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Christ the Baptizer in the Spirit

I believe that America is ripe for revival.  I also believe that prayer in the spirit will play a major role in this move.  John the Baptist preached about this subject in the first chapter of Mark’s Gospel.

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.  I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1:6-8

We’ll need an understanding of this if we’re going to flow in revival to the level God desires.  I’m talking about coming face to face with Christ, the Baptizer.  He’s the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

But there’s a question that this brings up.  How can Christ do that if He wasn’t baptized Himself?  I believe that Jesus was baptized in the Spirit and prayed in the spirit.

Of course, Jesus prayed in the spirit without the manifestation of tongues.  The reason for this is that speaking in tongues is the reaction of our sinful flesh to the work of the Spirit.  Our flesh can’t comprehend what’s happening when we pray in the spirit.

In another Gospel, we see John the Baptist witnessing something unique.

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.  I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’”
John 1:32-33

This was unheard of in their day – the Holy Spirit remaining upon a person.  This was the point where Jesus was baptized in the Spirit.  I believe that from this day forward, Jesus prayed in the spirit.

But I think that the key word here is, remained.  The Holy Spirit remained upon the Lord and Jesus remained in the Spirit.

That’s something we need to see the importance of.  Very often we think that what Jesus did was a special case.  He said that the same works He did, we would do.  But in order for that to happen, it will take the same preparation.

We need the same remaining in the Spirit.  You could also call it immersion in the Spirit.

Before He ascended to the Father, Jesus told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for this gift.  Don’t preach, don’t make disciples, don’t do anything, just wait.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

That was fulfilled in the baptism found in Acts chapter 2.

What about Jesus?  He was baptized by John who testified that the Spirit remained on Him.  Then Jesus went into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days.  There, the Lord was tempted by the devil himself, yet…

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.
Luke 4:14

What power did He walk in?  The power of His immersion in the Spirit.   We need this same power to be evident in our lives.  In that case, we must remain in the Holy Spirit just like He did.

Question: How does Christ exemplify the Christian walk?

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Planned Transformation

As we look at Paul’s teaching in Galatians, it’s obvious that living in righteousness can never be dictated from the outside.  It only flows from a life that cultivates the spiritual walk.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.  A man reaps what he sows.  The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8

From our studies in the book of Galatians, I believe that the road to receiving God’s power is through the baptism in the Holy Spirit.  I realize that this is a controversial teaching in the body of Christ.  There are many who don’t believe that it’s for all Christians.

Many say, “I don’t want it.”  They choose not to receive this gift of God.  The truth is that this gift is vitally important for the church to do its job.  That’s why the enemy would do anything to convince us that it’s not for the church today, or not for you personally.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.  The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

Prayer in the Spirit is vitally important to our spiritual health.  I believe that this is how we receive the seed of God’s Word in us.  It’s also needed to conceive the seed God wants to place into our lives.

In the above verse, we see that your mind can’t conceive what God has planned for you.  That word is how the translators handled a two-word phrase in this passage.  They are words that mean placed upon and rise up.

Think about how seeds work in a field. The seeds are placed upon, or sprinkled, over the soil.  Then the water and sun work to activate them so that the new plant rises up from the dirt.  It happens the same way in our lives through the Holy Spirit.

Spending time in the Spirit allows God to plant His seed in us.  Things we could never even imagine that He has planned for us.  They enter into the good soil of our hearts.  Some of these seeds can only be activated by prayer in the Spirit.

We need to understand that there’s a sowing and reaping in the spirit.  Prayer in the Spirit is not just for the conception of the seed.  It must be continued so that the harvest may be brought forth in due time.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:8

That’s why I’m such a proponent of prayer in the Spirit.  I’ve seen what it’s done in my life and in others who practice it regularly.  There’s no substitution for this work of the Lord in us.  It’s the power of God actively working in us to bring about His plan for us.

As I pray in the spirit, I’m walking in God’s plan for the total transformation of my life.  I may not know where the road will lead, but God does.  If I want to walk in His power, then I need to incorporate His plan into my inner man.

I don’t know how anyone could fully serve God without it.  I couldn’t imagine my life without this gift.  Don’t neglect it.
Spend time praying in the Spirit and allow the seed of God to germinate and take root in your heart.  It will change everything.

Question: How has prayer in the Spirit transformed your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2017

 
 

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Jump in the River

diveIn my last post I started talking about the Holy Spirit being described as Living Water in the Scripture. Jesus referred to this water when He talked with the woman at the well. She had no idea what He was talking about.

I also talked about Jesus preparing His disciples for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the church. He told them that the Gift of God was the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1:4-5)

Baptism is a religious word that we sometimes misunderstand. To baptize literally means to submerge or immerse completely in a liquid.

So when we talk about the baptism in the Holy Spirit, we’re really talking about being immersed in the Spirit. So the gift of God is a spiritual immersion. The Lord wants us to jump in this spring of living water.

The woman didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about, so He explained it.

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:13-14

The water that Christ gives (the Holy Spirit) will become a gushing fountain of this water. And it will continue springing up to eternal life.

Drinking water is a lot like breathing air. In the spirit we need to be breathing in and out. It should be a continual thing.

That’s why Jesus could say in verse 21 that a day is coming to fulfill this in God’s people.

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

We are given the Holy Spirit on the inside of us when we’re saved. But God wants us to be immersed in Him; immersed in the living Holy Spirit.

We sometimes think of eternal life only in terms of length. God wants us to live His kind of life – the God kind of life. That’s why God wants us to have the water of life within us.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

What is the gift of God? It’s the Holy Spirit in you – springing up to eternal life. The gift of God brings eternal life.

The real question we should be asking is; what exactly is eternal life? What does God mean when He uses that phrase?

In my next post I’ll wrap up this series by showing how Christ explains this gift of His life bubbling up within us.

Question: How often do you pray and worship God in the Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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The Gift of God – Like a River

Stream 2All around me I see people gearing up for Christmas. The parking lots at the malls are starting to fill up as shoppers begin buying presents. We all like to receive gifts. But I think that the greatest gifts are not from a store. They’re things that affect us for eternity.

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
John 7:37-38

I want to take a few posts to talk about the gift of God to us. Jesus describes it as streams of living water bubbling up on the inside of us. Yet, even though it flows through you, you’re not the source. The Lord is talking about an unending stream.

By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
John 7:39

Jesus was talking about the Holy Spirit living in God’s people. It was a new thing that God was going to do. It had never been seen before.

Of course, there were many Old Testament saints who were used mightily by the Holy Spirit. But until this time, no one had ever experienced the Spirit of the Lord actually taking up residence in their lives.

Look at what happened after Jesus was glorified.

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Acts 1:4-5

It’s clear from the words of Christ that the gift of God is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. God wanted them to have this gift. It was something that they needed to wait for before they did anything else.

They had already been given the “Great Commission” to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to everyone. But now Jesus is telling them to wait. Don’t go, don’t preach, don’t do anything for me until you receive this gift. That tells me that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is necessary to proclaim the Good News.

We need to understand how the Spirit operates in us. In some ways the Holy Spirit is like water. He can be compared to a stream, a river, a pool or an ocean. He can be in you and you can be in Him.

But this was not the first invitation Jesus gave to receive His gift. At one point in His traveling, the Lord met with a woman by a well. In discussing about water…

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
John 4:10

Jesus used a very interesting phrase to describe this. He called it living waterwater that is alive. That’s because this water is a person – the Holy Spirit. We need to learn how to relate to Him. That’s how His life can become our life.

Question: How has the life of the Holy Spirit changed you?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 
 

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Why Prayer in the Spirit?

FireI talk a lot about praying in the spirit. I believe that it’s an important part of the Christian walk. Sometimes it can be a controversial subject. I want to take a few posts to talk about why God chooses this method.

We read about the start of this in the book of Acts when the Holy Spirit descended upon the church.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Acts 2:4

Jesus had prepared His disciples, telling them that they would be baptized in the Holy Spirit if they waited in Jerusalem. Then it happened on the day of Pentecost. There was a sound like wind, fire rested on each person’s head, and then they started speaking in unknown tongues.

Please realize that the word tongues was the old English word for languages. Somehow the name stuck even though we don’t use it that way today. We’re really talking about the gift of languages.

Why does God choose to use this gift? First of all, the gift of tongues is the proof of the baptism in the Spirit. We see this throughout the book of Acts.

It was that way when the Gentiles first received salvation.

The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Acts 10:45-46

This was the proof the Jewish believers needed to know that salvation was opened to the Gentiles. They understood it because the Gentiles received the same gifting.

At one point Paul was ministering and met some men who had only received John’s baptism. He then preached to them the fuller revelation of Christ. They believed Paul’s testimony and were baptized.

On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
Acts 19:5-6

This is the proof that the early church had of the baptism of the Spirit. What about the other things, like prophecy or healings? I’ve heard some people teach that these are valid proofs as well. I don’t agree with them because all of the other spiritual manifestations were seen in the Old Testament without the baptism.

I believe that this gift of tongues is the only evidence of an immersed life – it’s the start of our prayer language. But a reasonable question many ask is; why tongues? Why not fire, wind, or something else?

Speaking in an unknown language seems so foolish. Then again, foolish never bothered God. If something that looks foolish brings about the results God wants – He’s okay with it.

So I want to take a couple of posts to deal with the issue of; why tongues? What is it about our prayer language that makes it important for us to use regularly? I believe this series will be a help to those struggling to understand it.

Question: How often do you use your prayer language?

© Nick Zaccardi 2016

 

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Sowing and Reaping in the Spirit

agricultureIn my last post I talked about receiving God’s power through the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I realize that this is a controversial teaching in the body of Christ. There are many who don’t believe that it for all Christians.

Many say, “I don’t want it.” They choose not to receive this gift of God. The truth is that this gift is vitally important for the church to do its job. That’s why the enemy would do anything to convince us that it’s not for the church today or not for you personally.

However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

Prayer in the Spirit is vitally important to our spiritual health. I believe that this is how we receive the seed of God’s Word in us. It’s needed to conceive the seed God wants to place into our lives.

In the above verse we see that your mind can’t conceive what God has planned for you. That word is how the translators handled two words in this passage. They are the words placed upon and rise up.

Think about how seeds work in field. The seeds are placed upon, sprinkled over the soil. Then the water and sun work to activate them so that the new plant rises up from the dirt. It happens the same way in our lives through the Holy Spirit.

Spending time in the Spirit allows God to plant His seed in us. Things we could never even imagine that He has planned for us. They enter into the good soil of our hearts. Some of these seeds can only be activated by prayer in the Spirit.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
Galatians 6:7-8

We need to understand that there is a sowing and reaping in the spirit. Prayer in the Spirit is not just for the conception of the seed. It must be continued so that the harvest may be brought forth in due time.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:8

That’s why I’m such a proponent of prayer in the Spirit. I’ve seen what it’s done in my life and in others who practice it regularly. There is no substitution for this work of the Lord in us. It’s the power of God actively working in us to bring about His plan for us.

I don’t know how anyone could fully serve God without it. I couldn’t imagine my life without this gift. Don’t neglect it. Spend time praying in the Spirit and allow the seed of God to germinate and take root in your heart. It will change everything.

Question: How has prayer in the Spirit changed your life?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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Receiving God’s Power

LightningFaith is very often misunderstood in Christian circles. It’s sometimes described as a mental exercise. We’re simply trusting that everything’s going to turn out okay. That’s not Biblical faith.

True faith is putting your trust in a person – Jesus Christ – and what He says is truth. Look at the example of Scripture.

By faith Abraham, even though he was past age – and Sarah herself was barren – was enabled to become a father because he considered him faithful who had made the promise.
Hebrews 11:11

To understand this verse we need to look at the NKJV, which I believe is a more accurate translation in this case.

Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.
Hebrews 11:11 (NKJV)

This verse tells us that through faith Sara received. This is an important concept for us to lay hold of. Faith is always a choice. We choose to receive by faith.

God can hold something out to you, but unless you choose to receive it, it’s never more than a promise. It’s like that with everything God has for us as His children.

What is it that Sarah received? According to the above verse, she received strength. Above all, we need to receive God’s strength. That’s the Greek word dunamis – God’s miracle working power.

There should be a progression in our lives. We spend time with the Lord, talking and listening to Him. As we do this, we become aware of His calling upon our lives. Then, having heard His call, we choose to obey and follow His leading.

It’s at this point that many believers get into trouble. That’s because what God calls you to do cannot possibly be completed in your own strength. You need His power working through you.

Think about the example of Sarah and Abraham. They had no strength to obey what God was calling them to do. The only way this promise was completed in them was through the Lord’s intervention.

It’s the same for us. Many Christians choose to obey God. But they try to accomplish the work in their power. Maybe it’s because we don’t understand God’s power. Or sometimes it’s because we don’t like God’s method.

The above verse said that Sarah received power. That’s the exact same wording that’s found in the following verse.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

This is a part of receiving God’s power into your life. It’s the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit takes up residence within you when you’re saved. But the baptism is the immersion in the Holy Spirit.

I believe that this is one of the most important steps in the Christian walk. It opens us up to the power of God working in us. If we want all that God has for us, then we need to actively seek this baptism.

But it doesn’t end there. Once we’ve received our prayer language, we need to cultivate it through daily prayer in the Spirit. In this way we will, by faith, receive the strength we need to complete God’s work in us.

For the next few posts I’ll look at this important part of our Christian walk.

Question: How often do you pray in the Spirit?

© Nick Zaccardi 2015

 

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