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Category Archives: Prayer

Husbands and Wives

As we continue to look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we’re about to enter the most controversial section of the entire letter.  Chapter 7 deals with romantic relationships.  I will deal with this section very cautiously!

I have to warn you; Scripture is Scripture.  I can’t change it to agree with social norms.  I can only tell you what the Holy Spirit spoke through the Apostle Paul.  With that in mind, try to proceed with an open heart.

Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.  But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.
1 Corinthians 7:1-2

The people of Corinth had an interesting question that was sent to Paul.  Is it best not to have a romantic relationship?  First Corinthians, chapter 7, is Paul’s response to that inquiry.

The first thing Paul does is to lay down the foundation for everything he’s about to say.  The key phrase is because there is so much immorality…

Everything that follows in this chapter hinges upon that issue.  Their society was very immoral.  That means that this chapter is very applicable to us.  I don’t know if you noticed, but our generation is extremely immoral.

As a matter of fact, that’s what makes this section of Scripture so controversial.  The teaching of the Bible is in total opposition to what the world views as acceptable.  Because of this, our human nature would try to justify living like the society around us.

So, I’ve decided to simply tell you what Paul teaches in a very simple, uncomplicated way.  I’m not going to put my spin on it.  If you disagree with the teaching, then don’t get mad at me; I’m only passing on what was written.

Paul starts with his opening statement.  It’s the foundation for the marriage relationship.  His definition of marriage is – one man and one woman for life.  As a Pharisee, he understood that it was this way from the beginning of creation.

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
Genesis 2:24

Our society may disagree with this line of thinking, but it’s a consistent theme throughout Scripture.  This foundation is what Paul was building on.

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.  The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.  In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.  Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.  Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.  I say this as a concession, not as a command.
1 Corinthians 7:3-6

Paul is simply saying that if you’re going to marry, then you must maintain a sexual relationship as a married couple.  Any temporary pausing of this must be mutually agreed upon.

Sex is neither a weapon nor is it a way to motivate someone.  It’s a gift to be shared by a married couple.  The word, concession, literally means general knowledge.  In other words, Paul says that this is not a command, it’s just common sense.

We should make every effort to conform all of our relationships, especially our marriage, to what God has planned for us.

Question: Why would God’s advice on relationships be the best for us?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

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Posted by on March 25, 2019 in Prayer, Relationships, Spiritual Walk

 

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The Yeast Principle

I’m continuing my study through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  Chapter 5 is very controversial in some circles.  How do you deal with carnal Christians?  It’s an issue that every church leader has to face.

As I’ve stated in previous posts, the key attitude is a desire for restoration in the lives of these individuals.  Unfortunately, in our generation, many leaders simply ignore the issue, hoping that it will resolve itself.  Human nature should warn us that this rarely happens.

In my last two posts, we saw that Paul called for a spiritual separation to take place.  First, lifting up this person before God in prayer.  Then, if no repentance was forthcoming, surrendering the offender over to the enemy’s kingdom, for discipline.

Why did Paul find it so important to deal with unrepentant sin in the body of believers?  Why not ignore what people do in their private lives?  The problem is that we’re not just members of an organization, but parts of a body that need to function together.

Your boasting is not good.  Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough?  Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast — as you really are.  For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
1 Corinthians 5:6-7

To explain this, Paul uses the illustration of the Passover celebration.  During that feast, the Jewish people must remove all yeast from their homes.  Any bread baked during that time must be unleavened.

Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, bore our sin to the cross.  In that sense, the final Passover Lamb has been sacrificed.  We are now in a continual celebration of that feast.

What the apostle is telling us is that sin is like yeast.  It needs to be handled in the same way.

I love bread.  I love baking bread.  There’s nothing like the smell of a fresh loaf when it’s in the oven.

I can tell you about yeast.  Once you add it to the dough, there’s no going back.  It’s not like picking carrots out of your soup because you don’t like them.

In God’s kingdom, He wants us to deal with the sin before it infects the whole body.  As we’ve seen, this involves a work that can only be done in the spirit.

We’re not talking about kicking a member out of the organization.  But, in the spirit, taking authority over the sin.

Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.
1 Corinthians 5:8

Paul is clear that the person is not the yeast.  It’s the sin that infects the church that needs to be dealt with.

I’ve heard the saying that, “we need to hate the sin, but love the sinner.”  That’s a Scriptural attitude, but it very hard to implement.  All too often we end up hating the sinner and ignoring the sin.

I apologize beforehand for my sarcasm, but the following two statements are how some people act.

“It was easy under the Old Covenant.  Kill the sinner and the sin is removed.”

Fortunately, we’re under grace now.  We’ve been given spiritual weapons with which we can deal with the sin without harming the person bound by the sin.  We’re commissioned to “set the captives free.”

It’s time for mature believers to take a stand in the spirit.  Through prayer and intercession, we can start the process of cleansing the bride of Christ.

Question: How does not dealing with sin allow it to spread through the church?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2019 in Leadership, Ministry, Prayer, The Church

 

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Tricky, Tricky

We’re continuing our look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  The church had broken into factions over following their favorite teachers.  In dealing with this, Paul is showing them that the wisdom of God is far superior to human wisdom.

Do not deceive yourselves.  If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a “fool” so that he may become wise.
1 Corinthians 3:18

This is actually a very scary verse of Scripture.  It troubles me to think that I could possibly trick myself into believing a lie.

Of course, we know that it’s a very easy thing to do.  On more than one occasion I’ve used the arguments that I heard in society around me.  I then convinced myself that I could do something completely opposite to what I knew to be correct.

As Christians, we need to understand that what the world calls wisdom, is not always the truth.  It may seem to work for a season, but eventually, it will produce death in us.

My goal should be to operate in the wisdom of God; that which I receive from the Spirit.  Then I know that I’m headed in the direction of Life.  Unfortunately, in the eyes of the world, this sometimes appears to be foolishness.

Paul goes on to explain the differences.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.  As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”
1 Corinthians 3:19-20

When we reject God’s wisdom in favor of the world’s, we’ve chosen the path of deception.  We’re now opening up our lives for the problems that come from foolish decisions.

The phrase, catches the wise in their craftiness, is very descriptive in the Greek.  The word, catch, means to entrap like when a snake hypnotizes its prey by rocking back and forth.

The word picture shows us that we become fascinated by our own trickery.  We deceive ourselves to believe the world’s way of doing things and then we become obsessed with it.

I’ve seen it happen many times.  A believer does something totally out of character for a follower of Christ.  You then hear them explaining it over and over to everyone they meet.

“I deserved to do that.  It’s my turn now.  I have the right to be happy.  I have to think about myself; no one else will.”

We become obsessed and fascinated by our self-deception.  In the end, it will ruin us if we continue in it.

Paul’s second quote is just as important.  The word, thoughts, literally means an internal dialogue.

Have you ever had these discussions taking place within yourself?  You know the right thing to do, but you keep repeating the world’s wisdom to convince yourself to go another way.

The verse says that God knows these internal discussions are empty and profitless.  It could also mean that it will get to the point of idolatry.

Not that you’ll worship a statue of wood or metal.  It’s more deceptive than that.  We actually place the wisdom of this age as the ruler of our lives.  We give the world our attention instead of the Holy Spirit.

Don’t fall into the trap of self-deception.  Take stock of whose wisdom you listen to.  Seek time in the Lord’s presence to hear His voice.  Then follow it over and above anything that the world will try and convince you of.

Question: Why is the world’s wisdom so attractive to us?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Are You a Home-wrecker?

In my last post, we saw that our bodies are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.  When you think about it, that’s an incredible gift.  But it’s also an awesome responsibility.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17

We need to live with the understanding that our whole life is a temple dedicated to God.  That’s even more so when God’s people gather together.

The physical building is not the “house of God”, even though we refer to it like that sometimes.  On the contrary, it’s the in the gathering of believers that the Holy Spirit makes His presence known.

The word for destroy, in the above passage, means the process of withering or spoiling.  It’s not instantaneous destruction.  If someone corrupts God’s people, they begin a withering process that will affect their own lives.

God’s passion for His Temple was illustrated in the life of Christ.

In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.  So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.  To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”
John 2:14-16

We need to understand what was making Jesus so upset.  It was all about greed on the part of the priests.

There were some provisions in the law to make it easier for the people to tithe.  If I lived far away from Jerusalem, I could sell the sheep I was bringing for a tithe.  Then I travel to Jerusalem with the money and buy more sheep when I get there.  In that way, it was less of a burden on the people.

Unfortunately, religion changed all that.  The priests made a rule that you could only buy specially inspected animals at the Temple for an inflated price.

On top of that, you could only use specially minted Temple coins to buy these animals.  These coins were purchased from the money-changers at a high rate of exchange.

The result was that if I started at home with 100 sheep as a tithe; by the time I was through with this process I might only be able to afford 50 to offer at the Temple.  So the priests and salespeople were getting rich while the people and God were being robbed.  Jesus was reacting to the thievery that He was witnessing.

But the real question is; how does this apply to us?  In the above Scripture, Jesus said to take this stuff out of the Temple area.  More importantly, My Father’s house is not an emporium.

That’s why it’s important to know that a church building is not my Father’s house.  Right now – I am my Father’s house and you are too.  We are the dwelling place of God’s Spirit.

Are we truly the house of God; a place of worship?  Can people see by our lives that our whole fellowship is devoted to the worship of the Lord?  Do all the parts revolve around Him?

His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
John 2:17

Do you hear what the Holy Spirit is saying?  Zeal for YOUR HOUSE will CONSUME ME.  Our zeal to be a place of worship should consume all that we are.  Think about that in relation to our lives.

This should be the attitude of all believers. I’m not all about the temporary, material things of this world. I must maintain the integrity of the living temple where God reigns supreme.

Question: What can we do to keep our Temple a place of worship?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Place of Worship

Worship is a word that we use a lot as Christians.  Do we really understand what it means?  We call church buildings “place of worship.”  But that’s not entirely correct.  Actually, there are many churches where there hasn’t been any real worship for years, yet they still call what they’re doing “worship services.”
In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle is dealing with people who have lost sight of their spiritual identity.  They don’t really know who they are in Christ.  Consequently, their worship has become a set of rules.

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
1 Corinthians 3:16

The Bible is clear that for us, the temple is not a physical building.  We find this thought in more than one spot in the Word.  When we’re told that you are the temple, sometimes the you is singular and sometimes it’s plural.

Regardless of the tense that’s used, the meaning is clear.  Worship takes place in people.  It’s not about a special location.  It takes place in me or in us.

But what is this place of worship that we’re called to?  Throughout the book of Hebrews, the writer uses the term, draw near, only for worship.

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.
Hebrews 12:22-24

The true place of worship is around the throne of God; for He’s the only one worthy to be worshiped.  The Apostle John had a vision of the majesty of this place.

Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders.  They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.  From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder.  Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing.  These are the seven spirits of God.  Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
Revelation 4:4-6

True worship takes place around the throne of God.  The fact is that when we worship, we’re transported, in the spirit, to God’s throne.  That’s because worship is a supernatural encounter with God.  It has nothing to do with our flesh, but everything to do with our spirit.

In talking to the woman at the well, Jesus spoke about this truth.

“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 4:24

When you pray in the spirit, you’re brought into the very presence of God.  Your spirit is there with others in God’s throne room.

That’s why it surprises me that there are those who simply ignore this awesome opportunity that we’ve been given.  We’re allowed instant access into the place of worship in the throne room of the Sovereign of the universe.  Take advantage of this great invitation that we’ve been given.

Question: How often do you worship in spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Mere Men in the Kingdom of Power

I’m continuing my study of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  As we go forward, we need to see each part within the whole context.  Without an understanding of the first two chapters, we will not fully grasp the rest of his exhortations.

In my last post, we saw that the Corinthian church was described as spiritual infants.  Paul continues to explain his reasoning.

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?
1 Corinthians 3:2-3

Paul describes the teaching he gave them as milk.  Nothing substantial; nothing deep.  It was just the basics.

When I’m hungry, I want something that I can chew.  I’m not the type of person who can survive very long on a liquid diet.  It’s the same for me with the things of the spirit.

I want to hear a message that I have to think and pray about.  I want to be able to apply it to my life so that it will bring change.  I’m not into nice, forgettable sermons.

According to Paul, their problem was that they were not ready for spiritual meat.  That literally meant that they did not have the power (dunamis) to receive it.  That kind of power can only come from the Spirit.

In the first two chapters, we’re told that the soulish man can’t receive things from the spirit.  It only happens when you spend time in the spirit.

However, the problem was worse than that.  This church was not even at the level of being soulish.  The word used for worldly is actually the word, carnal in the Greek.

They were trying to serve God by the desires of their flesh.  This was borne out by the fact that their meetings were full of jealousy and quarreling.

These two words are important to our understanding.  The first means that you have an emotional attachment to what you desire.  The other means that you’re willing to get very defensive about your opinion.

Because of all this, Paul lets them know that they aren’t acting as the people of God.  Instead, they’re behaving like the world; mere men.

In the world, you have to fight for what you want.  In an organization, that means debate, politics, leverage, and in some cases downright bullying.  That’s what Paul was seeing in the church at Corinth.

This is why he laid down his foundation at the beginning of the letter.  Through the spirit, we have access to the mind of Christ.  It’s not about what I think is best, it’s the Lord’s agenda that matters.

Mere men decide what they want by a combination of logic and emotion.  Spiritual people, on the other hand, spend time in the spirit accessing God’s thoughts.

If they were truly spiritual, they would concentrate on prayer in the spirit.  This would include both public and private prayer times.  Then they would hear from the Holy Spirit.

When that happens, you find that strife ceases.  If you’re truly hearing from the Spirit, then the Lord will speak the same word to each person.  It’s easier to walk in unity when you’re all hearing from God.

I think that a lot of the division and strife in modern church meetings could be done away with if we spent more time listening to the Holy Spirit.  Our goal should be to move in the direction of God’s plan over and above what we desire.

Question: How have you seen unity resulting from believers praying together?

2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spirit Investigation

In my last post, I talked about the spiritual Christian.  We read a verse that the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church.

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14

One of the last statements I made was that the things that are received from God are spiritually investigated.  You may wonder why I used the word, investigate, when the verse said discerned.

The Greek word that Paul used is a legal term that applies to what a judge does when he’s hearing the facts of the case.  It’s the investigation stage of the trial.  Paul tells us that there are things that can only be investigated in the spirit.

Paul goes further with this point.

The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment:
1 Corinthians 2:15

We’re told here that the spiritual man is able to use his spirit to investigate all things.  On the other hand, he cannot be investigated or figured out.  It’s funny when soulish Christians hear the teaching of a spiritual believer.  They have a hard time figuring the teacher out.

There have been many times that I’ve taught on things that I’ve received from the Spirit of God.  Frequently someone will come to me and tell me how it blessed them.  Then they’ll ask, “Where did you get that from.  I’ve read that verse a hundred times and never saw it.  What commentaries do you use?”

The soulish Christian just can’t wrap their brain around the fact that you can be taught directly by the Holy Spirit.  They think the only place to get good teaching is from the bookstore or a good commentary.

The fact is, there’s a higher lifestyle in the Lord.  A spiritual walk with God simply uses more of the power that He’s made available to us by His Spirit.

“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

This verse sounds kind of disjointed in English.  The reason is that the translators couldn’t figure out why Paul was using the words that he used.  What he literally said was, who knows the mind of the Lord that we might unite or be knit together with Him?

That’s a very powerful question.  He then answers it by saying that we hold the mind of Christ.  The Holy Spirit who lives in us has access to the very mind of the Lord.  All the answers that we need are right within our grasp if we know the language of the Spirit.

One spiritual word from God could change the whole course of our life.  This is why we need to live daily in the spirit.  The gift of the Holy Spirit gives intimate access to the mind of God.  That’s why I’m such a proponent of prayer in the spirit.

It’s time for the body of believers to start walking in this great gift.  Only then will the church live up to its calling in Christ.

Question: How often do you access the mind of Christ through the Holy Spirit?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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