 2:5 NIV

This means that the direction of our minds should be the same as Christ. This is evident in our current church experience. So many of our prayers seem to go unanswered. We think we’re praying “in the will of God.” But we don’t see anything happening.

Many times, we don’t receive when we pray because we’re headed in a different direction than Christ. We want the blessings of God. We just want them for a different reason than He does.

We need to direct our mind like Christ. When the Lord walked the earth, His mind was directed by the Spirit. That’s what renewal is all about. It’s not just changing what we think about, but how we think.

This is a difficult thing to do in the natural. Actually, it’s pretty close to impossible. Trying to get the mind to renew itself is a losing proposition. Instead, the best way is to activate our spirit in order to keep our mind Christ-centered.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:2 NIV

This would be quite a challenge for us to do in our own power. I know I can accomplish this temporarily. I wanted to see how long during the day I could make myself think about the things of God. I found it to be a lost cause. The littlest things would distract me and refocus my attention on the things of earth.

Prayer in the spirit, however, allows you to zero in on things above for an increasingly longer time. Your mind will begin to follow the lead of your spirit. You will begin to understand the things of the spirit like never before.

In this way your mind will start to become reset and refreshed. When this is taking place, it goes a long way to changing how the outward man reacts to life. If we’re going to win the battle of the mind, then we must pray in the spirit regularly.

Question: How have you noticed your prayer life affecting your thought life?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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A Psalm for 2023

A Psalm for 2023

As we begin this new year, we should take the time to meditate on where we’re headed. I want to use this post to give you some thoughts to pray on.

For many years, I’ve had a tradition when it comes to the New Year. I’ve only posted about it a few times, but I want to start making it a yearly thing.

A long time ago, I noticed that since 1901, the Psalms have pretty much lined up with what was happening in world events. For at least 20 years, I’ve been using them to prepare me, and those under my ministry, for the year ahead.

Last year, I noticed something that I find very interesting. With the global pandemic that started in 2019, a majority of Christians stopped attending church in-person. Coinciding with that, from Psalm 120 on, are what’s known as the Psalms of ascent. That means they are Psalms calling God’s people to meet together. Hmmmm!

In last year’s post, I showed a call to return to in-person meetings. Unfortunately, there are large groups of believers who still don’t meet together for whatever reasons. To read last year’s post, click here.

Psalm 123 is the Psalm of Ascent for 2023. That’s what I want to talk about in this post. It’s up to you whether or not you see it as a prep for the coming year.

I lift up my eyes to you, to you whose throne is in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.

Psalm 123:1-2 NIV

This Psalm begins with an acknowledgment that God is higher than we are. We need to start looking up – seeking His face. This has to be done in the humility of a servant’s heart.

That in itself is an important concept. We look to the Lord’s hand. The Hebrew language distinguishes between an open hand and a closed hand. In the above verse, we look to the open hand of our Lord.

We need to understand this because an open hand is significant in Scripture. An open hand speaks of power, means, and direction. All of these things are to be sought from the hand of God.

This is where the Holy Spirit is leading us in the coming year. That is, if we’re willing to seek His face. That’s the place where we obtain mercy.

In this verse, the Hebrew word for mercy literally means that a superior being is bending or stooping in kindness to an inferior, in order to bestow favor on them. This is where the Lord wants us to be positioned.

However, the question this brings up is; why – why do we need this divine impartation at this time? The Psalm gives us the answer, although you may not want to hear it.

Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt. We have endured much ridicule from the proud, much contempt from the arrogant.

Psalm 123:3-4 NIV

This cry for mercy is because of the attitude of the world around us. These verses say that our lives will be abundantly filled with disrespect, contempt, and ridicule.

Our society has already begun this type of assault against true, Bible believing Christians. I believe that it will ramp up this year. Some of it is deserved for our timid service to Christ.

I believe that God is allowing this in order to get our attention. We need to get back to a lifestyle of seeking God’s face. We must let 2023 be a year of pressing into the Holy Spirit.

Question: How deep is your walk with the Lord?

© 2023 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Get Packed Up!

Get Packed Up!

We’re continuing through Luke’s Gospel. At this point, Jesus and His disciples are about to leave the upper room where the Last Supper was held.

The Lord gives these men some final instructions.

Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

“Nothing,” they answered.

He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That is enough,” he replied.

Luke 22:35-38 NIV

The Lord tells His disciples how to prepare for what’s ahead. As I look at this, I can see some spiritual parallels to what He’s saying. It’s how we should be prepared for our walk with the Lord.

Take a purse. That’s a money holder. In some of his parables, Jesus talked about money. A rich man gave money to his servants, for them to increase it while he was away (Matthew 25:14-30).

That speaks to me of calling. We’re called to be fruitful and profitable in the Lord’s kingdom. This means that we’ve sought God’s will for our lives. More than that, now we seek to please God by fulfilling that purpose.

Take a bag. The Greek word used, speaks specifically about a food bag. We need to have something to sustain our inner man.

In the natural, they would probably pack some bread. We have something more nourishing in the spirit.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

Matthew 4:4 NIV

We must spend time in the Lord’s presence. We need to be regularly hearing from the Holy Spirit. After all, He’s the one leading and guiding us to our calling and destiny.

Sell your cloak. We need to stop hiding. Many of us are very comfortable in our “spiritual cloaks”. We like blending in with the society around us.

Many times, I hear believers say that they’re trying to be relevant. I’m sick of hearing that. We were never called to be “relevant” to the point of compromise.

If the world can’t see a difference between us and them, then there’s something wrong with our lifestyle. Jesus makes it clear that how we live is going to make the world uncomfortable (John 15:18-19). There’s no way around it.

Take a sword. I don’t think this should take much to explain. We need God’s Word as a weapon. It’s a component of the whole armor of God.

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:17 NIV

I talked about the Word when I looked at the food bag. That was a Word for our nourishment and growth. This is a Word to defeat the enemy.

That’s why intimacy with the Holy Spirit is so important. Hearing from God is a vital part of our entire walk with the Lord. It’s what we need in every area.

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

2 Peter 1:3 NIV

The Lord wanted His disciples to be prepared. Spiritually speaking, we need preparation as well. Don’t be found lacking in the things of God. Walk in the fullness of what He has for you.

Question: What will it take for you to be spiritually prepared?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Prepared in the Spirit

Prepared in the Spirit

As we continue through Luke’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.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”

“Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.

He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.”

Luke 22:7-12 NIV

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 Counselor 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?

They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

Luke 22:24 NIV

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?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Staying Strong in the Last Days

Staying Strong in the Last Days

I’m continuing through the Gospel of Luke. For the past few posts, we’ve been going through Jesus’ Last Days teaching. I’ve talked about the things that cause the world to worry and fret about the future. God’s people are not to act like this.

The promises of God don’t go null and void simply because we’re living near the end of the age. We’re still under our covenant with Christ – a better covenant. That’s why we can look to what’s ahead with hope and anticipation.

He told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

“I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”

Luke 21:29-33 NIV

This should be an exciting time for the Church of Jesus Christ. The Kingdom is near! That thought should push us forward to greater effectiveness as we work for the Lord.

Jesus does give us a warning, however. That’s the key reason He told this to the disciples. I think that we’ve somehow lost sight of His Word to us.

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth.”

Luke 21:34-35 NIV

The Lord tells us that there are three things that we should be especially careful about in the last days. The first of these is dissipation. The Greek word literally means tossing-head. It was the common term for a hangover.

We associate this term with drinking, but Jesus wasn’t limiting it to the use of alcohol. Whenever we leave our calling to chase after the world, there’s a wasted period of time while we get back on track again. This is the period of our spiritual “hangover”.

Too many Christians are living most of their lives in dissipation. They’re either giving in to the desire for the things of the world or they’re trying to regain what they’ve lost. Don’t waste most of your life in dissipation.

Then there’s drunkenness. I don’t believe that Jesus is only talking about alcohol here. It could be anything that intoxicates God’s people. We end up chasing things when we should be pursuing the Lord.

The third is the anxieties of life. This is when you’re worried about things you can’t control. When we spend most of our time worrying about finances, health, and relationships, we lose our desire to serve God faithfully.

Put them in God’s hands. If you trust the Lord and follow His plan for your life, then the rest will fall into place. Jesus said that if you seek His kingdom and His righteousness first, then your needs would be taken care of.

Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:36 NIV

This is the bottom line of how to live in the last days. We must be a people who watch and pray. We must spend quality time in the presence of the Lord. This includes praying in the Spirit and listening to hear God’s voice.

In this way, the Holy Spirit will give you insight on how to live. We’re told that living like this will allow us to escape. Escape what? The anguish, perplexity, fainting from terror, and the apprehension that’s coming upon the world.

Isn’t that our ultimate goal; to stand boldly before the Son of Man at His return? If we heed His exhortation to us, then we’ll be unashamed by our life on earth. We’ll finish the race strong, knowing there’s a reward waiting for us. Not in fear, but the faith that Christ is with us.

Question: What do find most exciting about living in the last days?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Last Days Testimony

Last Days Testimony

I’ve been posting from Luke’s Gospel about how we should be living in the last days. In my last article I talked about what not to do. The last exhortation was, not to worry about your testimony. I believe this a vital piece of knowledge that we need in these last days.

Listen to what the Lord tells His disciples and us about standing before those who oppose us.

This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.

Luke 21:13-19 NIV

We live in a culture that is becoming increasingly more hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christians look like they’re becoming more low-key in their proclamation of the Word of God.

Many believers are worried. “What do I say? What if someone from the LGBTQ+ community calls me out? I don’t want to be labeled a ‘hater’.”

The problem, as I see it, is two-fold. First of all, many modern believers have become lazy and scripturally illiterate. They go to church to be spoon fed from the Bible.

We have to realize the times we’re living in. Whether you want to accept it or not, living in the United States today as a Christian, is like living on the mission field. We need to know the Scripture and live it in order to survive, spiritually.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15 NIV

When we allow the Holy Spirit to take us through God’s approval process, there’s no need for shame. Christians who get embarrassed about their faith show that they’re still in their spiritual childhood. It’s not a bad thing, but they need to get into the Word and grow up.

The second part of the problem is a little deeper. There’s an assumption in the words of Christ. He told His disciples that He would give them words and wisdom that none of their adversaries would be able to resist or contradict.

This assumes that God’s people know how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking to them. That’s the number one problem in the church today. We’ve lost the ability to hear from God.

We try in our own intelligence to reason and debate with the world. We try to convince them that our way of thinking is correct. The result is that they resist and contradict us at every turn.

Then, when that doesn’t work, we try to give them a list of quotes from the Bible. We want them to see what God thinks about the subject. But, what we find, is that the last thing they want to hear is the Bible. Please understand – people of the world don’t believe the Bible.

We have to come to the realization that, today, we’re in the same position as the early church. We’re in a society like the Roman Empire. They were mildly religious, but ungodly. They need to hear a Word from God. That’s what will make the difference.

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 NIV

You do understand that when this was written there was no New Testament. Christians had no Bibles. The only thing they could do was to pray and receive a Word from the Holy Spirit. They had no choice but to hear God’s voice.

Today, we have Scriptural overload. We’ve replaced time with the Holy Spirit with Bible reading. Please hear me – Bible reading is very important. I read the Word every day. But it’s no replacement for time with the Spirit.

The only hope for our society is a group of believers who hear from the Holy Spirit. This generation needs to hear from God. Only then will they hear a message that they can’t resist or contradict. That alone will draw them to the cross of Christ.

Question: How much time do you spend with the Holy Spirit?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Understanding the Word

Understanding the Word

We’re continuing our study through the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is now making His final trip to Jerusalem, where He will be crucified. He explains this to the disciples.

Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”

The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

Luke 18:31-34 NIV

Jesus is very clear about what’s going to happen when they reach Jerusalem. We need to understand that nobody took Him by surprise. The Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection was all a part of God’s plan from the beginning of time.

Now, He wanted to prepare His disciples for what was coming. They needed to be ready for these sorrowful events that would literally rock their world.

This passage is jam-packed with important truth. If you remember, in one of my recent posts, I said that when He was ministering on earth, Jesus fulfilled the same role that the Holy Spirit has with us now. We see that clearly in these verses.

Verse 34 actually reads, this rhema-Word was concealed from them. Jesus was giving the disciples a rhema Word. That’s a pure, unprocessed Word directly from God.

There are two more important words in this section. It says that the disciples did not understand, and they did not know what was being said. That’s a big problem.

When we spend time with the Holy Spirit in God’s presence, sometimes He imparts to us a Word from heaven. That’s a rhema Word to us.

Many times, we can’t readily understand it because of our human mindset. At those times, we need to guard it in our heart. We need to protect it and rehearse it. Jesus told His disciples why this is important.

If you remember the parable of the Sower, the seed stood for the Word being sown. Look at what Jesus said about what was sown along the road.

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

Matthew 13:19 NIV

If we have no understanding of what’s being imparted to us, there’s a risk we could lose it. That’s what happened with the disciples. They let go of the Word and had to go through depression and confusion between the death and resurrection of Christ.

When we receive something from God that we don’t understand, we need to search Scripture about it. Then continue to meditate on it and ask the Holy Spirit to give us the understanding we need. That’s His role with us.

But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26 NIV

The issue with the disciples was that whenever Jesus spoke about His death, they never said anything. They didn’t know what He was talking about, but they never asked for clarification. So, when the time came, they were totally unprepared for the devastating events.

We should learn this lesson. Spend time listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Then, guard that Word in your heart. Over time, and with the help of the Spirit, understanding will come, and you’ll see that which God has given you.

Question: What are some things that God has spoken to you?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Transformed with Jesus

Transformed with Jesus

So many people are hungering to see a manifestation of the power of God. The Jewish people were looking for it in Jesus’ day. That’s the Lord’s will for us as well. It’s something that you have to seek and pursue.

In my last post from the Gospel of Luke, Jesus told His disciples that some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power (Luke 9:27). In today’s post, we’ll see the fulfillment of this.

Three of the disciples were about to witness the power and glory of the kingdom of God. The Lord was taking them on a special trip.

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.

Luke 9:28-31

Many times during His ministry, Jesus would go off by Himself to a remote location and pray. Once there, He would spend time in the Father’s presence, hearing what His next assignment would be.

Now, the Lord takes His three closest disciples with Him up a mountain. They’re going to learn first-hand about the kingdom of God in a mountaintop experience. It should speak to us as well.

The first key to a mountaintop experience is the fact that they were all alone. There were no distractions. They could concentrate on what was happening with Jesus. We need to get to that place of unhindered focus on the Lord and what He’s speaking to us.

It was in that place that they had a revelation of the glory which Christ possessed from eternity past. That’s the defining characteristic of a mountaintop, at least in Scripture. It’s all about clarity of vision. You can suddenly see clearly what God wants you to see.

When you’re on top of a mountain, above the tree line, you have an unobstructed view in all directions. You can see clearly both where you came from, and where you’re going to. And even more than that, you get a fresh revelation of Christ.

In that place you have a greater understanding of who Jesus is and what He wants to accomplish in you. It’s a place of spiritual clarity.

The disciples didn’t know how to handle it.

Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters — one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

Luke 9:32-33

Here we see some of the biggest problems of our flesh in the Lord’s presence. First, they become sleepy. Our flesh finds the presence of God boring.

Then, once they were awake, they had to come up with a “great idea” to help the Lord. Why do we always think that we need to say or do something? Why can’t we just stay quiet, listen for His voice, and drink in His Spirit?

We need to learn to just be still in the Holy Spirit’s presence. It’s what the Father told the disciples.

While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves, and told no one at that time what they had seen.

Luke 9:34-36

If we will quiet our hearts before God, we could have this type of mountaintop experience. Not with our physical eyes, but in the spirit. The results will be well worth it. We’ll find ourselves with Jesus alone. That’s the change that can only happen in the spirit.

Questions: Have you ever had a mountaintop experience and what did you learn from it?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Meeting Needs

Meeting Needs

What are the priorities of ministry? What can we learn from the way Jesus handled the day to day logistical challenges?

In my last post, we saw the disciples going out and ministering in the power of God. When they returned, the Lord wanted to take them away for a rest break.

When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida, but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

Luke 9:10-11

Jesus intended to get away for a time of refreshing away from the crowds. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The people followed Him to this remote location.

Instead of telling them to go away and let Him rest, Jesus ministered to their needs. This speaks volumes about the love of Christ.

Then, as it starts getting late, the disciples talk to Jesus.

Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.”

He replied, “You give them something to eat.”

Luke 9:12-13a

The first thing that happens is that the disciples see and recognize the need. That’s the easy part. Ask anyone what’s wrong with the church and they’ll tell you what it needs.

But, they didn’t see it as their problem. The people needed to fix it. If they were hungry, then the crowd needed to go out and find something to eat.

That’s the attitude of many people today. “If they would do what they were supposed to do, the church would be better.”

Notice how Jesus turns that whole attitude around.That’s the response of a good leader. Turn the responsibility over to the ones who are sensitive to the need.

“Pastor, this church needs a Men’s Ministry.”

“I totally agree. When do you plan on starting it?”

I don’t think the disciples were prepared for that type of answer from the Lord. It caught them off guard.

They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish — unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.” (About five thousand men were there.)

Luke 9:13b-14a

Here’s where most ministries lose sight of the true vision. The disciples immediately make it a resource problem. Their first reaction was to throw money at it to make it go away.

But first – here’s an aside for those who think ministers of the Gospel should live in poverty. The disciples DID NOT say, “We don’t have the money to feed them.” They asked if Jesus wanted them to spend that much cash on the crowd.

In our economy, think about how much it would cost to buy 5000 fast food value meals. Jesus had that much money on Him at the time. But I digress.

According to Christ, it wasn’t a money problem, but a Word problem. How did the Father want this need met? Too often we ask for money before we seek the Holy Spirit to provide a miraculous solution.

Verses 14 through 17 of Luke, chapter 9, tell us of the way Jesus heard from heaven, and met the needs of over 5000 hungry people. This is how we should be ministering to those around us. We must spend time in the Spirit, and then walk out what we’ve heard from the Father.

Too many times I hear, “If we don’t get the donations, then we can’t do what God has called us to do.” Personally, I serve a God who’s bigger than the donations. He can make a way with or without the money.

We need to learn to be listening for His voice. That way we keep in step with not only what the Lord is leading us to do, but how exactly He wants it accomplished.

Questions: Has God ever worked His plans through you without money? How did He bring it about?

© 2022 Nick Zaccardi

 

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