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Category Archives: The Church

Spiritual Warfare – What it is and isn’t

I’m posting about the spiritual battles that we find ourselves in.  Having explained the difference between the conflict in the Old and New Testament, I now want to concentrate on how we walk in victory.

The fact is that we’re in a battle.  Not against people, but unseen spiritual forces.  Do we really understand the nature of this conflict?

I’ve heard Christians use the term spiritual warfare in many different contexts.  Does our teaching line up with Scripture?  That’s what matters.

After watching many self-proclaimed spiritual warriors get flattened by the enemy, I have to ask myself what exactly is this about?  We need to base what we’re doing in the Scripture if we want success.

The Bible is clear.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
2 Corinthians 10:1

Unfortunately, many take this verse too far out of context.  Then the church ends up looking like an army of clowns going off to do battle.  They’re unarmed and untrained in this spiritual war.  Then we wonder why the church is so devastated.

At one point the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and made a statement I found hard to accept.  What I heard on the inside was, “Do you realize that there’s been no spiritual warfare for hundreds of years?”

How can this be true?  I hear people say they’re doing spiritual warfare all the time.  We sing about it.  We preach about it.

Eventually, I was able to understand what the Spirit of God was trying to get across to me.  The keyword is warfare.

In the above verse, the phrase wage war literally means to serve in a military campaign.  This is where our definition of spiritual warfare falls short.  Our skirmishes are not warfare.

According to the Webster’s Comprehensive Dictionary, war is “a contest between or among nations…carried on by force or with arms.”  That’s where we miss it.  War is between nations, not individuals.

For instance, what if I got upset about some things that Canada is doing (I’m not!).  What if I then covered myself in weaponry, Rambo style, then walked to the border of Canada and declared that I was going to war against them.  How long do you think that “war” would last?

As crazy as that sounds, that’s what many believers do in the spirit.  Then they call what they’re doing spiritual warfare.

We need to realize that true spiritual warfare will not take place until the church wakes up from its sleep.  Then, in the spirit, we must begin to pull down the strongholds of Satan.  This is not just the job of one or two bold Christians.  It’s something that the Lord is calling us all to take part in.

We can either spend our time complaining about our society or do something that will make a difference.  Time on our knees before God will bring great change on the earth.  Prayer, fasting, intercession, and prayer in the spirit are what it will take to bring revival to our land.

Over the next few posts, I’m going to talk about how we prepare ourselves for the spiritual struggles ahead.  It’s all about knowing how our attitudes, weapons, and armor work together to bring the victory we need.

Question: What’s your part in this spiritual battle?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Spiritual Battles – A New Direction

Now that I’ve finished going through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, I feel a change is coming.  At least for a while, I’m going to interrupt my walk through the New Testament.

I believe that the Holy Spirit is leading me to deal with some issues that the church of our generation needs to hear.  God is leading His people into a new level of ministry.  We need to prepare ourselves.  But if we don’t know what’s coming, how can we be ready?

God is also doing some new things in me, personally.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some of these.  Hopefully, as you stick with me, this blog will continue to be a blessing to you.

The first topic I want to tackle is that of the spiritual battle that we find ourselves in.  I don’t think that we fully understand the scope of this struggle.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:12-13

We’re told in Scripture, that we’re in a spiritual battle.  The struggle is real.  Yet many believers choose to ignore this warning.

All too often we wait until the enemy knocks us down before we try and activate our spiritual weapons.  By that time it’s usually too late.  Then we fall to our knees, crying out to God, to save us from the situation we find ourselves in.

It’s time we realize that the kingdom of the enemy doesn’t take a holiday.  The devil doesn’t look at you and say, “Oh.  You’re on vacation.  I guess I’ll leave you alone this week.”

We need to be constantly aware of our spiritual life.  Serving God is a 24/7 activity.  Paul describes it perfectly to Timothy, his son in the ministry.

Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs — he wants to please his commanding officer.
2 Timothy 2:3-4

How often do we view our walk with the Lord in these terms?  When I bowed my knee to Christ, at that point, I was no longer a “civilian.”  I was now a part of a kingdom that is structured much like the military – only on a spiritual level.

Chasing after the world is the same as getting involved in civilian affairs.  It takes our focus off the marching orders that the Lord has given us.  We need to be under the command of the Holy Spirit.  That’s where our allegiance should attach itself to.

I believe that understanding the spiritual war we’re in is an important aspect of being a Christian.  Beginning with my next post, I’ll be talking about this subject.  I’m going to speak about this in great detail.  I’ll even deal with the history of this struggle from Adam to the church.

My desire is that you’ll be prepared for any attack that the enemy might bring against you.  Our victory is found in Jesus Christ alone.  Never forget that the battle has been won before you even step foot on the field.

Question: What spiritual battles have you faced in the past?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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The Grace of Undetached Missions Giving

As Paul writes to the Corinthian church, he encourages them to give to the starving saints in Jerusalem.  Israel was experiencing famine at this time.  Paul was calling on the Greek churches to help them.

His words to the church should inspire us to adopt a whole new mindset concerning our missions giving.

Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.  On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.  If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
1 Corinthians 16:1-4

The first thing that I see is that Paul’s exhortation was not something special for the Corinthian church.  He had prescribed this manner of giving for all the churches under his ministry.  In his command, I see four major truths associated with missions giving.

Missions giving is for everyone.  At least with these gentile churches, they met the first day of every week.  It was during this meeting that EVERYONE was to seek God and give according to how they were prospering.

Please note that this collection was not the tithe that went to the upkeep of the local church.  This was a special collection to be stored up for when it would be released to the specified missions project.

This is not just an exhortation for the well to do.  It’s for everyone, rich and poor alike.  God doesn’t look at the size of the gift, but the condition of the heart.  We give because we want to be a blessing to someone else.

How much you give is based upon how thankful you are.  This goes right along with what I have been saying.  It’s not about the quantity of the gift.

I have to look at my life and take inventory.  How has the Lord been blessing me?  Am I thankful for His blessing?  Do I want to be a blessing to others?

The fact is that when you pass on a blessing to others, you’re making room for a blessing in your life.  There are those who say that it’s wrong for me to teach this.  “We should give with no thought of receiving a blessing.”  If that’s the case, then Jesus is wrong, because He was the first one to tell us this truth (Luke 6:38).

Don’t simply send your missions giving, take it personally.  This is one of those areas where I think that the modern church has missed it.  We collect money for missions and then send out a check every month.  It’s neat, clean, and detached.

According to Paul, there should be a missions team in each church that goes to visit the missionaries.  They are the representatives of the church on the mission field.  American Christians would gain a whole new perspective if they could see what was required to serve God in other parts of the world.

Missions giving is an act of grace.  When we give to missions, we’re an extension of the arms of Christ.  We’re giving more than just money, especially if we bring it personally.

We’re giving love, encouragement, and fellowship to those who are in need of it the most.  In many cases, those in the field are away from family and friends for years at a time.  You may be that taste of home that gives them the strength to continue victoriously.

Please take Paul’s message to heart.  Be an active part of missions.  Give what you can.  Then, don’t let it end there, but trust God to bring you an opportunity to travel and visit a missionary.  It will be one of the best experiences of your life.

Question: How have you involved yourself in missions?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on October 4, 2019 in Encouragement, Missions, The Church

 

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Too Far for the Sake of Relevance

I’m continuing to look at First Corinthians, chapter 15.  Paul is talking about the concept of resurrection.  He started by reminding them of his Gospel message.  This is, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he then appeared to many credible witnesses.

Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
1 Corinthians 15:11

This is the foundation of faith that the Corinthian church was established upon.  Unfortunately, they were now trying to become more acceptable to the society around them.  Belief in someone rising from the dead was a little far out.

Greek society prided themselves on their intellect and knowledge.  It’s a lot like where I live, in the Boston area, where there’s a college or university everywhere you look.

Because they wanted to be “relevant”, they downplayed the resurrection.  Sometimes even telling people they could become a Christian without believing in it.  They were probably well-meaning and though that once they came in the door, someday they’d “see the light.”

What does Paul think about this?

But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?  If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
1 Corinthians 15:12-14

Paul is very clear.  There’s no salvation without the resurrection.  If God isn’t powerful enough to raise the dead, then what was the purpose of the cross?  What Christ did on the cross is meaningless without the resurrection.

More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead.  But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.  And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:15-17

Changing the truth of God’s Word in order to make it more palatable to society only removes the very heart of the message.  It’s no longer the Gospel.

Many in our generation need to understand this truth.  The Scripture says what it says.  It will offend some people.  We can’t change that.

This being said, we can change the way we handle it.  We can be more loving and less judgmental.  When Jesus ministered, He found a way to show God’s love without compromising truth.

We need to take stock of our message.  Does it line up with Scripture?  Once you leave the clear path of truth, the doctrines of faith begin to fall like dominoes.

Paul shows these Christians the end result of a belief in no resurrection.

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.  If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
1 Corinthians 15:18-19

The bottom line is to never compromise the truth of the Word to win people to Christ.  You can change the method, but not the message.

Question: What was the message that you believed when you were saved?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2019 in Faith, Revival, The Church, The Gospel

 

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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

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

 

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The Supernatural Church

I’m continuing to talk about Paul’s teaching to the Corinthian church concerning the public use of prayer in the spirit (tongues) and prophecy.  The apostle now gets into some technical guidelines for their worship service.

What then shall we say, brothers?  When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.  All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
1 Corinthians 14:26

This verse gives us some insight into the early church.  It seems that they were a lot like us.  There was music, preaching, and prayer.

The difference is that they looked for the supernatural move of the Holy Spirit in their services.  They wanted to hear a revelation from God either through prophecy or tongues and interpretation.

I don’t know why there are people today who feel that the supernatural has no place in a church service.  Paul says that all of these need to be done for the strengthening of the church.  Does the church not need strengthening anymore?  Of course, it does!

But on the other hand, Paul doesn’t want there to be so many unexplainable things happening that outsiders are scared off.  There needs to be spiritual decorum.

So, Paul continues with his advice.  He starts with the gift of tongues and interpretation.

If anyone speaks in a tongue, two — or at the most three — should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.  If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
1 Corinthians 14:27-28

Please remember, this verse is referring to when there’s one main person praying in tongues.  Everyone else is focused on them.  In that case, there must be someone with the gift of interpretation.  If there’s no one to interpret, then no one should be leading out in their prayer language.

But there’s more to this passage.  It also tells me that I can pray in the spirit silently – within myself.  That’s a good thing to know.  There are times that I need to build myself up in the spirit when it’s not appropriate to pray out loud.  These could be times when I’m at school or at work.

Paul also talks about prophecy.

Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.  And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.  For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.  The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.  For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.  As in all the congregations of the saints…
1 Corinthians 14:29-33

We need the revelation of God in our church gathering.  But the key is that it’s for our edification.  Therefore, the Lord wants everything done in a decent and orderly way.

There is never a time when anyone will be “out of control.”  The Holy Spirit is a gentleman.  He never takes you over and makes you do things against your will.  You always have the choice to flow with Spirit or ignore Him.

I believe that God wants to show up in our worship services.  Our generation needs to be more open and receptive to the move of the Spirit.

That requires God’s people to spend more quality time in His presence.  The more time we spend with the Lord in private, the more prepared we are for His public appearance.

Question: What experiences, good or bad, have you had with the spiritual gifts in the church?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Public Prayer in the Spirit

As we continue going through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, we’re learning about some of the usages of the spiritual gifts.  What we need to remember is that Paul’s not writing a complete teaching on the gifts of prophecy and tongues.

He was dealing with specific problems that were in this church.  His goal in this letter is to help the Corinthians to expand their love-walk.  Their goal should be to bless others.

So what shall I do?  I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.
1 Corinthians 14:15

Because Paul doesn’t want to exclude anyone with his gifts, he makes sure that everyone can understand him.  There are times he prays in the spirit and also prays in his native language.

That being said, this verse is very important in understanding the usage of the gift of prayer in the spirit (tongues).  Some people erroneously believe that absolutely every time you pray in an unknown tongue there must be an interpretation.  This verse explains why that’s not true.

Paul uses the exact same word for both prayer in the spirit and with his mind.  So the keyword is prayer.  Prayer in the spirit is another form of prayer.  This means that all the normal protocols for prayer apply.

There are times when we’re at a prayer meeting and everyone is praying all at the same time.  I’m not listening closely to what you’re praying; we’re simply all together, praying.

However, when someone prays loudly enough to get everyone’s attention, we begin listening to them and agreeing with them in our hearts.  It’s the same with tongues.

It’s perfectly acceptable for a group of believers to all be praying in the spirit together with no interpretation.  But if someone “takes the floor” and their tongue becomes the central focus, then there must be an interpretation.  This is so that everyone, not just the speaker, can be edified.

This also includes singing in the spirit, or as some call it, the song of the Lord.  We can all sing in the spirit together.  Actually, some of the most powerful moves of God that I’ve seen began as God’s people sang in the spirit together.

If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying?  You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.
1 Corinthians 14:16-17

Paul keeps reminding them that the goal of the church gathering is mutual edification.  It’s never “every man for himself.”

We have to realize that everything Paul’s written so far is about the public use of this gift.  In our private prayer times, we’re free to pray in the spirit as often and as long as we desire.  It’s a powerful tool for our own strengthening.

I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.  But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
1 Corinthians 14:18-19

Paul makes it clear in this passage that everything he said was concerning their public gatherings.  Outside of the church meeting, Paul had a rich spiritual prayer life.  I believe this is what prepared him to write so much of the New Testament.

As we pray in the spirit, we allow the Holy Spirit to work in and through us in a very strong way.  Spend as much time as you can in this pursuit of the Spirit.

Question: How have you seen prayer in the spirit strengthen your walk with God?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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