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Our Last Days Witness

We’re continuing our study of the Gospel of Mark.  Jesus is now preparing His disciples for the events that are coming in the future.

“You must be on your guard.  You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues.  On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.  And the gospel must first be preached to all nations.”
Mark 13:9-10

The first command that the Lord gives in this passage is that we open our eyes and watch ourselves.  When it comes to being prepared for the Last Days, it’s our own responsibility.  I’m not responsible for anybody else’s walk.  I need to make sure that I’m on the right path.

How do I need to prepare?  That’s the important question.  Jesus talks about three different areas that will require us to be willing to show our witness for Christ.

The first is councils and synagogues; or specifically, organized religion.  It seems that whenever you decide to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, there will be a point when “religion” will disagree with you.  So you must be prepared for them to take action against you.

That’s because most major denominations have a set of rules that they’ve put in place to maintain order.  In most cases, that’s not a bad thing.  I’m currently a part of a large denomination that’s very encouraging.

But that’s not always the case.  There are sometimes when you have to choose between following God and serving your denomination.  That will require the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

The next area deals with those who influence society – governors, and kings.  I believe that this also includes leaders of industry.  That’s because in many cases, those with huge resources have influence over those in government.

We’re told that we’ll be made to stand before them.  This is God’s doing so that we can be a witness to them.  Again, this will require the wisdom of God to be active in us.

That phrase is interesting in the original Greek.  It implies that our witness will be a wind that blows in a different direction than they want to go.  Some leaders will receive our testimony and be saved while others will reject both it and us.

The final area He talks about is the nations.  Jesus tells us that the Good News of Christ must be proclaimed among all nations.  The word for nations in that verse really means people groups.  There are some countries where many tribes are represented in them.  These groups of people must all be reached with the message of Christ.

But that brings us back to our big question.  How can I possibly prepare for such a complex assignment?

Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say.  Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
Mark 13:11

The literal Greek of this verse says when you are led or surrendered.  I believe that the Lord’s telling us that our place of testimony may be either voluntary or involuntary.  But no matter which we find ourselves in, the preparation is the same.

We need to have an intimate knowledge of how to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.  How can I receive the word to speak, if I’ve never taken the time to hear Him in the past?  The time is now to develop listening spiritual ears.

I believe that this is the next thing on God’s agenda for His church in these Last Days.  He wants us to take the time to learn to hear from the Spirit in His presence.

Question: How did the ability to hear from the Spirit affect evangelism in the early church?

© 2018 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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Mount Zion

Hebrews 12:22-25
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.  You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.  You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks.  If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven?

In the pages of Scripture, Mount Zion was called the Mountain of God.  It was a place where the presence of God was felt very powerfully.

I’m so glad that the presence of the Lord is no longer confined to a specific place.  That being said, there have been times in my life when I have encountered the Holy Spirit in a powerful way.  Other times He spoke with a “still, small voice.”  When we come to Him in an attitude of expectation, He will speak to our hearts.

There is one thing I have learned in these encounters.  When I hear His voice I must be quick to say, “Yes, Lord!”  Sometimes He speaks a hard word – a word that calls for change – as He did many times in Israel’s history.  Change is never easy, but when ordained by God, it’s for the best.

Seek to spend quality time in the presence of the Lord.  But more than that; when He speaks to you, be the one who is ready and willing to agree with His plan for your life.

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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In the Name of Jesus

Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Think about it.  Do everything in the name of Jesus.  It doesn’t matter if it’s speaking, doing the dishes or driving the car.  We must do it all in His name.

Many believers don’t know what this means.  Doing things “in Jesus’ name” is part of a lifestyle of service to God.  We need to see it as more than just a last line for a prayer.  It means living our lives as if Jesus Himself were living through us.

We sometimes get the idea that Jesus only wants to be involved in the “religious” parts of our lives.  That kind of thinking couldn’t be more wrong.  We are, by nature, spiritual beings.  We carry the spiritual with us wherever we go, whatever we do.

The challenging part is learning to cultivate the spirit no matter what the activity.  That’s the goal of these posts.  I want us to see our daily activities in a new light.

No matter what you do throughout the day, you can use it to strengthen your relationship with Christ.  Take some time right now, and meditate on what it means, to you, to “do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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Getting Help

2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Most of us like to be helped.  When facing a difficult challenge, even a word of encouragement can go a long way.

If you are like most people, then you have relied upon help at one time or another.  Scripture teaches us that part of showing gratefulness is taking the blessing you received and passing it on to someone else.  It can be anything – a kind word, food, a ride, or a helping hand carrying things.  If it is done in obedience to God’s Word, it’s powerful and life changing.

What we need to start realizing is that even though all these good things came through the people around us, God originated them.  All the blessings that we receive come from the Lord’s hand.  It’s in thankfulness to Him that we are willing to pass a blessing on to someone else.

Look for an opportunity, today, to be a blessing to someone.  Do something unexpected.  Take the good things you have received from God and pass them on to someone around you.  The Lord will see to it that some day, in some way, you will be rewarded for your act of gratefulness to Him.

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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The Word

Hebrews 4:12-13
For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

In this passage, the Word of God is compared to a double-edged sword.  The Word of God is sharp enough to cut through all your barriers to get to the real you.  It knows where you live.  It will find you and you cannot hide from it.  People try to run from the Word, but it catches up with them.

Once the Word of God is sown into your heart it’s inescapable.  As we walk through our everyday lives, we find that the world is alive with testimonies to God’s truth.  The Word of God opens your eyes to them all around you.  The Holy Spirit can speak sermons to you throughout the day.

Once activated in a person’s life, the Word cannot be stopped.  It will achieve that for which God empowered it.  Just think of the effect it will have if we yield to its power.  If I line my ways up with God’s ways, I will see a greater degree of transformation taking place in a shorter time.

Don’t fight it.  Let the Word of the Lord do its work in your life.  Don’t go a day without prayerfully reading a portion of Scripture.  After you’ve done that, then meditate on it throughout the day.  It is life-changing.  Apply it to your life, and see the difference it will make.

 
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Posted by on July 14, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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All Good Things

2 Samuel 22:31-37
“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the LORD?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.  He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You give me your shield of victory; you stoop down to make me great.  You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.”

It is God who blesses us with all good things.  It’s always the right day to give thanks for the beautiful sunrise, for that parking spot close to the door, and for the the large tax refund.  A prayer of thanksgiving is always appropriate when you see the night sky that seems to stretch on and on forever before you, taking your breath away.

Most people are so ungrateful to God.  Something big has got to happen to them in order for them to praise the Lord.  We need to learn to praise Him for all things, big and small.  We need to acknowledge that He is our victory in every problem and situation that arises.  It is the Lord who guides us forward down the clear, broad path at our feet.

All these things and more come from our heavenly Father.  Take the time today to thank Him for some things you don’t usually think of throughout the day.  It will make the day ahead that much more awesome.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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Independence Day – Thank God for Freedom

I love the Fourth of July.  It’s one of my favorite holidays.  Picnics with family, outdoor fun, not to mention fireworks at night.  Even more than that, I thank God for a nation where I’m granted the freedom to do all these things without fear.

Galatians 5:13
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

We are called to be free.  Freedom is something that God wants for all humanity.  Unfortunately, what most people consider freedom is not the real thing.  Society thinks that freedom is the ability to do what I want, whenever I want.  Their opinion is that freedom means that I can feel good all of the time.

That’s a very selfish definition.  Freedom is not all about me.  Our founding fathers gave selflessly in the cause for freedom.  It was definitely not about their personal good, but the betterment of all that drove them to resist the most powerful nation on earth at that time.  Many lost their lives to win this precious gift for us.

There are still those in the armed forces and public safety positions that lay their lives on the line each day, so that we can continue to live free.  Freedom is more of a responsibility than a pleasure.  I have to put as much into it as I receive from it.

That is what Paul was trying to tell us in the verse above.  Freedom is not all about indulging my every desire, but the ability to serve one another unhindered.  We need to listen to his exhortation.  As believers, we have not only been blessed with our spiritual freedom in Christ, but our physical freedom in the USA.

Let’s live out that freedom responsibly.  Not in the granting of our every desire, but in seeking the blessing of all through a life of service.  Live free.  Be a blessing to all  those around you.  And thank God for the freedom we share.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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Reaffirming the Covenant

Joshua 8:30, 34-35
Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel…
Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law – the blessings and the curses – just as it is written in the Book of the Law.  There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them.

Moses left instructions for the Children of Israel to complete after he died.  Joshua was to take them to Mt. Ebal.  As they came into that area they were to climb the sides of two mountains that faced each other.

The words of the entire law of Moses were then to be read aloud to them.  In this way they were to hear the law again and reaffirm their commitment to God and to His law.

It is always important to review what God has called us to.  From time to time we must come to a point in our lives where we can remember what was spoken to us.  Then, with faith rekindled, we reaffirm our commitment to see it through.  Sometimes all that is called for is a quiet, out of the way place to review where we have been and where we are going.

Is there some unfinished business between you and the Lord?  Go to Him today.  Let Him know, once more, that you are standing firm and will see your calling accomplished.  If you have been ignoring it, now would be a good time to pick it back up again.  Take some quality time today to talk with God.

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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The Declaration of Heaven

Psalm 19:1-5
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.  In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

The heavens declare who God is.  He is perfect, orderly, and consistent.  Night and day, new moon and full; summer and winter; creation is so precise that we live our lives governed by it.  It is amazing that because of this perfection, we can predict things like high tides and solar eclipses years in advance.  There is a dependability that God has built into the universe.

When I am hiking and spend the night on the trail, my watch is for informational purposes only.  I find that my body adjusts to the rhythm of Creation.  When it is light I am up, when it is dark I sleep.  Together, the sun, moon, and stars are God’s great timepiece in the heavens.

We stand in awe of what the Lord has done.  Truly, all of creation praises God and testifies to His greatness.  Only through willful ignorance do we reject such testimony.

Praise the Lord for His greatness today.  Thank Him for the gift of the heavens that He has given us to enjoy.  Look to His lordship and plan for the path of your life.  We should consider ourselves truly blessed that we know the source of universal order.

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2012 in Daily Thoughts

 

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