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Category Archives: Word of God

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

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

 

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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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Divisions – Good and Bad

I’m continuing my series through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  At this point, the apostle begins a new subject.  He starts instructing them about their public meetings.

He opens this section with a statement that’s sure to get their attention.

In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good.
1 Corinthians 11:17-18

What a thing to say to a church.  You’re worse off when you meet together.  It sounds like he’s saying that if they continue this way, it would be better for them if they don’t meet.  What would cause Paul to say such a thing?

Over the next three and a half chapters, the apostle will explain it all to them…and us.  Let’s start at the beginning.

In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it.  No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.
1 Corinthians 11:18-19

You might think that there were specific things that they were doing wrong.  There might also be some things that they should have been doing as a church but weren’t.  While these issues were definitely a part of it, the big problem was below the surface.

Paul uses an oxymoron to describe the situation.  What do I mean by that?  He said that when they come together…there are divisions.

On the surface, they’re all together.  They’re one church meeting in one place.  But under the surface they’re divided.  There are different groups and factions that happen to all be present at the same place.

They may seem like they’re acting together.  They pray, sing, and worship the same.  But within each grouping is a different perception and each has its own agenda.

Of course, Paul also makes it clear that not all differences are bad.  The phrase, differences among you, actually refers to differing choices.  Our character is manifest through the choices we make.

Jesus taught his disciples that they could discern people by their fruit.  The choices we make are the fruit that can be inspected.

It’s in this fruit that you can see the difference between someone who has God’s approval, versus those without it.  Unfortunately, God’s approval is something we don’t hear about very often these days.

God loves each of us unconditionally, but His approval is on a higher level.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

The way we show God’s approval is how we handle the Word that God has entrusted to us.  Have we applied it to our lives?  Or is it just a good suggestion?

There are differences between those who walk in God’s approval and those who don’t.  We need to take what we’ve heard, and use it to make the choices that bring glory to God.  That’s the fruit of a life that’s submitted to Christ.

Boldness is a characteristic of an approved believer.  Strive to hear the Word and put it into practice.  That’s the group you want to be a part of.

Question: What are some choices that you’ve made to apply God’s Word in your life?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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The Lukewarm Confession

How could a church that’s not lacking any spiritual gift (1 Corinthians 1:7) have so many problems?  That’s the question that rises up in me when I read Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians.  As we go through this letter, the answer now becomes obvious.

Already you have all you want!  Already you have become rich!  You have become kings — and that without us!  How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!
1 Corinthians 4:8

I love Paul’s attitude, it’s a lot like mine sometimes.  He has humor with an edge of sarcasm.  There are times that this is needed to wake people up from their lethargy.

Paul exposes their faulty mindset.  They felt that they had all they wanted.  They felt that they were rich.  They felt that they no longer had any need of Paul’s apostolic ministry to their church.

For anyone who’s read the book of Revelation, this should sound very familiar.  There was a church to which Jesus Christ dictated a letter through John.  It was situated in the town of Laodicea.

“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’  But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”
Revelation 3:17

Here’s the problem.  They have a good confession, but they were self-deceived.  Please understand, I believe in and practice the memorization and confession of the Word of God.  It’s Scriptural and needed to bring maturity.

The problem arises when we deny the reality of our present situation.  For instance, if I’m sick, I can acknowledge my sickness BUT confess Christ as my Healer.  I can speak the Word that says I’m healed because of the wounds of Christ.

Usually, people only deny that they’re sick because they’re afraid to admit it.  But if you never acknowledged your sickness, how can Christ get the glory for your healing?

“We don’t need you, Paul.  We have all we need. We’re rich.  We’re ruling and reigning.”

The whole time, it was obvious to all outside observers that the church of Corinth was wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked.  I’m glad that Jesus gave John the diagnosis in the opening of His letter.

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I wish you were either one or the other!  So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”
Revelation 3:15-16

Most people don’t understand what being lukewarm refers to.  It’s a stubborn refusal to tap into the power of God’s kingdom.

It takes power to raise water from room temperature to boiling.  It also takes power to transform room temperature water into ice.  It requires no power to remain lukewarm.

There’s a subtle deception that many believers have fallen victim to.  That’s exalting their “good confession” over Christ Himself.  It’s not your confession that heals you – Christ is your Healer.

The reason we confess God’s Word is to change us.  I want to renew my mind so that it conforms to God’s Word.  Confession reprograms my internal computer.

When I start having faith in my confession, rather than in Christ, then I’m on the road to becoming lukewarm.  I need to see my need for Christ.  He is the Supplier for all that I need for life and godliness.

You don’t need to deny the situation you’re in.  But just the same, confess what God’s Word says about your situation and look for Christ to show up and bring about the change that’s needed.

Question: How does the confession of God’s Word renew your mind?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2019 in Faith, Healing, Power of God, Word of God

 

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The Bible – Not a Rulebook

As Paul continues to deal with the factions of the Corinthian church, he gets to the main point of his message.  It’s an important point that needs to be heard in our generation.

There are times when people use the Bible as a way to push their own agendas.  We need to be warned how to correctly receive and preach the Word of God.

Actually, it’s a warning from Scripture itself.  Believers are sometimes guilty of using the Bible in ways God never intended.  Hopefully, we can learn from the mistakes of others.

Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.”  Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.
1 Corinthians 4:6

At the beginning of this letter to the Corinthian church, Paul rebukes the people for the many factions that were splitting their fellowship.  He tells them not to go beyond what’s written.  Literally, that means not to over think the Scripture.  Their problem was that they were basing their divisions on the apostles themselves.

“I follow Peter.”  “I follow Paul.”  “I follow Apollos.”

What does that mean?  It’s clear that they were basing their lives upon certain doctrines that each apostle might have emphasized.  Today, most of us realize that different ministers have specialties in their preaching.

Some tend to emphasize faith, some grace, while others are strong in Godly financial issues.  There are also different personalities and teaching or preaching styles.  That’s the way it should be.  Diversity among the ministry gifts is a positive thing.

The Corinthian church was trying to make it an “either or” type of decision.  Instead of receiving the blessing from each teacher’s particular ministry, they followed one certain apostle exclusively.  In essence, they were saying, “I only follow Paul’s rules.”

The Christian walk is not a matter of whose rules I follow.  We’re not to over think what’s written.  God never intended for the church to turn the Bible into a rule book.

Yes, the Old Testament contains many rules.  However, our doctrine must always pass through the cross to filter out the things that don’t apply to us.

If we could please God by following a set of rules, then we wouldn’t need Christ to die for us. The fact is that rules are not enough, no matter how good they are.

Rules and regulations have no power to change the course of someone’s life.  It’s only by the power of the Holy Spirit that we can expect to see a difference.

Question: How does our trying to follow rules create more problems for us?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2019 in Legalism, Ministry, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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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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Transmitting the Truth

In my last post, we saw how the Thessalonian church pressed into a mature walk with Christ.  It’s something that we need to learn in our present generation.  Paul commends them for it and exhorts them to continue.

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
2 Thessalonians 2:15

Paul tells these believers to stand firm and unmovable in the truth that they’ve received.  The word translated, teachings, is a special word.  It means something that’s been transmitted or passed down from one to another.

The things that they were taught were not invented by Paul.  They were transmitted from God the Father to Christ, then Christ to His apostles, and finally from the apostles to the church.

The unfortunate thing is that, in many cases, we’ve either stopped teaching them or watered them down in our generation.  Personally, I want to see them restored in our lifetime.  That’s the goal behind this blog and my ministry.

Notice that this passage tells us that the church received this through both the spoken and written Word.  This will require us to spend time in the Lord’s presence.  As great as the Scripture is, we need both God’s written and spoken Word to fulfill our calling in Christ.

I like the encouragement that Paul gives at the close of this passage.

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

We’re told that if we stand firm in the Lord’s grace, we have eternal encouragement.  That’s important.  It’s speaking about the work of the Holy Spirit in us.

The word, encouragement, is the same word Jesus used in calling the Holy Spirit the Comforter.  In our modern terminology, it means to be a coach.  If we remain in God’s presence, we have an eternal Life-Coach.

Here’s some more good news.  This Coach does not only deal with your physical life, but He can coach your heart as well.  I don’t know about you, but I need the internal coaching more than the outer.

Because of this, our words and our actions will be produced by an overflow of God’s grace working through us.  I believe this is what the world desperately needs to see in the church.

This is what will draw people to the cross of Christ.  It’s only when the Holy Spirit is active in us that the Gospel is energized to that extent.  We need to get back to the pattern that was originally transmitted to the church.

Question: What differences do you see between the early church and our modern church experience?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2018 in Encouragement, Prayer, Spiritual Walk, Word of God

 

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