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Church Ministry (Part 1)

In my last post, we saw the list of ministry functions needed for a healthy church.  In today’s article, I want to begin looking at them in more detail.

And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles?  Are all prophets?  Are all teachers?  Do all work miracles?  Do all have gifts of healing?  Do all speak in tongues?  Do all interpret?
1 Corinthians 12:28-30

As I said in my last post, even though some of these may sound similar to the manifestations of the Spirit, it’s not the same list.

Apostle.  Over the years, we’ve Christianized this word to the point where the meaning is almost lost to us.  We get the idea that it’s a “holy man” so high in the ranks that it’s all but unreachable.  Some teach that after the first 12 apostles, there were never any more.

We need to understand that Paul is talking about ministry in the local church here.  That means this apostolic ministry should be found within each local congregation.

This word means to be set apart as a messenger or delegate.  It’s someone who is under orders to go to a certain place and represent the one who sent them.  I believe this is talking about the pastoral ministry in the local church.  It’s the person or people who oversee all the other ministries of the church.

Prophet.  These are people who hear God’s voice and speak what He wants to be said.  We need to be aware of what God is saying to the church.

I think that sometimes we get the idea that prophecy is always about the future.  That’s not the case.  A prophet will reveal truth that we need to hear.

There are times when a prophet will bring hidden sins to the surface so they can be dealt with.  Sometimes it’s a word of encouragement or insight into a challenge we’re going through.  And, yes, there are times when they will reveal something that’s about to happen in the future.

Teacher.  This is the one that we’re the most familiar with.  It’s the person who helps others by explaining truth that has already been revealed in Scripture.

However, that’s not as easy as it sounds.  In the church, we’re not just dealing with facts and figures.  We’re to train people in how to apply the truth of Scripture to their daily walk.

This requires us to spend time in the presence of the Great Teacher – the Holy Spirit.  He alone will give us the insight we need to speak life to those who will listen.  A godly teacher will make deep truths accessible to those who want to learn.

Workers of Miracles.  Now we’re getting into an area we don’t see very often.  Maybe it’s because nobody thinks of this as a ministry of the church.  In most churches, miracles aren’t common anymore.

Simply put, the word miracle in this verse is actually the Greek word for power.  It’s talking about people who consistently walk in the power of God.  They’re the ones you go to when you have a pressing need.

These people should definitely be a part of the church prayer team.  They spend time in the Lord’s presence developing their faith and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.

Like I said, this isn’t seen very much in the church of our generation.  My hope is that as I teach it, many will feel the call to walk in this great ministry.  Then, they’ll spend the time needed to develop intimacy with God.

In my next post, I’ll continue explaining these important local church ministries.  If you don’t already know your calling in the body of Christ, read them prayerfully.  Be open to what the Holy Spirit wants to do through you.

Question: Why does the church of our generation seem to downplay the more powerful ministries?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Body Ministry

Over that last few posts, I’ve been talking about the church as the body of Christ.  Paul is describing it in his first letter to the Corinthian church.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:27

Paul makes it clear in this sentence that we all have a part to play.  It was never in God’s plan for a church member to sit on the sidelines and only attend church.

We live in a consumer driven society.  We’re always on the lookout for what we can get out of any place we go to.  It’s unfortunate that we carry that same mindset with us into the church.

In many cases, we don’t ask God where we should attend and what our contribution to the community should be.  We shop around for the church with the preaching style, music, and services offered that we’re looking for.

Scripture is clear that God is the one who decides on our placement within the body.  I can’t just say that I want to be a hand and place myself at the end of the arm.  This explains why the body of Christ looks outlandish to the world right now.

Paul now goes on to explain the various functions of the members.  I’ll take the time to describe each one.

And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles?  Are all prophets?  Are all teachers?  Do all work miracles?  Do all have gifts of healing?  Do all speak in tongues?  Do all interpret?
1 Corinthians 12:28-30

There are some things that you need to realize about this particular list.  First of all, it has no relation to the list of the manifestations of the Spirit that we recently looked at.  According to Scripture, the Holy Spirit wants to work all of them in all people as needed.

These are not manifestations, but specific tasks that are performed by believers within the body.  These are functions of individuals as members of a local church ministry.  We need all for these for a healthy, thriving congregation.

I believe that in these last days before the return of Christ, God will be restoring His church to what it should look like.  That means that every member is in place doing what they’re called to do.

We need to be a people who are seeking to hear from God.  We should be spending time in the presence of the Holy Spirit learning to hear His voice.

Only then will we see the body of Christ come together as it should.  Only then will the world see Christ in all His glory, and be drawn to the cross.

That’s what we should be focusing on in this generation.

In my next post, I’ll begin taking a closer look at each of these local church ministries.  Take the time to seek God concerning where you fit in if you haven’t already heard God’s call.

Question: What does the body of Christ look like to unbelievers right now?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2019 in Ministry, Prayer, Revival, The Church

 

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The Interdependent Body

We’ve been looking at Paul’s description of the body of Christ in his first letter to the Corinthian church.  In my last post, we saw how we were all uniquely made for God’s purpose.  But we need to see that being unique doesn’t mean we’re independent.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”  And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”
1 Corinthians 12:21-22

We were all created for a different purpose.  Therefore, we all need each other.  This is true whether you know it or not.

That’s one of the tough facts of being part of a body.  Each part has an effect on all the others.  Sometimes you don’t even know what that effect is on the surface.

You can’t just look at what someone is doing for God and say, “That’s not needed.”  It all works together to bring about God’s plan.

On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.  And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.
1 Corinthians 12:22-24a

Even those who are weak in the Lord have a role to play.  This was brought home to me a couple of years ago when I had an accident.

While walking in the woods, I had climbed a rock and coming down from it I landed awkwardly.  I felt a sharp pain in my knee.  It turns out that I tore my ACL and bruised my meniscus.  I didn’t even know those parts existed until I heard the doctor’s diagnosis.

Part of the healing process was occupational therapy.  I was told to stand on one leg.  To my surprise, I couldn’t balance on one leg.  That’s because one of the jobs of these parts is to provide balance.  So, these two weak, unknown parts were actually doing something that I considered very important.

It’s like that in the body of Christ as well.  You may think that this weak Christian is just a nuisance.  Instead, they may be providing an opportunity for the growth and strengthening of others in the body.

Of course, there’s always the unpresentable parts – the ones that need to be covered.  I may be judgmental, but there are believers that shouldn’t let anyone know that they’re a Christian.  They’re actions do more harm than good for the Gospel.

But does that mean that they’re unneeded in the body of Christ?  Absolutely not!  Every believer is required for the church to function as God desires.  There’s a place for everyone; even if it’s not always front and center.

But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
1 Corinthians 12:24b-26

The simple fact is that we’re all in this together.  We’re interdependent upon each other.  Even though it may not be obvious on the surface – I need you and you need me.

It takes the whole body, functioning as a unit, to complete God’s plan for the church.  That’s why prayer for each other is so important.

We wonder why we don’t see the miraculous like we feel we should.  I believe it’s because God wants to work through the body and not simply through individuals.  As we all grow in our callings together, we will see the hand of God more and more working through us.

Question: What are some unseen functions of believers that have a great effect on the church?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2019 in Encouragement, Ministry, Prayer, The Church

 

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Body Envy

Have you ever looked at what somebody else is doing for God and it made you feel inadequate?  Are you intimidated by those in a leadership position?  That’s not God’s perspective.  Your place in the body of Christ is a unique one.

Now the body is not made up of one part but of many.  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.
1 Corinthians 12:14-16

Paul uses parts of the body to illustrate this point.  What if the members of your natural body could think for themselves and communicate?  What would they say?

Look at your feet and hands, for instance.  They both have similar bone and muscle structures.  They both are placed at the end of your limbs.

What if your foot felt inferior to your hands?  Your toes are too short compared to your fingers.  After all, they can’t grasp or pick up much of anything.  And they’re too far away from your mouth to be able to feed you.

Does all that mean your foot really doesn’t belong to the body?  Absolutely not!  Your foot wasn’t created to do the things that your hand was.

Your feet were designed to bear the weight of your entire body.  In conjunction with your legs, they can move your body around from place to place.

In the same way, you can’t look at how someone else operates and conclude that you’re of no value.  You were created for your own unique calling.

Paul also talks about the eyes and ears.  They live very close to one another on the head.  They’re both set onto holes mad just for them.

But they do very different things.  Your eyes are in holes that allow light to come in.  Your ears, on the other hand, only receive sound waves.  Your ears were not made to respond to images.  Your eyes were not made to see sounds.

“Brother Jones is so sensitive to the needs of those around him.  He really shows the love of Christ.  I don’t know why I’m so useless in that area.”

That’s foolish thinking.  We all receive from the Lord in different ways.  That’s why Peter could respond to God while he was praying and Paul had to be knocked off his horse to get his attention.  God uses us the way we are without comparing us to other people.

We’re all designed with different purposes in the mind of God.  The church would be a pretty boring place if we were all the same.  Paul put it this way…

If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
1 Corinthians 12:17-20

You need to rejoice in the unique way that God made you.  Find that place in Him where you belong.  Then fulfill your personal calling without comparing your walk to anyone else but Christ.

Question: Where do you fit into the body of Christ?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 

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Unity and the Spirit

A lot of people talk about the need for unity in the church.  Do we fully understand what that means, or what it takes to walk in unity?  I think that the answer will surprise you.

We’re continuing our look at the way Paul describes spiritual ministry in his first letter to the Corinthian church.

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body.  So it is with Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12

At this point, Paul continues a theme that was started in this letter.  I’m talking about the body of Christ.

This subject started in chapter 6 where they were told that their body was a temple to the Holy Spirit.  Then, in chapter 10, we’re told that when we break bread together in the Lord’s Supper it’s a participation in the Lord’s body.

The Apostle is now giving more insight into this truth.  He begins at a place we can all understand – the natural.  A human body is one entity.

However, you can also view the body as a collection of individual parts.  Even though these many parts all have different functions, they form one whole organism.

All the members of the body together form a unit.  A unit is the foundation for unity.  All the individual parts of the body work together to carry out the will of the mind.

But in all of this, the most important thing to grasp is Paul’s final statement.  So it is with Christ.

He did not say, “So it is with the church.”  It’s vital for us to see that He’s talking about God and not us.  It’s not our body that the Lord becomes a part of.  We participate with Him.  We must become a part of His body.

For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1 Corinthians 12:13

I believe that this is a key Scripture in understanding unity in the church.  Yet, there are many who never give it much notice.

Part of the problem is in the translation.  The phrase, baptized by, is actually baptized in according to the original Greek text.  So this verse tells us that when we’re baptized in the Spirit, we’re also baptized into the body of Christ.

Throughout Scripture, we’re told that unity is a function of the spirit.  When you think about it, there’s no body-life without unity.

I look at how my own body operates in the natural.  If each member of my body was autonomous, I’d be in trouble.  I couldn’t live normally if each part acted independently regardless of what my brain wanted to be done.

In many cases that’s what the church is like.  We don’t spend the time needed to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit.  Then we go off and do what we feel like doing for God.  And we call that the body of Christ.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:3

Unity requires effort.  It requires me to hear and obey God’s Spirit within me.  Only when we all synchronize ourselves to the will of the Spirit are we truly acting as the body of Christ.

Question: What’s the difference between unity and agreement?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2019 in Revival, Spiritual Walk, The Church

 

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All About Me

As we continue our look at Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Church, he’s speaking about how idolatry relates to the grey areas of sin.  This is an important issue.  The apostle now lays down the principle of participation.

I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say.  Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?  And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
1 Corinthians 10:15-17

The first part of participation that we need to understand is our fellowship with Christ. The words translated participation in this verse, are the same that are translated fellowship in other places in Scripture.  We have a fellowship in the body and blood of the Lord.

In the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, we’re showing a visible representation of our fellowship.  It’s because of our connection to Christ that we’re connected with each other.  We all have a share in His body and in His blood.

It’s this concept of participation that should guide some of our actions.  There are some who would say that it doesn’t matter what I do outside of the church.  What I do in my private time is my own business.  But is it?

Remember, it’s all about participation.  Am I participating with the world in things I shouldn’t be involved in?  That’s the issue Paul’s dealing with here.

Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar?  Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything?  No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons.  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons.
1 Corinthians 10:18-21

Those are strong words.  In context, he’s talking about idolatry in a pagan temple.  But this could apply to us as well.  There are many things in society that could be seen as modern idolatry.  Gaming, the internet, the entertainment industry, sporting events, and a whole host of other things can steal our devotion.

Actually, anything that we participate in that causes us to reject time with Christ is idolatry.  No, I don’t think we should be worshipping 24/7.  But only serving God two hours a week on Sunday morning is a symptom of spiritual sickness.

Paul tells us the bottom line.

Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy?  Are we stronger than he?
“Everything is permissible” – but not everything is beneficial.  “Everything is permissible” – but not everything is constructive.  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
1 Corinthians 10:22-24

Even things that are permissible, with no evil aspects, can be detrimental to your Christian walk.  The fact is, being a Christian is not all about me.  I’m a part of something bigger than myself.  The fellowship I share is on a spiritual level.  The things I do in the natural can have a spiritual effect.

This is key to understanding what’s right or wrong for me.  What I do as an individual affects the whole.   That’s life in a body.  When I stub my toe, my whole body is affected.   This is a lesson the current generation of believers needs to learn.

Question: How does a person’s private life affect the whole church?

© 2019 Nick Zaccardi

 
 

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Repairing the Body of Christ

I’m continuing my series through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church.  He’s writing it in order to give them practical advice on remaining faithful to Christ.

I think it’s beyond question that our God is faithful.  What He’s looking for, is faithful people.  The Lord wants to see believers who walk wholeheartedly with Him.  How is that possible, unless we walk faithfully with each other?

Because of this, we’re not called to live solitary lives.  In Christ, we’re part of a body.  We need each other.  Without the local church, we can never reach our greatest potential.

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:10

Fulfilling this will require us to walk in agreement.  Agreement is a place of power in the Holy Spirit.  In the above verse, the word, agree means to speak the same thing.  The only way that will happen is if we’re all speaking the Word of God.

It takes time in the Word to bring about agreement.  It’s not about me convincing you that I’m right.  It’s when we both come into agreement that God’s way is right.

The Lord wants us to unite in mind and thought – with no divisions. The simple truth is that this will never happen if we all do our own things. There has to be a coming together for fellowship around the Word of God.  That’s what church is all about, or at least it should be.  The Word should be central to everything we say and do.

The result is that if we all agree with God’s word, then we’re in agreement with each other.  Along with that, we’ll all be speaking the same thing.

I want to emphasize that among God’s people there should be no divisions.  This means that there are no splits or gaps between us.

Instead, we must be perfectly united with one another.  The word Paul uses in this verse is very interesting.  It literally means to be repaired or mended together.  It describes us as going through a process that joins us together.

This is what we’re to strive for. To be perfectly united in mind and thought requires more than just good teaching.  It means that I’m spending time in the presence of the Holy Spirit.  It also means that you’re spending time in the Spirit.

Being united in this way is a choice.  It’s unfortunate that when some people pray for the unity of the church, what they’re really praying is, “God, please make everyone else think like me.”  That’s not true unity.  It’s us choosing to work together as the Holy Spirit makes us begin to think like God.

As we allow the mind of Christ to take over our lives, we’re setting the stage for the unity of the Spirit.

The more you and I begin to think like Christ, the more unity we’ll walk in.  This is how the fellowship and unity of Christ can be manifest in His people.  Make that your goal as we minister together for the Lord.

Question: What are you doing in order to come into agreement with God’s Word?

© 2018 Nick Zaccardi

 

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