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Monthly Archives: July 2019

The Supernatural Orchestra

In the last few posts, we’ve been looking at how the church should be built up through prophecy, and tongues and interpretation.  God wants to strengthen us by His power.

Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?  Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?
1 Corinthians 14:7-8

In talking about the need for understanding, Paul uses the example of musical instruments.  When we gather together, God has a purpose for what’s being said.  If someone is speaking, then it should be useful to build others up in the faith.

In an orchestra, everyone doesn’t just arrive and start playing whatever they want on their instruments.  They all play the same song together.  Even if some play melody and some play harmony, together they make a cohesive whole.

When we gather together, we need to speak with purpose.  The Holy Spirit is the great Conductor.  He should be orchestrating the whole so that all who attend are touched by His presence.

So it is with you.  Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying?  You will just be speaking into the air.  Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning.  If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.
1 Corinthians 14:9-11

I understand that the context of this passage is about the need for a message in tongues to be interpreted.  However, in our generation, there’s another point that needs to be made.

In the modern church, we’ve come up with our own particular culture and language.  I sometimes wonder what the unchurched think about when they hear what we say in church.

We question why they don’t respond when we call them to be “washed in the blood” or “come to the cross”.  Those phrases have great meaning to us as believers.  But to the world, they mean nothing.

I’m not saying, like some do, that we need to stop preaching the blood of Christ or His cross.  No, instead, we need to be explaining the significance of these words.  We can’t just assume that everybody knows what we mean by these church terms.

Since I’ve already started going there, let me make a few more people mad at me.  I think that this also applies to those who insist on only using the King James Version of the bible.  That’s a foreign language to most people today.

It’s perfectly fine to use the KJV if those you’re speaking to were raised hearing it.  But in my case, a great number of people that I minister to don’t have English as their first language.  They need to hear the Word of God in a way that they can grasp and apply to their lives.

We need to stop being self-centered in our view of church ministry.  It’s not about what I want.  It’s the Holy Spirit’s desire that should be central.

When we come together as believers, we need to be in prayer as to how the Lord wants His service to flow.  It’s not about the songs I want to sing or the sermon I want to preach.  Christ is the head of the church and He should set the direction for each meeting.

Only in that way will we be assured that everyone in attendance, who are expecting to receive something, will meet with God.

Question: How do we allow the Holy Spirit to direct our church gatherings?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2019 in Fellowship, Ministry, Revival, The Church

 

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What’s the Point?

In my last post, I talked about the importance of a Word from God in the church.  When we gather together, there should be an expectancy that we will receive an impartation from the Lord.

In First Corinthians, chapter 14, Paul continues with this thought.

Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?
1 Corinthians 14:6

Having already told the church that he desires everyone to pray in the spirit, the apostle now talks about his own ministry.  He, personally, has a rich spiritual prayer life.  And he will continue it when he comes to the Corinthian church.

When Paul prays in the spirit, he’s speaking to God.  When he comes to the gathering of believers, he wants to speak to them.  That’s how the church will be built up.

This statement is not an either/or proposition.  Paul prays in tongues so that he will be built up.  Then, when he comes to the church, he’ll have something to impart from the spirit.

He says there are four things that you can expect from his ministry.  They’re the same four things that should be the earmark of a healthy church, even in our generation.

Revelation.  The word, revelation, means an uncovering.  There are times when the preaching of the Word will uncover things that have been hidden.

We’re told to be the light of the world.  There are times when people don’t want to come into the light because it exposes the things that they’re hiding.

Anointed preaching has a way of opening people’s mail.  That’s a step in setting them free from their sin nature.

Knowledge.  Knowledge is simply the understanding of facts.  It’s learning something that you didn’t know before hearing it.

Godly preaching will expose you to facts about the people and places in the Bible that you hadn’t heard about before.  The more knowledge we receive, the stronger our faith in God will become.

This is a very important aspect of preaching.  Unfortunately, there are churches where knowledge is just about the only thing you get from their ministry.

Prophecy.  I’ve talked about this one before.  Prophecy is speaking a message that God wants to be delivered.  It doesn’t always deal with the future.

I believe that all preaching should be prophetic.  Personally, I don’t want to stand before a congregation unless I know that I’m saying what God wants them to hear.

But it’s not just preaching.  It could be a word of encouragement that the Lord wants you to share with a friend at work.  It doesn’t always have to be spoken before the whole church.

Word of Instruction.  This is specifically teaching that applies to your life.  It’s an instruction on how to live for Christ.

We have lived in the world, according to its rules, for our whole life until coming to Jesus.  Now, we’re a new creation, in a new kingdom, with a new destination, and therefore have a new lifestyle.  We need to be instructed on how this new life works.

When I come to a church gathering, there’s an expectation that one or more of these four aspects will impart God’s power to me.  Prayer in the spirit equips those in ministry to walk in this anointing.  It also prepares me to receive what the Lord has for me.

Question: How would the body of Christ look if this were in place in all church meetings?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Prophecy vs. Tongues

We’re continuing to go through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s dealing with the lack of love evident in their services.  In chapter 14, the apostle is talking specifically about the gifts of prophecy and tongues.

But that brings me to an important point that many people miss who try to forbid the use of prayer in the spirit (tongues).  They use these verses because they sound somewhat against this gift.

There’s a reason for this.  Paul’s not giving us a complete teaching on the gift of tongues.  He’s talking specifically about the Corinthian church’s abuse of it during their public gatherings.  That’s the application of this section.

I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy.  He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
1 Corinthians 14:5

We have to understand that this entire verse is Scripture.  There is absolutely no basis upon which to conclude that “I would rather have you prophesy” negates “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues.”

It’s Paul’s (and the Holy Spirit’s) desire that everyone uses their spiritual language in prayer.  However, because of the love issue in this church, Paul would rather see the church edified.

In order for this to happen, they need to hear a Word from God.  More than that, they need to hear it in a language that they understand.

In this church, it must have been common for someone to get up before the congregation and pray in the spirit for a great length of time.  The speaker was built up, but the congregation was untouched.  There was nothing there to build anyone up.

That’s the situation that Paul was addressing.  When people come to a church gathering, there should be an expectation that they’ll receive something life-changing.  We’re not there to simply watch a spiritual show.

There needs to be something that will speak power into the lives of the hearers.  That means either a prophetic word or an interpretation of tongues.

That brings me to my next important point.  What exactly is the interpretation of tongues?

When I pray in tongues, I’m speaking mysteries to God.  My mind doesn’t know what’s being communicated.  So there are some who have concluded that a true interpretation will always be directed toward God.

It turns out there are two related Greek words that are used for the gift of interpretation.  In English, I would describe them as interpretation and interpretation-through.

I believe that interpretation is speaking forth in my native language exactly what is being communicated to God in my spirit.  Interpretation-through is God’s response to what I just said to Him in my spirit.  That’s why many times the length of the interpretation has no relationship to the length of the prayer in tongues.

The Greek word used in the above verse is interpretation-through.  That’s how the church is edified.  We’re built up either through a prophetic word from God or God’s personal response to a spiritual inquiry from our hearts.

We need all the Gifts of the Spirit active in the church to see God’s will accomplished in the earth.

Question: How have you experienced the gift of interpretation?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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How to Build Yourself Up

Many people ask why prayer in the spirit is so important.  Very often, it’s used as a spiritual toy that we only take out to play with on Sunday mornings.  Scripture lets us know that it’s much more than that.

But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
1 Corinthians 14:3-4

I’ve heard others talk about this passage of Scripture.  As I’ve said before, some think it means, “Prophecy good, tongues bad.”  The truth of the matter is that these are two totally different gifts that are to be used for two totally different purposes.

The reason God gives you the gift of this spiritual language is to edify you!  The word, edify, literally means to build up.  I can’t serve God without constantly being built up on the inside.  One of the most important reasons that God has given us this gift is so that we can regularly strengthen ourselves by the spirit.

Look at what Paul says further down in this chapter.

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
1 Corinthians 14:14

This verse tells us that it’s our spirit, not our mouth that’s doing the praying.  My mind doesn’t understand what’s taking place.  This is because the communication that’s going on is spiritual.  At one point the Lord gave me an excellent illustration to emphasize this truth.

During a sermon when I was speaking on this topic, I asked my Assistant Pastor to come up front to help me demonstrate.  I gave him no prior warning as to what would be happening.  I then gave him a CD player and told him to place the earphones on.

I told him and the congregation, that when I press the play button, my assistant would hear a pastor preaching a salvation message.  What I wanted my assistant to do was to speak out loud exactly what the pastor on the CD was saying, word for word.  The result got quite a reaction.  This was because the pastor on the CD was preaching in the Korean language!

This is a beautiful picture of what happens when we pray in the spirit.  Your mind hears your spirit praying in a language it doesn’t recognize – the language of the spirit.  It tries to mimic it with your mouth but only ends up sounding unintelligible.

This is why what we hear coming out of someone’s mouth doesn’t always parallel what’s said by the gift of interpretation.  Your spirit might be interceding for a need, while your mouth is merely saying “Praise the Lord” over and over again in Russian.

It’s interesting to note here exactly what the gift of interpretation is as mentioned in the Bible.  The word the Apostle used means to put into words.  Basically, this means that the message we hear by the gift of interpretation was not in words until it was interpreted.  This goes right along with the truth that it’s our spirit praying and not our mouth.

This is also why the gift of tongues will cease after the resurrection.  The only reason that we speak this way during the use of the gift is that our minds don’t grasp what’s taking place in our spirit.  After the resurrection, we’ll still communicate with God in the spirit, but because our mind and body will be perfected, it will not have this outward effect anymore.

Question: How have you been built up by praying in the spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Purpose of Prophecy

In talking about the Gifts of the Spirit, I’ve said that each gift has its own unique purpose.  Prophecy is no exception.  Paul explains this to the Corinthian Church.

But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.
1 Corinthians 14:3

The first thing that we see is that prophecy is for the benefit of others.  The person operating in this gift is speaking to people.  The church needs to hear a Word from God.  This Word provides three important benefits to the hearers.

Strengthening.  This is a very interesting concept.  The Greek word actually used is a compound word.  It literally means house-building.

It’s not just about the construction.  The word picture is of a house being completed.  The Holy Spirit is in the process of constructing a new, abundant life for you.

In order for the work to be completed according to the Lord’s specifications, we need to hear a Word from Heaven.  I believe this is applicable to us whether you’re talking about our lives personally or collectively as the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

Prophecy is a big part of the building process.  It’s too bad that many think these gifts are unneeded in the modern church.

Encouragement.  This is from a Greek word that means to call alongside.  I think the best way to explain it is to think about the job of a coach.  An athlete’s coach comes alongside them and calls out instructions for the player to carry out.

In this way, the athlete can function at the best of his or her ability.  The coach can usually see things that the players miss.  That’s because the coach operates on the “big picture”.  The athlete, on the other hand, sometimes is focused only on their particular role.

The Holy Spirit wants to be our Life-Coach.  We need to hear prophecy to give us the course correction needed to bring out the best in us.  Don’t minimize the importance of this in your life.

Comfort.  This is one of those words that are jam-packed with meaning in the Scripture.  The Greek word, itself, is about a talk that’s designed to change your attitude.  There are a few specific changes that are included in this.

One of these changes is in persuading you when you’re unsure.  You might think that God is leading you in a certain direction, but there’s uncertainty.  A word of prophecy can confirm it to you one way or the other.

Another case is when you need to be aroused or stimulated.  We sometimes get apathetic about the things of God.  A prophetic word can stir us back into action.  We need it to stay focused on our calling in the Lord.

Finally, it can work on us when we’re allowing anxiety and doubt to cloud our thinking.  A prophecy can break though our wrong thinking and set us back on the solid footing of God’s Word.  When the fog of doubt lifts, fear and anxiety will have no place in our mind.

As you can see by these effects, the Word of Prophecy should be an important part of any church.  When we come together as believers, this gift can uplift us to a new level of walk before God.

I don’t believe that the true use of this gift has to sound weird or spooky.  It’s simply being used by the Holy Spirit to speak a needed message into the lives of those around us.  Spend time in the Lord’s presence, making yourself available to be used in this valuable gift.  He may just give you a word that someone desperately needs to hear.

Question: How has a word of prophecy strengthened your walk with God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Purpose of Prayer in the Spirit

In my last post, I began to talk about two specific gifts of the Spirit – prophecy, and prayer in the spirit (tongues).  I showed that Paul’s emphasis was for the church of Corinth, and us as well, to make sure that loving others was the key ministry.

Now, I want to get into what Paul says in more detail.  It’s important that we understand how these gifts operate.  I believe that God wants His church to flow in this anointing.  That’s how the world will be evangelized in our generation.

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God.  Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:2

Further on in this epistle, Paul writes that he spoke in tongues more than all who were in the church of Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:18).  This tells me that he had an intimate knowledge of the use and the function of the gift.  Paul wrote about his experiences in the Greek language, which is a very descriptive language.

In order for us to understand what Paul wrote we rely upon translators to help us.  I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of these translators.  I’m in awe of the amount of work they have before them and realize that I could never accomplish half of what they do.  I’m very grateful for their work.

That being said, I also have a problem with a particular portion of their work.  As I’ve said, Paul wrote to us about his experiences in the deep usage of prayer in the spirit.  Unfortunately, the translators who worked on that passage may not have even experienced the Baptism of the Spirit, let alone the deeper works.

In reading the words that Paul wrote, these translators didn’t understand why Paul was using the words that he used.  So they tried to explain Paul’s words instead of telling us exactly what he said.

Because of this, many of the deeper truths of the Gift of Tongues were lost.  It’s my prayer that the Lord will once again restore our knowledge of these concepts through godly teachings such as this.

The verse I just quoted is one such verse.  The English words used in the translation are not the Greek words used in the original text.  After Paul tells us that the person is speaking to God, not to man, the next sentence actually reads (in Greek), “Indeed, no man hears him; his spirit speaks mysteries.”

This gives us fresh insight into the gift.  When I pray in tongues, I’m not speaking to man, but to God.  What’s coming out of my mouth is immaterial to the spiritual communication that’s going on.

According to Paul, no man even hears what I’m saying to God.  It’s not your flesh that’s communicating with Him.  There’s no correlation between what’s coming out of your mouth, and what is being exchanged with God in the spirit.

This is an important truth in understanding the gift of the spirit.  Every spiritual gift has its own unique purpose.  The reason I pray in the spirit is to speak directly to God from my spirit.

This is one of the most powerful parts of our spiritual walk.  It gives us access to the mind of God.  Paul talked about it in detail at the beginning of this letter.  To read my posts about it, click here for the starting post.

As we continue in this chapter, we’ll receive insight into the uses of both tongues and prophecy.  They’re both vitally needed in our Christian experience.

Question: How important is the Baptism of the Spirit to your walk with God?

©2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Power of Love

We’re continuing to look at Paul’s view of the spiritual gifts.  He’s explaining them to the church in Corinth.  The apostle was trying to straighten out some of their foolishness.

For the last few posts, we saw that the Gifts of the Spirit are useless without walking in love.  That’s the most important ingredient in any ministry.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
1 Corinthians 13:13-14:1

We’re told here, that of the three most important concepts in Scripture – faith, hope, and love – the greatest is love.  Paul then tells us to pursue love.  In order to do that effectively, we need to walk in the spiritual gifts.

It literally says to be passionate about the things of the spirit.  We should especially desire to show love by speaking a Word on behalf of God.  That’s what prophecy is.  God is love and if you speak His Word, then love will be evident.

In order to understand First Corinthians, chapter 14, we need to keep it in its context.  Paul is writing to a church where everyone’s doing their own thing.  All they care about is their own wants and desires.  Love for others doesn’t enter into their thoughts.

He wants them to use their gifts to bless others.  That’s the context of his next statement.

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God.  Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.  But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.
1 Corinthians 14:2-3

There are those who look at these verses, and the ones that follow, and conclude that the gift of tongues is bad and prophecy is good.  That’s not what Paul is trying to get across to this church.  That’s why I talked about the context.

The apostle wants us to see that in the church setting, love needs to be the major component.  Prayer in tongues has a definite purpose.  I use it to build myself up.  That’s a good thing, but it doesn’t directly show love to others.

So if I come to church and all I do is pray in the spirit, then I’m not loving others.  Instead, I’m being self-centric.

In the church, there needs to be an evident communication of God’s love.  Prophecy is a great gift for showing God’s love.  God’s Word can be a powerful encouragement to those around us.

In the church, I have a choice.  I can major on making sure that I’m blessed.  That’s what the Corinthian Christians were doing and Paul wasn’t happy with them.

My other option is to go to church with a desire to bless others.  Through the gift of prophecy, I can speak a word of strength, encouragement, and comfort.  I believe that’s what “being the church” is all about.

And in reality, I’ve found that when I want to bless others, God finds a way to bless me in the process.  There’s a mutual encouragement in the body of Christ.

Be passionate about spiritual gifts.  And seek to show the love of God in all that you do.

Question: How were you positively affected by someone operating in their spiritual gift?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2019 in Fellowship, Ministry, The Church

 

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