RSS

Category Archives: Ministry

Arrogance – The Ministry Killer

How open are you to the constructive criticism of those who are further along than you?  It’s amazing how defensive we get when we find out what we’re doing isn’t the best.  Scripture shows that this has always been a part of human nature.

Did the word of God originate with you?  Or are you the only people it has reached?  If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.  If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.
1 Corinthians 14:36-38

Paul is concluding his exhortation concerning the gathering of the saints.  He has explained that the worship service is not a vehicle to show off how spiritual you are.  Instead, it should be a place of ministry and blessing for all who attend.

Having founded this church, Paul knew many of the personalities involved.  He also knew that some of them would resist his guidelines.  Because of this, he made some very strong remarks to get their attention.

God’s Word didn’t start with them.  As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul was the first person to bring it to them.  He established their church.  Furthermore, they are one of many churches that were started by Paul’s ministry.

He then mentions two groups of people – those who think that they’re a prophet or highly spiritual.  He lets them know that if they really are sensitive to things of God, they’ll acknowledge that his letter is a Word from God.

That’s interesting.  We can look back on these events.  We don’t give it a second thought.  Of course, First Corinthians is the Word of God; it’s a part of Scripture.

But to them, it was something new.  Many of them looked at it as if it were simply another letter from Paul – the traveling evangelist.

They should have known by his lifestyle and the fruit of his ministry that what he said held a lot of weight.  He had pressed into the Holy Spirit more than any of them.  So they should have received this command accordingly.

I watch a reality show where a famous chef, making millions of dollars with his Michelin Star restaurants, tries to help struggling restaurant owners.  I’m blown away by some of their reactions.

Here’s someone who knows the restaurant business.  He knows what it takes to be successful.  Yet the owners resist his advice, telling him that he doesn’t understand their business.

I’ve seen this happen over and over in the ministry.  Young Christians, or even ministers, hear the advice of those who have already been through many spiritual battles.  Yet they resist the advice that could save their ministry, marriage, or church.

I’ve heard this so many times.  “You don’t know what I’m facing.”  “I understand what you’re saying, but I know what I’m doing.”

The unfortunate results are that they eventually crash and burn.  Their arrogance insulated them from the truth that could have protected them.  Take stock of the advice you’ve received.  Don’t put yourself in this dangerous situation.

Paul concludes with this summary.

Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.  But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
1 Corinthians 14:39-40

We should take this to heart.  Don’t resist the gifts of the Spirit.  Yet make sure that they’re only used to build up the body of Christ.

Question: What advice have you received that saved you from future problems?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

Advertisements
 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Silent Women?

We’re continuing to look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  As he talks about prophecy and tongues in worship, he makes a statement that upsets and confuses a lot of people.

Women should remain silent in the churches.  They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.  If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
1 Corinthians 14:34-35

We have to realize that the context of this passage is so that the greatest number of people get to hear, understand, and receive the Word of God.  It’s NOT a teaching about the role of women in the church.  It’s unfortunate that some people use this as a proof text to erect a spiritual glass ceiling in the ministry.

First of all, we need to understand what they meant by the church.  A church wasn’t a particular building where they had their meetings.  In this context, Paul is not even referring to the entire community of believers on earth.  (If that were the case, then a woman could never speak because they would always be in the church.)

In this chapter, the church is the gathering of believers in a worship service.  This method of worship was based upon the structure of the Jewish synagogue meetings.

This brings me to the next point – the freedom of women under the New Covenant.  Under the Old Covenant, women were not allowed to participate in synagogue worship.  Even today, in many synagogues there’s a women’s gallery that is separated from the main hall by a glass window.

In that gallery, women can do whatever they want.  They can knit, check their email, chat with the other women, etc.

Now, in Christ, women were brought into the main body of worshippers during the church service.  But, because they had never been a part of this before, they were unfamiliar with the protocol of the meeting.

In the synagogue, only the main speaker was allowed to say anything.  It was improper to interrupt what they were saying.  Even when Jesus and Paul spoke before synagogues, the gathering waited until they were finished before trying to drag them out and stone them!

Women, who were unused to this format, would interrupt by turning to their husband and saying, “What did he mean by that.  I don’t understand what he said.”  That was the disgraceful thing that was happening.

The passage explains that this exhortation is to be followed, as the law says.  There is nothing in the Old Testament about women being silent.  So the law Paul is referring to must be the social law.

Among the Greeks, Romans, and Jews, women were at the bottom of the social ladder.  At best, they were treated as pets; at worst, like slaves or personal property.  Very few women were treated as equals by men.

Now, in Christ, women are co-heirs of the blessings of God (1 Peter 3:7).  Women could prophesy (Acts 21:9).  After His resurrection, Jesus assigned a woman to go and direct a group of men to go to Galilee (Matthew 28:10).  Women are in no way second class citizens of God’s kingdom…at least in the eyes of the Lord.

The reason for the above verse was so that the people of that culture would be more open to the Gospel of Christ.  If they came to a meeting and saw the women breaking social protocol (interrupting the meeting), they would leave thinking that the church had no relevance.

In our society, women and men are on equal terms with God.  They can go as far in ministry as the Holy Spirit leads them.

Question: Why do some ministries have a “glass ceiling” mentality for women?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 19, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, The Church

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Spirit Led Meetings

I’m continuing to study the gifts of prophecy and tongues in First Corinthians, chapter 14.  Paul is trying to get this church back on track with the proper usage of these powerful workings of the Spirit.

Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 14:22

This verse seems to confuse people.  The first definition of the word sign is a distinguishing mark.  For instance, circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Israel.  The second definition of a sign is an unusual occurrence beyond the course of nature.

The fact is that tongues get people’s attention.  It’s something beyond the realm of an unbeliever’s everyday life.

So what Paul’s saying in this verse, is that tongues are not unusual to believers (or at least they shouldn’t be).  It’s something that gets the attention of unbelievers.  Prophecy, speaking for God, is not that unusual for unbelievers.  They’ve heard moving speeches before.

When used together in a meeting, tongues will get their attention, and then the prophetic word will open their hearts.  Both are needed.  This generation is in desperate need of seeing the hand of God at work.

It’s time for God’s people to spend time praying in the spirit.  It’s not just a spiritual toy to take out when we want to feel happy.  It’s vital to our spiritual growth and the evangelism of our nation.

So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?  But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare.  So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
1 Corinthians 14:23-25

There is definitely a place for the usage of prayer in the spirit.  But it must be used carefully in church gatherings.

It’s more important that those who come to a meeting receive a Word from the Lord.  That’s especially true if there are unbelievers present, or even believers who don’t understand the usage of a prayer language.

I have a friend whose wife was a Christian and he wasn’t.  He refused to come to Christ.  He told her, “I’m not a bad person.  When I die, I’ll show God all the good things I’ve done and He’ll let me into Heaven.”

One night, his wife went off to church.  He decided to check the place out, without her knowing.  He snuck in and sat in the back of the church.

That night as the Pastor was giving the call for salvation he said, “And don’t think for one minute that you’re just going to show God all the good things you’ve done and He’ll let you into Heaven.  The only way is through the blood of Jesus.”

Talk about the secrets of your heart being laid bare!  Please understand that no amount of arguing or debating would have convinced him to turn to Christ.  But that night, one Word from God brought him to his knees in repentance.

We need the power of God to be present and active in our churches.  That only happens as God’s people spend quality time in the spirit.

Question: How have you seen a Word from God change a life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 14, 2019 in Ministry, Revival, The Gospel, Word of God

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Passion for the Spiritual

I’m continuing to post about Paul’s exhortation to build up the church.  That’s found in his first letter to the Corinthians.  We’re now in chapter 14.

So it is with you.  Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.
1 Corinthians 14:12

This verse strikes at the heart of one of the biggest misunderstandings that we can have as believers.  I’ve heard many people speak out against the usage of the Gifts of the Spirit.

Some say that these gifts ceased with the original 12 apostles.  Others teach that we have no say in what gifts we receive.  God’s sovereign choice is the only determining factor in the giving of these gifts.

I was very careful in the above two paragraphs to use the word “gifts”.  That’s an important point that I want to make.  The word, gift, has a certain connotation in our society.

When I think of what a gift is, I think of something that somebody picked out just for me.  The giver determines what the gift is, who it will go to, and when it will be given.  That’s the problem addressed by this verse.

Scripturally speaking, the “Gifts of the Spirit” are not gifts.  That’s a term that man has come up with for tongues, prophecy, miracles, etc.

Even in the above verse, the English translation uses the word gifts twice.  But the word gift is not in the Greek original of that verse at all.

The Bible calls these things workings or manifestations of the Spirit.  They’re the functions of the Holy Spirit through the church.  It’s how the Holy Spirit manifests Himself in the world.

That’s why it’s foolish to say that the “Gifts of the Spirit” have ceased.  That’s like saying that the Holy Spirit has ceased doing His job.

We need to hear what the above verse actually says in its original language.  It reads, “Since you are passionate about spiritual things, be passionate about super-abounding at building up the church.”

The Holy Spirit wants to work through us.  He’s looking for people who are willing to be used.  These signs, wonders, and miracles are how He operates.

I believe that when it comes to these workings, it has more to do with our willingness than God’s sovereign choice.  That’s why we’re told to passionately pursue those spiritual workings that build up the church.  It’s something I can strive for.

I think it’s funny that the word passion appears twice in the original of this verse, and not once in English.  Passion is something I can cultivate.  The more time I spend with the Holy Spirit, the more passionate I become towards Him and His work.

Spend time in the spirit.  Develop a passion for His work.  Then, expect to see the miracles that can only come from the Holy Spirit working through you.  Make it your desire to use this spiritual work to bless and build up all those who the Lord brings into your life.

Question: Why is our willingness to be used by God so important?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

 
1 Comment

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

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,